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   Chapter 3 No.3

Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family By Elizabeth Rundle Charles Characters: 34810

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

Elsè's Chronicle.

Eisenach, 1504.

I cannot say that things have prospered much with us since Fritz left. The lumber-room itself is changed. The piles of old books are much reduced, because we have been obliged to pawn many of them for food. Some even of the father's beautiful models have had to be sold. It went terribly to his heart. But it paid our debts.

Our grandmother has grown a little querulous at times lately. And I am so tempted to be cross sometimes. The boys eat so much and wear out their clothes so fast. Indeed, I cannot see that poverty makes any of us better, except it be my mother, who needed improvement least of all.

September, 1504.

The father has actually brought a new inmate into the house, a little girl, called Eva von Sch?nberg, a distant cousin of our mother.

Last week he told us she was coming, very abruptly. I think he was rather afraid of what our grandmother would say, for we all know it is not of the least use to come round her with soft speeches. She always sees what you are aiming at, and with her keen eyes cuts straight through all your circumlocutions, and obliges you to descend direct on your point, with more rapidity than grace.

Accordingly, he said, quite suddenly, one day at dinner,-

"I forgot to tell you, little mother, I have just had a letter from your relations in Bohemia. Your great-uncle is dead. His son, you know, died before him. A little orphan girl is left with no one to take care of her. I have desired them to send her to us. I could do no less. It was an act, not of charity, but of the plainest duty. And besides," he added, apologetically, "in the end it may make our fortunes. There is property somewhere in the family, if we could get it; and this little Eva is the descendant of the eldest branch. Indeed, I do not know but that she may bring many valuable family heirlooms with her."

These last observations he addressed especially to my grandmother, hoping thereby to make it clear to her that the act was one of the deepest worldly wisdom. Then turning to the mother, he concluded,-

"Little mother, thou wilt find a place for the orphan in thy heart, and Heaven will no doubt bless us for it."

"No doubt about the room in my daughter's heart!" murmured our grandmother; "the question, as I read it, is not about hearts, but about larders and wardrobes. And, certainly," she added, not very pleasantly, "there is room enough there for any family jewels the young heiress may bring."

As usual, the mother came to the rescue.

"Dear grandmother," she said, "Heaven, no doubt, will repay us; and besides, you know, we may now venture on a little more expense, since we are out of debt."

"There is no doubt, I suppose," retorted our grandmother, "about Heaven repaying you; but there seems to me a good deal of doubt whether it will be in current coin."

Then, I suppose fearing the effect of so doubtful a sentiment on the children, she added rather querulously, but in a gentler tone,-

"Let the little creature come. Room may be made for her soon in one way or another. The old creep out at the church-yard gate, while the young bound in at the front door."

And in a few days little Eva came; but, unfortunately without the family jewels. But the saints forbid I should grow mercenary or miserly, and grudge the orphan her crust!

And who could help welcoming little Eva? As she lies on my bed asleep, with her golden hair on the pillow, and the long lashes shading her cheek, flushed with sleep and resting on her dimpled white hand, who could wish her away? And when I put out the lamp (as I must very soon) and lie down beside her, she will half awake, just to nestle into my heart, and murmur in her sleep, "Sweet cousin Elsè!" And I shall no more be able to wish her gone than my guardian angel. Indeed I think she is something like one.

She is not quite ten years old; but being an only child, and always brought up with older people, she has a quiet, considerate way, and a quaint, thoughtful gravity, which sits with a strange charm on her bright, innocent, child-like face.

At first she seemed a little afraid of our children, especially the boys, and crept about everywhere by the side of my mother, to whom she gave her confidence from the beginning. She did not so immediately take to our grandmother, who was not very warm in her reception; but the second evening after her arrival, she deliberately took her little stool up to our grandmother's side, and seating herself at her feet, laid her two little, soft hands on the dear, thin, old hands, and said,-

"You must love me, for I shall love you very much. You are like my great-aunt who died."

And, strange to say, our grandmother seemed quite flattered; and ever since they have been close friends. Indeed she commands us all, and there is not one in the house who does not seem to think her notice a favour. I wonder if Fritz would feel the same!

Our father lets her sit in his printing-room when he is making experiments, which none of us ever dared to do. She perches herself on the window-sill, and watches him as if she understood it all, and he talks to her as if he thought she did.

Then she has a wonderful way of telling the legends of the saints to the children. When our grandmother tells them, I think of the saints as heroes and warriors. When I try to relate the sacred stories to the little ones, I am afraid I make them too much like fairy tales. But when little Eva is speaking about St. Agnes or St. Catherine, her voice becomes soft and deep, like church music; and her face grave and beautiful, like one of the child-angels in the pictures; and her eyes as if they saw into heaven. I wish Fritz could hear her. I think she must be just what the saints were when they were little children, except for that strange, quiet way she has of making every one do what she likes. If our St. Elizabeth had resembled our little Eva in that, I scarcely think the Landgravine-mother would have ventured to have been so cruel to her. Perhaps it is little Eva who is to be the saint among us; and by helping her we may best please God, and be admitted at last to some humble place in heaven.

Eisenach, December.

It is a great comfort that Fritz writes in such good spirits. He seems full of hope as to his prospects, and already he has obtained a place in some excellent institution, where, he says, he lives like a cardinal, and is quite above wanting assistance from any one. This is very encouraging. Martin Luther, also, is on the way to be quite a great man, Fritz says. It is difficult to imagine this; he looked so much like any one else, and we are all so completely at home with him, and he talks in such a simple, familiar way to us all-not in learned words, or about difficult, abstruse subjects, like the other wise men I know. Certainly it always interests us all to hear him, but one can understand all he says-even I can; so that it is not easy to think of him as a philosopher and a great man. I suppose wise men must be like the saints: one can only see what they are when they are at some distance from us.

What kind of great man will Martin Luther be, I wonder? As great as our burgomaster, or as Master Trebonius? Perhaps even greater than these; as great, even, as the Elector's secretary, who came to see our father about his inventions. But it is a great comfort to think of it, especially on Fritz's account; for I am sure Martin will never forget old friends.

I cannot quite comprehend Eva's religion. It seems to make her happy. I do not think she is afraid of God, or even of confession. She seems to enjoy going to church as if it were a holiday in the woods; and the name of Jesus seems not terrible, but dear to her, as the name of the sweet Mother of God is to me. This is very difficult to understand. I think she is not even very much afraid of the judgment-day; and this is the reason why I think so:-The other night, when we were both awakened by an awful thunder-storm, I hid my face under the clothes, in order not to see the flashes, until I heard the children crying in the next room, and rose of course, to soothe them, because our mother had been very tired that day, and was, I trusted, asleep. When I had sung and talked to the little ones, and sat by them till they were asleep, I returned to our room, trembling in every limb; but I found Eva kneeling by the bed-side, with her crucifix pressed to her bosom, looking as calm and happy as if the lightning flashes had been morning sunbeams.

She rose from her knees when I entered; and when I was once more safely in bed, with my arm around her, and the storm had lulled a little, I said,-

"Eva, are you not afraid of the lightning?"

"I think it might hurt us, Cousin Elsè," she said; "and that was the reason I was praying to God."

"But, Eva," I said, "supposing the thunder should be the archangel's voice! I always think every thunder-storm may be the beginning of the day of wrath-the dreadful judgment-day. What should you do then?"

She was silent a little, and then she said,-

"I think I should take my crucifix and pray, and try to ask the Lord Christ to remember that he died on the cross for us once. I think he would take pity on us if we did. Besides, Cousin Elsè," she added, after a pause, "I have a sentence which always comforts me. My father taught it me when I was a very little girl, in the prison, before he died. I could not remember it all, but this part I have never forgotten: 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son.' There was more, which I forgot; but that bit I always remembered, because I was my father's only child, and he loved me so dearly. I do not quite know all it means; but I know they are God's words, but I feel sure that it means that God loves us very much, and that he is in some way like my father."

"I know," I replied, "the Creed says, 'God, the Father Almighty;' but I never thought that the Almighty Father meant anything like our own father. I thought it meant only that he is very great, and that we all belong to him, and that we ought to love him. Are you sure, Eva, it means he loves us?"

"I believe so, Cousin Elsè," said Eva.

"Perhaps it does mean that he loves you, Eva," I answered. "But you are a good child, and always have been, I should think; and we all know that God loves people who are good. That sentence says nothing, you see, about God loving people who are not good. It is because I am never sure that I am doing the things that please him, that I am afraid of God and of the judgment-day."

Eva was silent a minute, and then she said,-

"I wish I could remember the rest of the sentence. Perhaps it might tell."

"Where does that sentence come from, Eva?" I asked. "Perhaps we might find it. Do you think God said it to your father from heaven, in a vision or a dream, as he speaks to the saints?"

"I think not, Cousin Elsè," she replied thoughtfully; "because my father said it was in a book, which he told me where to find, when he was gone. But when I found the book, a priest took it from me, and said it was not a good book for little girls; and I never had it again. So I have only my sentence, Cousin Elsè. I wish it made you happy, as it does me."

I kissed the darling child and wished her good night; but I could not sleep. I wish I could see the book. But perhaps, after all, it is not a right book; because (although Eva does not know it) I heard my grandmother say her father was a Hussite, and died on the scaffold for believing something wrong.

In the morning Eva was awake before me. Her large dark eyes were watching me, and the moment I woke she said,-

"Cousin Elsè, I think the end of that sentence has something to do with the crucifix; because I always think of them together. You know the Lord Jesus Christ is God's only Son, and he died on the cross for us."

And she rose and dressed, and said she would go to matins and say prayers for me, that I might not be afraid in the next thunder-storm.

It must be true, I am sure, that the cross and the blessed Passion were meant to do us some good; but then they can only do good to those who please God, and that is precisely what it is so exceedingly difficult to find out how to do.

I cannot think, however, that Eva can in any way be believing wrong, because she is so religious and so good. She attends most regularly at the confessional, and is always at church at the early mass, and many times besides. Often, also, I find her at her devotions before the crucifix and the picture of the Holy Virgin and Child in our room. She seems really to enjoy being religious, as they say St. Elizabeth did.

As for me, there is so very much to do between the printing, and the house, and our dear mother's ill health, and the baby, and the boys, who tear their clothes in such incomprehensible ways, that I feel more and more how utterly hopeless it is for me ever to be like any of the saints-unless, indeed, it is St. Christopher, whose legend is often a comfort to me, as our grandmother used to tell it to us, which was in this way:-

Offerus was a soldier, a heathen, who lived in the land of Canaan. He had a body twelve ells long. He did not like to obey, but to command. He did not care what harm he did to others, but lived a wild life, attacking and plundering all who came in his way. He only wished for one thing-to sell his services to the Mightiest; and as he heard that the emperor was in those days the head of Christendom, he said, "Lord Emperor, will you have me? To none less will I sell my heart's blood."

The emperor looked at his Samson strength, his giant chest, and his mighty fists, and he said, "If thou wilt serve me for ever, Offerus, I will accept thee."

Immediately the giant answered, "To serve you for ever is not so easily promised; but as long as I am your soldier, none in east or west shall trouble you."

Thereupon he went with the emperor through all the land, and the emperor was delighted with him. All the soldiers, in the combat as at the wine-cup, were miserable, helpless creatures compared with Offerus.

Now the emperor had a harper who sang from morning till bed-time; and whenever the emperor was weary with the march this minstrel had to touch his harp-strings. Once, at eventide, they pitched the tents near a forest. The emperor ate and drank lustily; the minstrel sang a merry song. But as, in his song, he spoke of the evil one, the emperor signed the cross on his forehead. Said Offerus aloud to his comrades, "What is this? What jest is the Prince making now?" Then the emperor said, "Offerus, listen: I did it on account of the wicked fiend, who is said often to haunt this forest with great rage and fury." That seemed marvellous to Offerus, and he said, scornfully, to the emperor, "I have a fancy for wild boars and deer. Let us hunt in this forest." The emperor said softly, "Offerus, no! Let alone the chase in this forest, for in filling thy larder thou mightst harm thy soul." Then Offerus made a wry face, and said, "The grapes are sour; if your highness is afraid of the devil, I will enter the service of this lord, who is mightier than you." Thereupon he coolly demanded his pay, took his departure, with no very ceremonious leave-taking, and strode off cheerily into the thickest depths of the forest.

In a wild clearing of the forest he found the devil's altar, built of black cinders: and on it, in the moonlight gleamed the white skeletons of men and horses. Offerus was in no way terrified, but quietly inspected the skulls and bones; then he called three times in a loud voice on the evil one, and seating himself fell asleep, and soon began to snore. When it was midnight, the earth seemed to crack, and on a coal-black horse he saw a pitch-black rider, who rode at him furiously, and sought to bind him with solemn promises. But Offerus said, "We shall see." Then they went together through the kingdoms of the world, and Offerus found him a better master than the emperor; needed seldom to polish his armour, but had plenty of feasting and fun. However, one day as they went along the high-road, three tall crosses stood before them. Then the Black Prince suddenly had a cold, and said, "Let us creep round by the bye-road." Said Offerus, "Methinks you are afraid of those gallows trees," and, drawing his bow, he shot an arrow into the middle cross. "What bad manners!" said Satan, softly; "do you not know that he who in his form as a servant is the son of Mary, now exercises great power?" "If that is the case," said Offerus, "I came to you fettered by no promise; now I will seek further for the mightiest, whom only I will serve." Then Satan went off with a mocking laugh, and Offerus went on his way asking every traveller he met for the Son of Mary. But, alas! few bear Him in their hearts; and no one could tell the giant where the Lord dwelt, until one evening Offerus found an old pious hermit, who gave him a night's lodging in his cell, and sent him next morning to the Carthusian cloister. There the lord prior listened to Offerus, showed him plainly the path of faith, and told him he must fast and pray, as John the Baptist did of old in the wilderness. But he replied, "Locusts and wild honey, my lord, are quite contrary to my nature, and I do not know any prayers. I should l

ose my strength altogether, and had rather not go to heaven at all in that way." "Reckless man!" said the prior. "However, you may try another way: give yourself up heartily to achieve some good work." "Ah! let me hear," said Offerus; "I have strength for that." "See, there flows a mighty river, which hinders pilgrims on their way to Rome. It has neither ford nor bridge. Carry the faithful over on thy back." "If I can please the Saviour in that way, willingly will I carry the travellers to and fro," replied the giant. And thereupon he built a hut of reeds, and dwelt thenceforth among the water-rats and beavers on the borders of the river, carrying pilgrims over the river cheerfully, like a camel or an elephant. But if any one offered him ferry-money, he said, "I labour for eternal life." And when now, after many years, Offerus's hair had grown white, one stormy night a plaintive little voice called to him, "Dear, good, tall Offerus, carry me across." Offerus was tired and sleepy, but he thought faithfully of Jesus Christ, and with weary arms seizing the pine trunk which was his staff when the floods swelled high, he waded through the water and nearly reached the opposite bank; but he saw no pilgrim there, so he thought, "I was dreaming," and went back and lay down to sleep again. But scarcely had he fallen asleep when again came the little voice, this time very plaintive and touching, "Offerus, good, dear, great, tall Offerus, carry me across." Patiently the old giant crossed the river again, but neither man nor mouse was to be seen, and he went back and lay down again, and was soon fast asleep; when once more came the little voice, clear and plaintive, and imploring, "Good, dear giant Offerus, carry me across." The third time he seized his pine-stem and went through the cold river. This time he found a tender, fair little boy, with golden hair. In his left hand was the standard of the Lamb; in his right, the globe. He looked at the giant with eyes full of love and trust, and Offerus lifted him up with two fingers; but, when he entered the river, the little child weighed on him like a ton. Heavier and heavier grew the weight, until the water almost reached his chin; great drops of sweat stood on his brow, and he had nearly sunk in the stream with the little one. However, he struggled through, and tottering to the other side, set the child gently down on the bank, and said, "My little lord, prithee, come not this way again, for scarcely have I escaped this time with life." But the fair child baptized Offerus on the spot, and said to him, "Know all thy sins are forgiven; and although thy limbs tottered, fear not, nor marvel, but rejoice; thou hast carried the Saviour of the world! For a token, plant thy pine-trunk, so long dead and leafless, in the earth; to-morrow it shall shoot out green twigs. And henceforth thou shalt be called not Offerus, but Christopher." Then Christopher folded his hands and prayed and said, "I feel my end draws nigh. My limbs tremble; my strength fails; and God has forgiven me all my sins." Thereupon the child vanished in light; and Christopher set his staff into the earth. And so on the morrow, it shot out green leaves and red blossoms like an almond. And three days afterwards the angels carried Christopher to Paradise.

This is the legend which gives me more hope than any other. How sweet it would be, if, when I had tried in some humble way to help one and another on the way to the holy city, when the last burden was borne, and the strength was failing, the holy child should appear to me and say, "Little Elsè, you have done the work I meant you to do-your sins are forgiven;" and then the angels were to come and take me up in their arms, and carry me across the dark river, and my life were to grow young and bloom again in Paradise like St. Christopher's withered staff!

But to watch all the long days of life by the river, and carry the burdens, and not know if we are doing the right thing after all-that is what is so hard!

Sweet, when the river was crossed, to find that in fulfilling some little, humble, every-day duty, one had actually been serving and pleasing the mightiest, the Saviour of the world! But if one could only know it whilst one was struggling through the flood, how delightful that would be! How little one would mind the icy water, or the aching shoulders, or the tottering, failing limbs!

Eisenach, January, 1505.

Fritz is at home with us again. He looks as much a man now as our father, with his moustache and his sword. How cheerful the sound of his firm step and his deep voice makes the house! When I look at him sometimes, as he tosses the children and catches them in his arms, or as he flings the balls with Christopher and Pollux, or shoots with bow and arrows in the evenings at the city games, my old wish recurs that he had lived in the days when our ancestors dwelt in the castles in Bohemia, and that Fritz had been a knight, to ride at the head of his retainers to battle for some good cause,-against the Turks, for instance, who are now, they say, threatening the empire, and all Christendom. My little world at home is wide indeed, and full enough for me, but this burgher life seems narrow and poor for him. I should like him to have to do with men instead of books. Women can read, and learn, and think, if they have time (although, of course, not as well as men can); I have even heard of women writing books. St. Barbara and St. Catherine understood astronomy, and astrology, and philosophy, and could speak I do not know how many languages. But they could not have gone forth armed with shield and spear like St. George of Cappadocia, to deliver the fettered princess and slay the great African dragon. And I should like Fritz to do what women cannot do. There is such strength in his light, agile frame, and such power in his dark eyes; although, certainly after all he had written to us about his princely fare at the House at Erfurt, where he is a beneficiary, our mother and I did not expect to have seen his face looking so hollow and thin.

He has brought me back my godmother's gulden. He says he is an independent man, earning his own livelihood, and quite above receiving any such gratuities. However, as I devoted it to Fritz I feel I have a right to spend it on him, which is a great comfort, because I can provide a better table than we can usually afford, during the few days he will stay with us, so that he may never guess how pinched we often are.

I am ashamed of myself, but there is something in this return of Fritz which disappoints me. I have looked forward to it day and night through all these two years with such longing. I thought we should begin again exactly where we left off. I pictured to myself the old daily life with him going on again as of old. I thought of our sitting in the lumber-room, and chatting over all our perplexities, our own and the family's, and pouring our hearts into each other's without reserve or fear, so that it was scarcely like talking at all, but like thinking aloud.

And, now, instead of our being acquainted with every detail of each other's daily life, so that we are aware what we are feeling without speaking about it, there is a whole history of new experience to be narrated step by step, and we do not seem to know where to begin. None of the others can feel this as I do. He is all to the children and our parents that he ever was, and why should I expect more? Indeed, I scarcely know what I did expect, or what I do want. Why should Fritz be more to me than to any one else? It is selfish to wish it, and it is childish to imagine that two years could bring no change. Could I have wished it? Do I not glory in his strength, and in his free and manly bearing! And could I wish a student at the great University of Erfurt, who is soon to be a Bachelor of Arts, to come and sit on the piles of old books in our lumber-room, and to spend his time in gossiping with me? Besides, what have I to say? And yet, this evening, when the twilight-hour came round for the third time since he returned, and he seemed to forget all about it, I could not help feeling troubled, and so took refuge here by myself.

Fritz has been sitting in the family-room for the last hour, with all the children round him, telling them histories of what the students do at Erfurt; of their poetical club, where they meet and recite their own verses, or translations of the ancient books which have been unburied lately, and yet are fresher, he says, than any new ones, and set every one thinking; of the debating meeting, and the great singing parties where hundreds of voices join, making music fuller than any organ,-in both of which Martin Luther seems a leader and a prince; and then of the fights among the students, in which I do not think Martin Luther has joined, but which, certainly, interest Christopher and Pollux more than anything else. The boys were standing on each side of Fritz, listening with wide open eyes; Chriemhild and Atlantis had crept close behind him with their sewing; little Thekla was on his knee, playing with his sword-girdle; and little Eva was perched in her favourite place on the window-sill, in front of him. At first she kept at a distance from him, and said nothing; not, I think, from shyness, for I do not believe that child is afraid of any one or any thing, but from a quaint way she has of observing people, as if she were learning them through like a new language, or, like a sovereign making sure of the character of a new subject before she admits him into her service. The idea of the little creature treating our Fritz in that grand style! But it is of no use resisting it. He has passed through his probation like the rest of us, and is as much flattered as the grandmother, or any of us, at being admitted into her confidence. When I left, Eva, who had been listening for some time with great attention to his student-stories, had herself become the chief speaker, and the whole party were attending with riveted interest while she related to them her favourite Legend of St. Catherine. They had all heard it before, but in some way when Eva tells these histories they always seem new. I suppose it is because she believes them so fervently; it is not as if she were repeating something she had heard, but quietly narrating something she has seen, much as one would imagine an angel might who had been watching unseen while it all happened. And, meantime, her eyes, when she raises them, with their fringe of long lashes, seem to look at once into your heart and into heaven.

No wonder Fritz forgets the twilight-hour. But it is strange he has never once asked about our chronicle. Of that, however, I am glad, because I would not for the world show him the narrative of our struggles.

Can it be possible I am envious of little Eva-dear, little, loving, orphan Eva? I do rejoice that all the world should love him. Yet, it was so happy to be Fritz's only friend; and why should a little stranger child steal my precious twilight-hour from me?

Well, I suppose Aunt Agnes was right, and I made an idol of Fritz, and God was angry, and I am being punished. But the saints seemed to find a kind of sacred pleasure in their punishments, and I do not; nor do I feel at all the better for them, but the worse-which is another proof how hopeless it is for me to try to be a saint.

Eisenach, February.

As I wrote those last words in the deepening twilight, two strong hands were laid very gently on my shoulders, and a voice said-

"Sister Elsè, why can you not show me your chronicle?"

I could make no reply.

"You are convicted," rejoined the same voice.

"Do you think I do not know where that gulden came from? Let me see your godmother's purse."

I began to feel the tears choking me; but Fritz did not seem to notice them.

"Elsè," he said, "you may practise your little deceptive arts on all the rest of the family, but they will not do with me. Do you think you will ever persuade me you have grown thin by eating sausages and cakes and wonderful holiday puddings every day of your life? Do you think the hungry delight in the eyes of those boys was occasioned by their every-day, ordinary fare? Do you think," he added, taking my hands in one of his, "I did not see how blue and cold, and covered with chilblains, these little hands were, which piled up the great logs on the hearth when I came in this morning?"

Of course I could do nothing but put my head on his shoulder and cry quietly. It was of no use denying anything. Then he added rapidly, in a low deep voice-

"Do you think I could help seeing our mother at her old devices, pretending she had no appetite, and liked nothing so much as bones and sinews?"

"O Fritz," I sobbed, "I cannot help it. What am I to do?"

"At least," he said, more cheerfully, "promise me, little woman, you will never make a distinguished stranger of your brother again, and endeavour by all kinds of vain and deceitful devices to draw the whole weight of the family cares on your own shoulders."

"Do you think it is a sin I ought to confess, Fritz?" I said; "I did not mean it deceitfully; but I am always making such blunders about right and wrong. What can I do?"

"Does Aunt Ursula know?" he asked rather fiercely.

"No; the mother will not let me tell any one. She thinks they would reflect on our father; and he told her only last week, he has a plan about a new way of smelting lead, which is, I think, to turn it all into silver. That would certainly be a wonderful discovery; and he thinks the Elector would take it up at once, and we should probably have to leave Eisenach and live near the Electoral Court. Perhaps even the Emperor would require us to communicate the secret to him, and then we should have to leave the country altogether; for you know there are great lead-mines in Spain; and if once people could make silver out of lead, it would be much easier and safer than going across the great ocean to procure the native silver from the Indian savages."

Fritz drew a long breath.

"And meantime?" he said.

"Well, meantime," I said, "it is of course, sometimes a little difficult to get on."

He mused a little while, and then he said-

"Little Elsè, I have thought of a plan which may, I think, bring us a few guldens-until the process of transmuting lead into silver is completed."

"Of course," I said, "after that we shall want nothing, but be able to give to those who do want. And oh, Fritz! how well we shall understand how to help people who are poor. Do you think that is why God lets us be so poor ourselves so long, and never seems to hear our prayers?"

"It would be pleasant to think so, Elsè," said Fritz, gravely; "but it is very difficult to understand how to please God, or how to make our prayers reach him at all-at least when we are so often feeling and doing wrong."

It cheered me to see that Fritz does not despair of the great invention succeeding one day. He did not tell me what his own plan is.

Does Fritz, then, also feel so sinful and so perplexed how to please God? Perhaps a great many people feel the same. It is very strange. If it had only pleased God to make it a little plainer. I wonder if that book Eva lost would tell us anything!

After that evening the barrier between me and Fritz was of course quite gone, and we seemed closer than ever. We had delightful twilight talks in our lumber-room, and I love him more than ever. So that Aunt Agnes would, I suppose, think me more of an idolater than before. But it is very strange that idolatry should seem to do me so much good. I seem to love all the world better for loving Fritz, and to find everything easier to bear, by having him to unburden everything on, so that I had never fewer little sins to confess than during the two weeks Fritz was at home. If God had only made loving brothers and sisters and the people at home the way to please him, instead of not loving them too much, or leaving them all to bury one's self in a cold convent, like Aunt Agnes!

Little Eva actually persuaded Fritz to begin teaching her the Latin grammar! I suppose she wishes to be like her beloved St. Catherine, who was so learned. And she says all the holy books, the prayers and the hymns, are in Latin, so that she thinks it must be a language God particularly loves. She asked me a few days since if they speak Latin in heaven.

Of course I could not tell. I told her I believed the Bible was originally written in two other languages, the languages of the Greeks and the Jews, and that I had heard some one say Adam and Eve spoke the Jews' language in paradise, which I suppose God taught them.

But I have been thinking over it since, and I should not wonder if Eva is right.

Because, unless Latin is the language of the saints and holy angels in heaven, why should God wish the priests to speak it everywhere, and the people to say the Ave and Paternoster in it? We should understand it all so much better in German; but of course if Latin is the language of the blessed saints and angels, that is a reason for it. If we do not always understand, THEY do, which is a great comfort. Only I think it is a very good plan of little Eva's to try and learn Latin; and when I have more time to be religious, perhaps I may try also.

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