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My lady rotha


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Title:MyLadyRotha
ARomance
Author:StanleyJ.Weyman
ReleaseDate:February26,2012[EBook#38985]
Language:English

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http://books.google.com/books?id=Wd09AAAAYAAJ



deathofTzerclas
DeathofTzerclas.--p.368


MYLADYROTHA


ARomance

BY


STANLEYJ.WEYMAN
AUTHOROF
"AGENTLEMANOFFRANCE,""UNDERTHEREDROBE,"
"THEHOUSEOFTHEWOLF,"ETC.

NEWYORK

LONGMANS,GREEN,ANDCO.
1894

COPYRIGHT,1894,
BYSTANLEYJ.WEYMAN.


CONTENTS

CHAPTER



HERITZBURG.
II.
THECOUNTESSROTHA.
III.
THEBURGOMASTER'SDEMAND.
IV.
THEFIREALIGHT.


V.
MARIEWORT.
VI.
RUPERTTHEGREAT.
VII.
THEPRIDEOFYOUTH.
VIII.
ACATASTROPHE.
IX.
WALNUTSOFGOLD.
X.
THECAMPINTHEFOREST.
XI.
STOLEN.
XII.
NEARTHEEDGE.
XIII.
OURQUARTERS.
XIV.
THEOPENINGOFADUEL.
XV.
THEDUELCONTINUED.
XVI.
THEGENERAL'SBANQUET.
XVII. STALHANSKE'SFINNS.
XVIII. ASUDDENEXPEDITION.
XIX.
INAGREENVALLEY.
XX.
MOREHASTE,LESSSPEED.
XXI.
AMONGTHEWOUNDED.
XXII. GREEKANDGREEK.
XXIII. THEFLIGHT.
I.


XXIV.

MISSING.
XXV.
NUREMBERG.
XXVI. THEFACEATTHEWINDOW.
XXVII. THEHOUSEINTHECHURCHYARD.
XXVIII. UNDERTHETILES.
XXIX. INTHEHOUSEBYST.AUSTIN'S.
XXX. THEENDOFTHEDAY.
XXXI. THETRIAL.
XXXII. APOORGUERDON.
XXXIII. TWOMEN.
XXXIV. SUSPENSE.
XXXV. ST.BARTHOLOMEW'SDAY.
XXXVI. AWINGLESSCUPID.


LISTOFILLUSTRATIONS

DEATHOFTZERCLAS.Frontispiece
...SHECAMEPRESENTLYTOMEWITHABOWLOFBROTHINHERHANDSANDA
TIMIDSMILEONHERLIPS.

...WITHHEROWNHANDSSHEDROVETHENAIL....THENSHETURNED.
...LUDWIG,ALLHISINDIFFERENCECASTTOTHEWINDS,CONTINUEDTO
STAMPANDSCREAM.

THEGENERALWAITEDONHERWITHTHEUTMOSTATTENTION,RIDINGBYHER
BRIDLE-REIN.
WEWEREALONE....IWHISPEREDINHEREAR.
BEFOREICOULDRECOVERMYSELFAPAIROFSTRONGARMSCLOSEDROUND
MINEANDBOUNDTHEMTOMYSIDES.
BUTWITHALL--SHECONTROLLEDHERSELF.SHEROSESTIFFLYFROMHER
SEAT.


MYLADYROTHA.


CHAPTERI.
HERITZBURG.

Ineversawanythingmoreremarkablethanthechangewhichthedeathofmy
lady'suncle,CountTilly,inthespringof1632,workedatHeritzburg.Untilthe
daywhenthatnewsreachedus,wewentoninourquietcornerasiftherewere
no war. We heard, and some of us believed, that the Palatine Elector, a good
Calvinist like ourselves, had made himself King of Bohemia in the Emperor's
teeth;andshortlyafterwards--whichweweremuchmorereadytobelieve--that
hewasfootingitamongtheDutchmen.WeheardthattheKingofDenmarkhad
taken up his cause, but taken little by the motion; and then that the King of
Swedenhadmadeithisown.Butthesethingsaffecteduslittle:theywerelike
thepatteringofthestormtoamanhugginghimselfbythefireside.Throughall
welaysnugandwarm,andkeptChristmasanddranktheEmperor'shealth.Even
thegreatsackofMagdeburg,whichwassuchaneventastheworld,Ibelieve,
will never see again, moved us less to fear than to pity; though the city lies
somethinglessthanfiftyleaguesnortheastofus.ThereasonofthisIamgoing
totellyou.
Ourtownstands,asallmenknow,inanookoftheThuringianForest,facing
south and west towards Hesse, of which my Lady Rotha, Countess of
Heritzburg, holds it, though all the land about is Saxon, belonging either to
Coburg,orWeimar,orAltenburg,ortheupperDuchy.Onthenorthandeastthe
forestrisesinrollingblackridges,withagreycragshootingupspire-likehere
and there; so that from this quarter it was not wonderful that no sound of war
reached us. Toward the south and west, where is the mouth of the valley, and
whither our people point when they talk of the world, a spur of the mountain
runsdownoneithersidetotheWerra,whichusedtobecrossedatthispointbya
woodenbridge.Butthisbridgewassweptawaybyfloodsinthewinterof1624,
andneverrepairedaslongasthewarlasted.HenceforthtocometoHeritzburg
travellershadtocrossinoldJoachim'sboat,oriftheriverwasverylow,tuckup
andtakethechances.Unlesstheycamebyforestpathsoverthemountains.


Suchapositionfavouredpeace.Ourfriendscouldnoteasilytroubleus;our
allieswereundernotemptationtoquartertroopsuponus.Forourenemies,we
fearedthemevenless.Againstthemwehadaramparthigherthanthemountains
and wider than the Werra, in the name of Tilly. In those days the name of the
greatWalloon,victorinthirtyfights,wasawordtoconjurewithfromtheTyrol
totheElbe.Mothersusedittoscaretheirchildren,prieststoblasttheirfoes.His
courage, his cruelty, and his zeal for the Roman Catholic Church combined to
make him the terror of the Protestants, while his strange personality and misshapenformgaverisetoathousandlegends,whichmenstilltellbythefireside.
I think I see him now--as I did see him thrice in his lifetime--a meagre
dwarfishmanwithalongfacelikeahorse'sface,andlargewhiskers.Hedressed
always in green satin, and wore a small high-peaked hat on his huge wrinkled
forehead.Aredfeatherdroopedfromit,andreachedtohiswaist.Atfirstsight
onetookhimforanatural;foroneofthosestrangemonstrositieswhichprinces
keeptomakethemsport;butasingleglancefromhiseyessentsimplemento
theirprayers,andcowedalikeplainburgherandwildCroat.Fewlovedhim,all
fearedhim.Ihavehearditsaidthathehadnoshadow,butIcantestifyofmy
ownknowledgeandnotmerelyforthehonourofthefamilythatthiswasfalse.
Hewasbrothertomylady'smother,theCountessJuliana.Atthetimeofthe
matchmylatelordwasthoughttohavedisparagedhisbloodbymatingwitha
Flemishladyofnomorethangentlefamily.ButasCountTillyroseintheworld
firsttobecommanderof theBavarian armiesandlatertobeGeneralissimoof
theforcesoftheEmpireandaknightoftheGoldenFleece,weheardlessand
lessofthis.Thesneerlostitsforceuntilwebecameglad,Calviniststhoughwe
were, to lie secure under his shadow; and even felt a shamed pride in his
prowess.
Whenmylorddied,earlyinthewar,leavingthecountyofHeritzburgtohis
onlychild,theprotectionwederivedinthiswaygrewmoreandmorevaluable.
WeofHeritzburg,andweonly,lostnothingbythewar,exceptaparcelofidle
fellows,ofwhommorehereafter.Ourcowscamelowingtotheirstalls,ourcorn
full weight to the granary. We slept more safely under the distaff than others
under the sword; and all because my lady had the right to wear among her
sixteenquarteringsthecoatofTilly.
SomeIknow,butonlysincehisdeath,havecriedshameonusforaccepting
hisprotection.Theyprofesstothinkthatweshouldhaveshutourgatesonthe


ButcherofMagdeburg,andbiddenhimdohisworst.Theysaythatthespiritof
the old Protestants is dead within us, and that it is no wonder the cause lies
languishingandSwedesalonefightsingle-eyed.Butthosewhosaythesethings
haveseldom,Inotice,cornorcows:andmoreover,asIhavehinted,theykepta
verystilltonguewhileTillylived.
There is our late Burgomaster, Hofman, for instance, he is given to talking
afterthatfashion;and,itistrue,hehasplenty,thoughnotsomuchsincemylady
finedhim.ButIwellrememberthelasttimeTillyvisitedus.Itwasafterthefall
ofMagdeburg,andtherewasashadowonhisgrimcountenance,whichmensaid
neverleftitagainuntilthedaywhenthecannon-shotstruckhiminthefordof
theLech,andtheycarriedhimtoIngolstadttodie.Asherodeunderthearchby
theRedHartpeoplelookedstrangelyathim--foritwasdifficulttoforgetwhat
he had done--as if, but for the Croats in the camp across the river, they would
havetornhimfromhishorse.Butwho,Iprayyou,sopolitethatdayasMaster
Hofman?Whobuthewasfirsttoholdthestirrupandcry,Hail?Itwas'MyLord
Count'this,and'MyLordCount'that,untilthedoorclosedonthecrookedlittle
figureandthegreatgoldspurs.Andthenitwasthesamewiththecaptainofthe
escort.Faugh!IgrowsickwhenIthinkofsuchmen,andknowthattheywere
thefirsttoturnroundandmaketroublewhenthe time came,andthe oldgrey
wolfwasdead.FormypartIhavealwaysbeenmylady'smansinceIcameout
oftheforesttoserveher.ItwasenoughformethattheCountwasherguestand
ofherkin.Butforflatteringhimandputtingmyselfforwardtodohimhonour,I
leftthattotheHofmans.
However,thegloomwesawonTilly'sfaceprovedtrulytobetheshadowof
comingmisfortune;forthreeweeksafterheleftus,wasfoughtthegreatbattleof
Breitenfeld. Men say that the energy and decision he had shown all his life
forsookhimthere;thathehesitatedandsufferedhimselftobeledbyothers;and
thatsoitwasfromthedayofMagdeburgtohisdeath.Thismaybetrue,Ithink,
forhehadthebloodofwomenandchildrenonhishead;oritmaybethatatlast
hemetafoemanworthyofhissteel.ButineithercasethenewsoftheSwede's
victoryrangthroughNorthGermanylikeatrumpetcall.Itbrokewithstartling
abruptness the spell of victory which had hitherto--for thirteen long years-graced the Emperor's flag and the Roman Church. In Hesse, to the west of us,
wheretheLandgraveWilliamhadbeenthefirstofallGermanPrincestothrow
in his lot with the Swedes and defy the Emperor, it awoke such a shout of
jubilationandvengeanceascrossedeventheWerra;whilefromtheSaxonlands
totheeastofus,whichthisvictorysavedfromspoliation,andpunishment,came


anansweringcryofthankfulnessandjoy.EveninHeritzburgitstirredourblood.
Itrousednewthoughtsandnewambitions.WewereProtestants;wewereofthe
north.Thosewhohadfoughtandwonwereourbrethren.
And this was right. Nor for a time did I see anything wrong or any sign of
mischiefbrewing;thoughtonguesinthetownwaggedmorefreely,asthecloud
ofwarrolledeversouthwardandawayfromus.Butsixmonthslaterthenewsof
Count Tilly's death reached us. Then, or it might be a fortnight afterwards--so
long I think respect for my lady's loss and the new hatchment restrained the
good-for-naughts--thetroublebegan.Howitarose,andwhatshapeittook,and
howIcameathwartit,Iamgoingtotellyouwithoutfurtherpreface.
It was about the third Monday in May of that year, 1632. A broken lock in
one of the rooms at the castle had baffled the skill of our smith, and about
nightfall,thinkingtotakeacupofbeerattheRedHartonmywayback,Iwent
downtoPeterthelocksmith'sinthetown.Hisforgestandsinthewindinglane,
whichjoinstheHighStreetatthe RedHart, afterrunninghalfroundthetown
insidethe wall;sothatoneerrandwasafairexcuse forthe other.WhenIhad
givenhimhisorderandcomeoutagain,Ifoundthatwhatwiththedarknessof
thelaneandtheblazeofhisfirewhichhadgotintomyeyes,Icouldnotseea
yard before me. A little fine rain was falling with a chilly east wind, and the
town seemed dead. The pavement felt greasy under foot, and gave out a rank
smell. However, I thought of the cheery kitchen at the Red Hart and stumbled
along as fast as I could, until turning a corner I came in sight of the lanthorn
whichhangsovertheentrancetothelane.
Isawit,butshortofit,somethingtookandheldmyeye:awarmstreamof
light,whichshoneacrossthepath,andfellbrightlyontheroughsurfaceofthe
town-wall.Itcamefromasmallwindowonmyleft.Ihadtopassclosebeside
thiswindow,andoutofcuriosityIlookedin.WhatIsawwassosurprisingthatI
stoppedtolookagain.
The room inside was low and small and bare, with an earthen floor and no
fireplace.Onaraggedpalletinonecornerlayanelderlyman,towhosewasted
faceandpallidcheeksalongwhitemoustache,whichstrayedoverthecoverlet,
gaveanairofincongruousfierceness.Hisbrighteyeswerefixedonthedooras
if he listened. A child, three or four years old, sat on the floor beside him,
playingwithayellowcat.


It was neither of these figures, however, which held my gaze, but that of a
younggirlwhokneltonthefloorneartheheadofthebed.Alittlecrucifixstood
proppedagainstthewallbeforeher,andshehadastringofbeadsinherhands.
Herfacewasturnedfromme,butIfeltthatherlipsmoved.Ihadneverseena
Romanistatprayerbefore,andIlingeredamoment,thinkinginthefirstplace
thatshewouldhavedonebetterhadsheswungtheshutteragainstthewindow;
andinthenext,thatwithherdarkhairhangingaboutherneckandherheadbent
devoutly, she looked so weak and fragile that the stoutest Protestant could not
havefounditinhishearttoharmher.
Suddenly a noise, which dully reached me where I stood outside the
casement,causedhertostartinalarm,andturnherhead.Atthesamemoment
thecatsprangawayaffrighted,andthemanonthebedstirredandtriedtorise.
This breaking the spell, I stole quietly away and went round the corner to the
dooroftheinn.
ThoughIhadneverconsideredthegirlcloselybefore,Iknewwhoshewas.
Someeightmonthsearlier,whileTilly,hardpressedbytheKingofSweden,still
stoodatbay,keepingdownSaxonywithonehand,andHessewiththeother,the
man on the pallet, Stephen Wort, a sergeant of jagers, had been wounded in a
skirmishbeyondtheriver.WhyTilly,whowasusedtoseeingmendieroundhim
like flies in winter, gave a second thought to this man more than to others, I
cannot say. But for some reason, when he visited us before Breitenfeld, he
broughtthewoundedsergeantinhistrain,andwhenhewentlefthimattheinn.
Somesaidthatthemanhadsavedhislife,othersthatthetwowerebornonthe
samedayandsharedthesamehoroscope.MoreprobablyTillyknewnothingof
theman,andthecaptainoftheescortwastheactiveparty.Iimaginehehada
kindnessforWort,andknowingthatoutsideourlittlevalleyawoundedmanof
Tilly's army would find as short shrift as a hamstrung wolf, took occasion to
leavehimwithus.
IthoughtofallthisasIstoodfumblingaboutthedoorforthegreatbell.The
times weresuchthateveninnsshuttheirdoorsatnight,and Ihadtowaitand
blow on my fingers--for no wind is colder than a May wind--until I was
admitted.Inside,however,theblazingfireandcheerfulkitchenwithitsshowof
gleaming pewter, and its great polished settles winking solemnly in the heat,
made amends for all. I forgot the wounded man and his daughter and the fog
outside.Therewereeightorninemenpresent,amongthemHofman,whowas
thenBurgomaster,Dietz,thetownminister,andKlinkourhost.


TheywerepeopleImeteveryday,andsometimesmorethanonceaday,and
theygreetedmewithasilentnod.Theladwhowaitedbroughtmeacupofbeer,
andIsaidthatthenightwascoldforthetimeofyear.Someoneassented,butthe
company in general sat silent, sagely sucking their lips, or exchanging glances
whichseemedtoindicateasecretunderstanding.
Iwasnotslowtoseethatthishadtodowithmeandthatmyentrancehadcut
shortsomejestorstory.Iwaitedpatientlytolearnwhatitwas,andpresentlyI
was enlightened. After a few minutes Klink the host rose from his seat. First
looking from one to another of his neighbours, as if to assure himself of their
sympathy,hestolequietlyacrossthekitchentoadoorwhichstoodinonecorner.
Here he paused a moment listening, and then on a sudden struck the door a
coupleofblows,whichmadethepewtersringagain.
'Hi! Within there!' he cried in his great voice. Are you packing? Are you
packing,wench?Becauseoutyougoto-morrow,packornopack!Outyougo,
doyouhear?'
Hestoodamomentwaitingforananswer,butseemedtogetnone;onwhich
he came back to his seat, and chuckling fatly to himself, looked round on his
neighboursforapplause.Onewinkedandanotherrubbedhiscalves.Thegreater
numbereyedthefirewithaslysmile.FormypartIwasslowofapprehension.I
didnotunderstandbutwaitedtohearmore.
For five minutes we all sat silent, sucking our lips. Then Klink rose again
withaknowinglook,andcrossedthekitchenontiptoewiththesameparadeof
cautionasbefore.Bang!'Hestruckthedooruntilitrattledonitshinges.
'Hi!Youthere!'hethundered.'Doyouhear,youjade?Areyoupacking?Are
youpacking,Isay?Becausepackornopack,to-morrowyougo!Iamamanof
myword.'
He did not wait this time for an answer, but came back to us with a selfsatisfiedgrinonhisface.Hedranksomebeer--hewasabigponderousmanwith
a red face and small pig's eyes--and pointed over his shoulders with the cup.
'Eh?'hesaid,raisinghiseye-brows.
'Good!'amangrowledwhosatoppositetohim.
'Quiteright!'saidasecondinthesametone.'Popishbaggage!'


Hofmansaidnothing,butnodded,withaslyglanceatme.DietztheMinister
noddedcurtlyalso,andlookedhardatthefire.Therestlaughed.
FormypartIfeltverylittlelikelaughing.WhenIconsideredthatthisclumsy
jest was being played at the expense of the poor girl, whom I had seen at her
prayers, and that likely enough it was being played for the tenth time--when I
reflected that these heavy fellows were sitting at their ease by this great fire
watchingthelogsblazeandtheruddylightflickerupthechimney,whileshesat
in cold and discomfort, fearing every sound and trembling at every whisper, I
couldhavefounditinmyhearttogetupandsaywhatIthoughtofit.Andmy
speechwouldhaveastonishedthem.ButIremembered,intime,thatleastsaidis
soonestmended,andthatafterallwordsbreaknobones,andIdidnomorethan
sniffandshrugmyshoulders.
Klink,however,chosetotakeoffenceinhisstupidfashion.'Eh?'hesaid.'You
areofanothermind,MasterSchwartz?'
'Whatisthegoodoftalkinglikethat,'Isaid,'whenyoudonotmeanit?'
He puffed himself out, and after staring at me for a time, answered slowly:
'ButwhatifIdomeanit,MasterSteward?WhatifIdomeanit?'
'Youdon't,'Isaid.'Themanpayshisway.'
I thought to end the matter with that. I soon found that it was not to be
shelved so easily. For a moment indeed no one answered me. We are a slow
speaking race, and love to have time to think. A minute had not elapsed,
however,beforeoneofthemenwhohadspokenearliertookupthecudgels.'Ay,
hepayshisway,'hesaid,thrustinghisheadforward.'Hepayshisway,master;
buthow?Tellmethat.'
Ididnotanswerhim.
'Out of the peasant's pocket!' the fellow replied slowly. 'Out of the plunder
andbootyofMagdeburg.Withblood-money,master.'
'Iasknomorethantomeetoneofhiskindinthefields,'themansittingnext
him,whohadalsospokenbefore,chimedin.'Withnoonelookingon,master.
Therewouldbeonelesswolfintheworldthen,Iwillanswerforthat.Hepays
hisway?Oh,yes,hepaysithere.'


Ithoughtashrugoftheshouldersasufficientanswer.Thesetwobelongedto
the company my lady had raised in the preceding year to serve with the
Landgrave according to her tenure. They had come back to the town a week
beforethiswithmoneytospend;somepeoplesayingthattheyhaddeserted,and
somethattheyhadreturnedtoraisevolunteers.EitherwayIwasnotsurprisedto
find them a little bit above themselves; for foreign service spoils the best, and
thesehadneverbeenanythingbutloiterersandvagrants,whomitangeredmeto
seeonabenchcheekbyjowlwiththeBurgomaster.Ithoughttotreatthemwith
silentcontempt,butIsoonfoundthattheydidnotstandalone.
The Minister was the first to come to their support. 'You forget that these
peoplearePapists,MasterSchwartz.RankRomanPapists,'hesaid.
'SowasTilly!'Iretorted,stungtoanger.'Yetyoumanagedtodowithhim.'
'Thatwasdifferent,'heansweredsourly;buthewinced.
ThenHofmanbeganonme.'Yousee,MasterSteward,'hesaidslowly,'weare
aProtestanttown--weareaProtestanttown.Anditillbeseemsus--itillbeseems
ustoharbourPapists.Ihavethoughtoverthatalongwhile.AndnowIthinkitis
time to rid ourselves of them--to abate the nuisance in fact. You see we are a
Protestanttown,MasterSchwartz.Youforgetthat.'
'Then were we not a Protestant town,' I cried, jumping up in a rage, and
forgettingallmydiscretion,'whenweentertainedCountTilly?Whenyouheld
his stirrup, Burgomaster? and you, Master Dietz, uncovered to him? Were not
thesepeoplePapistswhentheycamehere,andwhenyoureceivedthem?ButI
will tell you what it is,' I continued, looking round scornfully, and giving my
angervent,forsuchmeannessdisgustedme.'WhentherewasaBavarianarmy
across the river, and you could get anything out of Tilly, you were ready to
obligehim,andcleanhisboots.YoucouldtakeinRomaniststhen,butnowthat
heisdeadandyoursideisuppermost,yougrowscrupulous,Pah!Iamashamed
ofyou!Youareonlyfittobullychildrenandgirls,andsuchlike!'andIturned
awaytotakeupmyiron-shodstaff.
Theywereallveryredinthefacebythistime,andthetwosoldierswereon
theirfeet.ButtheBurgomasterrestrainedthem.'Finewords!'hesaid,puffingout
hischeeks--'finewords!Daresaythegirlcanhearhim.Butlethimbe,lethim
be--lethimhavehissay!'


'Thereissomeelsewillhaveasayinthematter,MasterHofman!'Iretorted
warmly,asIturnedtothedoor,'andthatismylady.Iwouldadviseyoutothink
twicebeforeyouact.Thatisall!'
'Hoop-de-doo-dem-doo!'criedoneinderision,andothersechoedit.ButIdid
notstaytohear;Iturnedadeafeartotheuproar,whereinallseemedtobecrying
aftermeatonce,andshruggingmyshouldersIopenedthedoorandwentout.
Thesuddenchangefromthewarmnoisykitchentothecoldnightairsobered
meinamoment.AsIclimbedthedarkslipperystreetwhichrisestothefootof
thecastlesteps,IbegantowishthatIhadletthematterbe.Afterall,whatcall
had I to interfere, and make bad blood between myself and my neighbours? It
was no business of mine. The three were Romanists. Doubtless the man had
robbed and hectored in his time, and while his hand was strong; and now he
sufferedasothershadsuffered.
ItwastenchancestoonetheBurgomasterwouldcarrythemattertomylady
in some shape or other, and the minister would back him up, and I should be
reprimanded;oriftheCountesssawwithmyeyes,andsentthemoffwithaflea
intheirears,thenweshouldhavealltherabbleofthetownwhowereatKlink's
beck and call, going up and down making mischief, and crying, 'No Popery!'
EitherwayIforesawtrouble,andwishedthatIhadletthematterbe,orbetter
stillhadkeptawaythatnightfromtheRedHart.
But then on a sudden there rose before me, as plainly as if I had still been
looking through the window, a vision of the half-lit room looking on the lane,
withthesickmanonthepallet,andtheslenderfigurekneelingbesidethebed.I
sawthecatleap,sawagainthegirl'sfrightenedgestureassheturnedtowardsthe
door, and I grew almost as hot as I had been in the kitchen. 'The cowards!' I
muttered--'thecowards!ButIwillbebeforehandwiththem.Iwillgotomylady
earlyandtellherall.'
YouseeIhadmymisgivings,butIlittlethoughtwhatthateveningwasreally
tobringforth,orthatIhaddonethatintheRedHartkitchenwhichwouldalter
allmylife,andallmylady'slife;andspreadingstill,asalittlecrackinicewill
spreadfrombanktobank,wouldleavescarceamaninHeritzburgunchanged,
andscarceawoman'sfateuntouched.


CHAPTERII.
THECOUNTESSROTHA.

My Lady Rotha, Countess of Heritzburg in her own right, was at this time
twenty-fiveyearsoldandunmarried.Hermaidenstate,whichseemstocallfor
explanation, I attribute to two things. Partly to the influence of her friend and
companion Fraulein Anna Max of Utrecht, who was reputed in the castle to
know seven languages, and to consider marriage a sacrifice; and partly to the
Countess'sowndisposition,whichledhertosetahighvalueonthepowerand
possessionsthathaddescendedtoherfromherfather.CountTilly'sprotection,
which had exempted Heritzburg from the evils of the war, had rendered the
supportofahusbandlessnecessary;andsoshehadbeenlefttofollowherown
willinthematter,andwasnowlittlelikelytosurrenderherindependenceunless
herheartwentwiththegift.
Notthatsuitorswerelacking,formylady,besidesherwealth,waspossessed
of the handsomest figure in the world, with beautiful features, and the most
gracious and winning address ever known. I remember as if it were yesterday
Prince Albert of Rammingen, a great match but an old man. He came in his
chariotwithanumerousretinue,andstayedlong,takingitveryhardlythatmy
ladywasnottobewon;butafterawhilehewent.HisplacewastakenbyCount
Frederick, a brother of the Margrave of Anspach, a young gentleman who had
receivedhiseducationinFrance,andwasfullofairsandgraces,goingsoberto
bedeverynight,andspeakingGermanwithaFrenchaccent.Himmyladysoon
sent about his business. The next was a more famous man, Count Thurn of
Bohemia, he who began the war by throwing Slawata and Martinitz out of
windowinPrague,in'19,andpaidforitbyfifteenyearsofexile.Heworesuch
anairofmystery,andhadsuchtalestotellofflightandbattleandhairbreadth
escapes, that he was scarcely less an object of curiosity in the town than Tilly
himself;buthekneltinvain.Andinfinesoitwaswiththemall.Myladywould
havenoneofthem,butkepthermaidenstateandgovernedHeritzburgandsaw
theyearsgoby,contenttoallappearancewithFrauleinAnnaandhertalk,which
was all of Voetius and Beza and scores of other learned men, whose names I


couldneverrememberfromonehourtoanother.
Itwasmydutytowaituponhereverydayaftermorningservice,andreceive
her orders, and inform her of anything which I thought she ought to know. At
thathourshewastobefoundinherparlour,alongroomonthefirstfloorofthe
castle, lighted by three deeply-recessed windows and hung with old tapestry
workedbyhergreat-grandmotherinthedarkdaysoftheEmperorCharles,when
the Count of Heritzburg shared the imprisonment of the good Landgrave of
Hesse. A screen stood a little way within the door, and behind this it was my
businesstowait,untilIwascalled.
On this morning, however,Ihadnopatiencetowait,andImade myselfso
objectionable by my constant coughing that at last she cried, with a cheerful
laugh,'Whatisit,Martin?Comeandtellme.Hastherebeenafireintheforest?
Butitisnottherighttimeofyearforthat.'
'No, my lady,' I said, going forward. Then out of shyness or sheer
contradictorinessIfoundmyselfgivinghertheusualreportofthisandthatand
theother,butneverawordofwhatwasinmymind.Shesat,accordingtoher
custom in summer, in the recess of the farthest window, while Fraulein Anna
occupiedastoolplacedbeforeareading-desk.Behindthetwothegreatwindow
gaveuponthevalley.Bymerelyturningtheheadeitherofthemcouldlookover
the red roofs of Heritzburg to the green plain, which here was tolerably wide,
and beyond that again to the dark line of forest, which in spring and autumn
showedasbluetotheeyeasthickwoodsmoke.
WhileIspokemyladytoyedwithabookshehadbeenreading,andFraulein
Anna turned over the pages on the desk with an impatient hand, sometimes
lookingatmyladyandsometimestapping withherfootonthefloor.Shewas
plumpandfairandshort,dressingplainly,andalwayslookingintothedistance;
whether because she thought much and on deep matters, or because, as the
Countess'swomanoncetoldme,shecouldseenothingbeyondthelengthofher
arm,Icannotsay.WhenIhadfinishedmyreport,andpaused,shelookedupat
myladyandsaid,'Now,Rotha,areyouready?'
'Notquite,Anna,'myladyanswered,smiling.'Martinhasnotdoneyet.'
'Hetellsintenminuteswhatanotherwouldinfive,'Frauleinsaidcrossly.'But
tofinish?'


'Yes,Martin,whatisit?'myladyassented.'Wehaveeatenallthepastry.The
meatIamsureisyettocome.'
Isawthattherewasnothingelseforit,andafterallitwaswhatIhadcometo
do. 'Your excellency knows the Bavarian soldier and his daughter, who have
beenlodgingthesesixmonthspastattheRedHart?'Isaid.
'Tobesure.'
'Klink talks of turning them out,' I continued, feeling my face grow red I
scarcelyknewwhy.
'Is their money at an end?' the Countess asked shrewdly. She was a great
womanofbusiness.
'No,'Ianswered,'butIdaresayitislow.'
'Then what is the matter?' my lady continued, looking at me somewhat
curiously.
'HesaysthattheyarePapists,'Ianswered.'Anditistrue,asyourexcellency
knows, but it is not for him to say it. The man will not be safe for an hour
outsidethewalls,northe girl muchlonger.Andthereisasmallchildbesides.
Andtheyhavenowhereelsetogo.'
Mylady'sfacegrewgravewhileIspoke.WhenIstoppedsheroseandstood
fronting me, tapping on the reading-desk with her fingers. 'This must not be
allowed,Martin,'shesaidfirmly.'Youwererighttotellme.'
'MasterHofmanandtheMinister----'
'Yes,'sheinterposed,noddingquickly.'Gotothem.TheywillseeKlink,and---'
'Theyarejustpushinghimon,'Isaid,withagroan.
'What!'shecried;andIremembertothisdayhowhergreyeyesflashedand
howshethrewbackherheadingenerousamazement.'Doyoumeantosaythat
this is being done in spite, Martin? That after escaping all the perils of this
wretchedwar thesemenaresothanklessastoturnonthefirstscape-goatthat


fallsintotheirhands?Itisnotpossible!'
'It looks like it, my lady,' I muttered, wondering whether I had not perhaps
carriedthemattertoofar.
'No,no,'shesaid,shakingherhead,'youmusthavemadeamistake;butgoto
Klink.GotoKlinkandtellhimfrommetokeepthemanforaweekatleast.I
willbeanswerableforthecost,andwecanconsiderinthemeantimewhattodo.
My cousin the Waldgrave Rupert visits me in a day or two, and I will consult
him.'
Still I did not like to go without giving her a hint that she might meet with
opposition, and I hesitated, considering how I might warn her without causing
needless alarm or seeming to presume. Fraulein Anna, who had listened
throughoutwiththegreatestimpatience,tookadvantageofthepausetointerfere.
'Come,Rotha,'shesaid.'Enoughtrifling.LetusgobacktoVoetiusandourday's
work.'
'Mydear,'theCountessansweredsomewhatcoldly,'thisismyday'swork.I
amtryingtodoit.'
'Your work is to improve and store your mind,' Fraulein Anna retorted with
peevishness.
'True,'myladysaidquietly;'butforapurpose.'
'There can be no purpose higher than the acquirement of philosophy--and,
religion,'FrauleinAnnasaid.Herlastwordssoundedlikeanafterthought.
Myladyshookherhead.'ThedutyofaPrincessistogovern,'shesaid.
'Howcanshegovernunlessshehaspreparedhermindbystudyandthought?'
FrauleinAnnaaskedtriumphantly.
'Iagreewithinlimits,'myladyanswered.'But----'
'There is no but! Nor are there any limits that I see!' the other rejoined
eagerly.'LetmereadtoyououtofVoetiushimself.Inhismaxims----'
'Notthisminute,'theCountessansweredfirmly.Andtherebysheinterrupted


not Fraulein Anna alone but a calculation on which, without any light from
Voetius,Iwasengaged;namely,howlongitwouldtakeamantomowanacreof
groundifhespentallhistimeinsharpeninghisscythe!Lowmattersofthatkind
however have nothing in common with philosophy I suppose; and my lady's
voicesoonbroughtmebacktothepoint.'Whatisityouwanttosay,Martin?'
sheasked.'Iseethatyouhavesomethingstillonyourmind.'
'Iwishyourexcellencytobeawarethattheremaybeagooddealoffeelingin
thetownonthismatter,'Isaid.
'YoumeanthatImaymakemyselfunpopular,'sheanswered.
ThatwaswhatIdidmean--thatattheleast.AndIbowed.
Myladyshookherheadwithagravesmile.'Imightgiveyouananswerfrom
Voetius,Martin,'shesaid;'thattheywhogovernarecreatedtoprotecttheweak
againstthestrong.Andifnot,cuibono?Butthat,youmaynotunderstand.Shall
IsaytheninsteadthatI,andnotHofmanorDietz,amCountessofHeritzburg.'
'Mylady,'Icried--andIcouldhavekneltbeforeher--'thatisanswerenough
forme!'
'Thengo,'shesaid,herfacebright,'anddoasItoldyou.'
Sheturnedaway,andImademyreverenceandwentoutanddownthestairs
andthroughthegreatcourtwithmyheadhighandmyhearthighalso.Imight
notunderstandVoetius;butIunderstoodthatmyladywasone,whoinfaceofall
andinspiteofall,comeHofmanorDietz,comepeaceorwar,wouldnotblench,
butstandbytheright!Anditdidmegood.Heisabadhorsethatwillnotjump
when his rider's heart is right, and a bad servant that will not follow when his
mastergoesbefore!Ihummedatune,Irattledmystaffonthestones.Isaidto
myselfitwasathousandpitiessogallantaspiritshouldbewastedonawoman:
andthenagainIfanciedthatIcouldnothaveservedamanasIknewIcouldand
wouldservehershouldtimeandthecalleverputmetothetest.
The castle at Heritzburg, rising abruptly above the roofs of the houses, is
accessiblefromthetownbyaflightofstepscutintherock.Ontheotherthree
sidestheknobonwhichitstandsisseparatedfromthewoodedhillstowhichit
belongsbyanarrowravine,crossedinoneplacebyalighthorse-bridgemadein
modern days. This forms the chief entrance to the castle, but the road which


leadstoitfromthetowngoessofarroundthatitisseldomused,theflightof
stepsIhavementionedleadingatonceandmoreconvenientlyfromtheendof
the High Street. Half way down the High Street on the right hand side is the
Market-place,asmallpavedsquare,shadedbytallwoodenhouses,andhavinga
carvedstonepumpinthemiddle.Ahundredpacesbeyondthisonthesameside
istheRedHart,standingjustwithintheWestGate.
Fromoneendofthetowntotheotherisscarcelyastep,andIwasattheinn
before the Countess's voice had ceased to sound in my ears. The door stood
open,andIwentin,expectingtofindthekitchenemptyornearlysoatthathour
oftheday.Tomysurprise, Ifoundatleastadozenpeopleinit,withasmuch
noise and excitement going forward as if the yearly fair had been in progress.
ForamomentIwasnotobserved.Ihadtimetoseewhowerepresent--Klink,the
two soldiers who had put themselves forward the evening before, and half a
score of idlers. Then the landlord's eye fell on me and he passed the word. A
sudden silence followed and a dozen faces turned my way; so that the room,
whichwaslowintheroofwithwidebeetle-browedwindows,seemedtolighten.
'Justintime,MasterSchwartz!'criedonefellow.'You,canwrite,andweare
aboutapetition!Perhapsyouwilldrawitupforus.'
'Apetition,'Isaidshortly,eyeingthefellowwithcontempt.'Whatpetition?'
'AgainstPapists!'heansweredboldly.
'Andfavourers,aiders,andabettors!'exclaimedanotherinthebackground.
'Master Klink, Master Klink,' I said, trying to frown down the crowd, 'you
woulddowelltohaveacare.Theseragamuffins----'
'Have a care yourself, Master Jackanapes!' the same voice cried. 'This is a
townmeeting.'
'Town meeting!' I said, looking round contemptuously. 'Gaol-meeting, you
mean,andlikelytobeagaol-filling.ButIdonotspeaktoyou;Ileavethattothe
constable.ForMasterKlink,ifhewilltakeawordofadvice,Iwillspeakwith
himalone.'
Theycriedouttohimnottospeaktome.ButKlinkhadstillsenseenoughto
know that he might be going too fast, and though they hooted and laughed at


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