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   Chapter 27 No.27

Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family By Elizabeth Rundle Charles Characters: 4294

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Eva's Story.

Wittemberg, January, 1525.

How little idea I had how the thought of Fritz was interwoven with all my life! He says he knew only too well how the thoughts of me was bound up with every hope and affection of his!

But he contended against it long. He said that conflict was far more agonizing than all he suffered in the prison since. For many years he thought it sin to think of me. I never thought it sin to think of him. I was sure it was not, whatever my confessor might say. Because I had always thanked God more than for anything else in the world, for all he had been to me, and had taught me, and I felt so sure what I could thank God for could not be wrong.

But now it is duty to love him best. Of that I am quite sure. And certainly it is not difficult. My only fear is that he will be disappointed in me when he learns just what I am, day by day, with all the halo of distance gone. And yet I am not really afraid. Love weaves better glories than the mists of distance. And we do not expect miracles from each other, or that life is to be a Paradise. Only the unutterable comfort of being side by side in every conflict, trial, joy, and supporting each other! If I can say "only" of that! For I do believe our help will be mutual. Far weaker and less wise as I am than he is, with a range of thought and experience so much narrower, and a force of purpose so much feebler, I feel I have a kind of strength which may in some way, at some times even help Fritz. And it is this which makes me see the good of these separated years, in which otherwise I might have lost so much. With him the whole world seems so much larger and higher to me, and yet during these years, I do feel God has taught me something, and it is a happiness to have a little more to bring him than I could have had in my early girlhood.

It was for my sake, then, he made that vow of leaving us for ever!

And Aunt Cotta is so happy. On that evening when he returned, and we three were left alone, she said, after a few minutes' silence-

"Children, let us all kneel down, and thank God that he has given me the desire of my heart."

An

d afterwards she told us what she had always wished and planned for Fritz and me, and how she had thought his abandoning of the world a judgment for her sins; but how she was persuaded now that the curse borne for us was something infinitely more than anything she could have endured, and that it had been all borne, and nailed to the bitter cross, and rent and blotted out for ever. And now, she said, she felt as if the last shred of evil were gone, and her life were beginning again in us-to be blessed and a blessing beyond her utmost dreams.

Fritz does not like to speak much of what he suffered in the prison of that Dominican convent, and least of all to me; because, although I repeat to myself, "It is over-over for ever!"-whenever I think of his having been on the dreadful rack, it all seems present again.

He was on the point of escaping the very night they came and led him in for examination in the torture-chamber. And after that, they carried him back to prison, and seemed to have left him to die there. For two days they sent him no food; but then the young monk who had first spoken to him, and induced him to come to the convent, managed to steal to him almost every day with food and water, and loving words of sympathy, until his strength revived a little, and they escaped together through the opening he had dug in the wall before the examination. But their escape was soon discovered, and they had to hide in the caves and recesses of the forest for many weeks before they could strike across the country and find their way to Wittemberg at last.

But it is over now. And yet not over. He who suffered will never forget the suffering faithfully borne for him. And the prison at the Dominican convent will be a fountain of strength for his preaching among the peasants in the Thuringian Forest. He will be able to say, "God can sustain in all trials. He will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able to bear. I know it, for I have proved it." And I think that will help him better to translate the Bible to the hearts of the poor, than even the Greek and Hebrew he learned at Rome and Tübingen.

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