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- Margery, Volume 3. - 9/9 -


and yet it was only in honor of Ann and her wondrous beauty. Each and all of the young men there would, meseemed, gladly have stepped into Herdegen's place, and she was so fully taken up with dancing that she could scarce mark how diligently all the mothers and maidens overlooked her. Howbeit, Ursula Tetzel was not content with that, but went up to her and with a sneer enquired whether Junker Schopper at Paris were well.

Ann drew herself up with pride and hastily answered that if any one craved news of him he had best apply to Mistress Ursula Tetzel, inasmuch as she was ever wont to have a keen eye on her dear cousin.

At this Ursula cried out: "How well our old schoolmate remembers the lessons she learnt; even the fable of the Fox and the Grapes!" then, turning to me she added: "Nor has she lost her skill in learning; she has not long been in her stepfather's dwelling and she has already mastered the art of hitting blows as the coppersmiths do." And she turned her back on us both.

And presently, when it came to her turn to join the chain in which Ann was taking part, I marked well that she urged the youth she danced with to stand away from the craftsman's daughter. Howbeit I at once brought her plot to naught and the young gentleman to shame. Not that she needed any such defence, for her beauty led every man to seek her above all others. And when, at supper, Uncle Christian called her to his side and made it fully manifest to all present how dear she was to his faithful heart, I hoped that indeed the day was won for her, and that henceforth our friendship would be regarded as a matter apart from any concern with her step-father the coppersmith. What need she care about those discourteous women, who made it, to be sure, plain enough at their departing, that they took her presence there amiss.

On our way home methought she was in a meditative mood, and as we parted she bid me go to see her early next morning. This I should have done in any case, inasmuch as I knew no greater pleasure, after a feast or dance at which we had been together, than to talk with her of any matter we might each have marked, but there was something more than this in her mind.

Next day, indeed, when I had greeted her, she had lost her cheerful mien of the day before; it was plain to see that she had not slept, and I presently learned that she had been thinking through the night what her life must be, and how she could best fulfill the vow we had both made. The more diligently she had considered of the matter, the more worthy had she deemed our purpose; and the dance at my Uncle Christian's had clearly proven to her that among our class there were few to whom her presence could be welcome, and none to whom it could bring any real pleasure.

In this she was doubtless right; yet was I startled when, with the steadfast will which she ever showed, she said that, after duly weighing the matter, she had made up her mind to accept the Magister.

When she perceived how greatly I was amazed, she besought me, with the same eager haste as I had marvelled at the day before, that I would not contend against a conclusion she had fully weighed; inasmuch as that the Magister was a worthy man whom she could make truly happy. Moreover, his newly-acquired wealth would enable her to help many indigent persons in their need and misery. I enquired of her earnestly how about any love for him, and she broke out with much vehemence, saying that I must know for certain that for her all love and the joys of love were numbered with the dead. She would tell this to Master Peter with all honesty, and she was sure that he would be content with her friendship and warm goodwill.

But all this she poured out as though she could not endure to hear her own words. An inward voice at the same time warned me that she had made up her mind to this step, in order that Herdegen might fully understand that to him she was lost for ever, albeit I had not given up all hope that they might some day come together, and that Ann's noble love of what was best in my brother might thus rescue him from utter ruin. Hence her ill-starred resolve filled me with rage, to such a degree that I railed at it as a mad and sinful deed against her own peace of mind, and indeed against him whom she had once held as dear as her own life.

But Ann cut me short, and bade me sharply to mind my promise, and never speak of Herdegen again. My hot blood rose at this and I made for the door; nay, I had the handle of the latch in my hand when she flew after me, held me back by force, and entreated me with prayers that I would let her do her will, for that she had no choice. She purposed in solemn earnest henceforth at all times to devote herself to the happiness of others, and whereas that demanded heavy sacrifice, she was now ready to make it. If indeed I still refused to carry her answer to the Magister, then would she send it through her step-father or Dame Henneleinlein, who was apt at such errands, and bid her suitor come to see her.

Then I perceived that there was but small hope; with a heavy heart, and, indeed, a secret intent behind, I took the task upon me, for I saw plainly that my refusal would ruin all. All the same, meseemed it was a happy ordering that the Magister should have set forth early that morning to spend a few days at Nordlingen, to take possession of the house he had fallen heir to; for, when a great misfortune lies ahead, a hopeful soul clings to delay as the harbinger of deliverance.

I made my way home full of forebodings, and in front of our door I saw my Forest uncle's horses in waiting. He was above stairs with cousin Maud, and I soon was informed that he had come to bid me and Ann to the great hunt which was to take place at the New Year. His Highness Duke Albrecht of Bavaria, with divers other knights and gentlemen, had promised to take part in it, and he needed our help for his sick and suffering wife; also, said he, he loved to see "a few smart young maids" at his board. Already he and cousin Maud had discussed at length whether it would be seemly to bring the coppersmith's stepdaughter into the company of such illustrious guests; and the balance in her favor had been struck in his mind by his opinion that a fair young maid must ever be pleasing in the hunter's eyes out in the forest, whatever her rank might be.

He had now but one care, and that was that neither he nor any other man had hitherto dared to utter the name of Master Ulman Pernhart to my aunt Jacoba, and that she therefore knew not of his marriage with her dear Ann's mother. Yet must the lady be informed thereof; so, finding that my cousin Maud made no secret of her will to speed the Magister's wooing, while I weened, with good reason, that my aunt would gladly support me in hindering it, I then and there made up my mind to go back with my uncle, and hold council with his shrewd-witted wife.

ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

A small joy makes us to forget our heavy griefs All I did was right in her eyes Especial gift to listen keenly and question discreetly Happiness should be found in making others happy Have never been fain to set my heart on one only maid Hopeful soul clings to delay as the harbinger of deliverance No false comfort, no cloaking of the truth One Head, instead of three, ruled the Church Though thou lose all thou deemest thy happiness


Margery, Volume 3. - 9/9

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