The Fire Of The Forge by Georg Ebers
Heinz heeded Cordula's warning. In the royal hall every one would have been justified in believing him a very cool lover, but during the walk with Eva to the lodgings of his cousin Maier of Silenen, where the Schurlins, Ortliebs, Wolff, and Herr Pfinzing and his wife were to meet to celebrate the betrothal, the moon, whose increasing crescent was again in the sky, beheld many things which gave her pleasure.
The priest soon united Heinz and Eva, but the celestial pilgrim willingly resigned the power formerly exerted over the maiden to the husband, who clasped her to his heart with tender love.
Luna was satisfied with Wolff and Els also. She afterwards watched the fate of both couples in Swabia and Nuremberg, and when the showy escutcheon was removed from the Eysvogel mansion, and a more modest one put in its place, she was gratified.
She soon saw that a change had also been made in the one above the door of the Ortlieb house, for the Ortlieb coat of arms, in accordance with the family name, had borne the figure of a cat, the animal which loves the place,--[Ort, place.]--the house to which it belongs, but on the wedding day of the two beautiful Es the Emperor Rudolph had commanded that, in perpetual remembrance of its two loveliest daughters, the Ortliebs should henceforward bear on their escutcheon two linden leaves under tendrils, the symbol of loyal steadfastness.
When, a few months after Wolff's union with his heart's beloved, the coffin of old Countess Rotterbach, adorned with a handsome coronet upon the costly pall, was borne out of the house at the quiet evening hour, she thought there was no cause to mourn.
On the other hand, she grieved when, for a long time, she did not see old Casper Eysvogel, whose tall figure she had formerly watched with pleasure when, at a late hour, he returned from some banquet, his bearing erect, and his step as firm as if wine could not get the better of him. But suddenly one warm September noon, when her pale, waxing crescent was plainly visible in the blue sky by daylight, she beheld him again. He was less erect than before, but he seemed content with his fate; for, as a cooler breeze waved the light cobwebs in the little garden, into which he had been led, his daughter-in-law Els with loving care wrapped his feet in the rug which she had embroidered for him with the Eysvogel coat of arms, and he gratefully kissed her brow.
It was fully ten years later that Luna saw him also borne to the grave. Frau Rosalinde, his son, and his beautiful wife followed his coffin with sincere sorrow. The three gifted children whom Els had given to her Wolff remained standing in front of the house with Frau Rickel, their nurse. The carrier's widow, who had long since regained her health in the Beguine House at Schweinau, had been taken into Frau Eysvogel's service. Her little adopted daughter Walpurga, scarcely seventeen years old, had just been married to the Ortlieb teamster Ortel. The moon heard the nurse tell what a pleasant, quiet man Herr Casper had been, and how, away from his own business affairs and those of the Council, his sole effort had seemed to be to interfere with no one.
The moon had forgotten to look at Frau Rosalinde. Besides, after her mother's death she was rarely seen even by the members of her own household, but when Els desired to seek her she was sure of finding her with the children. The parents willingly afforded her the pleasure she derived from the companionship of the little ones, but they were often obliged to oppose her wish to dress her grandchildren magnificently.
Frau Rosalinde rarely saw the twin sons of her daughter Isabella, who took the veil after her husband's death to pray for his sorely imperilled soul.
The Knight Heideck, the uncle and faithful teacher of the boys, was unwilling to let them go to the city. He ruled them strictly until they had proved that Countess Cordula's wish had been fulfilled and, resembling their unfortunate father only in figure and beauty, strength and courage, they had grown into valiant, honourable knights.
Wolff justified the expectations of Berthold Vorchtel and the Honourable Council concerning his excellent ability. When, eight years after he undertook the sole guidance of the business, the Reichstag again met in Nuremberg, it was the house of Eysvogel which could make the largest loan to the Emperor Rudolph, who often lacked necessary funds.
At the Reichstag of the year 1289, whose memory is shadowed by many a sorrowful incident, most of the persons mentioned in our story met once more.
Countess Cordula, now the happy wife of Sir Boemund Altrosen, had also come and again lodged in the Ortlieb house. But this time the only person whose homage pleased her was the grey-haired, but still vigorous and somewhat irascible Herr Ernst Ortlieb.
The Abbess Kunigunde alone was absent. When, after many an arduous conflict, especially with the Dominicans, who did not cease to accuse her of lukewarmness, she felt death approaching, she had summoned her darling Eva from Swabia, and the young wife's husband, who never left her save when he was wielding his sword for the Emperor, willingly accompanied her to Nuremberg.
With Eva's hand clasped in hers, and supported by Els, the abbess died peacefully, rich in beautiful hopes. How often she had described such an end to her pupil as the fairest reward for the sacrifices in which convent life was so rich! But the memory of her mother's decease had brought to Eva, while in Schweinau, the firm conviction that dwellers in the world were also permitted to find a similar end. The Saviour Himself had promised the crown of eternal life to those who were faithful unto death, and she and her husband maintained inviolable fidelity to the Saviour, to each other, and to every duty which religion, law, and love commanded them to fulfil. Therefore, why should they not be permitted to die as happily and confidently as her aunt, the abbess?
Her life was rich in happiness, and though Heinz Schorlin as a husband and father, as the brave and loyal liegeman of his Emperor, and the prudent manager of his estate, regained his former light-heartedness, and taught his wife to share it, both never forgot the painful conflict by which they had won each other.
When Eva passed the village forge and saw the smith draw the glowing iron from the fire and, with heavy hammer strokes, fashion it upon the anvil as he desired, she often remembered the grievous days after her mother's death, which had made the "little saint"--she did not admit it herself, but the whole Swabian nobility agreed in the opinion--the most faithful of wives and mothers, the Providence of the poor, the zealous promoter of goodness, the most simply attired of noblewomen far and near, yet the most aristocratic and distinguished in her appearance of them all.
Hand in hand with her husband she devoted the most faithful care to their children, and if Biberli, the castellan of the castle, and Katterle his wife, who had remained childless, were too ready to read the wishes of their darlings in their eyes, she exclaimed warningly to the loyal old friend, "The fire of the forge!" He and Katterle knew what she meant, for the ex-schoolmaster had explained it in the best possible way to his docile wife.