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- Margery, Volume 8. - 10/11 -
at my joy in life, and its bite was all the more cruel by reason that I might tell no man what it was that hurt me save the old Waldstromers. But they likewise grew young again after their son's homecoming, and notwithstanding her feeble frame, Aunt Jacoba saw Margery's eldest son grow to be six years of age. And she sent him his packet of sweetmeats the first day he went to school; but when the little lad went to thank his grandmother, the old dame was gone to her rest; and her husband lived after her no more than a few months.
One grief only had darkened the latter days of this venerable pair, in truth it was a heavy one; it was the death of my dear brother Herdegen, which befell at the end of the fifth year after he was happily married.
At the end of the fourth year his sickness came upon him with more violence, yet he went forth and back, and ever hoped to be healed, even when he took to his bed four weeks before the end.
On the very last day, on a certain fine evening in May, it was that he said to Ann: "Hearken, my treasure, I am surely better! On the day after tomorrow we will go forth into the sweet Spring, to hear Dame Nightingale who is singing already, and to see Margery. Oh, out in the forest breezes blow to heal the sick!"
Yet they went not; two hours later he had departed this life. By ill fortune at that very time I was at Venice on a matter of business, and when the tidings came to me that my only beloved brother was dead, meseemed as though half my being were torn away, aye, and the nobler and better half; that part which was not content to grieve and care for none but earthly estate and for all that cometh up and passeth away here below, but which hath a position in the bliss of another world, where we ask not only of what use and to what end this or that may be, as I have ever done in my narrow soul.
When Herdegen's eyes closed in death, my wings were broken as it were; with him I lost the highest aim and end of all my labors. For five hard years had I toiled and struggled, often turning night into day, and not for myself, but for him and his, ever upheld and sped forward by the sight of his high soul and great happiness. Our grand-uncle Im Hoff had left me his house and the conduct of his trade, as you have learned already from Margery's little book; and during my long journeyings many matters had not been done to my contentment, and the sick old man had taken out overmuch moneys from the business. A goodly sum came to us from our parents' estate, and my brother and sister and Cousin Maud were fain to entrust me with theirs; but how much I had to do in return!
Moreover a great care came upon me from without, by reason that Sir Franz's kin and heirs refused to repay the moneys for the ransom which Master Michieli of Venice had laid down, and for which Herdegen and I had been sureties. Albeit in this matter we had applied to the law, we might not suffer Michieli to come to loss by reason of his generosity, so I took upon me the whole debt, and that was a hard matter in those times and in my case; and the fifteen thousand ducats which were repaid me by judgment of law, thirty years afterwards, made me small amends, inasmuch as by that time I had long been wont to reckon with much greater sums.
I made good my friend's payment of Herdegen's ransom to the last farthing; yet what pressed me most hardly, so long as my brother lived, was his housekeeping; few indeed in Nuremberg could have spent more.
My eldest brother was the only one of us three who might keep any remembrance of our father, whose trade with Venice and Flanders had yielded great profits, and he could yet mind him how full the house had ever been of guests, and the stables of horses. Now, therefor, he was fain to live on the same wise, and this he deemed was right and seemly, inasmuch as he took the moneys which I gave him as half the clear profits of the Im Hoff trade, which were his by right. And I was fain to suffer him to enjoy that belief, albeit at that time concerns looked but badly. It was I, not he, whose part it was to care for those concerns; and I rejoiced with all my heart when he and his lovely young wife rode forth in such bravery, when he sat as host at the head of a table well- furnished with guests, and won all hearts by his lofty and fiery spirit, which conquered even the least well-disposed. Yet was it not easy to supply that which was needed, or to refrain from speech or reproof when, for instance, my brother must need have from the land of Egypt for Ann such another noble horse as the Emirs there are wont to ride. Or could I require him to pay when, after that Heaven had blessed him with a first born child, Herdegen, radiant with pride and joy, showed me a cradle all of ivory overlaid with costly carved work which he had commanded to be wrought for his darling by the most skilled master known far and wide, for a sum which at that time would have purchased a small house? Albeit it was nigh upon quarter day, I would have taken this and much more upon me rather than have quenched his heart's great gladness; and when I saw thee, Margery the younger, who art now thyself a grandmother, sleeping like a king's daughter in that precious cradle, and perceived with how great joy it filled thy parents to have their jewel in so costly a bed, I rejoiced over my own patience.
It did my heart good, though I spoke not, to hear the Schoppers' house praised as the friendliest in all Nuremberg; yet at other times meseemed I saw shame and poverty standing at the door; and whereas, indeed, those years of magnificence, which for sure were the hardest in all my life, came to no evil issue, I owe this, next to Heaven's grace, to the trust which many folks in Nuremberg placed in my honesty and judgment, far beyond my desert. And when once, not long before my brother's over-early death, I found myself to the very brow in water, as it were, it was that faithfulest of all faithful friends, Uncle Christian Pfinzing, who read the care in my eyes and face during the very last great banquet at Herdegen's table, and led me into the oriel bay, and offered me all his substance; and this is a goodly sum indeed and saved my trade from shipwreck.
Next to him it is Cousin Maud that we three links the Schopper chain ought ever to hold dearest in memory; and it was by a strange chance that he and she died, not only on the same day, but, as it were, of the same death. Death came upon him at the Schoppers' table with the cup in his hand, after that Ann, his "watchman" had warned him to be temperate; and this was three years after her husband's death. And Cousin Maud, as she came forth from the kitchen, whither she had gone to heat her famous spiced wine for Uncle Christian, who was already gone, fell dead into Margery's arms when she heard the tidings of his sudden end.
Among the sundry matters which long dwelt in the minds both of Margery and Ann, and were handed down to their grandchildren, were the Magister's Latin verses in their praise. It is but a few years since Master Peter Piehringer departed this life at a great age, and when Gotz's boys went through their schooling so fast and so well they owed it to his care and learning. But chiefly he devoted himself to Ann's daughters, Margery and Agnes, and indeed it is ever so that our heart goeth forth with a love like to that for our own sons or daughters to the offspring of the woman we have loved, even when she has never been our own.
Eppelein Gockel, my brother's faithful serving-man, was wed to Aunt Jacoba's tiring-woman. After his master's death I made him to be host in the tavern of "The Blue Sky," and whereas his wife was an active soul, and his tales of the strange adventures he had known among the Godless heathen brought much custom to his little tavern parlor, he throve to be a man of great girth and presence.
By the seventh year after our home-coming my hardest cares for the concerns of my trade were overpast, albeit I must even yet keep my eyes open and give brain and body no rest. Half my life I spent in journeying, and whereas I perceived that it was only by opening up other branches of trade that I might fulfil the many claims which ever beset me, I set myself to consider the matter; and inasmuch as that I had seen in the house of Akusch how gladly the women of Egypt would buy hazel-nuts from our country, I began to deal in this humble merchandise in large measure; and at this day I send more than ten thousand sequins' worth of such wares, every year, by ship to the Levant. Likewise I made the furs of North Germany and the toys of Nuremberg a part of my trade, which in my uncle's life-time had been only in spices and woven goods. And so, little by little, my profits grew to a goodly sum, and by God's favor our house enjoyed higher respect than it ever had had of old.
And it is a matter of rejoicing to me that at this time there is again an Im Hoff at its head with me, so that the old name shall be handed down; Ann's oldest daughter, Margery Schopper, having married one Berthold Im Hoff, who is now my worthy partner.
The sons of the elder Margery, the young Waldstromers, had much in them of the hasty Schopper temper, and a voice for song; and all three have done well, each in his way. Herdegen is now the Hereditary Ranger, and held in no less honor than Kunz Waldstromer, my beloved godson, who is a man of law in the service of our good town. Franz, who dedicated himself to the Church at an early age, under the protection of my lord Cardinal Bernhardi, has already been named to be the next in office after our present aged and weakly Bishop.
The son of Agnes, Herdegen's younger daughter, is Martin Behaim, a high- spirited youth in whom his grandfather's fiery and restless temper lives again, albeit somewhat quelled.
And if you now enquire of me how it is that I, albeit my heart beats warmly enough for our good town and its welfare and honor, have only taken a passing part in the duties of its worshipful Council, this is my answer: Inasmuch as to provide for the increase of riches for the Schopper family took all the strength I had, I lacked time to serve the commonwealth as my heart would have desired; and by the time when my dear nephew Berthold Im Hoff came to share the conduct of the trade with me I was right willing to withdraw behind my young partner, Ann's son-in-law, and to take his place in the business, while he and Kunz Waldstromer were chosen to high dignity on the Council. Nevertheless it is well-known that I have given up to the town a larger measure of time and labor and moneys than many a town-mayor and captain of watch. Of this I make mention to the end that those who come after me shall not charge me with evil self-seeking.
Likewise some may ask me wherefor I, the last male offspring of the old Schopper race, have gone through life unwed. Yet of a certainty they may spare me the answer to whom I have honestly confessed all my heart's pangs at the meeting of Herdegen with Ann.
After the death of her best-beloved lord the young widow was overcome with brooding melancholy from which nothing could rouse her. At that time you, my Margery and Agnes, her daughters, clung to me as to your own father; and when, at the end of three years, your mother was healed of that melancholy, it had come about that you had learned to call me father while I had sported with you and loved you in "your" mother's stead, and taught you to fold your little hands in prayer and led you out for air walking by your side. Your mother had heeded it not; but then, when she bloomed forth in new and wondrous beauty, and I beheld that Hans Koler and the Knight Sir Henning von Beust, who had likewise remained unwed, were again her suitors, the old love woke up in my heart; and one fair May evening, out in the forest, the question rose to my lips whether she could not grant me the right to call you indeed my children before all the world, and her....
But to what end touch the wound which to this day is scarce healed?
In this world and the next she would never be any man's but his to whom her heart's great and only love had been given. But from that evening
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