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- Margery, Volume 3. - 1/9 -
[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an entire meal of them. D.W.]
By Georg Ebers
Herdegen was to be back in Padua before Passion week, and I shall remember with thankfulness to the day of my death the few months after worthy Veit Spiesz's burial and before my brother's departure. Not a day passed without our meeting; and after my heart had moved me to tell Cousin Maud all that had happened, and Herdegen had given his consent, we were rid once for all of the mystery which had at first weighed on our souls.
Verily the worthy lady found it no light matter to look kindly on this early and ill-matched betrothal; yet had she not the heart, nor the power, to make any resistance. When two young folks who are dear to her are brimfull of high happiness, the woman who would turn them out of that Garden of Eden and spoil their present bliss with warnings of future woe must be of another heart and mind than Cousin Maud. She indeed foresaw grief to come in many an hour of mistrust by day and many a sleepless night, more especially by reason of her awe and dread of my grand-uncle; and indeed, she herself was not bereft of the old pride of race which dwells in every Nuremberger who is born under a knight's coat of arms. That Ann was poor she held of no account; but that she was not of noble birth was indeed a grief and filled her with doubts. But then, when her best-beloved Herdegen's eyes shone so brightly, and she saw Ann cling to him with maidenly rapture, vexation and care were no more.
If I had sung a loud hymn of praise in the woods over their spring and autumn beauty--and verily it had welled up from my heart--I was ready to think winter in the town no less gladsome, in especial under the shelter of a home so warm and well built as our old Schopper-hof.
In the last century, when, at the time of the Emperor Carolus--[Charles IV., 1348]--coming to the throne, the guilds, under the leadership of the Gaisbarts and Pfauentritts, had risen against the noble families and the worshipful council, they accused the elders of keeping house not as beseemed plain citizens but after the manner of princes; and they were not far wrong, for indeed I have heard tell that when certain merchants from Scandinavia came to our city, they said that the dwelling of a Nuremberg noble was a match in every way for their king's palace.
[Gaisbart (goat's beard) and Pfauentritt (peacock-strut), were nicknames given to the leaders of the guilds who rebelled against the patrician families in Nuremberg, from whom alone the aldermen or town-council could be elected. This patrician class originated in 1198 under the Emperor Henry IV., who ennobled 38 families of the citizens. They were in some sort comparable with the families belonging to the Signoria at Venice, from whom, in the same way, the great council was chosen.]
As touching our house, it was four stories high, and with seven windows in every story; with well devised oriels at the corners, and pointed turrets on the roof. The gables were on the street, in three steps; over the great house door there was our coat of arms, the three links of the Schopppes and the fool's head with cap and bells as a crest on the top of the casque. The middle windows of the first and second stories were of noble size, and there glittered therein bright and beautiful panes of Venice glass, whereas the other windows were of small roundels set in lead.
And while from outside it was a fine, fair house to look upon, I never hope to behold a warmer or more snug and comfortable dwelling than the living-rooms within which was our home the winter through; albeit I found the saloons and chambers in the palaces of the Signori at Venice loftier and more airy, and greater and grander. Whenever I have been homesick under the sunny blue sky of Italy, it was for the most part that I longed after the rich, fresh green foliage and flowing streams of my own land; but, next to them, after our pleasant chamber in the Schopper-house, with its warm, green-tiled stove, with the figures of the Apostles, and the corner window where I had spun so many a hank of fine yarn, and which was so especially mine own--although I was ever ready and glad to yield my right to it, when Herdegen required it to sit in and make love to his sweetheart.
The walls of this fine chamber were hung with Flanders tapestry, and I can to this day see the pictures which were so skilfully woven into it. That I loved best, from the time when I was but a small thing, was the Birth of the Saviour, wherein might be seen the Mother and Child, oxen and asses, the three Holy Kings from the East--the goodliest of them all a blackamoor with a great yellow beard flowing down over his robes. On the other hangings a tournament might be seen; and I mind me to this day how that, when I was a young child, I would gaze up at the herald who was blowing the trumpet in fear lest his cheeks should burst, inasmuch as they were so greatly puffed out and he never ceased blowing so hard. Between the top of these hangings and the ceiling was a light wood cornice of oak-timber, on which my father, God rest him, had caused various posies to be carved of his own devising. You might here read:
"Like a face our life may be To which love lendeth eyes to see."
"The Lord Almighty hides his glorious face That so we may not cease to seek his grace."
"The Lord shall rule my life while I sit still, And rule it rightly by his righteous will."
And whereas my father had loved mirthful song he had written in another place:
"If life be likened to a thorny place Song is the flowery spray that lends it grace."
Some of these rhymes had been carved there by my grandfather, for example these lines:
"By horse and wain I've journeyed up and down, Yet found no match for this my native town."
And under our coat of arms was this posy.
"While the chain on the scutcheon holds firm and fast The fool on the crest will be game to the last."
Of the goodly carved seats, and the cushions covered with motley woven stuffs from the Levant, right pleasant to behold, of all the fine treasures on the walls, the Venice mirrors, and the metal cage with a grey parrot therein, which Jordan Kubbelmg, the falconer from Brunswick, had given to my dear mother, I will say no more; but I would have it understood that all was clean and bright, well ordered and of good choice, and above all snug and warm. Nay, and if it had all been far less costly and good to look at, there was, as it were, a breath of home which must have gladdened any man's heart: inasmuch as all these goodly things were not of yesterday nor of to-day, but had long been a joy to many an one dear to us; so that our welfare in that dwelling was but the continuing of the good living which our parents and grandparents had known before us.
Howbeit, those who will read this writing know what a patrician's house in Nuremberg is wont to be; and he who hath lived through a like childhood himself needs not to be told how well hide and seek may be played in a great hall, or what various and merry pastime can be devised in the twilight, in a dining hall where the lights hang from the huge beams of the ceiling; and we for certain knew every game that was worthy to be named.
But by this time all this was past and gone; only the love of song would never die out in the dwelling of the man who had been well-pleased to hear himself called by his fellows "Schopper the Singer." Ah! how marvellous well did their voices sound, Ann's and my brother's, when they sang German songs to the lute or the mandoline, or perchance Italian airs, as they might choose. But there was one which I could never weary of hearing and which, meseemed, must work on Herdegen's wayward heart as a cordial. The words were those of Master Walther von der Vogelweirde, and were as follows:
"True love is neither man nor maid, No body hath nor yet a soul, Nor any semblance here below, Its name we hear, itself unknown. Yet without love no man may win The grace and favor of the Lord. Put then thy trust in those who love; In no false heart may Love abide."
And when they came to the last lines Kunz would ofttimes join in, taking the bass part or continuo to the melody. Otherwise he kept modestly in the background, for since he had come to know that Herdegen and Ann were of one mind he waited on her as a true and duteous squire, while he was now more silent than in past time, and in his elder brother's presence almost dumb. Yet at this I marvelled not, inasmuch as I many a time marked that brethren are not wont to say much to each other, and even between friends the one is ready enough to be silent if the other takes the word. Moreover at Easter Kunz was likewise to quit home, and go to Venice at my granduncle's behest. Herdegen's love for his brother had, of a certainty, suffered no breach; but, like many another disciple of Minerva, he was disposed to look down on the votaries of Mercury.
Nevertheless the links of the Schopper chain, to which Ann had now been joined as a fourth, held together right bravely, and when we sang not, but met for friendly talk, our discourse was but seldom of worthless, vain matters, forasmuch as Herdegen was one of those who are ready and free of speech to impart what he had himself learned, and it was Ann's especial gift to listen keenly and question discreetly.
And what was there that my brother had not learned from the great Guarino, and the not less great Humanist, his disciple Vittorino da Feltre, at that time Magistri at Padua? And how he had found the time, in a right gay and busy life, to study not merely the science of law but also Greek, and that so diligently that his master was ever ready to laud him, was to me a matter for wonder. And how gladly we hearkened while he told us of the great Plato, and gave us to know wherefore and on what
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