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- Barbara Blomberg, Volume 2. - 2/11 -
knew and valued.
Every one in Ratisbon or at the court who spoke of Sir Wolf Hartschwert called him an excellent fellow. In fact, he had so few defects and faults that perhaps it might have been better for his advancement in life and his estimation in the circle of society to which he belonged if more of them had clung to him.
Hitherto the vice of avarice was the last with which he could have been reproached. But, when his old friend filled his glass with wine, the desire that the property left to him might prove larger than he had expected overpowered every other feeling.
Formerly it had been welcome mainly as a testimonial of his old friend's affection. He did not need it for his own wants; his position at court yielded him a far larger income than he required for the modest life to which he was accustomed. For Barbara's sake alone he eagerly hoped that he had greatly underestimated his foster parents' possessions.
Ought he to blame her because she desired to change the life of poverty with her father for one which better harmonized with her worth and tastes? He himself, who had lived years in a Roman palace, surrounded by exquisite works of the gloriously developed Italian art, and then in the one at Brussels, furnished with imperial splendour, did not feel perfectly content in the more than simple room which Blomberg called his "artist workshop."
A few rude wooden chairs, a square table with clumsy feet, and an open cupboard in which stood a few tin cups, were, the sole furniture of the narrow, disproportionately long room, whose walls were washed with gray. The ceiling, with its exposed beams, was blackened by the pine torches which were often used for lights. Pieces of board were nailed over the defective spots in the floor, and the lines where the walls met rarely showed a right angle.
The window disappeared in the darkness. It was in the back of the niche formed by the unusually thick walls. During the day its small, round panes gave the old gentleman light while he guided his graving tool. A wooden tripod supported the board on which his tools lay. The stool, which usually stood on a wooden trestle opposite to it, now occupied a place before the table bearing the flagon of wine, and was intended for Barbara.
After the torches had ceased to burn, a single tallow candle in a wrought-iron candlestick afforded the two men light, and threatened to go out when, in the eagerness of their conversation, they forgot to use the snuffers.
Neither curtain, carpet, nor noteworthy work of art pleased the eye in this bare, strangely narrow room. The weapons and pieces of armour of the aged champion of the faith, which hung high above the window, made no pretension to beauty. Besides, the rays of the dim candle did not extend to them any more than to the valueless pictures of saints and virgins on the wall.
The door of Barbara's little bow-window room stood open. Nothing but a small oil lamp was burning there. But the articles it contained, though dainty in themselves, were standing and lying about in such confusion that it also presented an unpleasant aspect.
Yet Barbara's beauty had shed such radiance upon this hideous environment that the scene of her industry had seemed to Wolf like an Eden.
Now he could scarcely understand this; but he found it so much the easier to comprehend that these wretched surroundings no longer suited such a pearl, and that it behooved him to procure it a worthier setting.
Still, it was by no means easy to ask the captain what he desired to know, for during the young knight's absence a great many important things had happened which Blomberg was longing to tell.
He was in such haste to do this that he detained Wolf, who wanted to speak to old Ursel before he began to drink the wine, by the statement that she suffered from wakefulness, and he would disturb her just as she was falling asleep.
The account of the property bequeathed to the young knight was only too quickly completed, for, though the precentor's will made his foster son the sole heir, the legacy consisted only of the house, some portable property, and scarcely more than a thousand florins.
Yet perhaps something else was coming to Wolf; early yesterday Dr. Hiltner, the syndic of the city, had asked his place of residence, and added that he had some news for him which promised good fortune.
After these communications Blomberg hoped to be able to mention the important events which had occurred in Ratisbon during his young friend's absence; but Wolf desired with such eager curiosity to hear the syndic's news first that it vexed the captain, and he angrily told him that he would bite off his tongue before he would even say "How are you?" to that man, and to play eavesdropper to any one was not at all in his line.
Here his companion interrupted with the query, What had caused the learned scholar, whom every one, as well as the precentor, had highly esteemed, to forfeit his friend's good opinion?
Blomberg had waited for such a question.
He had been like a loaded culverin, and Wolf had now touched the burning match to the powder. To understand why he, Blomberg, who wished only the best fortune to every good Christian, would fain have this thorough scoundrel suffer all the torments of hell, the young knight must first learn what had happened in Ratisbon since the last Reichstag.
Until then the good city had resisted the accursed new religious doctrines which had gained a victory in Nuremberg and the other cities of the empire.
Here also, as Wolf himself had probably experienced, there had been no lack of inclination toward the Lutheran doctrine. It was certainly natural, since it suited the stomach better to fill itself, even during Lent, than to renounce meat; since there were shameless priests who would rather embrace a woman than to remain unmarried; since the Church property bestowed by pious souls was a welcome morsel to princes and to cities, and, finally, because licentiousness was more relished than wholesome discipline. The wicked desires inspired by all the evil spirits and their tool, the Antichrist Luther, had gained the upper hand here also, and Dr. Hiltner, above all others, had prepared the way for them in Ratisbon. Even at the last Reichstag his Majesty the Emperor had earnestly, but with almost too much gracious forbearance, endeavoured to effect a union between the contending parties, but directly after his departure from the city rebellion raised its head with boundless insolence. The very next year the Council formally introduced the evil which they called ecclesiastical reformation. The blinded people flocked to the new parish church to attend the first service, which they called "Protestant." Then the mischief hastened forward with gigantic strides.
"Last year," cried the old gentleman, hoarse with indignation, striking the table with his clenched fist as if he were in camp, "I saw them with my own eyes throw down and drag away, I know not where, the pillar with the beautiful image of Mary, the masterpiece of Erhard Heydenreich, the architect of the cathedral, which stood in front of the new parish church. Songs had been composed in her honour, and she was dear and precious to you from early childhood, as well as to every native of Ratisbon; the precentor--God rest his soul!--read to me from your letter from Rome what exquisite works of art you saw there every day, but that you still remembered with pleasure the beautiful Virgin at home.
"But what do these impious wretches care about beautiful and sacred things? The temple desecrators removed and destroyed one venerable, holy image after another. True, they did not venture into the cathedral, probably from fear of his Majesty the Emperor, and whoever had undertaken to lay hands upon the altar painting and the Madonna in our chapel would have paid for it--I am not boasting--with his life. Though 'the beautiful Mary,' in her superabundant mercy, quietly endured the affront offered, our Lord himself punished it, for he inspired the illustrious Duke of Bavaria to issue an edict which forbids his subjects to trade with Ratisbon. Whoever even enters the city must pay a heavy fine. This set many people thinking. Ursel will tell you what sinful prices we have paid since for butter and meat. Even the innocent are obliged to buckle their belts tighter. Those who wished to escape fasting are now compelled by poverty to practise abstinence. It is said the Roman King Ferdinand is urging the revocation of the order. If I were in his place, I would advise making it more stringent till the rebels sweat blood and crept to the cross."
Then Blomberg bewailed the untimely leniency of the Emperor, for there was not even any rumour of a serious assault upon the Turks. And yet, if only he, Blomberg, was commissioned to raise an army of the cross, Christianity would soon have rest from its mortal foe! But if it should come to fighting--no matter whether against the infidels or the heretics --in spite of Wawerl and his lame leg, he would take the field again. No death could be more glorious than in battle against the destrover of souls. The scoundrels were flourishing like tares among the wheat. At the last Reichstag the Electors of Brandenburg and Saxony, as well as the Landgrave Philip of Hesse, brought their own preachers, whose sermons turned many heads, even the pastor of St. Emmeran's, Zollern, who was a child of Ratisbon. At Staufferhof Baron von Stauff, formerly a man worthy of all honour, had opened his chapel of St. Ann to all the citizens to permit them to participate in the Lutheran idolatry. Two Protestant ministers, one of whom, Dr. Forster, Luther himself had brought to Ratisbon, were liberally paid by the Council. Whether Wolf believed it or not, Father Hamberger, whom he surely remembered as Prior of the Minorites, and who at that time enjoyed universal esteem, had taken a wife, and the rest of the monks had followed the iniquitous example. Many other priests had married if it suited them, and, instead of the cowl, wore secular garments. The instruction given in the school of poets was perfectly abominable, as he heard from Councillor Steuerer, who was faithful to the Catholic Church, and strove to induce the Duke of Bavaria to adopt still sterner measures against all this disorder.
Very recently men hitherto blameless, like Andreas Weinzierl and Georg Seidl, had sent their eighteen-year-old sons to the University of Wittenberg, where the Lutheran heresies were flourishing most luxuriantly.
But the worst of all was that even faithful sons and daughters of Holy Church could not keep themselves wholly untouched by such mischief. Among these, alas! were he and his Wawerl, for he had been obliged to allow the girl to join the choristers who sang in the Convivium Musicum, which the Council had established in the summer three years before. Two councillors were assigned to each Convivium, and thus these arrangements were in Protestant hands.
"Of course," he added dejectedly, "I wished to forbid her taking part in
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