Monday, May 2, 2016

F. De La Motte Fouque’: "The Prince's Sword"

Excerpt, Friedrich Freiherr De La Motte Fouque’:  "Romantic Fiction."  1871. 

horseman sprang from his horse, the singer to his feet,and they clasped and embraced each other right lovingly. They had much to tell, for they had been a long while parted ; Leutwald at home in the fair city, under the teaching of the most accomplished minstrels; Adelard with the renowned Count Albert of Bayreuth, who for his beauty and his knightly prowess was surnamed Albert Achilles. With him had the warlike youth lived after his heart's desire ; and he too had become dear to the German Achilles for his skill in arms, and for many proofs of dauntless contempt of death displayed in hard-fought battles.
   " So, then, it was a grief to you to leave him ?" asked Leutwald of his friend.
   " Indeed it was," answered Adelard ; " but what could be done ? As soon as the count mustered his troops against our beloved mother, the holy free city of Nuremberg, I made myself ready, fastened my horse to the gate, and then, resolved in mind, and with girded sword, I mounted the stairs to my beloved lord, saying, ' You have been a gracious prince to me; but as things are at present, I must use against yourself the skill I learned from you.' 
    I thought the valiant Achilles would have broken forth in anger, as is sometimes his way, but he smiled quietly to himself. ' Thou art a brave fellow ;' then again a little time he was silent, jingling the large knightly sword, inlaid with gold, which never leaves his side, and spoke : ' This sword might one day have made thee a knight. Now, however, it may strike thee after another fashion. See only that thou comest honourably under its stroke ; so will it be for thy good, whether it touch thee with the flat edge or with the sharp —for life or for death.' Then he dismissed me after his gracious manner ; and as I rode forth, a solemn stillness came on my soul ; but since I reached our own borders, and still more since I have met with you, I have become light-hearted as before. But are you ready here ? It is full time.” 
    " That we know well," answered Leutwald. " Only come you today to the aged Councillor Scharf. There will be a cheerful meal; you will learn what is about to happen ; and be of good heart."
    Then the two youths embraced joyfully ; and leading the horse after them, approached the city, singing battle-songs with all their heart and voice, through the flowery country . At the house of the venerable councillor Adam Scharf there was an assemblage of the brave citizens of every sort. Some whose hoary heads, bowed down with age, seemed to look forward to their last deed of arms, and close beyond it to an honourable grave ; others who, in the midday of life, moved on with lofty resolve ; others, and many more, with fresh colours on their cheeks and bright hopes in their hearts. 
    Here the two youths, Adelard and Leutwald, were right welcome ; and as every one gladly beheld the latter on account of his graceful songs, so they took no less pleasure in the knightly-trained pupil of their valiant foe, the German Achilles. 
    All took their places at the table ; the beakers passed swiftly round, and no word was spoken but of the welcome dangers of the approaching war. Adelard had much to tell ; and all listened eagerly to him, who knew so much of their renowned adversary. And as the great Achilles had always seemed to Adelard to resemble the splendid consecrated sword of a prince, his discourse ever returned to the gold-inlaid sword of the Achilles ; so that not only in his own, but in the hearts of all who were present, he stirred up a vehement desire after that far-famed knightly weapon — " Either to win it,or to fall beneath it." 
    There was many a young citizen who made that vow in his secret heart ; and only the authority of the aged men hindered the pronouncing a general vow for the willing and the unwilling. At last, the aged Adam Scharf inquired of Leutwald concerning the song of the banner ; and when the latter answered that it was ready, they all entreated earnestly that he would sing it. On which he began in the following manner :—
   The last three lines were repeated in chorus by the guests ; and now arose such an impatience for the banner, that every one desired  to see it first, and then in the presence of the sacred ensign to sing the following verses of the lay. 
    " I think the maidens must have finished their weaving and embroidery," said Adam Scharf, and invited his guests to follow him; at the same time explaining to Adelard that his daughter and other honourable maidens had made ready a new city-banner for this enterprise, and were at that very time completing it in the apartment occupied by the females of his family. 
    It was pleasant to behold when they entered the spacious and neat apartment, where round the large white folds of silk sat the delicate maidens diligently employed upon their labours, some busied on the golden fringe, others embroidering the border ; for the banner itself was already finished, and the solemn imperial eagle was to be seen with a golden glory round each head, with the sword and ball in his claw, rising dark and gigantic from the silken surface. 
    Directing the whole work, and diligently forwarding it with her own slender fingers, sat at the upper end Elisabeth Scharf, the only child of the councillor ; one of these forms which the pencil of our beloved old painters so willingly portrayed, and which foreigners of every land would so deeply envy us, were they capable of feeling their surpassing excellence. 
    When the men entered with old Adam Scharf at their head, the maidens rose from their work, drew back a few steps, and made room for the banner to be seen by those who were to defend it, and perhaps to dye it purple with their blood. The men stood around it in thoughtful silence, pondering on things to come, and wondering in themselves whether that Achilles who was now threatening them, might not play such a game with their fair city as he of old with Troy. 
    Each one was resolved at least not to outlive such an event ; and therewith they clasped each other's hands, both young and old, to form a chain which carried the electric spark circling 'round the sacred banner. 
    The maidens stood behind them, each with her slender white hands modestly folded in the same form ; so that between two glowing manly faces, with kindling eyes, there appeared the gentle supplicating countenance of a maiden with drooping eyelashes. Between Adelard and Leutwald, who here least of all thought of separating, stood Elizabeth Scharf; and the two youths sometimes looked back from the inspiring tissue to the inspiring countenance. 
    Then the aged councillor made a sign to the minstrel who stood opposite to him, saying, " Now for the rest of the song, dear youth : this is the right time for it." And Leutwald raised his voice, and sang, 
    And again all echoed the last three lines with sparkling eyes. Leutwald continued the song :
    And once more the men echoed the last lines. They then embraced each other with overflowing eyes, and departed in silence to their homes. 
    But the maidens seated themselves again to their work, wept softly, and sang a simple hymn, imploring the divine protection for their beloved native city. Thus, at length, was the work completed; and the maidens parted, with many a gentle wish and many a heartfelt prayer upon their quivering lips, to prepare themselves against the morrow for the ceremony of the consecration of the banner. 
    The dawn of the following day beheld men and women of every condition assembled in the cathedral. Their hearts were raised to God, and the noble banner was given forth by the consecrating hands of the priest as a hallowed thing. 
    Then were chosen nine youths of the chiefest families of the city, and each himself of acknowledged worth, who should advance to the altar, that the priest might decide by lot to which of them the honoured ensign of the army should be entrusted. 
Adelard and Leutwald were of the number. 
   High beat those young hearts, ever thirsting after honour and virtue, with the desire to bear that sacred ensign. The calmest to behold was the minstrel Leutwald, and he was so in truth ; for that blessed spirit of poetry is wont, where she has once taken possession, to nurture humility and gentleness in a soul devoted to God, as the fairest flowers which can bloom in the hearts of her children. 
    Most ardent and impatient of all swelled the spirit of Adelard ; and, in truth, he had learnt other lessons in the school of the  German Achilles, than had his friend at the feet of the poet. Moreover, he glowed with the warmest love for the fair and skillful one who had woven the banner, Elisabeth Scharf; and he thought that only in the foremost place could he rightly win and deserve the foremost beauty of the city. 
    But the lot was given forth, and the banner sank from the hold of the priest into the right hand of the blushing minstrel. Adelard had almost felt angry ; but he took shame to himself for his own bitter feelings, when he saw how calmly, and sweetly, and devoutly his friend moved under the wings of the floating eagle, so that the beholders were at times tempted to think of the Lamb with the sacred banner, as it may be seen in some mystical paintings, or on some ancient coin full of deep meaning. 
    The solemnity of the festival relaxed towards evening into a stately assembly of the chief families in the saloon of the Town-hall. Thither came the maidens of the city, all in their gayest and richest attire, the youths in the like array, and moved together in graceful measures through the hall, to the inspiring music of various instruments. At first they were led by the honoured elders and matrons ; but when these had taken their places round the hall as spectators, the young were indulged with livelier dances. 
    As long as they moved through the spacious hall in pairs, Leutwald had been the partner of the fair Elisabeth Scharf; an honour yielded to him by all, as having been that day appointed within holy walls the bearer of the standard. 
    Adelard withdrew sorrowful and lonely into a recess. But no sooner did the livelier measure begin, than Leutwald bent modestly to his fair companion, and said, " It would be unjust in me to  encumber your graceful movements by my unskillfulness. May I bring to you a noble friend, better practised in the dance ? I will betake myself to my more fitting place among the musicians ; there I may hope to embellish what here I should only mar." 
   And when they stood before Adelard, he placed the hand of the fair one in that of his friend with a manner as kindly as it was graceful, and hastened to join the musicians. When with them he inspired the dance by touching so sweetly now one, now the other instrument, and looked down with such gentle smiles from the balcony, especially when Adelard and Elisabeth glided past, that one might have taken him for an angelic musician. 
    His friend and the fair maiden, meantime, fell into low and earnest conversation ; or rather Adelard spoke, and Elisabeth only listened, but with eyes so sweetly cast down and tenderly glowing cheeks, and sometimes with such gracious smiles on her delicate lips, that Adelard forgot the banner in far sweeter hopes. 
    So passed away the evening ; and one parting look of Elisabeth wove a whole wreath of blooming roses round the heart of the youth. But the fair maiden had a wise and tender mother, and her true eyes could not fail to discover that which was passing in the pure bosom of the damsel. And now, when every one in the dwelling of the councillor had retired to rest, the matron rose again, threw on her mantle and hood, and stepped softly to the little chamber where slept her blooming daughter ; though well she knew there was no slumber there. 
    She nodded kindly to her darling child, set down her lamp, and seated herself at the foot of the bed. Then began in low tones a confiding earnest conversation. The gentle Elisabeth, more by blushes than by words, yet truly and openly confessed, that the young Adelard was not indifferent to her ; and as truly and openly did her mother make known to her that she was already a bride affianced by her father's will and word, and that to her first partner of the evening before, the noble minstrel Leutwald, the beloved and honoured friend of her family. 
    " My father's word is sacred as my honour,'' said Elisabeth; and though her cheeks became as pale as before they had been blushing red, there beamed a heavenly serenity in her large blue eyes. She kissed in token of gratitude her mother's caressing hand ; and when the good matron had left the chamber, two warm tears indeed stole down the maiden's cheeks, but a silent heartfelt prayer was her help, her spotless heart again beat evenly, the pious child sunk into a calm and almost happy slumber, and the angels pursued their blessed course through her dreams. 
    But this night passed quite otherwise with the daring Adelard. He scarcely slept ; or if any thing like sleep or dreams came near him, then did Elisabeth's lovely form ever rise from their mysterious waves; he started up as though to seize her ; and in such waking and such slumbers he dreamed away the time, till morning was far advanced. 
    The trumpets sounded through the streets, the hautboys blew their subdued notes of farewell, the troops mustered in the plain beneath the walls, and, as they were to march on the morrow, the city gave on this day a public feast, at which the noblest maidens were to present the farewell cup to the young warriors and drink to their success. 
    Never before had Adelard so joyfully helped to marshal the troops, never before had he wielded his arms so joyfully ; since he alone can truly understand and love the joy of arms and warlike music, who bears in his mind the image of a beloved and loving one, or at least the remembrance of having possessed such a blessing. How proudly beat the heart of the youth, as they sat at the table, when Elisabeth Scharf, with evident design, advanced first to him and filled his cup. The German Achilles was at that moment too weak for him, and the golden sword too slight, for he thought that by no victory could he deserve the honour he now enjoyed.
    But, now, Elisabeth bent towards him with a grave demeanour, saying, " Fair sir, you receive this draught from an affianced bride." In her countenance he immediately perceived the immeasurable change since the evening before ; and the manner in which she  turned from him and passed on, took from him all power to approach her with a single word ; the joy in which he had lived for a while was extinguished in bitter and secret grief. 
   When all the splendour of the feast had passed unfelt by Adelard, and every one had sought his own home, the unhappy youth would yet make one last attempt. He went to the venerable Adam Scharf, and addressed the following words to him : " My honoured sir, you have, as I learn, betrothed your fair daughter to a husband." 
    "That have I indeed," answered Adam Scharf; "and who dares to say aught against it ?" 
   " He who would willingly have gained her for his own," said Adelard. " I suppose a man might make such efforts as would win his love even from an enchanted dragon." 
    " From an enchanted dragon, truly," said Adam Scharf; "but from a father who has once betrothed his child to a deserving husband, not the German Achilles could win her. In this there can be no change." 
   “ And if a man should bring home the mighty sword of the German Achilles himself?" 
    " That must the city recompense, and doubtless would ; but the father's child remains still the property of her betrothed ; and so, young sir, good night. Do not force me to think less highly of you, by idle talk of things which cannot be changed. For the present I say to you, with great esteem and friendship, farewell, against the morrow's march." 
    And with these words the old man courteously opened the door for his guest, and Adelard departed, half impatient, half submissive, and altogether despairing. Far other than he had hoped the day before did he ride forth the following morning with the horsemen to the field. Truly, he now wished for nothing more than battle ; partly because it was his life, and, according to the saying, the wounded fish takes to the water as readily as the whole one ; partly because, for the first time in his young life, death appeared to him in an inviting form. 
    When they were so far from the city that the sound of farewells and good wishes seemed to die away in the distance, Adelard rode forwards to join his friend Leutwald; wishing, under the folds of that banner which Elisabeth had woven, to lament to him his loss of her, and his desire of death. But he could not, beneath those beaming happy eyes of the young minstrel, find words befitting his woe ; and presently Leutwald said to him, in his childlike singleness of heart, " There rides not in this troop a happier being than I, beloved Adelard; for she who wove this banner is my bride. Her father has betrothed her to me; and I trust that warlike deeds and gifts of song may win the favour of my inspiring Elisabeth. Shall I not fight and sing for a glorious prize ? When we return from battle it will be made known to her ; and then shall I, God willing, have done somewhat which may give me courage to tell her how inexpressibly dear she is to my heart." 
    Now first did Adelard comprehend the whole of his misery, for now even the right of wishing was taken from him. He only said, "So, then, Elisabeth is thy bride ! My bride shall be the knightly sword of the Margrave Albert." And he rode forward to meet the foe, in gloomy silence. 
    But the war took no such rapid decisive course as Adelard had desired. The knightly sword of the great Achilles did not glitter before him for victory or death ; but lightning in the distance it described magical circles, rather threatening than striking, so that for a long time it could not be decided what precise purpose the terrible warrior bore in his iron soul. 
    In all this time there was but little fighting, and that of small consequence to the mind of a bridegroom seeking honour, or of an unsuccessful lover seeking a glorious death. At length it happened, after long marching to and fro, that news came suddenly from the city of Nuremberg how the Achilles had appeared before their very gates, which he had reached by rapid marches, and how the troops must hasten home to protect their native hearths. 
    Without rest or stay they hastened to the deliverance of their dear native city ; and though it seemed incredible that the Margrave should have gained such an advance upon them, the prize was far too precious to allow of relaxing the speed with which they ran their course, — more willing to make the greatest needless exertion than to risk falling short in the least. 
    It was evening, and already dark, when they entered the walls of the free imperial city. Weariness both of horse and man summoned all to immediate and profound repose ; and as these brave warriors felt a consciousness of strength and courage to guard their homes, a deep feeling of security lulled them sweetly to sleep in the bosom of the mother whom they came to protect. 
    But hardly had the morning dawned in the east, when messengers came from the advanced posts with a whole troop in flight behind them. "The foe!" they cried; “the foe !” 
    And horns were blown from the walls, and trumpets in the streets, and the red banners displayed their colours from watch-towers and battlements through the uncertain dawn. The Achilles was not far from the city ; and he who till then thought least of Troy and of destruction, now in this fearful morning, startled by sounds of terror from his sleep, felt such thoughts whirling through his bewildered mind. 
    All, too, was distraction and confusion in the city. Women were weeping, children screaming, commanders giving orders, foot-soldiers and horsemen were hurrying, no troop was in array, and no one passed through the gates. 
    Leutwald meanwhile, calm and bright as ever, held the city's banner in the market-place, not far from the dwelling of Adam Scharf, and let the imperial eagle float joyfully over his head in the cool breeze of morning. 
   Then sprang Adam Scharf from his threshold towards him, " Forth with the banner, my son-in-law !" he cried. " The foe is not yet so near as the people suppose ; and he must be met upon the plain, or he will press too near our walls. If once the banner is gone forth, I will soon send numbers to follow you. Forth with Leutwald, who- ever has youth and heart among you ! Here we must depart from accustomed rules." 
    And Leutwald urged his swift steed thundering over the pavement. He raised a joyful cry, " For the banner ! For Nuremberg!" The youths nearest at hand hastened after him, Adelard amongst them  ; and so they passed at their utmost speed to the gates, and over the bridge, through cornfields and meadows, to the appointed plain. 
    Here they halted, and beheld the enemy advancing from afar ; but the young warriors had perhaps ridden forward too rashly, for only sixteen, Adelard being one, had kept pace with the standard-bearer. And right before them, although yet distant and hardly ranged in order, but numerous and every movement more prepared for fight, moved on the squadrons of knights and squires, and a forest of spears rose threatening from a cloud of dust. 
    Those who were to come to their support were yet only advancing from the gates of the city, and scarcely discernible. Leutwald said to his companions, who were measuring with doubtful eye the space before and behind them, " Till our friends come up to us, we may well make a stand here. If we have ridden forward too rashly, some among us may, indeed, bleed for it ; but should the banner of the city turn to flight, it would strike dead at one blow the courage of all who may follow us." 
    They saw that it was so, and remained steadfast at their post, whilst Adelard rode to a height to watch lest they should be cut off on the other side. He halted at the top, and saw nothing of the enemy's troops but one single horseman, who advanced slowly, mounted on a lofty and richly-caparisoned steed, himself lofty and majestic, in his complete suit of armour glittering with gold, a mighty plume streaming from his helmet ; and like a proud eagle he turned here and there his slender neck, shielded and adorned with glittering scales, to survey with his keen glance the bearing of the field, and again rode slowly forward, —quite alone, quite careless of his safety, intent only on the order of his troops, — giving such tokens of a Prince of Hohenzoller, that Adelard could no longer doubt he beheld before him the German Achilles, his great and terrible master.
    " Now welcome, thou fair morning, to the most glorious death or the most unheard-of victory!" Thus spoke to himself the impetuous youth, fixed his steel-cap more firmly on his head, seized his sword with convulsive strength; and though the natural feelings of youth mourned his approaching death and shrunk from the full-armed gigantic knight, yet thirst of fame and disappointed love exulted  within him. 
    He sat firmly on his steed and self-possessed, and in right horsemanlike guise rushed upon the Hohenzoller. But he, as if rejoicing mightily, spurred his snow-white steed, and on a sudden shot like lightning forward ; not upon the daring youth, as Adelard in joyful tremor had expected, but, without observing him, straight to the floating banner amidst the fifteen who surrounded it. 
    Adelard stood stupified for a moment, like one who witnesses a desperate leap over a precipice. There sat the Hohenzoller already in the midst of the troop; many a weapon whirled and rattled upon his harness and helm, but his mighty sword flew like lightning round. Here fell a horseman, there hung another stunned from his saddle ; there staggered a horse without a rider, there rushed another wounded and maddened towards the city. 
    The Margrave's troops shouted from afar after their lord, and hastened to follow the solitary hero. Adelard flew to the standard; and just as he reached the troop, the Achilles with his powerful charger had borne down Leutwald's steed to the ground. Such of the fifteen as were not bleeding or prostrate stood motionless as if enchanted. But Leutwald held fast the staff of the banner with desperate strength ; Adelard rushed forward from the left, struck the left arm of the the Margrave which had grasped the staff, and shouted with wild energy, "Now for death or thy sword, thou Achilles !" 
    At the same moment the blade of the prince thundered over Adelard's head ; but the thick plumes of his steel-cap intercepted the blow ; only the fastening was loosened, and Adelard remained unhurt. But then shouted the prostrate Leutwald, " He is rending the banner from me. Give help, whoever can !" 
    " Elisabeth's banner !" cried Adelard ; and reckless of every other danger, seized fast the staff of the banner. The Margrave thundered forth his war-cry. 
    " Ye rash boys, let loose. You have your fee." And twice the fierce blade glittered on high ; and while both youths fell bleeding to the ground, the arm of the victor waved the two-headed eagle high above his helmet. 
    The Margrave's troops had reached him, and exultingly followed   their Achilles to attack the advancing Nurembergers. The tumult had long passed by, when the two youths raised their languid heads. 
    " Hast thou the banner?" asked each youth at once of the other, and then again sank back exhausted on the dewy sod. After a while, Leutwald again raised himself and spoke. "Hast thou already fallen asleep, Adelard? I mean to thy last sleep ?" 
     "No," said Adelard; "but the time may not be far off. The wound in my head pains me sorely."
    “ Not so mine," answered Leutwald ; " but weary am I, as after a night spent in the dance — a sweet weariness. What thinkest thou ? — we die a noble death. It seems to me as if this were almost the spot where we met together on thy return from the Achilles, and now that Achilles sends us both to our home." 
    “ If we had but saved the banner," sighed Adelard ; " Elisabeth's banner !" 
    " We held it fast so long as we were able," said Leutwald. " Our merciful God will give to each of us in paradise a fairer banner, woven of the ruddy dawn and the deep midnight blue, and sunshine and moonlight, embroidered with stars for flowers — Oh, lovely flowers !" 
    Then the youth was still. 
    Adelard raised himself up, and saw by the quivering smile of his mouth that even now the loving childlike soul had parted from its pure tabernacle. In grief for his departed friend and for the lost banner, and overcome by the fever of his wound, Adelard sunk back insensible upon his bloody couch. 
    The encounter was in the mean time ended. Margrave Albert, seeing that the city was far too strong and well-garrisoned for a sudden storm, contented himself with driving his adversaries back to their gates ; and then went forth, with the captive banner, and the glory of a victorious day, to other deeds of arms. 
    Then came forth both citizens and peasants to search for the wounded and the dead ; and they bore the two friends, one in the paleness of death, and the other approaching to it, back into the city. 
    So often as Adelard awoke partially from the stupefying delirium caused by his wound, it ever seemed to him as if he lay in that spacious chamber where he first beheld Elisabeth and the banner ; often, indeed, as if Elisabeth herself sat by his couch, smoothed his pillow with her own delicate hand, or brought him medicines, or bound up his smarting head. He smiled then gratefully, thanking God that he vouchsafed to the fever of his illness such lovely visions. 
    "What am I better than other wounded men," said he sometimes aloud to himself, " that some should see fiends by their bedside, and that to me an angel should appear?" But the stupefaction of fever departed from him more and more, and more and more distinct appeared the spacious room to Adelard's eyes, and at length clear and undoubted the sweetly-blushing countenance of the beloved maiden. 
    Happy as the reviving youth felt himself, yet the honour of a warrior claimed its rights ; he inquired of his beloved one after the banner. 
    More deeply blushed the noble maid of Nuremberg, and a low-breathed " Lost" escaped unwillingly from her sadly-quivering lips. 
    " For Leutwald I dare not ask," sighed Adelard ; and the sick man and his nurse shed the tears of a friendship which reached beyond the grave. 
    In the abandonment of his grief, the youth took the hand of the maiden, hid his glowing face upon it, and when his tears flowed more gently, he felt with astonishment that Elisabeth yielded her hand to him without resistance. 
    Amazed, he gazed upwards into the angel-face ; it seemed as if he might hope every thing, and yet he durst not utter a word. But the question hovered so beseechingly in his eyes and on his lips, that Elisabeth at length, with eyes cast down, half turning away, spoke : " Could a maiden attend thus on a youth, Adelard, were she not his bride ? My father has made this vow for your recovery." 
    Then seemed it to the heart of the restored youth as if a dream of childhood were fulfilled. Now first he held that fair left hand clasped fervently, and covered it with kisses ; and with her soft right hand, Elisabeth half timidly, half tenderly, stroked his cheek, which was suffused with the returning hue of health.
    Then was heard the sound of spurs and of men's footsteps on the stairs ; the door opened, and Albert Achilles entered, led by the aged Adam Scharf. 
    " Oh, I have then been dreaming !" sighed Adelard ; and sought to hide his head in the pillows. 
    "Why talk of dreaming?" asked the Margrave. "I have made peace with thy native city, my good youth, and I am here for the solemnity of thy betrothal. I will return for thy wedding when thou art entirely healed of the wound of my sword." 
    Whilst he spoke, the-golden-hilted knightly sword re-sounded by the hero's side, and Elisabeth shrunk timidly back. But Adelard raised him self up joyfully at the well-known sound. 
    Then said Albert Achilles, " Give me your hands, fair youth and maiden. I will place on them the ring of betrothal.
    " But Elisabeth moved another step backwards, and said softly in the ear of her honoured mother, who now stood beside them, "Must I be betrothed by the hand which robbed our free imperial city of its banner?" 
    The Achilles heard her words, and answered : " To take it, gentle maiden, was the deed of a brave warrior ; to give it back is the deed of a generous prince. Because your bridegroom defended it so bravely, I will restore it tomorrow to your cathedral." 
    Adam Scharf fervently embraced his son-in-law, and dropped some manly tears over his wound. 
    Elisabeth, bowing meekly and gratefully, gave her hand to the Margrave; and as he exchanged between them the rings of betrothal, he said :  
   " Young warrior, I  well know that you had fixed your eye upon my sword, and another had done so with you. This time that sword has made a friendly return to those who strove to possess it. It has helped the one to heaven, the other to his bride. But for the future have a care in such matters. The gifts of princes' swords are solemn, and weigh heavily."

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