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- Margery, Volume 3. - 3/9 -

churlish: "That is enough."

This evening he had given me a gown of costly brocade of Cyprus; to Kunz everything that a Junker might need on his travels; and to Herdegen the same sword which he himself had in past time worn at court; the hilt was set with gems and ended in the lion rampant, couped, of the Im Hoffs. Ursula Tetzel, like me, had had a gown-piece which was lying near by the sword.

Herdegen, holding the jewelled weapon in his hand, thanked his grand- uncle, who muttered as was his wont "'Tis well, 'tis well," when Jost Tetzel put in his word, saying that the gift of a sword was supposed to part friends, but that this ill-effect might be hindered if he who received it made a return-offering to the giver, and so the token was made into a purchase.

At this Herdegen hastened to take out a gold pin set with sapphire stones, which Cousin Maud had given him, from his neck-kerchief, to offer it to his uncle; but the elder would have nothing to say to such foolishness, and pushed the pin away. But then when my brother did not cease, but besought him to accept it, inasmuch as he cared so greatly for his uncle's fatherly kindness, the old knight cried that he wanted no such sparkling finery, but that the day might come when he should require some payment and that Herdegen was then to remember that he was in his debt.

At this minute they were hindered from further speech by the servants, who came in to bid us to supper, and there stood ready wild fowl and fish, fruits and pastry, with the rarest wines and the richest vessels; the great middle table and the side buffet alike made such a show as though Pomona, Ceres, Bacchus, and Plutus had heaped it with prodigal hand. Yet was there no provision for merry-making. My grand-uncle loved to be quit of his guests at an early hour; hence no table was laid for them to sit down to meat, and each one held his plate in one hand.

Presently, as I strove to get free of young Master Vorchtel who had served me--and by the same token made love to me--I found my cousin in speech with my grand-uncle, and the last words of his urgent discourse, spoken as I came up with them, were that a woman of sound understanding, as she commonly seemed, should no longer suffer such a state of things.

Then Cousin Maud answered him, saying: "But you, my noble and worshipful Cousin Im Hoff, know how that a Schopper is ever ready to run his head against a wall. If we strive to thwart this hot-headed boy, he will of a certainty defy us; but if we leave him for a while to go his own way, the waters will not be dammed up, but will run to waste in the sand."

This was evil hearing, and much as it vexed me Ursula chafed me even more, whereas she made a feint of caring for none of the company present excepting only Sir Franz--who was yet her housemate--and being still pale and weak needed a friendly woman's hand for many little services, inasmuch as even now he could scarce use his right arm. Nay, and he seemed to like Ursula well enough as his helper; albeit he owed all her sweet care and loving glances to Herdegen, for she never bestowed them but when he chanced to look that way.

When we all took leave my grand-uncle bid Herdegen stay, and Kunz waited on us; but notwithstanding all his merry quips as we went home, not once could we be moved to laughter. My heart was indeed right heavy; a bitter drop had fallen into it by reason of Cousin Maud. I had ever deemed her incapable of anything but what was truest and best, and she had proved herself a double-dealer; and young as I was, and rejoicing in life, I said, nevertheless, in my soul's dejection, that if life was such that every poor human soul must be ever armed with doubt, saying, "Whom shall I trust or doubt?" then it was indeed a hard and painful journey to win through.

I slept in my cousin's room, and albeit Cousin Maud wist not that I had overheard her counsel given to my grand-uncle, she kept out of my way that night, and we neither of us spoke till we said good-night. Then could I no longer refrain myself, and asked whether it were verily and indeed her intent to part Herdegen from Ann.

And her ill-favored countenance grew strangely puckered and her bosom heaved till suddenly she cried beside herself: "Cruel! Unhappy! Oh! It will eat my heart out!" And she sobbed aloud, while I did the same, crying:

"But you love them both?"

"That I do, and that is the very matter," she broke in sadly enough. "Herdegen, and Ann! Why, I know not which I hold the dearer. But find me a wiser man in all Nuremberg than your grand-uncle. But verily, merciful Virgin, I know not what I would be at--I know not....!"

On this I forgot the respect due to her and put in: "You know not?" And whereas she made no reply, I railed at her, saying: "And yet you gave her the linen, and half the matters for her house-gear as a Christmas gift, as though they were known for a bride and groom to all the town. As old as you are and as wise, can you take pleasure in a love-match and even speed it forward as you have done, and yet purpose in your soul to hinder it at last? And is this the truth and honesty whereof early and late you have ever taught me? Is this being upright and faithful, or not rather speaking with two tongues?"

My fiery blood had again played me an evil trick, and I repented me when I perceived what great grief my violent speech had wrought in the dear soul. Never had I beheld her so feeble and doubting, and in a minute I was in her arms and a third person might have marvelled to hear us each craving pardon, she for her faint-hearted fears, and I for my unseemly outbreak. But in that hour I became her friend, and ceased to be no more than her child and fondling.

Herdegen was to be ready to set forth before Passion week; but ere he quitted home he made all the city ring with his praises, for, whereas he had hitherto won fame in the school of arms only, by the strength and skill of his arm, he now outdid every other in the procession of masks. Albeit this custom is still kept up to this very day, yet many an one may have forgotten how it first had its rise, although in my young days it was well known to most folks.

This then is to record, that in the days when the guilds were in revolt against the city council, the cutlers and the fleshers alone remained true to the noble families, and whereas they refused to take any guerdon for their faithfulness, which must have been paid them at the cost of the rest, they craved no more than the right of a making a goodly show in a dance and procession at the Carnival; and they were by the same token privileged at that time to wear apparel of velvet and silk, like gentle folks of noble and knightly degree.

Now this dance and its appurtenances were known at the masked show, and inasmuch as the aid of the governing class was needed to keep the streets clear for the throng of craftsmen, and as likewise the yearly outlay was beyond their means, the sons of the great houses took a pride in paying goodly sums for the right of taking a place in the procession. And as for our high-spirited young lord, skilled as he was with his weapon, he had seen and taken part in many such gay carnival doings among the Italians, and it was a delight to him to join in the like sport at home, and many were fain to gaze at him rather than at the guilds.

They assembled under the walls in two bands, and marched past the town hall and from thence to a dance of both guilds. Each had a dance of its own. The Fleshers' was such a dance as in England is called a country dance and they held leather-straps twisted to look like sausages; the cutlers' dance was less clumsy, and they carried naked swords.

But the show which most delighted the bystanders was the procession of masks, wherein, indeed, there were many things pleasant and fair to behold.

A party of men in coarse raiment called the men of the woods, carrying sheaves of oak boughs with acorns, and a number of mummers in fools' garb, wielding wooden bats, cleared the way for the procession; first then came minstrels, with drums and pipes and trumpets and bag-pipes, and merry bells ringing out withal. Next came one on horseback with nuts, which he flung down among the children, whereat there was merry scuffling and screaming on the ground. From the windows likewise and balconies there was no end of the laughter and cries; the young squires gave the maids and ladies who sat there no peace for the flowers and sweetmeats they cast up at them, and eggs filled with rose-water.

This year, whereof I write, many folks in the procession wore garments of the same color and shape; but among them there were some who loved a jest, and were clothed as wild men and women, or as black-amoors, ogres that eat children, ostrich-birds, and the like. Last of all came the chief glory of the show, various great buildings and devices drawn by horses: a Ship of Fools, and behind that a wind-mill, and a fowler's decoy wherein Fools, men and women both, were caught, and other such pastimes.

My Herdegen had mingled with this wondrous fellowship arrayed as a knight crusader leading three captive Saracen princes; namely, the two young Masters Loffelholz and Schlebitzer, who had stirred him to dress in the fencing-school, mounted on horses, and between them my squire Akusch on the bear-leader's camel, all in white as a Son of the Desert; and the three of them fettered with chains made of wood.

My grand-uncle had lent Herdegen the suit of mail he himself had worn in his youth at a tournament;

Cousin Maud had provided his white cloak with a red cross, and as he rode forth on a noble black steed in mail-harness with scarlet housings--the finest and stoutest horse in the Im Hoffs' stables-and his golden hair shining in the sun, many a maid could not take her eyes off from him.

Kunz, in the garb of a fool, hither and thither, nay, and everywhere at once, doubtless had the better sport; but Herdegen's heart beat the higher, for he could hear a thousand voices proclaiming him the most comely and his troop the most princely of all; from many a window a flower was shed on him, or a ribband, or a knot. At last, when the dance was all over, the guilds with the town-pipers betook them to the head constable's quarters, where they were served with drink and ate the Shrove-Tuesday meal of fish which was given in their honor. When the procession was past and gone my grand-uncle bid Herdegen go to him, and that which the old man then said and did to move him to give up his love was shrewdly planned and not without effect on his mind. After looking at him from head to foot, saying nothing but with no small contentment, he clapped him kindly on the shoulder and led him, as though by chance, up to the Venice mirror in the dining-hall. Then pointing to the image before him: "A Tancred!" he cried, "a Godfrey! Richard of the Lion- heart! And the bride a miserable scrivener's wench!--a noble bride!" Thereupon Herdegen fired up and began to speak in praise of Ann's rare and choice beauty; but his guardian stopped him short, laid his arm round his shoulders, and muttered in his ear that in his young days likewise youths of noble birth had to be sure made love to the fair daughters of the common citizens, but the man who could have thought of courting one of them in good faith....

Here he broke off with a sharp laugh, and drawing the boy closer to him, cried:

Margery, Volume 3. - 3/9

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