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- Margery, Volume 3. - 5/9 -

day, forasmuch as that Ann could not be longer spared and, now more than ever, I could not bear to leave her alone.

Uncle Christian rode to the town with us, and if he had before loved her well, in this last long time of our all being together he had taken her yet more into his heart. And now, whereas he had given her the right to warn him against taking too much wine, he was fain to call her his little watchman, by reason that it is the watchman's part to give warning of the enemy's onset.

But while Ann was so truly beloved at the Forest lodge, on her return home she found no pleasant welcome. In her absence the coppersmith Pernhart had wooed her mother in good earnest, and the eldest daughter not being on the spot, had sped so well that the widow had yielded. Ann once made bold to beseech her mother with due reverence to give up her purpose, but she fell on her child's neck, as though Ann were the mother, entreating her, with many tears, to let her have her will. Ann of a certainty would not now be long under her roof to cherish the younger children, and it was not in her power as their mother to guide them in the way in which their father would have them to walk. For this Ulman Pernhart was the fittest man. Her dead husband had been a schoolmate of her suitor's, and of his brother the very reverend lord Bishop, and he had thought highly of Master Ulman. This it was gave her strength to follow the prompting of her heart. In this way did the mother try to move her child to look with favor on the desire of her fiery Italian heart, now shame-faced and coaxing, and anon with tears in her eyes; and albeit the widow was past five and thirty and her suitor nigh upon fifty, yet no man seeing the pair together would have made sport of their love. The Venice lady had lost so little of her youthful beauty and charms that it was in truth a marvel; and as to Master Pernhart, he was not a man to be overlooked, even among many.

As he was at this time he might be taken for the very pattern of a stalwart and upright German mastercraftsman; nay, nor would a knight's harness of mail have ill-beseemed him. Or ever he had thought of paying court to Mistress Giovanna I had heard the prebendary Master von Hellfeld speak of Pernhart as a right good fellow, of whom the city might be proud; and he then spoke likewise of Master Ulman's brother, who had become a servant of the Holy Church, and while yet a young man had been raised to the dignity of a bishop.

When the great schism had come to a happy ending, and one Head, instead of three, ruled the Church, Pope Martin V. had chosen him to sit in his council and kept him at Rome, where he was one of the powers of the Curia.

Albeit his good German name of Pernhart was now changed to Bernardi, he had not ceased to love his native town and his own kin, and had so largely added to the wealth and ease of his own mother and his only brother that the coppersmith had been able to build himself a dwelling little behind those of the noble citizens. He had been forlorn in his great house of late, but no such cause as that was needed to move him to cast his eye on the fair widow of his very reverend brother's best friend.

While Ann was away in the forest Mistress Giovanna had let Pernhart into the secret of her daughter's betrothal to Herdegen, and so soon as the young maid was at home again he had spoken to her of the matter, telling her, in few but hearty words, that she would be ever welcome to his house and there fill the place of his lost Gertrude; but that if she was fain to wed an honest man, he would make it his business to provide her outfit.

These things, and much more, inclined me in his favor, little as I desired that he should wed the widow, for Herdegen's sake; and when I met him for the first time as betrothed to Ann's mother, and the grandlooking man shook my hand with hearty kindness, and then thanked me with warmth and simplicity for whatsoever I had done for her who henceforth would be his dearest and most precious treasure, I returned the warm grasp of his hand with all honesty, and it was from the bottom of my heart that I answered him, saying that I gladly hailed him as a new friend, albeit I could not hope for the same from my brother.

He heard this with a strange smile, half mournful, but, meseemed, half proud; then he held forth his horny, hard-worked hand, and said that to be sure it was an ill-matched pair when such a hand as that should clasp a soft and white one such as might come out of a velvet sleeve; that whereas, in order to win the woman he loved, he had taken her tribe of children into the bargain, and fully purposed to have much joy of them and be a true father to them, my lord brother, if his love were no less true, must make the best of his father-in-law, whose honor, though he was but of simple birth, was as clean as ever another man's in the eyes of God.

And as we talked I found there was more and nobler matter in his brain and heart than I had ever weened I might find in a craftsman. We met often and learned to know each other well, and one day it fell that I asked him whether he had in truth forgiven the Junker through whom he had lost the one he loved best.

He forthwith replied that I was not to lay the blame on one whom he would ever remember as a brave and true-hearted youth, inasmuch as it was not my cousin, but he himself who had put an end to the love-making between Gotz and Gertrude. It was after the breach between Gotz and his parents that it had been most hard to turn a deaf ear to the prayers of the devoted lover and of his own child. But, through all, he had borne in mind the doctrine by which his father had ever ruled his going, namely, not to bring on our neighbor such grief as would make our own heart sore. Therefore he examined himself as to what he would feel towards one who should make his child to wed against his will with a suitor he liked not; and whereas his own dignity as a man and his care for his daughter's welfare forbade that he should give her in marriage to a youth whose kinsfolks would receive her with scorn and ill-feeling, rather than with love and kindness, he had at last set his heart hard against young Waldstromer, whom he had loved as his own son, and forced him to go far away from his sweetheart. I, in my heart, was strangely wroth with my cousin in that he had not staked his all to win so fair a maid; nay, and I made so bold as to confess that in Gertrude's place I should have gone after my lover whithersoever he would, even against my father's will.

And again that proud smile came upon Ulman Pernhart's bearded lips, and his eye flashed fire as he said: "My life moves in a narrow round, but all that dwell therein bend to my will as the copper bends under my hammer. If you think that the Junker gave in without a struggle you are greatly mistaken; after I had forbidden him the house, he had tempted Gertrude to turn against me and was ready to carry her off; nay, and would you believe it, my own mother sided with the young ones. The priest even was in readiness to marry them privily, and they would have won the day in spite of me. But the eyes of jealousy are ever the sharpest; my head apprentice, who was madly in love with the maid, betrayed the plot, and then, Mistress Margery, were things said and done --things concerning which I had best hold my peace. And if you crave to know them, you may ask my mother. You will see some day, if you do not scorn to enter my house and if you gain her friendship--and I doubt not that you will, albeit it is not granted to every one--she will be glad enough to complain of my dealings in this matter--mine, her own son's, although on other points she is wont to praise my virtues over-loudly."

This discourse raised my cousin once more to his old place in my opinion, and I knew now that the honest glance of his blue eyes, which doubtless had won fair Gertrude's heart, was trustworthy and true.

Master Ulman Pernhart was married in a right sober fashion to fair Mistress Giovanna, and I remember to this day seeing them wed in Saint Laurence's Church. It was a few months before this that I was taken for the first time to a dance at the town hall. There, as soon as I had forgotten my first little fears, I took my pleasure right gladly to the sound of the music, and I verily delighted in the dance. But albeit I found no lack of young ladies my friends, and still less of youths who would fain win my favor, I nevertheless lost not the feeling that I had left part of my very being at home; nay, that I scarce had a right to these joys, since my brothers were in a distant land and Ann could not share them with me, and while I was taking my pleasure she had the heart- ache.

Then was there a second dance, and a third and fourth; and at home there came a whole troop of young men in their best apparel to ask of Cousin Maud, each after his own fashion, to be allowed to pay court to me; but albeit they were all of good family, and to many a one I felt no dislike, I felt nothing at all like love as I imagined it, and I would have nothing to say to any one of them. And all this I took with a light heart, for which Cousin Maud many a time,--and most rightly--reproved me.

But at that time, and yet more as the months went on, I hardly knew my own mind; another fate than my own weighed most on my soul; and I thought so little of my own value that meseemed it could add to no man's happiness to call me his. All else in life passed before my eyes like a shadow; a time came when all joy was gone from me, and my suitors sought me in vain in the dancing-hall, for a great and heavy grief befell me.

All was at an end--even now I scarce can bear to write the words--between Ann and Herdegen; and by no fault of hers, but only and wholly by reason of his great and unpardonable sin.

But I will write down in order how it came about. So early as at Martinmas I heard from Cousin Maud--and my grand-uncle had told her--that Herdegen had quitted Padua and that it was his intent to take the degree of doctor at Paris whither the famous Gerson's great genius was drawing the studious youth of all lands; and his reason for this was that a bloody fray had made the soil of Italy too hot for his feet. "These tidings boded evil; all the more as neither we nor Ann had a word from Herdegen in his own hand to tell us that he had quitted the country and his school. Then, in my fear and grief, I could not help going to my grand-uncle, but he would have nothing to say to me or to Cousin Maud, or else he put us off with impatient answers, or empty words that meant nothing. Thus we lived in dread and sorrow, till at last, a few days before Pernhart was married, a letter came to me from Eppelein, and I have it before me now, among other papers all gone yellow.

"From your most duteous and obedient servant Eppelein Gockel to the lady Margery Schopper," was the superscription. And he went on to excuse himself in that he knew not the art of writing, and had requested the service of the Magister of the young Count von Solms.

"And inasmuch as I erewhile pledged my word as a, man to the illustrious and worshipful Mistress Margery, in her sisterly care, that I would write to her if we at any time needed the favor of her counsel and help, I would ere now have craved for the Magister's aid if the all-merciful Virgin had not succored us in due season.

"Nevertheless my heart was moved to write to you, gracious and worshipful Mistress Margery, inasmuch as I wist you would be in sorrow, and longing for tidings of my gracious master; for it is by this time long since I gave his last letter for the Schopperhof in charge to the German post- runner; and meseems that my gracious master has liked to give his precious time to study and to other pastimes rather than to those who, being his next of kin, are ever ready and willing to be patient with him; as indeed they could if they pleased enquire of my lord the knight Sebald Im Hoff as to his well-being. My gracious master gave him to know by long letters how matters were speeding with him, and of a certainty told

Margery, Volume 3. - 5/9

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