Part I.
Volume 4.
Chapter XVII.
 

Twice, three times, Siebenburg rapped, but in vain. Yet the Swiss was there. His armour-bearer had told Seitz so downstairs, and he heard his voice within. At last he struck the door so heavily with the handle of his dagger that the whole house echoed with the sound. This succeeded; the door opened, and Biberli's narrow head appeared. He looked at the visitor in astonishment.

"Tell your master," said the latter imperiously, recognising Heinz Schorlin's servant, "that if he closes his lodgings against dunning tradesfolk--"

"By your knock, my lord," Biberli interrupted, we really thought the sword cutler had come with hammer and anvil. My master, however, need have no fear of creditors; for though you may not yet know it, Sir Knight, there are generous noblemen in Nuremberg during the Reichstag who throw away castles and lands in his favour at the gaming table."

"And hurl their fists even more swiftly into the faces of insolent varlets!" cried Siebenburg, raising his right hand threateningly. "Now take me to your master at once!"

"Or, at any rate, within his four walls," replied the servitor, preceding Seitz into the small anteroom from which he had come. "As to the 'at once,' that rests with the saints, for you must know----"

"Nonsense!" interrupted the knight. "Tell your master that Siebenburg has neither time nor inclination to wait in his antechamber."

"And certainly nothing could afford Sir Heinz Schorlin greater pleasure than your speedy departure," Biberli retorted.

"Insolent knave!" thundered Seitz, who perceived the insult conveyed in the reply, grasping the neck of his long robe; but Biberli felt that he had seized only the hood, swiftly unclasped it, and as he hurried to a side door, through which loud voices echoed, Siebenburg heard the low cry of a woman. It came from behind a curtain spread over some clothes that hung on the wall, and Seitz said to himself that the person must be the maid whom he had just met. She was in Els Ortlieb's service, and he was glad to have this living witness at hand.

If he could induce Heinz to talk with him here in the anteroom it would be impossible for her to escape. So, feigning that he had noticed nothing, he pretended to be much amused by Biberli's nimble flight. Forcing a laugh, he flung the hood at his head, and before he opened the door of the adjoining room again asked to speak to his master. Biberli replied that he must wait; the knight was holding a religious conversation with a devout old mendicant friar. If he might venture to offer counsel, he would not interrupt his master now; he had received very sad news, and the tailor who came to take his measure for his mourning garments had just left him. If Seitz had any business with the knight, and expected any benefit from his favour and rare generosity----

But Siebenburg let him get no farther. Forgetting the stratagem which was to lure Heinz hither, he burst into a furious rage, fiercely declaring that he sought favour and generosity from no man, least of all a Heinz Schorlin and, advancing to the door, flung the servant who barred his passage so rudely against the wall that he uttered a loud cry of pain.

Ere it had died away Heinz appeared on the threshold. A long white robe increased the pallor of his face, but yesterday so ruddy, and his reddened eyes showed traces of recent tears.

When he perceived what had occurred, and saw his faithful follower, with a face distorted by pain, rubbing his shoulder, his cheeks flushed angrily, and with just indignation he rebuked Siebenburg for his unseemly intrusion into his quarters and his brutal conduct.

Then, without heeding the knight, he asked Biberli if he was seriously injured, and when the latter answered in the negative he again turned to Seitz and briefly enquired what he wanted. If he desired to own that, while in a state of senseless intoxication he had slandered modest maidens, and was ignorant of his actions when he staked his castle and lands against the gold lying before him, Heinz Schorlin, he might keep Tannenreuth. The form in which he would revoke his calumny to Jungfrau Ortlieb he would discuss with him later. At present his mind was occupied with more important matters than the senseless talk of a drunkard, and he would therefore request the knight to leave him.

As Heinz uttered the last words he pointed to the door, and this indiscreet, anything but inviting gesture robbed Siebenburg of the last remnant of composure maintained with so much difficulty.

Nothing is more infuriating to weak natures than to have others expect them to pursue a course opposite to that which, after a victory over baser impulses, they have recognised as the right one and intended to follow. He who had come to resign his lost property voluntarily was regarded by the Swiss as an importunate mendicant; he who stood here to prove that he was perfectly justified in accusing Els Ortlieb of a crime, Schorlin expected to make a revocation against his better knowledge. And what price did the insolent fellow demand for the restored estate and the right to brand him as a slanderer? The pleasure of seeing the unwelcome guest retire as quickly as possible. No greater degree of contempt and offensive presumption could be imagined, and as Seitz set his own admirable conduct during the past few hours far above the profligate behaviour of the Swiss, he was fired with honest indignation and, far from heeding the white robe and altered countenance of his enemy, gave the reins to his wrath.

Pale with fury, he flung, as it were, the estate the Swiss had won from him at his feet, amid no lack of insulting words.

At first Heinz listened to the luckless gambler's outbreak of rage in silent amazement, but when the latter began to threaten, and even clapped his hand on his sword, the composure which never failed him in the presence of anything that resembled danger quickly returned.

He had felt a strong aversion to Siebenburg from their first meeting, and the slanderous words with which he had dragged in the dust the good name of a maiden who, Heinz knew, had incurred suspicion solely through his fault, had filled him with scorn. So, with quiet contempt, he let him rave on; but when the person to whom he had just been talking--the old Minorite monk whom he had met on the highroad and accompanied to Nuremberg--appeared at the door of the next room, he stopped Seitz with a firm "Enough!" pointed to the old man, and in brief, simple words, gave the castle and lands of Tannenreuth to the monastery of the mendicant friars of the Franciscan order in Nuremberg.

Siebenburg listened with a contemptuous shrug of the shoulders, then he said bitterly: "I thought that a life of poverty was the chief rule in the order of St. Francis. But no matter! May the gift won at the gaming table profit the holy Brothers. For you, Sir Knight, it will gain the favour of the Saint of Assisi, whose power is renowned. So you have acted wisely."

Here he hesitated; he felt choked with rage. But while the Minorite was thanking Heinz for the generous gift, Siebenburg's eyes again rested on the curtain behind which the maid was concealed.

It was now his turn to deal the Swiss a blow. The old mendicant friar was a venerable person whose bearing commanded respect, and Heinz seemed to value his good opinion. For that very reason the Minorite should learn the character of this patron of his order.

"Since you so earnestly desire to be rid of my company, Sir Heinz Schorlin," he continued, "I will fulfil your wish. Only just now you appeared to consider certain words uttered last night in reference to a lady--"

"Let that pass," interrupted Heinz with marked emphasis.

"I might expect that desire," replied Siebenburg scornfully; "for as you are in the act of gaining the favour of Heaven by pious works, it will be agreeable to you--"

"What?" asked the Swiss sharply.

"You will surely desire," was the reply, "to change conduct which is an offence to honourable people, and still more to the saints above. You who have estranged a betrothed bride from her lover and lured her to midnight interviews, no doubt suppose yourself safe from the future husband, whom the result of a duel--as you know--will keep from her side. But Wolff happens to be my brother-in-law, and if I feel disposed to take his place and break a lance with you----"

Heinz, pale as death, interrupted him, exclaiming in a tone of the deepest indignation: "So be it, then. We will have a tilt with lances, and then we will fight with our swords."

Siebenburg looked at him an instant, as if puzzled by his adversary's sharp assault, but quickly regained his composure and answered: "Agreed! In the joust--[single combat in the tourney]--with sharp weapons it will soon appear who has right on his side."

"Right?" asked Heinz in astonishment, shrugging his shoulders scornfully.

"Yes, right," cried the other furiously, "which you have ceased to prize."

"So far from it," the Swiss answered quietly, "that before we discuss the mode of combat with the herald I must ask you to recall the insults with which yesterday, in your drunkenness, you injured the honour of a virtuous maiden in the presence of other knights and gentlemen."

"Whose protector," laughed Seitz, "you seem to have constituted yourself, by your own choice, in her bridegroom's place."

"I accept the position," replied Heinz with cool deliberation. "Not you, nay, I will fight in Wolff Eysvogel's stead--and with his consent, I think. I know him, and esteem him so highly----"

"That you invite his plighted bride to nocturnal love dalliance, and exchange love messages with her," interrupted the other.

This was too much for Heinz Schorlin and, with honest indignation, he cried: "Prove it! Or, by our Lord's blood!--My sword, Biberli!--Spite of the peace proclaimed throughout the land, you shall learn, ere you open your slandering lips again----"

Here he paused suddenly, for while Biberli withdrew to obey the command which, though it probably suited his wishes, he was slow in executing, doubtless that he might save his master from a reckless act, Siebenburg, frantic with fury, rushed to the curtain. Ere Heinz could interfere, he jerked it back so violently that he tore it from the fastenings and forced the terrified maid, whose arm he grasped, to approach the knight with him.

Heinz had seen Katterle only by moonlight and in the twilight, so her unexpected appearance gave him no information. He gazed at her enquiringly, with as much amazement as though she had risen from the earth. Siebenburg gave him no time to collect his thoughts, but dragged the girl before the monk and, raising his voice in menace, commanded: "Tell the holy Brother who you are, woman!"

"Katterle of Sarnen," she answered, weeping. "And whom do you serve?" the knight demanded.

"The Ortlieb sisters, Jungfrau Els and Jungfrau Eva," was the reply.

"The beautiful Es, as they are called here, holy Brother," said Siebenburg with a malicious laugh, "whose maid I recognise in this girl. If she did not come hither to mend the linen of her mistress's friend--"

But here Biberli, who on his return to the anteroom had been terrified by the sight of his sweetheart, interrupted the knight by turning to Heinz with the exclamation: "Forgive me, my lord. Surely you know that she is my betrothed bride. She came just now--scarcely a dozen Paternosters ago-to talk with me about the marriage."

Katterle had listened in surprise to the bold words of her true and steadfast lover, yet she was not ill pleased, for he had never before spoken of their marriage voluntarily. At the same time she felt the obligation of aiding him and nodded assent, while Siebenburg rudely interrupted the servant by calling to the monk: "Lies and deception, pious Brother. Black must be whitened here. She stole, muffled, to her mistress's gallant, to bring a message from the older beautiful E, with whom this godly knight was surprised last night."

Again the passionate outbreak of his foe restored the Swiss to composure. With a calmness which seemed to the servant incomprehensible, though it filled him with delight, he turned to the monk, saying earnestly and simply: "Appearances may be against me, Pater Benedictus. I will tell you all the circumstances at once. How this maid came here will be explained later. As for the maiden whom this man calls the older beautiful E, never--I swear it by our saint--have I sought her love or received from her the smallest token of her favour."

Then turning to Siebenburg he continued, still calmly, but with menacing sternness: "If I judge you aright, you will now go from one to another telling whom you found here, in order to injure the fair fame of the maiden whom your wife's valiant brother chose for his bride, and to place my name with hers in the pillory."

"Where Els Ortlieb belongs rather than in the honourable home of a Nuremberg patrician," retorted Siebenburg furiously. "If she became too base for my brother-in-law, the fault is yours. I shall certainly take care that he learns the truth and knows where, and at what an hour, his betrothed bride met foreign heartbreakers. To open the eyes of others concerning her will also be a pleasant duty."

Heinz sprang towards Biberli to snatch the sword from his hand, but he held it firmly, seeking his master's eyes with a look of warning entreaty; but his faithful solicitude would have been futile had not the monk lent his aid. The old man's whispered exhortation to his young friend to spare the imperial master, to whom he was so deeply indebted, a fresh sorrow, restored to the infuriated young knight his power of self-control. Pushing the thick locks back from his brow with a hasty movement, he answered in a tone of the most intense contempt:

"Do what you will, but remember this: Beware that, ere the joust begins, you do not ride the rail instead of the charger. The maidens whose pure name you so yearn to sully are of noble birth, and if they appear to complain of you----"

"Then I will proclaim the truth," Siebenburg retorted, "and the Court of Love and Pursuivant at Arms will deprive you, the base seducer, of the right to enter the lists rather than me, my handsome knight!"

"So be it," replied Heinz quietly. "You can discuss the other points with my herald. Wolff Eysvogel, too--rely upon it--will challenge you, if you fulfil your base design."

Then, turning his back upon Seitz without a word of farewell, he motioned the monk towards the open door of the antechamber, and letting him lead the way, closed it behind them.

"He will come to you, you boaster!" Siebenburg shouted contemptuously after the Swiss, and then turned to Biberli and the maid with a patronising question; but the former, without even opening his lips in reply, hastened to the door and, with a significant gesture, induced the knight to retire.

Seitz submitted and hastened down the stairs, his eyes flashing as if he had won a great victory. At the door of the house he grasped the hilt of his sword, and then, with rapid movements, twisted the ends of his mustache. The surprise he had given the insolent Swiss by the discovery of his love messenger--it had acted like a spell--could not have succeeded better. And what had Schorlin alleged in justification? Nothing, absolutely nothing at all. Wolff Eysvogel's herald should challenge the Swiss, not him, who meant to open the deceived lover's eyes concerning his betrothed bride.

He eagerly anticipated the joust and the sword combat with Heinz. The sharper the herald's conditions the better. He had hurled more powerful foes than the Swiss from the saddle, and from knightly "courtoisie" not even used his strength without consideration. Heinz Schorlin should feel it.

He gazed around him like a victor, and throwing his head back haughtily he went down the Bindergasse, this time past the Franciscan monastery towards the Town Hall and the fish market. Eber, the sword cutler, lived there and, spite of the large sum he owed him, Seitz wished to talk with him about the sharp weapons he needed for the joust. On his way he gave his imagination free course. It showed him his impetuous onset, his enemy's fall in the sand, the sword combat, and the end of the joust, the swift death of his hated foe.

These pictures of the future occupied his thoughts so deeply that he neither saw nor heard what was passing around him. Many a person for whom he forgot to turn aside looked angrily after him. Suddenly he found his farther progress arrested. The crier had just raised his voice to announce some important tidings to the people who thronged around him between the Town Hall and the Franciscan monastery. Perhaps he might have succeeded in forcing a passage through the concourse, but when he heard the name "Ernst Ortlieb," in the monotonous speech of the city crier, he followed the remainder of his notice. It made known to the citizens of Nuremberg that, since the thunderstorm of the preceding night, a maid had been missing from the house of the Honourable Herr Ernst Ortlieb, of the Council, a Swiss by birth, Katharina of Sarnen, called Katterle, a woman of blameless reputation. Whoever should learn anything concerning the girl was requested to bring the news to the Ortlieb residence.

What did this mean?

If the girl had vanished at midnight and not returned to her employers since, she could scarcely have sought Heinz Schorlin as a messenger of love from Els. But if she had not come to the Swiss from one of the Es, what proof did he, Seitz, possess of the guilt of his brother-in-law's bride? How should he succeed in making Wolff understand that his beloved Els had wronged him if the maid was to play no part in proving it? Yesterday evening he had not believed firmly in her guilt; that very morning it had even seemed to him a shameful thing that he had cast suspicion upon her in the presence of others. The encounter with the maid at the Swiss knight's lodgings had first induced him to insist on his accusation so defiantly. And now? If Heinz Schorlin, with the help of the Ortliebs, succeeded in proving the innocence of those whom he had accused, then--ah, he must not pursue that train of thought--then, at the lady's accusation, he might be deprived of the right to enter the lists in the tournament; then all the disgrace which could be inflicted upon the slanderous defamer of character threatened him; then Wolff would summon him to a reckoning, as well as Heinz Schorlin. Wolff, whom he had begun to hate since, with his resistless arm of iron, he had exposed him for the first time to the malicious glee of the bystanders in the fencing hall.

Yet it was not this which suddenly bowed his head and loudly admonished him that he had again behaved like a reckless fool. Cowardice was his least fault. He did not fear what might befall him in battle. Whether he would be barred out from the lists was the terrible question which darkened the bright morning already verging towards noon. He had charged Els with perfidy in the presence of others, and thereby exposed her, the plighted bride of a knight, to the utmost scorn. And besides--fool that he was!--his brothers had again attacked a train of waggons on the highway and would soon be called to account as robbers. This would certainly lead the Swiss and others to investigate his own past, and the Pursuivant at Arms excluded from joust and tourney whoever "injured trade or merchant." What would not his enemy, who was in such high favour with the Emperor, do to compass his destruction? But--and at the thought he uttered a low imprecation--how could he ride to the joust if his father-in-law closed his strong box which, moreover, was said to be empty? If the old man was forced to declare himself bankrupt Siebenburg's creditors would instantly seize his splendid chargers and costly suits of armour, scarcely one half of which were paid for. How much money he needed as security in case of defeat! His sole property was debts. Yet the thought seemed like an illumination--his wife's valuable old jewels could probably still be saved, and she might be induced to give him part of the ornaments for the tournament. He need only make her understand that his honour and that of the twins were at stake. Would that Heaven might spare his boys such hours of anxiety and self-accusation!

But what was this? Was he deluding himself? Did his over-excited imagination make him hear a death knell pealing for his honour and his hopes, which must be borne to their grave? Yet no! All the citizens and peasants, men and women, great and small, who thronged the salt market, which he had just entered, raised their heads to listen with him; for from every steeple at once rang the mournful death knell which announced to the city the decease of an "honourable" member of the Council, a secular or ecclesiastical prince. The mourning banner was already waving on the roof of the Town Hall, towards which he turned. Men in the service of the city were hoisting other black flags upon the almshouse, and now the Hegelein--[Proclaimer of decrees]--in mourning garments, mounted on a steed caparisoned with crepe, came riding by at the head of other horsemen clad in sable, proclaiming to the throng that Hartmann, the Emperor Rudolph's promising son, had found an untimely end. The noble youth was drowned while bathing in the Rhine.

It seemed as if a frost had blighted a blooming garden. The gay bustle in the market place was paralysed. The loud sobs of many women blended with exclamations of grief and pity from bearded lips which had just been merrily bargaining for salt and fish, meat and game. Messengers with crepe on their hats or caps forced a passage through the throng, and a train of German knights, priests, and monks passed with bowed heads, bearing candles in their hands, between the Town Hail and St. Sebald's Church towards the corn magazine and the citadel.

Meanwhile dark clouds were spreading slowly over the bright-blue vault of the June sky. A flock of rooks hovered around the Town Hall, and then flew, with loud cries, towards the castle.

Seitz watched them indifferently. Even the great omnipotent sovereign there had his own cross to bear; tears flowed in his proud palace also, and sighs of anguish were heard. And this was just. He had never wished evil to any one who did not injure him, but even if he could have averted this sore sorrow from the Emperor Rudolph he would not have stirred a finger. His coronation had been a blow to him and to his brothers. Formerly they had been permitted to work their will on the highways, but the Hapsburg, the Swiss, had pitilessly stopped their brigandage. Now for the first time robber-knights were sentenced and their castles destroyed. The Emperor meant to transform Germany into a sheepfold, Absbach exclaimed. The Siebenburg brothers were his faithful allies, and though they complained that the joyous, knightly clank of arms would be silenced under such a sovereign, they themselves took care that the loud battle shouts, cries of pain, and shrieks for aid were not hushed on the roads used for traffic by the merchants. But this was not Seitz's sole reason for shrugging his shoulders at the expressions of the warmest sympathy which rose around him. The Emperor was tenderly attached to Heinz Schorlin, and the man who was so kindly disposed to his foe could never be his friend. Perhaps to-morrow Rudolph might behead his brothers and elevate Heinz Schorlin to still greater honors. Seitz, whose eyes had overflowed with tears when the warder of his native castle lost his aged wife, who had been his nurse, now found no cause to grieve with the mourners.

So he continued his way, burdened with his own anxieties, amid the tears and lamentations of the multitude. The numerous retinue of servants in the Eysvogel mansion were moving restlessly to and fro; the news of the prince's death had reached them. Herr Casper had left the house. He was probably at Herr Ernst Ortlieb's. If the latter had already learned what he, Seitz Siebenburg, had said at the gaming table of his daughter, perhaps his hand had dealt the first decisive blow at the tottering house where, so long as it stood, his wife and the twins would under any circumstances find shelter. Resentment against the Swiss, hatred, and jealousy, had made him a knave, and at the same time the most shortsighted of fools.

As he approached the second story, in which the nursery was situated and where he expected to find his wife, it suddenly seemed as if a star had risen amid the darkness. If he poured out his heart to Isabella and let her share the terrible torture of his soul, perhaps it would awaken a tender sympathy in the woman who still loved him, and who was dearer to him than he could express. Her jewels were certainly very valuable, but far more precious was the hope of being permitted to rest his aching head upon her breast and feel her slender white hand push back the hair from his anxious brow. Oh, if misfortune would draw her again as near to him as during the early months of their married life and directly before it, he could rise from his depression with fresh vigour and transform the battle, now half lost, into victory. Besides, she was clever and had power over the hearts of her family, so perhaps she might point out the pathway of escape, which his brain, unused to reflection, could not discover.

His heart throbbed high as, animated by fresh hope, he entered the corridor from which opened the rooms which he occupied with her. But his wish to find her alone was not to be fulfilled; several voices reached him.

What was the meaning of the scene?

Isabella, her face deadly pale, and her tall figure drawn up to its full height, stood before the door of the nursery with a stern, cold expression on her lovely lips, like a princess pronouncing sentence upon a criminal. She was panting for breath, and before her, her mother, and her grandmother, Countess Cordula's pretty page, whom Siebenburg knew only too well, was moving to and fro with eager gestures. He held in his hand the bunch of roses which Seitz had sent to his newly-won wife and darling as a token of reconciliation, and Siebenburg heard his clear, boyish tones urge: "I have already said so and, noble lady, you may believe me, this bouquet, which the woman brought us, was intended for my gracious mistress, Countess von Montfort. It was meant to give her a fair morning greeting, and--Do not let this vex you, for it was done only in the joyous game of love, as custom dictated. Ever since we came here your lord has daily honoured my countess with the loveliest flowers whose buds unfold in the region near the Rhine. But my gracious mistress, as you have already heard, believes that you, noble lady, have a better right to these unusually beautiful children of the spring than she who last evening bade your lord behold in you, not in her, fair lady, the most fitting object of his homage. So she sent me hither, most gracious madam, to lay what is yours at your feet."

As he spoke, the agile boy, with a graceful bow, tried to place the flowers in Isabella's hand, but she would not receive the bouquet, and the abrupt gesture with which she pushed them back flung the nosegay on the floor. Paying no further heed to it, she answered in a cold, haughty tone: "Thank your mistress, and tell her that I appreciated her kind intention, but the roses which she sent me were too full of thorns." Then, turning her back on the page, she advanced with majestic pride to the door of the nursery.

Her mother and grandmother tried to follow, but Siebenburg pressed between them and his wife, and his voice thrilled with the anguish of a soul overwhelmed by despair as he cried imploringly: "Hear me, Isabella! There is a most unhappy misunderstanding here. By all that is sacred to me, by our love, by our children, I swear those roses were intended for you, my heart's treasure, and for you alone."

But Countess Rotterbach cut him short by exclaiming with a loud chuckle: "The unripe early pears will probably come from the fruit market to the housewife's hands later; the roses found their way to Countess von Montfort more quickly."

The malicious words were followed like an echo by Frau Rosalinde's tearful "It is only too true. This also!"

The knight, unheeding the angry, upbraiding woman, hastened in pursuit of his wife to throw himself at her feet and confess the whole truth; but she, who had heard long before that Sir Seitz was paying Countess Cordula more conspicuous attention than beseemed a faithful husband, and who, after the happy hour so recently experienced, had expected, until the arrival of the page, the dawn of brighter, better days, now felt doubly abased, deceived, betrayed.

Without vouchsafing the unfortunate man even a glance or a word, she entered the nursery before he reached her; but he, feeling that he must follow her at any cost, laid his hand on the lock of the door and tried to open it. The strong oak resisted his shaking and pulling. Isabella had shot the heavy iron bolt into its place. Seitz first knocked with his fingers and then with his clenched fist, until the grandmother exclaimed: "You have destroyed the house, at least spare the doors."

Uttering a fierce imprecation, he went to his own chamber, hastily thrust into his pockets all the gold and valuables which he possessed, and then went out again into the street. His way led him past Kuni, the flower girl from whom he had bought the roses. The beggar who was to carry them to his wife did not hear distinctly, on account of her bandaged head, and not understanding the knight, went to the girl from whom she had seen him purchase the blossoms to ask where they belonged. Kuni pointed to the lodgings of the von Montforts, where she had already sent so many bouquets for Siebenburg. The latter saw both the flower-seller and the beggar woman, but did not attempt to learn how the roses which he intended for his wife had reached Countess Cordula. He suspected the truth, but felt no desire to have it confirmed. Fate meant to destroy him, he had learned that. The means employed mattered little. It would have been folly to strive against the superior power of such an adversary. Let ruin pursue its course. His sole wish was to forget his misery, though but for a brief time. He knew he could accomplish this by drink, so he entered the Mirror wine tavern and drained bumper after bumper with a speed which made the landlord, though he was accustomed to marvellous performances on the part of his guests, shake the head set on his immensely thick neck somewhat suspiciously.

The few persons present had gathered in a group and were talking sadly about the great misfortune which had assailed the Emperor. The universal grief displayed so hypocritically, as Seitz thought, angered him, and he gazed at them with such a sullen, threatening look that no one ventured to approach him. Sometimes he stared into his wine, sometimes into vacancy, sometimes at the vaulted ceiling above. He harshly rebuffed the landlord and the waiter who tried to accost him, but when the peasant's prediction was fulfilled and the thunderstorm of the preceding night was followed at midnight by one equally severe, he arose and left the hostelry. The rain tempted him into the open air. The taproom was so sultry, so terribly sultry. The moisture of the heavens would refresh him.