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Title: In the Blue Pike — Volume 03
Author: Ebers, Georg
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In the Blue Pike — Volume 03" ***

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IN THE BLUE PIKE

By Georg Ebers

Volume 3.



CHAPTER VIII.

As Kuni's troubled soul had derived so much benefit from the short
pilgrimage to Altotting, she hoped to obtain far more from a visit to
Santiago di Compostella, famed throughout Christendom.

True, her old master, Loni, whom she had met at Regensburg, permitted her
to join his band, but when she perceived that he was far less prosperous
than before, and that she could not be useful to him in any way, she left
him at Cologne because a kindhearted captain offered to take her to
Vlissingen without pay.  Thence she really did set out upon the
pilgrimage to Santiago di Compostella;  but St. James, the patron saint
of the Spaniards, whose untiring mercy so many praised, did not prove
specially favourable to her.  The voyage to Compostella, the principal
place where he was reverenced, which annually attracted thousands of
pilgrims, cost her her last penny, and the cold nights which she was
obliged to spend on deck increased her cough until it became almost
unendurably violent.

In Santiago di Compostella both her means and her strength were
exhausted.  After vainly expecting for a long time some token of the
saint's helpful kindness, only two courses were left: either she must
remain in Compostella and join the beggars in the crowded road to the
place of pilgrimage, or she must accept the proposal made by tongueless
Cyriax and go back with him to Germany.  At first she had been afraid of
the brutal fellow, who feigned insanity and was led about by his wife
with a chain; but once, when red-haired Gitta was seized by the
Inquisition, and spent two days and two nights in jail, and Kuni nursed
her child in her place, she had found him more friendly.  Besides, in
Compostella, the swearer had been in his most cheerful mood.  Every day
had filled his purse, because there was no lack of people and he
understood how to extort money by the terror which horrible outbreaks of
his feigned malady inspired among the densely crowded pilgrims.  His wife
possessed a remedy which would instantly calm his ravings, but it was
expensive, and she had not the money to buy it.  Not only in Compostella,
but also on the long journey from Bavaria through the Swiss mountains,
France, Navarre, and the whole of northern Spain, there were always kind-
hearted or timid people from whom the money for the "dear prescription"
could be obtained.

A cart drawn by a donkey conveyed the child of this worthy couple.  When
Kuni met her at Compostella she was a sickly little girl about two years
old, with an unnaturally large head and thin, withered legs, who seemed
to be mute because she used her mouth only to eat and to make a movement
of the lips which sounded like "Baba."  This sound, Cyriax explained, was
a call that meant "papa."  That was the name aristocratic children gave
their fathers, and it meant him alone, because the little girl resembled
him and loved him better than she did any one else.  He really believed
this, and the stammering of the fragile child's livid lips won the rough
fellow's tender love.

The man who, when drunk, beat his wife till the blood came, and committed
plenty of cruel deeds, trembled, wept, and could even pray with fervent
piety, when--which often happened--the frail little creature, shaken by
convulsions, seemed at the point of death.  He had undertaken the long
journey to the "world's end," not only because the pilgrimage to
Compostella promised large profits, but also to urge St. James to cure
his child.  For his "sweet little Juli's" sake, and to obtain for her a
cheap nurse who would be entirely dependent upon him, he burdened himself
with the lame ropedancer.  But he had no reason to repent this; Gitta had
enough to do to lead him by the chain and answer the questions of the
people, while Kuni nursed her charge with rare fidelity, mended the
clothing of the father, mother, and child, as well or as badly as she
could, and also helped Gitta with the cooking.  The sickly, obstinate
little girl certainly did not deserve the name of a "sweet" child, yet
Kuni devoted herself to it with warm, almost passionate affection.

The vagabond couple did not fail to notice this, and, on the whole, it
pleased them.  If Cyriax was vexed when little Juli began to show plainly
enough that she preferred her nurse even to him, he submitted because the
lame girl watched the child through severe attacks of convulsions and
fever as if it were her own, and willingly sacrificed her night's rest
for its sake.  True, he often talked loudly enough in Kuni's presence of
the witch potion which the lame girl mixed in the porridge of his child,
who loved him better than anything in the world, to estrange it from him
and win it to herself.

Kuni paid little heed to these offensive words; she knew that she had
gained the child's love by very different means from the "black art."
With far more reason, she dimly felt, the sick child might have been
reproached for exerting a secret spell upon her.  Her name, "Julie,"
which she owed to her patron saint, Kuni supposed was the same as
"Juliane."  Besides, the daughter of the vagabond with the mutilated
tongue was born a few days after the death of little Fraulein Peutinger,
and this circumstance, when Kuni knew it, seemed significant.  Soon after
meeting the vagrant pair she had listened to a conversation between two
travelling scholars, and learned some strange things.  One believed that
the old sages were right when they taught that the soul of a dead person
continued its existence in other living creatures; for instance, the
great Pythagoras had known positively, and proved that his own had dwelt,
in former ages, in the breast of the hero Palamedes.

The ropedancer remembered this statement, questioned other Bacchantes
about these things, and heard the doctrine of the transmigration of the
soul confirmed.  Hence, during many a solitary ride, while the cart
rolled slowly along, she pondered over the thought that Juliane's soul
had lived again in foolish Julie.  How?  Why?  She did not rack her
brains on those points.  What had been a fancy, slowly became a fixed
belief in the mind thus constantly dwelling upon one idea.  At last she
imagined that whatever she did for Cyriax's child benefited the soul of
the little Augsburg girl, whose life had been shortened by her wicked
prayer on the rope.

Yet she had not bought the indulgence in vain.  But for that, she
believed that Juliane's soul would still be burning in the flames of
purgatory.  The indulgence of the "Inquisitor" Tetzel had proved its
power, and rescued her from the fire.  To demonstrate this fact she
devised many a proof.  For instance, one day the idea entered her mind
that foolish Juli's brain was so weak because Juliane, during her brief
existence, had used more of hers than was fair.

At first this had been a mere fancy; but, true to her nature, she
reverted to it again and again, while in the cart which she alone shared
with the child, until it had matured to an immovable conviction.  During
her changeful, wandering life, she had had no fixed religious principles.
But, since the notion had entered her mind that Lienhard would reward her
for her love by giving her a share, even though a very small one, of his
heart, she had clung tenaciously to it, in spite of all rebuffs and the
offensive indifference with which he had treated her.  On her sick bed
and during her convalescence, she had dwelt upon the fear that her sinful
prayer had killed the little wearer of the laurel wreath, until she could
say to herself that events had proved it.  With the same firmness she now
held to the belief that she had found the right idea concerning little
Juli's soul.

With the passionate desire to atone to the patrician's daughter for the
wrong which she had inflicted upon her, she clasped the vagabond's child
to her heart with the love of the most faithful mother, and her
affectionate care seemed to benefit herself as well as the ailing little
one.  Juli was as devoted to her Kuni as a faithful dog.  The kindness
which the lame ropedancer showed to the fragile child was lavishly
returned to her by a thousand proofs of the warmest attachment.

So Kuni had found one heart which kept its whole treasure of love for her
alone, one creature who could not do without her, one fragile human plant
to which she could be useful and helpful day and night.

Under the care of a faithful nurse little Juli gradually grew stronger,
both physically and mentally.  The little girl's wan cheeks began to be
rosy, the convulsions and fever attacked her less frequently.  Besides
the faint "Baba," she learned to babble "Duni," (instead of Kuni) and
afterward "Mother," and many other words.  At last she talked nearly as
well as other children of her age.  All this afforded the lame girl a
wealth of sweet joys wholly new to her, which afforded her heart such
warmth and solace that, in spite of the cough which tormented her during
many an hour of the day and night, she felt happier during her homeward
journey with the fierce blasphemer Cyriax, from whom she expected the
worst things, than in the brilliant days of her fame as an artist.
Doubtless, as they approached Germany, she often wondered what Lienhard
would think of her, if he should meet her amid such surroundings, as the
companion of so worthless a couple; but the terror that overpowered her
was transformed into pleasant satisfaction at the thought that he would
approve, nay, praise her conduct, when she could show him the child, and
tell him what she had done for it.

This state of affairs had continued until two months before.  Then,
at Schaffhausen, her darling had suddenly been attacked with violent
convulsions, and the feeble intellect, which her love had so toilsomely
and faithfully waked from its slumber, only too soon attained eternal
peace.  In all Kuni's sorrowful life she had scarcely experienced any
grief so bitter.  When she closed the little eyes which had gazed into
her pale face so often and so tenderly, it seemed as if the sun, moon,
and stars had lost their light, and henceforth she was condemned to
live in dreary gloom.

What terrible days had followed the child's death!  Cyriax raved as if he
had really been seized with the lunacy whose pretence helped him to beg
his bread.  Besides, he gave himself up to unbridled indulgence in
brandy, and, when drunk, he was capable of the most brutal acts.  The
dead Juli's mother, who, spite of an evil youth and a lenient conscience,
was by no means one of the worst of women, had to endure the harshest
treatment from her profligate companion.

The blow which had fallen upon him filled him with savage rage, and he
longed to inflict some pain upon all who came in his way that they, too,
might feel what it was to suffer.

The death of his "sweet little Juli" appeared to have hardened the last
tender spot in his brutal soul.

Kuni was the only person toward whom at first he imposed some restraint
upon himself.  True, without any consideration for the girl's presence,
he sometimes asked Gitta why they still burdened themselves with the
useless hobbler and did not sell the cart and the donkey.  But though
there was no lack of good offers for the excellent Spanish beast of
burden, he allowed matters to remain as before.  If the rage seething in
his heart led him, in his drunken frenzy, to make Kuni feel its effects,
too, the pleading glance of the blue eyes, still large and expressive,
with which she had so often hushed the wailing child, sufficed to soothe
him.

Yesterday, for the first time, he had seriously threatened to drive the
ropedancer away, and she knew that Cyriax was capable of anything.  True,
his wife was attached to Kuni, but she had little influence over her
vicious husband.  So the sick cripple might only too easily find herself
left on the highway.

Still, she had given Cyriax cause for the threat.  All day and during
the night she had been busy with the unfortunate mother and her twins,
and therefore had frequently neglected to fill his brandy bottle.  But
this could not be helped, and she was not accustomed to think of the
future.  Whatever her heart urged she did, no matter what might happen.
If Cyriax left her in the lurch, she must beg or starve unless chance,
which so often mingled in her existence, willed otherwise.

With the child's life the modest happiness which Kuni had enjoyed during
the last few months had vanished, not only because the tongueless
blasphemer had become a different person, and she sorely missed the
delicate little creature who had filled and cheered her heart, but she
had also lost the peace of mind which she enjoyed during the existence
of her charge.

The young Augsburg maiden, whom she thought she had bought out of the
flames of purgatory, did not appear to her again, but the vagrant's child
came all the more frequently, and whenever she showed herself she wailed
and wept bitterly.  Sweet little Juli's soul must now--whether it had
been Juliane's or not--endure the tortures of purgatory, and this pierced
Kuni's heart the more deeply the more affectionately she remembered the
sickly-child.

Ever since she had used a black plaster, given to her at Singen by a
quack, the stump of her foot had become sore again, and sharp pain
tortured her so cruelly that, especially when the cough racked her
emaciated body and she was jolted to and fro in the springless cart over
stony roads, she was afraid that she should lose her reason.

At Pforzheim a barber had examined the wound and, shaking his head,
pronounced the black plaster a malignant blood poisoner, and when she
refused to have the leg amputated, applied a yellow one, which proved no
better.  When Cyriax counted up his receipts in the evening, called to
red-haired Gitta his favourite maxim, "Fools never die," and handed to
her--Kuni--the larger brandy bottle to fill, she had often summoned up
her courage and begged him to buy an indulgence for his sweet little
Juli.  The result was certain--she knew it from her own experience.

Shortly after the child's death he had thrust his hand into his purse
more than once at such an appeal and given money for a few candles, but
it had not been possible to persuade him to purchase the paper.

This refusal was by no means due to mere parsimony.  Kuni knew what
induced him to maintain his resistance so obstinately, for in her
presence he had told pock-marked Ratz that he would not take the
indulgence gratis.  Wherever he might be, his family ought to go,
and he did not wish to be anywhere that he would not find Juli.

He did not doubt the continued life of the soul after death, but
precisely because he was sure that the gates of paradise would remain
closed to him throughout eternity he would not help to open them for the
dead child.  When his imagination tortured him with fancies that mice and
beetles were leaping and running out of his pockets and the breast of his
doublet, he thought that his end was drawing near.  If the devil then had
power over his soul, his imps might drag him wherever they pleased, if
only he might see little Juli there and hear her call "Baba" and
"Father."  It would  lessen  the tortures  of hell, however severe they
might be.  Was it possible for him to conceive of any greater folly than
to rob himself of this consolation by transporting the child, through the
indulgence, to the kingdom of heaven, where he could never see her again.
He had accumulated a goodly sum by begging, it is true, but, strangely
enough, he did not think of purchasing salvation for himself in order to
meet his child again in heaven, instead of amid the flames of purgatory.
Though he had become as rich as the Fuggers, paradise, he knew, would
still be closed to him.  He was not fit for it.

He hated everybody who was rich and respectable.  He would rather be with
his child in the mire of hell than to go with her to a magnificent garden
of paradise where swearing was forbidden, where there was no brandy and
no highroad, and which offered only pleasures which were none to him.

So Kuni was forced to see the child remain in the fires of purgatory,
which hurt her little less than her aching limb.

At her entrance into The Blue Pike pain and mental suffering had driven
her to the verge of despair.  But the day which began so sorrowfully was
followed by an evening of delight--she owed to it her new meeting with
Lienhard.

From childhood she had been homeless, and every quarter of the globe to
which a highroad led was her native land.  Yet in Spain and during the
journey back she had felt a gnawing longing for Germany, nay, nothing had
troubled her more than the thought of dying and being buried outside of
its frontier.  Her mother, a native of the Rhine country, had given her
birth during the fair at Cologne on the Spree; but, whenever homesickness
assailed her, it was always the steeples of St. Sebald and St. Ulrich
which beckoned to her, and she had longed for the Frank country, the
Main, or the richly wooded banks of the Pegnitz.  Was this because, in
Nuremberg, for the only time in her life, she had been a member of a
decorous household, or had the love which, wherever Cyriax's cart and
donkey carried her, always drew her heart back to the same ancient city,
made it so dear to her?

Probably the latter, for yesterday she had yearned ardently to reach
Nuremberg; but since she had seen Lienhard again, she rejoiced that she
was in Miltenberg and at The Blue Pike.

Never had he seemed to her so handsome, so manly.  Besides, he had spoken
to her, listened to her reply, and even given her money with lavish
generosity.  It was like him!  No one else would have been capable of it.

She could live a long time on his three gold florins, if Cyriax abandoned
her; yet the unexpected wealth burned in her hand and perplexed her.  Did
Lienhard no longer know that she would not accept money from him?  Had
she robbed herself of the certainty that beautified existence; had she
failed to show him her superiority to other vagrant girls?  Yet no!  What
he gave her was more, far more, than even a prince bestowed upon an
ordinary mendicant.  He must measure her by a special standard.  If he
had only given her the gold with a kind word, not flung it silently into
her lap.  This half destroyed her pleasure in the present, and the ample
supply of money clouded her already disturbed peace of mind still more.
Had it been possible, she would have returned the gift as she did the
alms at Augsburg.  But how was this to be accomplished in the over-
crowded inn?

Yet, if she kept the florins, the sacrifice at the convent would lose a
large portion of its value, and the good opinion which her act at
Augsburg must have inspired might be shadowed.

For some time before leaving the room in the tavern she had turned the
coins restlessly over and over under her kerchief, and meanwhile, as if
in a dream, made but evasive answers to the questions and demands of
Cyriax and Gitta.

Then she glided nearer to the gentlemen at the table, intending to return
Lienhard's gift; but the landlord of The Pike followed her suspiciously,
and drove her back to her companions.

Thence she had been called to the sick woman and went out of doors.  She
found the mother of the twins in the meadow by the Main and eagerly
devoted herself to them.

The widow's burning head and gasping breath were no favourable symptoms.
She herself felt that her end was approaching.  Her tongue was parched.
The water in the jug was warm and flat, yet she longed for a cool drink.
During the day Kuni had noticed a well in the kitchen garden, and, in
spite of her aching foot, hastened to it at once to draw the cool water.
While doing so, the red and white pinks which she had noticed at noon
again caught her eye in the starlight night.  The sick woman could enjoy
their fragrance now, and to-morrow, feast her eyes upon their bright
colours.

From childhood she had always been fond of flowers.  Stealing was
prohibited by her father as wicked and dangerous, and she had never
transgressed his commands.  When she picked up the costly rosary in
Nuremberg, she had intended to return it to the owner.  But to pluck the
flowers and fruit which the Lord caused to grow and ripen for every one
was a different thing, and had never troubled her conscience.  So she
carelessly gathered a few pinks.  Three should go to the sick woman, but
Lienhard Groland would have the largest and finest.  She would try to
slip the flowers into his hand, with the money, as a token of her
gratitude.  But even while saying to herself that these blossoms should
be her last greeting to him, she felt the red spots burning more hotly on
her cheeks.  Ah, if only he would accept the pinks!  Then the most cruel
things might happen, she could bear them.

While kneeling before the bed, the waiter, Dietel, noticed her.  As she
saw him also, she hurried back to the suffering mother as fast as her
lame limb would carry her, and raised the jug of fresh water to her
parched lips.

This had been a delicious refreshment to the sick woman, and when Kuni
saw how much comfort her little service afforded the invalid, her heart
grew lighter.  Had it been possible she, who was of no importance to any
one, would willingly have lain down on the heap of straw in the place of
the mother upon whom two young lives depended.

How delightful it was to bring aid!  And she possessed the means of being
helpful.

So, with sparkling eyes, she pressed the three gold coins into the
sufferer's burning hand, and told her that the village authorities would
rear the twins for such a sum.  Then the parched lips of the fevered
woman lauded the merciful kindness bestowed by the lame ropedancer--who
at that moment seemed to her as powerful as a queen--so warmly and
tenderly that Kuni felt the blood again mount into her cheeks--this time
with shame at the praise which she deserved so little, yet which rendered
her so happy.  Finally, the sufferer expressed a desire for a priest,
that she might not pass from earth without a sacrament.  Her sins
oppressed her sorely.  She, and she alone, was to blame for Nickel's
being hanged.  Never in all her life had she been a glutton; but before
the birth of the twins the devil had tormented her with a strange longing
for roast fowl, which she had been unable to repress and keep to herself.
Solely for her gratification, Nickel stole the goose and the hens.  In
spite of many a bad business in which his reckless nature had involved
him, he was a good fellow, with a loving heart.

For her sake he would have tried to steal the ring from the executioner's
finger.  Now he had gone into the other world unshriven, with the rope
about his neck, for though the benefit of the sacrament was usually
granted even to the worst criminals, the peasants strung Nickel up to the
nearest tree as soon as they caught him, without heeding his entreaties.
This made death even harder for her than the thought of the poor little
creatures yonder in the bundle of rags.  Kuni's charity had provided for
the orphans, but her Nickel would find no mercy from the heavenly Judge
throughout eternity.

She had sobbed aloud as she spoke, and then writhed in such violent
convulsions that Kuni with difficulty prevented her from throwing herself
out of the hot straw in the cart upon the damp meadow.

When she grew somewhat calmer, she repeated Nickel's name again and again
till it was heartrending to hear her.



CHAPTER IX.

As soon as the sufferer's condition would permit, Kuni left her, went to
the window of the taproom in The Blue Pike, and surveyed its inmates.

Most of them were already asleep on heaps of straw, which were raised at
the head by chairs turned upside down.  The richer guests had gone to the
bedrooms, which, however, they were obliged to share with several others.
Some of the strollers were lying on the floor with their knapsacks under
their heads.  A few of the musicians were still lingering over the wine
which the travelling merchants and artisans had ordered for them.  Others
had gone with some of the vagrants into the little wood beyond the
meadow, where they danced, fiddled, and sang.

Their loud shouts were borne by the cool night breeze to the sufferer in
the cart.  The gentlemen from Cologne, without troubling themselves about
the boisterous merriment of the burghers or the transformation of the
room into a sleeping apartment, were still sitting at the table talking
together eagerly.

The dealer in the indulgences, too, had not yet gone to rest.  A tall,
broad-shouldered sergeant belonging to the escort had just purchased--
for the larger part of the zecchins won as his share of the booty in the
Italian war--the indulgence which he thought would secure him from the
tortures of the fire of purgatory.  Before opening the door, he struck
his broad breast as though relieved of a heavy burden.

The ropedancer looked after him thoughtfully.  The paper had now
lightened the sergeant's heart as it had formerly done her own.  Would
she not have been wiser to give her money for the redemption of Nickel's
lost soul than for the orphans, whom the charity of the people would
perhaps have succoured without her?  Probably, too, it would have
afforded still greater consolation to the poor dying woman, whom nothing
troubled so sorely as her guilt for the doom of her unfortunate husband.

Yet, even thus she had succeeded in making the dying mother's departure
easier, and what she had commenced she intended to complete at once.

With a tender smile that lent strange beauty to her pallid, grief-worn
face she continued her survey.

She had previously noticed an old priest, whose countenance bore the
impress of genuine kindness of heart.  She soon found him again among the
travellers sleeping on the straw; but the old man's slumber was so sound
that she felt reluctant to wake him.  Among the Dominicans from Cologne,
most of whom were also asleep, there were none she would have trusted,
nay, she even thought that one was the very person who, shortly before
her fall from the rope, had pursued her with persistent importunity.
But the Abbot of St. AEgidius in Nuremberg, who had dined with the
ambassadors from his native city, was also a man of benevolent, winning
expression.  His cheeks were flushed, either by the heat or the wine
which he had drunk, but there was a look of attractive kindness upon his
well-formed features.  When he went through the room a short time before,
Kuni had seen him pass his hand caressingly over the fair hair of the
pretty little son of a potter's wife from Reren on the Rhine, whose cart
was standing outside in the meadow by the Main.  He was scarcely of the
same mind as the gentleman from Cologne, for he had just waved his plump
hand in protest.

Perhaps she might even do him a favour by summoning him.  But dared she,
a poor vagabond, disturb so distinguished a gentleman at his wine?

Yet there was danger in delay.  So she resolved to ask the assistance of
the landlady of The Pike, coughed with her handkerchief pressed over her
lips, in order not to disturb the sleepers, and turned to leave the room.

But Gitta had just been to see the sick mother, and told Cyriax that
Kuni, silly, softhearted thing, had wasted her gold coins on the dying
woman.

The blasphemer flew into a great rage, muttered a few words to pock-
marked Ratz, and then staggered toward their lame travelling companion to
bar her passage across the threshold, and ask, in angry, guttural tones,
how much of the Groland gold she had flung into the dying woman's grave.

"Is it any business of yours?"  was the reply, uttered with difficulty
amid her coughing.

"Mine, mine--is it any business of mine?" gasped the tongueless man.
Then he raised his heavy fist threateningly and stammered jeeringly:
"Not--not a red heller more nor less than my cart--in the name of all the
fiends--than my cart is of yours.  Four heller pounds, Ratz, and the
donkey and cart are yours."

"Done!"  cried the vagrant, who already had his money ready; but the
tongueless blasphemer chuckled with malicious pleasure:

"Now you have it, fool!  Whoever doesn't share with me--you know that--
doesn't ride with me."

Then he staggered back to Gitta.

The girl watched him silently for a while.  At last she passed her hand
quickly across her brow, as if to dispel some unpleasant thought, and
shook her burning head, half sadly, half disapprovingly.

She had done a good deed--and this, this--But she had not performed it
for the sake of reward, she had only desired to aid the sufferer.

Straightening herself proudly, she limped toward the kitchen.

Here, frequently interrupted by fits of coughing, she told the landlady
of The Pike in touching words that the sick mother, whom she had so
kindly strengthened with nice broth, desired the sacrament, as her life
would soon be over.  The Lord Abbot of St. AEgidius in Nuremberg was
still sitting over his wine.

She went no further.  The landlady, who, while Kuni was talking, had
wiped her pretty flushed face with her apron, pulled the rolled up white
linen sleeves farther down over her plump arms, and gazed with mingled
surprise and approval into the girl's emaciated face, interrupted her
with the promise to do what she could for the poor woman.

"If it were any one else," she continued, significantly, "I would not
venture to try it.  But the Abbot of St. AEgidius, in his charity,
scarcely asks, when help is needed, whence did you come, who are you,
or what do you possess?  I know him.  Wait here a little while.  If he
condescends to do it, you can take him to the poor creature at once."

While speaking she smoothed, with two swift motions of her hands, the
brown hair which had become a little disordered while bustling to and fro
to attend to the business, dipped her hands into the water pail, dried
them quickly on her apron, untied it, and tossed it to the maid.  Then
she cleared her throat vigorously and left the kitchen.

In reply to the anxious question of her husband, whom she met on the
threshold of the room, as to what she was seeking there, she answered
firmly, "What is  right and pious"; then modestly whispered her request
to the abbot.

Her wish was fulfilled without delay, nay, it might really have been
supposed that the interruption was very opportune to the distinguished
prelate; for, with the brief exclamation, "Imperative official duty!"
he rose from the table, and went first with the landlady to Kuni and
afterward with the latter to the cart beside the laden potter's wain,
whose white tilt gleamed in the darkness.

The landlady had undertaken to send to the sexton, whose house was near,
that he might immediately obtain everything the abbot needed for the
dying woman's viaticum.

Kuni told the sufferer what an exalted servant of the Church was ready to
receive her confession and give her the sacrament.

Then she whispered that she might mention Nickel's burdened soul to the
abbot.  Whatever happened, she could now depart from earth in peace.

Reserving for herself half of the flowers she had gathered in the garden
she glided away, in order not to disturb the dying woman's confession.



CHAPTER X.

At the edge of the meadow Kuni paused to reflect.  She would gladly have
flung herself down on the dewy grass to rest, stretched at full length on
the cool turf.  She was worn out, and her foot ached and burned painfully
after her long walk in the warm August night; but something else exerted
a still stronger attraction over her poor longing heart; the desire to
see Lienhard again and give him the pinks as a token of gratitude for so
much kindness.

He was still sitting with the other gentlemen at the table in front of
the tavern.  One of the torches threw its light full on his manly face.
Kuni knew that he could not see her in the darkness surrounding her
figure, yet it seemed as though she was meeting the gaze of his sparkling
dark eyes.  Now he was speaking.  How she longed to know what he said.
Summoning up her courage, she glided along in the shadow of the wall and
sat down behind the oleander bush on the sharp edge of the tub.  No one
noticed her, but she was afraid that a fit of coughing might betray her
presence, so she pressed her apron firmly over her lips and sat straining
her ears to listen.  In spite of the violent aching of her foot and the
loud rattling in her chest, she thought it a specially favourable
dispensation of Providence that she had found her way here just at this
moment; for Lienhard was still speaking.  The others had asked him to
tell them connectedly how the beautiful Katharina Harsdtirffer had become
his wife, in spite of the opposition of her stern father and though the
Honourable Council had punished him for such insubordination with
imprisonment and exile.

He had already related this in detail when Kuni came to listen.  Now,
pointing to Wilibald Pirckheimer, who sat opposite, he went on with his
story, describing how, thanks to the mediation of the latter and of the
great artist, Albrecht Durer, he had obtained an audience at Innsbruck
with the Emperor Maximilian, how the sovereign had interceded personally
in behalf of himself and his betrothal, and how, in consequence of this
royal intervention, he had attained the goal of his wishes.

"Our Honourables," he concluded, "now willingly permitted me to return
home, and Hans Harsdtirffer, Katharina's father-Heaven rest his soul--
relinquished his opposition to our marriage.  Perhaps he would have done
so earlier, but for the keen antagonism which, owing to their totally
different natures, had arisen between the stern man and my lighthearted
father, and displayed itself in the Council as well as in all the affairs
of life.  Not until his old opponent, to whom I owed my existence, was on
his death-bed, did Herr Hans clasp hands with him in reconciliation, and
consent to our betrothal."

"And I know," Wilibald Pirckheimer interrupted, that among the many
obstacles which his foes placed in his path, and which clouded his active
life, you two, and your loyal love, gave him more light and greater
consolation than anything else.  I have often heard him gladly
acknowledge this, and as for you, friend Lienhard."

"I know," replied the young Honourable modestly, checking him, "that he
was right in deeming the immature youth, which I was at the time of my
first wooing, unworthy of his daughter."

"Though you had been the peer in strength and beauty of the valiant
Achilles, and in wisdom of the subtle Ulysses, son of Laertes, I would
not contradict you," interrupted Pirckheimer; "for, gentlemen, this
gallant husband's wife is a jewel of a peculiar kind.  Nuremberg is proud
of calling Frau Katharina her daughter.  Far as the German language is
spoken, her equal would be sought in vain."

"You are an enviable  man," said little Dr. Eberbach, turning to
Lienhard.  "But probably you will permit me one question.  Even when a
boy,--as we heard, you loved the child Katharina.  As a youth, you took
this love across the Alps to Padua and Bologna.  But when, like the noble
Virgil, I perceive that 'Nowhere is there aught to trust-nowhere,'--
[Virg.  AEn.  iv, 373.]--and find that the esteemed Catullus's words,
'No man passes through life without error,'--[Catull. Dist.  I, 5.]--
are verified, I would fain learn whether in Italy also you held fast, in
small things as well as great ones, to the--among us men--rare bird of
the fidelity sworn to the woman whom we love.  I, who compared to you,
am like a faun with pointed ears beside the handsome Ares, nevertheless
know by experience how easily the glowing eyes of that country kindle
conflagrations.  Was the armour of a former love really strong enough to
guard your heart from every flame, even before any vow bound you to the
child whom you chose so early for the companion of your life"?

"It was the same before the priest's consecration as afterward," replied
the young Councillor, gravely and firmly.

Then, changing his manner, he held out his brimming glass toward the
Thuringian and gaily continued:

"It ought not to seem so amazing to a man of your learning, my
incredulous Herr Doctor.  Surely your far-famed Propertius says,
'Love  is benefited  by many things, a faithful nature and resolute
persistence.'  Believe me, doctor, even without the counsel of your
experienced Roman, I should have kept faith with the lovely child at
home.  From my boyhood, Katharina was to me the woman, the one above all
others, the worthy Tryphon, my teacher of Greek in Bologna, would have
said.  My heart's darling has always been my light, as Helios was that
of the Greeks, though there were the moon and so many planets and stars
besides."

"And the vagrant we saw just now, on whom you bestowed a golden shower
of remembrance as Father Zeus endowed the fair Danae?" asked Doctor
Peutinger of Augsburg, shaking his finger mischievously at his young
friend.  "We humanists follow the saying of Tibullus: 'Whoever confesses
let him be forgiven,' and know the world sufficiently to be aware that
within the walls of Ilium and without enormities are committed."--
[Horace, Epist. 1, 2, 16.]

"A true statement," replied Lienhard.  "It probably applies to me as much
as to the young girl, but there was really nothing between us which bore
the most distant resemblance to a love intrigue.  As a magistrate,
I acquitted her of a trivial misdemeanour which she committed while my
wedding procession was on its way to the altar.  I did this because I was
unwilling to have that happy hour become a source of pain to any one.
In return, she grew deeply attached to me, who can tell whether from
mere gratitude, or because a warmer feeling stirred her strange heart?
At that time she was certainly a pretty, dainty creature, and yet, as
truly as I hope to enjoy the love of my darling wife for many a year,
there was nothing, absolutely nothing, between me and the blue-eyed,
dark-haired wanderer which the confessor might not have witnessed.
I myself wonder at this, because I by no means failed to see the
ropedancer's peculiar changeful charms, and the tempter pointed them out
to me zealously enough.  Besides, she has no ordinary nature.  She had
accomplished really marvellous feats in her art, until at Augsburg,
during the Reichstag, when in the Emperor's presence, she risked the most
daring ventures--"

"Could it be the same person who, before our poor Juliane's eyes, had the
awful fall which frightened the child so terribly?" asked Doctor
Peutinger earnestly.

"The very same," replied Lienhard in a tone of sincere pity; but the
Augsburg doctor continued, sighing:

"With that sudden fright, which thrilled her sensitive nature to its
inmost depths, began the illness of the angel whose rich, loving heart
throbbed so tenderly for you also, Herr Lienhard."

"As mine did for the peerless child," replied the young Councillor with
eager warmth.  "While Juliane, who sickened at the sight of the girl
dancing on the edge of the grave, was pointing out to me some pages in
the manuscript of Lucian, which I was to take from you to Herr Wilibald
yonder, the unfortunate performer met with the terrible accident.
We thought that she was killed, but, as if by a miracle, she lived.
Ropedancing, of course, was over forever, as she had lost a foot.  This,
we supposed, would tend to her welfare and induce her to lead a regular,
decorous life; but we were mistaken.  In spite of her lameness, Kuni's
restless nature drove her back to the highroad.  Yet she would have been
at liberty to remain in the convent as a lay sister without taking the
vows."

"My wife, too, had opened our house to her for Juliane's sake," added
Doctor Peutinger.  "The sick child could not get the fall which had
frightened her so terribly out of her head.  Her compassionate heart was
constantly occupied with the poor girl, and when she urged her mother to
provide for her, she willingly gratified her wish and often inquired
about the sufferer's health.  How Juliane rejoiced when she heard that
the bold and skilful dancer's life would be saved!  But when, through
the abbess, my wife offered her a situation in our home, the vagabond
disdained what the mother and daughter had planned for her, Heaven knows
how kindly."

"She treated the gift which we--my wife and I--left in the convent for
her in the same way," added Lienhard.  "Why did she refuse the aid I
offered no less willingly?  Probably because she was too proud to accept
alms from a man from whom her ardent heart vainly desired something
better."

Here Lienhard Groland hesitated, and it sounded like a confession as he
eagerly continued:

"And, gentleman, she often seemed to me well worthy of a man's desire.
Why should I deny it?  Within and without the walls of Troy--we have just
heard it--sin is committed, and had not the image of another woman stood
between us, as the Alps rise between Germany and Italy-perhaps--But of
what avail are conjectures?  Will you believe that there were hours when
I felt as though I ought to make some atonement to the poor girl?"

"In your place I should have done it long ago, for the benefit of both,"
protested little Doctor Eberbach merrily.  "The commands of conscience
should be obeyed, even when, by way of exception, it requires something
pleasant.  But how grave you look, sir.  No offence!  You are one of the
rare specimens of featherless birds endowed with reason, who unite to the
austerity of Cato the amiability of Titus."

"All due honour to Cato," added Wilibald Pirckheimer with a slight bend
of his stately head; "but in my young days we had a better understanding
of the art of reconciling stern duty with indulgent compassion, when
dealing with a beautiful Calypso whom our sternness threatened to wound.
But everything in the good old days was not better than at the present
time, and that you, whom I honour as the most faithful of husbands, may
not misunderstand  me, Lienhard: To bend and to succumb are two different
things."

"Succumb!" Sir Hans von Obernitz, the Nuremberg magistrate, here
interposed indignantly.  "A Groland, who, moreover, is blessed with a
loyal, lovely wife, succumb to the sparkling eyes of a vagabond wanton!
The Pegnitz would flow up the castle cliff first.  I should think we
might have less vulgar subjects to discuss."

"The daring, skilful ropedancer certainly does not belong to the latter,"
Doctor Peutinger eagerly retorted.  "Besides, who would not desire to
know how the free, hot-blooded daughter of the highway settled the
account with you, friend Lienhard?  Love disdained is said to be the
mother of hatred, and from the days of Potiphar's wife has often caused
cruel vengeance.  Had this girl whom Sir Hans holds in such light esteem
really possessed an evil nature, like others of her class--"

"That she does not," Lienhard  Groland here warmly interrupted the
Augsburg guest.

"Whatever Kuni  may lack, and whatever errors she may have committed, she
is, and will remain a rare creature, even among the few whose lofty
spirit can not be bowed or broken by the deepest calamity.  When I met
her here again at The Blue Pike, among the most corrupt vagabonds, ill
and poor, perhaps already the victim of death, I thought it a fitting
time to renew the gift which she had refused.  I would gladly do more for
the poor girl, and my wife at home certainly would not be vexed; she,
too, is fond of Kuni, and--I repeat it--this girl has a good, nay, the
best nature.  If, instead of among vagabonds, she had been born in a
respectable household--"

Here the young envoy was suddenly interrupted.  His table companions also
raised their heads in surprise--a strange noise echoed through the night
air.

Little Doctor Eberbach started up in affright, Hans von Obernitz, the
Nuremberg magistrate, grasped the hilt of his sword, but Doctor Schedel
instantly perceived that the sound which reached his aged ears was
nothing but a violent, long-repressed fit of coughing.  He and the other
gentlemen were gazing at the oleander tree whence, before any one
approached it, a groan of pain was heard.

The experienced physician shook his white locks gravely and said:

"Whoever uttered that is near the end of his sufferings."

He made a movement to rise as he spoke; he felt that his help was needed.

But another incident diverted the attention of his companions and
himself.



CHAPTER XI.

Dietel, the waiter, had at last been released from his confinement in the
cellar, and instantly began the search for the thief in the garden with
twofold zeal.

Without considering how long a time had passed since he first tried to
bring the culprit into the clutches of the law, he had resumed the
pursuit where it was interrupted.  As a thoughtless child whose bird has
flown from the cage looks into the water jug to find it, he had turned
the light of his lantern upon places where a kitten could not have hidden
itself, and had even been to the meadow on the bank of the Main to seek
Kuni with the widow of the thief Nickel; but here the sacrament was just
being given to the sufferer, and to interrupt such a ceremony would have
been a great crime.  His eyes were keen, and the red pinks had gleamed
from the straw on which the dying woman lay in the light of the lantern,
whose long pole the sexton had thrust into the soft earth of the meadow.
Those flowers must have come from the garden of the landlady of The Pike,
and she valued her pinks more than anything else.  The ropedancer had
gathered them for the sick woman, and certainly had not stopped at that
one act of theft.  How far these vagabonds' impudence went!  But he,
whose duty it was to look after the property of The Blue Pike, would
spoil their pleasure in thieving.

The dog Phylax had soon put him on the trail, and before any of the
gentlemen could reach the groaning person Dietel's triumphant shout rang
from behind the oleander:

"Now we've caught the pilferer, and we'll make an example of her!"

His first glance had fallen on the little bunch of pinks in the girl's
hand, and the vein on his forehead swelled with wrath at this damage to
his mistress's favourite flowers.

But when he shook the culprit by the shoulder and, to his surprise, met
with no resistance, he threw the light of the lantern upon her face, and
what he saw there suddenly troubled him, for the girl's lips, chin, and
dress were covered with bright blood, and her head drooped on one side as
if it had lost its support.

This frightened him, and instead of continuing to boast of his success,
he called for help.

The Nuremberg gentlemen soon surrounded Kuni, and Doctor Hartmann Schedel
told the waiter to carry her, with the aid of his assistants, summoned by
his shout, into the house and provide her with a comfortable bed.

Dietel obeyed the command without delay--nay, when he heard the famous
leech whisper to the other gentlemen that the sufferer's life was but a
failing lamp, his feelings were completely transformed.  All the charity
in his nature began to stir and grew more zealous as he gazed at Kuni's
face, distorted by pain.  The idea of giving up to her his own neat
little room behind the kitchen seemed like a revelation from St. Eoban,
his patron.  She should rest in his bed.  The wanderer who, a few years
ago, had scattered her gold so readily and joyously for the pleasure of
others certainly would not poison it.  Her misery seemed to him a
touching proof of the transitory nature of all earthly things.  Poor
sufferer!  Yet she ought to find recovery on his couch, if anywhere; for
he had surrounded it with images of the saints, pious maxims, and little
relics, bought chiefly from the venders who frequented the tavern.  Among
them was a leather strap from St. Elizabeth's shoe, whose healing power
he had himself tested during an attack of bilious fever.

The burden which he shared with his assistants was a light one, but he
was not to reach his destination without delay--the little bunch of pinks
fell from the hand of the unconscious girl, and Dietel silently picked up
the stolen property which had just roused his wrath to such a degree, and
placed it carefully on the senseless sufferer's bosom.

The second hinderance was more serious.  Cyriax had heard that Kuni was
dying, and fearing that he might be obliged to pay the funeral expenses
he stuttered to the bystanders, with passionate gestures, that an hour
ago he had discharged the cripple whom he had dragged about with him, out
of sheer sympathy, long enough.  She was nothing more to him now than the
cock in the courtyard, which was crowing to greet the approach of dawn.

But the landlord of The Pike and others soon forced Cyriax out of the
way.  Kuni was laid on Dietel's bed, and the gray-haired leech examined
her with the utmost care.

The landlady of The Pike helped to undress her, and when the good woman,
holding her apron to her eyes from which tears were streaming, opened the
door again and the Abbot of St. AEgidius approached the couch, to render
aid to the dying for the second time that night, he saw by Hartmann
Schedel's face that he had not come too soon.

The ropedancer had recovered consciousness, and the kind prelate's
presence was a solace to her.  The confession lasted a long time, and the
story which she had to confide to the priest must have been as strange
as it was interesting, for the abbot listened eagerly and with evident
emotion.  When he had performed the duties of his office he remained
alone for a time; he could not immediately regain a mood in which he
cared to rejoin the others.  He did not ask for the gentlemen from
Cologne; those from Nuremberg, whom he sought, had returned to the
table in front of the tavern long before.

The waves of the Main were now reflecting the golden light of the morning
sun.  Dewdrops glittered on the grass and flowers in the meadow with the
cart, and in the landlady's little garden.  Carriers' men were harnessing
the freshly groomed bays to the pole.  The brass rings on the high
collars of the stallions jingled loudly and merrily, and long whiplashes
cracked over the four and six-horse teams which were beginning the day's
journey along the highroad.

But even the rattling of the carts and the trampling of the horses'
hoofs could not rouse the Cologne professors, who, with their clerical
companions, had gone to rest, and slept in darkened rooms until late into
the morning.  Most of the humbler guests had already left their straw
beds.

Cyriax was one of the first who followed the road.  He had sold his
cart and donkey, and wanted to burden his red-haired wife with his
possessions, but as she resolutely refused he had taken the bundle on
his own lazy shoulders.  Now he dragged himself and his new load onward,
swearing vehemently, for Ratz had remained with the cart in Miltenberg,
where the sham lunatic no longer found it safe to stay.  This time it was
he who was obliged to pull his wife along by the chain, for she had long
refused, as if fairly frantic, to desert the dying girl who had nursed
her child so faithfully.  Again and again the doubly desolate woman
looked back toward the companion whom she had abandoned in her suffering
until they reached Frankfort.  There Gitta left Cyriax and accompanied
Ratz.  The cart in which her child had lived and died, not its repulsive
owner, induced her to sever the bond which, for nine years, had bound her
to the blasphemer.

The travelling scholars set off singing merrily; but the strolling
musicians waited for the ship to sail down the Main, on whose voyage they
could earn money and have plenty to drink.

The vagrants tramped along the highway, one after another, without
troubling themselves about the dying ropedancer.

"Everybody finds it hard enough to bear his own cross," said Jungel,
seizing his long crutches.  Only "Dancing Gundel" lingered in Miltenberg
through sympathy in the fate of the companion who had reached the height
of fame, while she, the former "Phyllis," had gone swiftly downhill.
It was a Christian duty, she said to the blind boy who begged their
bread, not to let Kuni, who had once held so lofty a position, take the
last journey without a suitable escort.  When she heard that her former
companion had received the sacrament, she exclaimed to her blind son,
while slicing garlic into the barley porridge: "She will now be at rest.
We shall earn a pretty penny at the mass in Frankfort if you can only
manage to look as sorrowful when you hold out your hand as you do now!"

The monks, the dealer in indulgences, the burghers and artisans who
were just preparing to embark for the voyage down the Main, gazed in
bewilderment at the distinguished gentlemen who, incredible as it seemed,
had actually--for Dietel said so--foregone their morning nap for the sake
of a vagabond girl.  The feather-curler shook his head as if something
marvellous had happened when he heard the ambassador of the Honourable
Council of his own native city, the distinguished Herr Lienhard Groland,
say to old Doctor Schedel:

"I will wait here with you, my venerable friend.  Since the poor girl can
live only a few hours longer, I can join the others, if I hurry, before
they leave Frankfort."

"That's right, Lienhard," cried Wilibald Pirckheimer, and the Abbot of
St. AEgidius added approvingly:

"You will thereby do something which is pleasing in the sight of Heaven.
Yes, gentlemen, I repeat it: there are few deathbeds beside which I have
found so little reason to be ashamed of the fate of being a mortal as by
the humble couch of this vagabond girl.  If, before the judgment seat
above, intention and faith are weighed with the same scales as works,
few who close their eyes behind silken curtains will be so sure of a
favourable sentence as this poorest of the poor."

"Did the girl really keep no portion of Herr Lienhard's rich gift for
herself?" asked the Nuremberg imperial magistrate.

"Nothing," replied the abbot.  "She gave the whole, down to her last
copper, to the stranger, though she herself must remain here, poor, lame,
and deserted--and she had only met the sick woman by accident upon the
highway.  My duty forbids me to repeat the details, and how she bore
herself even while at Augsburg, but, thanks to the confession which I
have just received, I shall count this morning among those never to be
forgotten.  O gentlemen, death is a serious matter, and intercourse with
the dying is the best school for the priest.  Then the inmost depths of
the soul are opened to him."

"And," observed Wilibald Pirckheimer, "I think the psychologist would
then learn that, the deeper we penetrate the human breast, the darker
is the spectacle."

"Yes, my learned friend," the abbot answered, "but we also perceive that
the deepest and darkest shafts contain the purest specimens of gold and
silver ore."

"And were you really permitted to find such in this neglected vagabond,
reverend sir?"  asked Doctor Eberbach, with an incredulous smile.

"As certainly," answered the prelate with repellent dignity, "as that the
Saviour was right when he called those who were pure in heart blessed
above those who were wise and overflowing with knowledge!"

Then, without waiting for the Thuringian's answer, he hastily turned to
the young ambassador and begged him to grant the dying girl, who clung to
him with tender devotion, a brief farewell.

"Willingly," replied Lienhard, requesting the physician to accompany him.

The latter had just beckoned Doctor Peutinger to his side, to examine
with him the indulgence which he had found under the kerchief crossed
over the sick girl's bosom.  It did not secure redemption from the flames
of purgatory for the ropedancer's soul, as the gentlemen expected, but
for another, and that other--the learned humanist and Imperial Councillor
would not believe his own eyes--was his beloved, prematurely lost child.
There, in large letters, was "Juliane Peutinger of Augsburg."

Astonished, almost bewildered, the usually quiet statesman expressed his
amazement.

The other gentlemen were preparing to examine the paper with him, when
the abbot, without betraying the secret of Kuni's heart, which she had
confided to him in her confession, told Juliane's father that the
ropedancer had scarcely left the convent ere she gave up both the
Emperor's gift and the viaticum--in short, her whole property, which
would have been large enough to support her a long time--in order to do
what she could for the salvation of the child for whom her soul was more
concerned than for her own welfare.

The astonished father's eyes filled with tears of grateful emotion, and
when Lienhard went with the gray-haired leech to the dying girl Doctor
Peutinger begged permission to accompany them.  The physician, however,
requested him to remain away from the sufferer, who would be disturbed by
the sight of a strange face.  Then Peutinger charged his young friend to
give Kuni his kind greetings and thank her for the love with which she
had remembered his dear child.

The young Councillor silently followed the physician to the sick bed,
at whose head leaned a Gray Sister, who was one of the guests of
The Blue Pike and had volunteered to nurse the patient.

The nun shook her head sorrowfully as the two men crossed the threshold.
She knew how the dying look, and that the hand of death already touched
this sufferer.  Yet her kind, colourless face, framed by the white sides
of her cap, quickly regained its usual quiet, placid expression.

The regular features, now slightly flushed with the fever, of the patient
in her charge, on the contrary, were constantly varying in expression.
She had noticed the entrance of the visitors, and when she opened her
sparkling blue eyes and saw the person to whom her poor heart clung with
insatiable yearning they were filled with a sunny radiance, and a smile
hovered round her lips.

She had known that he would come, that he would not let her die without
granting her one more glance.

Now she would fain have nodded to him and expressed in very, very
appropriate words the delight, the embarrassment, the gratitude which
filled her soul, but her panting chest could give no breath for
utterance.  Nay, extreme exhaustion even prevented the movement of her
lips.  But her heart and brain were by no means inactive.  A wealth of
internal and external experiences, long since forgotten, rose before her
mind.  First she fancied that she saw Lienhard, as at their first
meeting, approaching the garlanded door of St. Sebald's with his
beautiful bride, arrayed in her wedding robes.  Then she was transported
to the court room and felt his hand stroke her hair.  The hours at Frau
Schurstab's when she had awaited his visits with an anxious heart came
back to her memory.  Then she again saw herself upon the rope.  Lienhard
was toying with the little elf below.  But what she beheld this time was
far from awakening new wicked wishes, for Juliane once more wore her
laurel crown and beckoned kindly to her like a dear, familiar friend.
Finally, pale little Juli appeared, as if shrouded in mists.  Last of
all, she saw herself filling the jug for the sick woman and gathering the
red pinks for her and Lienhard in the landlady's little garden by the
shimmering starlight.  The flowers, whose fragrance was too strong, yet
which she had not the strength to remove, lay on the coverlet before her.
They were intended for Lienhard, and as she stretched her slender fingers
toward them and tried to clasp them she succeeded.  She even found
strength to hold out her right hand to him with a beseeching glance.
And lo! ere her arm fell again the proud man had seized the flowers.
Then she saw him fasten the pinks on the breast of his dark doublet,
and heard the thrill of deep emotion in his voice, as he said:

"I thank you, dear Kuni, for the beautiful flowers.  I will keep them.
Your life was a hard one, but you have borne the burden bravely.  I saw
this clearly, and not I alone.  I am also to thank you and give you very
friendly remembrances in the name of Doctor Peutinger, of Augsburg,
little Juliane's father.  He will think of you as a mistress of your art,
a noble, high-minded girl, and I--I shall certainly do so."

He clasped her burning hand as he spoke; but at these words she felt
as she had probably done a few hours before, when, hidden behind the
oleander, she listened to the conversation in which he mentioned her
kindly.  Again a warm wave of joy seemed to surge upward in her breast,
and she fancied that her heart was much too small for such a wealth of
rapture, and it was already overflowing in hot waves, washing all grief
far, far away.

Her gift had been accepted.

The red pinks looked at her from his doublet, and she imagined that
everything around was steeped in rosy light, and that a musical tinkling
and singing echoed in her ears.

Never had she experienced such a feeling of happiness.

Now she even succeeded in moving her lips, and the man, who still held
her little burning hand clasped in his first heard his own name very
faintly uttered; then her parched lips almost inaudibly repeated the
exclamation: "Too late!"  and again, "Too late!"

The next instant she pressed her left hand upon her panting breast.  The
rosy hue around her blended with the red tint of the pinks, and another
haemorrhage bore the restless wanderer to that goal where every mortal
journey ends.



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Repeated the exclamation: "Too late!"  and again, "Too late!





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