Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything
- A Word Only A Word, Volume 2. - 3/13 -
small ones. He had never worn the Jews' badge, and allowed himself to be served by Christians, for Caspar's daughters were often at the House to help in sewing. A sword was found in his dwelling, and the Jew, who carries weapons, renounces, since he uses self-protection, the aid of the authorities. Finally, we know that Lopez used an assumed name. Now we come to the great offences. They are divided into four parts. He has practised magic spells; he has sought to corrupt a Christian's son by heresies; he has led a Christian woman into a marriage; and he has-- I close with the worst--he has reared the daughter of a Christian woman, I mean his wife, a Jewess!"
"Reared his child a Jewess? Do you know that positively?" asked the abbot.
"She bears the Jewish name of Ruth. What I have taken the liberty to make prominent are well chosen, clearly-proved crimes, worthy of death. Your learning is great, Reverend Abbot, but I know the old writers, too. The Emperor Constantius made marriages between Jews and Christians punishable with death. I can show you the passage."
The abbot felt that the crime of which the Jew was accused was a heavy and unpardonable one, but he regarded only the sin, and it vexed him to see how the magistrate's zeal was exclusively turned against the unhappy criminal. So he rose, saying with cold hauteur:
"Then do your duty."
"Rely upon it. We shall capture him and his family to-morrow. The town- clerk is full of zeal too. We shall not be able to harm the child, but it must be taken from the Jew and receive a Christian education. It would be our right to do this, even if both parents were Hebrews. You know the Freiburg case. No less a personage than the great Ulrich Zasius has decided, that Jewish children might be baptized without their father's knowledge. I beg you to send Father Anselm to the town-hall on Saturday as a witness."
"Very well," replied the prelate, but he spoke with so little eagerness, that it justly surprised the magistrate. "Well then, catch the Jew; but take him alive. And one thing more! I wish to see and speak to the doctor, before you torture him."
"I will bring him to you day after to-morrow." The Nurembergers! the Nurembergers!...." replied the abbot, shrugging his shoulders.
"What do you mean?"
"They don't hang any one till they catch him." The magistrate regarded these words as a challenge to put forth every effort for the Jew's capture, so he answered eagerly: "We shall have him, Your Reverence, we shall surely have him. They are trapped in the snow. The sergeants are searching the roads; I shall summon your foresters and mine, and put them under Count Frohlinger's command. It is his duty to aid us. What they cannot find with their attendants, squires, beaters and hounds, is not hidden in the forest. Your blessing, Holy Father, there is no time to lose."
The abbot was alone.
He gazed thoughtfully at the coals in the fireplace, recalling everything he had just seen and heard, while his vivid power of imagination showed him the learned, unassuming man, who had spent long years in quiet seclusion, industriously devoting himself to the pursuit of knowledge. A slight feeling of envy stole into his heart; how rarely he himself was permitted to pursue undisturbed, and without interruption, the scientific subjects, in which alone he found pleasure.
He was vexed with himself, that he could feel so little anger against a criminal, whose guilt was deserving of death, and reproached himself for lukewarmness. Then he remembered that the Jew had sinned for love, and that to him who has loved much, much should be forgiven. Finally, it seemed a great boon, that he was soon to be permitted to make the acquaintance of the worthy doctor from Coimbra. Never had the zealous magistrate appeared so repulsive as to-day, and when he remembered how the crafty man had outwitted poor Father Anselm in his presence, he felt as if he had himself committed an unworthy deed. And yet, yet--the Jew could not be saved, and had deserved what threatened him.
A monk summoned him, but the abbot did not wish to be disturbed, and ordered that he should be left an hour alone.
He now took in his hand a volume he called the mirror of his soul, and in which he noted many things "for the confession," that he desired to determine to his own satisfaction. To-day he wrote:
"It would be a duty to hate a Jew and criminal, zealously to persecute what Holy Church has condemned. Yet I cannot do so. Who is the magistrate, and what are Father Anselm and this learned doctor! The one narrow-minded, only familiar with the little world he knows and in which he lives, the others divinely-gifted, full of knowledge, rulers in the wide domain of thought. And the former outwits the latter, who show themselves children in comparison with him. How Anselm stood before him! The deceived child was great, the clever man small. What men call cleverness is only small-minded persons' skill in life; simplicity is peculiar to the truly great man, because petty affairs are too small for him, and his eye does not count the grains of dust, but looks upward, and has a share in the infinitude stretching before us. Jesus Christ was gentle as a child and loved children, he was the Son of God, yet voluntarily yielded himself into the hands of men. The greatest of great men did not belong to the ranks of the clever. Blessed are the meek, He said. I understand those words. He is meek, whose soul is open, clear and pure as a mirror, and the greatest philosophers, the noblest minds I have met in life and history were also meek. The brute is clever; wisdom is the cleverness of the noble-minded. We must all follow the Saviour, and he among us, who unites wisdom to meekness, will come nearest to the Redeemer."
Marx had gone out to reconnoitre in a more cheerful mood, for the doctor had made good the loss sustained in the death of his old nag, and he returned at noon with good news.
A wood-carrier, whom he met on the high-road, had told him where Jorg, the charcoal-burner, lived.
The fugitives could reach his hut before night, and in so doing approach nearer the Rhine valley. Everything was ready for departure, but old Rahel objected to travelling further. She was sitting on a stone before the hut, for the smoke in the narrow room oppressed her breathing, and it seemed as if terror had robbed her of her senses. Gazing into vacancy with wild eyes and chattering teeth, she tried to make cakes and mould dumplings out of the snow, which she probably took for flour. She neither heard the doctor's call nor saw his wife beckon, and when the former grasped her to compel her to rise, uttered a loud shriek. At last the smith succeeded in persuading her to sit down on the sledge, and the party moved forward.
Adam had harnessed himself to the front of the vehicle. Marx went to and fro, pushing when necessary. The dumb woman waded through the snow by her husband's side. "Poor wife!" he said once; but she pressed his arm closer, looking up into his eyes as if she wished to say: "Surely I shall lack nothing, if only you are spared to me!"
She enjoyed his presence as if it were a favor granted by destiny, but only at chance moments, for she could not banish her fear for him, and of the pursuers--her dread of uncertainty and wandering.
If snow rattled from a pine-tree, if she noticed Lopez turn his head, or if old Rahel uttered a moan, she shuddered; and this was not unperceived by her husband, who told himself that she had every reason to look forward to the next few hours with grave anxiety. Each moment might bring imprisonment to him and all, and if they discovered--if it were disclosed who he, who Elizabeth was. . . .
Ulrich and Ruth brought up the rear, saying little to each other.
At first the path ascended again, then led down to the valley. It had stopped snowing long before, and the farther they went the lighter the drifts became.
They had journeyed in this way for two hours, when Ruth's strength failed, and she stood still with tearful, imploring eyes. The charcoal- burner saw it, and growled:
"Come here, little girl; I'll carry you to the sleigh."
"No, let me," Ulrich eagerly interposed. And Ruth exclaimed:
"Yes, you, you shall carry me."
Marx grasped her around the waist, lifted her high into the air, and placed her in the boy's arms. She clasped her hands around his neck, and as he walked on pressed her fresh, cool cheek to his. It pleased him, and the thought entered his mind that he had been parted from her a long time, and it was delightful to have her again.
His heart swelled more and more; he felt that he would rather have Ruth than everything else in the world, and he drew her towards him as closely as if an invisible hand were already out-stretched to take her from him.
To-day her dear, delicate little face was not pale, but glowed crimson after the long walk through the frosty, winter air. She was glad to have Ulrich clasp her so firmly, so she pressed her cheek closer to his, loosened her fingers from his neck, caressingly stroked his face with her cold hand, and murmured:
"You are kind, Ulrich, and I love you!"
It sounded so tender and loving, that Ulrich's heart melted, for no one had spoken to him so since his mother went away.
He felt strong and joyous, Ruth did not seem at all heavy, and when she again clasped her hands around his neck, he said: "I should like to carry you so always."
Ruth only nodded, as if the wish pleased her, but he continued:
"In the monastery I had no one, who was very kind to me, for even Lips, well, he was a count--everybody is kind to you. You don't know what it is, to be all alone, and have to struggle against every one. When I was in the monastery, I often wished that I was lying under the earth; now I don't want to die, and we will stay with you--father told me so--and everything will be just as it was, and I shall learn no more Latin, but become a painter, or smith-artificer, or anything else, for aught I care, if I'm only not obliged to leave you again."
He felt Ruth raise her little head, and press her soft lips on his
Previous Page Next Page
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 13
Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything