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Title: A Tale of the Kloster - A Romance of the German Mystics at the Cocalico
Author: Jabez, Brother
Language: English
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  [Illustration: "'Thou queen of the Roses of Saron, art thou
  holding court in thy temple of beauty?'" Page 216.]



  A Tale

  OF THE

  KLOSTER

  A Romance of the German Mystics
      of the Cocalico

  _By_ BROTHER JABEZ
  _Illustrations by_ FRANK MCKERNAN

  _Oh, blessed solitary life,
  Where all creation silence keeps!
  Who thus himself to God can yield
  That he ne'er from him strays,
  Hath to the highest goal attained,
  And can without vexation live.
  Faith, toleration, love, and hope,
  These all have come to his support._

    --JOHANN CONRAD BEISSEL. Translation
    from the German by Julius Friedrich
    Sachse, Litt. D.

  PHILADELPHIA
  Griffith & Rowland Press
  1904

  COPYRIGHTED 1904 BY

  ULYSSES S. KOONS

  Published December, 1904

  From the Press of the
  American Baptist Publication Society

  TO THE MEMORY OF

  My Mother

  THIS STORY OF THE LITTLE BAND
  OF BROTHERS AND SISTERS
  OF THE KLOSTER
  IS LOVINGLY DEDICATED



INTRODUCTION


A great New England historian has said that "The colony of Pennsylvania
was not only more heterogeneous in population than any of the others,
but it actually was the principal center of distribution of the
non-English population from the seaboard to the Allegheny Mountains. All
of the population of the Carolinas, as well as in Virginia and Maryland,
entered the country by way of Pennsylvania, and this migration was so
great, both in its physical dimensions and in the political and social
effects which it wrought, that Pennsylvania acquires a special interest
as the temporary tarrying place and distributing center for so much that
we now call characteristically American."[1]

  [1] "Dutch and Quaker Settlements." John Fiske.

It is undoubtedly true that into none of the other colonies did there
flow such a tide of German immigration, bringing with it many a hardy
Swiss and French Huguenot refugee from the Palatinate, along the lower
Rhine.

Up to the Revolution there were more Germans in Pennsylvania than in all
the other colonies together. Benjamin Franklin, it is well known,
feared that the State might become a German province. Among the causes
of this resistless tide of immigration were: Religious zeal, fostered by
the teachings of William Penn and George Fox and their followers, and
Penn's far-sighted pledge of tolerance as to liberty of worship,
sectarian ambition, escape from religious persecution, and bad
government.

Especially were the first-comers inspired by religious zeal, and it was
to this that such old settlements as Bethlehem and Germantown and
Ephrata owe their founding. Later, when the tide rose to a thousand
German immigrants a month, a great majority came with the simple desire
to earn a livelihood in peace and safety--a desire played upon by the
glib-tongued, unscrupulous land agents of that day so successfully, that
shipload after shipload of poverty-stricken German peasantry, enduring
uncomplainingly the sufferings and hardships of hunger, thirst, and
foetid air of the crowded hold and consequent ship-fever, poured into
the port of Philadelphia and immediately took the oath of allegiance.

Quaint and curious names they had, as is evidenced by many an ancient
shipmaster's list--patronymics indicative of trade, occupation,
profession, personal characteristics, nicknames, names that by a slow
but sure process of anglization have lost much of their humor and
flavor, and are now so changed in spelling and sound as hardly to be
recognized in their original form.

But with all the fears of pauperism and disease and racial deterioration
and establishment of inimical foreign institutions, this mass of crude,
uncouth peasantry, with their unpronounceable names, besides bearing the
brunt of Indian depredation and massacre during the French and Indian
wars, became the ancestry of perhaps not less than one-third of the
population of Pennsylvania to-day.

Beneath the unpromising exterior of these peasants were firmly fixed the
virtues that give strength and stability, if not mercurial
brilliancy--piety, industry, patience, thrift, peaceful dispositions,
and intense love of home. The men were homemakers; the women were
homekeepers. Devoted tillers of the soil, politics and business had few
charms for them.

Although in such counties as Bucks, Lehigh, Lancaster, Dauphin,
Northampton, York, Carbon, and Monroe, there are many communities
inhabited almost entirely by Pennsylvania-Germans, still retaining their
peculiar dialect, nevertheless their German church service and German
newspapers are rapidly becoming things of the past.

The present generation of Pennsylvania-Germans is going to the public
schools, normal schools, and colleges, and in other respects is becoming
thoroughly English; for however strongly the more conservative ones may
cling to the old habits and traditions, it is true that ere long
Pennsylvania-German and such things as Pennsylvania-German singing
schools, "Fóstnacht" festivities, "frolics," and "vendues," will be
matters of tradition.

Perhaps no phase of their history is more interesting than that of their
early religious experiences. In no other of the American colonies were
there at such an early date so many altars raised to the various
faiths--orthodox, sectarian, mystic, and separatist, Lutheran, Moravian,
Quaker, Mennonite, Dunker, Seventh Dayer, and New Mooner. But though
differing in creed and tenet, and frequently hurling at each other their
broadsides, as their controversial pamphlets were called, all these
sects were conspicuous for their thrift, industry, and religious
devotion; for though many of their beliefs were extremely mystical and,
showed every vagary of pietism, one great fundamental idea inspired and
possessed these people, namely, to live in the utmost simplicity of
habit, manner and speech, garb and diet, in strict conformity with the
practices of the early church, and as close as possible to their Lord
and Master, to whose service their lives were consecrated. It is because
of this idea conscientiously lived out that this Commonwealth is so
greatly indebted to them.

The author has selected as a type the Kloster at Ephrata (a name
fragrant with biblical suggestiveness), the founder of which, Conrad
Beissel, was a strong, intensely earnest, impetuous religious leader,
who in a few years gathered about him a number of zealous men and women,
some of them of considerable learning. In less than a decade there arose
a semi-monastic community which developed into a religious, educational,
commercial, and industrial settlement that at an early date set up in
that far-away wilderness, many miles distant from the chief city of the
province, the third printing press in the colony, and the first to print
with both German and English type.

The little town, or "mountain borough," of Ephrata lies about eighteen
miles southwest from the flourishing city of Reading and not more than
thirteen miles northeast of Lancaster, with its memory of the
Continental Congress, in the rich, fertile valley of the Cocalico in the
northern part of Lancaster County.

The Ephrata of the present day, numbering possibly three thousand
inhabitants, is situated at the foot of the gentle northwestern slope
of the Ephrata Mountains. A broad main street that easily ascends
toward the southeast leads up close to the "Ephrata Mountain Springs,"
a famous resort in the days before the war of the Rebellion. But
directing one's way in the opposite direction, leaving the little town
with its banks and hotels and industrial establishments, the unfailing
accompaniments of these prosaic, unsentimental days, the wide,
ancient thoroughfare leads northwestward, the business features giving
way to the neat, pleasant, comfortable homes so characteristic of the
Pennsylvania-Germans. The houses, with the peculiar feature of their
gable ends toward the side instead of facing the street, are well set
back in the grassy yards enriched with glorious dahlias in crimson and
gold and ivory white, purple asters, bright geraniums, flaunting
hollyhocks, and all the other well-beloved, old-fashioned favorites,
while from the opulent garden in the rear, most likely a magnificent
sunflower in solitary gorgeousness turns his dark, golden-fringed eye
to his god of fire and light, now and then the whisper of some truant
breeze swaying the stately head of the ardent devotee into a
half-wistful glance out over the dusty road.

But neither these nor the spacious front porch, with its luxurious
trellised vines and the inviting benches before the front door, receive
more than an admiring and half-envious glance, and are left behind as
the road passes over the arches of the old stone bridge that spans the
Cocalico, flowing along the northwestern edge of the town. In the angle
formed by the northern bank of the stream and the southern side of the
turnpike road, but a short distance beyond the point of the angle where
the road leaves the bridge, lie the Kloster grounds, formerly known as
"The Settlement of the Solitary" (_Lager der Einsamen_), but now locally
referred to as "The Kloster," a full and excellent description of which
is contained in "The German Sectarians of Pennsylvania," by Julius
Friedrich Sachse, LITT. D., in which he has, after years of patient
labor given us a most admirable, critical, and legendary history of the
Ephrata Kloster.

Within the confines of this out of the way nook the author has placed
the personages of this romance, which he fondly hopes may be of interest
not only to Pennsylvania-Germans, but to all who delight in a story
which is only a story. Over a century and a half has elapsed since the
Sisterhood and Brotherhood were in the zenith of their little world, and
it were well-nigh impossible to reproduce at this late day with absolute
fidelity such matters as dress, customs, manners and habits, religious
rites and ceremonies; and yet, thanks to the exhaustive investigations
of Mr. Sachse and others, the author has been able to pattern forth in
the warp and woof of this tale more or less distinctly, considerable
that relates to the homely architecture, the cloistral life, worship,
rites, ceremonies, and beliefs of these peculiar but devoted,
plain-living, high-thinking Sisters and Brothers.

To reproduce their speech, even if possible, were of course sadly out of
place at this day; for the German, even of the early settlers, was
represented by such various dialects as Swabian, Würtemberger,
Bavarian, Swiss, Hessian, Palatinate, and others; and though these were
all German dialects, yet since those days there has been such a copious
infusion of English words, that to-day Pennsylvania-German, though "it
is still, in the articulation of its bones and its general form and
spirit, the tongue of the Rhine country,"[2] is none the less neither
German nor English, but "a hybrid, non-descript jargon,"[3] at best an
Americanized dialect of the German, but a dialect able to produce
beautiful flowers in the fields of lyric poetry under the cultivation of
such as Harbaugh, Hark, Zimmerman, Zeigler, Fisher, Grumbine, and
others.

  [2] "The Pennsylvania-German Dialect," by Lee L. Grumbine, Esq.

  [3] _Ibid._

Pennsylvania-German being a dialect not of the almost universal English
tongue but of the German, and what is especially to the point, a fast
declining dialect with but a small remnant who can speak and understand
it in the vernacular, the author feels not only that he should by
employing this dialect address himself to an exceedingly small audience,
but might, moreover, justly incur the charge of pedantry and
affectation.

Thus while it is true that the greater number of the Sisters and
Brothers of the Kloster were Germans and spoke the mother tongue in
their daily intercourse, yet after all language is only the means of
conveying ideas, thoughts, and these we know have a language understood
by all.

Moreover, this volume is not presented from the standpoint of the
antiquarian or philologist. The Brothers and Sisters of Ephrata, though
celibates, sworn to the love of the celestial Eve and the heavenly
Bridegroom, were none the less flesh and flood, subject to the same
passions and temptations as the men and women of the present day. They
too had "eyes, hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions,"
and were "fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to
the same diseases, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer." In
a word, they were men and women of like passions with ourselves.

It is of such men and women the author writes; men and women unused "to
the courtliness of state, unskilled in the hollowness of vain
compliment, untutored in the frippery and polish of artificial society,
unacquainted with the insincerity and diplomacy of the wider world,
removed from kith and kin and thrown upon their own resources among
strangers and amid new surroundings."[4]

  [4] Grumbine.

The author, that he may not be held to have drawn too deeply from his
neighbor's well, fully acknowledges his great indebtedness to his
friend, Mr. Sachse. Indeed, to do exact justice, it must be said that
this volume contains nothing more than a romance wound about the facts,
incidents, traditions, and descriptions, taken by the author from the
"German Sectarians," with the kind permission of Mr. Sachse.

Acknowledgment of indebtedness should also be made to Rev. J. Max Hark
and Hon. Samuel W. Pennypacker, Governor of Pennsylvania, for the use of
translations, portions of which are prefixed to Chapters XV. and XIX. It
should also be added that the initial letters used through the book, as
well as the design on the cover, are made from reproductions of pen-work
drawings executed by the Ephrata Sisterhood.

    THE AUTHOR.

                      CONTENTS

  CHAPTER                                     PAGE

     I. FLIGHT FROM THE WORLD                   1

    II. "PETER THE HERMIT"                     10

   III. SONNLEIN                               21

    IV. WE LEAVE THE HERMITAGE                 30

     V. EPHRATA                                40

    VI. CONCERNING TAXATION                    51

   VII. THE RIGHT PREVAILS                     69

  VIII. OUR FIRST LOSS                         77

    IX. A LOVE FEAST                           86

     X. THE BROTHERHOOD OF ZION                94

    XI. BROTHER AGONIUS AND HIS PROPHECY      108

   XII. SISTER BERNICE IS COMFORTED           127

  XIII. THE COMET AND BROTHER ALBURTUS        135

   XIV. OUR SISTER LEAVES US                  146

    XV. THE GREAT COMET                       155

    XVI. A FAR JOURNEY                        165

   XVII. IN A STRANGE LAND                    176

  XVIII. SONNLEIN COMETH TO MAN'S ESTATE      193

    XIX. WHEN HEARTS ARE YOUNG                207

     XX. SISTER GENOVEVA IS GONE              223

    XXI. BROTHER ALBURTUS                     235

   XXII. SONNLEIN TAKETH THE ORDEAL           249

  XXIII. A MIDNIGHT VISIT                     265

   XXIV. MINE ENEMY'S HIDING-PLACE            281

    XXV. THE END OF THE WITCH                 295

   XXVI. THE TWAIN ARE MADE ONE               305

  XXVII. RETROSPECT                           324



CHAPTER I

FLIGHT FROM THE WORLD

    Happy the man who has the town escaped;
    To him the whistling trees, the murmuring brooks,
    The shining pebbles, preach
    Virtue's and wisdom's lore.

    The whispering grove a holy temple is
    To him, where God draws nigher to his soul;
    Each verdant sod a shrine,
    Whereby he kneels to heaven.

        --Ludwig Heinrich Christoph Hölty.


For a clearer understanding of what I have here written in the fond
desire that there may be those who delight in a tale simply told, even
though it be of my brothers and sisters who lived their quiet, peaceful
lives, with now and then, 'tis true, a jarring note, consecrated to
their faith, in the solitude of a new-world wilderness, I must set
forth, without weariness to the reader, I hope, somewhat of the humble
pilgrim whose now old and time-worn hands pen these lines.

I, Johann Peter Müller, son of a reformed minister, under the inspection
of _Kreis Kaiserslautern_, was born in the year 1710, at Altzborn
Oberamt Kaiserslautern in the Palatinate, studied at Heidelberg,
matriculated 1725 at that university and in my twentieth year
volunteered in response to the urgent calls for clergymen from the
province of Pennsylvania.

Leaving my beloved father and mother and _Vaterland_ in the summer of
1730, I floated on a raft down the Rhine to Rotterdam, embarking there
for America on the good ship "Thistle," and after a long, uneventful
voyage arrived at Philadelphia, August 28, 1730, taking the oath of
allegiance the following day, which oath I am proud to say I have always
kept. Almost immediately upon my arrival I applied to the Rev. Jedediah
Andrews, for ordination, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in
Philadelphia.

After asking me a great many questions he advised me to apply to the
synod. This excellent advice was acted upon so promptly that in three
weeks after my arrival the notes of the synod recorded, "It is agreed by
the synod that Mr. John Peter Miller, a Dutch probationer lately come
over, be left to the care of the presbytery of Philadelphia to settle
him in the work of the ministry."

In pursuance of this resolution the presbytery appointed three ministers
to examine me for entrance upon my holy office, and what they required
of me is best shown by a minute of the meeting where I "came under
Tryals and after a previous Test of his ability in Prayer, Examining him
in the Languages, he read his sermon and Exegesis on ye Justification
and Various suitable questions on ye Arts and Sciences, officially
Theology and out of Scripture."

Briefly, the presbytery licensed me as a candidate to preach the gospel
"where Providence may give him opportunity and call," and for four years
after my ordination to the ministry I preached the word, during which
period I received much assistance from Conrad Weiser, one of my church
officers, who for years was consulted by both the civil and military
authorities in times of need and danger, he being an efficient Indian
interpreter to the government.

I officiated among my countrymen in Philadelphia and Germantown, and in
the Skippack Valley, besides visiting the more widely scattered
congregation in the province. I was also called upon to take regular
charge of the Tulpehocken Church, together with the Union Congregation
of the Lutheran and Reformed which had been formed by the Germans living
in the valley of the Cocalico and the Bucherthal. This region was
almost wholly settled by those of the Lutheran and Reformed faiths, the
circuit being known as the Canestoga congregation. Ere long a church for
the United Congregation was built about six miles northeast of Ephrata
on a commanding hill beyond the Bucherthal, the Moden Crik (Muddy Creek)
Church.

Having preached to mine own people for several years, I quit the
ministry and returned to private life, not, however, without much prayer
and meditation; for about that time the Ephrata community was in its
infancy. I had never had much inclination to join it, because of the
reproach and contempt which lay against the community by the orthodox
churches of the province; but my inward conductor brought me to that
dilemma, either to be a member of this new institution or consent to my
own damnation. I chose the first, and received baptism into the
congregation in May of 1735, together with Conrad Weiser and a number of
families from the Union Church. We were baptized by Conrad Beissel,
whose inspired eloquence had finally prevailed upon me to take this
step.

I did not much differ from a poor criminal under sentence of death when
I was led into the water. However, the Lord our God did strengthen me
when I came into the water, and then I in a solemn manner renounced my
life with all its prerogatives, without reservation, and I have found,
in all my long life, that all this was put into the divine records, for
he hath never failed to assist me in times of need, and these have been
many.

But much wrath and indignation was engendered against us by our baptism.
We were called "seceders," "rebels," "Beisselianer"; others said we had
been deluded by the witchcraft and sorcery of Beissel; still others said
that our conversion was the work of the Evil One; others were for
bringing civil action against us; but in all the noise and smoke of this
great tumult, Brother Weiser successfully prevented any charges being
brought against us. Pastor Boehm, my old Skippack rival, hath kindly
said of me in this matter in his report to the Amsterdam Synod: "This
Miller at the same time drew the Tulpehocken church to himself, against
whose false spirit I frequently warned them; but they continued to
adhere to him like misguided, silly people. Finally, the fraud against
which I warned them so honestly and continuously has come to light, and
this Miller publicly went over to the dissolute Seventh-day Tumpler
sect, and had himself baptized Tumplerwise in the Canestoka, in the
month of April, 1735. He took out ten families, Reformed and Lutheran,
from the Tulpehocken congregation, who did as he did."

May the Lord forgive him for his narrow sneer as I have long ago, for it
hath ever been my rule not to bear spite or malice, no matter how
grievous the injury, knowing full well that what the Roman philosopher
hath said is true, and that is, "Malice drinks one-half of its own
poison."

Brother Weiser, I regret to say, did not possess himself of the same
spirit; but on the contrary always resented every insult, and it is
still current among us that shortly after he left the Kloster in later
years to accept a justice's commission offered him by Governor Thomas,
our Brother Weiser, while riding the road to Reading, met the Reformed
pastor of the Cocalico, on his nag. Brother Weiser, foolishly forgetting
the spirit of humility of the Kloster, cried out to the pastor that he
surely must think himself above his Lord whom he professed to serve.
Asked for an explanation, Brother Weiser replied that where an ass was
good enough for the Saviour it should be good enough for his followers,
to which came the quick rejoinder that this was perfectly true, but as
Governor Thomas had appointed all the asses as justices, people were
forced to ride upon horses.

Within two days after our baptism, and in order that we might cut
ourselves entirely loose from our former mode of life and thought, we
determined that all books which were now considered _libri heretici_,
such as the Heidelberg Catechism, Luther's Catechism, the Psalter, and
Arndt's "_Paradies Gärtlein_," should be utterly consumed by fire. In
short, all devotional literature of the old faith not in accord with
our new departure, we gathered from the various families that had been
converted, and not a few from mine own little library, and upon the
appointed day Brother Weiser and the converts and myself assembled at
the little cabin of Brother Fiedler, and there solemnly condemned the
pernicious volumes to be burned.

The "_Paradies Gärtlein_," however, had a peculiar sanctity attached to
it by the German settlers; for it was firmly believed that it was
protected by Divine interposition from both fire and flood. I had heard,
even in my boyhood days, many a story of the miraculous preservation of
this book. Some present objected to its being included, for surely the
Lord would save it. Others, as ardent in their new faith as they had
been in the old, no more honored the book as sacred, but were now firmly
convinced that as its immunity hitherto had been from the Evil One, the
greater the reason it must be destroyed with the others.

The brush heap was accordingly prepared in front of Brother Fiedler's
cabin. Each of the participants gathered up an armful of the doomed
volumes, and at the word filed out of the little doorway headed by
myself, followed by the schoolmaster. Arriving at the brush heap it was
soon set afire, and the various books were solemnly consigned to the
flames by Brother Weiser and the schoolmaster and others, with the
solemn invocation "Thus perish all priestcraft!" Afterward the ashes
were scattered to the four winds, and we departed feeling that we had
thus cut ourselves off from the faith of our forefathers and had this
day taken a step pregnant with glorious promise for the future.

It was said the next day, and I firmly believe this was an invention of
our enemies, that one of Brother Fiedler's family found among the now
cold ashes the little "_Paradies Gärtlein_," a trifle charred on the
edges, the leather cover shriveled and blackened, the clasps almost
burned to a crisp, but the leaves still holding together, and not a page
of the print in the slightest impaired. Its preservation soon became
noised abroad, and was greatly used as an argument against us by those
who opposed our step. As for me, despite the many foolish and malicious
charges that have been made against my soundness of mind for taking part
in this thing (which I defend on the ground of necessity and possibly
due somewhat to youthful zeal) I never believed that the book had been
saved but for the reason that when it was thrown into the pyre it was
tightly clasped and by chance fell to one side of the flames, and as I
have often noted paper tightly pressed together yields but grudgingly to
the flames. Many good people, however, believed the miracle story and
feared extreme punishment for condemning such a sacred volume to
destruction, and the demand became so great for the book that an edition
was later printed by Christopher Sauer, of Germantown; but strange to
say not one of his great output was able to withstand either fire or
flood when it came into contact with these elements.



CHAPTER II

"PETER THE HERMIT"

    Where I may sit and rightly spell
    Of every star that heaven doth shew,
    And every herb that sips the dew;
    Till old experience do attain
    To something like poetic strain.
    These pleasures, Melancholy, give:
    And I with thee will choose to live.

        --Il Penseroso.


Within a few weeks after the events already narrated, Brother Beissel
made another visit to Dulpehackin with the intention of forming the
converts into a new congregation, with myself as leader. When this
proposal was made to me, I requested over night for reflection and
prayer. In my zeal I had thought my recent baptism had cleansed and
purified me from all fleshly lusts and from all such heaven-separating
vanities as pride and ambition; but that night witnessed within me such
a struggle between evil ambition on the one hand, and the desire to
surrender myself completely to my Maker on the other, as I shall never
forget.

To be elder of the as yet little band of followers of Brother Beissel,
what might it not lead to? For I doubted not at the time but that the
little band would eventually grow into a large congregation whose
influence should be far-reaching. Like the mustard seed it might grow
and increase until the whole world were living as one grand, consecrated
sisterhood and brotherhood.

Some such splendid temptation the Evil One dangled before my eyes during
that long night, but with the dawning my mind became clearer and the
last star had just closed its eyes when I felt stealing over me a
feeling of sureness that I would do what was right, and with that I felt
myself pervaded with a sense of ineffable peace.

When Brother Beissel saw me in the morning, anxious for my reply, I told
him I must decline his offer as I intended to withdraw into the
solitudes and live unmolested from the frailties and follies of the
world.

He acquiesced with a cheerfulness which I confess hurt the remnant of
pride in me and which, I fear, hath ever been imperfectly suppressed,
for I had hoped he would show his appreciation of me and what I was able
to do by expressing at least some regret. But that pride is ever the
forerunner of a fall is, indeed, true, and my chagrin was not relieved
any upon Brother Beissel's calmly announcing, as if it had all been
prearranged, that he would appoint as teacher, or elder, of the
congregation, Bro. Michael Wohlforth, whom I knew and respected for his
sturdy love of our cause, but who, by reason of the infirmity of a harsh
tongue and violent temper--and I regret to say it, though in
charity--was not too well fitted for an office that requireth a gentle
tongue, there being, as human flesh is made up, a limit even to
Christian forbearance.

At that time, in May, 1735, the Solitary Brethren and Sisters had
dispersed in the wilderness of Conestogas, each for himself, as hermits,
and I, following that same way, did set up my hermitage in Dulpehackin,
at the foot of a mountain, on a limpid stream; and that they who in
these days live in their large, comfortable houses may know what the
hermits' homes were like, I shall set forth how my own little hut, or
cabin, was built, as a great many cabins of the first settlers were
after the same pattern.

These be the dimensions of the proper model, which I set down in all
particularity, so that if there be of my readers who ever take
themselves to a life of solitude they may know how the true hermit
should be housed, for I know there be many that have not this knowledge
and thus are in exceeding danger of running after some vulgar variation
of the ideal model: Length, twenty-five feet; breadth, twenty feet;
height under joist, eight feet six inches. The measurements must be no
more, no less. The door should open toward the south to catch the sun,
and above the doorway must be a small overhead piece, or porch, six feet
from floor to ceiling. As I was fully six feet, if not more, my head and
my pride received at first many a hard knock whenever I forgot that a
hermit, at least if he be tall, must not walk with too haughty a stride.
For the foundation we, my faithful adherents and myself, took four large
stones, as flat and even as we could find, about a foot thick, and laid
them for the corners, so that the floors of our huts would be clear from
the damp ground; but, and this was not so desirable, not only the
smaller wild animals would creep underneath, but occasionally some
straying serpent would stick its repulsive head out at me and make me
regret that a hermit's hut must needs offer such attractions to these
monsters.

Upon the stone foundations the ground logs were laid. These were notched
at the ends and fastened with hickory pins. Smaller logs inserted into
these longer ones formed the floor joists, though in most cases a solid
log floor was laid. The cabin was then raised upon the ground joists,
the logs being run upon skids by the help of wooden forks, the corners
of the logs being notched so as to bring them as close together as
possible. In this work I could not give much help, for this notching and
fitting together was done by experienced ones, called the axe, or
cornermen. The less experienced of us carried the logs and ran them up
into place, the doors and windows not being cut until all the logs were
resting snug and secure in their places. But with all the care in
fitting the logs closely, there were cracks and crevices that had to be
filled with a mixture of loam and dry grass, so that the cabin might be
proof against rain or snow and not give too draughty ventilation. For
the rafters we took chestnut saplings, hewn flat on the top, and these
were usually covered with shingles of flat oak, although it sometimes
occurred that a temporary thatch or sod roof had to serve until the oak
shingles were prepared. Last of all came the fireplaces and chimneys.
Both of these were built of loam and stones outside, at one end of the
cabin. Thus from the simple materials that lay at our hands and
feet--the trees, the stones, and the earth--our cabins were built, and
though small and insignificant as the worldly-wise consider things, were
not too small to hold heads and hearts that thought and throbbed greatly
for God and man. No iron was used, for as at Ephrata, when it came to
be organized into a community, we ever regarded iron as an evil metal.
The temple of Solomon was built wholly without iron, and according to
the Rosicrucians, from whom we had learned much concerning the mysteries
of the Infinite, we were taught that no dwelling or building consecrated
to the Almighty could have iron in it, as that metal was the emblem of
darkness and destruction--nay, of the Evil One himself.

My little hut, so securely built, is still there, as are the old trees
in the orchard I planted in those early days. Sometimes in later life,
when even the Kloster wore upon me, I have resorted to this sequestered
spot, quietly and unbeknown to the others, there to renew my faith and
strength by undisturbed communion with God, reading and pondering with
never lessening delight upon this little page out of his wonderful book
of nature, for it was a lovely nook, an ideal retreat. The little
_Mühlbach_, clear and cold and sparkling and pure as the water of life,
came dancing joyously down the dale, kissing many a wild flower looking
at its mirrored sweetness as it hung over the bushy brink. Many a time
have I wandered along its wooded sides, drinking in, in all its fullness
and completeness, the solemnity, the holy stillness of the long aisles
of stately pine and heavy fir and balsam, with their fragrant odors
rising from this woodland temple like incense toward heaven.

The only sounds that broke the stillness were the murmurous song of the
stream, the chirp of insects, and now and then the choiring of the
feathered songsters of these delightful glades. Such was the
incomparable spot selected by me, now a recluse, for my probation and
retirement, and here I fondly imagined I might live in beatific and
solitary communion with Him; but I see now that this blissful idleness
was not to be mine; for his service means more than a mere folding of
the hands and pious meditation and contemplation of his beauty, his
goodness, and his mercy.

Here I lived in all the simplicity that seemed to me best comported with
the life of a hermit. My bodily wants, though oft clamorous, displeasing
me much as showing how close I still was to earth, had to be content
with exceeding little; my little cabin sheltered me from storms--a hard
bench to sleep on, a long cloak of most humble make and material to form
my covering; for drink, the pure water from a near-by spring, varied
sometimes by acorn coffee; and for bread and meat, a bread made from
acorn flour.

There may be those who care to know how this acorn coffee and acorn
bread were made, not only by me, but by Brother Beissel and others who
were leading lives of solitude; and lest some think we were utterly daft
in relying upon this for sustenance, it may be said that it was not
original with us; but we were taught that from the earliest days of man
the oak, wherever it grew, furnished him both meat and drink from the
acorn and contained all that was necessary for his nourishment.

For making bread the acorns were first soaked in water, or steamed, to
free the bitterness; they were then dried and ground into meal which was
afterward worked up in the usual manner. This bread, which we in German
called _Eichelbrod_, had as much sustenance as _Pumpernickel_ (a
favorite bread among the German peasants), but was wont to occasion more
trouble for the digestion.

As a substitute for coffee the largest and soundest acorns were
selected, only the thoroughly ripe ones being used. They were then
hulled and taken out of their cups, cut into quarters and scalded with
boiling water, after which they were drained and allowed to cool. After
being placed in a bake oven until they were thoroughly dry, they were
finally roasted and ground, in which state they were ready for use.

To make acorn coffee we would take about a drachm of the grindings for
every three cups of boiling water, which we poured over the powdered
acorns and boiled for about ten minutes. I must confess I never cared
very much for this concoction for it lacked both the taste and gentle
stimulation of the regular coffee. This acorn coffee was accredited with
wonderful medicinal and mystical properties and was supposed to drive
all hereditary taint or distemper from the system. Indeed, even now it
is frequently given to children afflicted with scrofula. I recollect
that afterward in the early days of our community life at Ephrata there
came to us one Jean François Regnier, a French-Switzer, whom we regarded
as a visionary, as he claimed to have been awakened in his seventh year
and professed great holiness. He was the special apostle of the acorn
diet, not only claiming it to be good for food and as a substitute for
coffee, but he also made a sort of vinegar from acorns and an excellent
sort of whiskey which we used only in illness, but never as a drink, for
our community never permitted the use of strong liquors to corrupt the
body and inflame the imagination. Brother Regnier also made a sort of
_Analeptikum_, or tonic, to be used after any serious illness. For this
purpose the acorns were to be buried when the moon was in a certain
quarter, I forget which, until they had lost their bitterness, after
which they were dried, roasted, and powdered and mixed with sugar and
certain aromatic herbs.

For myself I never could see much in this acorn diet, for I grieve to
say that all my life I have had a most unpriestly appetite. I fear I was
never made for scanty fare. Be this as it may, I know that the
Rosicrucians taught that the oak furnished the first food for mankind,
the acorn being the meat and the honey-dew (_Honigmüth_) the drink. The
Rosicrucians also taught that the rustle of the foliage of the oak
denoted the presence of the Deity and even at Ephrata the Zionitic
Brethren were wont to wander in the forest and appeal to the oracles of
the oak, as the Druids had done in Britain hundreds of years before. It
was also fully believed that when the time of the complete restoration
of brotherly love should come there would come with it the primeval
simplicity, when man's entire sustenance would be drawn from the oak.
All these things were exceedingly difficult for me to believe, and I was
even suspected of heresy because I could not subscribe to these
extravagant beliefs.

Thus housed and fed I hoped to live out my days; but how utterly foolish
is the boasted wisdom and foresight of man; for how true it is that we
never know what a day may bring forth! When I went to my rest one night
not many days after my retirement to this spot I had no thought but that
here in this quiet, peaceful retreat, far away from the distracting
cares and temptations of a gain-seeking, pleasure-loving world, I should
live a calm, serene life, consecrated by daily communion with Him who
filled it.

In this mind, while above the roof of my hut the night glowed with
stars, sown by my Creator as thickly over the blue fields of heaven as
the husbandman scatters his seed across his broad acres, I sank into
sweet, refreshing, dreamless sleep; and yet not wholly dreamless, for it
seemed to me, far in the night, I heard a light footstep near and saw a
woman's form filling the doorway that stood open as was my habit, night
and day, and then I thought I heard a cry--the cry of a child--but which
to my sleep-deadened ears was also like unto the scream of some wild
creature of the dense mountain forest behind my hut; for I often heard
such cries and occasionally detected the stealthy footsteps of the wild
beasts that prowled near my dwelling, under the dark mantle of night;
but dream or no dream, I heard nothing more and slept on undisturbed
until the light of the dawn shining through the doorway bade me arise.



CHAPTER III

SONNLEIN

    And when the sun begins to fling
    His flaring beams, me, Goddess, bring
    To archèd walks of twilight groves.
    And shadows brown, that Sylvan loves,
    Of pine, or monumental oak,
    Where the rude axe with heavèd stroke
    Was never heard the nymphs to daunt,
    Or fright them from their hallowed haunt
    There, in close covert, by some brook,
    Where no profaner eye may look,
    Hide me from day's garish eye.

        --_Il Penseroso._


The dawn was still blushing at the greeting of the sun when, as usual, I
took my way with bowed head to an old monarch pine, my altar, to greet
the day with prayer. Absorbed in pious meditations I knelt down; but
just as I was closing my eyes, I felt something lightly strike, or push,
my knee. Still unheeding I knelt, when a more vigorous push made me
turn to see what venturesome creature had the temerity to disturb my
adorations. I shall never forget the bewilderment that encompassed me
when I beheld beside me, lying at the foot of the old pine, the form of
a child, almost covered with leaves and cones. But this little visitant,
of earth or heaven, child or cherub--I scarce could believe mine own
senses! In truth, I know not how long I knelt there, mouth agape, eyes
wide open and hands outstretched. But finally I recovered myself
sufficiently to see that miracle or no miracle, the being was a reality.
And then brushing aside the leaves I scrutinized the little foundling
more closely; for sleeping it was, as sweetly and trustfully as if in
the _Mutterchen's_ arms, instead of on the hard bosom of mother earth
with a wilderness about it. The little head with its tangled mass of
dark, silky hair was resting against a large, sheltering root that
reached out from the base of the pine, in a broad, tender arm-like curve
about the babe. Recently dried tears had furrowed the not over-clean
face, flushed with sleep, with grimy little water courses. A stained and
tattered white baby cloak afforded scanty covering for the child; for
beneath the frayed edges extended the poor, tiny, wayworn feet, which,
like the chubby hands, were torn and scratched with thorns, filling my
soul with pity, and with indignation at the wretch who could thus
desert an innocent child; and my wrath was not diminished when I felt
that hair and face and hands and feet were damp with dew.

  [Illustration: "In truth I know not how long I knelt there." Page 22.]

And yet the dear stranger slept on so unconscious of such trifling
things as dew and hard, earthen cradle, I could not find the will to
awaken the little one. Instead, I turned again toward the east and
raising mine eyes to Him I implored and beseeched him, with all the
power I could put into my petition, to guide and direct me in the care
and conduct of this lost, orphaned one; for somehow--I never knew why--I
accepted the idea unhesitatingly that this child had come into my life
to be a part of it to the end of my days. My prayer ended, I saw that my
charge still slept. I quietly sat down on a rock near by and watched and
waited for the awakening.

How long I sat I know not, motionless as to body but of a verity sadly
puzzled in mind as to how the child came there and what I should do with
it in my hermit life amid such wild surroundings. From the leafy coverts
about me came the calls and the chattering of the birds greeting the
morn with such lusty will I was almost minded to join in, but wisely
refrained lest my heavy voice arouse the sleeper and mayhap drive far
from me the cheerful songsters. A saucy red squirrel with waving,
rearward plume came down the old pine, stopping now and then to bark
defiance at sleeper and watcher. Still nearer the red rover came, his
proud plume fairly quivering with excitement. Once he rushed down in a
burst of half-hearted confidence, coming almost to my feet, looking up
at me as though challenging to mortal combat--and then with might and
main he scampered back again, his long tail almost brushing the face of
the little slumberer, as the bold tree-dweller rushed far up into the
branches of the pine, as if he never again would be so rash and
heedless.

At last, however, the little form at the foot of the tree moved uneasily
and the yawnings and twistings showed that the awakening had come; and
so it had. The little one sat up rubbing its eyes and blinking and
winking, when suddenly it saw me and then such a full-lunged cry burst
forth as drove the red squirrel in precipitate flight far into the
depths of the forest and also drove me into a state verging upon
imbecility; for verily I knew not what to do. The more I tried to soothe
the child, the louder it yelled and truly my patience was tried most
sorely. But I have since learned that the cry of a healthy child,
however lusty, does not last long and so after many rubbings of the eyes
and gradually subsiding sobs, and sundry sniffs, the little wanderer
took out of my large, awkward hands the pretty wild flower I had
plucked, and actually laughed as the big, dark eyes looked trustfully
into mine.

I asked it in German to tell me its name--where was the _Mutterchen_?
but the big eyes grew bigger still and a quivering of the underlip
warned me I was only frightening the poor child. If not German, surely
English, and again I asked, and this time in English, "What is thy
name?" My little visitor looked at me gravely and then as if surprised
that I should not know, said--a trifle crossly, I thought--what sounded
to me like "Tass." "Tass what?" I insisted gently, but he only replied
more firmly as he rose to his feet holding on to my hand, "No Tass Wot,
Tass!" And then as if a great thought had come to him he said proudly,
"Me gone be man some day; me find faver." "Very well, 'Tass,' where's
_Mutterchen_--I mean mother, mamma?" But the mention of "mamma" was too
much for the over-burdened little heart and flinging himself into my
arms, his tiny hands clasping my neck, he cried as if he never would be
consoled again. But I did the only thing I could do, let him cry; and I
have since learned that it is an excellent thing not only for the tiny
folk, when troubles press heavily on their little souls, but even for us
larger children to cry it out and have done with it.

But when he was through crying for the time at least for his "mamma,"
another problem stared me in the face like some hungry beast; for the
poor child cried over and over with irritating persistence, "Me wants
sumfin to eat"; and "me hungry"; or "Me want watta," or "Me want mik."
The "watta" I readily interpreted was water, which was soon supplied to
him from the fresh, sweet product of the spring in the rear of my hut;
but what "mik" meant I could not for some time decide; for I did not
recollect that I had ever heard such a word in German, or English, or
Latin, or Greek, or Hebrew, or any other language. At last it struck me
it was an English baby word for milk. But I hardly knew how to get him
that, since I kept no cows or goats. In short, in my hermit's life I
never saw any milk and I could not run the risk of destroying the
child's stomach with my acorn coffee; yet I did not know how to get him
the milk, for which he cried incessantly. It was some distance to the
nearest clearing where I could procure milk and it was much too far for
him to walk, and indeed, rather far for me to carry him. Moreover, I did
not care as yet to introduce him to the simple-minded but suspicious
settlers, for I knew full well what a harvest of insults and taunts I
should reap from my enemies who had not gone out with me should I
suddenly appear with this little boy.

But if I could not take him along I did not see how I could leave him
behind. However, I took him into my hut, and for the first time it
seemed bare and cold and cheerless. I ventured a small piece of a loaf
of acorn bread on which my teeth had been paying penance for over a
week. He ate the hard dry crust as though it had been the choicest
morsel and then calmly announced that he wanted "moe."

"Merciful Father," thought I, "where am I to find food for this little
glutton?" as I respected his request by handing him such a generous
portion of the loaf as I thought would surely keep him quiet for the
rest of the day.

It was evident I must take account of his appetite, and leaving him in
the hut, closing the door behind me and fastening it so, as I thought,
that such a small child could not open it, I marched forth to the
nearest settler's, to one of the families that had followed me in my
baptism by Brother Beissel.

After loading me up with _Swartzbrod_, a rough sort of rye bread, but
exceedingly wholesome, and with a small crock of apple butter and some
smoked meat of the pig, besides giving me a jug of fresh milk, the good
sister remarked with that inquisitive hunger for news that is ever
present in the lonely dwellers of the wilderness, whether I had company,
because I took so much more than usual.

In my confusion, I hurriedly said "Nay," but recollecting I must not
lie, I shouted back as I started off rapidly, "Yea, a little, not much,"
leaving the good sister staring at my retreating form as though she
greatly feared much piety had made me mad.

As I approached the clearing, burdened with my rich cargo--even to this
day I smile when I think how eager and anxious I was to get back and
find that boy safe--I saw that the door of my hut was wide open. I
fairly gasped with apprehension. Had he been spirited away as
mysteriously as he had come? I rushed into the cabin letting my load
fairly fall from me as I looked about everywhere and into the most
foolish places for this strange child. Then out again and to the old
pine where I had first found him; but he was not there; back again
toward the hut, my heart in my throat, I went, but how joy possessed my
soul when hearing a gurgling and a bubbling and a laughing and crowing
behind me I turned about like a flash and there sat the blessed rogue,
his bare legs and feet swinging and splashing, kicking up and down, in
my spring.

When he saw me he looked up with such a glad knowledge of me that I
forgot to scold him for his vandalism and catching him in my arms I
carried him crowing and kicking to the hut, where he filled himself so
full with milk and ment and the fresh rye bread that I was greatly
alarmed immediately lest he might become ill from his gorging; but he
minded it not in the least and ere many hours had gone by was clamoring
for more, so that I doubted not the rest of my hermit life would be
spent in making trips to the settlements for something to eat for this
hungry mannikin.

Indeed, I should like to tell of all his bright ways and the wonderful
things he would say all during the remaining summer we lived here in
this lonely spot. At first he often cried for "mamma," but gradually he
seemed to forget her and greatly delighted me by calling me "faver,"
which in later years he changed to the more affectionate _Vaterchen_. I
tried almost every day for a long while to get him to tell me his name,
but beyond assuring me it was "Tass," I never could learn anything. At
first, I called him _Söhnlein_, but soon after, upon reflecting that he
was English and not German, it seemed but just that I should make his
name at least half in his mother tongue, and this I did by calling him
Sonnlein, for a precious little son he was to me.

The cloak I preserved most carefully hoping that some day it might help
me find my boy's parents; especially did I care to keep it because I had
noticed worked on it in pretty red letters the initials "C. S.," but
beyond this there was absolutely nothing about the cloak or any of the
child's clothing in which I found him, to tell who he was or whence he
came; nor did any reports come as to any lost child, so that I was
confirmed in my first belief that he was mine for the rest of my days.



CHAPTER IV

WE LEAVE THE HERMITAGE

    In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct
    thy paths.

        --Bible.


Thus our souls came closer and closer to each other, day after day, and
grew into a love that bound us together as one for life. It seemed as
though the father and mother love he had lost were all given to me; for
children must turn their love toward somebody or something, as surely as
the rivers run to the sea whence they come. As for me, I doubt not that
the love which is in every man, more or less, saint or sinner, turned me
so strongly toward this pretty little fellow, with all his taking ways,
as if he had been my own flesh and blood.

In this sweet companionship we drank in together the springtime splendor
all about us, when the brook flashed bright as silver and the wooded
hill in the rear of my hut was gay with the songs of the little birds,
their delicate harmonies frequently emphasized by the harsh cawing of
the crows flying in a thin line overhead, while from the deep recesses
of the forest came now and then the long drum call of some proud
partridge calling to himself with lordly air, so I imagined, his
numerous wives, or, perchance, bidding indignant defiance to some
intruding brother partridge.

But the glory of the spring soon merged into the glowing beauty of
summer, and all too soon for me and Sonnlein, who like the birds and the
beasts were ever out of doors, came the fall, with its magnificent
coloring of hill and woods; but none the less the shortening days and
the keen air were portentous of the dying year and the cold, dreary
winter that ere long would shut us off still more from my followers from
whose visits I received such great comfort and delight.

But the inevitable, inquisitive mischief makers also came all too
frequently, and these, especially they that held me as a heretic,
presuming on my meekness of temper could find no sneer or taunt or
insult too mean not only for me but even for my innocent boy, who the
malicious ones pretended to believe was a child of mine and some
nameless woman's.

Had my persecutors known how my soul raged within me, the chains of my
will being scarce stout enough to hold my wrath, when they thus
insulted Sonnlein and spat even on him as being the "devil's spawn,"
just as they oft spat on me, they had not been so bold; for though I
always have had the heart of a priest my Maker saw fit to give me the
strength and stature of a warrior, so that it had been no great task for
me to pick up my tormentors bodily and hurl them headlong into the
brook--and at times I wondered whether I had not been justified had I
done so. But my wise father had early impressed on me that any weakling
can resent injury, while only a truly great nature can forgive; that the
more we learn to forgive, the more we grow like Him who suffered
everything and forgave all. So in all the afflictions mine enemies
heaped upon me, especially through my boy, the chains, I rejoice to say,
always held, though greatly strained, and instead of revenging myself I
merely uttered an inward prayer for my tormentors, and in the long years
allotted to me--so wonderful is God's wisdom--it hath fallen to me more
than once that they who treated me so vilely came to see the error of
their ways and were glad thereafter to hold me in their esteem and
friendship. Truly, time and loving patience conquer all evil.

As the fall advanced I found though I had left the world, the world had
not left me, and the melancholy temptations which troubled me every day
did prognosticate to me misery and afflictions, so that Sonnlein not
infrequently seeing me in this gloomy state would confide to his
playmates, the birds and flowers, that I was cross. Indeed, I came to
the conclusion that under the pretense of holiness, I was doing nothing
but nourishing my own selfishness, and I knew full well that selfishness
cometh only from the Evil One.

But while I was in this state matters were shaping themselves for my
redemption from this narrow, hermit's life; for when I withdrew from the
world a number of brethren and sisters were living the solitary life
dispersed in the wilderness of the Canestogues; but strangely enough and
yet perhaps not so strange--for the right human heart leaneth toward the
companionship of others--during the summer a camp was laid out for all
the Solitary at the very spot where now the Kloster stands, and where at
that time Brother Beissel, the leader of the hermits, among whom were
the four Eckerling brothers, lived down in the meadow, near a spring,
and nigh the Cocalico, which name hath its ancestry from the Indian
_Hoch-Hale-kung_, meaning "the den of serpents," for that the low lands
along this stream were infested with water snakes.

The little camp on the Cocalico grew rapidly, accessions coming from
many directions. The Germantown Dunkers after the death of their
patriarch, Alexander Mack, a veritable saint, sent no less than
seventeen members. Others came from Falkner Swamp, from Oley and
elsewhere, so that the settlement soon grew into large proportions. But
for all these good people there was no cabin or house large enough for
the holding of worship, as the little hermit huts were barely big enough
for their own occupants. The largest building within the _Lager_ was a
cabin built against the hillside, wherefore this cabin was called the
_Berghaus_ (Hill-house); but even this was too small to hold the love
feasts and the meetings.

While matters were thus progressing on the Cocalico, I was greatly
surprised one morning, just as day was breaking, to see Brother Beissel
coming toward my hut, Sonnlein for a wonder being still asleep. As he
saw me, he hastened forward with his gentlest smile; for though he could
be as stern and forbidding as Jove, our brother could, when it pleased
him, use all the wiles and arts of Mercurius; so that, though I have
ever been loth to suspect others of aught ill, I could not help
wondering what new thing was on foot for tempting me.

"Surely, my dear brother, I marvel not that thou preferrest this
paradise to our mean little place on the Cocalico," he said; for he
always affected great humility, even though with all his godly zeal he
was exceedingly proud and stubborn and often harsh and violent.

"Paradise it may be," I replied quietly, "and yet every earthly paradise
hath its serpent to lead the sons of Adam into sin."

"Thou meanest the child?" he insinuated.

"Nay, not the child," I repeated with unbecoming heat. "Were it not for
his dear companionship I had been unable long ago to remain apart from
the world."

"It is verily true the hermit life hath its temptations and
tribulations," remarked Brother Beissel, so quietly I should not have
suspected anything had it not been he was watching my face closely all
the while. But with all my simplicity I was not such an utter stranger
to his dissimulation that he could wind me about his fingers like wax.

"So," I merely responded, "it hath, verily."

After a few minutes, during which he coughed lightly a few times and
scratched the ground with his stick, he inquired indifferently, "Hast
heard of our change on the Cocalico?"

"Naught much," I replied, also indifferently, being determined to make
him come to the point, if it took all day, for I knew he had something
at heart which in good time I should hear.

"Hast heard we have almost completed a large building where our Brothers
and Sisters may worship?" he inquired.

"I have heard so," I made answer, still with seeming indifference.

And then he paused even longer than before and scratched the earth
thoughtfully, neither of us saying a word. Then he resumed as though
partly speaking to himself and partly to me: "This house which we have
erected to the glory of God we have called Kedar, 'the house of
sorrowfulness'"; after another pause, "it containeth a hall for the
meetings and likewise still larger halls furnished for holding the love
feasts. There are also a number of _Kammers_ intended for the Solitary,
after the manner of the early Greek Church."

"Ye have built wisely," I said, still quietly.

Then the longest pause of all, at the end of which he placed his hands
meekly across his breast, saying to me as he turned about to leave:
"When thou art minded to leave thy hermit's life, we shall give thee
welcome at Ephrata."

He had actually proceeded, but slowly as if in deep thought, almost
beyond the farther boundary of my little orchard, when he turned about
gravely and came back again like one who had forgotten something. "Now,"
thought I, "shall I see the kernel of the nut he hath been cracking";
for I had not stirred, knowing he would return, and as he came toward me
he said, watching me closely: "Our good Brother Michael Wohlforth
exhorteth the Solitary with exceeding harshness and violence."

"Still they should heed him for I hear he is a godly man," I replied.

"But Brother Weiser and his followers can no longer bear Brother Michael
Wohlforth's temper."

"A little temper will not hurt the Solitary."

"But Brother Wohlforth hath been recalled as teacher," continued Brother
Beissel.

"There be many among you to take his place," I assured him.

"Nay, not so many, for upon the recalling of Brother Wohlforth, he was
succeeded by Brother Emanuel Eckerling."

"A worthy man," I said strongly.

"But he preacheth too long; sometimes he discourseth even six hours
without a stop."

"Surely he is of most excellent zeal," I murmured, smiling inwardly.

"The Solitary incline to think six hours be too long even for
preaching," said Brother Beissel doubtfully.

"Six hours' preaching doth seem of rather great length," I admitted;
"still an eloquent man maketh the time fly on swift wings."

"But our good Brother Emanuel is not eloquent. Before he hath spoken
half an hour, most of the Solitary be asleep, so that this thing is a
great disgrace to us."

"Surely the Brethren are not so rude and ungodly?" I asked innocently.

"Yea, I grieve that he too was recalled, and now we have no one that
seemeth suitable."

"Thou hast forgotten thyself," I reminded him.

But he felt not the point. Instead he blurted out as I liked better to
hear him, forgetting all his serpent's slyness--which I dislike greatly
in man or woman--"We want thee, Brother Miller. The Solitary all want
thee. We must have thee. I am enjoined not to return without thee."
Brother Beissel could be just as outspoken as he could be insinuating.
"What sayest thou?"

"Doth the invitation extend to the child?" said I pointing to my boy who
had by this time come out to me and was hanging shyly to my hand, and
looking with no great favor upon Brother Beissel.

"If needs be he come with thee, the invitation extends to him," he
replied, although I thought reluctantly.

"Then we come," I promised him, whereupon our brother turned to say
"Good-bye," but the strange feeling between Sonnlein and Brother
Beissel, for some reason or other never wholly left either.

But even though I had chosen with so little hesitation to cast my lot
and Sonnlein's with our Brothers and Sisters at Ephrata, I found that my
hermit's life, with all its lack of companionship and intercourse with
kindred souls was after all very dear to me, so that I was almost
resolved to recall my promise; but in my bewilderment I turned to Him
for help and guidance, and after long and earnest prayer it became
clear to me it was my duty that Sonnlein and I join ourselves to Brother
Beissel and his followers.

The simple preparations for our departure were soon made. My hut and the
little garden adjoining and my apple orchard were consigned to the care
of one of my nearest adherents, and in a few days after Brother
Beissel's visit, Sonnlein and I, my back loaded with my books, among
them a number of volumes on the law, of which science I have been all my
life an eager student, started out together sorrowfully enough for
Brother Klopf's cabin, where he and his household, as well as Conrad
Weiser and Hans Michael Miller and their families, and several men and
women were gathered waiting for me and Sonnlein.

A brief season of the morning was spent in praise and prayer, after
which we solemnly proceeded on foot--except Sonnlein, who had to be
carried much of the way on our backs--to Ephrata, and by evening we were
in the welcoming folds of the little community of which Sonnlein and I
and most of the Dulpehackin converts became an abiding part.



CHAPTER V

EPHRATA

    That we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness
    and honesty.

        --New Testament.


In this wise Sonnlein and I came to Ephrata, the "fruitful," or like
Bethlehem of Judea, the "House of Bread," and in this beautiful,
peaceful camp, whose narrow domains embraced the rich, green meadows
along the northern banks of the gentle Cocalico and the higher ground,
named by us Mount Sinai, rising from the meadows, Sonnlein and I were
destined to learn, after the long lapse of years, the mystery of his
coming to me. Surely, then, I may look for forgiveness if at times I
delay my story to tell somewhat of the manner of our life with the rest
of the Solitary in this little forest-hidden corner of our large world.

When our little party arrived at Ephrata, we received a grave but none
the less soul-satisfying welcome; but as the Solitary always had great
regard for the value of time, we new-comers, without waiting to be bid,
at once added our labors toward the completion of Kedar, which though by
now was under roof, was unprepared for its sacred purposes.

I fear no contradiction when I state that this structure was different
from anything then to be found in the New World. As in the building of
our cabins, there was no iron whatever used in the construction of
Kedar. The material used was the timber we cut from the trees in the
forest about us. The spaces between the framework and the floor joists
were filled with wet clay from the banks of the Cocalico and cut grass
from the meadow, the sides then being coated with a thin layer of lime
prepared from the rocks near by. This filling was a peculiarity also of
all our large later structures and had the advantage that it made the
house warm in winter and cool in summer, and what was also exceedingly
desirable, this filling was impervious to vermin. Incredible as it may
seem, even our fireplaces and chimneys were built of wood and lined with
this mixture.

In height, Kedar was of three stories, of which the chief one was in the
middle. This contained the _Saal_, or meeting room, as well as the
rooms necessary for holding the _agapae_, or love feasts. The first
story, or ground floor, was divided off into small rooms or cells called
_Kammern_, for the Solitary. These cells were so exceedingly small that
the Solitary had barely room to turn about though there was but one
Solitary to each _Kammer_. The white walls, in their symbolism of
heavenly purity, were utterly bare of ornament. There were no paintings
or pictures, magnificent or otherwise; in their stead the occupant of
his narrow cell had but to look out of the only window, glass and small,
and soothe his longing by gazing on a most glorious picture of rich
meadow, sparkling stream, waving forests, dim, distant mountains, and
blue sky above, all painted and framed for us by Infinite power and
love. The only furniture was the hard, narrow, wooden bench that ran at
a right angle along the length and the adjacent width, and on these
religiously uncomfortable beds, with their flesh-mortifying wooden
blocks for pillows, the Solitary, after their daily toil, could sleep,
unvexed by troublesome consciences, with such peace and refreshing as
many a king in all his idle luxury might well envy. The only mitigation
against the chilling winter was our daily dress and the heat that
sometimes drifted in to us from the fire-place in the little hall at the
end of the narrow corridors leading into the _Kammern_.

The uppermost story of Kedar was given to the spiritual virgins who had
pledged themselves to a communal life. Shortly after, the ground floor
was handed over to the strictest of the single Brethren for a similar
purpose, these being Brothers Wohlforth, Meyle, Just, and Theonis, while
two of the Eckerlings, Israel and Gabriel, as well as Brother
Kalckgläser and Sonnlein and myself, as being the most important in the
community, outside of Brother Beissel, who occupied his little cabin in
the meadow, were quartered in the _Berghaus_.

Even before Kedar was wholly finished, _Nachtmetten_, or night meetings,
were instituted by the Solitary. These were religious meetings held
every midnight; for it was at that hour the great Judge was expected to
come. At first they lasted four hours from midnight, but as this allowed
so little time for necessary rest, two hours were held sufficient. It
was arranged that the Brethren should hold their devotions first at
these night meetings and after they had filed out of the _Saal_ the
Sisters would enter for their hour of prayer; but this was soon changed
so that the midnight prayers were held jointly. This arrangement soon
gave rise to such gossip and scandal among the enemies of our community
that Brother Beissel exhorted the Brothers and Sisters to pray earnestly
that these evil-minded ones might still their tongues; but though we
prayed earnestly and in all faith these gossiping tongues were
something even prayer and faith could not stop and so after these joint
meetings had continued a few months our good Brother Sigmund Landert
proposed to Brother Beissel that Kedar should be kept exclusively as a
Sister House, in which event Brother Landert promised he would out of
the wealth God had vouchsafed him, build a house adjoining Kedar, the
new structure to be used exclusively for assembly purposes, provided,
however, that he and his two daughters be received into the settlement.

Though Brother Beissel objected at first, matters so arranged themselves
finally that through the generosity and devotion of Brother Landert and
another Brother, Hermann Zinn, a large edifice was constructed on the
hillside, the _Bethaus_, House of Prayer. Besides the large _Saal_ for
joint meetings and public worship there were ample room for the love
feasts, and at the time of the completion of the _Bethaus_ the _Saal_
was the largest and most imposing room for public worship in the
province. At one end, toward the east of the _Saal_, was a raised
platform for the gray-bearded fathers, while on either side of the
length of the _Saal_ ran the _Por-kirchen_, or galleries for the
Solitary, the Brothers sitting on one side and the Sisters on the other.
The body, or main floor of the _Saal_, was for the secular members, or
householders, as we called them; for be it known our community was not
composed entirely of Brothers and Sisters pledged to lives of celibacy,
but in addition to these we had a large number of members from the
country round about us, husbands and wives and their children, who
believed as we did, that the Seventh Day was the true Lord's Day, and
who differed from us in belief in this only that they practised not
celibacy.

The _Bethaus_, like Kedar, was built entirely of wood, and clay and
grass for the filling, the walls inside being made snowy white with
lime, the only decoration being a number of proverbs and sentences of
Scripture written in ornamental German characters, in script, known as
_Fracturschrift_, which became famous far and wide for its beauty, and
even now, after the passage of over half a century, these proverbs and
sentences remain on the walls of our meeting-houses as clear and
beautiful as the day they were first written.

Upon the completion of the _Bethaus_, the Brethren who had been
quartered on the ground floor of Kedar were again relegated to the
cabins and henceforth Kedar was handed over to the Sisterhood, and the
_Saal_ upon the second floor now became the chapel of the Order of the
Spiritual Virgins, and from that time on, while the night meetings of
the Sisters were held in the _Saal_ of Kedar, the Brethren held their
meetings in the _Saal_ of the _Bethaus_ for a number of years.

Thus, these buildings were the foundation for a more perfect communal
life and in pursuance of which all the provisions were delivered to the
Sisters in their kitchen, who daily prepared a supper for the entire
settlement, in the large dining hall, the Brothers and Sisters divided
from each other by a screen, everything being done in order and
reverence according to the leading of the Holy Ghost.

About this time too occurred the first, so far as I know, of those
mysterious manifestations that for so many years were a great
bewilderment and anxiety not so much to the rest of the community as to
me, for that with rare exceptions it chanced I must be the chief witness
of the doings of this strange being that so long harassed us.

Even before Kedar was fully completed--being, however, far enough
advanced for dedication to its glorious purposes--Brother Beissel made
great preparations for a general love feast; and _Einlader_, or
inviters, were sent throughout the province, especially among all the
German Baptists and English Sabbatarians, requesting them to participate
in the dedicatory services. As the time approached, ample preparations
were made for a great multitude; for from all the reports brought unto
us by our messengers we could not doubt but that there would be a great
gathering in our humble little community to take part in the dedication,
and to this day--and I like not to be considered superstitious--I
cannot account for the failure of the dedication other than through this
mysterious influence; for as a matter of fact but few strangers
presented themselves, the only exception being that quite a number of
English Sabbatarians from the French Creek visited us and took an active
part in the exercises.

But not only were we greatly depressed by the failure of the invited
ones to come and add to the glory of the occasion their presence and
their praise and prayer, but the night preceding the love feast was
exceedingly dark and cloudy. Moreover, as the darkness grew the clouds
seemed to gather heavier and heavier overhead, so that toward midnight
the gloom and depression were almost overpowering, so much so that about
an hour before midnight, Sonnlein being sound asleep, I arose--so
unaccountably disturbed and troubled I could not sleep--and made my way,
why or how I know not, for I seemed almost as one walking in his sleep,
toward the cabin where Brother Beissel was slumbering down in the
meadow. Suddenly, although I saw not his little hut, I heard a howl like
one in pain coming from the direction where I knew our brother's hut
should be. Then another cry as in pain and a sound as if some one were
beating another with great force and violence. I rushed blindly on in
the darkness stumbling and floundering until ere I knew it I had run up
against what with feeling around I found to be a hut. From within came
moans and groans but the beating had ceased while with the moaning and
groaning were mingled a sort of snarling and growling and muttering as
of some wild beast. I had just reached the doorway, the door being wide
open, when suddenly there rushed out a something which as it passed
struck me a most violent blow across the eyes fairly staggering me so
that all I could do was to make a wild clutch at the beast, or fiend,
that was now speeding away leaving a trail of snarlings and growlings
and cacklings such as human being could scarce make.

Recovering from the smarting blow over my eyes, I groped my way inside
only to hear Brother Beissel say feebly, "Art come again, thou Prince of
Darkness, to persecute me?"

"'Tis not the Prince of Darkness, brother; whatever hath been here hath
fled; 'tis Brother Miller," whereupon with all his bravery he leaned
against me for support, seeming to find great comfort in my being there.

"Surely the Evil One hath troubled me most sorely this night," said our
leader more strongly now.

"But I smell not brimstone or fire, brother; dost thou?" I asked.

"Nay, but I tell thee 'twas the foul fiend himself; most grievously did
he beat me with his long tail."

"With his tail, brother--surely thou meanest not that?" I protested.

"But I tell thee Beelzebub took his tail in his claws and beat me. Did I
not see him in all the darkness, lift his forked tail on high and bring
it down on me; and all the while he spat and snarled as though he were
about to rend me asunder."

"Why didst not cross thyself?"

"The foul one came so sudden. I verily believe he rose up through the
floor. I heard him not open the door and I sleep lightly."

"Yet thy door was open wide when I found thy hut; and if 'twas the
devil, he left not the way thou sayest he came; for devil or beast as it
rushed out the door, this evil thing struck me across the face so it
still burneth."

"'Twas the Prince of Evil," still persisted Brother Beissel; "full well
he seeth how we are shaking the walls of his foul kingdom. He thinketh
to terrify us all by assailing me, your leader," and even in the
darkness of the cabin I could see our commander straighten himself up as
though he feared not a legion of devils, and in truth, Brother Beissel
feared neither man nor devil, and I know now that it was my brother's
undaunted will and courage more than aught else that ever gave him such
sway over my gentler, cowardly nature.

Knowing he was firm in his belief I cared not to dispute with him then
that I thought it might not be the Evil One; but that, perhaps, some
wild animal had strayed into his hut or else some of our enemies had
taken this dark night for an opportunity to beat him, it being well
known that among the German settlers were those who were greatly
incensed at our leader for that the wives of some of them had left their
homes and joined the spiritual virgins; and, indeed, there were those
who upon hearing of the matter the next day declared that no doubt our
leader had been persecuted by some one of our unfriendly neighbors. But
most of the Solitary were just as firm in the belief which our leader
unhesitatingly proclaimed, that the Prince of Darkness, being greatly
exercised with our inroads into his kingdom had sought our leader in
person, thinking no doubt to terrify him from further fighting against
the powers of sin. Be that as it may, while I at the time hardly knew
which side to join with, I myself felt certain in later years that our
community in the person of Brother Beissel had received the first
manifestation of that evil influence I had such good cause to dread for
so many years.



CHAPTER VI

CONCERNING TAXATION

    E'en if a vicious man were like a leaky vat,
    That wastes what it receives, pour in, for all that!
    If vat and man are not in too decrepit plight.
    Keep pouring in thy gifts. How soon a crack soaks
     tight.

        --Lessing.


And now, early in the year 1737, occurred a matter which hath been held
up against our community as a great reproach; for by reason of this
thing, which I shall set out fully, hewing to the line, caring not
whither the chips may fall, we were regarded by many who were ignorant
of the truth, as disturbers of the peace; others accusing us of being
misers, while still others went so far in their condemnation as to hold
us guilty of nothing less than treason.

The whole trouble arose out of what was known as the "Single Men's Tax,"
our province having passed an Act some twelve years prior to our first
introduction to it, providing that "those single men whose estates shall
not be rated at fifty pounds, they shall be assessed after the rate of
three shillings a head upon a tax of one penny per pound, both for poor
rates and city and county levies."

There were then, as before and ever since, those who had no regard for
the sanctity of religion, no appreciation for what religion preserves
better than all our courts and justices, namely, the safety and security
of the State. For, let it be known to our credit, though we like not to
boast of ourselves, we on the Cocalico did not spend all our time in
pious devotions and speculations upon the mysteries of the infinite.
Hard manual labor marked much of our lives, and I glory to say that this
labor was not for ourselves alone. Up to this time, indeed, works of
charity had been our chief occupation. Canestogues was then a great
wilderness, but a wilderness into which many a poor German settler came
to cut out of the deep woods a little clearing for his grain, and to
build a log cabin he could call his home. These poverty-stricken
brethren from the _Vaterland_ often called upon us to assist them in
building houses for them. To these calls we always responded, and for
many a summer we were kept continually employed in hard carpenter's
work, so that by this too great consideration for the needs of our poor
neighbors our own poverty was so increased that we wanted even things
necessary for life.

Not only did we build their homes and help them till the soil, but we
also bestowed such great care on our lands in the plowing, sowing, and
reaping, that we often were blessed with such rich harvests that out of
our bounty we supplied the poor for miles around with grain and flour,
when their own crops, through inexperience, or improvidence, or rust, or
drought, had failed.

Substantial assistance was never refused to such as needed it. The
Solitary, whether sister or brother, always imbued with God's priceless
gift of charity, were swift of foot to all calls of mercy and humanity.
In the early days of our Kloster life we would not employ any
four-footed animals to do our heavy work, thinking it unchristian to put
on them what we should ourselves bear; and thus all our hauling and
carrying and plowing was done by our own hands and feet and with our own
backs. I recall full well how the Brethren and the Sisters, instead of
mules and oxen, pulled the plows through the hard soil of our fields for
the planting and sowing. Our life being orderly and systematic, we had
time for devotions, and for work, and for charity, each receiving its
due proportion, but the greater proportion falling to works of charity
and benevolence. Indeed, this was the chief reason, and not because of
any foolish superstitions, that the greater part of our devotions were
held at night.

But though we lived in this primitive manner of the early Christians and
did all these works of charity, yet there was a number of persons who
appreciated not our charity, or our stern but simple piety, and the
hardships of our mode of life.

Such was the township constable, who, hungry for his worldly fees, was
bent upon making the Brethren pay this "Single Men's Tax." With this
purpose the worthy dignitary, much swollen with the importance of his
high office, descended upon us one day, as a chicken hawk swoops down
upon some unsuspecting domestic fowl, and with a loud voice and
boisterous manner demanded that we pay the tax, all the while shaking
his head and holding his nose in the air as if he already scented the
fees that would fill his rapacious pockets.

His coming, and more his loud, gruff manner, threw great consternation
into our hitherto peaceful camp. Brother Martin at first sight of the
fat impressiveness of the bloated form of the constable, and on hearing
his loud voice of command, shrank behind me and whispered timidly, "Is't
the king come for his tax?"

"King! thou simple one!" I scowled at him, "King's fool, more like!" for
I did not much admire the overbearing airs of this unmannerly tax
collector, who, like many another of his stripe, evidently thought
because we were a plain, simple folk, we were easily frightened by the
show of any authority of the law, especially when emphasized by bulk and
big voice in the representative. But our bawling officer soon found that
while we were ever a law-abiding people, not seeking to quarrel with any
one, yet we were not accustomed to hide in terror every time the law
appeared; so instead of rushing forth in great haste with our taxes in
our hands and beseeching the collector to accept them and leave us in
peace, Brother Beissel, unheeding the constable's commands to hurry up
and not delay him, summoned all the Solitary Brethren to the _Saal_ to
have our views in the matter. And at once there were formed two opposing
parties; one, headed by Brother Weiser--or Brother Enoch as was his
cloistral name--arguing that it was just and right to pay unto Cæsar his
tribute as commanded by Scripture, and counseling that the tax be paid
and thus all trouble be avoided. The contrary party, of which I was the
chosen head, contended the assessments should not be paid, because by
our manner of life we were entitled to immunity from all taxation. And
to support this I reminded my brethren that in the Eastern countries
monks and hermits paid no taxes, it being a matter of well-known history
that when the monks and hermits collected by their labors every harvest
so much grain as to supply regularly all the prisons in Alexandria with
bread, Theodosius Magnus and other Christian emperors declared all such
monks and hermits free from taxes. I could not see that we were in any
wise inferior to the ancient hermits, and if not, it were contrary to
custom to deny us the same immunity.

Brother Beissel interrupted loudly, forgetting his usual subtility,
"Brother Jabez, I doubt much whether our constable will feel bounden by
the practices of the early church."

"That I will not," growled the constable, who had been admitted to the
council; "the Act does set forth the tax must be paid, and the tax will
I have ere I leave."

"But the Act doth not apply to us, I tell thee, or else I should counsel
immediate obedience to thy demands," I said as calmly as I could; "we
refuse not to pay this paltry tribute because we care overmuch for the
little money we have; but we do not think it right for us to pay."

"Of that I know not," came another cavernous growl from the depths of
the constable. "I know I leave not till I am paid the tax."

"Well, I for one shall pay it not," I cried out. "If our Kloster labors
were merely for the enrichment of our coffers, then I should pay the tax
as being my share of the support of the province. But we work not for
ourselves further than is necessary for our slender needs. The overflow
of our abundance hath ever gone to the poor and needy settlers far and
wide. If we came not to the relief of these, then would the province
have the burden of their support. In all ages it hath been the custom
and the law to grant immunity of taxation to the church and to those
whose lives are spent in charity. I say I shall not pay the tax, for it
is neither right, nor custom, nor law."

"If thou payest not the taxes thou goest to jail, for so the Act
declares," bellowed the constable.

"So be it," I replied quietly, "and I fear not but I shall have worthy
company."

"Thou goest not alone with this ungodly man," answered me Brother
Elimelech--his secular name being Emanuel Eckerling--as he stood bravely
by my side.

"I too go with thee into the camp of the Philistines," said Brother
Jephune, brother to Elimelech, also coming to my side.

Another of the Eckerlings, Brother Jotham, stepped over to me and said
quietly: "Even if it be to the stocks or the gallows I go with thee."

"And if I go with thee, Brother Jabez, as I surely will, then thou hast
all the sons of my mother with thee," said Brother Onesimus.

"With all these Eckerlings--Emanuel, Samuel, Gabriel, and Israel--I fear
naught, not even our formidable friend, the tax collector," I said
gayly, not at all disturbed by his fierce looks and scowls at me, whom
he regarded as the instigator of all this little rebellion, although in
truth there were more than the Eckerlings and myself who thought it not
right to pay the taxes. But thus it ever hath been, for doth not the
Scriptures say that out of the ten thousand who gathered to fight under
the banner of Gideon only three hundred were worthy to be led against
the enemy?

"The devil take ye all for a lot of pious fools if ye go not with me at
once," thundered the constable, choking with wrath, so that I greatly
feared from his purple face he might perish from the palsy.

"The devil, or his deputy, may take us now if he be ready," I said to
him, which but the more enraged him, so that he rushed from us puffing
and wheezing as he floundered across the meadow, the very swaying of his
broad back expressing his indignation at our disregard for the majesty
of the law.

"Brother Jabez," said Brother Enoch, as the majesty of the law
disappeared down the road beyond the meadow, "dost thou know if we pay
not the levy we shall be arrested and taken to jail?"

"If the constable be a man of his word, I doubt not thou art a true
prophet," I replied, "but thou knowest Ecclesiastes sayeth there is 'a
time of war and a time of peace.' It seemeth my duty to oppose this
unjust tax, and now is the time to set our faces firmly against the
levy. If we five must go alone, so be it."

Just then some one laid hold of mine arm, and turning about I saw
Brother Martin--Martin Brämer being his secular name--our tailor. I
asked him: "What hast to say, Brother Martin, shall we pay the taxes?"

"Will they hang us if we pay not the king's officer?" he asked, still
with the image of the king in his eye, looking first at me and then at
Brother Enoch and then at the four Eckerlings.

"That I do not know," I said, after a pause. "Brother Enoch," said I,
turning to him, "thou art learned in the laws of the province. What will
be done with us?"

"Most likely ye will be imprisoned until ye promise to pay the taxes,"
said our learned brother, who afterward became one of the justices of
our province.

"And our good Brother Jabez is so stubborn in this, if we pay not the
levies, then must we abide in jail for all our days," sighed Brother
Martin, "for I know he will never make such promise."

"Ye tailors are ever a timid folk," I broke in with some impatience.
"'Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.'"

And yet with all the differences about the taxes, when the constable
returned with five or six neighbors who liked not our Sabbatarian views
and who answered willingly to the summons to arrest the "rebels" and
"heretics," as it pleased them to call us, I rejoiced exceedingly to see
that not only the whole Brotherhood but even the Sisters were united in
their determination to oppose the tax. And so when the constable and his
eager minions came rushing across the meadow as though they were about
to storm some walled city, they found us quietly gathered at the foot of
Mount Sinai, our hands meekly folded across our breasts, no one saying a
word, except that Brother Beissel, as guardian of our flock, stood
somewhat in advance of the Brothers and Sisters, with me close to him,
to meet the first onset of the doughty constable and his deputies.

As they came nigh, they paused, and then came to a full stop as they saw
this goodly array of Brothers and Sisters. Whereupon Brother Beissel
spoke up to the constable: "'Are ye come out as against a thief with
swords and staves to take us?' Ye need not come in such haste and
violence; our good neighbors, though they seem overly anxious to help
thee in this, must say we have never done violence toward any one. We
are gathered here to go with thee and to have our cause heard by the
justices."

This was more than our constable had bargained for, for they were hardly
prepared to convoy such a gathering, and we could but smile, Brother
Beissel and I, and even the Brothers and Sisters, to see the
consternation that now reigned on the side of the constable and our
officious neighbors. Drawing closely together they held such a lively
conference, in which each seemed bent on out-talking the others, that it
was no great difficulty for us to hear everything that passed between
them. The constable was for taking me alone, because he regarded me as
the ringleader; another argued just as violently that our superintendent
and I should be taken, as we were the leaders of the community and
therefore represented them; still another loudly claimed that the four
Eckerlings and myself should be taken as being guilty of open treason
for saying we would not pay the taxes; and still another thought we all
should go.

Finally, it was decided to take only the Eckerlings and myself, and as
Brother Martin cried out from behind my back that he would not pay the
tax, he too was added to our number. As soon as this result was achieved
by our adversary the constable, he stood forth and in a loud voice
called our names and demanded that we stand forth, that we were
arrested, and that we must go with him to Lancaster to be heard before
the justices. It was with great difficulty that we prevailed upon
Brother Beissel and the remaining Brothers and Sisters that they could
not accompany us, for they were all determined that in this we must
make common cause. Finally, however, I succeeded in showing them that
we six represented the community and were willing to stand trial for the
sake of all, and that it would be the duty of the rest to remain at home
and look after the sewing and the spinning and the preparing of the
fields for the spring planting and to take care of the sick and poor and
needy.

Thus matters at last having been settled, another problem stared our
enemies in the face. They demanded that we provide some conveyance in
which to be taken to Lancaster, which was some thirteen miles from us.
To this I replied that we had none; that we always traveled afoot.
Knowing this to be true, they had no more to say other than that they
would furnish conveyances at their own expense, wherein we could ride to
Lancaster. This also we said we could not do because it was our custom
never to ride but always to walk, with staff in hand like the early
pilgrims. When this conclusion was made known to the constable I
thought, in all truth, he would now surely die in a fit; for he howled
and stormed and raged like some one possessed with a thousand devils;
but we merely stood quiet, saying not a word until the storm had
somewhat subsided and he was sufficiently sensible to understand that if
we were to go to Lancaster it would be on foot and not otherwise. Thus
we departed after--with some misgivings it is true--I had first had a
promise from Brother Beissel that he would look after Sonnlein until I
came back again, the constable and his deputies in the lead, and we
following in single file, with our staffs in hand, quietly and
peacefully.

At first our captors were disposed to heap on us all the indignities and
insults they could think of, pulling us by our long beards which they in
their humor were pleased to liken to goats' beards, and calling us
"he-goats," "men with women's frocks on," "bleached fools," "Beissel's
lambs," and spitting on us every now and then; to all of which we raised
not our hands or opened our mouths but followed meekly, as was our
custom to bear all insult and indignity. Uphill and down again, through
dale and valley, long stretches of forest broken only at rare intervals
by some little clearing with its humble log cabin, we trudged along
patiently and uncomplainingly only that the constable and his deputies
who at first set out with such a high pace as though they intended to
devour the way in a few steps soon found that even their spite and anger
could not furnish endurance for such a pace. Gradually they slackened,
the constable, by reason of his great bulk and this unaccustomed
exercise puffing most violently and every now and then growling at our
stubbornness and our pig-headedness in making them travel afoot and
roaring and swearing most vile oaths that we should pay dear for this
great contempt of the law.

Indeed, before we were more than half-way to our destination our
constable, not being built for walking, was suffering severely in his
feet and limbs from these unaccustomed exertions, which we, inured to
such trifles, minded not in the least. His deputies, who looked as lean
and hungry as he looked prosperous, also were in sore straits; for they
too found this walking not much to their taste. It finally came to such
a pass, while we were yet some miles from Lancaster that the constable
announced savagely, looking at us as though he would have liked to hang
us from the branches of the nearest tree, that he could not walk any
farther. A short consultation with the rest of the Brethren, and I
stepped up to him sitting at the foot of a tree, puffing, and mopping
the sweat from his forehead, and said to him respectfully that if he
would tell us where to present ourselves we would go straight ahead and
give ourselves up to the justices. At this he glared at us, if anything
more savagely than ever, and declared it to be a scheme to escape.
Whereupon I merely replied, "Very well, we shall wait here, then, until
thou art ready to proceed with us."

"No doubt ye would," he howled; "for I doubt not it gives ye great
pleasure to see what a sorry state ye have brought me to by your
pig-headedness."

"Perhaps thou canst find a conveyance if we press on, and thou canst
ride the rest of the journey?" I suggested to him gently.

He was not to be soothed, however, for he merely growled: "I know no
place between here and the justices' courts where I can find beast or
wagon to carry me."

"Dost thou object if we carry thee there, we and our kind neighbors who
are helping thee?" I asked.

"Now are ye quite crazy, for do ye see anything by which ye can carry
me, or do you intend to take me on your backs one at a time and thus
carry me a laughingstock into Lancaster?"

"If thou wilt wait and hear the plan we have formed in our minds thou
wilt perhaps have more respect for our foolish brains," I assured him.

"Well, what is this great plan of thine?"

"Sit there until thou seest, and if it do not please thee thou needst
not take it." So saying I dispatched one of the leanest deputies who I
thought could best stand the strain of walking, back a short distance to
a cabin we had passed on our way, for a hatchet and some strong cord, or
ropes, or perchance, nails. He grumbled and growled, but upon the
constable's bidding him go on our fool's quest, the deputy left us.
While he was gone, my brethren and I made search in the forest about us
for such timber as we could make into a litter and when the deputy
returned, scornfully handing me the hatchet and some strong cord, we cut
down a number of saplings suitable to the constable's weight, and with
these formed a sort of litter on which he could sit or lie, as it might
please him, while the rest of us carried him along. He was much loth to
trust himself to what he considered a frail support for his mighty
frame, but after showing him it was strong enough to hold him, he
finally stretched his length thereon, sending the deputy back with the
hatchet, while we waited his return.

But the constable still doubting, growled, but more softly, I thought,
"Now what good is all this litter; who shall carry me? My deputies, who
are themselves tired, cannot carry me all these miles to Lancaster."

"Nay," replied I, "but we six Brethren are young and strong and we will
take hold of the poles and carry thee as far as we are able, after which
thy deputies may relieve us until we regain our breath and strength when
we shall again take thee on."

He sat up and said slowly and still doubtfully: "Do ye mean to say ye
will do this for me?"

"That we will cheerfully," we all assured him; "though thou hast not
treated us over kindly it is not in our minds to remember what thou hast
said and done."

"You are not up to some trick?"

"Thou hast good reason to believe we be men of our word," I replied
somewhat stiffly; "my brethren are not given to trickery."

The deputy having now returned, my brethren and I took the first turn
and hoisting to our shoulders the long poles extending beyond the
framework on which our constable sat in royal state, we trudged along
quietly but cheerfully, even though our burden was not a light one, our
neighbors, the deputies, under the direction of the still distrustful
constable, attending to it that we departed not from our proper course,
which none of us had the slightest intention of doing. Yet I must record
that the human heart, as the Holy Book sayeth in its omniscient wisdom,
is a deceitful thing, even in the best of us; for we had not gone far
with our rude conveyance when we came to a most foul and dirty pool
directly in our way. Brother Martin, being so small and slight and by
reason thereof in great danger of destroying the evenness of the
litter--which of course would not have been well for the choleric temper
of the constable--was placed at my corner, in front of me, so borrowing
from my height and strength that the litter would carry more evenly, and
also our beloved little tailor be not overly taxed by the burden.

But surely the Evil One doth ever find an easy entrance to idle minds,
wherefore we of the Kloster always made it our rule to be busy as far
as in us lay. Now in our anxiety to save our Brother Martin from undue
labor, we had made the mistake of leaving too little on his shoulders,
wherefore instead of having his mind on pious things, he was bent upon
evil toward the constable; for it grieves me to say that as we came to
this filthy pool and were about to step over it, Brother Martin turned
his head about and gave me a sly look and made a motion of his body as
of dropping our end of the lifter, which foul deed, had we done it at
this juncture would most surely have dropped the majesty of the law into
this slimy pool. In truth, so powerful is the mere suggestion of evil to
our weak, sinful natures that ere I fully thought what I was about, I
had responded by bobbing down a trifle, but recalling myself in due
time, straightened up sternly, giving Brother Martin such a withering
glance as made him faithful for the rest of the journey, if not for the
remainder of his days.

Fortunately, our constable never knew how near he was to a ducking, and
as we stepped carefully over the pool--at which he looked with some
apprehension--and proceeded thoughtfully on our way, very seldom
relieved by the deputies--for whom the farther we had come the more the
heat of their persecuting zeal had abated--I could see assurance in the
constable's features that we were rising higher and higher in his
regard.



CHAPTER VII

THE RIGHT PREVAILS

    The Lord trieth the righteous; but the wicked and him
    that loveth violence his soul hateth.

        --Bible.


In brief, we traveled in this way until we reached the City of
Lancaster, which to us seemed all bustle and confusion. The constable,
as became his dignity, alighted from his litter and took the lead, with
his deputies following, and we after the deputies, in single file,
creating great excitement, especially as it was conjectured by some that
we were Papists--this by reason of our monkish cowls and long cloaks and
abstracted air. Others of the idlers whom we passed jeered us and spat
on us as being spies--of what, I am certain I never could learn--and
that we were to be hanged as traitors.

As no one had known of our coming, the idlers and the busybodies were
unprepared to give us such greeting as they no doubt would have
relished, and we were led without any great difficulty to the
court-house where, upon refusal to pay the taxes and in default of bail,
we were committed to prison. Here we were held in a cold, bare room
which we minded not; for our jailor permitted us to occupy it together,
which gave us great joy, and we complained neither at the confinement
nor the coarse food, but the rather spent our time in praising God and
most of all praying for our persecutors, all of us being unshaken in the
hope that deliverance would come from above and that in due time our
prison door would be opened unto us.

At last--and in this I believe our constable had a grateful part--when
Tobias Hendricks (whose name I write here that his good deed may shine
far out into the world), a venerable old man and himself a justice of
the peace, came forth and offered bail for us, though knowing none of us
except by rumor and repute, taking our bare word for our appearance in
court when wanted, we were released from our captivity, and quietly and
undisturbed we started out for our beloved Kloster, and upon the twelfth
day of our departure with the constable and his eager deputies, we six
Brethren once more filed into our little camp on the Cocalico, where we
were greeted with all the love and affection that the sobriety of our
lives permitted.

Not many weeks thereafter, the May Court convened in Lancaster and we
six Brethren, agreeable to our promise, put in our appearance before the
commissioners and assessors of taxes who, when they saw before them
these six gentle Brethren, in the bloom of youth, who had raised such a
warfare against the world, the fear of the Lord came upon our judges so
that they did not speak to us otherwise than friendly and offered us
every favor.

The first question put to us was, "Will ye be lawful subjects of the
king?" To which we replied--but in all respect--that as we had already
pledged allegiance to another King we could therefore obey the earthly
king only so far as his rights accorded with those of our eternal King.

To this our judges did not demur but asked another question, namely,
whether we would pay the taxes? To which we replied respectfully as
before, but firmly, not the head tax, because we acknowledged no worldly
authority's right over our bodies, since they had been redeemed from men
and the world. Moreover, we considered it unjust that, as we were
pledged to spend our lives in our present condition, one of great
benefit to the country about us, we should be measured by the same
standard as vagabonds and be made to pay the same tax as they; that we
desired not to be considered disobedient, because it was our rule to
live peaceably with all men so far as within us lay, for thus we were
enjoined by the Scriptures; but that if the judges would consider us a
spiritual family we would be willing to pay of our earthly possessions
according to what was just.

All this was granted us and remains unchanged to the present day; for
the fear of God came upon the gentlemen who were our judges when they
saw before them men who in the prime of their ages, by penitential works
had been reduced in flesh, so that our judges used great moderation and
granted us our personal freedom under condition that we should be taxed
as one family for our real estate, the judges even asking us how much
tax in our judgment would be just and fair--in short, for us to assess
our own rate.

This we refused to do, but finally, after much persuasion, we suggested
to the judges that a tax of forty shillings against our settlement as a
whole would be fair. This proving satisfactory to the board of judges,
we were discharged, and with exceeding gratitude to these gentlemen for
their benevolent treatment of us, which was so different from the
persecutions we often endured from our neighbors, who were so often
bounden to us for our charity, we set out with light hearts and winged
feet on our long tramp through forest and field for the Kloster.

It was late in the day and darkness had already come upon us when we
left the city of Lancaster, but our joy made the journey seem short and
by midnight we arrived in the settlement just as the night watch was in
full session.

In all my long life I have never forgotten and shall never forget how we
appeared to our Brethren that night as we came to the narrow doorway
leading into the _Saal_, I being in the lead. We could hear the fervent
prayers that were being offered for our release and for a moment while
the Brethren within were kneeling all unconscious of our nearness, I
held up my hand and beckoned the Brethren behind me to wait a moment
while we stood there silently gazing upon the bowed forms of the
worshipers.

I have myself attended more than one of our midnight funerals of some
dear Brother or Sister, and though wonderfully impressive and touching
to one's heart, even they never touched me more deeply than this
impressive sight before us. As we peered into the large _Saal_, with the
upper galleries shadowed in darkness, the only light the flickering
tallow candles in front of each of our devout Brethren, we saw the dark,
mysterious shadows in the corners of the _Saal_ with ourselves standing
in such a gloom we were not perceived. But for a few moments we stood
thus with a great peace filling our hearts, when suddenly we walked
quietly in, the prayer still in progress, and with heads bowed and hands
crossed upon our breasts like the penitents of the olden days ranged
ourselves in front of the platform whereon stood our beloved brother and
leader, Conrad Beissel, erect, austere; and so far as we could judge
from his immovable features, wholly undisturbed by our unexpected
arrival, though well we knew that this seeming indifference was but one
of discipline and self-control and that the heart within the sturdy
frame was beating warmly for each and every one of us.

The invocation in our behalf being ended there was for a few moments as
we stood before our leader a silence so profound as to be almost
painful. Then suddenly the powerful voice of Brother Weiser rang
throughout the hall in that magnificent, soul-stirring war-hymn of the
_Vaterland_ and the Reformation, a hymn as strong and rugged as the
mighty warrior who wrote it, "_Eine Feste Burg ist Unser Gott_."

The first line had not yet been completed when it was taken up by all
present until the strains of the full-voiced battle cry sounded and
resounded throughout the hall. For the time our Brethren had forgotten
all the repressing influences of our Kloster life and poured forth their
flood of praise and thanksgiving from their very hearts; for such
singing had never before shaken the walls of the _Saal_.

After the hymn was ended thanks were duly offered and the night watch
closed with a powerful address by Brother Beissel on the power of the
beast upon earth, and while I feel not at this late day like stating
aught that might savor of malice or revenge, I find in looking over our
old records this note made with reference to our recent experience,
namely, "Upon those neighbors, however, who had gloated over the
misfortunes of the Brethren there fell the terror of the Lord so that
they hurriedly left these regions"; and thus the beast received his
reward.

After the services were over and the Brethren were wending their ways
toward their _Kammers_ for their much-needed rest I asked our
superintendent about Sonnlein; for though I had said naught of him
during these occurrences, yet he was in my heart and in my anxiety most
of the time. I can still see and hear our leader, almost shocking me by
laughing, a thing he was most rarely guilty of, as he said, "Thy
Sonnlein is safe enough in thy _Kammer_, but I assure thee not only did
I pray and hope for thy deliverance for thine own sake and the sake of
our Kloster, but I do confess in all love for thee and thy boy that
hadst thou not soon returned to take care of him I had either been
compelled to give up my life here or give up thy boy."

I fear I did not even take time to thank him, but hastened to my cell
where I found my boy soundly sleeping.

It was no doubt thoughtless for me to waken him, but I could not help
it, and when he did awake to throw his arms about my neck and hold me
tight, I felt that, perhaps, it was no great sin after all to rouse him
from his sleep. After very many questions as to where I had been and why
the bad men had taken me, and all such questions as only an eager,
trusting child can ask, I finally told him it was time to go to sleep,
which he did without any great difficulty.

As he lay there sleeping in all the sweet innocence of childhood and
health, I looked first at him and then out through the little window at
the perfect beauty of God's handiwork in his heavens, and then I went to
my rest, proud to be a son of him who created me in his image and who
had put me into a world which, though full of dark and evil deeds, yet
held in it, if we only looked aright, so much of beauty and joy and
peace and love.



CHAPTER VIII

OUR FIRST LOSS

    Let nothing make thee sad or fretful,
    Or too regretful;
        Be still;
    What God hath ordered must be right,
    Then find in it thine own delight,
        My will.

        --Paul Fleming.


The year 1738 is deeply graven on my memory, because it marked the first
death among the Solitary, our Brother Martin Brämer. Secondly, because
his death followed so swift upon the appearance of that strange being,
woman, witch, or devil, who, time and again, thrust herself so violently
into our lives.

In the first month of the new year, and on a day when the sun was
shining clear and bright, there being no snow on the ground, I was on my
way to the Brother woods for an armful of firewood for the hall. Close
upon where the Brother woods merged into the Sister woods stood a mighty
oak within a little clearing on the Brothers' side, a favorite haunt of
the Solitary for their rare moments of rest from their daily work.

I had about reached the clearing under the shelter of the wide-reaching
arms of the old oak when suddenly, for I was in my customary fashion of
deep meditation with mine eyes toward the ground, I walked into Brother
Martin, almost overthrowing him, for that our tailor was so small and
slight. However, we gravely saluted each other as though naught had
happened; for each knew it had been a mere accident, and were about to
pass on when I caught sight of his face, and saw from his more than
usual pallid features and the twitching lips that he was suffering from
some great shock. Never of robust health he had not been well lately,
and I thought he was suffering more than usual from his infirmity.

I hailed him with brotherly solicitude, "Thou art not well, Brother
Martin! I fear the Solitary press upon thee too sorely for thy keeping
of them clad as becomes their orders."

"Nay, nay, Brother Jabez," he replied gently; but I could hear the
trembling and the fear in his voice, "It is not my labors, which though
toilsome, lie pleasantly on me, because I love my work, and those for
whom I labor and strive to please seem to love me for what I do for
them"; and indeed this was true, for his gentle, unaffected devotion to
us and Him we served made our Brother Martin universally loved.

"But surely," I insisted, "thou'rt not well; thou'rt disturbed and
suffering, that I see plainly. I beseech thee tell me what so sorely
weighs on thee."

He looked up at me, his pale, bloodless lips quivering, and whispered
into mine ear, clutching mine arm and leaning on it as though he needed
my protection, "I have seen the Evil One in woman's form," and then he
gasped, "I shall surely die."

"Nay, nay, my brother," I replied, as though laughing at his foolish
fears, "'tis true the Evil One comes to us at times in woman's form to
lure us, as Solomon sayeth, 'to the gates of hell'; but when the fiend
comes as such it is not in horrid, repulsive shape, but like those
beautiful beings who came to Saint Anthony with such artful, seductive
enchantments that none but saint could say them nay. Surely if this Evil
One hath appeared to thee thou needst not look for thy immediate
dissolution, but mayst expect some grace from the fair devourer."

But my poor brother would not be comforted, and merely stood shaking his
head, saying mournfully, "This was no beautiful enchantress; no
seductive siren, as thou sayest; 'twas the foul fiend in his foulest,
most awful form, long, tangled hair falling every way over a face
through which there gleamed eyes on fire with the hatred of hell. I saw
the eternal enmity of the Evil One in those piercing eyes."

"Where was all this, Brother Martin?" for I saw he could not be laughed
out of his terror.

"Just beyond the oak," he replied; "she was standing in a thicket
covered with tangled vines as foul and poisonous as herself. I had all
unthinking almost walked into her when suddenly I heard a snarl like
some ravenous beast; I saw her horrible claws uplifted as though she
were about to spring on me and tear me limb from limb. I jumped back, my
heart almost standing still, thinking naught but that my end had come.
She came no farther, but contented herself with crouching there and
glaring at me with those awful eyes of hate that seemed to burn into my
very soul."

"Canst thou go with me where thou hast seen this witch or devil?" I said
boldly, although I had not overly much stomach for the venture.

As I said this he drew back and trembled violently as he cried out,
"Nay, not even for the very hope of a safe hereafter would I go to that
accursed place."

"Then remain there, thou gentle coward, whilst I go," commanded I.

Again he clutched me by the arm and cried out, "Nay, go not, Brother
Jabez; even if she touch thee not her look will blast thee like
lightning."

"I fear her not," bragged I, and strode away, leaving him shuddering
with the terror that had not yet grown cold, and with apprehensions for
me.

I had no trouble in finding the thick bush and entangling vines Brother
Martin had pointed out to me. As I approached its dark, forbidding
front, I trembled like a leaf, and then grew angry at my weakness. Then
I went on, resolutely forcing my way into the vile vines that caught me
all about my face and body and limbs so that I was ready to affirm
naught human could penetrate such a wilderness; but though I looked
carefully for any signs that would show that some one or something had
thrust itself into these exasperating vines I could find nothing, even
though I had in all these years learned much of the ways of the woods
and its signs.

In great bewilderment I was about to turn back to chide Brother Martin
with having seen nothing but a creature of his own imagining when I saw
in a small gully at the farther boundary of the thicket a footprint,
small, a woman's surely, in the soft, clayey soil. Had the imprint been
that of a cloven foot I could not have been more startled; for I knew
that the Sisterhood seldom, if ever, came to the Brother woods, and the
good wives and daughters of the near-by settlers were too timid and
honest to trespass on our lands. Much perturbed, for I knew this thing
boded evil to our community, I walked slowly back to my waiting brother,
vague remembrances strangely flitting through my mind, but making no
impression at the time, of how Sonnlein had come to me, and the midnight
beating of our Brother Beissel.

I found Brother Martin, still pale and fearful, anxiously wanting to
know what I had learned. "Nothing," I said, "of witch or devil, but the
substantial print of a woman's foot."

"Was there no smell of brimstone? No cloven footprint?" he persisted.

"Nay, thou simple one, else I had told thee. Say thou naught of this;
for they who would not believe thee would only laugh at thee, and if any
believe what could that avail?"

"Nothing, dear Brother Jabez, nothing," he said mournfully, a strange,
fixed look in his wild eyes. "A woman with an evil eye once looked upon
my little brother as he lay laughing in the cradle my father had hewn
out of a log. Until then the child was strong and healthy, never having
been sick; but from that day he wasted away, with naught that could help
or cure him, and within a month we laid him down in his little
resting-place in the orchard nigh our cabin. They whom the evil eye look
upon live not long." And then, as one who goes forth to certain death,
he looked up at me smiling bravely through all his fears and said, "If
my time hath come, let it come quickly, His servant waiteth."

I found it impossible to free him from this melancholy mood, and so we
walked back slowly and sadly to our _Kammers_, saying nothing more.

A week passed, Brother Martin quietly, with resignation, doing his lowly
duties each day; but we all could see he was in failing health. Only he
and I knew, however, that the tortures of mind he was enduring far
outweighed the lesser pains of the flesh; for I hesitate not to say of
saint as well as sinner, that until death be actually at hand, they fear
alike the inevitable end.

On a Friday night, just a week from the Friday our brother had seen this
thing, the midnight services being over, and the Brethren and Sisters
having returned to their _Kammers_ to rest their weary heads on their
hard wooden blocks, we were startled by the ringing of the Kloster bell.
Clear and loud it pealed through the cold quietness of the night. Like a
flash, though I had not thought of it before, I cried out to Brother
Obed, who had the adjoining cell, "'Tis Brother Martin," though not more
than a half-hour had expired since we had returned, he with us, from our
midnight devotions.

Suddenly the pealing notes ceased, and then came the slow, solemn
tolling of the bell, a custom followed ever after on the death of any
of our number, until forty-eight were measured out, which I knew was
about our brother's age. His cell was on the floor below, where I
hastened as soon as the last year of his life had been tolled. A number
of the Brethren, with bowed heads, stood sadly in the narrow _Kammer_,
in the still narrower doorway and corridor. I had been filled, ere I saw
him, with a dread that his death agony might have had its terrors
increased a thousand-fold by the awful memory of the witch; for I knew
he had never forgotten it. But when I looked down on the slight form and
peaceful face resting on the hard bench and still more mortifying
pillow, I saw no trace of any overpowering, death-dealing vision.
Instead, his face, though greatly wasted and altered, was as composed as
though he had merely fallen asleep in the arms of his beloved. The
little window looking out from his _Kammer_, as soon as the last spark
of life had died out, had been opened so that his soul could take its
flight unhindered and unmolested to that place of pure delights "where
the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest."

At the funeral, which was the following midnight, as we carried the body
out of the _Berghaus_ a bucket of water was poured upon the sill and
swept up, and the door immediately closed so that his spirit could not
return again to its earthly home, and to make further assurance against
such a return three crosses were marked upon the door jamb with red
earth.

We buried him who had thus passed away in the prime of his life, down in
the meadow nigh to where in later years we built our Brother house. It
was a dark, stormy night, no moon and no stars to lighten up the gloom
of the sky or the still deeper darkness in our hearts; but with our
fagot torchlights sputtering fitfully, almost blown out by the wind at
times, we laid him to rest at the midnight hour with all the honors and
rites and ceremonies of our holy order.

Thus, on this weird, stormy night, in such contrast to the peace and
gentleness of this earnest, zealous warrior of the faith who for almost
nine years had abided with us, we left in the meadow his mortal remains,
but took back with us the remembrance of his godly services and his
truth and fidelity unto his profession and brotherhood during his short
life.



CHAPTER IX

A LOVE FEAST

    But when a lady chaste and fair,
    Noble, and clad in rich attire,
    Walks through the throng with gracious air,
    As sun that bids the stars retire--
    Then where are all thy boastings, May?
    What hast thou beautiful and gay
    Compared with that supreme delight?
    We leave thy loveliest flowers and watch that lady
    bright.

        --Song of Walter Von der Vogelweide.


It accords not well with my ideas of humility and self-effacement that I
should ever be writing of myself, and yet it seemeth not possible to
tell this tale without bringing into it much that befell me in
connection with those who were so dear to me, and of whose lives it is
my pleasure and pain to relate.

And of those who were so precious to me there were none so dear to me
as my Sister Bernice, not even Sonnlein; for however beloved he was of
me he was none the less of my sex, while my dear sister was of that sex
which a true man, so it appeareth to me, can no more help holding with a
more or less tender feeling than he can help breathing.

I know this will seem unto many as foolishness, especially as I--like my
Brother Beissel, who had published his "_Ehebüchlein_," or "Booklet on
Matrimony," denouncing marriage as the penitentiary of carnal man--have
ever been an advocate of the beauty and superiority of the virgin life;
but in my reading of history I have noted how more than one man much
stronger than I, changed utterly his beliefs and principles for the love
of some daughter of Eve.

It is not that I have never been greatly attracted by the charms of my
sisters, whom we in Ephrata regarded not so much opposite as
complementary to our own, man's nature. I loved my mother dearly; her
love hath been as a sweet fragrance to me in all my long life, and in
many a trial and temptation have I felt her presence near, strengthening
and upholding me in the right. And however cold and indifferent I may
have borne myself outwardly to the gentler ones, still I never could
speak otherwise than tenderly, and even reverently to them, as it seemed
to me their pure, finer natures deserved; so that it hath ever grieved
me to hear any one belittle a woman.

I shall never forget the first time I saw the slight, delicate form and
sweet face of Sister Bernice. It was at one of our love feasts
(_Liebesmahl_), which with us was not like among the other
denominations, merely symbolic, but was patterned after that of the
early Christians; for we took a regular meal--and not merely a wafer or
cake--in utter silence before communion, the love feast being an
introduction to the more solemn part of the evening's service.

I remember full well how the Brethren were sitting on one side of the
long table in Kedar, with heads uncovered, the Sisters on the other side
not with their enveloping bonnets, but bedecked with the pretty prayer
covering, which they always seemed glad to wear, which was a neat lace
cap with strings beneath the chin.

After the reading of the Scriptures I raised my head, and then for the
first time in my life saw the Sister opposite me--Bernice. I do not
think she saw me or in any way observed me, for she seemed rapt in
ecstatic adoration, her eyes turned upward and her lips slightly parted,
as if she already saw and heard the glories of that heavenly home she
was to visit ere many years passed over her fair head.

I shall never forget that look, that face, nearer an angel's than any I
have ever seen. An unaccountable pity swept over me, and that pity I
fear was the beginning of another feeling I dared not own. But my
dangerous thoughts were soon interrupted by the preparations for the
_pedelavium_, or feet-washing. Small tubs of tepid water were brought
into the _Saal_. The Elder washed the feet of the Brethren and the
eldest Sister performed the same humble service for the Sisters, each
Brother and Sister after the feet were dried receiving from him or her
who washed the feet, a shake of the hands and the kiss of love and
charity. A wicked wish came into my heart, grieving me days after for my
perverse, unspiritual longing, that I might take the place of the eldest
Sister, for I could willingly suffer the kisses of all the other Sisters
for merely one touch of the lips of that young angel opposite me.

Fortunately, the Brothers and Sisters were so busy in their devotions,
no one noticed whether or not my face reflected my guilty longings, for
I was so absorbed in them that when the Elder came to me, instead of my
feet I thrust my hands down into the tub, and was about to place them on
the Elder's towel, when he, unobserved by the rest, gave me a little
nudge and said in a low voice but sternly, "Art crazy, brother? knowest
not thy hands from thy feet?"

I gazed at my hands for a moment, and then as I realized my folly, I
dropped my feet into the tub with such a splash that Brother Lamech who
was seated next awaiting his turn, being utterly swallowed up in worship
and forgetting whether or not his feet had been washed, hastily stuck
them out past me into the Elder's lap just as I was placing mine own
feet there. For a moment the Elder looked at us both in such solemn,
puzzled disgust, that in spite of my natural gravity I almost laughed
outright, which would have been most sacrilegious. Happily, our Elder
was a quickwitted man, and drying our intermingled feet as best he
could, he passed quietly to the rest who had not seen the little
complexity down the line.

The feet-washing being completed, and we all having resumed the covering
of our feet, we turned around on our benches toward the table, the
Brothers and Sisters again facing each other. Then came the evening
meal, which with us consisted of lamb soup as the chief dish, while
bread and apple-butter were served to the strangers and visitors
gathered in the hall. Brother Beissel having breathed a fervent blessing
on the meal we turned to it in absolute silence. And yet not in utter
silence, for if ever heart spake to heart I know mine was clamoring most
violently, and I verily believe hers was too, for now and then, not
slyly nor shamefacedly, the sweet face opposite me would look up and the
tenderest shadow of a smile would be wafted to me. I know little of
these things, but I believe our hearts turned each toward the other
without the power to stay them, just as certain as flowers turn toward
the light and warmth of the sun. Those gentle smiles, as innocent and
guileless as a child's, filled me with a happiness, an ecstatic bliss I
had never felt at any other love feast. It was, ah me, truly a feast of
love.

I suppose we had sat there forever in perfect happiness and content, had
not the evening services interrupted our foolish bliss. I shall not
describe what followed of the service, for they were similar to the love
feasts that are still observed by our little congregation; the giving of
thanks at the end of the meal, the holy kiss, when Brother kissed
Brother and Sister kissed Sister. But if ever the kisses of my Brethren
seemed stale and unprofitable--may I be forgiven for saying this--'twas
then, when there was so near in being but so far in possibility, a kiss
from my dear young sister.

Alas, what a garrulous old fool I am to be writing of such things at my
age. But I cannot help it, for if ever I had a true idea of what
heaven's bliss would be like it was that night. If such transcendent joy
could come from sweet flesh and blood on earth, though in angelic shape,
what joy must it be to wander forever the boundless realms of heaven
enraptured with the love of the celestial virgin.

That night as I lay down on my hard bench in my _Kammer_, I felt for the
first time as though it were too small to hold all the joy of human love
and the pain of a conscience guilty of treason to its celestial virgin.
What little sleep visited mine eyes that night brought visions of the
dear sister in the form of our spiritual Eve, and when morning came I
was so miserably happy, if I may so say, between the two loves I hardly
knew what to do. Nor was I helped much during the day when I overheard
our Elder remark to Brother Joseph that he had never seen such
beautiful, soul-absorbing observance of a love feast as that shown by
Brother Jabez and Brother Lamech the night before.

This was more than I could bear, and I laughed so heartily that Sister
Maria, who afterward became the spiritual leader of the Sisterhood,
suddenly coming upon me held up her hands in pious horror at such
unspeakable levity. I did many a penance that week before I felt myself
absolved from my impious frivolity. I have often thought since then how
many a time we are praised when we deserve blame and blamed when we
merit praise; and indeed it hath been a rule of my life never to be
unduly elated by praise, or on the other hand unnecessarily depressed by
censure. I have always set one against the other, and in this manner
have contrived with my weak, erring temper to preserve a fair show of
equanimity and serenity.

But I was resolved that I, Brother Jabez, the associate superintendent
of the community, would not give way to this midsummer madness, and so
far as I could see, Sister Bernice was of the same mind. I saw but
little of her, and when we did come nigh each other, which was seldom,
her averted gaze told me she too was struggling against our sinful love.
And so day after day passed around, filled with its various duties,
neither Sister Bernice nor myself giving any sign, so far as either of
us was aware, of our poor, forbidden love, though often in the long
after years I wondered whether all our self-denial of this sweet, human
love was not a greater sacrifice than He required of us.



CHAPTER X

THE BROTHERHOOD OF ZION

    Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man
    upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

        --Bible.


This poor love for my Sister Bernice was not the only thing that
troubled me about this time, which was in the same year that Brother
Brämer passed away. It was during this very year of 1738 there occurred
one of the most important events in the history of our community, and
this was the formation of the Zionitic Brotherhood by the Eckerlings and
their deluded followers, and the erection of a large building for the
use of their mystical society. While Brother Beissel and Brother
Wohlforth and myself and our followers rejoiced to see that from all
parts of our province and the adjacent provinces men and women and their
children flocked to us and became part of our community--so that our
secular congregation was now the largest Sabbatarian settlement in the
colonies--yet our hearts were oft weighed down with apprehensions as to
the outcome of the doings of these Eckerlings, to whose foolish and
ambitious schemes there seemed no end.

These Eckerling brothers were the strangest mixture of worldly wisdom,
on the one hand, and the most perverse and ridiculous religious beliefs,
on the other, I verily believe, I have ever seen. While we taught and
enjoined the purity and simplicity of the mode of life of the early
Christians, the Eckerlings must continually be running after strange
gods, so that at this time and for many years thereafter we were in
great danger of total disruption; for experience clearly showeth the
Scriptures say truly, a house divided against itself must fall.

Thus by our increased membership and by the scheming of our Eckerlings
it came about that the Solitary Brethren clamored for a building similar
to the Sisters' house, Kedar, and while for a time the project was kept
in abeyance by lack of money, which commodity was never dangerously
plenty with us, yet finally, Brother Benedict (and I say this to his
praise), a young Swiss from Kilcheryturnen, a scion of a rich family of
Berne, who had joined our community, came forward with the necessary
funds. Whereupon it came to pass notwithstanding our opposition, so I
find it in our _Chronicon_, that, "Inflamed by the love of God, he
resolved to devote his fortune to the erection of a convent"; which was
accepted as coming by divine direction, and his proposition granted.
There was in the settlement a pleasant elevation from which one had a
beautiful view of the fertile valley and the mountains lying opposite.
Of this height the Brethren in the hill house at that time held
possession. When now it came to the selection of a site, the most held
that the valley along the Cocalico creek was the most desirable on
account of the water. The superintendent, however, went up the hill
until he came within the limits of the property of the hill house, and
there was the site chosen. By this the spirit of wonders indicated at
the very beginning that the Brotherhood would at first build its
structure on the heights of reason and thus soar aloft until at length
by a great storm they would be cast down into the valley; all of which
was afterwards fulfilled in the minutest detail.

The site for the new chapter-house having been settled, the eager
Eckerlings, like children hastening toward a new toy, could stand no
delay. The Brethren must be pressed into immediate service, and every
one joining in the work as though this heathenish temple were
unanimously desired, in a wonderfully short time we had cut and framed
the timbers, and a day was fixed in the month of May when the building
was to be raised with much ritual and ceremony.

In those days when home or barn or mill was to be built the "raising"
(by which we meant the putting into place the large, heavy timbers for
the framework) was made the occasion of a great gathering. From miles
around, the sturdy, broad-shouldered farmers and their deep-bosomed and
hardly less broad-shouldered wives, and even the children, would come
trooping along to take part in the raising, the men attending to the
heavier work of the building while the women folk took care of the more
delicate labor of the cooking, and when we had our raising there was
such a swarming from far and wide that the Sisterhood, aided by the
visiting wives and daughters, were driven to make such mighty
preparations for the hungry workmen we sometimes wondered where all the
food was to come from; but our kind helpers, knowing the rigorous state
of our larder and relishing not overmuch our thin and ghostly fare,
brought along such a rich store of meats and jellies and preserves as
threatened to ruin forever the stomachs of the Solitary. I grieve,
moreover, to say that on this occasion many a Brother--I among them--and
even Sister, did in the hilarity and good cheer vary so much from our
usual temperance as to suffer in body and mind for some days after our
well-meaning friends had left us.

Not the least of the joyousness of this raising was that in the evening
when we were gathered, tired and hungry as wolves, about the long,
wooden tables in Kedar, Sister Bernice and I in those few days saw more
of each other than in all the months since that blissful love feast. It
hath often puzzled me, even now I know not the explanation, that it
happened every meal-time Sister Bernice waited on me; for the Sisters
and the wives insisting the men must be fed first, knowing no doubt our
fretful natures when hungry, gave zest to the meals by adding their
womanly presence in the serving of the food. So, as I have said, it
chanced that Sister Bernice waited on me, and whether or not the others
observed the foolishness of our sweet love, I only know that when, most
unaccountably, in handing me the meats, and the bread and the like, her
hands would touch me, I came more than once so near grasping those
wonderful little, soft things in mine, that most of the meal-time I was
distressed lest I do some utterly foolish thing that would make my dear
sister and me the laughingstock of every one present, and this I
determined must not be, at least for her sake.

Once, though, when the Evil One prompted me no one was looking, and I
pinched gently the dear hand that for a moment rested lightly on the
table, just by my arm, whereat she smiled at me with such well-nigh
irresistible sweetness it seemed now I must simply take her in mine
arms and say to all, "This is my Sister Bernice; I am her Brother Jabez.
We love each other better than life"; but some remnant of common sense
and my ever-present cowardice in all matters pertaining to love saved us
both from any noticeable outbreak of our sweet delirium. Ah, me! Ah, me!

But if there was great hilarity and good cheer after the labor of the
day when the appetites of all did full justice to the food that came out
of the Sisters' kitchen, even this was nothing compared with the bustle
and noise and hurrying to and fro that attended the raising of the
timbers into their place; for even the heaviest pieces had to be placed
by sheer physical strength, the broad-shouldered, iron-muscled giants
puffing and straining at their tasks; it seemed to me as though Hercules
and Atlas had come to earth again, in the forms of these powerful
farmers and woodsmen. As was to be expected, great rivalry, though in
the best of humor, existed between these giants as to which could put up
the heaviest timbers and the most speedily, and sometimes, though more
in fun than for the value of the thing, wagers were laid as to who
should prove the stronger. Where there is such a spirit work goes on
rapidly, and in a very few days the large posts and the beams and joists
were all up and our kind helpers ready to leave us to complete the
lighter but more tedious portion of the task. Fortunately we had among
us Brethren who were skilled carpenters, so that by fall the building
was ready for actual occupation, though it was not finished until five
years later.

This building was erected on a hill, called by the Brethren Mount Sinai,
within the bounds of the _Lager_, while the structure itself was called
Zion. It was three stories in height. The lower floor consisted of one
large room, known as the refectory, connected with which were three
small chambers, _Kabinettchen_. Of these, two served as pantries for
storing the provisions and necessaries for the forty days' seclusion
which, according to the beliefs of our Eckerlings, were necessary in
connection with certain rites to attain perfection. The remaining
chamber consisted of receptacles for the paraphernalia used by the
Eckerlings in their ceremonies. The second floor of Zion was a circular
chamber without any window or means of admitting light from the outside.
In the center on a pedestal was placed a lamp which was kept burning
continually during the forty days' rite.

Thirteen cots or pallets radiated from the pedestal like the spokes of a
wheel. This chamber was known as "Ararat," meaning thereby the heavenly
rest the Almighty had vouchsafed exclusively to his chosen people, just
as the ark of Noah had settled down on the mount of that name, there to
rest forever.

The third or upper story of Zion was the mystical chamber, where the
arcana of the rite were unfolded to the Secluded. This room was entirely
plain and measured exactly eighteen feet square, having a small oval
window in each side, opening to the four cardinal points of the compass.
The only access to this chamber was through a trapdoor in the floor, and
it was in this chamber that the ceremonies and rites were performed by
the thirteen Brethren who were striving for their moral and physical
regeneration and seeking communication with the spirit world.

Zion was no sooner advanced sufficiently for occupation than the
necessary provisions and paraphernalia were obtained and preparations
were made by thirteen of our Brethren to undergo the ordeal, which, like
the other rites and ceremonies taught by the Eckerlings, were nothing
more than what was known as the "strict observance," or the Egyptian
cult of mystic Freemasonry.

At the conclusion of certain religious services, among which was the
repeating in concert of the fortieth Psalm, a procession was formed and
thirteen elect of the Brethren were escorted up the hill to the doors of
the building, which, as soon as the adepts had entered, were securely
locked to prevent any intrusion or interruption during the forty days'
retirement from the outside world.

I had been greatly surprised to see that of the thirteen selected for
the ordeal, Gabriel Eckerling, or Brother Jotham, had been chosen prior
instead of the eldest of the Eckerling brothers, Israel, or Brother
Onesimus.

As the doors closed upon the last of the misguided thirteen, I turned to
Brother Beissel and said, "Why hath not Brother Onesimus been chosen
prior?" for it was well known to all of us that the eldest of the
Eckerlings was the real leader in all these schemes.

Brother Beissel looked at me quietly for a moment and then said so low
only I and Brother Wohlforth, who was standing near, could hear: "It
meaneth naught other than that Beelzebub hath some deep plan laid for
our undoing. What sayest thou, Brother Wohlforth?"

"I know not what it meaneth, but I feel sure it portendeth some evil,
for our Brother Onesimus would not relinquish the honor of being prior
if it were not that he hath somewhat else to attend to to complete his
plans while our thirteen idolaters are practising their abominations."

"Perchance," I suggested, "our Brother Onesimus thinketh it necessary to
keep watch over us while the others are shut up in Zion for their forty
days' regeneration."

"I doubt not thou art right," said our leader, and Brother Wohlforth
also seemed to think that Brother Onesimus did not deem it wise to
incarcerate himself for forty days and leave us unwatched by him for
that time; but his own slyness in time proved his overthrow.

I have not space here to set forth in detail all the practices of our
thirteen neophytes, which at this time were known only to the Eckerlings
and their followers, being, as I said, a sort of Freemasonry, but in
later years I learned from Sonnlein a great deal concerning this ordeal
and it may be that, later, I shall have somewhat to say of it.

I do know this, however, that at the end of the forty days the thirteen
emerged, claiming they had successfully completed the ordeal, with
physical bodies as clean and pure as though new-born, their spirits
filled with divine light, visions without limit, mental power
sunbounded, and no other ambition than to enjoy a state of complete rest
and peace while waiting for immortality, so that each could say at the
end, "I am that I am." So far as I could see, and I say this not in
levity or prejudice but as being absolutely true, all the change I could
see beyond their looking even thinner and paler than before, each of the
regenerated could say more truly instead of, "I am that I am," "I am
what I was before I entered." I could not see in all my later life that
physically or mentally or religiously these adepts were any different or
better than the rest of us, but seemed subject to the same weakness and
infirmities as the unregenerated, only that the silly thirteen did ever
after by their aversion for labor show they really believed they had
attained a state of complete rest.

All of which goes to show that in every community error is bound to come
and that there are ever those who, not content with serving God in the
simple manner he hath set forth in the Scriptures, must devise all sorts
of foolish and even difficult modes of living the Almighty doth not ask
for and which, I doubt, not do not please him.

However, while our _Vorsteher_, or superintendent, and Brother Wohlforth
and myself were not in accord with the Eckerlings and their followers in
establishing the Zionitic Brotherhood, who were ever looked upon with
awe and veneration by the secular members, we did all in our power to
live peaceably with them, Brother Beissel even bringing out a hymn book,
known as the "_Weyrauch's Hügel_" (Incense Hill), for the use of the
Brotherhood as well as for general circulation among the Germans in the
province.

According to the ritual of the Eckerlings, _Weyrauch_ meant nothing more
than _Gebet_, or prayer. It was taught that the gum, made after a
mystical formula and kept exclusively for religious uses, when ignited
during supplication or prayer became corporeal and was wafted in
fragrant clouds to heaven. _Hügel_, or hillock, also denotes an object
held in special veneration, as the rising sun first gilds the hilltops
in the east, and it is well known that from time immemorial hills have
always been designated as holy ground and were the chosen places for
offering sacrifices, so that the title of the hymn book meant to the
adepts more than a mere hill of incense. It typified the book as a
volume of prayer which, if properly used would, like the visible flames
of the burning incense, go direct to the throne of grace.

But this peace offering, besides containing a few old, popular German
hymns, being chiefly made up of hymns composed by Brother Beissel and
the rest of the Solitary, like so many other peace offerings failed to
effect its purpose. Not only did the Eckerlings grow more and more
swollen in their power and arrogance, but the printing of the book
itself was greatly delayed; and as our good Christopher Sauer, the
printer, of Germantown, to whom it was intrusted for publication, saw
fit to make himself a censor of the hymns, it so occurred that when the
four hundredth hymn was set up, a personal controversy, exceedingly
bitter, arose and ended in an estrangement lasting fully ten years,
during which our leader and our printer hurled at each other most
violent accusations, the printer evidently being firm in his mind that
our leader regarded himself as somewhat of a pope or a Christ, before
whom all others must bow.

Indeed, there were during Brother Beissel's leadership many false
stories current about him, rising through superstition or enmity, the
coarser part of the people regarding him as a great wizard, fully
believing that the spirit whom he served had at times made our brother
invisible; wherefore it is related that a justice of the peace sent a
constable after our leader with a warrant, taking care to send an
assistant. As the constable and his assistant came toward the cabin down
in the meadow where our leader lived, they saw him go into his cabin
with a pitcher of water; they followed him, and while one stationed
himself at the door, the other searched the house from top to bottom,
but no superintendent was to be found. Greatly bewildered and even
alarmed at such witchcraft they departed, and after they were some
distance from the house, on looking back they saw our leader come out as
though naught had happened.

It is also true, and I regret to say it, that many of our Brothers, and
even the Sisters, who seem ever given to idolizing, fell to the other
extreme and, as in the case of John the Baptist, wondered whether our
leader might not be Christ. Even Brother Onesimus once tried to poison
my mind against our superintendent by remarking that even he thought
that, perhaps, our leader might be Christ, whereupon I rebuked our
Brother Onesimus so soundly for his folly, I never again heard him
repeat such nonsense.

Thus it went back and forth so that it seemed the conflict between our
leader and the printer were never to cease, the printer publishing it
far and wide that our superintendent was born under a strange
conjunction of the stars and that a number of planets manifested in him
their characteristics: from Mars, our superintendent had his great
severity; from Jupiter, his friendliness; from Venus, that the female
sex ran after him; while Mercury had given him the arts of the comedian;
and not content with this, our printer must even go so far as to say of
our superintendent: "In many points he is very close to Gichtel and
still closer to the little beast described in Revelation 13:11, which
represents his peculiarity in spiritual things. His figure is such that
if one beseeches him he has the horns of a lamb, but if one touches his
temper a little he speaks like a dragon, and is, indeed, not to be
regarded as the first great beast, whose number is 66. He is not so
beast-like, but is also not clean Godly, but is humanly peculiar and no
other than CVnraDVs BeIseLVs DcLVVVI--666."

All of which goeth to show that when one man hateth another beyond all
reason, the hater maketh a greater fool of himself than of him who is
derided.



CHAPTER XI

BROTHER AGONIUS AND HIS PROPHECY

    No great genius was ever without some mixture of madness,
    nor can anything grand or superior to the voice of
    common mortals be spoken except by the agitated soul.

        --Aristotle.


Brother Agonius, his real name being Michael Wohlforth, or Welfare, as
he was known among the English settlers--what a shock, notwithstanding
our boasted fortitude and resignation, his death was to us!

He was born, as became his warlike soul, at the fortress of Memel, on
the Baltic Sea. Coming to this New World in his early youth, he at once
joined himself to the Pietists, the Hermits of the Wissahickon; but he
remained not long there, for his fiery, intrepid zeal left him no other
mind but that he must journey to and fro, near and far, even making a
long and dangerous journey to the Germans of North Carolina, preaching
to them as he did to every one, in season and out of season, wherever he
went, to repent their godless lives and to submit themselves wholly to
the Master's will.

Upon his return, in 1723, from that distant province, he joined himself
to our _Vorsteher_ who, as "Brother Beissel," was then living the life
of a Solitary in the depths of a forest not many miles north from
Ephrata, which at that time had not yet been founded. In the solitude of
this forest these two hermits, so alike in their energetic, impetuous,
stubborn zeal, lived a life of silent contemplation and adoration of the
mysteries of the Creator for some time, and from thenceforth even though
they differed not infrequently with all the force and outspoken
directness of their strong-willed natures, yet were they firm friends
and companions until death separated them.

I recall how in later years in our Kloster life at Ephrata, when we had
built Kedar and the other houses of worship, as I have already related,
he became alarmed at their size, and deprecated especially the
innovation of the innocent bells, so that for a time he withdrew from us
and again became a hermit, in the mountains of Zoar, some five miles
from the Kloster; but he soon resumed his life with us to remain as a
valued co-worker for the rest of his days.

And now that he was gone, how we missed him! His boldness,
aggressiveness, his fearlessness and fidelity in proclaiming far and
wide his doctrine as to the Seventh Day Sabbath made his death a heavy
loss not only to our community, but to all the Sabbatarians, German and
English, in the province. He would travel on foot, no matter how hard
and toilsome the way, staff in hand, in pilgrim garb, and no matter
whether by country roadside or in the slave markets in the streets of
the chief city of our province, in church or meeting-house, wherever he
could find an audience, large or small, to listen to his voice, he would
stand boldly forth, yet in the spirit of humility, and exhort and
admonish with all his power, in German or in English, speaking both with
equal ease, oblivious of taunts and revilings and persecutions, that his
hearers live in obedience to God's commands as to the Sabbath day.

To Brother Beissel and to me the death of our brother came with far
greater force than to the rest of the Solitary. Even more than our
superintendent and myself he was unalterably opposed to the Eckerlings
and their unchristian innovations; for it can be said in all moderation
that hardly would we three succeed in overthrowing some especially
offensive scheme of the Eckerings when one of the remaining four would
present something new to torment us.

One of their abominations, which originated in the busy mind of Emanuel
Eckerling, Brother Elimelech, was the baptism of the living for the
dead, and so persistent and subtle were his arguments that he finally
won over to him our superintendent in spite of all that Brother Agonius
and I could do to save our leader from this tremendous foolishness.

So it came about that on a certain day a procession was formed of the
Brotherhood of Zion, the Spiritual Virgins, and the secular
congregation, and as they wended their way slowly and solemnly down the
hill and across the meadow to a pool in the Cocalico, Brother Agonius
and I having steadfastly refused to countenance in any way the thing,
were nevertheless compelled to say to each other that our Brothers and
Sisters were an impressive sight. The solemn procession having arrived
at the pool special hymns were sung and fervent invocations were made,
intended no doubt to ascend, but which to my wrathful mood seemed more
fit to descend.

I care not to dwell longer on this irreligious proceeding than to say
that, with Brother Beissel as administrator, Emanuel Eckerling was
immersed for his dead mother, and Alexander Mack the younger, for his
dead father, although these departed ones had both been baptized in
their own flesh in Germany. Indeed, this baptismal fever became so
virulent that everybody, irrespective of faith, was becoming baptized
for some deceased relative, so that I gravely wondered whether or not
some utterly daft ones would be baptized for Adam and Eve.

Another scheme of the Eckerlings, into which our leader fell without the
slightest hesitation, was that instead of "Brother Beissel," he should
be called "_Vater Friedsam_" (Father Friedsam, meaning the peaceful
one). This suggestion caused great uproar among us which finally settled
itself into an agreement that the Solitary should call him "Father," and
the secular congregation, "Brother," and so it remained for a number of
years, but as for me, I always called him "Brother"--"_Timeo Danaos et
dona ferentes_."

Would I could say I were done telling of these Eckerlings, for it
seemeth to require as long to get rid of them here in the writing as it
did to get them out of our community. About this time a pilgrimage from
Ephrata was made by Brother Beissel and Brothers Elimelech and Onesimus
and one or two others of the Solitary to the Dunker settlement at
Amwell, in our sister province of New Jersey, with whom we had become
acquainted about two years prior hereto. The charge of this pilgrimage
was in Brother Elimelech, but he was with our Amwell Brethren only a
short time when he succeeded in making as much trouble for them as he
had already made for us. First, because when he preached he kept on and
never knew when to stop so that even though his hearers were used to
long sermons the utmost patience could not endure his protracted
discourses. Secondly, because of his proposing midnight watches and the
like, such as had been fastened on us, so that finally he was dismissed
and returned to us in disgrace. But as there is some good in all
misfortune so it resulted that out of the strained conditions in the
Amwell congregation a number of their brethren, among them Dietrich
Fahnestock, Conrad Boldhauser, Johannes Mohr, Bernhard Gitter and
several others with their families, came to us and either joined the
Solitary or our secular congregation.

Hardly had this storm subsided than our Brother Onesimus, thinking no
doubt it was his turn, concluded that even though properly baptized and
notwithstanding he had taken the vows of celibacy, yet there was nothing
to prevent him from re-entering the world and marrying, so he advised
the Brotherhood to make a new covenant with the Virgin Mary as the
patroness of their Order.

As a visible sign of their betrothal to the virgin, Brother Onesimus
advised that the Brothers and Sisters all cut the tonsure. Brother
Beissel, who always counseled chastity and celibacy, fell into this
folly of the Eckerlings just as readily as he had into the former ones
and hardly had the prior convened the Brotherhood in the chapter house,
where each Brother in turn kneeling down repeated his pledge of celibacy
and had his hair cut and his crown shorn, when our leader, not to be
outdone by the prior, called together the Spiritual Virgins, in their
_Saal_.

After reconsecrating the assembled Sisters to the heavenly Bridegroom,
Brother Beissel, with the assistance of another Brother, cut the hair of
each of the Sisterhood in the manner of the primitive Christian church,
after which the crowns of the Sisters were likewise shorn, our
superintendent gathering up the tresses and carrying them to Zion where
he laid them upon the altar expressing the wish that he might live until
the Sisters' heads were gray--and it was further resolved and ordered
that the tonsure was to be renewed every three months and in the
meantime no one was to put shears to his or her head. Thus was another
madness inflicted upon us.

Our prior continuing to exalt himself in his priesthood, had our Sisters
make for him a robe or costume such as is described in the Bible as
having been worn by the high priest in the temple, and when our prior
presided thereafter at the _agapae_ and baptisms he presented to the
unsophisticated a most gorgeous sight, while to me the whole thing was
disgusting. Following the tonsure and the priestly robe Prior Onesimus
introduced night-watches and processions, which resulted not only that
our superintendent was virtually superseded by our cunning prior, but
what was far worse, these abominations, so foreign to our simple
Sabbatarian precepts, becoming known to the surrounding country brought
additional ridicule and contempt upon us and for many years wherever we
went we had hurled at us such epithets (_Schimpfworte_) as _Glatzköpfe_
(bald heads), _Vollmonde_ (full moons), _Bettel-Mönche_ (beggar friars),
and _Pfaffenmucker_ (Papish double-dealers). Not only were we compelled
to listen to such nicknames, but by reason of this aping of the monastic
customs of the Middle Ages we incurred the ire of the Scotch-Irish
settlers, hard-headed Presbyterians, between the Octoraro and the
Susquehanna, so that no matter what we or our friends said to the
contrary these stubborn old Covenanters were sure we were nothing but a
nest of Jesuit emissaries, and the "croppies," as our Presbyterian
friends were wont to call us were decried from their pulpits as well as
held up to scorn by the members of that church wherever and whenever the
opportunity afforded.

Still the Eckerlings went on in their unceasing activities. Having built
Zion according to their own ideas, they were, however, not contented;
for as they had left no room for the congregational gatherings all the
assemblages and love feasts were held in the house of prayer adjoining
the Sister house, Kedar; but as the Zionitic Brotherhood had to
traverse the intervening distance in all kinds of bad weather and as the
nightly processions had to take their way toward the habitation of the
Spiritual Virgins all sorts of unfavorable comments were made by the
outsiders, who, judging from their own evil minds, did not hesitate to
call into question the honesty of the Brethren in their adherence to
their vows.

Thus it was determined to erect a building which should be a combined
prayer and schoolhouse, to adjoin Zion and be large enough to
accommodate the secular congregation as well as all the Solitary within
the community, and so rapidly did the work progress and so favorable was
the weather (although it was late in the fall not a drop of rain or
flake of snow or frost appeared until the middle of the following
January), that the work on the chapel went on without intermission or
hindrance, so that by the following summer, Zion's _Saal_, as it was
called, a stately three-story structure, was completed, the lower floor
being for worship and the second for the love feasts and _pedelavium_
and the third being divided into small cells for the Solitary Brothers
of the Zionitic Order. In July of 1740 the last joint services were held
in Kedar, to which all the Sabbatarians, far and near, were invited, not
excepting the Welsh and English Brethren in Nantmill and Newtown,
invitations being scattered broadcast even among the Germans beyond the
Schuylkill, and to all who came the hospitality of the community was
most cordially extended. After that time Kedar fell exclusively to the
Order of Spiritual Virgins.

Not two weeks later the Brotherhood of Zion dedicated their new temple,
at midnight, the prior not losing the opportunity for making the
occasion remarkable for an interminable number of processions,
incantations, prayers, and mysterious ceremonies, said to date from
Pharaoh, from whose bondage we, unlike the children of Israel, did not
seem able to free ourselves.

About a month later, our Brother Beissel, being now the acknowledged
superintendent of our entire community, must surrender himself so
completely to the vanities of the Eckerlings that in the presence of the
whole congregation, from among whom I saw Sister Bernice look at me with
shy pride, he solemnly consecrated Brother Onesimus, Brother Enoch, and
myself to the priesthood, by the laying on of hands, after which with
most solemn and ancient ceremony we had conferred on us the
centuries-old Order of Melchizedek, although what this order had to do
with our Christian life, I confess I have never yet found out, only
consenting to the doubtful honor in order to appease our
superintendent's displeasure, whose rigorous spirit often pressed on my
slower one.

And now, our superintendent, assuming the rôle of Grand Master of the
Zionitic Brotherhood, deposed Brother Jotham and in his stead, despite
the protests of himself and his following, appointed Brother Onesimus,
Prior, or Perfect Master, of the Brotherhood. Our new prior, however,
was even worse than his brother and applied the discipline of the order
so rigidly that I was compelled to write to a friend, that "Now was
there between the poor devotees of Ephrata and the wool-headed African
slaves no other difference than that we are white and free slaves," and
indeed, I fear I almost felt toward the Eckerlings like the English king
who wondered whether there was no one to rid him of his enemies.

At the risk of trespassing too far on the patience of those who may read
this, I shall narrate of the clock and bells donated to the community by
my father, and which the Eckerlings obtained permission to place in the
steeple over the roof of the _Saal_. This clock held an ingenious
attachment for chiming the bells and for ringing them at certain times
during the day and night, to call us to our various and now almost
innumerable devotions. When this bell was rung at midnight, not only did
the Solitary arise from their wooden couches, but for miles around,
whenever the notes of the bell could be heard, all the families arose
also and held their worship at the same time; but though the fires of
first love for their faith burned strongly among the secular members at
this time, yet it finally came about that the congregation demanded a
house where they could worship unhindered by the exacting rules and
ceremonies of the Brotherhood of Zion, who seeing in this an excellent
opportunity for securing their temple wholly to their own uses, fell in
with might and main to prepare the frame and timbers for another prayer
house, nominally for the exclusive use of the secular members.

And now, though all our houses of worship were on the higher ground, the
site for this new temple was chosen down in the meadow, and this less
pretentious _Saal_ still survives, while its loftily situated and proud
predecessors have long ago passed away. Thus as the Lord hath promised
doth he exalt the lowly and bring down the haughty.

In size the new prayer house was to be forty feet square and that many
feet in height, thus symbolizing the perfect number, although it hath
been claimed that some of the builders wondering what might happen if
they followed not the perfect proportions, made the width two feet
narrower and the height somewhat greater than forty feet. Be that as it
may, I have not seen in these fifty years since the building was put up
that the variation, if there were such, hath made any difference for
good or ill.

But the good fortune attending us during the building of the _Saal_
forsook us now, for many delays and heavy disappointments fell upon us
ere our task was performed; for the weather during the fall and winter
of 1740 and 1741 was exceptionally hard, there being the severest storms
and the extremest cold. Never since have I seen such cold and sleet and
ice and snow as during that awful winter. The Cocalico was completely
hidden under its thick covering of ice and snow so that a stranger would
not have known there was a stream there. At times the snow was three
feet deep on the level, and where it had drifted from the winds, cabins
and outbuildings were completely covered over. Families were imprisoned
in their homes. Cattle died from want of fodder. Even the wild beasts in
the forest, though knowing so well how to take care of themselves, died
of hunger, so that deer were found dead in the woods. Indeed, it was no
infrequent sight to see the pretty animals, usually so timid, driven by
their great hunger to the very cabin doors for food, sometimes even
mingling with the cattle. The settlers, especially of the more remote
districts, suffered greatly from lack of bread, and had little to live
on but the carcasses of the deer found in the swamps. Even the Indians
suffered on account of the lack of game. Often during the night there
would be borne to our ears the strangest sounds, heavings, and
groanings from the ice-bound, rebellious Cocalico, the walls of our
buildings even seeming to strain and crack as though they would fall
asunder. Sometimes at long intervals during those dark, bitter, cold
nights there would fall from the depths of the sky the trumpet calls of
wild fowls, winging their way I know not whither, but still, I know,
within His care. At times, these shrill cries came with such strength
and suddenness that Sonnlein would jump up out of the soundest sleep,
cuddling up close to me as though only I could save him from those
mysterious, threatening voices.

But the Solitary, despite the severity of the winter, pressed on at
every relaxation of the weather toward the completion of our new prayer
house, and as the spring opened, we being now joined by the congregation
at large, the work went on rapidly, though the building which our
superintendent named "Peniel" (being the name Jacob gave to the place
where he wrestled with God), was not made tenantable until the following
December, when it was duly consecrated to God.

All during this hard winter I could see that Brother Agonius, his hardy
frame worn out by excessive zeal, was suffering keenly from the cold,
piercing winds, and I felt with deepening sadness, day after day as I
saw his infirmity increase, that our brother must soon cease to be among
us. How bravely he fought to remain with us and how uncomplainingly he
faced the inevitable end, his rugged heart mellowing and ripening into
sweeter and more resigned humility before being plucked from its stem by
the Master's loving hand!

Spring had not yet yielded itself to summer--for it was only the latter
part of May when the fields and the woods were gay with flowers--when
what he stubbornly maintained was only a slight weakness passed into the
serious illness that in a few days ended his labors on earth. But such
was his unyielding will that on the Sabbath before his death he was at
meeting, and the following evening there were good hopes for his
recovery.

About an hour before midnight--Sonnlein having gone to sleep soon after
dark--I bethought me to go to our brother's _Kammer_ and give him such
comfort as he might need. I found him alone in his little cell sitting
feebly on his wooden bench, so that I could see he was suffering great
weakness. At first he resisted my gentle persuasions to lie down and
rest, but finally consented thereto, even, after much coaxing, letting
me spread my robe under him and rest his head on it; for he was so thin
I could not bear to see his poor frame with nothing between it and the
hard board's.

I rejoiced to see him drop off into a deep sleep that I fondly hoped
would last until the morning; but there was a something about his sleep
so unnaturally deep and profound I feared it might be the forerunner of
his speedy dissolution.

It was close now to the midnight hour and soon there rang out from the
darkness the clear notes of our bell calling the Brothers and Sisters to
their wonted devotions. Scarcely had the first stroke died away when I
was startled almost out of my wits to see Brother Agonius sit up
straight on his bench, looking ahead with a fixed, steady stare.

"What seest thou, brother?" I asked softly and I know my voice trembled,
for I understood not his strange gazing.

But he heeded me not in the least only that he appeared to be muttering
to himself. Then his voice, becoming more firm, he said, still as though
to himself, "Ye foolish Eckerlings; flee ye from the wrath to come!"

"What meanest thou?" I asked wonderingly; but still he heeded
not, only muttering as before something about the Eckerlings
of which now and then I would catch some few words, which seemed
to me like, "O ye Eckerlings; ye poor Eckerlings; driven
away--alone--captured--tortured--separated--persecuted--homeless";
and then my brother sighed as though a world of woe oppressed him
and murmured, "Repent ye; repent ye"; all this time my flesh
creeping with dread as the low tone of the dying man uttered this
marvelous prophecy; for such, in truth, it was.

Finally he lay down again, but still muttering and mumbling, only lower
than before. Once he mentioned my name and it seemed to me he said
pityingly, "Poor Brother Jabez," and then after a long pause, "Poor
Sister Bernice," and then after a still longer pause, during which I
waited anxiously for what might follow he said more clearly, "The fight
will not be long; comfort thou him, Lord"; so that I could not keep out
a great fear for that he should couple my name with my dear sister's so
strangely; for I had oft heard that dying ones see not only the past but
even the future with great clearness, and I could not help the dread
that held my heart as though with a hand of ice.

When the Brethren dropped in after their devotions our brother was again
suffering such agony that he declared--being in his senses again--his
sacrifice on the cross was now complete, wherefore he did not know
whether any saint had ever suffered such martyrdom, and while the
Brethren were singing at his request the hymn, "The time is not yet
come," he asked that they intercede with God that he might open to him
his prison door.

As his end drew near he asked that certain psalms and parts of Tauler's
"Last Hours" be repeatedly read to him, after which he asked to be
anointed in the manner of the first Christians. This was done, Brother
Beissel applying the chrism. On the Wednesday following, Brother
Agonius kept looking keenly toward the hour-glass, for it had been
revealed to him that his end was to come at the ninth hour of that day.
And so when the ninth hour came he sat up straight on his wooden bench,
but immediately fell over scarce breathing; but he revived again and
asked feebly whether he had not died. With the end of the ninth hour he
passed away with the senseless sands of the hour-glass.

The next day his mortal remains were placed in a neat coffin where the
Brethren and Sisters and the settlers of all denominations for miles
around could gaze once more upon the face and form of this unconquerable
Christian soldier and martyr and pay their last respects to the memory
of our eloquent exhorter. I shall not dwell upon the rites and
ceremonies that made his burial so solemn and memorable. As his body was
lowered into its resting-place in the meadow a little to the east of
Brother Beissel's cabin, a special funeral hymn was sung by the
Sabbatarians, composed for the occasion by his lifelong friend, our
superintendent.

After the singing of the hymn the Brotherhood of Zion, being nearest
about the grave, closed with its mystic rites the funeral ceremonies,
the Sisters in a tearful group standing beyond us, and all being
surrounded by the sincere friends of our departed brother, and the
curious ones who ever attend such sad occasions.

A modest tombstone marks his sleeping-place, bearing the following
German inscription by Brother Beissel, which I translate freely thus:

    HERE REPOSES THE GODLY WARRIOR

                AGONIUS

             DIED ANNO 1741.

    _Aged 54 years, 4 months, 28 days._

    Victory brings the crown
    In the fight for faith, grace, and renown.
    Thus blessings crown the warrior true
    Who bravely sin and Belial slew.
    Peacefully he passed to his chamber of rest
    Where now he is free of all pain and distress.



CHAPTER XII

SISTER BERNICE IS COMFORTED

    Girls and gold are the softer the purer they are.

        --Jean Paul Richter.


The beautiful flowers that grew down in the meadow where we laid our
Brother Agonius in his chamber of rest, like him were soon gathered up
into the arms of the Master Reaper. The enchantments of the long, hot,
summer days had worked silently but surely the entrancing spells that
now spread over field and forest the glowing vestments of the early
fall.

But one day as I was resting at the foot of the venerable oak where
Brother Martin had been hastened to his death by that strange woman not
many years before, suddenly I heard a piercing shriek from the thick
woods back of me and a wild, terrified rush toward the little clearing
where I was standing erect, fairly astounded. In a moment more Sister
Bernice fell almost headlong at my feet, whence I lifted her unconscious
with fright and terror into my arms.

Hardly knowing what to do I stood there helplessly gazing at her sweet
face and then at the crown of hair that lay like a golden fleece over my
arm, her hood having fallen to the ground, so that I was thankful some
remnant of womanly vanity had saved her from the hideous tonsure. But I
bethought myself to lay her gently on the ground, her head, a dear
burden, in my lap, fanning her face as best I might with my large,
toil-stained hands. At last the fluttering eyelids and the gasping
breath told me of returning consciousness. At first she opened her eyes
and gazed at me wonderingly, vaguely, and once she closed them as if to
shut out some awful sight. I rubbed her hands, her wrists, softly
smoothed her brow, and spake to her gently, "'Tis naught but Brother
Jabez; thou needst not fear him. What hath he done?" and by such soft
entreaties and with tender pressures of the hands I sought to soothe her
to herself again.

Finally, she sat up weakly, but leaning so sweetly and helplessly
against me--it being necessary to hold her safe with mine arms for great
fear she might faint again--that I longed to sit there forever. She,
however, after a while freed herself somewhat from my too careful
protection and said "Nay, my dear sister, my--Bernice, I never had much
faith in such wild tales," said I, as she lifted those clear, trusting
eyes to mine. And may I be forgiven for this unblushing, unscrupulous
lie; for did I not know of the witch of Endor? Many a tale had I heard
in the _Vaterland_ of the malign influences of the evil eye, so that now
I felt a vague dread I dared not make known to my poor little sister,
who had flown to my arms as a birdling to its nest.

  [Illustration: "In a moment more Sister Bernice fell almost headlong
  at my feet." Page 128.]

"Think not of her more, my sister; she cannot harm thee now, dear
Bernice." Upon which boastful assurance she smiled confidently enough
and said with a look I would not have changed for a kingdom, "That I
know quite well, thou great giant; wast thou ever afraid, Brother
Jabez?"

"Never," I responded valiantly, recklessly adding another lie to the
record I this day seemed bound to cover with falsehoods.

"Oh, that I could be so brave, Brother Jabez; but I have ever been weak,
such a coward; the _Vaterchen_ and the _Mutterchen_ always shielded me
as though I were in all truth a baby." Here she paused as if to catch
her breath, and then slowly again as with difficulty she said quietly,
"I have been growing so weak lately, I wonder what ails me?"

And now my selfish joy, after all these gloomy months without sight of
her, gave way to a pain that shot through me like an arrow as I saw how
much more delicate and ethereal she had become since that blissful love
feast. For a moment my soul was in hot rebellion at all the hardships
and privations that made our Kloster life almost unbearable to the
strongest and which were so heavy on the frail shoulders of this sweet
angel at my side. Something of my wicked wrath must have expressed
itself against my will, for she suddenly looked up at me alarmed, crying
out, "What is wrong, Brother Jabez? Thou hast such a hard, angry look
in thy eyes, such as I have never seen there before."

"I am not in anger, Sister Bernice" replied I, softening my evil looks
to fit my words, "merely thinking hard--exceeding hard."

"And dost thou look so stern and fierce and frown so, when thou art lost
in great thoughts?" she asked looking up so innocently I felt myself an
unregenerate and abandoned soul for such shameless lying. "If thou
dost," she went on slowly, "I shall be afraid of thee."

"Yea, sister," I lied again unhesitatingly, "thou hast yet to learn that
like many other silly men and women I save my smiles and cheerfulness
for those whom I know the least and am sternest and coldest to those
that know me and love me best."

"That I know to be false," she cried out, smiling up at me brightly, in
such a way I thought I never could let her go; "thou art not a
hypocrite. Who in all our Kloster does not know and love our big
brother, Brother Jabez, for his kindness, his patience, his tenderness,
his charity, for every one, good or bad, and most of all for that
mischievous Sonnlein?"

All this sweet-sounding anthem to my unmerited exaltation made me so
sinfully happy and irreligiously proud I fairly forgot myself in my
foolish joy, so that I pressed the gently resisting girl--for a mere
girl she was--to my breast, and was about to insult her trust and purity
by an unhallowed kiss, and doubt not I had done this great wickedness,
had I not seen too near for me to venture on such indulgence, the form
of some Sister straying our way.

I hurriedly urged Sister Bernice--who not seeing the approaching Sister,
marveled much at my sudden coldness and failure to complete the sweet
enterprise on which I had embarked: "Go thy way, my best beloved sister;
think no more of witches; I shall not let them harm thee." And with that
she smiled more heavenly than before, but obeyed my will and betook
herself to her _Kammer_, while I passing on in the opposite direction,
went straight for that accursed spot where Brother Martin had been the
first ill-fated one to see that grisly shape.

But though I searched most diligently, scrutinizing the vines, the
brush, the ground, I saw no sign of her, and I was making my way back,
sorely puzzled, to the oak, when suddenly I heard a quick rustling among
the leaves, such as a bird might make, and turning sharply, beheld, not
more than a child's throw, in the gloomy shades of that thick, dark
forest, the bent, crouching form of that hideous hag, a wild-eyed,
savage-featured she-fiend!

The memory of poor Brother Martin, the terror of my harmless, innocent
Bernice, moved me to such anger as never before or since overcame my
patience and moderation.

"Thou witch, or devil, whatever thou art," I yelled at her in my passion
as I pulled out of the ground a stone as large as my clenched fists, "it
is in mine temper to crush thee where thou standest, polluting these
holy grounds, thou pestilence!"

With that she rushed forward fiercely for a few steps as though with
clawlike hands and fanglike teeth she would rend me to pieces; but now
that my blood was on fire, I quailed not, whereat she suddenly stopped,
the more especially as my hand was drawn back ready to hurl the stone
should she come any nigher.

As she stood there glowering and glaring at me, snarling and choking for
the world like some angry beast, I marveled not that the others had been
terror-stricken at such a forbidding shape. Again I commanded, drawing
up my figure to its full height, "Begone thou vile beast ere I forget
myself and slay thee as I would a snake!" and with that I advanced on
her, my face distorted with such anger--for the passions are ever
destroyers of comeliness--I doubt not she knew, if, indeed she had a
mind for knowing, that I meant my threats.

I was but a few paces from her, when she made a spiteful sweep at my
face with one of her talons that would have sadly marred me had I been
reached, and then, bent and crouching, she slunk away sullenly, still
snarling and muttering inarticulate sounds. I stood there until her evil
shape was swallowed up by the woods, and then I first knew I was shaking
like a leaf and that I was as wet as though I had just come out of the
Cocalico.

In this frame I walked back slowly to my _Kammer_, so sick at heart with
forebodings of evil I dared not think of, which not all the joy of
having had Bernice in my arms could make me forget.



CHAPTER XIII

THE COMET AND BROTHER ALBURTUS

    Night's curtains now are closing
    Round half a world reposing
    In calm and holy trust;
    All seems one vast, still chamber,
    Where weary hearts remember
    No more the sorrows of the dust.

        --Mathias Claudius.


Hardly had Peniel been completed and dedicated, when there occurred an
event that wrought great consternation, not only in our little community
but among all the settlers in the province. This was nothing less than a
comet. Many firmly believed this celestial visitant to be the precursor
of war and its kindred evils, famine and pestilence; for full many of
our German settlers had still fresh in their minds the fiery comet that
had appeared in the sky of the _Vaterland_ immediately before the
Thirty Years' War, when the Palatinate was devastated from end to end
and almost depopulated. Thus it was feared this fiery, flaming star
foretold similar bloodshed and disaster in this hitherto peaceful New
World. Many of our Brotherhood thought the flaming tail was a bundle of
switches, with which the Almighty was about to punish the unrepentant
and unregenerate.

To our brother hermits of the Wissahickon the comet was looked upon as a
harbinger of the celestial Bridegroom, for whose coming they had so long
devoutly waited.

I remember well the night this wonderful star appeared. It was early in
the year 1742. The Kloster bell with its sweet tones was calling the
Brotherhood of Zion to their midnight devotions. I still see our long
slender line in cloaks and cowls file out of the narrow corridors, and
silently and reverently take up our march toward the Hall of Prayer on
Mount Sinai. There was no moon, but through the clear, frosty air was
spread the light of a multitude of stars that twinkled brightly over
head. Not a twig stirred on the leafless trees. Everything was quiet,
Kedar and Zion looming up distinctly on the hillside, and the sharp roof
of Peniel, down in the meadow, seemed wrapt in deep slumber.

As the notes of the bells died away there was absolute stillness, save
for the creaking and crunching of our wooden shoes on the frozen
ground. We had passed over half the distance to the prayer house, when
suddenly we saw in the eastern heavens a blazing star, with its bright,
fiery tail flashing upon the face of the sky. I shall never forget the
awe that took possession of us so that we trembled with fear, Brother
Obed who was next to me, his teeth chattering violently, whispering
hoarsely it was the judgment day and Gabriel would blow his horn. I
myself was not without a feeling that something dreadful was about to
happen, for it was the first comet I had ever seen, and I knew not what
it portended. Still, I am glad to say I was not so utterly bereft of my
senses as most of my poor brethren seemed to be.

Brother Alburtus, however, was least concerned of all, a peaceful smile
lighting up his face as though the celestial Bridegroom were coming on
some fiery chariot to take him to heaven; but Brother Onesimus fell on
his knees on the hard ground, and prayed for mercy and that the great
evil and calamities foreshadowed by the fiery messenger in the heavens
might be turned aside and that the Almighty would hear our prayers.

And then I felt moved to quote the sublime words of Job:

    Is not God in the height of heavens?
    And behold the height of the stars,
    How high they are.

After the first shock of this sudden apparition was somewhat abated,
Brother Beissel ordered the bells rung throughout the community, and
deputed me to order all out for religious services in Peniel, where we
prayed and sang until the dawn, some of us fondly hoping as the daylight
appeared and the glare of the comet died away our prayers had been
answered, only to find the direful visitant in the sky on the following
night and many nights thereafter.

Brother Obed held that the comet augured the end of the world and
Brother Philemon agreed thereto; for he recollected, which we all
remembered now, that Brother Agonius some weeks before his death, had
earnestly prophesied the long-looked-for millennium was at hand.

Special prayers as provided for in our ritual were said, and certain
Brothers, detailed for that office, read these prayers at the services
of the Sisterhood and the congregations of the households at Peniel.
This liturgy consisted of the reading of the fourth Psalm, closing with
a special invocation, these being changed each day according to the
secret ritual of the Zionites. The sign for Sunday being the Lion; the
corresponding angel Raphael, and the planet Chamma, the Sun. For Monday
the sign was the Crab, the angel Gabriel; and the planet Lewanna, the
Moon, and so on, a different sign and angel and planet for each day of
the week, the sign for the Sabbath being the Waterman and the Goat, the
angel Chephziel; the planet Sabbathai, or Saturn.

Brother Jephune, who was skilled in astronomy and astrology, informed us
the comet was near the equinoxes of the heavens the first night and in
the tail of the Eagle the following night. For a few nights the heavens
were so hidden by heavy clouds and fogs we did not see the comet again
until the following Saturday, when the star stood near Lyra, having
taken a northward course; by the next night the comet had flown to the
tip of the Swan's wing, and so rapid was the wanderer's flight it
traveled five degrees north within twenty-four hours. The next night the
comet entered the head of the Dragon, after which the awesome visitor
vanished again into space, many of the Brethren stoutly maintaining it
had been swallowed up by the Dragon.

But the long-looked-for millennium did not come either with the comet or
its vanishing, but happily, on the other hand, neither did those dire
disasters and calamities fall upon us which many had predicted; and
though it was a long time before we outlived the fear inspired by this
erratic body, if another had come shortly after there is little doubt in
my mind our terror would not have been quite so great, for this is the
nature of man.

Nevertheless, the star made a wonderful and more or less lasting
impression upon all of our community, and from this time a number of our
hymns date, which afterward were incorporated in the collection named by
our superintendent, "_Paradisches Wunderspiel_" (Paradise Wonder Music).
These hymns were full of prophetic insight and represented the mysteries
of the last days so clearly it seemed to many of us as though the
kingdom of heaven were already at hand.

But what troubled me far more than this flaming star was that which
occurred the very next day after the comet disappeared. A few years
after Sonnlein and I came to Ephrata, there joined the Solitary one whom
I have already mentioned as Brother Alburtus, that being his Kloster
name. What his real name was no one in our community seemed to know. And
lest it be thought strange that we knew not who he was, it behooveth me
to enlighten the reader by explaining that at Ephrata we seldom, if
ever, demanded of man or woman desiring to join us, other than whether
they had renounced the world and were willing to serve God in the simple
manner we had agreed upon as being the best for our Master's cause.

And thus it came about that in our tolerant little republic all were
welcome, no matter what their previous faith, Protestant or Catholic, or
what their condition, high or low, rich or poor. Nor did we inquire
overmuch into the past life of any who desired to join us; for what
concerned us more than the past was the manner of life our brethren and
sisters lead after joining us, and in this were we exceedingly strict.

But our Brother Alburtus was always a puzzle to me as, indeed, he was a
great mystery to the rest of the Brotherhood and Sisterhood, though we
all were regarded as peculiar by outsiders. He was very tall, even
taller than I, and broad-shouldered, so that even with his habit of
walking humbly, with bowed form, he yet towered a veritable giant above
all the rest of the Brotherhood. A pronounced roll in his gait, such as
men receive who have served long on the sea, inclined many of us to
believe such had been the greater part of his life, and there were
rumors current in the neighborhood that our Brother Alburtus had been
captain of a vessel; while still others--especially the busybodies, who
always imagine evil of others--gravely asserted he had been a pirate and
had sought refuge among us from those who sought his capture; but the
only thing I ever saw as supporting the charge of piracy was a long,
livid scar across our brother's brow, giving his otherwise gentle and
benign countenance a rather forbidding aspect. Whether or not he had
been a rover of the seas I never learned; from his face I could not
believe he had been a bloodthirsty pirate, though I know full well that
oft beneath the form and features of a saint dwell the thoughts and
passions of the Evil One; for the Scriptures say the human heart is a
deceitful thing.

But this I do know, and in later years it was a great comfort to me,
that in all the twenty or more years our brother was with us he lived a
life of such saintly peace and gentleness as put to shame many a Brother
who professed more but acted not so well. Whatever his past life, I felt
sure with us he lived a true Christian; for a man cannot well live a
hypocrite long with his fellow-men and not be found out.

Yet he had two great peculiarities we often marveled at and of which one
was, that no matter where or when one saw him, he would ever be clasping
and rubbing his hands together. Day after day, month after month, year
after year, all the time I knew him, I believe I never saw him but that
he was clasping and rubbing those hands and looking at them in a
strange, abstracted sort of way, and even when the Brotherhood were at
their meals, if he was not attending to the needs of the inner man, he
would be still rubbing and clasping those hands, which looked white and
peaceful enough to me, so far as I could see; but the suspicious
ones--and they are ever a plenty--in our community and in the country
round about were firm in the belief that those hands had been stained
with the blood of men and even fair women and dear little children, and
for whose deaths he was doomed for the rest of his life to imagine he
saw the blood there which he must ever be trying to rub off.

Mine own opinion was that our Brother Alburtus, who was one of those
absent-minded ones who never know what they are doing, had simply fallen
into this habit, which, as is the nature of habits, became a very part
of him.

His other peculiarity was that often without leaving word with any of us
he would wander off, or as I have often thought, lose himself in the
woods, sometimes being absent weeks at a time; but as he always returned
safely, albeit his body and his cloak a trifle the worse for his
ramblings, we never attempted to restrain his freedom. He and Sonnlein
seemed to have great regard for each other and this too made me love our
harmless brother, and often I saw the two, Sonnlein leading the way,
tramp off to the woods on some wonderful trip of discovery.

As I have said, this matter which I wish to relate came upon us the day
after the comet left. I was walking in the Brother woods not far from
the old oak that had witnessed more than once the manifestations of the
old witch. It was a cold, raw day so that I felt it needful to have my
cowl over my head and I was greatly surprised and yet not entirely
so--for he always walked about as if he regarded not the weather--when
Brother Alburtus meandering bareheaded in the woods walked past me,
clasping and rubbing his hands as ever, looking abstractedly at them and
I felt sure never seeing me though his cloak almost brushed mine.

He had gone but a few steps beyond me when suddenly from out of a
thicket there flew at him what for the instant I could not tell whether
it was wild beast or human being; but as something bright flashed in the
air like a knife or dagger I saw it was that horrible old hag, who in
another moment would have surely killed our brother, standing there
simple and helpless, had I not despite all the scratching and clawing,
torn the vile form from him and hurled her crashing to the earth so that
she rolled for a few yards from me.

I was too much startled and in such passionate anger at this assault
upon our gentle, unoffending brother to say aught as the foul shape lay
writhing and twisting but a second or two where I had hurled her. Then
as she arose slowly from the ground as in pain--though I had heard one
could not hurt a witch--and hobbled off into the forest I bawled after
her: "Again have I let thee go, but 'tis the last. The next time thou
dost assail any of us I shall surely kill thee"; for I was so beside
myself with cruel, wicked rage I knew not what murderous threats were
coming from my unbridled tongue.

And then I turned to Brother Alburtus and was surprised to see him
standing there looking vacantly into space as if naught had happened,
not even asking me what it was that had so violently attacked him, so
that I wondered whether he even realized that I had saved his life. Thus
I thought it not worth while to ask him why it was this strange woman
had tried to kill him, as with all her violence she had never attempted
actual harm to the others of us to whom she had appeared.

But what I failed that day to understand and for many long years was a
riddle to me, came out clearly in the end.



CHAPTER XIV

OUR SISTER LEAVES US

    O death, where is thy sting?
    O grave, where is thy victory?

        --New Testament.


Well hath he of great afflictions said, "Man is born unto trouble as the
sparks fly upward." Thus I said unto myself the night following the
fright of my Sister Bernice as I sought in vain for sleep, for I felt
the shadow of some heavy sorrow hanging over us. Not even the prattle of
Sonnlein, or my unremitting daily toil, God's antidote for corroding
care, could efface from my mind the wan features of Sister Bernice, the
extreme delicacy of her fragile form, and the shock she had received
from the witch.

And yet, for so He hath ordained, as time dragged its slow length away,
my forebodings almost vanished, and the days were beginning to pass
"swifter than a weaver's shuttle," so I was not without hope that, after
all, my fears had been the result of a too tender solicitude for my dear
sister.

Thus almost a year passed away in which I saw her in fleeting glimpses,
but not to hold sweet converse with her or once again to feel the touch
of that hand I longed to harbor in mine and shelter from all the storms
of life. How my poor human nature struggled with me those days, so that
at times I thought I must take her in mine arms and with Sonnlein flee
to some retreat where we could pass the rest of our days in perfect love
and peace!

But "happy is the man whom God correcteth," for after all we are not fit
for heaven until all the dross hath been tormented out of us, leaving
the pure gold for his kingdom.

Whether my sister was enduring all these pangs of unspoken, forbidden
love I knew not; I only knew that if by chance our eyes met, which was
all too seldom, I thought I could see in their pure depths a tender,
beseeching longing for me.

And now the glory of autumn had passed away. The fields about the
Kloster lay cold and bare. The naked branches of the trees shivered in
the chilling airs. How bleak and cheerless the world seemed in these
early days of winter before the touch of ice and snow had transformed
the fields and the forests into fairyland!

The last day of November was drawing to its close. The Brethren had
partaken, in solemn thankfulness, of our simple evening meal and I had
gone to my _Kammer_, first putting Sonnlein to rest, after having
recounted to me all the marvelous happenings of the day, and was about
myself to lie down to sleep, when hearing a step near, I looked up and
saw Brother Beissel, even graver and sadder than usual. "Brother Jabez,
Mother Maria hath come saying she would see thee and me." At once a
great fear gripped my heart--something about Bernice.

"I am ready to see her, brother," said I quietly, rising to my feet.
Just outside the door of Zion, for she would not come in, stood our
prioress, a deep sadness in her usually hard and inscrutable features.

When she saw us, she waited first for Brother Beissel to bid her speak,
and then she said quietly, with tears in her voice, for which I ever
felt grateful to her: "Sister Bernice is leaving us; she is dying." And
then duty overcame grief and pity, and looking up steadfastly into our
faces, Mother Maria said, almost sternly, I thought: "Our Sister Bernice
doth entreat us that before she die Brother Jabez may see her. I told
her gently 'twas 'gainst the rules of our order for Sister to be in Zion
or Brother in Kedar."

We stood silent for a few moments, and then, looking at me as though he
would read my very soul, Brother Beissel said to me softly: "Art thou
and our Sister Bernice aught to each other?"

"But for our vows the world would know we loved each other," I said
humbly, but looking not unsteadily into those eyes that seemed to read
men's hearts like open books.

"Now I know for a surety that which thy troubled face hinted to me of
late, my Brother Jabez. I know thou hast fought a hard fight. I command
thee go see our sister, thy Bernice; no fear of idle tongue or hard
letter of the law shall keep us from the true promptings of the spirit."
And then, pushing me gently along, he said: "Go, haste. Mother Maria, it
is my wish that thou take our brother to our sister; be thou the only
one present."

And thus this wonderful man, who had in him all the fiery, unyielding
hatred of sin of a Jeremiah, and yet a woman's tender sympathy, bound me
to him, though oft we differed in opinion, for life.

When Mother Maria and I entered the narrow doorway leading from the
corridor into the cell where Bernice lay, the Sisters gathered there
were sent obediently to their cells, though the hearts of each of the
gentle nuns longed to be present to soften the last moments of their
young sister who for so many years had been a dear companion. Only
Mother Maria and I remained with Bernice. At first, in the dim light of
the little paper lantern, she did not seem to notice me as I knelt down
beside her, Mother Maria standing in the doorway and so thoughtfully
filling it that no one could see into this little chamber already
hallowed by the presence of the angel of death.

As I knelt there I took one of my sister's dear, white, wasted hands
into mine, and lifting into my arm her head, from which flowed the
golden masses of hair that gilded the hard, wooden pillow, I murmured to
her, "Bernice"; and as she opened those eyes that had ever the look of
heaven in them, I breathed softly to her, "Tis thy Brother Jabez; dost
not know me?"

And then she looked at me with understanding in her gaze and whispered
so weakly I thought my heart would burst with love and grief: "I know
thee; I am so happy." And as she said this, she smiled so sweetly I held
her closer in my arms, our souls meeting in our first kiss.

For many moments I knelt sheltering her dear head in mine arms, each of
us unspeakably happy that now even, though in the hour of death, we
could say freely with our lips that which our hearts had told each other
long ago. Outside was stillness, and so inside the hall. Mother Maria
still kept her watch in the doorway, grim and sad, as though she neither
saw nor heard my sister and me.

"I could not leave thee without telling how I loved thee," she
whispered, lifting up the hand I had not imprisoned in mine, and
resting it on my shoulder, where it lay like a lily. "I tried so hard to
forget thee, but since that love feast--thou knowest which one--thou
wast ever with me."

"That love feast was paradise, my beloved sister; but thou must not talk
so much, I fear."

"Nay, I know my end is near; I am not afraid now."

In a few moments she whispered shyly, "Dost remember the witch?"

"Yea, I could have slain her for frightening thee so."

"But when thou didst take me into thy great arms and soothe and pity me
like some little child, I was almost glad I had seen the witch."

"Thou foolish girl, how canst care so for such a great, clumsy, stupid
brother like me?"

She lay a few minutes as if she could not whisper more, and then, after
I thought she had forgotten what I had just said, she whispered, but
more feebly than before, "Thou'rt not clumsy or stupid; thou art so
strong but so tender--I love thee better than life." And then she seemed
so exhausted I was obliged to lay her head off my breast to her pillow
thinking she could breathe more easily, but the gentle pressure of her
hand on my shoulder and the nestling touch of the one on my own told me
she preferred it thus.

I know not how long I held her in mine embrace, but she again opened
her eyes and whispered, pausing between each word, "Thou wilt be with me
in heaven?"

"Yea, _mein Liebchen_, forever and forever," I murmured holding her to
me still more closely, whereat she smiled and whispered, but so low and
broken I could hardly hear it, "I am so happy," and then I felt a
shudder pass through the dear frame in mine arms; her head fell limp and
lifeless from my shoulder, and I knew that from within the narrow walls
of the bare, cold cell, and out through the dark night, there was
winging its way to heaven the soul of my sister, my Bernice.

For a long while I knelt holding her in mine arms, the tears raining
down my face as never since childhood. Then I laid her down on the bench
which could no longer crucify the earthly habitation of my Bernice; I
kissed the dear face for the last time, and then rising, I said as
calmly as I could to Mother Maria, "Our sister hath gone to her home,"
and then I left the "House of Sorrow" with the light of a great peace in
mine heart, for though I knew that earth had lost much of its sweetness,
yet the bitterness of my short sojourn here was as naught compared with
the added bliss heaven now held for me.

Thus Sister Bernice was the first flower to die of the Roses of Saron
and the first of the Solitary to be laid away in the little God's Acre
down in the meadow by the roadside. Mine own wish, had it been
expressed, would have been that our sister be buried in the simplicity
which marked her gentle life, but those in authority thought it best to
make her burial an occasion for all the imposing honors and ceremonies
of our Order.

At midnight, while earth and sky were held in intense darkness--the
chill, wintry winds sighing a mournful requiem more sad and mournful
even than the chanting by the heavy-hearted Sisters and Brothers, of the
dirge composed in loving memory by Sister Foeben--six of the Brothers
clad in their long cowls tenderly and reverently carried the body of our
dear Bernice from Mount Sinai down to the narrow little _Kammer_ where
all that was of earth of her could rest in peace until the call of the
last day.

My heart was too full to note all this but dimly and to hear but faintly
our footfalls upon the hard ground and the solemn tolling of the convent
bells, the flickering rushlights shedding a weird, ghostly light over
the sad, thin line of mourners.

Tenderly as a fond mother lays her child to sleep at evenfall we laid
our sister to rest with all the symbolic beauty of the ritual of the
Brotherhood of Zion and then having performed our last sacred offices
for our departed one, we filed slowly back to our cells. The room Sister
Bernice had occupied in Kedar was now closed to remain so for some
time, and upon the walls of her _Kammer_ was hung a legend, or
_Segenspruch_, composed by our Brother Beissel, and lovingly executed by
the Sisters in their beautiful Gothic penwork:

"_Bernice, Freue dich in ihrem gang unter der Schafweide, und sey
freundlich u. huldreich unter den Liebhabern._"

Which meaneth: "Bernice, enjoy yourself in your sojourn among the sheep
pastures and be affable and gracious among the suitors."

Ah me, ah me!



CHAPTER XV

THE GREAT COMET

    The Lord his signs makes to appear,
    To call us to repentance:
    A monstrous comet standeth there
    That we our sins shall flee from,
    But we, alas! scarce give it a thought
    For each one thinks it cometh not,
    The punishment and danger.


The winter winds had swept o'er the grave of our dear sister not a
month, and hardly had our little camp on the Cocalico been restored to
its usual evenness of temper after the wordy warfare Brother Hildebrand
and I, under the leadership of Brother Beissel, had waged against our
ancient foes, the Moravians at Bethlehem--for they believed not in
celibacy--when we were again roused to a high pitch of excitement by
that which was no less than a second comet which, following closely upon
the one that flashed so suddenly upon us the preceding February, left
no longer any doubts even in the minds of the most skeptical and
unbelieving, that we were within the portent of some great crisis.

It was on the evening of Christmas a number of the Brotherhood, among
them the Eckerlings and Brother Weiser--for though he had gone back to
the world he oft revisited us--our superintendent and Sonnlein and I,
were gathered on the highest point of Mount Sinai, nigh to the Brother
woods. The sun had hardly sunk from view and the twilight begun to
deepen over the unbroken expanse of forest and upon the slopes of the
distant hills to the west, when suddenly Brother Jephune, our
astronomer, clutched Brother Weiser by the arm, and exclaimed in
awe-struck tones, "See, look, the comet!" as he pointed all in a tremble
to where the sun had just disappeared.

Startled by his voice and his intense gaze, we turned sharply. I could
see naught but a single small star, shining dimly, but I held my peace.

Brother Weiser was the first to break the strain in a cold, calm,
judge-like tone, "I see naught but a small star; Brother Jephune, thou
seest ever visions."

"It were better for thee, our Brother Enoch, didst thou see more visions
instead of having thine eyes stubbornly sealed against the mysteries of
God," quietly interrupted Brother Onesimus.

"Brother Jephune, mine eyes are yet strong. I see naught but a star, nor
do our brethren see thy comet," said our leader.

Brother Jephune apparently heard not his critics, for he still stood
motionless and gazed most intensely upon what appeared to us an innocent
star.

Suddenly he turned to us again and whispered, "'Tis the very comet of
last winter. I told ye the sun had swallowed it and now the sun hath
spit out again the fiery monster," and then he wailed, "Woe, woe, be
unto all the ungodly who shall be destroyed by this fiery serpent!"

Because I did not always agree with the many foolish and unscriptural
speculations of the Eckerlings, they oft accused me of irreverence and
lacking in spirituality. Be that as it may, and although I knew many
comets had appeared to the eyes of men since the creation without any
apparent change in the rules and order of the universe, yet I felt the
same awe that enveloped our little group. Calling Sonnlein to me I said
to him as we all clustered about him, "I have taught thee somewhat of
the stars; thine are the youngest eyes here. Look thou carefully. Is
that yonder pale star such as thou seest at night?"

And then with our awe reflected in his childish face he gazed steadily
at the star, and then turning as in doubt, he said to me as though the
others were not present, "'Tis a star, _Vaterchen_."

"What knoweth such a child?" exclaimed our astrologer peevishly.

"Have patience, my good brother; look again, my son; make a funnel of
thy hands; thou knowest how I taught thee to," I said gently to
Sonnlein, who in loving obedience put his hand rounded like a spyglass
to his eye, and again he looked steadily at the apparition. Then my boy
turned again to me and said simply, "It is but a little star,
_Vaterchen_," and as if it were of no importance he added, "There is
something like smoke behind it."

"Smoke! What nonsense is this?" cried Brother Enoch in disgust.

"Smoke," shouted Brother Jephune, "the child seeth that which I tell ye
I see, ye blind scoffers. Was the smoke like a tail or a bundle of
switches--had it shape?" he cried eagerly.

"Like a tail," said Sonnlein timidly.

"Oh, wondrous sight of innocent childhood," murmured the astrologer, "to
see what world-blinded eyes cannot see!"

And indeed a comet it was, for it rapidly increased to great size and
brilliancy, and for two months from early evening until after midnight
flamed fiercely across the northwestern sky, a fearful, awesome sight,
even to the least superstitious among us.

Brother Jephune, and many with him, accepted the star, since it had
appeared on the twenty-fifth day of the month, as the one prophesied in
the Zohar, which was to hang in the heavens for seventy days, to be seen
of all men as a warning, at the end of which time there would arise a
great tumult and confusion upon the earth, to be followed by the
universal peace of God's kingdom. The settlers in the country round
about us relying upon Num. 24 : 17, 18, fully believed this was the
"Star out of Jacob," and that a sceptre should arise to smite the evil
in the earth; that the millennium was nigh, and Brother Beissel taught
with his usual fiery zeal that when the fulfillment of the prophecy
finally came, our Mount Sinai would be the center of the New Jerusalem
in this evening land; that the Brotherhood of Zion would be chosen as
the Priests of the Temple, and many there were who though hitherto they
had hardened their hearts against our preaching and our charity, now
through fear and superstition hastened to be gathered under the
protecting wings of our community.

In this perturbed state we were for over two months, when on an evening
a number of the Solitary Brethren were again gathered at almost the same
elevated spot on Mount Sinai, hard by the Brother woods that we had
occupied the evening Brother Jephune and Sonnlein had been the first to
see the comet.

We had been standing in utter silence for a long while, when Brother
Gabriel turned to Brother Weiser, and said as though in reproof, "And
still thou believest this strange vision in the sky foretelleth naught?"

"It speaketh to me of the wondrous power and majesty of God," replied
Brother Enoch reverently, "naught else."

"And yet thou knowest in 1680 there appeared a comet in the
_Vaterland_--oft have I heard my father tell of it--not so great as
this, nor with so long a tail. After that comet there followed a long
and weary war, from which our beloved _Vaterland_ hath never recovered.
Dost thou not fear this fiery star, so much greater than the other,
portendeth war and famine and pestilence to this New World?"

"Nay," I heard Brother Enoch say, "the holy word promiseth all such dire
calamities because of man's wickedness, not because of comets."

"But comets may be the sign of His displeasure, as the rainbow is the
sign of his covenant with Noah," persisted Brother Gabriel.

"I only know the holy book sayeth naught of comets."

"The comet is the fiery sword of the Lord whereby he shall cut down all
the scoffers and the ungodly," interrupted Brother Jephune warningly. "I
tell thee there will be much sickness and death, and as the comet will
disappear in Pisces, so I read its course, it presages misfortune to all
the fish within the waters, and in this our Brother Christopher Sauer,
of Germantown, agreeth."

"And yet, Brother Jephune," rejoined Brother Weiser with a faint smile,
"the innocent fish have not sinned."

"Brother Sauer also reporteth," continued our astronomer, unheeding the
mockery in Brother Weiser's voice, "the good people in New England take
it seriously to heart that God is threatening a great judgment upon the
evil ones of earth."

"And heed thou, Brother Weiser," enjoined Brother Gabriel, "thou sittest
not in the seat of the scornful when the judgment cometh."

"Nor thou with the sorcerers and those who practise enchantments!"
retorted Brother Enoch.

"What else doth our Brother Christopher say of this glaring visitant?"
asked Brother Beissel in the hope of pouring oil upon the troubled
waters.

"The printer sayeth that while the star first appeared in Aries, the
habitation of Mars, and set in Pisces there shall come great changes,
disturbances, wrath, confusion, and disorder, upon the nations of the
earth. This cometh from Mars. As Pisces is the dwelling-place of Jupiter
it foreshadoweth equal disturbances in spiritual things; there will be
many changes and great confusion followed by dreadful quick-coming
judgments. As the star latterly hath so rapid a course, and burns like
unto a great flaming torch with a long, fiery tail, he holdeth that the
destruction of the religious Babylonian order is near at hand."

"Sayeth he no more--what cometh after all this destruction of evil?
Surely light must follow darkness!" inquired our leader eagerly.

"Even so; for our learned Christopher sayeth, and I agree with him, that
a newer, better order will follow. The comet seemeth again to be moving
toward the sun as if to effect conjunction with it in the middle line.
This foretelleth that the comet, the evil, shall be swallowed up by the
sun, the source of light and life. Thus the darkness of sin shall
disappear from the face of the earth and the light of His grace, and
mercy shall shine forever from the hearts of men."

"Even so, Lord, let it be," said our leader most solemnly, "let thy
kingdom come quickly."

To which we all responded in equal solemnity, "Amen."

And then just as we were about to take our way back to our _Kammers_,
there arose without the slightest warning such a savage, blood-freezing,
wailing cry from the woods hard by us, that by one accord each gripped
the other by the arm as if in the presence of some awful, common danger,
my poor Sonnlein rushing into mine arms almost speechless with terror.

In truth, each for the time was paralyzed with that cry that sounded
like the wail of a soul in the torments of the damned. Finally, Brother
Gabriel whispered, his teeth chattering so that he could scarcely utter
a word, "'Twas the Evil One, he knoweth his end is nigh."

"Doth not Revelation say Satan is to be bound and thrust into the
bottomless pit?" gasped Brother Beissel.

"Heard ye not the clanking of the chains?" whispered Brother Onesimus.

"What was't, _Vaterchen_?" whispered Sonnlein, who was still shivering
in my embrace.

"Some wild beast that hath strayed nigh;" for in my hermit days I had
more than once heard the panther's terrifying howl, in the darkness of
the night.

"Was't an Indian, _Vaterchen_?"

"Nay, my son," replied Brother Enoch for me, "the Indians are at peace
with us. 'Twas no human voice."

"Was't some wild beast, thinkest thou?" asked Brother Gabriel.

"Nay, it sounded not so to me; I know not what it was. It is a great
mystery to me," replied Brother Enoch slowly, which was a great deal for
our clear-headed brother to admit.

"'Twas the cry of the Evil One, naught else," declared Brother Jephune.

"And in this I agree with thee," solemnly spake our leader; "great and
gracious is our Lord to show us these marvelous signs of his coming. Let
us go to our rest in peace and gladness, and await the dawn of his
kingdom in the earth."

And so we went full of such devout hopes to our narrow cells; but
somehow I could not shake from my mind that the cry came from our old
enemy, the witch.



CHAPTER XVI

A FAR JOURNEY

    With God--over the sea;
    Without him--not over the threshold.

        --Russian Proverb.


At the time of which I write this, the fall of 1744, Prior Onesimus and
his three brothers were in the ascendency, and for a time it seemed as
though Brother Beissel would be completely overthrown in his rule by
these designing Eckerlings; but they who thought our superintendent easy
to overcome reckoned without their host, for while to the worldly minded
he had not the graces and attractiveness that marked our prior, our
superintendent, though harmless as a dove, had the wisdom and subtilty
of the serpent, and thus at this time, when the strain between these two
had increased from day to day, Prior Onesimus, no doubt for purposes of
his own, conceived the idea that we make a pilgrimage to the Sabbatarian
communities in Connecticut and Rhode Island. I recollect full well that
when he made his desire known to our superintendent, suggesting possibly
a short absence would tend to heal their differences, Brother Beissel at
once gave his consent.

But if our prior had thought to surround himself with his own followers
and thus make this enterprise redound solely to his credit he was
greatly mistaken, for the superintendent quietly suggested the prior
take with him his own brother, Jephune, and Brother Timotheus (Alexander
Mack), and myself as traveling companions, the prior being promised by
our superintendent that in the meantime he would attend to the prior's
duties at the meetings. This was not exactly to our prior's liking, but
Brother Beissel pointed out that these brethren were selected in order
to insure the success of the expedition as well as the welfare and
comfort of the party. Thus the prior would represent the Zionitic
Brethren and the Theosophists of the community; Brother Timotheus, the
secular congregation and the Baptists in general; Jephune, our mystic
and astrologer, would serve as the physician of the party; while I was
to be the theologian and interpreter.

Thus it was arranged and we at once began our brief preparations for the
journey: extra soles for our wooden sandals, the points of our pilgrim
staffs sharpened, a day's provisions for the inner man, a copy of the
"_Weyrauch's Hügel_," and a few of Brother Beissel's "_Theosophische
Episteln_" for the spiritual man. I have it on my records that this
occurred on the Friday of September 21, 1744, almost a year since our
dear sister had left us, on the night of which an unusually solemn love
feast was held in the _Saal_, at Zion, in our honor. The services lasted
far into the night, even the hours between the midnight prayers and the
dawn being passed in prayer. The next morning being our Sabbath we all
were present at the meeting of the congregation, where every one bade us
a most loving God-speed.

But in all these simple preparations and pious services I confess I had
nigh forgotten my Sonnlein, and when the thought of him came to me on
that Sabbath Day as to what he would do in my absence, I feared I should
have to seek my release from the superintendent, for I am proud to say,
never did boy hang to his mother's skirts more closely than did Sonnlein
follow upon my heels, so much so it became a byword in our little camp
that it could be depended on when one of us appeared, it would not be
long until you saw the other, and indeed we were inseparable. During the
day he would trot after me wherever my duties took me, whether in the
fields or in the printing room, or rambling in the woods for wild
flowers, and as he grew older he insisted upon attending the midnight
devotions, just as the grown-up Brothers and Sisters. With the exception
of my brief sojourn in Lancaster in the matter of the levies, we had
never been separated for more than a few hours at a time, and I knew if
I left him now for this long journey the poor boy would be utterly
disconsolate. I also knew full well that our Brother Beissel, though not
a hater of children, still had little patience with them, and I doubted
much whether he and Sonnlein could stand the trial of my long absence. I
called Sonnlein to me and told him I was about to go away for a great
many weeks. At once he danced and jumped about me in a most uncloistral
manner, apparently never doubting for a moment that, as in the past, he
would be with me; but when I said to him, "'Tis a far journey, Sonnlein,
too far for thee," I saw the tears in his eyes, though he tried to keep
them down as he asked:

"Am I not to go with thee, _Vaterchen_?"

"Nay, I fear not, Sonnlein; 'tis a long way over rough roads and through
tangled paths, through great, lonely forests, where there are wild
beasts, and then the wild sea to make thee sick. We know not what
hardships we may have to endure."

"But I can walk, _Vaterchen_; I am not afraid of the lonely woods, not
if I am with thee."

"But how about the sea?"

"Thou canst give me physic," he replied so innocently I could not
refrain from laughing, whereat he pouted and grumbled, "I'm not afraid
of the sea, and on land I can walk as well as 'Old Air-smeller.'"

"What!" I cried in amazement. "Whom dost mean by such irreverent name?"
I demanded.

"Brother Jephune," he confessed; "he sticketh his nose into the air when
he walketh about, so he falleth over everything."

"Is't needful you call him such name?"

"So the neighbors call him."

"Must do what foolish ones do?"

"Nay;" and then, looking up with repentance writ all over him, he said,
"May I go? I can walk and I won't mind the water. Thou knowest I am fond
of water," which was the truth, for when he was not with me he was
swimming or fishing in the Cocalico, or hunting in the woods when the
Cocalico was too cold.

Indeed, I doubted not he could endure the journey as well as most of us,
for he was a hardy, active boy, and with our healthful life had never
known a day of sickness. I liked no better to be separated from him than
did he, and had he quietly taken my suggestion to remain I had been
greatly disappointed; but when I broached the matter to my brother
pilgrims they at first demurred, and yet they loved my boy, for with
all his mischievousness he was always ready and willing to do the
bidding of any of them. Finally, upon my persuasions, they acknowledged
it would be safe for him to make the journey. Accordingly I prepared a
little pilgrim's staff for him and saw that he had a stout pair of
sandals, and with a little bag of provisions for him we started out at
six o'clock of that Sabbath evening on our journey, the assembled
Brotherhood and Sisterhood watching us from Mount Zion until we were out
of sight.

But once fairly upon our way, we walked, as was our custom, bareheaded
and silently, in single file, Prior Onesimus at the head and myself at
the rear, all except Sonnlein, who neither kept silence nor in file,
almost exhausting me with his innumerable questions; at one moment he
would be ahead of us and the next in the rear, now stopping to gather a
handful of nuts that had dropped from the trees along our way or else to
pluck the wild grapes that hung in royal purple from the luxuriant
vines, and then rushing after me, tempting me to share his feast.

At first our course led us through the settlements of our German
brethren in the eastern part of Lancaster County; thence among our
English brethren in Nantmill, where we stopped for a few days and held
several missionary meetings. From the Falls of French Creek we took the
road among the German families; thence across the Schuylkill to the
German settlements along the roadside leading to Germantown. A somewhat
prolonged stop was made with our brother mystics on the Wissahickon,
among whom we found much solace and comfort; thence a short visit to the
brethren of the faith in the city of Philadelphia; thence our missionary
tour took us to the Pennepack.

Thus far our pilgrimage had taken us mainly among the brethren of our
own belief, and yet wherever we went our bare, cropped heads, long
beards, white cloaks and cowls, our silence and manner of traveling,
attracted considerable attention and even ridicule and grossest insults.
Sonnlein, however, being never late in informing the curious ones who we
were; and while I admonished him frequently against his too great
freedom with strangers, there is no doubt that by his frankness he saved
us much annoyance, for I have long ago learned that one will be forgiven
much if he only be open and candid, no matter how wicked he be; but if,
like a turtle, he keep within his shell and mind his own business like a
good, honest turtle, every idler and good-for-naught must hurl stones at
him to crack his shell.

After crossing the Neshaminy Creek at the falls we were ferried across
the Delaware--a wonderful sight to Sonnlein--and entered our sister
province of New Jersey. Arriving at Amwell, we were greatly rejoiced to
find the converts baptized some six years before by some of our brethren
still keeping up their organization and considering themselves a branch
of the parent community at Ephrata.

We remained here for some time and then parted from our dear brethren in
mutual sadness, for we knew not whether we should ever see each other
again.

And now our journey took us through long stretches of forest and for
miles and miles our way was but a narrow path among tall, solemn pines
so thickly grown and so crowded with brush and vines underneath as to
have a most gloomy and depressing effect even upon the most cheerful of
us. Now and then we came upon some little stream or pond that looked
almost black under the shadows of the bordering pines. These streams and
ponds were the only changes in the landscape excepting the occasional
sand hills, and the only sound to break the monotony would be the note
of some bird. Houses we saw not for hours and even for days, and many a
night we slept within the folds of these dark and gloomy forests, our
roof the thick, heavy branches of the pines, through which, on clear
nights, the stars smiled down cheerily.

But though the nights were already cold and frosty and I feared
exceedingly Sonnlein would suffer from the exposure, still with a fire
burning all night to keep us warm and to frighten away wild beasts we
minded not the hard, rough earth with the thin carpet of pine twigs and
needles any more than our hard benches in our _Kammers_. Sonnlein
invariably slept between me and Brother Timotheus, thus being sheltered
somewhat from the winds that even the thick forest could not entirely
keep from us.

After some days' travel in this wise we finally came to the region
between the Shark and Squan Rivers, where we found a little community of
about fifteen adult members, Sabbatarians, who had migrated from
Stonington, Connecticut, and Westerly, Rhode Island, and who had signed
a covenant binding themselves to live and walk together as Christian
people, although they had no church or pastor. A number of meetings were
arranged in our honor, and at these I preached and admonished them to
remain steadfast in their faith, so that I was gratified to note our
efforts resulted in a church's being organized, Brother William Davis,
the elder, although in his eighty-first year, being chosen pastor.

Leaving Shrewsbury, as this church is referred to in our records, we
wended our way southward until we came to a place on the west shore of
Barnegat Bay, almost directly opposite the outlet of this beautiful bay
into the ocean. Here was another settlement of New England
Sabbatarians, who were known as "Rogerines," a band of about twenty-one
persons. They received us with open arms and we were most hospitably
entertained by Brother John Culver--the most prominent among the
Rogerines--who had made several visits to Amwell and to Ephrata and upon
whose earnest invitation we had come to Barnegat. These good people
looked upon us as holy men, so that they brought their sick to us in the
hope that they might be healed by the very laying on of hands and
prayer, as our Rogerine brethren used no medicines nor would they employ
physicians, relying upon strictly scriptural means for relief from
illness. While we agreed not on all doctrinal points, still in so much
of our manner of life and belief we were in such perfect accord that our
stay was exceedingly refreshing to our souls, and it was through these
good people as much as anything else we extended our visit to New
England, stopping on our way to visit one John Lovell, an old
Pythagorean, who lived as a hermit in the dense woods about four miles
from Burlington, throughout the seasons, without fire, in a cell made by
the side of an old log, in the form of an oven, not high enough or long
enough to stand upright in or lie extended.

I mean not to be harsh or unjust to this surly hermit, who lived more
like a beast than man, but in his boyish straightness of speech
Sonnlein spoke out full well what was in my mind and I doubt not in my
brethren's also when he said, "Brother Lovell hath his soul from a pig
or else would he not be so dirty," for we did not believe that our Lord
any more than mortal man cared to look upon dirty, sour faces. We held
that a contented mind showed itself in a bright, cheerful face, and thus
it was our habit at Ephrata, with both Brother and Sister, always to be
satisfied and to bear ever a glad countenance, even though the
bitterness of death were upon us, and for this we have the Scriptures.



CHAPTER XVII

IN A STRANGE LAND

    Oct. 10, 1744. I went to John Bolles to see 4 men Yt
    come from beyond Barnegat, with long beards 8 or 9 inches,
    and strangely clothed, no hats and all in white, but they
    were not there.--Extract from diary of Joshua Hempstead,
    of New London.


From the hermit's hut we proceeded to New Brunswick, and by good fortune
found, as though especially waiting for us, a vessel about to sail for
New England. Our journey thus far had been mainly among friends; but
now, even though we had a letter of introduction from our Barnegat
brethren to the Rogerines in New London, we could not with all our faith
and fortitude repress the dismal forebodings of trials and persecutions
we should encounter there on account of our beliefs--all except
Sonnlein, to whom this pilgrimage was full of marvel and delight, and
now that he was about to go out upon the sea his joy knew no bounds,
for verily he was born under Pisces.

But having put our hands to the helm we would not look back, and Brother
Onesimus having secured passage for us we set sail, and barring that our
good prior was most wretchedly seasick all of the voyage, while Sonnlein
was sick but the first day, when he would have neither food nor physic,
we landed near New London in less than a fortnight, safe and sound,
hundreds of miles from home, in a strange country, no friends, and so
despised because of our white dress and our otherwise monkish aspect
that whoever saw us fled as though we were the plague.

Fortunately, our letter rescued us from much annoyance, for a prominent
member of the Rogerines, Brother Bolles, hearing of our arrival came to
us and on reading our letter received us affectionately and harbored us
so hospitably, not far from the town, that we soon forgot our
forebodings. And yet no sooner did our coming become known in New London
than did a new danger arise against us, for the very day we landed the
little seaport was wild with excitement over the news that France had
joined issue with Spain against England. This coincidence coupled with
our unusual manner and garb was too weighty a proof to be disregarded
that we were Jesuit priests, French spies in disguise. Forthwith
officers presented themselves at the quiet little homestead of our
Brother Bolles, arrested us, and marched us into New London, and had all
the threats hurled at us by the excited inhabitants while on our way to
the justices been executed, we had been undone.

Happily our host, a respectable and influential citizen, personally
vouched that we were Protestants by birth and profession, whereupon our
freedom was at once given us, and we were once more taken in charge by
the Rogerines of New London, by whom we were so held in kindness and
esteem that whenever we stirred abroad we had in our train no less than
fifty persons, among them black men--of whom Sonnlein was sore afraid,
never having seen human beings of such color--and Indians, the former
being servants, and for whose spiritual welfare their masters were as
solicitous as of their own, which thing we much admired.

We found the people of this region in a state of great religious
excitement, the Congregationalists and the New Lights being especially
bitter against each other, so that wherever representatives of these
beliefs came into each others' presence they did nothing but argue and
dispute; and so far was this pernicious custom carried that when a
Congregationalist met a New Light, unless both were deaf and dumb, they
would seat themselves on chairs, while about these wordy knights of the
gospel would gather the listeners, in a circle, disputants and
listeners often giving vent to the most violent passions, all of which
greatly shocked my brethren and me, yet showing us that, the world over,
men are much the same when it cometh to difference in belief.

At the time of our visit they mostly disputed about the perseverance of
the saints, and if the saints were as persistent in meek obedience and
loving deeds as were these wordy warriors in their vociferous arguments,
I have not the slightest doubt but that the saints have received rich
reward. However, my brethren and I did all in our power, in patience and
long-suffering, to allay the bitterness of this unseemly strife that
left no peace whatever in this and the neighboring towns; and I rejoice
to say our presence and persuasions did much toward this desirable end,
for in all their heat they could not but see we had no other motive than
to speak the truth, fairly and impartially, and with due consideration
for the views of the contestants.

We soon grew to love and esteem our good Rogerine brethren, and I feel
we endeared ourselves to them. We had much in common; we like them were
regarded by the world as a peculiar people. Even the tolerant laws of
Penn were not always sufficient to save us from persecutions, just as
our New England brethren, because they conformed not to the beliefs in
power, suffered fines, imprisonments, and even the awful indignity of
public whippings for His sake.

Unlike us they practised not celibacy, but they held firmly to the
doctrine of non-resistance and that the reading of set public prayers
and preaching for pay was utterly unscriptural. They agreed also with us
in regard to keeping the seventh day instead of the first, the
administration of the Lord's Supper, and baptism by immersion. But like
their Rogerine brethren on Barnegat Bay it was contrary to their tenets
to employ physicians or to use medicines in case of sickness, although
for ordinary ailments some of the less extreme Rogerines used the
customary remedies and were excellent nurses, being ever ready to
minister to the sick.

Having thus so much in common it would seem there should have been no
danger of any serious disagreement between us, and yet it tried my
brother pilgrims and myself sorely to prevent open rupture by reason of
our being unable to admit all our good friends claimed as to the
scriptural manner of healing. Finally, upon mutual promises that if any
one on either side should become angry the discussion should stop
immediately, we took up the question of healing.

Thus spake the _Rogerine_, calmly: "We base our beliefs on the teachings
of the New Testament."

_Brother Onesimus_, _similiter_: "We also base our mode of life on the
Bible."

_Rogerine_, still calmly: "The Almighty not only hath infinite power to
cure diseases, but hath also blessed willingness so to do."

_Brother Jephune_, gently: "We admit the Almighty hath the power, but
whether he hath the willingness we are not ready to say."

_Rogerine_, a trifle ungently: "The treatment the physicians give is
bungling and dangerous and greatly uncertain. Were a dozen doctors to
treat the same man that man would receive physic for twelve different
diseases. Christ's cures were all perfect."

_Brother Timotheus_, graciously: "Truly should physicians be modest men,
for theirs is a difficult art in that so many different diseases have
similar symptoms. And yet we regard healing as an art, though imperfect
as is all human art. Christ was perfect preacher as well as perfect
healer, yet there be bungling preachers as there be bungling
physicians."

_Rogerine_, positively: "Christ healed without physic and the disciples
had his promise of such cures for all who asked in faith."

_Brother Jabez_, humbly: "Though Christ healed without physic,
nevertheless he pointed to the use of natural means by the spittle on
the blind man's eyes and washing in the pool of Siloam. Naaman bathed in
the Jordan seven times. Is it not written we are created in his image?
Doth that not mean that these wonderful bodies of ours and our
surpassing marvelous minds were made to perform wonderful and marvelous
things? Ye will also admit that not only did Christ heal the halt, the
lame, and the blind, but that he also fed the five thousand with but a
few loaves and fishes; Elijah was fed by the ravens; the widow's cruse
of oil never failed. No doubt the Almighty hath power to heal us better
than the physicians, who oft work in darkness, and to feed us better
than the husbandmen, who are not always certain of their harvests."

_Rogerine_, indignantly: "Would ye ask of Him that while we sit here
idle, with grain in the fields for bread, and abundance of fish in the
sea for ment, we should expect him to feed us like idle, helpless
children?"

_Brother Jabez_, smiling subtilely: "Why not? If with our God-like
powers we do not search into the healing properties of the herbs of the
fields and the salts of the earth, and try to heal ourselves, it seemeth
to me we have just as much Scripture to sit still and let him feed us."

_Rogerine_, indignantly: "Brother, thy speech seemeth almost
blasphemous. We hold our views from the Scriptures."

_Brother Jabez_, still mildly: "So do we; but it is with the Scriptures
as in the law; he who sticketh to the letter loseth the true meaning. My
beloved brethren, for indeed ye are so to us, he who readeth not God's
holy word in the Spirit cannot understand it and findeth therein many
inconsistencies and grounds for unsafe doctrines. We too believe that
faith can perform miracles, but the Almighty never intended we should
nourish and heal our bodies by dependence on miracles, or else would not
he have given us these miraculous bodies and minds."

_Rogerine_, quietly: "We thank thee, brother, but are not convinced we
are in error. Let us not imperil our love by useless argument."

"So be it," I replied, and thus the discussion was safely ended.

But so great was the faith of one of our Rogerine brethren, we were
told, that when the smallpox raged in Boston some twenty years before,
he journeyed one hundred miles to the infected city to prove his faith
would save him from the terrible contagion; for it had been his custom
for over forty years of his life to minister to those sick of that
disease. This time, however, he caught the distemper, which developed
after his return home and brought him to his grave, as well as two other
members of his family; and in this connection, to show how we poor
mortals are prone to carry our beliefs and doctrines to most foolish
lengths it was also told me, by the Rogerine brethren themselves, and
not by their enemies, that a few years prior to our visit a certain
skin disorder had broken out among the congregation; but as their faith
forebade the use of medicines they knew not what to do. In this
predicament a church meeting was called to deliberate how they might get
rid of the disorder and yet preserve a clear conscience. After a most
prolonged meeting and the profoundest deliberations in which holy writ
was thoroughly searched for precedent, it was solemnly resolved that
this most uncomfortable disease, which we were told was the itch, was
not a bodily ailment; but was a noxious animal which had burrowed into
their flesh. Of course, there being in their belief nothing to prevent
the destruction of wild animals the usual remedies for this particular
species were accordingly applied, whereupon the "itchy beasts" were duly
slain and eradicated, and the consciences of our pious brethren
preserved.

From New London we made an extended visit to our Sabbatarian brethren of
the Newport and Old Hopkinton churches, in the province of Rhode Island.
Here too, our appearance created much excitement but fortunately
provoked no arrest. Our visit here, like all our visits, was a season of
great refreshing for our souls, and it is my belief that we helped and
strengthened our brethren as they did help and strengthen us.

Upon our return from Rhode Island to New London we were entertained by
our good brother Ebenezer Bolles, one of the town's wealthiest
merchants. At that time he lived a single life, being a blessed virtuous
man. We tried to persuade him to remain in this most perfect and holy
state, but shortly after we left he married. Many years afterward we
heard at Ephrata with great sorrow that he had passed away; that a few
days before his death, being then in good health, he had been cutting
some vines of the poison variety, whereby he was poisoned, and his body
swelled to a great degree. He would not allow a physician to be near
him; nor would he receive the most simple medicines. Just before he
expired, when in great pain, he seemed desirous of some help, but the
Brethren and Sisters would not allow it, lest he deny the faith.

I confess I was exceedingly displeased with myself that on our visit to
our Rogerine brethren I had not spoken more strongly against their
pernicious doctrine of the utter reliance on their so-called scriptural
healing, for I doubt not the physicians could have saved Brother Bolles,
even though ivy poison yields not easily to herbs or salts.

When we made known to our Rogerine friends our determination to depart
for Ephrata, they insisted on paying our passage to the city of New
York, and when the day at last arrived in which we were to leave this
"fruitful garden of God," as it is referred to in our records, our
departure was made a gala day in their little seaport, into which we
had made so unpropitious an entrance. A large concourse of persons,
irrespective of denominations, including many souls converted by us
during our stay, accompanied us to the wharf, and after pressing upon us
numerous gifts--so that we returned home richer than when we
left--wished us a loving God-speed.

As our vessel passed out into the sound, even though we were returning
to our beloved Kloster, we could not wholly subdue our sadness at
parting with these dear friends, who so long as we were in sight wafted
their blessings to us. I think none of us even spake a word so long as
we could discern our friends; but favorable winds soon swept us from
their view, and then as we turned to each other again each of us, even
Sonnlein, expressed his sorrow in a deep sigh.

With the exception that Brother Onesimus, who was but a poor waterman,
was seasick again all the voyage, nothing worthy of note occurred until
we set foot in the chiefest city of the province of New York, where our
monastic garb again attracted much attention and suspicion, so that we
were arrested as Jesuits from New Spain; and again a kind gentleman, a
justice, knowing our circumstances, interceded so effectually we were
promptly released, whereupon we shook the dust of that city from off our
feet and immediately started on our long journey for Ephrata, by way of
Philadelphia, and it was not long when we were at New Brunswick again,
whence we journeyed by foot to Trenton, where we crossed the Delaware
and soon were in our own Philadelphia, among dear friends. Here we
stopped for a few days with our Brother William Young, to rest before
continuing our journey to Ephrata, which still lay ninety miles to the
west, only that Sonnlein, with his ceaseless activity and insatiate
boyish inquisitiveness, gave himself no rest whatever, but must be
continually about this great city, especially at the wharves, where the
incoming vessels, with their cargoes from all lands under the sun, were
to him a perpetual wonder.

Our rest in this great, noisy, worldly city being at an end, for which I
was not sorry, though our brother did all he could for our comfort and
entertainment, we set out over the king's highway for Lancaster, whence
we intended to reach Ephrata by way of the Reading road, for the season
being now late we could not risk the less traveled ways, for even the
best highways were now in a difficult condition. Sonnlein, however,
being by this time such a veteran pilgrim, seemed not to mind what to
our prior, and Brother Jephune particularly, was a most tiresome
journey, our worthy sky-gazing brother floundering into every muddy bog
in our way.

When we reached Lancaster we were, with all our endurance, so worn out
we were necessitated to make another brief stop, but as soon as our
bodies would obey our wills in any wise cheerfully, we started again for
Ephrata, arriving weary and footsore within sight of Mount Sinai just as
the sun was setting behind the hills. Falling on our knees we offered up
to our Father our heartfelt thanks for our safe return, for indeed it
was much to be thankful for that after our long wanderings we all had
been brought back as safe and well, albeit a trifle weary and worn, as
when we had started on our pilgrimage.

A little farther on we made a short stop with one of the house-fathers,
as the brethren of our secular congregation were called, intending to
time ourselves to arrive at Zion for the midnight devotions, once more
to be enraptured by the strains of celestial music from the lips of our
beloved brothers and sisters.

Our good house-father and his family were minded to make a great ado
about our gaunt and haggard features, as though we had passed through
great tribulations little less than martyrdom, all of which sympathy,
though we liked not to confess it, was sweeter to our ears than even the
voices of our choiring Brothers and Sisters, only I could not see how
Sonnlein merited any great compassion, for the rogue, though he fared
like the rest of us, looked as ruddy and healthy as any of our good
house-father's chubby, rosy children who swarmed about us inquiringly,
not fearing us in the least, which thing pleased us greatly, for we did
not like to be dreaded by the little ones.

When we thought it time to leave for the midnight services, our
brother's little ones being long before with all their unquenched
curiosity packed to bed, we started, as usual, in single file for the
Kloster, Sonnlein lagging a few steps behind me.

We had almost reached the Kloster confines when, while our way was yet
under the dark shadows of the overhanging trees that shut out the stars,
I heard a scuffling noise behind me, and turning quickly saw Sonnlein in
the grasp of some dark shape that was striving against all his squirming
and fighting to drag him into the thick woods. Without a thought I
hurled my pilgrim staff, with all my strength, lance-like into the
bushes 'gainst the beast or being hanging over my boy, and then for a
moment closed my eyes with an awful fear my staff might crush him; but
it had hardly left my hand when a piercing cry of agony cleft the air,
and then, retreating from us, came fainter and fainter a moaning and
snarling as when some desperate beast receives a mortal wound.

We found Sonnlein lying limp and almost lifeless by the way, and as we
gathered about him and one of us struck a light from our tinder box, I
saw my boy's throat was scratched and torn and bleeding, but happily not
profusely.

"'Twas such a devil's cry we heard when we saw the comet, dost
remember?" whispered Brother Jephune hoarsely, for the matter had
startled us greatly.

"What wast, Sonnlein?" I asked him now that he had come somewhat to his
senses and was on his feet, for beyond the choking and fright he seemed
not much hurt.

"'Twas some beast with great claws caught me by the throat so I could
not cry for help," he replied all in a quiver.

"Well, it hath gone now; no doubt my staff struck it right fairly. Get
on my back while I carry thee; we must make haste else shall we be
late," said I, first marking the spot with my eyes where I had hurled my
staff.

Great was the surprise of our dear brothers when we filed silently into
the _Saal_, Sonnlein having come down from my back, for we arrived
wholly unannounced. After the loving greetings were exchanged over and
over, our superintendent ordered a general love feast in Peniel for the
following Sabbath to celebrate our safe return and to listen to our
report, we having kept an exact diary of our pilgrimage. A full account
of the whole journey was written from this diary and the doings of each
of us, except Sonnlein, which he minded not in the least, being too
young for such older weakness. This account was then handed over to our
superintendent and became the property of the Brotherhood.

After the events of this pilgrimage were over, we each resumed his usual
work and devotions as calmly as though we had not been so long away,
only that the day after we arrived I easily found the bushes into which
I had with such unchristian violence hurled my staff. I found my
traveling comrade lying full length in the depths of the wayside
thicket. The iron point was reddish like as if with blood, but I could
find no ghastly trail of blood leading away from the staff, but after
close examination of the soft earth I did find what I believed were the
prints of a woman's shoes, for I knew they were not those made by
Sonnlein.

Could it be that our old enemy, the witch, had done this thing? Who or
what was this baleful influence that hung over our sacred Kloster like
some foul miasma? Did this being merely embody the evil that must ever
be present in all earthly things? Whence came it? No matter how I turned
it over and over in my mind I could not solve the mystery. So far,
though our paths had frequently come close to the other, they had not
yet crossed in direct conflict, and yet I felt, and even longed, that
some day I should come face to face with the sphinx and either she or I
be destroyed. There had never seemed any disposition to seek direct
injury to me, and yet of all our Brotherhood I apparently was chosen to
witness most of her hellish manifestations. Why? I could not tell, for
surely I knew not I had ever wittingly injured any one.

So weighted down was I by my unexplainable dread that for many a day I
had little inclination for work or study or prayer. I could see too,
that Sonnlein, though he and the rest knew naught but a wild beast had
flown at him, was greatly impressed when I warned him he must not wander
into the woods until he was older and abler to take care of himself
against the beasts, which warning, it eased my mind much to observe, he
heeded as well as a strong, healthy boy can heed anything.



CHAPTER XVIII

SONNLEIN COMETH TO MAN'S ESTATE

    For the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, a
    woman shall compass a man.

        --Bible.


Many were the changes that came over our little community while my boy
was growing into a man!

It was not long after the Solitary had united themselves at Ephrata that
the Eckerlings conceived various enterprises whereby our cells should be
filled with what to so many weak mortals is as precious as honey to the
bees, namely, money.

In our early life our chief labor was the tilling of the soil, for which
we had by reason of our scanty means and our own peculiar views the most
primitive methods, so that we not only dragged the plow but even drew
our carts, and oft when we traveled we resembled a caravan of camels,
so heavily laden were we. I can still see when the plowing came to be
done the whole Brotherhood trooping around the hill of Zion. Under the
Eckerlings, however, we consented to the use of beasts of burden for our
heavy work; but in reparation of what many of us considered an unjust
use of these animals we treated them with exceeding kindness.

Our first industry under the Eckerlings was the building of a bakehouse,
which we used not only for our own modest requirements but even in the
interests of the poor settlers, no charge being made whatever for the
bread or the baking.

Another movement looking toward our enrichment was the planting of a
large orchard of over a thousand apple trees, as well as a row of fruit
trees entirely surrounding the Kloster grounds. The Eckerlings also
proposed to set out a vineyard on the hillside; but this met with such
determined opposition the project was abandoned, for we feared it might
lead to winebibbing among us, and this we could not have, as we
permitted the use of fermented liquors only when actually necessary as
physic.

Then came a small grist mill, the first to be put up in this region,
which we purchased shortly after the death of Brother Agonius. The mill
we entirely rebuilt in stone, increasing its capacity to three run, and
day after day for a number of years the splash, splash of the water
wheel and the rumbling murmur of the mill stones were sweet music in the
ears of the Eckerlings and their followers.

Soon after came a sawmill; and then what was, perhaps, more important to
us, the paper mill, whereby we made not only all the paper for the
printing of our various hymns and books and pamphlets, but also
furnished much of the paper that was used at this period throughout the
province, our Brother Christopher Sauer making frequent demands on us.

Within a few years an oil mill was put up, the stones of which were
unlike any others in America. This oil, like our paper, was not only
used in our printing, but was sent far and wide for the making of
printer's ink. There were looms for weaving linen and cloth, and a mill
where the homespun made in the community and by the neighbors was fulled
and prepared for use; and as there was no end to the money-making
projects of the Eckerlings, a tannery was erected, where both tanning
and tawing were carried on, in the meadow a short distance west of where
we later built the Brother House.

Then of necessity, as one evil deed ever requires its fellow, followed a
mill for grinding the oak and hemlock bark. This leather, by such as
were hostile to us, was called in derision "Jesuit leather," but the
nickname did not in the least injure the quality of the leather or
impair the demand for it, for--and I say it not boastfully--this
leather, like our paper and cloth and flour and other products, was all
of good, honest quality, and sought far and wide for its excellence.

The Brothers and Sisters thought more of how well they could do that
which they were called upon to do than how much they were to receive for
it. Thus they ennobled their work and gave dignity to their humble
labors, all of which honesty of work and affection for it was expressed
in the quality of the products; nothing slipshod, nothing half-finished
in haste was permitted; nothing could go forth from our hands unless it
was as sound and wholesome and perfect as our means and skill could make
it--and surely there is nothing more honorable in man than to serve his
Maker and his children by faithful, honest, affectionate toil.

To meet the demands of our various industries horses and wagons were
procured, so that three teams were almost constantly kept upon the road.
Agencies were established in Philadelphia and elsewhere for the purchase
and sale of our different products, and material, and my records show
that among such agents were well-to-do citizens of Philadelphia, as
Johannus Wüster and Christopher Marshall, the former being the same
gentleman who in later years honored us by plucking from our little
garden one of the most beautiful of the Roses of Saron, our dear Sister
Anastasia.

But as we had a printing press we must needs have a book bindery, and in
a short time we had the largest and best-equipped bindery in the
colonies, and I must say in justice to the Eckerlings, that however I
disagreed with them in many of their various enterprises, I always felt
we owed them much for establishing the printing press and the bindery,
for man without books is as a plant without light.

Even the Sisters were not forgotten, for in addition to the domestic
duties that ever so fitly fall to the lot of woman, they were constantly
engaged in spinning, besides assisting in the lighter work of the
fields. Many of the Sisters acquired great skill in embroidery and in
calligraphy; and hundreds of our hymns, composed by our superintendent,
the Sisters, and the Brethren, were written in the beautiful style of
the Sisterhood, so that even now after the lapse of almost half a
century since our sisters--many of them now resting in their narrow
graves along the roadside--placed their love and devotion for their
Master in their humble tasks. We greatly prize our hymn books--the notes
and letters and graceful decorations coming from our sisters' hands
shining forth still in all the clearness and purity of their first
writing.

In this wise matters went on until our Eckerlings almost proved our
undoing, for it gradually became noised about that we were nothing more
than merchants, tradespeople using our kloster life as a cloak to give
us the appearance of honest, devout people, caring naught for gain; and
there was much truth in what our printer at Germantown published, that
in a short time the ringing and clinking, tinkling, clanking, and
dangling at Zion, Ephrata, Kedar, Peniel, and Saron would equal Rome,
Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Babylon.

The only remedy for this show and excessive love of money lay in the
removal of the Eckerlings. This all the rest of the Solitary who loved a
simple life knew must come sooner or later, and yet they dreaded the
coming. Wherefore they groaned heavily in spirit under the bondage of
the Eckerlings for seven long years. Then, and I have not space to
relate how all this came about, were the Eckerlings dethroned, and their
lording it over us brought to a certain end.

On a bright day in August the Solitary Brethren arranged in a circle
about a heap of burning brush fed by most willing hands, we consigned to
the glowing embers all the books and writings of Onesimus, among them
being his polemic against the Moravians; and three days later the
Sisterhood of Saron repeated a similar ceremony, upon which occasion two
of his German broadsides and a pillar against the Moravians as well as
his hymns were consumed by the fire. And to make sure naught of
contamination remained with us, on the sixth day the brethren of the
Secular Congregation gathered all the writings and mementos of Onesimus
and committed them also to the flames.

  [Illustration: "We consigned to the glowing embers all the books
  and writings of Onesimus." Page 198.]

Not many weeks later the prior and his brother, Jephune, with Timotheus
and several other followers, fled about four hundred miles toward the
setting of the sun, until beyond all Christian government they reached a
stream which runs toward the Mississippi, New River by name, where they
were joined soon after by the rest of the Eckerlings.

With their exit an immediate change took place. The mills were
immediately closed, and word sent abroad that all our agreements were
cancelled--only we would fulfill our standing orders--but that hereafter
no grain or seed or logs or rags would be purchased by us, excepting
such as would be absolutely necessary for our own use. Our horses and
wagons and oxen were sold, and the different helpers who were not of our
belief discharged, for we were determined that, as we had come here to
serve God and not Mammon, God we would serve. But in spite of our
resolution such was the excellence of the flour and the wheat and the
oil, and the quality of the paper and cardboard we had made, that for
many years demands were made upon us repeatedly; but I rejoice to say no
effort was made in all the long after years again to reinstate these
things for anything except our own uses, and when two years later three
of our mills were lost by fire, which certain malicious ones attributed
to our superintendent, and which could not be extinguished either by our
wooden fire charms or our incantations, not one of us greatly regretted
the event, so far as the loss of the mills themselves were concerned,
only that we felt the loss of the large stores of wheat and other grain.
Thus as Brother Lamech hath well said, "Did the fire, with God's
permission, make an end to all the mammon which the Eckerlings, by their
flaying, scraping, miserly conduct had gathered in the former
household."

And now I feel I must turn again to my Sonnlein, who by this time was a
sturdy boy of about thirteen, and that it may be known from his actions,
instead of my great love for him what manner of boy he was, I shall tell
of his first fight, that is, the first one I knew of; and this I can say
of him, even though he was not a perfect example of the doctrine of
non-resistance, he cared naught for fighting, but suffered in silence
many a taunt and vile insult that made the blood rush to his cheeks; for
not only did the neighbors' children--learning this from their
idle-tongued parents--call him a "nobody's child"--for as he grew older
he soon found there were ever ready ones to poison his happiness by
telling him of his unknown parentage--but the elders themselves oft
nicknamed him "Brother Jabez' chicken," for that he was always under my
wing.

But one hot day in summer--and I take an unholy pleasure in writing
this--Sonnlein and a lot of other boys and girls, were paddling
bare-legged in the cool waters of the Cocalico, nigh the turnpike ford,
filling the air with their thoughtless shrieks and laughter, so that the
quiet-loving Brothers and Sisters were sorely tried in patience.
Suddenly the harmless shrieks and laughter rose into a tremendous
uproar, and so unusual was this tumult to mine ears I started hurriedly
for the ford, fearing some awful calamity had befallen the children. As
I came nigh I saw a lot of boys of all ages and sizes--so I wondered
where they all came from--gathered in a struggling, yelling mass in the
meadow along the creek, a fringe of frightened, white-faced little girls
in the background--each boy, large and small, with might and main
pressing forward toward the center of the howling little maniacs as if
something of great moment were proceeding there. And indeed there was,
for I was almost on them before they saw me or heard me call out
sternly, "What meaneth all this noise?" When they did hear me and see my
form hanging over them like some great thunder cloud they fled quickly,
only that some from a distance in derision of my tonsure cried out at
me, "_Alter_ _Blatkopf_" (old baldhead), so that like Elisha I wished
the bears to eat them up.

All but two had fled, and they were rolling about in the grass, now one
on top and then the other, then to their feet, striking, clawing, and
scratching like nothing so much as two angry cats; but suddenly the
smaller but more active one, who seemed to me strangely like Sonnlein,
delivered a marvelously directed blow full upon the upturned nose of the
other, bringing forth a goodly stream of rich, red blood, whereupon the
bleeding one put across the meadows, his hand to his face, bawling at
the top of his lungs, the victorious gladiator following a short
distance and crying after the vanquished, "Dost want some more of
'Brother Jabez' chicken'?" and then horrors upon horrors, I saw through
all the mud and dirt and disordered hair, and the fierce, distorted
features, 'twas my boy Sonnlein!

He saw me about the same time, and then the angry face fell into one of
shame as I called to him, "Come hither!" He came obediently enough,
saying nothing; but the wild passion of conflict could not die out at
once, and as he stood there, digging his toes into the earth and casting
sullen, rebellious glances at me, such as I had never received from him,
and sorely they wounded me, he blurted out, "He began 't."

"Have I not often told thee," I demanded, as much in sorrow as in
anger, "thou must not fight? Would couldst see thyself now to know how
much like the beasts we become when we stoop to fight and tear each
other asunder."

Still he said, but less defiantly, "He began 't, I tell thee."

"Art thou not sorry for breaking his nose?" I asked.

"Nay, he began 't; I had to fight. He hath been calling me names and
trying to stir up a quarrel. Now he hath what he looked for."

"Couldst thou not have left him? Thou hast legs to carry thee," I
reminded him.

But he only replied more firmly, "I'm glad I beat him, and that right
well. He will trouble me no more."

And then as I took him by the hand and we were about to go to our cells
I noticed within a few steps one of the little girls who had formed part
of the frightened group in the background. She seemed about my boy's
age, perhaps a trifle younger, with such deep blue eyes and long yellow
hair, I thought of our Sister Bernice, only that our poor sister was
never so rosy-cheeked and strong looking as this pretty little maid
standing timidly nigh, and finally bursting into a plaintive appeal,
"Don't whip him, Brother Jabez, it was Johann's own fault." Johann I
suppose being the name of the still fleeing one.

"And why should I not punish Sonnlein for fighting, my little sister?" I
asked gently.

"Because," she replied falteringly, and I could see her face was red as
fire.

"'Because' may be reason sufficient for little girls, but not for big
men," I replied still gently.

"Johann called him names," she rejoined.

"But surely hard names break no bones. If we fought whenever we heard
ill of ourselves we should have little time for else than fighting. Now
tell me truly why did they fight?"

And then I felt Sonnlein tugging at my hand and looking up at me more
shamefaced than ever as he cried out, "Let us go, _Vaterchen_, I told
thee why we fought," all the while frowning at our little sister as
though warning her not to say anything.

I am not overly inquisitive, but now I was resolved to know all, so I
said to her sternly, "My little sister, tell me the truth," and then
more tenderly I said, "thou knowest Brother Jabez would not hurt thee or
Sonnlein--not overmuch." Upon which great assurance she spake up as
bravely as she could between the sobs that would not keep back, "Johann
said I must be his wife when I was grown up, and Sonnlein said I was to
be his wife, and--and--I--I--said so too."

"Well, what then?" I asked between stern surprise and tenderness as she
wiped the tears from her eyes.

"Why, then we will keep house together," she replied innocently.

"I meant not what ye were going to do. I meant what did Johann do after
thou didst promise thyself to Sonnlein?"

"Why Johann called Sonnlein bad names and struck me in the face and
Sonnlein hit him." And then she said with such proud defiance I was
greatly shocked, "Sonnlein licked him."

"And so ye two are to be man and wife when ye are grown up? What is thy
name?" I asked turning to the little shrew.

"Mary."

"Well," and I spake out strongly, "let me not hear of this again, else
will I tell thy parents, Mary; and as for thee, Sonnlein, if I hear
aught of this man and wife wickedness again thou shalt have opportunity
to celebrate thy first whipping." Thus did I threaten in my unwisdom
these poor, innocent children.

"Ye do promise ye will never again speak to each other such nonsense?"

Whereat they both promised so willingly they would not that I greatly
doubted the promise would stand any great strain.

As Sonnlein and I turned back again to the Kloster, leaving Mary to find
her way home without the protection of her young knight, he looked up at
me innocently and asked as sweetly as though he had never known such
fierce feeling as fighting, "Wast never in love, _Vaterchen_?"

I was about to reply with unwonted crossness, "What is't to thee," but
just then I caught a glimpse of the mound, not more than a stone's throw
to our right, beneath which lay our Bernice, so I merely remained quiet
and answered not at all, only I could not help thinking that even
Ecclesiastes sayeth there is a time for love and a time for war, and
though Sonnlein was rather young for me to predict what his manhood
would be, it will be seen that my fond hopes were none of the brightest
for making him a gentle, peaceful celibate.



CHAPTER XIX

WHEN HEARTS ARE YOUNG

    Come, Corinna, let me kiss thee!
    Come, my dearest, to me here!
    I would know why joy should miss thee,
    I would have thine answer clear.
    Smiling sweetly said she, "No,"
    Then demurely yielded so.

        --Francis Daniel Pastorius (of Germantown).


How the years slipped by! Twenty years ago my Sonnlein had come to me a
little toddler. Now he was a tall youth--even taller than I--strong and
straight as the pine under which I found him; full of healthful animal
spirits that sometimes in their exuberance give me vague fears as to
what his active, enthusiastic nature might lead him to. Thus far he had
done naught to shake my confidence in him. He was a constant solace to
me. Brother Obed, with unwearying patience for Sonnlein's lively ways,
was exceedingly proud of his acquirements, for between Brother Obed and
me Sonnlein had not only learned to speak our mother tongue like one of
us, but even in Latin and Greek he was no indifferent scholar. We had
also taught him the arts of rhetoric and logic and mathematics, and had
versed him in literature and history, poetry and music.

But above all mathematics, history, language, and literature, Brother
Obed and I had taught Sonnlein what we knew and what we could teach him
to find out for himself about this world of ours, this delightful book
of nature our Creator gave us to read and search with no less diligence
than his written word, and so the moon and the stars by night, the sun
by day, the ever-recurring seasons, calm and tempest, the sparkling
streams, waving trees, the sweet and lovely flowers, the creatures that
fill God's earth, man, bird, and beast--all these were taught so that
our boy understood them as so many manifestations of his power and
beauty and love and tenderness for us who were created in his image. And
that our boy might have the best of all guides for the interpretation of
this visible life and the unseen world beyond the gates of death, we
taught him gently but persistently God's holy word, for in our simple
view of life it seemed a great shame that one should know all about the
kings and princes of this fleeting earth but know naught of the Prince
of princes and the King of kings. Thus our boy, we fondly trusted, was
prepared to fill any place in this world according to his gifts, happily
for himself and others.

But I dare not pretend that he was a youthful saint, for frequently to
my poorly concealed amusement and the evident chagrin of our
superintendent, Sonnlein often put the former to utter rout in the
discussion of some of his finespun interpretations of holy writ. Indeed,
I fear there was no love lost between our estimable leader and my boy,
for Sonnlein had that inexorable logic, that sure keenness of mind that
pierces a sophistry as a skillful archer wings his arrow to the center
of the mark. At times Sonnlein's apparent want of reverence, his seeming
irreligion, his lack of deference for Brother Beissel's peculiar views,
threatened to disrupt the brotherly relations that ever existed between
our superintendent and me, his associate; for with all his sternness,
his austerity, his unbending will and ambition, I recognized that our
leader was no ordinary man, and while not a scholar he was a man of
great and many talents--all in all, just the one to hold together our
little community.

The trouble was that while Sonnlein had much of the sweet reasonableness
and charity that comes from the study and contemplation of the
humanities, he added to his poetic, philosophical temperament the energy
and will that mark the man of action. An ardent, impetuous, positive
nature like his was bound to clash with one like the superintendent's,
and more than once it called forth all my wits to prevent actual rupture
between the two, which would have scandalized us sorely. Thus it was
that while I frequently reproached Sonnlein for his irreverence for
Brother Beissel, I just as often placated the latter by pleading
Sonnlein's youth and inexperience.

I recall especially one occasion when our leader had delivered a long
discourse on one of his pet theories, that in heaven we should have the
same occupations we had followed here. Sonnlein's brief comment, so it
was brought to mine ears, was he pitied grave-diggers and the like if
that was all the reward they were to receive. In our Kloster there were
tattlers and talebearers, just as in more worldly places, and our leader
hearing of the thing, which I knew Sonnlein had said more in jest than
in disrespect, came to me in high dudgeon and demanded Sonnlein make
open apology before all the Brotherhood. This I knew full well Sonnlein
would not do and I besought our worthy leader to overlook the matter and
forgive him. I shall never forget how he almost yelled at me, his small
frame quivering with righteous indignation beneath my towering stature.
"Forgive him! So sayest thou ever. I verily believe thou couldst forgive
the devil!"

"In truth, dear brother, I oft have done so," I replied, smiling quietly
and looking down into his angry eyes meaningly.

He straightened up and, as he walked savagely away, delivered this
parting shot: "No doubt; thou hast had abundant opportunity in thy
precious Sonnlein!"

It was my turn to flush now, but happily I controlled myself and said
nothing, consoling myself with the reflection that our superintendent's
witty retort would go far to appease his indignation and that by the
morrow he would greet me with his accustomed affection and good-will,
for in order to make others love us it is only necessary to make them
love themselves, and many a rascal by this knowledge hath overcome many
a wise man.

That night I spake to Sonnlein kindly but firmly, reminding him how
poorly it accorded with his manhood's estate to indulge in such levity;
that even if he could not always agree with the hair-splitting
speculations of our worthy superintendent, it were surely wiser to hold
one's tongue lest that unruly member poison all our peace.

"But," replied he gently, as was ever his way toward me, "_Vaterchen_,
Brother Beissel hath something about him that everything he says and
does irritates me. It passeth my understanding why he alone of all our
Brothers and Sisters so affects me. I sometimes fear I hate him and
that he returns the same feeling, yet I know not that he hath ever
harmed me. I promise thee to curb this tongue of mine. Good night,
_Vaterchen_; _schlafen Sie wohl_," and so saying he went meekly to his
_Kammer_, from whence I could soon tell by his deep, regular breathing
what I had said was not greatly disturbing his sleep.

Late in the afternoon of the following day, being now in the wane of
what we have since learned to call the "Indian summer," I was wandering,
somewhat aimlessly I confess, along the borders of the Sisters' close,
when suddenly, on lifting mine eyes from the earth, I perceived one of
the Sisterhood directly in my pathway, but a short distance ahead,
sitting quietly on a projecting root, which, springing from the base of
a towering chestnut tree, formed a comfortable seat.

She had not observed me, I felt sure, and thinking not to disturb her
meditations, for I doubted not she was rapt in contemplation of the
heavenly Bridegroom, I stepped quietly aside into the cover of a near-by
thicket. I hardly had done so when, not far beyond the Sister, a rich,
deep voice rang out in an old German hunting song:

    "Out into the woods three hunters went,
     On the white deer's chase their wishes bent."

From my hiding-place I saw the form at the foot of the tree sit more
erect in listening posture, and as the face was uplifted, the fair
features of Sister Genoveva met my gaze, such a pensive wistfulness and
tenderness informing every feature of the lovely face turned unwittingly
toward me, I somehow thought of my Bernice, who so soon was called to
her celestial Bridegroom.

Again the fine, strong voice rang out, still nearer:

    "Down under the fir-trees' shade they lay,
     The same strange dream came to each that day.

                    "THE FIRST.

    "'I dreamt I beat on a sheltering bush,
      From out its fold sprang the deer, husch, husch!'"

And now I caught occasional glimpses of the gray fox-skin hunter's cap
Sonnlein wore when on the chase, for I had recognized his voice full
well. Some one else too seemed to know, for I could not help seeing,
e'en though I never have known much of the signs and symptoms of love,
that Sister Genoveva's pensiveness had given way to a gentle smile that
brought an added charm to the wonderful loveliness of the most beautiful
woman I have ever seen.

Still nearer came the trumpet tones:

                  "THE SECOND.

    "'And as he sprang from the hound's hoarse laugh,
      I branded him deep on the hide, piff, paff!'"

Where had the scamp learned to sing with such faithfulness to the sense?
I heard plainly the "hound's hoarse laugh," the "piff, paff!" And again
I wondered where he had learned to sing so true. Surely not from our
leader; no Æolian harp about these manly, resounding notes:

                 "THE THIRD.

    "'And as on the earth him slain I saw,
      Lustily into the horn I blew, trara!'"

That "trara," like the blast of a hunting horn, transported me to my
boyhood days in the _Vaterland_, where often I had heard the huntsmen
call to each other in the thick forests and mountain glens.

And then mockingly came the stanza:

    "So there they lay and bragged these three--
     And there, ran by them the white deer--free!"

Surely the light-hearted boy, for boy he always has been to me, was
meant for a minnesinger.

And now he was so nigh only a thin wall of brush separated him, all
unconscious, from Sister Genoveva and me, as she sat in the little
clearing at the foot of the tree. Her eyes were now sparkling with
merriment; delicate dimples of mirthfulness played hide and seek over
chin and cheeks, despite the dignified efforts to maintain a sober mien
as became one of the holy Sisterhood. Surely she was thinking of the
surprise in store for him when he should burst the bushy barriers--and
see her. It seemed to me she might have left the spot, for certain it
was there was no lack of opportunity. Once, in faith, I was about to
call to her sternly, but I could not, for verily I believe we both were
held by the witchery of his song.

Then came the last verse, still strong and clear, with its vein of
mockery:

    "But hardly was he within their sight
     He was gone again over deep and height
     Husch, husch! piff, paff! trara!"

The echoes of his stentorian tones had hardly died away when he was on
us. Rather, I should say, he was in the presence of Sister Genoveva, for
I was safely ensconced in the thicket, resolved now to see the meeting
to its conclusion. And what a picture they made in that leaf-strewn
clearing, all red and brown and gold with the jewels of the dying year,
the chestnut stretching its arms out over the two forms as if in a
blessing!

Not all the studied plainness and cloistral severity of the black dress
could suppress the womanly grace and beauty of the full, rounded form of
Sister Genoveva; nor could the hideous hood, which had fallen on her
shoulders, have hidden from view those sweet features, so delicately
strong and full of noble calmness and serenity--and yet no cold,
marble, nun-like face, for the full red lips, the rosy flush of the
rounded cheeks, the dimpled chin, and the warmth of those luminous, deep
blue eyes betokened an affectionate and loving heart; and now that I saw
her with such opportunity to scan her without myself being seen, I could
understand the reports that had come to me of the wonderful influence
she already exerted over the Sisterhood by reason of her clear vision,
her piety, her strong will, her even temper, and above all that
largeness of heart that made her sought even more than _Mutter_ Maria in
the troubles and fears and temptations that even our simple, secluded
life could not wholly shut out from our little world.

But if she was the perfect Eve in this little paradise under the
spreading chestnut, Sonnlein was no unworthy Adam. I knew not which of
the two most satisfied my carnal eye with their fresh, young, healthful
beauty. From beneath his gray cap his thick black hair hung in heavy,
wavy masses about his neck and shoulders. His ruddy, sunburned face
glowed with the spirit and animation of his song. At first, when he
burst upon her, he started back in surprise, and then he called to her
in gentle gayety, as he dropped on one knee, cap in hand, bowing
gracefully (so that I wondered where he had caught those courtier-like
airs which not at all pleased my plain ways), "Thou queen of the Roses
of Saron, art thou holding court in thy temple of beauty?"

And then, for I could have sworn when he burst upon us she had been
thinking of him in maidenly tenderness, she looked up indifferently,
even coldly, and rebuked him, "Shame on thee to disturb these sacred
grounds with thy worldly, boisterous song, thou noisy reveler. Thou
idle, mighty Nimrod, where are the fruits of thy chase? Perchance" (and
I saw a sly twinkle in her eyes that his abashed face did not observe)
"thou didst dream too long under the fir tree and the white deer escaped
thee? Gay garments torn from innocent beasts to add to vain adornment do
not make one a great hunter."

"Nay, Sister Genoveva," he replied more earnestly, "no white deer ran
through my dreams; no fir trees' shade soothed mine eyes to sleep. Wide
awake was I, and yet I dreamed of a fair, sweet rose that I, even though
it had thorns to prick me, would wear next my heart."

"Indeed, thou poet, thou speakest as though inspired with love. Surely
it is time thou dost take the vow of loyalty to the celestial Virgin and
join the consecrated Brotherhood; why delayest thou so long? In her love
thou wilt find no thorns."

"But, dear sister, I want the rose with the thorns" (how delicately he
emphasized the "with"). "Canst thou not see whom I mean, or dost thou
not care to know?"

And then I saw the delicious mockery leave her face and voice as she
said to him in solemn tones, "Nay, my brother Sonnlein, I dare not know;
for thy sake as well as mine I must not know. Thou art possessed by some
idle fancy the Evil One hath put into thee. Thou must not disrespect me
by making my woman's heart struggle 'gainst my vows of celibacy."

He lifted his head and looking into her eyes that met his so fearlessly,
his passionate heart burst forth into a very torrent of love, so I
wondered she could withstand him. "I do love thee, sister," murmured
tumultuously the low, warm voice, "with all my heart and mind and body
and soul. I do not hold thee lightly in my respect or I had spoken of
this long ago; but my respect for thee, for _Vaterchen_, for our Holy
Order forbade; but I can no longer withhold myself." And then
masterfully he stood erect and in strong, earnest tones declared, "I for
one am not ashamed of human love. I should rather be ashamed of myself
did I not love such as thou art to me." And then, the eloquent diplomat,
"Brother Beissel, whom the Roses of Saron worship as little less than
God himself, hath he not declared, is it not the very foundation of your
vows of celibacy that man was first a spirit containing both the
elements of man and woman; that this spiritual virgin, the _Sophia_,
left him? Then was woman formed from a rib of his side, whereby man lost
his woman's attributes and retained merely man's? Thou must not smile
and shake thy head, my sister. Thou art, I care not if the wide world
know it, my _Sophia_, my angel, my celestial virgin, that left me in my
creating. Canst marvel and deem me mad or blasphemous because I long to
come to mine own other self again, to have thee, mine own sweet rib,
evermore at my side, beneath my heart, caressing it and content to hear
it murmur its undying love for thee--my sister, _mein Liebchen_--tell
me, dost thou not love me?"

How like one inspired he pleaded! Surely she would yield, for I saw the
steady light in her eyes falter, and for a moment she clasped her hands
meekly before her, like a humble captive before some proud conqueror,
but just for a moment--strange is the heart of woman--and then I was
most inconsistently displeased to see her lift her gaze all unabashed to
his as she said lightly, "What an orator thou art; now know I what we
oft have marveled at, how thou wheedlest our good Brother Jabez into so
much forgiveness for thy indifference to our holy life."

"So our good brother is wheedled," thought I, indignantly at first, and
then smiling in a superior manner at the impossibility of such a thing
as my being wheedled.

But my boy was not one of those who could easily be laughed away from
his purpose, for I had taught him--in season and out--never to let
sarcasm or ridicule have the slightest effect on him when he had once
chosen his ground and knew he was right. If he did feel Genoveva's
gentle mockery he showed it not, but instead did what I never could have
had the courage to do, unless upon modest invitation, and that was to
step resolutely forward and take Sister Genoveva by the hands and hold
her thus against her feeble striving to free herself while he said to
her boldly, "Thou dost love me or else wouldst not tease me so!"

"Hast forgotten our promise to good Brother Jabez when thou didst fight
Johann, that we would never again talk to each other of love?"

"That promise hath no life; we were but children, and secondly, 'twas
drawn from us by fear. Such promises _Vaterchen_, who knoweth the law,
himself sayeth are not binding."

"Oh, thou lawyer," thought I to myself; "thou'rt far too worldly-wise
for a minnesinger."

"Thou dost love me," he again said strongly.

"Thou tyrant to hold me against my will. Loose thy hold or else I shall
not doubt I dislike thee," she declared right vehemently, though it
seemed to me she might have struggled more earnestly to loosen his
grasp.

But like a true-hearted man he obeyed her request, dropping her hands
and saying softly, "Thou dost not hate me, then, thou cold-hearted
nun?"

"Nay, naught of reason have I to hate thee, Sonnlein"--and how sweetly
she said his name--"but dost not know, thou mighty hunter, woman expects
little less than perfection in him she would love," and then she said
maliciously, so I could not fathom her, "surely thou dost not think
thyself perfect?"

"As to thy last," he rejoined, "I shall make answer, I am human. I leave
it to woman to be perfect"--the flatterer. "As to thy first I doubt not
thy sex ever looks for perfection in our imperfect sex, and it strikes
me this accounts more for our Sisterhood than does their love for their
heavenly Bridegroom, whom they see not until after death."

"Thou irreverent scoundrel," thought I.

"And yet," continued he, "when I think of him for whom our Sister Eunice
lately left the Roses of Saron, it seemeth as though some of thy sex at
least look not for perfection."

"Still I say our foolish hearts yearn for the ideal, but when we love
the attainable we forgive everything, and this is woman's weakness."

"Nay, sister, 'tis her most glorious strength that she, an angel, can
stoop down and make him see heaven in her."

"That I had the gift to speak with such a golden tongue," thought I, and
then fortunately for us all--for I liked not my spying, and yet I could
not leave unnoticed--Sonnlein chanced to see Brother Alburtus approach.
Suddenly that scamp of mine kissed her full on her sweet lips. How she
blushed and said not a word, as he held her close to him for a moment
whispering passionately, "Thou must love me as I love thee, forever!"
and then as they both saw Brother Alburtus perilously nigh, she quietly
sat down again at her former place, most demurely, while Sonnlein passed
on toward his _Kammer_.

As Brother Alburtus came upon her he stopped for a moment, hand rubbing
hand as usual, looked at her in grave absorption and passed on as though
she were not there.

And then I could have sworn I saw peering at her, and next at the
departing form of Brother Alburtus, the loathsome features of that awful
woman whom I had not seen for over ten years, from the shelter of a
tangled clump of vines and brush, which I solemnly promised myself
should be cut down on the morrow, root and branch.

Stealthily I crept out of my hiding-place and proceeded to where it
seemed I had seen the witch, but as I came near I saw naught, and yet as
I walked slowly away there came faintly to mine ears as though receding
from me, that horrible, cackling laugh I had reason to hold in so much
dread.



CHAPTER XX

SISTER GENOVEVA IS GONE

    O thou whose glory fills the etherial throne,
    And all ye deathless powers, protect my son!

        --Iliad.


Twilight was fast deepening into night when I returned to my _Kammer_ in
the large Brother House, or Bethania, which we built a few years after
the departure of the Eckerlings, down in the meadow, nigh the Cocalico,
and facing the Sister House, or Saron, Brother Beissel's cabin sitting
circumspectly between the two houses of our Order.

Here, as in Zion, Sonnlein and I had adjoining cells. I was not greatly
surprised as I entered mine, to hear him whistle softly a worldly tune,
though where he had caught it I knew not--surely not from me--for our
sober lives never favored such godless puckerings and twistings of the
lips!

Then he hummed the blasphemous thing for a while, changing into
whistling again, and in his humming and whistlings making such vain and
perverse changes, flying from high to low, from loud to soft, mingling
with it all such sundry quiverings and queer little runs and trillings,
until not able to stand it longer--for it seemed he would never stop--I
marched sternly to the doorway of his cell, flung back the light door
and spake to him, "Art crazy or in love?"

"Both, _Vaterchen_, both!" he fairly shouted, as he grabbed me ere I
knew what was up, and spun me around so I could hardly keep my feet.

"Surely thou'rt mad," I gasped feebly as I sank down on his bench, "Hast
been drinking?"--though I knew he had not.

"Yea," he shouted again even louder than before, "from the loving cup of
the gods!"

"Be not so boisterous, thou blasphemer! Wouldst have the Brethren think
thee drunk?"

"The Brethren are not about; I am not so wild I know not how to save thy
gentle reputation, _Vaterchen_"--and in truth in his adventures he ever
regarded me.

"Still it poorly becometh thee to act like a thoughtless boy," I
remonstrated.

"Surely, _Vaterchen_," he laughed gayly, "if thou didst but know what it
is to be in love thou couldst not scold me so!"

"Every man to his trade," I replied dryly, not trusting myself to look
at him; "my trade is preaching and trying to behave myself. Thine
appears to be loving," saying the latter as sarcastically as my dislike
for sharp words and my love for him would allow.

But he only laughed the louder as he said, "'Tis a trade that never had
to advertise for apprentices."

"Cease thy levity; canst not be sober-minded? If thou must make music we
have hundreds of noble hymns in our books."

"They are not framed to my mood, but"--and now in truth he looked more
serious and manlike, as I most admired him--"dost thou agree with our
superintendent that marriage is a sinful state?"

"Dost ask for mere curiosity, or hast found some foolish woman who
careth for thee?" I asked with seeming ignorance.

He flushed at this, and then said gently, the schemer, "Nay, but
sometime I might see one foolish enough, as thou sayest, to love me and
perchance I might commit in all ignorance the grievous sin of marriage."

"I commend thy great thoughtfulness," said I, looking at him in a way
that made him in turn look at me as though wondering whether I knew more
than I cared to tell. "To relieve thy anxiety I shall tell thee, which I
would not have proclaimed from the housetops, there being those who
hold to stricter views, I do not regard marriage as sinful. The word of
God sayeth not so. In truth it esteemeth marriage highly. We base our
views of celibacy on what Paulus sayeth, thou rememberest, 'For I would
that all men were even as I myself,' meaning unmarried."

"But Paulus himself wrote that he spake this by permission and not of
commandment."

"True, and so say I, now that I am older and wiser. We practise
celibacy, and praise it because we believe that, as good soldiers of the
Lord, we can go better to battle than if we are impeded by wives and
children."

A long pause and then anxiously, as though much depended on my reply, he
asked with a touch of reverence in his voice, "Wouldst think it wrong
for any of our Sisters to marry?"

"Our vows are binding only on our consciences. We compel no one to
celibacy. Each follows his own will. Thou knowest many of the Brethren
and Sisters who were married when they joined our order left us again to
live together and no one said them 'nay,' but our single Sisters and
Brethren have almost invariably remained with us."

"If I were to marry one of the Sisterhood, wouldst thou condemn either
of us?" he asked eagerly.

"When thou'rt sure thou hast found one to break her vows for thee it
were time to ask me that," I admonished him; and then, as I arose to
return to my cell, I said smiling, not meaning it with malice, "thou
knowest much may happen between sunrise and sunset."

Hardly had I said this--and oft it hath come to me how like it was to
the fulfilling of a prophecy--when the Kloster bell rang out from Mt.
Sinai strong and clear as though calling us to face some sudden danger.
Alarm was writ plainly on our faces as we looked out of the little
window, fearing to see the glare of fire against the sky, but we saw
nothing. Soon the hall and corridors were filled with the anxious
brethren, for it was still a few hours from midnight, and each of us
knew something of great moment must be about to cause this hurried
ringing so early in the night.

As Sonnlein and I hastened out of the corridor and the low doorway for
Brother Beissel's cabin, the rest of the anxious brothers trooping after
us, we saw our prioress and a number of the Sisters gathered about our
leader in front of his cabin, the changing light from the fat lamps
showing clearly enough the fear and consternation oppressing us.

As our leader saw me, he called me to him and said, his voice trembling
in spite of him: "Our Sister Genoveva cannot be found; no one hath seen
her since sunset."

I could feel Sonnlein's grip on my arm like the hold of a drowning man,
but he said nothing.

"I myself saw her then in the Sisters' close, sitting at the foot of a
large chestnut tree," said I slowly, for I could not help thinking of
that evil face I now felt certain I had really seen peering at our
sister from behind the thicket.

"She may have gone to some of the neighbors to attend some sick one,"
suggested Brother Beissel, but saying it as against his own belief.

"But first she would have left word with us," the prioress reminded him,
"for such is our rule."

"Still, there may have been sudden illness that left no time for word to
us," persisted our leader.

So far, no one had said a word as to the great fear that I knew was
clutching the hearts of my Brothers and Sisters, which was that the
Indians had either killed or carried away our Genoveva; for over a year
had gone by since the French and Indians had taken up musket and
tomahawk against the English settlements, and though we had thus far
been spared the horrors of this savage war, yet we heard now and then of
awful massacres of the whites by the Indians not many miles to the north
and west, among the outlying settlements off our province, so that the
whole country, by reason of these barbarous deeds and the want of proper
defense, was in a great state of excitement and apprehension.

Calling Brother Alburtus to me, I asked him slowly and distinctly, for
he seemed oft not to understand one: "Thou wast in the Brother woods and
the Sister woods at sunset. Didst see signs of Indians, the red men?"

But he only shook his head with his accustomed vacant air, so that
Brother Beissel exclaimed impatiently: "'Tis waste of time to question
him; he never seeth aught."

"Brother Beissel, if thou wilt send of the brethren among the neighbors
to inquire of our sister, Sonnlein and I will go to the Sister woods,"
and with this I turned about for Sonnlein, but he was gone as though he
too had been swallowed up, for I had felt him but a moment before at my
elbow. My flesh was beginning to creep and prick with unmanly fright
when one of the brethren spake:

"He hath just gone with a fagot to Mt. Sinai," and as I looked where my
brother pointed, I saw the occasional glimmer of a light through the
trees and bushes.

Without waiting for a light, though the night was dark and overcast with
heavy clouds, threatening rain, I dashed after my boy as fast as the
gloom and my knowledge of our Kloster ground would let me.

When I reached him he was already at the chestnut tree, kneeling, torch
in hand, closely searching the ground. As I came nigh I saw his face
was hard and drawn, and though I could see his hands tremble, his voice
was firm as a rock as he commanded me, as he never spoke to me before,
to stand back a moment.

All around the base of the tree he looked, missing, as I thought, not a
leaf or twig or stone, I wondering now at the patience of him who never
since I had known him had been overly patient.

Then slowly he got up from the ground, still holding his torch close to
the earth, and started off, now stopping as in doubt, then holding aside
a branch or vine in his way, I all the while following as meekly as a
little boy his parent, but rejoicing now that Sonnlein's living in the
woods so much had taught him what I knew so little of. On we slowly and
surely went, he often stooping down and scrutinizing the earth as though
he had lost his guiding marks, but always finding them again, until we
had gone down over the hill and were aiming toward the Cocalico where it
wound its course fully a half-mile below the Brother House.

A great fear again chilled me to the bones. Our sister had thrown
herself into the cold waters of the creek rather than weakly surrender
herself to love for man! But when I had seen her last she seemed not
over-weighted with grief or remorse. Nay, not self-murder!

And now as we were following the right bank of the Cocalico and were
treading the wet, soft earth, I could see plainly now and then what a
child could have seen--through the weeds and grasses, footprints of
three people, one of whom I felt sure was our sister, for some of the
prints were small and delicate, such as would be made by the wooden
soles of her sandals. Other of the prints from their size were those of
a grown man, but whether white or Indian I had not sufficient woodcraft
to tell. The other marks were too small for a man's and yet not
Genoveva's, being differently shaped.

We had not gone far along the Cocalico, when suddenly the grassy bank
spread out into a stony, gravelly beach, where the deep pool we had been
following dwindled away to a shallow, rippling stream. On this hard
beach I at once lost the footprints, but Sonnlein never hesitating led
the way, still silent and grim, to the water's edge, and there again I
plainly saw the foot-marks in the soft mud among the stones.

He paused but a moment as he looked at the marks, and then plunged into
the stream without waiting to see whether or how I might follow. My
selfish indignation at his indifference to me lasted but the space of a
lightning's flash, for I immediately thought of the great trouble that
had come to my boy, and without any ado I plunged into the icy waters
that, despite its shallowness, caught me knee-deep at times, and with
such savage eagerness as I feared more than once would sweep my feet
off the slippery bed of the stream and no doubt drown me, for in my
neglect of earthly things I had never learned to swim.

But with all my floundering and splashing I did at last reach the
farther side, where I found Sonnlein following the shore looking closely
for the footprints, of which I could see none. But suddenly we found
them again quite a distance below where we had emerged from the
Cocalico, and I realized now that the captors had practised the old
trick of walking in the water some distance to destroy all pursuit.

But now Sonnlein's fagot was almost burnt out and the rain was beginning
to fall, lightly as yet, though I knew it would soon be drenching us to
the skin, and by washing away the footprints make it impossible to
follow any further.

I tried to call Sonnlein's mind to the utter folly of hoping to
accomplish aught in the darkness and the rain, but his only reply was to
make a fresh torch from the dead branches of an old tree overhanging the
creek. Lighting the sticks from his fast expiring fagot, he suddenly
turned to me, as if for the first time since we had left the chestnut
tree he were aware of me, and said shortly, "Stay thou here till I come
back," and with that he plunged into the heavy brush, mine eyes
following anxiously as far as I could the light of his torch.

It was not long until, with all the straining of my sight, I no more
could see aught of his light, and then heavy-hearted--as I had not been
for many a year--and wet and shivering from the cold rain that was
beating down faster and faster, I crouched up close to the dry side of
the old dead tree, and patiently awaited in all the misery of my body
and mind the return of my boy.

Not that I feared he could not take care of himself, for I knew he had
the strength of a lion and the quickness of a cat, but I knew his
determined, persistent nature, and that he would go to the ends of the
earth, if needs be, for her he loved.

How long I waited under the old tree I remember not. Through all the
rushing of the rain and the sweeping of the winds, I heard faintly the
Kloster bells, and I knew it must be midnight. I could see in mind the
Brothers and Sisters file out of Bethania and Saron for our little
chapel for the accustomed devotions, and I found much comfort because I
felt sure earnest, loving prayers were ascending to Him to watch over
our sister and my boy and me, and bring us back safe and whole to the
fold.

But mortal flesh is ever weak, and as I stood and waited with the storm
howling about me, wondering where our sister was in all this wind and
rain, wondering where my boy was and when he would come back to me, I
lost heart and faith. Besides the wind and the rain and the murmuring
of the creek, everything was absolutely silent. I seemed utterly alone
in the world. I thought to myself, Who or what am I in all this great
universe? What careth God for me? While in this weak mood an owl hooted
overhead, and though I had never before found the hooting of owls aught
but sad and mournful, this one sounded to me almost as sweet as our own
dear bells. And then I thought of what our Master had said about a
sparrow's fall--and I doubt not he also regardeth owls--so that I felt
better again.

And great need I had of comfort, for hour after hour I waited for my
boy. I was drenched to the skin and so cold I shook like a leaf. More
than once as I had made up my mind to wait no longer I started to leave,
but then crouched closer to the tree again, ashamed of myself for
wanting to leave my post. Still as the long, awful night grew toward
morning and the faint light of a gloomy dawn came on, I thought to wait
longer were of no avail, and so in great anguish of mind, heeding not
the lesser pains of the flesh, I made my way back, heavy-eyed and still
more heavy-hearted to my cell, drying myself as best I might, and then
throwing myself on my hard bench to seek in sleep some peace for body
and mind.



CHAPTER XXI

BROTHER ALBURTUS

    When death immortal stays the mortal pulse.

        --Lucretius.


When I write here that I slept until after the seventh hour--which was
midday with us--I fear it may be thought I missed not much our sister
and my Sonnlein, but I like not to be misjudged, for though I slept so
long and even soundly, it was because of a healthy body and for the
still better reason that it was the rule and habit of Brother and
Sister, so far as we could school our weak, rebellious flesh, never to
fret or worry or complain about anything, whether, as blind mortals
regard things, it were good or ill.

But when I did get up stiff and sore, my first thought was of Sonnlein,
hoping he had returned by now, but as I opened the door into his
_Kammer_ my hope sank within me as I missed not only his presence but
everything else that would indicate he had returned during my sleep.

Inquiry among the Brethren confirmed my fears. He had not returned. No
one had seen him since the night before nor had they learned anything of
Genoveva among the neighbors. I reported first to our superintendent
what Sonnlein and I had found and how he had gone on against my will,
but I said nothing about my dread of the witch, for while I was sure she
had something to do with our sister's disappearance, yet the footprints
had shown some other than the witch among the captors.

Our leader at once called a meeting of the Brothers and the nearest
house-fathers and set before them the substance of my report. It was
soon agreed, as I had expected, that the red men had stolen our sister.
But what was to be done was not so easy to decide. Even if the rain had
not washed away the footprints none of us were sufficiently skilled to
trace the savages. To make matters worse, this war with the French again
aroused all the distrust our monastic mode of life so often inflicted on
us. The old accusation was revived that we were Jesuits, through whom
the French and Indians were continually receiving secret information
that enabled them to perpetrate massacre after massacre with impunity.
Indeed, so important in this respect did our enemies make us and so
bitter was the feeling against our little community that finally the
governor of the province was actually prevailed upon to appoint a
commission to inquire into these charges that rankled in our breasts in
spite of all our humility and fortitude.

We could endure much in the way of false accusation, but we loved in our
quiet, peaceful way our chosen home in this new world, and while, with
our view of war, we refused to bear arms against the French and Indians,
we were always zealous to do all we could for our province, and this we
proved fully when in after years the colonies fought for independence we
gave up freely of our property, never asking to be repaid therefor, to
the cause of our beloved Washington--ever our friend--and not only our
property and our services, but many a Brother and Sister cheerfully and
lovingly gave up his or her life in nursing the hundreds of soldiers
that lay dying of fevers in the halls and cells of our Kloster. It is
for the sake of these dear martyr Brothers and Sisters I write this,
which to others may seem idle boasting, but which is the glorious truth,
as the records will show to him that careth to read.

The governor's commission came in due time and with great pomp and
ceremony to our humble little camp, but as we hid nothing from them and
answered freely and fearlessly the questions as to our mode of life,
these gentlemen soon left, satisfied that we were not Jesuits nor
spies--traitors, but were what we claimed to be, quiet, peaceful monks
and nuns, serving faithfully according to our peculiar ideas the same
God and the same country as those who were so unnecessarily alarmed
about us.

But all the distrust and suspicion and hatred in the minds of those who
would not have it other than that we were spies did not keep us from
writing out hundreds of notices of the capture of our sister. These we
spread as far and wide as the state of affairs would let us, and, as day
after day passed without bringing to me my Sonnlein or any word of him,
I also sent out notices of his departure.

In our great trouble it came to me that our justice, Brother Weiser,
might help us, for not only was he ranger, taking care of all stray
horses and cattle, but as Indian interpreter for the government in this
cruel war he saw much of what was going on and of necessity met a great
many people. Acting upon this thought, I sent him a letter setting forth
in full about our sister and my boy, knowing our stern but great-hearted
brother would make our loss his and leave nothing undone to restore to
us our own.

But over a month went by without a word or sign of our lost ones and to
most of us they were now as dead; but though my mind and heart were oft
assailed with a great dread that I should never again see my boy in this
world, yet through all the dark clouds that hung over me there would now
and then fall on me the bright sunshine of hope.

Another month went by. It was midwinter, and though I knew Sonnlein,
like me, never made any great worry about the weather, no matter how
severe, I could not help wondering where, if he were still alive, he had
place to lay his head in all this broad earth.

While in this mood I received a long letter from Brother Weiser. He had
as interpreter taken part in many negotiations with the Indian chiefs in
various parts of the province. At every opportunity and wherever he had
been he had sought information about Genoveva and Sonnlein. It grieved
our brother much that he had been able to learn nothing anywhere. There
had come to him strange tales from some of the Indians he had met about
a tall, strong white man who was wandering from village to village and
tribe to tribe seeking for his white squaw. The Indians had a name for
him which meant one who wandered about searching without ceasing. There
had also come equally strange stories to our brother of a young white
hunter who was fighting among the hills and valleys of the Blue
Mountains to the north and west beyond the block-house forts with
untiring and savage ferocity against the French Indians, by whom the
young hunter was known as "The Firebrand," some of the Indians regarding
him as mad for that he rested not night or day, as it seemed to them;
that the savages believed he bare a charmed life and that all the red
men feared him exceedingly. More than this our good brother could not
tell us, but somehow it left no doubt in my mind that this young
wanderer, this fiery hunter, must be none other than Sonnlein, roaming
the wilds so far away in the undying hope that somewhere he would find
our beloved Genoveva.

In this uncertain, harassing state stood the welfare of my Sonnlein and
our sister, when one day thinking even more than usual about him, I
found myself wandering along the banks of the now icebound Cocalico. Ere
I knew how far I had wandered thus aimlessly I had arrived at the place
where Sonnlein and I had crossed the creek on that awful night. I could
see through all the ice and snow where the pool narrowed at the stony
beach and on the opposite side some distance down the creek stood the
old, dead tree from whose gaunt and gnarled limbs the owl had hooted to
me to be of good cheer.

I crossed the snow-covered ice and slid and walked along the bank until
I came to the old tree, where I paused for a moment to consider the
direction Sonnlein had taken when he left me that night. And now, like
him, I plunged into the undergrowth that overran the lowlands in this
little valley of the Cocalico. Often I slipped and stumbled over some
log or stone or brake through the snow into a hole or gulley, so that I
marvel now I did not break my legs. The branches and the vines caught me
about the arms and feet and more than once stung me across the face, but
it seemed I had only a great overpowering desire to press forward in the
direction I knew Sonnlein had gone.

In this wise I stumbled on in the snow for some distance without seeing
any sign of any human being. As I stopped for a moment, nearly exhausted
with my wild enterprise, to catch my breath, I gave a great start as I
saw but a few paces ahead of me tracks in the snow, and which, as I
hurried on, I saw to be the footprints of some grown person. The tracks
were running directly across my path, and whereas I had been pursuing my
mad course to the southwest, the footprints of this unknown person were
pointing toward the southeast.

I had not the slightest idea that they were Sonnlein's and yet I know
not why I suddenly determined to follow them. It may be that all
unconsciously something told me they were the footprints of our Brother
Alburtus who but a few days before had disappeared again from the
community so that at the time in my own trouble I had paid little heed
to his absence.

As I went on, the tracks, showing clearly in the deep snow, left the
lowlands for the hills, winding in and out among rocks and trees and
bushes all the time going higher and higher into the mountains; and now
and then I would see a little trampled space as if the unknown one had
paused for a moment to rest, or, perhaps, to look down over the
beautiful, snow-covered valley.

In this wise I went on and on until finally I was way up in the
mountains that range themselves to the south of our Kloster grounds and,
indeed, occasionally through the openings in the trees I could see Mount
Sinai and the towers and roofs of our little monastery.

I believe I had gone but a short distance beyond my last view over the
valley when suddenly I turned about sharply to my right whence I thought
I heard a low moan. My next thought was that my fancy had played some
trick on me, but as I stood in complete silence looking about in every
direction I heard again this same sound as of one in pain, and as I
pushed forward I noticed that the footprints turned toward the direction
of the sound and I saw a large rock in front of me, the snow on it
displaced and disturbed here and there as if some one had mounted it. I
was about to scale the slippery height when again I heard the moaning
sound so near I thought it must almost be at my feet and yet I could see
nothing; but a moment later as I broke through a thicket I started
back horrified to see at one side of this great rock the cloaked form
of our Brother Alburtus prostrate in the snow.

  [Illustration: "Again I spake to him. 'Dost not know me,
  Brother Alburtus?'" Page 243.]

Then as I rushed to him and lifted his head on my arm I saw the blood
rushing freely from a long cut directly across his brow so that I might
have thought the scar he so long carried had been opened by the force of
some fall. I could see too, he had not been hurt long, for the blood
flowed too freely for that. With the pity and horror in my heart was
also a strong feeling of guilt that we had so carelessly let our brother
leave us without following and protecting him in his aimless wanderings.

When first I lifted up his head I saw that he was unconscious, but I
wiped away the blood as best I could and bound the ugly wound with
pieces from my cloak, and then rubbed his face with snow. After a long
while he opened his eyes and looked at me wonderingly.

"'Tis thy Brother Jabez," I said gently; but he only looked at me with
meaningless gaze, his hands lying so still and helpless it would have
rejoiced me to see him rub them together as of old.

Again I spake to him, "Dost not know me, Brother Alburtus?" But still he
seemed not to regard my words, and leaving him for a brief space,
fearing his lying in the snow would be his death even if the wound would
not, I brake from the trees and bushes about me armful after armful of
twigs and branches making a bed of them on the southern side of the rock
where he would be sheltered from the cold winds and we could catch the
warmth of the sun shining down through the trees. Then I dragged him
tenderly upon his rough bed making him as comfortable as I could,
rubbing his hands to warm them and then putting them within his cloak so
they might not freeze, during all of which he seemed not to pay the
slightest attention to me.

After a long wait he tried to lift his head, and I said to him, "Art
feeling better, Brother Alburtus?" whereat he looked at me in great
wonderment and said weakly, "Dost not know me, Thomas? Where am I? What
is wrong with my head?"

"He mistaketh me for our Brother Thomas," thought I, and so I said
smiling to him, "Nay, 'tis Brother Jabez; thou hast wandered from our
Kloster and hast fallen from this high rock, Brother Alburtus."

But he only glared at me as he replied in such weak anger that my heart
smote me, "Why dost thou torment me so, Thomas? Thou knowest I am David
Seymour, thy own brother!"

"What meaneth he?" thought I to myself; "surely his hurt hath taken his
mind from him so he knoweth not he is Brother Alburtus." Thinking it
best to humor him I spake gently, "Yes, 'tis thy brother; what aileth
thee?" To which he answered feebly, "The tree hath fallen on my head;
take me to the cabin to 'Lisbeth and the baby."

"Surely," thought I, "we know not what we say when the mind is wrong,"
but still thinking it better to humor him I merely said, "Yea, as soon
as help cometh we shall carry thee to them," whereat he smiled
gratefully and lay back more contentedly.

But though I sat and shivered by the side of our brother for hour after
hour, sheltering him from the cold with my cloak, I could see as the
afternoon wore on, and his sighing and groaning grew fainter and weaker,
that his days were numbered, and so with the sun's setting behind the
hills to the other side of the valley, there was opened for our
brother's coming, not the door of his humble cabin but instead the
ever-shining gates of those mansions beyond the skies He hath prepared
for his well-beloved children.

But now that the spirit of our brother had left its earthly prison
house, I stood for a few moments and prayed earnestly that his soul
might see clearly that which on earth had been shown darkly as through a
glass, to our bewildered brother.

Then it came to me like a great shock, what was to be done with his
body? At first, it seemed to me I could not let it lie in these cold,
dreary mountains. And yet I could not unaided bear him to the Kloster.
Neither was I certain I could find my way back on the morrow with the
Brethren, for these hills were utterly strange to me. And yet, for such
was my faith, though it may seem harsh to some, why could he not rest
here as well as anywhere else? The imperishable, immortal soul had gone
to its Maker; that which remained was merely the earthly shell that
would mix with the elements, no matter where buried.

Much against my will I finally persuaded myself I must leave him in this
wild, lonely spot. But I could not leave him exposed to the winds and
the rain and the beasts of the woods, and yet I had nothing to dig up
the hard frozen ground to make him a grave. And then just as I was about
to give up in despair thinking I could do no better than cover him with
brush, I saw a short distance farther up the mountain two long rocks,
meeting at one end, but spread out at the other like a sharp angle, the
opening toward me. Like a flash it came to me I could enrich these rough
rocks by using them as a resting-place for Brother Alburtus.

I hastened up the hill and swept and scraped the snow out from between
the rocks, making a bed of twigs on the hard earth. But it was no light
task getting the great form of our brother up that steep slope, and more
than once it seemed I must give up. But at last I did get him lying
snugly between the two huge stones. Then I made a roof over him by
laying heavy branches across the rocks, on top of the branches placing
such heavy stones as I could loosen from the hard ground. In this manner
I also closed up the end of my brother's death _Kammer_, and to help me
find the spot, should I have call to revisit it, I rolled a large stone
at the upper end of the little vault, and after a last prayer for the
soul of our sainted brother, I left, sad at heart, but rejoicing I had
been able to do these last honors for our dead.

It was dark when I started down the mountains and so rough and slippery
was the way I had many a fall ere I reached the foot; but the longest
and most toilsome way hath nevertheless an end, and though the night was
well on when I reached my cell, I arrived none the less, safe and sound,
only that our brethren were greatly alarmed at my absence, fearing I too
had been captured by the Indians.

At the midnight meeting I recounted to my brethren the doings of the
day, the death of Brother Alburtus, but not saying anything of his last
words, requesting rather consideration as to what should be done with
his body. As the greater part of us thought nothing could be done while
the way was so rough and slippery with rocks and snow, we decided to let
our brother rest for the time at least in his strange grave; but we held
special services in his memory and in his cell we hung, as was our
custom, a tablet, on which were inscribed in beautiful letters by the
Sisterhood the words:

"Blessed in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."



CHAPTER XXII

SONNLEIN TAKETH THE ORDEAL

    There are more things in heaven and earth than are
    dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.

        --Shakespeare.


Over a month had passed away since the death of our Brother Alburtus and
his lonely burial far up in the mountain. My brethren, though at first
of a mind to bring him to our little graveyard in the meadow, at last
reluctantly came to my way of thinking that he should be left to rest
undisturbed where I had laid him.

Often as the days came and went I wondered what Sonnlein would say when
he returned, to find his dear Brother Alburtus gone. Oftener still in
those dreary days I would ponder and puzzle over the dying words of our
brother. I could understand how by the great shock of his fall he did
not know me, for I had seen more than once what a misty veil cometh over
the sight of the dying so that they know not at all even their most
beloved ones. But what I could not solve was why he called himself by a
name I had never heard before. Was David Seymour his own, right name or
the name of some friend of earlier days, and did our brother in his last
moments imagine himself that other one? And 'Lisbeth and the baby, were
these wife and child, or merely long-buried memories of acquaintances
revived in the very shadow of death? With all my pondering and puzzling
I could not solve the matter, and gradually it left me, though never
wholly cast aside.

Indeed, with the wandering away of our Brother Alburtus and his dying up
in those lonely mountains, and the loss of our Genoveva and my boy, my
cup of woe was well-nigh running over. The winter was now on the wane,
almost three months having elapsed since Sister Genoveva and Sonnlein
had gone, and still we knew no more than when they left us; for though
our justice kept me and our little Kloster in most affectionate
remembrance, I receiving many letters from him in all his great work and
responsibility, yet he had nothing to tell us other than not to lose
faith and courage; and for this we loved him, even though he gave us no
knowledge of our lost ones.

But surely it is cowardly and ungrateful in man or woman to complain
because the infinite Father doth not always explain to our narrow,
little minds why and wherefore he doeth this or that, for I have ever
found that if one will but possess his soul in patience and cease
repining and keep on doing his work all will come out right in the end.

So on a beautiful moonlight night, after I had retired to my _Kammer_,
shortly after the midnight services and had fallen into my usual sound
sleep, I felt, or at first dreamt I felt, a shaking of my arm; but as I
was about to turn over in my drowsy state, I received another shake of
the arm, this time so decided I no longer doubted I was awake. As I sat
up more frightened than I care to tell, I saw bending over me a
form--surely it could not be! but then as I heard my boy call me,
"_Vaterchen_," with such sadness and despair and weariness in his voice
as I thought would make my heart burst with very pity for him, I clasped
him in my arms and kissed him and wept over him as some mother over a
long-lost child. Such a simpleton was I, as all will agree, and yet I
doubt not I should do the same thing over again were there similar
occasion for it.

I know not to this day whether or not my boy wept, but his voice was
soft and gentle as a woman's as he said to me, "I could not wait till
morning."

"If thou hadst let me sleep till morning and not know of thy coming I
would never have forgiven thee," I assured him joyfully, holding him by
the arms. And then I turned toward the door of my _Kammer_, and was
opening it when he said, "Where art going? Surely thou'rt not tired of
me so soon?"

"Nay, to tell our leader and the Brothers and Sisters of thy return. It
were selfish to keep all this great joy to myself," and again I turned
toward the door, first lighting my fat lamp; but then as the flame grew
up I saw my boy was so faint and weak he would have fallen to the floor
had I not caught him to me and helped him to my bench, making him as
easy as our hard life would allow.

And surely I was well repaid for what I had suffered in all these
months; for as I lay down on the floor of my cell--not finding it to my
liking to let him go to his own--he whispered tenderly before he dropped
off to sleep, "Thou'rt the same old _Vaterchen_;" and this praise, with
my poor weakness for kind words, I held snug and warm in my heart for
many a year.

Thus we both slept long into the morning, only for once in my life I
slept not so soundly; for I could hear that Sonnlein was tossing and
murmuring in his sleep, contrary to his former habit, for like me he had
always been good at sleeping.

With the bright light of the morning I saw plainly now what his voice
and bearing had told me but faintly in the night; for as he lay asleep,
stirring often uneasily I could see that he was but a mere skeleton, his
face gaunt and haggard, with great hollows under the deep set eyes, and
the beard he had let grow was tangled and unkempt. A sudden fear
clutched my heart that he had come home but to die.

But truly the healing powers God hath placed in these bodies of ours are
wonderful things to set us straight if they be given a chance to work in
peace and quiet; for though I must spread the joyful news of Sonnlein's
return to our leader and all the Brethren, not forgetting the Sisters,
who were of a mind to make a great hero of my boy, and though the
Brethren passed my cell more quietly than ever often during the day, not
one with all the desire to give him greeting would disturb his rest; for
he slept on until evening, not even waking ere then to take the lamb's
broth our prioress had prepared for him.

But early in the night he sat up, and said, "Such a sleep have I not had
for many a day."

"Art not hungry?" I asked anxiously, "shall I not warm this lamb's broth
Mutter Maria hath made for thee?"

"Blessings on our good Mutter Maria!" he cried out with some return of
his old, fun-loving spirit, "but if thou lovest me," he said, as he
gulped down greedily the broth--and I dislike hasty feeding--"bring me
the lamb itself, for I am hungry as a wolf."

And, indeed, when I did coax our good prioress to give me such a load of
things as she declared was not safe to give him, it did seem to me as
though I had food enough for ten men; but he merely smiled when I
cautioned him against eating all this stuff, and in less time than I can
tell it he had actually eaten up everything so clean not a crumb was
left, so that I had not been surprised had he lifted the dishes to his
face and licked them off, as he had often done in his childhood.

Thus for a few days I made him take abundance of rest and sleep, and
between the Sisters and me he suffered not for food, but I refrained
from asking anything of his absence, thinking it better to wait until he
were more himself again.

But one evening, as we were sitting in my _Kammer_, about a week after
his return, neither of us saying a word for a long while--for with all
his lively nature he was never so garrulous as I--not being able to curb
my curiosity longer, I finally asked him, "What hast thou learned of our
Sister Genoveva?"

"Nothing," he replied sadly, "though I have sought everywhere for her."

"Hast been among the Indians?"

"Yea, and more than one of the French devils hath gone to his long
home," he replied savagely.

"Hast been among the Conestogas?" these being a peaceful Indian tribe
living in a little town or village not many miles beyond Lancaster,
toward the Susquehanna.

"I went there straight on leaving thee, for that way pointed the
footprints."

"Could the Conestogas tell thee nothing?"

"Nay, could not or would not--I know not which--though a half-witted one
whispered to me when he thought none could hear, that he knew where the
white sister was; but on pressing him for fuller knowledge he merely
pointed back toward the northeast, whence I had come, saying, 'Up, high,
with old woman,' but I paid no great heed to him, for he was not right
in his head."

"That night what didst thou make of the footprints?"

"One was Genoveva's, that was plain to be seen; the largest, an Indian
warrior's; the third, a squaw's or young Indian lad's, I have never made
up my mind which," and then he said nothing more for a long while, but
at last he looked at me suddenly, saying as though much puzzled, "Would
that I knew what the half-witted one meant; it hath been with me day and
night lately, so that I had no other will in me than to come back, for
it is in my mind that Genoveva, if she be still alive, is not far away."
After a bit he looked up at me as though he were ashamed to ask, "Dost
believe, _Vaterchen_, that if she be nigh her spirit hath called me
back?"

To which I could only say, "I know not, though there be among us who
claim they have had such communication, both with the living and the
dead."

And then in all the simpleness of a boy he asked, "Dost think our sister
was caught up into the heavens like Elijah?"

Ere I knew what I was saying I replied with some heat, for his question
seemed like blasphemy to me, "Nay, nay, Elijah was a saint!"

"Dost mean Genoveva was not good enough to be taken up like old Elijah?"
he cried out angrily at me, as he had never yet spoken to me.

"Quietly, my Sonnlein, quietly; my reply meant not that I think not
highly of our sister; but though we have holy writ that Elijah was
translated, yet there have been, as thou knowest, many good men and
women since that time who have had to go to heaven by way of the gates
of death. I do not think our Genoveva was taken up to heaven, and in
this I mean no disrespect."

But he heeded not the gentle reproof in my voice, and after a while he
asked, "Dost believe in the state of innocence taught by Brother
Onesimus and his brethren while they were with us, and of whom thou hast
told me so often?"

"Nay, I ne'er had much faith in their heathenish practices," I replied
shortly.

Still he persisted, "They who pass through the ordeal of purification
come forth with limitless vision and with mental powers unbounded."

"Who hath infected thee with this disease?" I asked crossly.

"I remember now that the day before Genoveva was taken from us Brother
Benno, who was one of the thirteen that took the ordeal--and thou hast
said thyself he was of the number--told me that since he had been
purified he had often spoken to the spirit of his dead mother, and hath
from here even seen his brother, who liveth in the _Vaterland_."

"Brother Benno is an exceedingly pious man," was all I could say.

"Dost not believe he speaketh the truth?"

"To the contrary I should be the last to doubt his word; but in my short
stay on earth I have heard pious men and women tell of things which to
my thick understanding were not possible. It never seemed to me that man
or woman could in the short space of forty days attain to physical and
spiritual perfection. What I have seen of my fellow-man compelleth me to
hold that even the longest lifetime is much too short for the making of
ourselves in any wise so much as near perfect."

But he only replied slowly, as if not convinced, "Still Brother Benno
may be right; at least it can do no harm to try."

"Try what?" I said very quietly to hide my dread his remark had put in
me.

"The ordeal. I have tried everything else. This one thing remains for me
to do."

To which I made stern answer, "All this nonsense cometh from the Evil
One; thou art tired, discouraged, worn out in body and spirit. Rest for
a few days, and with new strength and courage thou wilt have no
inclination for such foolishness."

To which he made no reply, but I could see his mind was, with all his
love for me, set on going through this pernicious thing. And that it may
be known why I dreaded this ordeal, which I hoped after the Eckerlings
left us would never be undergone again by any of us, I shall set forth
the manner in which the neophyte sought first physical regeneration, in
order that he might be properly prepared for moral regeneration, and
thus attain perfection.

This was the way of it: the seeker for perfection must with a single
attendant retire to a hut or cave in the forest on the night of the full
moon in the month of May, and for forty days live thus secluded in
fasting and prayer. No drink was allowed other than rain water which had
fallen during the month of May. This and dry bread crusts were all the
nourishment the neophyte could have. After being weakened by such rigid
fasting for sixteen days, on the following day the recluse, that his
physical nature might be further subjugated, had several ounces of blood
taken from him, after which certain white drops were administered,
though what their composition I never cared to know, only it was not
poisonous, and for this remnant of good sense I give cheerfully to the
originators of this iniquitous ordeal their proper dues.

Six drops of this elixir, which was prepared only by adepts, were taken
at night and a like quantity mornings, the dose being increased by two
drops a day until the thirty-second day when some more blood was drawn
upon the rising of the sun, the seeker for perfection then retiring to
his couch to remain there until the completion of the forty days.

At sunrise of the following day, being the thirty-third, the first grain
of _materia prima_ was to be taken, this being the universal and
invisible principle out of which God made all things and which he had
created to confer immortality upon man when first made in paradise, but
which substance, by reason of man's fall, was lost to the race, only to
be thereafter obtained by favor of such adepts as were within the
highest circles of the Rosicrucian brotherhood.

My hope is that they who may care to read this tale will have more
patience in the reading of this Rosicrucian folly than I have had in the
writing of it; for surely, whenever I think of this worst of all
wickedness inflicted on us by the Eckerlings, it requireth all the
Kloster restraint and moderation to keep me from strong and strange
words.

But spiteful words seldom cure things, so I shall tell of this _materia
prima_; for such was its power that the moment the neophyte took it he
lost all speech and recollection. Three hours later convulsions and
heavy transudation set in. After these subsided, the serving Brother
changed the couch and a broth made from lean beef and sundry herbs was
given. On the next day another grain of the _materia prima_ was taken,
in a cup of this broth, after which in addition to the convulsions and
transudations a delirious fever would set in, which ended with a
complete loss or shedding of the skin, hair, and teeth of the subject.

On the thirty-fifth day a bath of a certain temperature was given the
neophyte and on the following day the third and last grain of the
_materia prima_ was taken in a cup of precious wine, after which the
seeker fell into a gentle, undisturbed sleep, during which a new skin
appeared, and also the hair and teeth shed two days before were
miraculously renewed. On his awakening he was placed in an aromatic herb
bath.

On the thirty-eighth day of the ordeal an ordinary water bath in which
saltpeter had been dissolved was taken, the votary then resuming his
habit and exercising his limbs, and on the following day ten drops of
the elixir of life, or "grandmaster's elixir" or "balsam" were
administered in two large spoonfuls of red wine.

The fortieth day ended the period of perfection, and the votary being
now restored to the state of innocence man had before the fall, left his
hut or cell with the power to lengthen his earthly existence to the
limit of five thousand five hundred and fifty-seven years, in perfect
health and contentment.

After this came the forty days moral regeneration, which if successfully
passed, gave the seeker power to communicate with the spirit world.

Small wonder that I was strongly set against this perilous and utterly
foolish thing. But I found the next day Sonnlein was stubbornly resolved
he would undergo it; and though I had great comfort in the thought that
it wanted some months ere May were here, yet, even this solace was
quickly denied me, as he declared his intention of suffering the
purification at once. To this even our poor, benighted Brother Benno
objected, for he held that the slightest deviation from the prescribed
particulars of the process would render the whole without avail.

But as Sonnlein declared he would go off in the woods and take the
ordeal himself--and I knew in his sicklied state he would do so--Brother
Benno and I finally compromised with the stubborn youth by going to
"Ararat," the second floor of Zion, where Sonnlein took one of the
thirteen cells for himself while Brother Benno and I each took an
adjoining cell.

Here in this deserted old chapter house, relic of the pride and folly of
the poor Eckerlings, we lived all alone for almost a week, and never in
my life was week longer; for though Brother Benno and I attended all the
services, yet the solicitude of the Brothers and Sisters was such--they
believing that we had moved Sonnlein to the hill for purer air in his
illness--that Brother Benno and I were not permitted to do any of our
usual work.

This, indeed, suited our purpose most opportunely, for Brother Benno
desired to keep constant watch over the treatment, while I was resolved
to keep strict watch over my boy's safety.

Thus the first day, the second, and the third and even the fourth, and
the fifth day passed, during all of which I was not permitted once to
see my boy. Nor did I even hear anything, for Brother Benno and Sonnlein
dared not so much as exchange a word. Only that on every opportunity I
would seek Brother Benno and in a whisper, so my boy could not hear,
would I get report of him, Brother Benno invariably saying Sonnlein was
a most obedient votary and that he was in good health, though weak. Thus
I allowed myself to become a sharer in this wicked thing.

But on the night of the fifth day, after coming from our midnight
devotions, Brother Benno having given me his usual favorable report, I
sought repose in my cell, though it seemed as I lay awake for a long
time I could hear Sonnlein turning uneasily in his cell and murmuring
continually in a great fever. Then for a long while all was quiet only
that I thought I could hear him breathing heavily in his sleep.
Reassured by this I dropped off into a heavy sleep, for in my anxiety I
had kept vigil in my _Kammer_ almost every night. It seemed to me I had
not slept long, but I know now I slept almost until daybreak, when in my
sleeping I heard a rumbling like thunder and then as a flash of
lightning illumined my narrow cell, followed closely by a crash of
thunder--for such storms have we at times even in winter--I jumped up
fully awake and shaking like a leaf, though I never feared much the
noise of thunder. And then without knowing what I was doing and heedless
of Brother Benno's injunctions, I rushed into Sonnlein's cell, my heart
almost standing still as I noted in all the darkness that he was gone!

I rushed madly for Brother Benno's cell, but my agitated steps had
roused him from his slumber, and as I met him in the corrider I clutched
him so that he shrank from me in fear as I howled at him, "Sonnlein, my
boy, where is he?" and then ere my startled brother could reply I heard
from down the meadows, mingling with the crashing and rumbling of the
thunder Sonnlein's voice crying out again and again, "Genoveva!
Genoveva!"

I know not how I got out of Zion or whether or not Brother Benno was
following as I darted down the hill for the Cocalico, once in a flash of
lightning imagining I saw my boy plunge into the creek for the other
side. But though I ran to the spot in all the darkness and the storm and
though I rushed wildly through the stream, and into the woods on the
farther side, all the while crying out his name, I had no reply, and at
last feeling now as though I had indeed more than I could bear, I
returned half-dazed to my cell in Bethania, not wishing ever again to
set foot in that house of evil on the hill.

Brother Benno informed all the Brothers and the Sisters that Sonnlein
had wandered away in his sickness and though everybody in the Kloster
and also the good neighbors sought most earnestly and lovingly, even
wading the icy creek for him, thinking most likely he had been drowned,
naught of anything was found of my boy.



CHAPTER XXIII

A MIDNIGHT VISIT

    In the meantime the wants of the body are also to be restrained
    and attention given so that the voice become angelic,
    heavenly, pure, and clear, and not strong and harsh, by a
    coarseness of food, and consequently prove valueless. But to
    gain the right tone, so that no unseemingly harsh screeching
    and creaking be heard in place of the proper melody.

        --Brother Beissel.


Surely God's ways for setting things right are not the ways of man's
narrow wisdom! How often doth he take the lowly, simple, and even
hideous things of earth to confuse the lofty and the wise whose faith
and love have been weakened with much learning.

A number of weeks had gone by since Sonnlein had been swallowed up in
the wilds, for in truth he could not have left less trace of himself
than if the earth had opened up and engulfed him; but finally the
mystery was solved, and if I come slowly to the mark I humbly ask the
forgiveness of all those who are not inclined to wait patiently for an
old man's laggard step. Thus it came about. From the very founding of
our Kloster we paid great attention to music, especially singing, and I
would that I had time and space to write fully about the system of music
invented by our leader, with the assistance of one of our housefathers,
Ludwig Blum, who was a master singer and also versed in composition.

But as we had been careful in everything else to conform as little as
possible to the spirit of the world, instead shaping ourselves in
everything to the heavenly spirit, so also it was in respect to singing.
As hath been said, "_Musicam divini quid spirare_," if she sounds out
the praises of the Most High, for which purpose she is solely
calculated; so that we like not to see her noble character abused by
theatrical diversions and her heavenly sweetness marred by their curled
compositions; for it is well known they sometimes dwell two minutes on
one syllable which is nothing else than a great nonsense. We also held
it to be a great mistake to join all sorts of instruments with vocal
music, without consideration, thereby eclipsing the dignity of the human
voice; for the human voice is a most noble instrument, by which man may
reveal his most intimate recesses; for when God made himself known in
his created work he spake the word, "Let there be light," and surely it
was far more sublime than if it had been announced with a flourish of
braying instruments.

For this reason we at Ephrata did not concern ourselves greatly about
instrumental music, though indeed, when our superintendent prepared our
system of music he knew very little except some notes which he had
learned on the violin; but such was our leader's genius and his
independence of spirit and energy that instead of borrowing anything
from the so-called masters he took his style from the music of nature,
our singing, in a word, being an imitation of the Æolian harp.
Naturally, 'twas a style very peculiar, as the worldly minded regard
things, in concords and execution, the tones issuing from the choir like
very soft instrumental music and carrying such a sweetness and softness
and spirit of devotion as seemed almost superhuman to the listener.

To carry out this idea of the Æolian harp, the music was set in two,
four, five, and sometimes even seven parts. All these, save the bass,
which was set in two parts, high and low, were led and sung exclusively
by the females, the men's voices resembling the deep tones of the organ
and in combination with one of the female parts producing a contrast
which was an excellent imitation of the hautboy.

And in the perfection of this heavenly art we spent much time and
labor, for we felt that we were no greater than the angels, who
themselves when they sang at the birth of Christ had to make use of such
rules as we employed; and for that we held music was truly an angelic
art our leader gave us very many rules, especially as to our diet, for
the refining of our voices. The Brothers and Sisters being formed into
different singing classes, were each put upon a distinct diet with the
intention so to affect the vocal cords and mold them that they would
give forth the required pitch assigned to each class.

Thus the diet for the bass singers was entirely different from that of
the tenors, while the second bass and the baritone varied as greatly as
that selected for the soprano and the alto, and it being absolutely
necessary to know what sorts of foods quicken the spirit and make the
voice subtle and thin and to the contrary make the voice coarse and
sluggish and heavy, our leader took great care that all those selected
to sing should abstain from the use of foods which in great injustice
man is accustomed to take from the animals, such as milk, which causeth
one heaviness and uneasiness; and cheese which maketh one fiery and
hot-brained; and butter, which maketh one so lazy and stolid one desires
neither to sing nor pray; and eggs, which awaken various and evil
desires; and even honey was forbidden, for as our brother held that
though this sweet essence of the flowers causeth light eyes and a
cheerful spirit, it maketh the voice not clear.

Even among the vegetables we had not free scope, for beans came under
the ban as being too weighty a food and making one heavy in spirit; but
above all things our leader held that the spirit of this art since it is
of such virgin purity can suffer no love between man and woman; for love
in young hearts inflames them so exceedingly as to make the sufferers
entirely unfit in mind and heart and voice and spirit. And, indeed, to
this extent I agree fully with our leader, that people in love are not
only useless for music but for almost everything else.

As to drink, our brother taught it had been settled long ago that in the
straight path there is naught hath greater righteousness than the
innocent, pure water just as it comes from the well, or made into soup
to which a little bread was added. Otherwise, all cookery whereby water
is deprived of its beneficent nature and changed by unseeming art into a
sort of delicacy our leader ever regarded as sinful, an abomination of
abominations.

After our leader had assumed the rôle of _Capellmeister_, singing
schools were held upon certain evenings in the Sister House, the
sessions lasting four hours, during the third, fourth, and fifth, and
sixth hours, corresponding in wordly time from eight o'clock to
midnight; and so on this night, the brethren being in snow-white
garments, which our ruler insisted upon as representing the necessary
purity of heart and mind, he himself strictly adhering to this, met us
as usual at the low doorway of Bethania and led us in long procession to
the Sister _Saal_, the Sisters proceeding thither from Saron in the same
manner, led by the prioress. The Brethren as usual took their places,
being divided in their respective classes about their proper tables on
the floor of the _Saal_ while the Sisters took the places set apart for
them behind the latticed galleries above.

It was seldom we sang through an entire session of these evening schools
that some brother or sister did not receive a severe scolding from our
leader; for he ruled these classes with an iron hand, so that often
there were bitterest dissensions where all should have been peace; for
at the slightest sign of levity or frivolity there would descend upon
the offender such an avalanche of rebukes and scoldings as were, indeed,
hard to bear even by the meekest of us.

This night was no exception, for though we sang our hymns one after the
other in the utmost peace and order until after the fifth hour (eleven
o'clock), suddenly the storm came, for our sisters Keturah and Priscano,
being so busily engaged in some, I doubt not, trivial talk, noted not as
another hymn had been taken up and was passing around the hall from one
class to the other, that their response had come, and forgat utterly to
sing, so that we all were fairly amazed, and sat with bowed heads for
the blast we knew would sweep over us; and instantly it came, so
fiercely that if one had not known our leader it might have been thought
he were a man of the most violent and unchecked passions.

I had often heard him scold, and, indeed, had more than once felt the
force of his temper in that I had never much voice for singing, and more
than once was I rebuked for singing out of tune, which to our leader was
as great an hurt as if one had stuck him with a sword, but this night so
outrageous was the affront our poor sisters had given him he fairly
seemed beside himself with righteous rage, so that, looking up at him
out of the corner of my eye, his figure with all its insignificance of
size seemed truly majestic.

I know not how long we had been compelled to sit there shivering and
cowering like disobedient children, when suddenly we heard a voice, to
me familiar enough, from the rear of the hall near the doorway, cry out
half-sneering, half-snarling, "Thou fool!" Then as we all turned about,
frightened almost beyond the telling by this unearthly voice, we saw
crouching in the dark shadows about the doorway the form of her whom,
though unknown to the rest, I knew well to be my old enemy, the witch;
but from the terrified Sisters huddled together in the galleries and
from the awe-struck Brothers below not a hand or voice was lifted
against the apparition, even our fiery little leader for the once
forgetting his anger and his fearlessness, making the sign of the cross
on his breast as he shrank back from the menacing shape at the other end
of the _Saal_.

For what seemed an age she stood there glaring at us. Then she
straightened up straighter than I had ever seen her, and there was in
her voice such unusual sadness and dignity and lack of hate I greatly
marveled as she cried out, even pityingly, "Ye poor fools, to fear him,"
pointing her long finger at our leader, and then, breaking out more
fiercely, she snarled, "How many homes have been destroyed by his false
teachings! Oh, thou needst not threaten me, a poor, weak, crazy woman,
thou brave giant!" she sneered at me as I started forward with menacing
mien.

"What dost thou here?" and then a sudden thought flashed through me, our
leader and all the brothers and sisters marveling greatly at this show
of spirit in their meek Brother Jabez as I cried out boldly, "What hast
done with our sister, thou she-devil?"

And then she forgot all her brief softness as she screeched back at us,
"Ye fools, now ye know what it is to have one stolen from ye," and then
she snarled defiantly, "Come and get your sister if ye can, ye
women-men!" and with this she rushed out of the doorway, leaving us
utterly bereft of our wits.

But then I leaped for the doorway, our leader crying out, "Hold him; the
witch will kill him!" but I shook off savagely the hands of the Brothers
trying with great love of me to hold me back from pursuing the grisly
shape, for now I was on fire with the resolve to follow and learn once
for all where this being held herself and who she was.

Although the early part of the night had been dark, I saw as I burst out
of the doorway that the moon had come up, making the Kloster grounds as
bright as day, so that I had no difficulty in seeing the fleeing figure
skirting the foot of Mount Sinai and speeding down the meadows along the
Cocalico. I doubt not I could have quickly overtaken her, but such was
not my purpose. I had but one thought now and that was to follow her to
her retreat, and, having this in view, I rejoiced that the moonlight
showed plainly the form of the witch. But the moonlight, if a help in
this way, was a hindrance in that if she looked back she could not but
see me even though I took advantage of the shadows of every bush and
tree.

Somehow I was not at all surprised that she followed the course of the
creek to the very spot where Sonnlein and I had crossed that night; but
surely she would not attempt to pass over on the thin ice that still
lingered on the pool ending at that stony beach where the swift stream
had weeks ago worm away its icy covering! And yet so feather light did
she skim over the thin, treacherous surface, and with such gliding,
ghostlike ease, I was almost minded to give up the chase, fearing,
though I had never believed such vulgar tales, she might fly away on a
broomstick, or through some other hocus-pocus elude me and I make all my
desperate endeavor for naught. And for all I knew she might, if pressed
too hard, turn on me and change me into some vile beast, for I had heard
of such things.

But not for long did I hesitate by reason of these childish fears. There
was no turning back now, come what might. I placed one of my heavy feet
delicately on the thin ice, and, then bearing on it my weight more
heavily, I went through to my knees, almost falling full length into the
pool, for the ice would not begin to hold my great weight.

There was but one way left, and, fearing I would lose sight of her did I
pause longer, I dashed into the swift current below the pool with such
hotheaded recklessness that ere I knew it and with all my slipping and
stumbling I was safely on the other side, and though I wasted no time
then in idle philosophizing, which hath ever been a weakness of mine, I
have often thought since and have come to the conclusion that there be
times when one loseth all by dilly-dallying.

As I shook the water off me like some big dog I plunged into the brush
with the same recklessness I had crossed the creek, though now my wet
garments by their weight and their clinging about my legs impeded my
progress almost beyond endurance; but as I stood panting and almost
choking for breath I saw at no great distance ahead in a little, moonlit
glade, mine enemy, still not looking back, so that I felt relieved to
know she had not yet seen me.

On and on we went in this manner, she seemingly without effort, while I
stumbled and fell repeatedly over rocks and gullies and fallen trees,
yet beyond being severely shaken and bruised I received no great hurts.
Of a sudden, as we reached the foot of the mountain she changed her way,
hitherto toward the southwest, abruptly to the southeast, almost at the
same spot I had come on the footprints of Brother Alburtus that sad day.
She too, now as I continually kept nigh enough to catch sight of her
among the bushes and trees, followed that same winding way up the
mountain side, higher and higher. Once she turned half about and stood
still as though listening carefully, and ere I could hide behind a tree
I thought she saw me, but if so she gave no sign by hastening her
flight, if flight it could be called, for she appeared in no great
hurry. But now and then she would turn sharply about and stand still for
a moment as if listening, and always when I was in plain view.

We had now come nigh to the very spot where I found Brother Alburtus
dying in the snow. Farther up the mountain I could see plainly his rocky
tomb, and then, though I had glanced but a moment aside from my pursuit,
she had completely vanished. I looked about me in every direction, but I
could see naught of her, nor could I as much as hear the faintest sound.
And then as suddenly as though it had come out of the earth, I saw on
the top of that great rock whence our brother had fallen such a sight as
for a moment almost benumbed me with fear; for there standing out clear
in the bright moonlight was the tall figure of some dark being, so that
my first overpowering fear was the witch had suddenly changed her human
shape into that of the Evil One.

For a few moments I stood almost powerless with fear, the forbidding
shape on the rock being also absolutely motionless, with its front
toward me; and then, so that I have often wondered what it was gave me
such unusual boldness, I felt a sudden strength take hold of me and such
a courage as feared naught, as I cried out fiercely, "Be thou Belial
himself, or the son of Belial, I shall fight thee!" and with that I
tore from its earthly fastening a young sapling most like my wrist, and
having twisted off the top I advanced threateningly with my club, at
which the figure on the rock gave a most unearthly screech or howl, such
as for a brief moment chilled my resolution; but on again I went,
yelling back, "Thou mayest spit and snarl all thou hast a mind to, thou
foul one!" as I crossed my breast, knowing that the Evil One ever
feareth the sign of the cross.

Suddenly I saw the right arm of the dread figure draw back, and like a
flash something came hurling at me that would have dashed out my brains
had it not been that He who doth watch over his own had placed between
me and my foe a small branch, light and trifling almost as air, and yet
great enough in his hands to turn aside the missile, so that instead of
catching me fair on my brow, it barely escaped the side of my head.

Tearing my cloak from me and tossing it and my club aside, I dashed
ahead, and ere my foe knew it I was on the rock, and we were in each
others' arms struggling with all our might to hurl the other down, and
if ever I needed the great strength that so often in my life I had been
foolishly ashamed of as being unworthy of my calling I needed it now;
for whatever my antagonist was I speedily found it flesh and blood like
myself; for that he was not burdened with much clothes as was I, my
hold often slipped from his greasy body as we rolled over and over, now
I on top and then he, each grasping for the other's throat or trying to
trip or throw the other down from the rock.

Surely my only salvation now was that in spite of my great love of
books, yet have I ever loved the open air, and in my Kloster life was
never afraid of my share of hard, daily toil, so that e'en now I felt
that my foe, with all his strength and quickness, had not an easy task
cut out for him. Finally I wrenched myself from his hold, and then, both
breathing so hard it was no great difficulty to know we were in deadly
earnest, we stood apart glaring at each other and waiting for returning
strength to renew our fighting.

All the while I kept my eye closely on him, prepared for any sudden
spring or trick that my sly foe might try on me, and now as we stood
there scowling at each other I saw plainly if it were the Evil One he
had assumed the form of an Indian. Neither of us said a word, but all at
once I saw my dark antagonist draw himself together and like a stone
from a catapult hurl himself at me; but that which was meant to
overpower me by its suddenness proved my enemy's undoing, for--and I
believe to this day Providence was with me--an old trick came back to me
I had learned in my student days in the gymnasium, but of which I had no
thought it still were within me.

And thus it was as my foe came flying upon me, I suddenly dropped on one
knee, and ere he knew what I was about, I had caught him with both hands
fairly under his middle, and then with all my power and strength gave
such a mighty upward heave as with his own impulse threw him back over
me so that he landed clean on the other side of the rock, where I heard
him fall with a tremendous crash. And then, so savage is the human
heart, I rushed to the edge of the rock eagerly hoping I had killed him
outright. And, indeed, there he lay still enough, so that I knew whoever
my foe had been, it had not been the evil one, for surely no mere man
could kill Beelzebub.

As my breath and strength returned to me, though for a long time I was
so weak in my limbs I could do little less than totter, I picked up my
cloak and wrapped it about me; but with returning strength came a great
horror that I had killed a human being, and unless one be of a gentle
heart he knoweth naught what awful feeling possessed my soul as I
thought upon my savage deed which, though I had done it in self-defense,
yet seemed to me little less than murder.

For the time all thought of the witch was cast aside, my only fear being
now that I had killed the Indian. I hastened to his side, and though I
found him bleeding from some wound in the head, yet the violently
throbbing heart told me there was life there so that my own heart
leaped up with a great joy and hope I had not killed him; and--praises
be to His name--as I knelt there anxiously waiting for return of sense
to him, my red foe finally came to himself and sat up, holding his
wounded head, which I had now bound up, and rubbing himself about his
back and limbs so that I feared perchance these had been broken; but to
my great joy--for now I thought no more of fearing him--from sitting up,
he gradually, with many gruntings and groanings, stood erect as he could
in all his weakness, and then, as he seemed for the first time conscious
of me, he grunted in broken English, "Big woman-man, big chief; me only
papoose; me go back to Conestogas and be squaw; white chief-woman must
help self," and then before I could speak and ere my scattered wits knew
what all this talk meant, he limped away down the mountain-side and was
soon lost to sight.



CHAPTER XXIV

MINE ENEMY'S HIDING-PLACE

    Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the
    morning.

        --The Bible.


My vanquished foe had hardly disappeared down the mountain when I
recovered sufficiently from my dazed state to recall the witch, who I
feared had escaped me while I was engaged in desperate conflict with the
red man. No man who hath not gone through such adventures can understand
what a weakness and loneliness came upon me way up there in that wild
spot, with no foe to fight or witch to pursue; for surely idleness
afflicts one with many foolish fears and vain imaginings.

I crawled stiffly, now that I had cooled off somewhat, to the top of the
rock and looked carefully in every direction, straining my ears for any
sound of her; but I saw and heard nothing. I fairly groaned in my
childish despair. It seemed to me I must find out this night the haunt
of this sorceress. And then, as I jumped down from the great stone so
heedlessly I almost fell, something leaped out of the dark shadow of the
rock with such suddenness I shrank back trembling like a leaf; but as I
saw, despite my shattered wits, the form of the witch fleeing still
higher up the mountains, I rushed after her with such a vengeful whoop
as startled even myself; but with all my violent efforts she gained
steadily on me, for that she knew the way, dodging in and out among the
trees and bushes with the greatest ease, while I stumbled and fell
repeatedly bruising and tearing my hands and knees almost beyond
endurance.

Yet how truly it hath been said that often victory cometh when we are
ready to give up; for as I was passing a cluster of tall, gloomy looking
pines only a few paces from me, I saw a white-clad figure which as I
advanced cautiously toward it, suddenly rushed forward and ere I could
hinder threw itself into mine arms with a cry that was nigh to weeping,
"Brother Jabez!" As I recovered from my amazement and stepped back into
the moonlight I could hardly believe my senses, not knowing at first
whether it were another trick of the witch; for she who lay so quietly
in my protection was none other than our Sister Genoveva!

But she was not senseless as I first supposed; for in a moment or two
she stood up by herself, though trembling, and said with a great
gladness, "The Lord be praised thou didst overcome thine adversary."
Then with a vanity I trust King David never had, I boasted to my sister,
"Didst see me fight the red man?"

"Yea, and when thou didst throw him so mightily I feared thou hadst
killed him; for I knew thee not until I saw thee leave the rock in such
hot haste after this poor creature."

"Where hath she gone?" I asked eagerly. "I have vowed not to rest until
I track her to her vile retreat, though she take me to the gates of the
lost." And then our sister smiled so brightly I was hurt that she should
feel thus at such a time, as she said, "Wouldst like to see her vile
retreat, as thou callest it?"

"For that and for thee I am here."

Still smiling she said more softly, and it seemed to me almost
teasingly, "Art strong enough to stand a great surprise?"

To which I replied boastfully, "After such a night of surprises can I
endure anything."

With that she took me lightly by the arm and led me into the shadow of
those dark pines and when in the very midst of them, I saw what appeared
to me like one of the cone-shaped houses of poles covered with skins the
red men are wont to live in, only this one was larger than any I had
ever seen before and so hidden by the enfolding branches of the pines
that one might have passed it within a few feet even in daylight without
knowing there were human habitation nigh.

"See," said Sister Genoveva, "this is the vile retreat of her whom thou
callest the witch. 'Tis substantial, I assure thee; 'twill not vanish
into the air."

And then, as she stepped down and lifted aside a flap that gave entrance
to the structure, the moonlight shining through the opening fell full
upon the form of some one lying within, seemingly asleep, just beyond
the glowing embers of a bright fire that spread a soothing warmth
throughout the rude dwelling. As I hung back, not knowing but that I was
under some spell of the witch and that all this enchantment would be my
undoing, Sister Genoveva assured me of herself by pushing me forward
gently, saying, "'Tis not she whom thou hast frightened away by thy
unseemly screeching," and as I still hung back for--I say it to my great
shame--I feared perhaps the witch had changed herself into the form of
our sister to lure me to my destruction, our sister said to me
mockingly, "Surely a fighting man like thee is not afraid!" With that I
stepped forward with a brave showing, for the man that can endure being
called coward by woman is beyond recall.

But then as my feet sank into the soft floor--for it seemed thickly
strewn with the skins of wild animals--the prostrate form moved uneasily
and murmured weakly, "Genoveva," and before she could hold me back I
flung myself down beside my boy, calling to him like one crazy with joy,
"Sonnlein! God be praised for his mercy!" forgetting the witch and
Sister Genoveva, knowing only that in his wonderful way he had brought
me back to my own again.

Best of all he knew me and though I feared the shock of my sudden coming
might increase his illness he soon drove away my fears by saying, with
such simple faith, and the tenderness illness often brings even to men,
as made me more wickedly vain than ever, "I knew thou wouldst come."

Much had we to say to each other after all our grievous trials, for
Sonnlein would talk against all the admonishing from Sister Genoveva,
and once when she insisted more firmly than before that he cease talking
and go to sleep he retorted softly, slyly winking at me--though I detest
winking--"Surely thou art not going to scold me ere we are married?"

"Married!" I burst forth, "much time hast had to make love if thou hast
been sick since thou left us, and I doubt not thou hast been nigh to
death."

But he merely smiled more wickedly than before as he said, "When a man
is too old or too sick to make love 'tis time for him to die, and I
feel not like dying, I assure thee."

So long as he had such nonsense in him I knew he was not in any critical
illness. Indeed, Genoveva declared he was gaining so rapidly she knew
not what to do, for that he was all the time promising she must be his
wife so soon as he were well.

But finally, for with our Kloster discipline still upon us even in all
these wild surroundings, in that we came slowly to what we most cared to
hear, I prevailed upon our sister's modesty--for she would not have it
that she had endured anything unusual--to tell me about her capture and
long stay from us; but she insisted in making so light of all she had
suffered and endured in body and mind that her story was over much too
soon, though Sonnlein fell most ungallantly asleep ere she was half-way
through, greatly tempting me to waken him with the reminder that he was
the one who acted as though he and Genoveva were already married; but no
doubt his illness was adequate apology; for truly no man worthy the
name, so it seemeth to my inexperience, could even wish to sleep while
his lady love were talking to him; though I have heard it stoutly
averred that after marriage a great change cometh over the man so that
he goeth to sleep whenever he feeleth like it even though his _Liebchen_
be talking to him; but this I never could believe.

But it is not seemly that I, a monk, should attempt instruction in love
and marriage, and therefore shall I turn to our sister's tale of her
capture; and very discreetly she said nothing about Sonnlein's meeting
her under the chestnut tree; nor did I think it wise to refer to the
matter for fear--though I never doubted her word--the temptation for
falsehood would be too great; for it hath ever seemed to me a most
dreadful thing that the fair sisters, whom the Lord hath created so like
unto the angels, should ever be guilty of untruth.

But here I am preaching again, as usual, so that it seemeth I shall
never get to our sister's story. Yet now shall I proceed to it without
further deviation. And thus it was: She was sitting under the tree but a
short time after Brother Alburtus had passed her when suddenly some one
from behind grasped her roughly by the arm and as she turned about, in
her first thought believing it had been some jesting one stealing upon
her, she looked up and saw bending over her threateningly the tall form
of a red man, with an evil-looking old woman directly back of him. As
our sister was about to cry for help he made such menacing motions and
gestures that she knew it would be foolish to make resistance; but
instead she went with them as they led the way down Mount Sinai through
the meadows, and along the creek, crossing it where Sonnlein and I had
seen the footprints.

At first their course was to the southwest from the Kloster, and in this
direction they had gone for some miles, and though in the darkness that
soon came upon them they went slowly through the thick woods, the
captors not seeming inclined to be harsh to our sister, yet so oft did
she stumble and the swinging branches strike and sting her face that she
was compelled to stop for rest.

But now, though our sister understood not their speech, the red man and
the old woman seemed to be disputing, the former wanting, our sister
made out, to go back to the mountains, for thus he would point while the
witch would shake her head and beckon to the southwest; but at last she
consented to the red man's persuasion, for suddenly they changed almost
directly about, so that for a moment our sister had the cheering hope
they were going to take her back to the Kloster.

This hope, however, lasted not long, for instead of returning to the
Kloster her captors soon turned toward the mountains. Beyond the
spiteful glances the witch would cast at our sister there seemed no
inclination to injure her; but though the way through the valley had
been rough it was as naught to the unbroken path up the steep hillside
in the darkness of the night, for they had no light, only that the red
man went ahead as freely as though it were midday, with our sister next
to him, and back of her the witch, to prevent escape.

At last they came to the great rock, from whose top a view could be had
down over the valley of the Cocalico. The red man having ascended the
high stone looked long and carefully in the direction of the Kloster.
All at once he called the witch to him and pointed out something of
great interest to both, causing Genoveva to climb upon the rock and look
in the direction he was pointing. She saw now and then a light moving
down from what she guessed to be Mount Sinai toward the Cocalico in the
direction she and her captors had taken, and she doubted not that some
one was coming to her rescue.

But though her hope was again revived it was but for a brief season, for
heavy clouds had gathered after nightfall, and even while yet on the
rock a few scattering drops of rain fell, so that her captors after a
few moments more of careful examination of the valley proceeded up the
hill and led her to this hiding-place. Hardly had they reached its
shelter when the rain came down, and she knew as it came faster and
faster none of us would be able to find their trail.

In this lonely spot she had been all these months with no other
companion than this strange woman, who seldom spoke to our sister, but
would often sit muttering to herself. Sometimes she would leave her
hiding-place, and be gone for days and even weeks at a time, and had it
not been that the red man, who seemed to have a shelter somewhere nigh,
had supplied Sister Genoveva with the flesh of wild animals and other
food she would have starved; for when the witch was absent our sister
had thought to make her escape, but every time before she had gone far
the red man would suddenly appear, and without saying a word lead her
back to the hut.

Nor could she learn from him the reason of her capture and who the witch
was, as he--according to the silent nature of Indians--would say nothing
more than that the witch was friend to his tribe, "Conestogas," had
often taken care of them in sickness, and was regarded by his people as
having wonderful powers.

Thus day after day and night after night she lived here during all the
cold of winter, though snugly enough housed within the shelter of these
pines, that sometimes with all her hope and faith, it seemed she must go
mad; but she never failed, no matter whether rain or snow or biting
cold, to rise at the midnight hour and seek peace and comfort in praise
and prayer. Often she heard the clear tones of the Kloster bell, even at
this far-off height, if the wind were not in the contrary direction, and
saw the cheering lights that shone out from Mount Sinai and from the
wide scattered settlers' huts throughout the valley, so that she felt
not utterly alone in the world.

Then she came to that which she knew I most cared to hear, and that was
how Sonnlein had come to her. And the manner of this has always seemed
to me little less than miraculous, for it is beyond me to explain it
otherwise. All that night that Sonnlein was with Brother Benno and me in
the chapter house, our sister--the witch at that time being in her
hiding-place--could find no rest. It seemed impossible for her to fall
asleep. She held her usual midnight devotions from the rock looking down
toward the Kloster, so that she might feel she were praying with us, and
though this gave her some peace, yet when she returned again to the hut
and lay down to sleep she found no rest; but toward the morning she
finally fell asleep, but only to have it filled with a strange dream;
for it seemed to her she saw Sonnlein lying on a hard couch in one of
our _Kammers_, worn and wasted and suffering from some great illness,
and then suddenly he arose from his couch and rushed from his cell and
out of Zion down over the hill toward the Cocalico, calling her name,
once, twice, a number of times, whereat she struggled to go to him but
could not! She awoke with a great start only to hear a heavy storm
roaring all about her; but though she knew she was awake she still saw,
or imagined she saw, Sonnlein rush through the creek and into the woods
on the other side, as though he were coming directly to her.

At first she tried to shake the matter from her mind as merely a dream,
but she could not do so. Something even against her own persuading
seemed to tell her that Sonnlein was seeking her, that she must go to
meet him, and ere she knew what she was about she found herself outside
the hut, rushing in all the storm down the mountain as fast as she
could, the witch closely following.

Our sister could not tell how long or how far they had gone in this
wild, headlong manner, but they were not far from the foot of the
mountain, when suddenly at no great distance above them, seemingly the
very way they had come, she heard a faint cry, "Genoveva!"

Not knowing whether she were bewitched or really gone mad from all these
months of loneliness, she stood like one dazed; but then again, and even
a third time, she heard her name as though the one calling were going
farther up the mountain. The witch too heard the cry and together they
hastened up the hill, but hearing no longer the calls; and in this wise
they came back again to the great rock, and there, so that she could
hardly believe her own eyes, it now being broad daylight, lay the figure
of a man face downward as though he had fallen that way, who as they
turned him about she saw was Sonnlein.

Here I interrupted our sister most foolishly by asking, "What didst
do--kiss him?" To which unmanly question she made no reply, only that I
feel sure had it not been so dark in the hut, the moon having gone down,
I should have seen exceedingly rich blushings on the face of our dear
sister.

But she and the witch, the latter seeming to have the strength of a man
(and in truth Genoveva was no weakling) carried Sonnlein into the hut,
where he lay for weeks with a raging fever, and though she and the witch
watched over him and nursed him, our sister despaired of his ever coming
to himself again. Had it not been that the witch possessed wonderful
knowledge of the herbs she gathered in the woods and made into physic
for Sonnlein, our sister felt he surely would have died. But for some
reason the witch became greatly devoted to Sonnlein, nursing him as
tenderly as though she were his own mother, sometimes seeming jealous of
our sister, so that until this night the witch had not left the hut
since they had found Sonnlein lying on the rock; but gradually under the
witch's care he had come to himself again, and was now quite strong and
in his own mind, only that he was continually pestering our sister that
she must marry him.

To this I made question, "But being a Rose of Saron thou wouldst not
marry him?"

And to which she replied softly, "So have I oft told him, but he sayeth
he careth naught what I say, that he will marry me whether I have him
or not, and thou hast so spoiled him all his life by letting him have
his own will I fear I can do naught but let him have it in this."

I merely made reply, "May thy reward be great for sacrificing thyself so
willingly to the result of my over-indulgence!" whereat she laughed so
merrily, 'twas like music, for though quick to feel the soft sting in my
retort she was too great-hearted a woman to be hurt at what she knew was
only meant in jest.



CHAPTER XXV

THE END OF THE WITCH

    For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face.

        --New Testament.


Thus we sat and talked until the morning light streaming through the
partially opened entrance to the hut showed me more fully my boy, still
sleeping soundly; and for this we were thankful, knowing how much better
than all physic is the healing power of sleep. I could see now by his
thin face and wasted hands that he had been through a dangerous illness;
but his breathing was so even and there was such absence of fever, I
said gratefully to Sister Genoveva, "Thou hast saved Sonnlein's life."

But she replied, blushing at my praise, "Nay, 'tis to the witch thou
must give thy gratitude. She hath wonderful wisdom with the herbs she
findeth in the woods."

And then for the first time in all these years, it came to me that,
perhaps, I had misjudged this woman whom I held in such abhorrence. 'Tis
an awful thing to think evil of an innocent person!

Suddenly I asked our sister, "How did she treat thee?"

"At first I feared she meant me harm, for she would look at me with an
evil glare as though she felt like killing me; but the red man spake
something to her whereat she seemed less sullen so that I lost fear of
her."

"Thou dost not look as if thou hadst been pining away with fear," I
said, smiling to our sister; for as I glanced at her with such
admiration as made her blush again, I marveled not how my boy could be
so bent on having her to wife; for I had seen him make love to her when
he was in the full flush of health, and if a man when he be well can
feel tenderly toward a woman, how much dearer must she be to him when
she appears in the guise of a ministering angel.

Not that our sister was one of those delicate, etherial ones whom a man
must watch over like some frail flower; for the clear, honest light of
day showed fully what the deceitful moonlight had only half revealed;
the pure, healthful beauty of that graceful, rounded form and sweetly
calm, noble face, so full of womanly strength and character not in the
slightest dimmed or marred by her hard life in this wilderness, far
harder even than the rigorous life of our Kloster; for though this rude
hut were proof enough 'gainst wind and cold and rain, yet I could see
from its meagre furnishings that she had endured more than usually falls
to the lot of woman, so that it came to me, if Sonnlein were set upon
marrying her, surely in all this wide world could he not find a fitter
mate, in body, mind, soul, and spirit, as man and woman should be mated.

But now it came to me I must get Genoveva and Sonnlein home again, for
in this dreadful war with the French and Indians, I knew not what the
witch might do; for though the Conestogas had been accounted a
peace-loving tribe, yet there were many of the white settlers who
charged the Conestogas with secretly assisting the French red men, and
indeed, not many years after this, the Paxton boys killed a number of
Conestogas in their little town.

Much against my will I was compelled to leave our sister and Sonnlein
alone in this unprotected hut, while I with a great joy in my heart that
made me forget my hurts and loss of sleep, tramped down the mountains,
laughing to myself at the good news I should break to my admiring
brothers and sisters.

I arrived at the Kloster while the morning was still young, and reported
briefly to our leader of my having found Sonnlein, saying naught yet to
the Solitary of Genoveva, for I preferred to keep this as another joyous
surprise, and though the Brothers and Sisters were of a mind to make
much of me as one having been snatched from the very jaws of death, not
doubting the witch had killed me, I finally, after each curious one had
heard with more or less fullness of detail of my wonderful experience,
succeeded in getting made a stout litter, and securing eight Brethren as
bearers for Sonnlein.

With me proudly in advance I led my little band of God's warriors, by as
unobserved a way as possible--dreading show and excitement--up the
mountain to the great rock, my brethren walking in silence as usual, but
I know inwardly burning with a great zeal for their loving mission.

For some moments my brethren and I stood on the great rock with its
beautiful outlook over the delightful valley where lay our little
Kloster, and then I told them of how I had found here our Brother
Alburtus and how I had placed him in his stone grave, which I pointed
out to them; nor could I keep my vanity from telling how I had
overthrown my red adversary, so that Brother Hänsly looked at me with
such awe I was not greatly displeased.

Then, at my bidding, my brethren followed me up the hill toward the hut,
my heart now beating hard for fear the witch and her red man had in the
meantime carried our sister and my Sonnlein away again, for everything
seemed so quiet and I saw no sign of Genoveva.

But as we came nigh the clustered pines, being in the lead I caught
glimpses of Genoveva coming toward us, though I said not a word to my
followers until we were almost upon her, who, stepping out suddenly from
behind a bush almost killed my little band with fright, for to many of
the Solitary she had long been held as dead.

Yet as they saw me greet her boldly, they, though still in great
bewilderment, gathered about us, Brother Hänsly, slyly reaching from
behind Brother Theonis, feeling her skirt to make sure she was no
spirit; whereat she had him come to her much as a mother draweth to her
some mischievous, beloved child, so that our diminutive brother's face
reddened like a girl's.

We stood but a few minutes thus when from within the hut, so that my
brothers were given another start, came a low call, "Genoveva," at which
it was her turn to redden like a rose, as she said, "Thy Sonnlein hath
so little patience; he surely is getting well," and as she turned to go
to him we all trooped after her into the hut, almost filling it, each
one greeting Sonnlein with such affection as to make my eyes wet in my
foolish pride that my brethren cared so much for my boy.

And then against all his declaring he would not be carried like some
great baby to the Kloster, we took a number of the skins from the hut
and made a soft couch for him on the litter; but before leaving, we went
where lay our Brother Alburtus, at the relating of whose sudden taking
away Sonnlein and Genoveva were much grieved. And because our brother
had received such unusual burial, it seemed fitting to us ere we
departed to honor his memory by singing and prayer.

Then sadly and silently, with slow and careful steps we carried Sonnlein
safely to the foot of this rugged mountain. Here we rested for a short
time, and then by as unobserved a way as we had come we arrived at the
Kloster early in the afternoon, where we all received such joyful
welcome as I shall never forget, only that there were among the Solitary
some who seemed never fully able to forgive Genoveva for returning to
life after they had so long maintained she had been translated like the
prophets of old.

Sonnlein was at once taken to his cell adjoining mine, in Bethania,
where with the nursing I gave him and with Brother Gideon's physic, not
forgetting the feeding the Sisters and the housemothers, near and far,
insisted he must have, it was not long ere he was up and out and so
continually tagging after Genoveva that our Sisters and not a few of the
Brothers must needs feel greatly scandalized.

But now I must tell of this strange woman whom I in my hasty judgment
had ever thought was of the Evil One.

One day, a few months after the return of Sonnlein and Genoveva, we were
thrown into the greatest alarm by the sudden appearance of a red man
among us one bright spring morning. As he came across the meadow from
down the Cocalico, seeing he was alone I stepped out with Sonnlein from
the timid group of Brothers and Sisters to meet the intruder; but on
seeing me he lost all his pride as he said meekly, "Woman chief dying up
hill, want white rose and sick brother," pointing to Sonnlein, "come see
her," and then he looked at me carefully and said, "Big brother come
too."

Though our leader and many of the Brothers and Sisters sought to
dissuade us from going with the red man, dreading it meant nothing but a
scheme for taking us into captivity, Sonnlein and I, and even Genoveva,
were resolved to go with the savage, for we somehow felt he told the
truth.

Once again we went that long toilsome way to that far-off mountain hut,
and by noon we all were standing within the rude dwelling where lay the
witch dying, as we could clearly see.

At first she seemed so near the dark shore she saw us not, and then as
though she noted neither the red man nor me nor Genoveva, the dying
woman gazed lovingly at Sonnlein, and murmured, "David, my David, thou
hast been away so long"; and then as Sonnlein, obeying some gracious
impulse, knelt down beside her she folded her feeble arms about him,
holding him as though she never would let him go. Outside the birds were
flitting from tree to tree, chirping merrily, as though death and sorrow
never came to them; but else all was so quiet we could hear naught but
the heavy breathing of this poor woman. Great tears stood in our eyes,
even the red man bowing his head sadly for her whom his tribe held in
such high regard.

But with all the solemnity of a soul's leaving its mortal home, my mind
was fixed upon the mystery of the life of her who had always seemed to
me so hideous, but who now in the refining hour of death had lost her
forbidding aspect, so that I could believe that before suffering and
hate had poisoned her whole being she had been a comely woman.

With such thoughts in my mind we watched over her, Sister Genoveva, with
her woman's finer sensibilities, doing all she could to make the end
more easy; but mine enemy--now mine enemy no more--still seemed to see
only Sonnlein, caring for naught else.

Later in the afternoon she passed quietly away like a slowly expiring
lamp; but just a few moments before her soul's flight, the dark veil
that hung between her and the long ago was lifted slightly as we heard
her murmur to Sonnlein: "Charles, where is Charles?" and then she seemed
to wait for some one's coming, but soon forgot her wish, and lay
quietly, her arms slipping from Sonnlein's neck, and we knew her stormy
life was over, and though we had strict views as to who could enter into
the joys of the blessed, yet a fervent prayer went up from my heart that
He who pitieth us as a father pitieth his children, would take her to
him as one of his own.

As Sonnlein arose and looked long and earnestly at the poor handful of
dust lying at his feet, I could see that he too was turning over in his
mind the mystery of this old woman; but he said nothing, and then
Genoveva bent down and brushed back the tangled gray hair and folded the
hands over the now quiet breast and straightened out the already
stiffening form.

But the long May day was drawing to its close, and it came to us that
ere we left we must make proper and respectful burial of the dead. With
the suddenness of a flash of light an overpowering thought came to me
that we should lay her alongside our Brother Alburtus. When I suggested
this to Sonnlein and Genoveva, both, with all their sorrow, rejoiced I
had thought of this, and even the Indian, when our plan was explained to
him, grunted his approval by saying, "Big brother, good man."

Fortunately, though the stones were large and exceedingly heavy, yet by
our combined strength and the using of pieces of wood as levers we
worked the rocks far enough apart to make a resting-place for her
alongside Brother Alburtus, whose mortal frame, by reason of the purity
of the air and the cold in this mountain height had suffered no great
change since the day of his burial.

And then having placed her whose life had been so troubled and
tempestuous by the side of him whose days had been so gentle and
peaceful, Sonnlein and Genoveva sang over them softly a few of our
noble, heaven-inspired hymns, I following with a short prayer that this
poor woman might see Him face to face, after which we closed up the top
and ends of the little vault with heavy stones, knowing that at the last
great day some bright-winged angel would find even this lonely sepulchre
and roll away the stones.



CHAPTER XXVI

THE TWAIN ARE MADE ONE

    Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth
    favor of the Lord.

        --The Bible.


That a bundle of contradictions is poor human flesh! Here have I been
all my life preaching the beauty and sanctity of single life, and am I
not the same man who once at the command of Brother Beissel printed an
argument against the Moravians for that they practised not celibacy and
being called to task by our leader for the moderation of my views, I
added so much salt to my polemics that Brother Beissel was greatly
pleased and I doubt not our spiritual enemies completely overwhelmed?

But here am I now in my old age delighting in telling of the day when my
boy and our beloved Genoveva were made one, our dear sister having
finally consented to give up her celestial Bridegroom for an earthly
one.

Over a year had slipped by since the death of that poor woman, and how
often I tried to solve the mystery of her life by the light of her last
words, her strange devotion to Sonnlein in his illness, her clinging so
to him in her last moments; and then the death of Brother Alburtus would
come to me, and how he thought himself another person, calling himself
David Seymour; but though my mind would continually hang over these two
so that at times I thought I had caught the answer, yet I was often on
further reflection compelled to confess I had not the solution of all
this mystery, which I often feared would never be made clear.

And now sweet May had come again, to me ever one of the most pleasing
months of the year, when the dandelions and the buttercups gleam in our
meadows like stars, and the meek little violets nestle lovingly in the
deep grass, while from the fields and the woods come the clear notes of
the birds, mate calling unto mate with such delicious tenderness that I
often wonder whether there be not a heaven for flowers and birds, and
for everything He created. And yet I mean not the same heaven for all,
for I like not snakes and bugs.

Indeed, 'twas either the enchanting spring days or else this getting my
boy and our Genoveva wedded that seemed to go to my head like wine; for
half the time I was flying about the Kloster grounds like a bee in a
bottle, and yet if it ever be necessary for one to keep his wits from
bumping against the other surely it is when there is intrusted to him
the tremendous responsibility of tying together two young hearts in
wedlock.

My Brothers and Sisters, though at first consistently opposing
themselves to all this marrying, finally--for so great was their love
for Sonnlein and Genoveva--took almost as great interest as I in the
matter, especially the Sisters, notwithstanding their vows; for I have
observed that the weaker sex can no more keep away from weddings than
honey bees from the flowers.

After much talk with the Sisters--and even the Brethren deigned to give
most grave and solemn suggestions which I gratefully accepted and wisely
disregarded--it was decided the wedding, or _Hochzeit_, should be held
in Peniel, which as will be recalled we built in the meadow during that
dreadful winter just before the death of our poor Brother Agonius.

So great a delight did our little community find in the wedding to be,
that not only were invitations sent out to all the housefathers, their
good wives and sturdy sons and buxom daughters; but we even sent
invitations to our English Brethren in Nantmill and Coventry and to our
German Brethren on the Wissahickon; for we were not ashamed to let the
world see that although we had high regard for our views of celibacy,
yet we knew when it became us to bow gently to that which could not be
helped, for surely when two be bent on marrying each other naught
availeth to hinder them.

And now that we had decided upon such grave matters as the fixing of the
day, the selection of the person to perform the ceremony, our justice,
Conrad Weiser, having graciously accepted that honor, and the sending
out of the invitations, the Sisters immediately set to work for the
feeding of the great multitude we earnestly hoped would come, for on
such a day we must feed our guests well and not subject them to the
thinness of our Kloster fare.

Then too, though Sonnlein concerned himself not much about his wedding
suit, the Sisters made great ado that their beloved Genoveva could in no
wise be properly married unless she had most beautiful garments
befitting such a wedding as this; so that between the baking and sewing
and all the other endless things that women ever seem to regard
necessary for weddings, I fear that at our midnight meetings Sisters and
Brothers did not always have their thoughts turned toward the heavenly
Bridegroom and the celestial Virgin, the hymns having more of love in
them than ever before. Whether this was mere coincidence I know not,
and I leave this for wiser men to determine, only that Brother Beissel
the day before the wedding complained to me he verily believed it were
next to useless to hold any more midnight services until we got through
with this marrying business; that even so solemn and stern a Sister as
the prioress seemed now to think only of one thing, which was that
Genoveva should be married in proper state.

But even wedding days, like all other days, are bound to come around if
only one waiteth patiently and hath found a mate, and so Sonnlein's
came, a perfect spring day, neither hot nor cold, but just such a day of
mild, pleasant air and cloudless sky as might make one content to live
on this earth forever. I have heard it said the most solemn one on a
wedding day is he who is to be married, some claiming this to be due
because he feeleth that thereafter he hath lost his freedom as being
subject more or less to the will and wishes of another. Whether this be
true I know not, only I can set it forth that Sonnlein greeted the morn
of his wedding day not at all as one going to a prison other than one
walled and barred by the love of his Genoveva.

So, early in the forenoon of that wonderful day, a great multitude was
gathered on the grassy plot between Saron and Bethania as we had not
seen for many a year, so that even Brother Ezechial, with all his dread
of womankind, came at Sonnlein's call to his cell and finally consented
to peer out of the little window, but in great trepidation, seeing so
many plump forms and rosy faces, the merry, tempting daughters of Eve
laughing and talking--whenever their elders ceased to remind them we
liked not such levity--like a lot of chattering birds.

"Art not sorry thy cell overlooks the Cocalico, good brother?" asked
Sonnlein soberly.

"'Tis an awful sight!" whispered Brother Ezechial, shaking all over and
turning his eyes from the gay medley below.

"Meanest thou the old one yonder who hath such fierce look?" said
Sonnlein, pretending he missed our brother's meaning. "Thou needst not
look at her. See, haste thee, that pretty maid is smiling to thee! Art
not going to reply to such challenge?'"

"God forbid!" exclaimed Brother Ezechial fervently as he turned hastily
from the window and in mortal fear shut himself in his cell, though I
never have believed one should be this much afraid of woman.

Shortly after midday we all, that is, all of the great crowd that could
possibly get in, were crowded into the large _Saal_. At the farther, or
eastern end of the hall, in the middle of a small platform, sat our
one-time Brother, now Justice Conrad Weiser, grave and impressive, as
became the dignity of his high office, and yet not deeming it unworthy
of the occasion to appear in such resplendent apparel as confirmed many
a good Brother and Sister that our justice was, alas, beyond redemption;
for from his long, black swallow-tail coat gleamed a row of gold
buttons, his waistcoat being a color as I can liken only to the soft
richness of a ripe plum; and more proudly sinful than all this were the
silver buckles where the long black silk stockings met the dark knee
breeches, and even on his black slippers were large silver buckles, the
buckles and the buttons twinkling and glowing like little lamps, so that
we all were quite dazed with the dignity and radiance shed upon us by
our good justice.

To the front of our justice and a trifle to his right, being also on the
little platform, sat our worthy _Vorsteher_, the lifetime apostle of
celibacy, with such a look of humble resignation upon his face as would
have softened the stoniest heart, even though he was clad in all the
solemn grandeur of the sacred robes, which, in imitation of those worn
by the Jewish high priests, the Eckerlings had wheedled him into
wearing.

To the front and left of our justice sat our prioress in the robes of
the priestess of the Roses of Saron, stiff, stern, and erect as ever,
her tight, evenly pressed lips giving her the inscrutable look of a
sphinx, though well I knew our _dura mater's_ heart was beating warmly
for our beloved young sister.

And now having disposed of the high dignitaries, I come to my boy and
his Genoveva, he sitting directly behind our leader and not at all
abashed, though I have ever understood it becometh a bridegroom so to
appear, for he fairly shone with health and happiness, so that more than
one wistful glance was shot slyly at him by the softhearted girls; but
as to what he had on, bless me, even though he was my beloved Sonnlein,
I cannot recall, only that he was clothed as was the custom of the young
men of the secular congregation, some plain black cloth, so near as I
can tell, forming the staple of his attire.

To Sonnlein's left and behind our prioress and beyond the splendor of
our justice sat our Genoveva, and though I know little of cloths and
fabrics, especially of woman's dress, if my memory faileth me not she
was clothed somewhat after the manner of the Sisterhood, only instead of
the plain, coarse black dress or grayish ones they sometimes wore, her
snow-white gown was of some wonderful material such as I had not seen
since my student days and which gleamed and shimmered much as I have
seen the sunlight play on the ripples of the Cocalico.

And whereas the Sisters ever had their beauty enveloped in those
hideous hoods, so completely hiding their virginal faces from the
brothers, Genoveva, being already within the freedom that marriage
brings to woman, had on no hood, not even a veil to hide that crown of
golden hair waving so gracefully and simply from her brow and tied in
the back with some beautiful band or ribbon formed into a cunning bow,
among the folds of which were ensnared the sweet little violets Sonnlein
had plucked for his bride, and these little violets she hath to this
day, for thus is the heart of woman.

There were those, indeed, among the Sisters who had gravely asserted our
sister could not be properly married without a veil, but Sonnlein and I
being of one mind that everybody would desire to see how beautiful was
our Genoveva, we stoutly held it were almost ungodly to hide her 'neath
a hideous veil. And so as she sat there blushing modestly whenever
Sonnlein glanced at her, which the rascal was doing most of the time, I
know many a man's heart envied my boy, for surely never did I see
anything to equal her simple, high-souled, woman's beauty.

Thus I write it down that when one hath the gift of loveliness one need
not gorgeous raiment.

Directly in front of the low pulpit from behind which shone the majesty
of the law was myself, on a short bench, feeling very big, as though all
the glory of this wedding were mine. In front of us and facing our way
sat the Brotherhood on the long benches running across the hall, cloaked
and cowled, hands folded meekly across the breasts, tonsured heads
bowed, and eyes looking neither to the right nor the left, though
assuredly there was abundance of attractive provocation. Even our
Brother Ezechial had been prevailed upon to leave the safety of his
retirement for the awful perils of the crowded _Saal_. And our good
Brother Gottleib, who ever maintained that all jewelry was made in the
workshop of the Evil One, for once overcame his scruples sufficiently to
wear the gold ring--containing a bit of holy writ inscribed in
Greek--that proclaimed our brother a duly initiated member of the Holy
Order of the Mustard Seed.

Back of the Brothers and under the galleries, along the north and the
south sides of the hall, were the gray-bearded housefathers, and behind
them, filling every vantage place within the sacred walls, were the
sturdy sons of the housefathers and the male friends and guests who had
flocked from all directions to see a Kloster wedding.

And lest it be thought that I, being a surly monk, lack the gallantry
due the weaker vessels, I shall mention that in the broad, northern
gallery of the hall were clustered the Roses of Saron, while the robust
wives and rosy-cheeked daughters of the house elders and the female
friends and guests were assembled in the southern gallery.

These galleries, or _por-kirche_, as they were called, were screened
with lattice work, following the custom of the synagogues in Holland and
Germany, wherein the women were relegated to the screened galleries,
for, with Paulus, we held that women should keep silent in the churches
and remain modestly in the background, and I rejoice that I can write in
all truth that our Sisters in the northern gallery, like our Brethren on
their benches below, maintained strict and decorous silence. I cannot
say so much for the wives and daughters in the southern gallery who from
behind their lattice kept up such a whispering and commotion and
bustling and peering about as greatly offended our order-loving souls,
even our leader, who had it ever in him to be all things to all men and
who could be pleasant as well as stern, frowning most severely, so that
half the time I was in a tremble lest he would burst forth into one of
his scoldings.

But at last there was some semblance of order in the crowded _Saal_, and
then, at the word from our leader, our Brothers and Sisters rose to
their feet and sang a number of our hymns, and surely never was our soft
Kloster music more heavenly sweet, a great hush falling upon all the
rest in the hall, for such power hath pure music over the human heart.

And then, Brother Weiser having first read from the Bible, discreetly
selecting a chapter that had naught of marrying in it, motioned
Sonnlein and Genoveva to stand forth, whereupon they stood up, she in
womanly grace and modesty and he as proud as any lord, my boy, by reason
of his royal stature and his being on the platform, fairly towering over
us as our justice called out whether any one had aught to say why these
two should not be made husband and wife.

For a moment there was absolute silence and then from the rear of the
hall came a loud, brutal voice from one not of our number, I rejoice to
say, who in season and out of season had lost no opportunity ever since
my baptism by Brother Beissel to heap upon me every foul insult and
taunt and ridicule. And now with a hateful devil's smile on his face and
a foul fiend's spiteful laugh, my persecutor cried out, "What name doth
our good brother's Sonnlein give his wife?"

Had lightning fallen upon us from the clear sky I know we had not been
more dazed, for though we had provided for everything else, it had never
come to us that Sonnlein must have a name to give his bride! For a
moment a great bewilderment held me fast, and then, as mine enemy
laughed loudly again at our consternation, not heeding the angry looks
of the more excitable of our housefathers and their sons, I could see
that it required all of Sonnlein's will to keep him from this ungentle
intruder who with his evil heart seemed to find most exquisite delight
in our torment as he laughed more brutally than before, "Call thyself
'Müller,' Sonnlein, and thou goest not wrong, I swear."

At this vile insult I thought Sonnlein would fly from the platform and
rend the villain limb from limb, for such passion was in my boy's face
as I had rarely seen, but I gently pressed him back while I spake
quietly but steadily so all could hear, "If Sonnlein careth for it and
our sister will bear the burden of so humble a name as Müller I give it
gladly," and then I cried out proudly, "For all that mine enemies and
the enemies of our holy Order may think or say to the contrary, 'tis a
name my boy need not be ashamed of!"

"And the only one that belongs to him, thou bald-pated hypocrite!"
sneered mine enemy so all could hear, whereat I so forgot myself to cry
out--for it is foolish to lose one's temper and bandy foul names--"Thou
liest!" but I was beyond all endurance and had I said the word I could
see by the lowering looks of our adherents it would have gone ill with
this hate-poisoned man, but I controlled myself, though how I know not
to this day, and again I spake softly, "I entreat you all to hold
yourselves in patience but a few moments until my return," whereupon I
left the _Saal_, some following me anxiously with their eyes, fearing my
peace-loving spirit was making me run away from all this untimely
quarrel.

In a few moments I was back again holding something under my cloak out
of sight while I related how Sonnlein had come to me and about the dying
words of Brother Alburtus and the last moments of that poor woman, and
as Sonnlein and Genoveva and the Brothers and Sisters added their
testimony so far as they knew I could see the great wonderment creeping
over the faces of all present, even mine enemy, despite his hate and
unbelief, remaining quiet for once.

And then, having brought the assemblage to this mood, I suddenly pulled
out from beneath my cloak the little white baby garment I had found on
Sonnlein that morning in the woods in the long ago hermit days. Holding
up the stained and soiled cloak so all could see, I fairly shouted to
mine enemy, "Come and see the pretty letters on this child's cloak, 'C.
S.,'" and lifting mine hand on high, I declared solemnly, "Before the
Great Searcher of Hearts I swear I know not how those letters came there
or what they stand for!"

And then came a thrilling cry from the rear of the hall, "Praise the
Lord, 'tis David's boy!" and then some one rushed forward through the
crowd that fell back who for a moment I thought was our Brother Alburtus
returned from the dead, some of the Brothers and Sisters and of the
secular members actually whispering in their fright, "'Tis Brother
Alburtus."

But the stranger heeded not the commotion only pressing forward the
tears running down his face, and shaking in every limb, as he caught
Sonnlein's hands in his, holding them as if he never would let go,
saying over and over, "My brother David's son; my brother's only son!"

Finally as the stranger became more composed, he turned to me. "Didst
ask the child its name when thou didst find him?"

"Yea, the first thing I sought was his name, but he only would say
'Tass,' and such name have I never heard. To this day I know not what he
meant, though often have I thought on it."

"Oh, thou wise, simple monk! 'Tass' was naught more than baby for
'Charles,' which his unpractised lips could not frame into other than
'Tass.' We all called him 'Tass' for a pet name."

I could not doubt 'twas so, for I could see more than one of the
housefathers and the housemothers exchange nods and smiles with the
nighest one as much as to say, "How stupid our Brother Jabez hath been
not to see this long ago!" But how was I to know, not having any great
knowledge of the little ones?

Then turning to our justice I bowed humbly, and said, "Brother Weiser
thou art a justice, and if I mistake not hast power and authority to
administer an oath or an affirmation."

To which our justice gravely responded, "Such power reposeth in me by
virtue of my commission as justice."

"I shall ask, then, good brother, that our friend who sayeth his name is
Thomas Seymour be affirmed that he will speak the truth."

And then as the stranger faced about toward the pulpit, our justice with
his full, round voice that ever sounded to me like some strong, deep
toned bell, said to the stranger:

"Dost thou, Thomas Seymour, solemnly and truly declare and affirm that
thou wilt tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,
and so thou dost affirm?"

To which the stranger as solemnly replied, and yet distinctly in the
breathless silence of the hall, "Yea!"

And now, after all these long years, my boy found his own, right name;
and mine own reputation, often so bitterly assailed by those who held
not with our mode of life, was cleansed from all stain and dishonor; for
truly "a good name is better than great riches."

And thus our good brother, Thomas Seymour, whom many present with us
this day vouched to be one of our most devout and influential English
Sabbatarians, from Coventry, had come all this long journey merely to
honor us with his presence; but in the providence of God destined to
find his brother's son and to have all this dark mystery about Brother
Alburtus and the witch and Sonnlein made as light as day.

Briefly, as our Brother Seymour related it to us, he and his brother
David, known to us as Brother Alburtus, with his wife Elizabeth and
their boy, Charles, our Brother Thomas being a bachelor, had lived
together in Coventry. By the fall of a tree, which they were felling
nigh their cabin, Brother Alburtus received the great gash across his
brow, the hurt taking his mind from him so that one day he wandered away
leaving no more trace of his departure than if he had been taken up into
the sky, only that he had frequently after his hurt spoken ramblingly
about joining the hermits on the Cocalico. Inquiry among the Solitary
showed he was not with them; for it was not until some years after
Sonnlein and I came to Ephrata that Brother Alburtus joined our
community, and where and how he lived ere that no one ever knew. Some
weeks after he had left his wife, she, unable longer to endure her
suspense, left suddenly with the little boy, while our brother Thomas
was absent from the cabin. She and the child also were swallowed up so
completely by the wilderness that with all his long searching naught
could he find of them, though he had visited the Conestogas, on a rumor
that there was a white woman living with them, but they could not or
would not tell him aught. At last, almost heartbroken and despairing of
finding the lost ones, whom he now believed to be dead from the wild
beasts, or starvation, or the Indians, he left Coventry, not returning
again for over ten years after the loss of his brother David and his
wife and child.

More we never learned, but it was clear to all that the fearsome witch
was the wife of Brother Alburtus, that he was David Seymour, the brother
of Thomas Seymour, and that Sonnlein was the baby. Many an eye was
dimmed in the _Saal_ at the plain, unadorned recital of our brother's
tale, as we thought of all the long years of darkened mind that had held
our Brother Alburtus, so that he knew not his own boy though so nigh;
but most of all our hearts went out in a great sorrow for that poor
woman who half crazed by unwearying search and ever-recurring
disappointment had suffered all these years the bitter pangs of
separation from husband and child; and I know many a silent prayer arose
from our hearts for those two who at last were sleeping side by side in
that rude, mountain grave.

Indeed, it was a relief to our strained feelings when Johann, who long
ago had forgiven the beating Sonnlein had given him, turned toward mine
enemy yelling at him, "If thou leavest not at once with thy devil's
grin, thou wilt be hurled into the creek," whereat mine enemy, abashed
for once, slunk out of the hall like a whipped beast.

Surely there is not much else to relate of this marriage, though I shall
never forget how lost and lonesome I felt, like a father bereft of his
son, when our justice asked Sonnlein--and ever hath he been Sonnlein to
me--"Dost thou, Charles Seymour, take this woman, our Genoveva, to be
thy lawful wedded wife," my boy responded proudly, "Yea." And then, as I
remember it, our justice asked our lovely Genoveva a like question if
she would take him to be her husband, and upon her low "Yea," our
justice pronounced them husband and wife, and promptly saluted her with
such a willing smack as made even the Sisters titter, while poor Brother
Ezechial hung his head still lower, blushing to his very ears.

The next day Sonnlein and Genoveva left on their honeymoon with his
uncle for Coventry, and though Coventry be not to the end of the world,
it seemed to me as though all the world had left me, only that she
kissed me ere she left, whereat I blushed so through all my long beard,
that Sonnlein laughed so heartily I liked it not; but had he known how
long I cherished the memory of that kiss, the only one for many a long
year, ah me, my boy had not laughed so boisterously I know.



CHAPTER XXVII

RETROSPECT

    Moreo'er, the shields so steady and the consecrated swords,
    O God, that I were worthy to join the victor lords.
    Then should I like the others achieve a prize untold,
    Not lands that have been promised, nor king's or noble's gold,
    But oh, a wondrous crown, and for evermore to wear
    A crown which poorest soldier can win with axe and spear.
    Yea, if the noble crusade I might follow o'er the sea,
    I evermore should sing, All's well! and nevermore, Ah me!
              Nevermore, Ah me!

        --Walther Von der Vogelweide.


And now, after the long lapse of many years since my boy and our
Genoveva were made one--and yet how short the time hath been--one of my
chiefest delights is to dwell on the past. Mine eyes are no longer
turned toward the future with eager questioning as in my youth. In mine
old age I am like unto an old tree standing alone, a solitary landmark
of the decline of our Kloster, the setting sun casting my shadow toward
the morning. The Kloster hath never survived the indomitable spirit of
its founder, Brother Beissel, and his sturdy associates. Slowly but
surely its power hath diminished. Since the days our warrior, Brother
Wohlforth, left us many others of our number have gone to their eternal
reward. Brother Obed, our schoolmaster, with his kindly, genial soul,
long ago have I missed him from his accustomed place, and the
Eckerlings, of whose sad fate we heard years after they left us, they
too, with their dreams of commercial conquest, have passed away to that
realm which harbors neither bargain nor sale.

The first great loss that came to us was our Brother Enoch, our justice,
who died but a few years after that never to be forgotten wedding; but
not many years before his death there was great rejoicing among us to
know that the serious breach between our leader and our justice had been
closed, and though our justice had greatly grieved us when he allowed
himself to be fooled so to accept a commission from the governor, yet
when we saw the door of our brother's long spiritual captivity had been
opened we welcomed him gladly, so that his old acquaintances of the
Kloster all told him the lost piece of silver was now found. Not long
after, our congregation assembled for a love feast at which he, by
partaking of the holy sacraments, was reincorporated into our spiritual
community, although we willingly after his death yielded to his mother
church the honor of having garnered in his body.

He died on a Sunday after a violent attack of colic, and was buried on
his farm at Heidelberg, not a great distance from us to the northeast,
where with his children and a number of Indians he awaits the call of
the last day.

And now I come to the closing years of our beloved leader--and surely
these were full of trouble. For a number of years prior to his death it
became manifest to all of us that physical infirmities were fast growing
upon him. But far more grave than these were the estrangements he
suffered more or less from both of our Solitary Orders, though it
seemeth not becoming to set forth here the false and bitter accusations
made against our leader so that his cup of bitterness was pressed to the
full.

All during the winter of 1767-1768, besides the distress of mind and
spirit, he suffered from many diseases, chiefly a wasting cough, and at
the beginning of July of 1768 his various ailments became so aggravated
he was most of the time in great pain, so that he was forced to exclaim
more than once to me--and I rejoice now I never deserted him--that he
was nailed to the cross; but such was his stubborn will and fortitude
that he refused to acknowledge any physical sickness, but would often
say his sufferings were mere spiritual throes preceding his new birth.
He also found great comfort in the firm persuasion, which many of his
most intimate followers held with him, that he would be spared the pains
of a bodily dissolution and would be translated into the realms of bliss
as Enoch and Elijah of old; but in this, like his predecessor on the
Wissahickon, Magister Johannus Kelpius, our leader was destined to make
his exit in no wise different from ordinary mortals.

Notwithstanding his grievous infirmities our leader attended to the
duties of his office to within eight days of his end, when for the last
time, in his priestly robes, he officiated at a love feast, and seeing
that his end was nigh he consecrated Brother Philemon and Brother
Eleazer and myself to the priesthood, from which his successor should be
selected. While in such suffering he received word, only three days
before his death, that one of our oldest housemothers was breathing her
last, and that she wished to see our leader even if he could not speak
to her. So with him leaning on my arm we went to our dear sister's,
thereby fulfilling her wish.

"At last," so our _Chronicon_ states, "Wednesday, the sixth day of July
of the year 1768 came when he laid aside his mortal raiment."

On that morning, having rallied somewhat, he attended prayers in the
Sisters' _Saal_, and sought earnestly for reconciliation with our
prioress, but in vain. As he returned to his cabin, sad at heart--for
with all his fiery nature he ever strove to merit his favorite name,
Father Friedsam Gottrecht (Father Peaceful Godright)--none of us thought
his departure was so near; for the powers of darkness, as he said, could
not prevail upon him to lie down.

Meanwhile the Brethren kept a constant watch, for many of our little
flock looked for great happenings, feeling assured the powers of death
would have no easy struggle with such an old soldier of the cross, who
was neither accustomed to call on men for mercy nor to yield to the
powers of darkness.

But by the time the sun had stood at midday, we could see the end was
near, and all the Solitary and the near-by householders gathered about
him in his little cabin, soon filling it, many standing outside the
doorway. On his little bench, as hard and uncomfortable as any of
ours--for he scorned any comforts denied to his disciples--sat our
little ruler, gaunt, wasted, his features thin and drawn, and eyes
sunken. Around him clustered the Brethren of Bethania, sad and silent,
but not shedding any tears to annoy his stubborn spirit. Back of the
Brethren stood the Sisters, some of the shorter ones on a bench, and
most of them weeping quietly despite their fortitude. All was silence
and expectation. But though within the cabin reigned the darkness of
death, outside under the glowing sun all was life and brightness, like
the glorious radiance that would burst through the gates of death, for
our beloved leader.

Over an hour we stood, not saying a word, but all the while our brother
becoming weaker and weaker from the great heat and the stifling air in
so small a cabin. At last he broke the silence and asked the Brethren to
bless him and receive his memory into their fellowship. Then I anointed
him with the holy oil, and as I spread the sacred chrism upon his
forehead I gave him my blessing with the laying on of hands, after which
all the Brethren in turn gave him the kiss of peace to take with him on
his journey.

After this tender ceremony was over he consented, after my continued
persuasion, to lie down on his bench, resting his head upon the wooden
block that had served him so many years. He lay quietly for a while with
eyes closed, and then as if gazing into the very depths of eternity, he
partly raised himself on his elbow and exclaimed, "_O wehe! O wehe! O
wunder! O wunder!_" (Oh, woe! Oh, woe! Oh, wonder! Oh, wonder!) and then
fell back, his spirit soon after taking its flight peacefully from its
earthly home to that still more wonderful home of which oft during his
stay with us he had received such gracious visions.

Immediately upon his death messengers were sent out near and far with
slips prepared by the Sisters, inviting the people to the funeral of our
_Vorsteher_ which, on account of the great heat, was set but two days
following his death, the Brethren meanwhile preparing the body for
burial, the Sisterhood keeping vigil, five Sisters constantly watching
and reciting prayers for our dead.

On the day of the funeral our usual customs were observed, such as
sweeping the floor of his cabin, pouring a bucket of water over the
door-sill, and the chalking of the three crosses upon the side of the
doorway. And there were those who, following an old German superstition,
went about and informed every hive of bees within our grounds and for a
considerable distance without, of the death of our leader, it being
firmly believed that the bees would swarm if this notice to them were
neglected; and also every barrel, keg, and crock of wine and vinegar and
pickles and sauer kraut and preserved fruits, in order not to be
spoiled, had to be turned on the shelves or skids.

The funeral services were held in the great _Saal_ we had built many
years before at a right angle with Bethania, where our brother had so
often preached. After a sermon by me there were addresses by Brothers
Philemon and Obed. We sang special hymns, and never did our Kloster
music, in which our leader had ever taken such great pride, sound more
sweet and heavenly. When the services were over in the _Saal_ the body
of our _Vorsteher_ was carried to the graveyard close by, followed by
the immense throng in spite of the short notice gathered from every
direction. Before lowering him into his last resting-place, the lid of
the coffin was again raised, so that according to our ritual the sun
might once more shine upon his body. Then his body was turned slightly
to the right side, being kept in place by a piece of sod, thus ensuring
perfect rest in his grave. The lid was then closed down, and the little
form of our great-souled leader was lowered into the dark cell, there to
repose until the trumpet of the angel shall call him forth to receive
his crown.

On the same day our brother died, a Sister who lately joined the Roses
of Saron passed away, and this being joined to the death of the
housemother but a few days before, gave the Solitary firm assurance that
the departed spirits of our sister and the housemother had been deputed
to attend the spirit of our _Vorsteher_ and minister to it.

Often during his life he had promised he would return in spirit to the
Kloster after leaving this world. Many of the Solitary as well as the
settlers about us firmly believed this. It hath ever been a matter of
much thought with me whether or not the spirits of the dead ever
revisit their beloved ones on earth. It seemeth to me it should and must
be so, and yet have I never been vouchsafed such visions. But only two
days after his burial our leader appeared to Brother Luther and Sister
Catharina, in their cells. He also appeared to our Brother Ezechial, who
for some fancied grievance had been the only one of our number not to
attend the funeral and gave our disgruntled brother most earnest
admonitions, so that Brother Ezechial became a changed man, for the
better let it be said. Later on, our leader's visits to the Solitary
became nightly occurrences, and indeed he even appeared to one of our
Germantown brethren.

Be these things as they may, for I record not what I saw--merely what I
heard--this I know to be true, that with all his failings and
short-comings our Kloster reached its greatest renown during the rule of
our little leader. Naught but a poor journeyman baker had he been in his
early days; of little learning, but to a man of such great talents as
his, the lack of learning from books hindered him little. In his
lifetime he originated, with some help from others, our wonderful
Kloster music, himself composing fully one thousand pieces of music,
printing over four hundred of them, and full of beauty and prophetic
insight are they, so that we hold them as great treasures. And with all
his fiery nature, there was in this man such tenderness and humility
that in time most of the estrangements of his early Kloster life were
fully reconciled, thereby confirming what he ever maintained, that he
was a lover of peace.

But I shall not longer darken my story with the deaths of my beloved
Brothers and Sisters. I still have my Sonnlein and his devoted Genoveva.
After that blissful day, they went with his uncle, living with him, he
being a bachelor, until his death, after which, his estate having come
to Sonnlein, he and Genoveva, at my earnest persuasions, took up a farm
near by, which Sonnlein tilleth like a good husbandman, only that he
never hath outlived his love for hunting and fishing, even though he is
now on toward middle age. But such hath ever been the simplicity of his
life that he hath the strength and spirit of one in his thirties.

As for our beloved Genoveva, she too is of those blessed ones who never
grow old--for surely time seemeth to have no influence on that fair face
and graceful form. What a sweet, noble woman she is! Indeed, it is
Sonnlein's oft-repeated jest, that he is exceedingly jealous of old
_Vaterchen_; to which Genoveva maketh gentle retort that she never quite
understandeth how she came even to think of Sonnlein while I was about.
But she is all devotion to her Sonnlein and her children; and what a
brood of healthy, happy-hearted, romping, noisy boys and girls they are,
so that often they are reproved for worrying so much their grandfather
Jabez--to such dignity have I attained. But with all their sitting on me
and sliding over me and pulling my beard and hanging to my cloak
wherever I go, I would not for worlds have them otherwise.

The eldest one, a tall, grave, solemn-eyed youth, who is ever at his
books, and asketh me most serious questions, hath been named Jabez,
against my earnest protestations.

A second, a lively young imp, who careth for everything but books, they
have called Peter, he no doubt representing my more worldly life ere I
joined the Kloster, as Jabez standeth for my stricter life thereafter.
Indeed, I often aver that had I more names Sonnlein and Genoveva would
make use of every one. There is too, a precious little toddler whom they
consented at my request to call Sonnlein, all my names being used up.

Beside the cradle in which lieth a plump, rosy, crowing, happy baby, our
little Genoveva, stands a sweet-faced little maid, with hair of gold and
heaven's own blue eyes, whom, though I have ever been a great stickler
for impartiality, I cannot help loving a trifle the best; for Genoveva,
with that marvelous insight women seem to have above men in matters of
the heart, hath named the little maid Bernice. Ah me!

As for me, I cannot help feeling that mayhap I did not use all of my few
talents faithfully. I wonder sometimes whether I did not bury some here
in the solitary life of the Kloster. Not that we were selfish, or mean,
or lacked in love for our Father; but perhaps, aye, I fear it is so, man
cannot best serve man by withdrawing from him. I see clearly now it was
not the Master's way. He taught neither fasting nor feasting; neither
vigils nor sluggish sleep. Even within the sacred bounds of our Kloster,
sequestered from the world, things were not--it pains me e'en now to
say--as holy as they should have been. Hate, spite, envy, greed, lust,
passion, ambition, intrigue, quarrelings, bickerings, misunderstandings,
false, bitter charges, prevailed within the monastery no less than
without. I understand now what the deep-sighted Luther meant when he
said that the world is in the heart of man and not in his surroundings.
It is even so, and because it is so, I cannot withstand the arguments of
those who contend truthfully that the life of the monk and the nun,
sweet and holy though it may be, is not so large and noble and useful as
the life of him and her who with duty for a watchword and purity of
heart for an armor and the word of God for a sword go forth to battle
with sin wherever his horrid form may be seen.

But thanks to the priceless inheritance of a strong, healthy body,
preserved by temperance in diet, serenity of mind, and abundance of
labor in the open air close to the heart of God, mine old age hath not
yet become a reproach to me. Still, like the Preacher, I feel it will
not be many days ere the keepers of the house shall tremble, the
grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the
windows be darkened. I have endeavored always to bear victory and
defeat, joy and sadness, with evenness of spirit. I have not complained
overmuch here and surely when the silver cord is loosed for me or the
golden bowl be broken and I meet Him face to face in the boundless
fields of eternity, I know naught but bliss will be mine; and yet with
my poor earthly sight and understanding, I shall long to meet there and
be with them for evermore, father, mother, the Brothers and Sisters of
the Kloster, Sonnlein and his beloved Genoveva and their dear children;
but dearer than all these I want again to clasp to my breast the sweet
flower cut off while still in its budding, my Bernice.

  [Illustration]

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcribers Note:

Obvious printer errors corrected.

Spelling "house-father" and "housefather" retained.

Spelling "penwork" and "pen-work" retained.

Spelling "gully" and "gulley" retained.

Spelling "ice-bound" and "icebound" retained.

Spelling "subtilely", "subtility", and "subtilty" retained.

Spelling "wrapt" and "wrapped" retained.





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