Otto of the Silver Hand
Part 2 out of 2
clatter. "Potstausand!" he cried; "art thou gone out of thy head
to let thy wits run upon such things as this of which thou
talkest to me? If it should come to our Lord Baron's ears he
would cut the tongue from out thy head and my head from off my
shoulders for it. Dost thou think I am going to meddle in such a
matter as this ? Listen! these proud Baron folk, with their
masterful ways, drive our sort hither and thither; they beat us,
they drive us, they kill us as they choose. Our lives are not as
much to them as one of my black swine. Why should I trouble my
head if they choose to lop and trim one another? The fewer there
are of them the better for us, say I. We poor folk have a hard
enough life of it without thrusting our heads into the noose to
help them out of their troubles. What thinkest thou would happen
to us if Baron Henry should hear of our betraying his affairs to
"Nay," said Katherine, "thou hast naught to do in the matter but
to tell the Red-beard in what part of the castle the little
"And what good would that do?" said Fritz, the swineherd.
"I know not," said Katherine, "but I have promised the little
one that thou wouldst find the Baron Conrad and tell him that
"Thou hast promised a mare's egg," said her husband, angrily.
"How shall I find the Baron Conrad to bear a message to him,
when our Baron has been looking for him in vain for two days
"Thou has found him once and thou mayst find him again," said
Katherine, "for it is not likely that he will keep far away from
here whilst his boy is in such sore need of help."
"I will have nothing to do with it!" said Fritz, and he got up
from the wooden block whereon he was sitting and stumped out of
the house. But, then, Katherine had heard him talk in that way
before, and knew, in spite of his saying "no," that, sooner or
later, he would do as she wished.
Two days later a very stout little one-eyed man, clad in a
leathern jerkin and wearing a round leathern cap upon his head,
came toiling up the path to the postern door of Trutz-Drachen,
his back bowed under the burthen of a great peddler's pack. It
was our old friend the one-eyed Hans, though even his brother
would hardly have known him in his present guise, for, besides
having turned peddler, he had grown of a sudden surprisingly
Rap-tap-tap! He knocked at the door with a knotted end of the
crooked thorned staff upon which he leaned. He waited for a
while and then knocked again - rap-tap-tap!
Presently, with a click, a little square wicket that pierced the
door was opened, and a woman's face peered out through the iron
The one-eyed Hans whipped off his leathern cap.
"Good day, pretty one," said he, "and hast thou any need of
glass beads, ribbons, combs, or trinkets? Here I am come all the
way from Gruenstadt, with a pack full of such gay things as thou
never laid eyes on before. Here be rings and bracelets and
necklaces that might be of pure silver and set with diamonds and
rubies, for anything that thy dear one could tell if he saw thee
decked in them. And all are so cheap that thou hast only to say,
'I want them,' and they are thine."
The frightened face at the window looked from right to left and
from left to right. "Hush," said the girl, and laid her finger
upon her lips. "There! thou hadst best get away from here, poor
soul, as fast as thy legs can carry thee, for if the Lord Baron
should find thee here talking secretly at the postern door, he
would loose the wolf-hounds upon thee."
"Prut," said one-eyed Hans, with a grin, "the Baron is too big a
fly to see such a little gnat as I; but wolf-hounds or no wolf-
hounds, I can never go hence without showing thee the pretty
things that I have brought from the town, even though my stay be
at the danger of my own hide."
He flung the pack from off his shoulders as he spoke and fell to
unstrapping it, while the round face of the lass (her eyes big
with curiosity) peered down at him through the grated iron bars.
Hans held up a necklace of blue and white beads that glistened
like jewels in the sun, and from them hung a gorgeous filigree
cross. "Didst thou ever see a sweeter thing than this?" said he;
"and look, here is a comb that even the silversmith would swear
was pure silver all the way through." Then, in a soft, wheedling
voice, "Canst thou not let me in, my little bird? Sure there are
other lasses besides thyself who would like to trade with a poor
peddler who has travelled all the way from Gruenstadt just to
please the pretty ones of Trutz-Drachen."
"Nay," said the lass, in a frightened voice, " I cannot let thee
in; I know not what the Baron would do to me, even now, if he
knew that I was here talking to a stranger at the postern;" and
she made as if she would clap to the little window in his face;
but the one-eyed Hans thrust his staff betwixt the bars and so
kept the shutter open.
"Nay, nay," said he, eagerly, "do not go away from me too soon.
Look, dear one; seest thou this necklace?"
"Aye," said she, looking hungrily at it.
"Then listen; if thou wilt but let me into the castle, so that I
may strike a trade, I will give it to thee for thine own without
thy paying a barley corn for it."
The girl looked and hesitated, and then looked again; the
temptation was too great. There was a noise of softly drawn
bolts and bars, the door was hesitatingly opened a little way,
and, in a twinkling, the one-eyed Hans had slipped inside the
castle, pack and all.
"The necklace," said the girl, in a frightened whisper.
Hans thrust it into her hand. "It's thine," said he, "and now
wilt thou not help me to a trade?"
"I will tell my sister that thou art here," said she, and away
she ran from the little stone hallway, carefully bolting and
locking the further door behind her.
The door that the girl had locked was the only one that
connected the postern hail with the castle.
The one-eyed Hans stood looking after her. "Thou fool!" he muttered
to himself, "to lock the door behind thee. What shall I do next,
I should like to know? Here am I just as badly off as I was when
I stood outside the walls. Thou hussy! If thou hadst but let me
into the castle for only two little minutes, I would have found
somewhere to have hidden myself while thy back was turned. But
what shall I do now?" He rested his pack upon the floor and
stood looking about him.
Built in the stone wall opposite to him, was a high, narrow
fireplace without carving of any sort. As Hans' one eye wandered
around the bare stone space, his glance fell at last upon it,
and there it rested. For a while he stood looking intently at
it, presently he began rubbing his hand over his bristling chin
in a thoughtful, meditative manner. Finally he drew a deep
breath, and giving himself a shake as though to arouse himself
from his thoughts, and after listening a moment or two to make
sure that no one was nigh, he walked softly to the fireplace,
and stooping, peered up the chimney. Above him yawned a black
cavernous depth, inky with the soot of years. Hans straightened
himself, and tilting his leathern cap to one side, began
scratching his bullet-head; at last he drew a long breath. "Yes,
good," he muttered to himself; "he who jumps into the river must
e'en swim the best he can. It is a vile, dirty place to thrust
one's self; but I am in for it now, and must make the best of a
He settled the cap more firmly upon his head, spat upon his
hands, and once more stooping in the fireplace, gave a leap, and
up the chimney he went with a rattle of loose mortar and a black
trickle of soot.
By and by footsteps sounded outside the door. There was a pause;
a hurried whispering of women's voices; the twitter of a nervous
laugh, and then the door was pushed softly opens and the girl to
whom the one-eyed Hans had given the necklace of blue and white
beads with the filigree cross hanging from it, peeped
uncertainly into the room. Behind her broad, heavy face were
three others, equally homely and stolid; for a while all four
stood there, looking blankly into the room and around it.
Nothing was there but the peddler's knapsack lying in the middle
of the floor-the man was gone. The light of expectancy slowly
faded Out of the girl's face, and in its place succeeded first
bewilderment and then dull alarm. "But, dear heaven," she said,
"where then has the peddler man gone?"
A moment or two of silence followed her speech. "Perhaps," said
one of the others, in a voice hushed with awe, "perhaps it was
the evil one himself to whom thou didst open the door."
Again there was a hushed and breathless pause; it was the lass
who had let Hans in at the postern, who next spoke.
"Yes," said she, in a voice trembling with fright at what she
had done, "yes, it must have been the evil one, for now I
remember he had but one eye." The four girls crossed themselves,
and their eyes grew big and round with the fright.
Suddenly a shower of mortar came rattling down the chimney.
"Ach!" cried the four, as with one voice. Bang! the door was
clapped to and away they scurried like a flock of frightened
When Jacob, the watchman, came that way an hour later, upon his
evening round of the castle, he found a peddler's knapsack lying
in the middle of the floor. He turned it over with his pike-
staff and saw that it was full of beads and trinkets and
"How came this here?" said he. And then, without waiting for
the answer which he did not expect, he flung it over his
shoulder and marched away with it.
How Hans Brought Terror to the Kitchen.
Hans found himself in a pretty pickle in the chimney, for the
soot got into his one eye and set it to watering, and into his
nose and set him to sneezing, and into his mouth and his ears
and his hair. But still he struggled on, up and up; "for every
chimney has a top," said Hans to himself "and I am sure to climb
out somewhere or other." Suddenly he came to a place where
another chimney joined the one he was climbing, and here he
stopped to consider the matter at his leisure. "See now," he
muttered, "if I still go upward I may come out at the top of
some tall chimney-stack with no way of getting down outside.
Now, below here there must be a fire-place somewhere, for a
chimney does not start from nothing at all; yes, good! we will
go down a while and see what we make of that."
It was a crooked, zigzag road that he had to travel, and rough
and hard into the bargain. His one eye tingled and smarted, and
his knees and elbows were rubbed to the quick; nevertheless One-
eyed Hans had been in worse trouble than this in his life.
Down he went and down he went, further than he had climbed
upward before. "Sure, I must be near some place or other," he
As though in instant answer to his thoughts, he heard the sudden
sound of a voice so close beneath him that he stopped short in
his downward climbing and stood as still as a mouse, with his
heart in his mouth. A few inches more and he would have been
discovered; - what would have happened then would have been no
hard matter to foretell.
Hans braced his back against one side of the chimney, his feet
against the other and then, leaning forward, looked down between
his knees. The gray light of the coming evening glimmered in a
wide stone fireplace just below him. Within the fireplace two
people were moving about upon the broad hearth, a great, fat
woman and a shock-headed boy. The woman held a spit with two
newly trussed fowls upon it, so that One-eyed Hans knew that she
must be the cook.
"Thou ugly toad," said the woman to the boy, "did I not bid thee
make a fire an hour ago? and now, here there is not so much as a
spark to roast the fowls withall, and they to be basted for the
lord Baron's supper. Where hast thou been for all this time?"
No matter," said the boy, sullenly, as he laid the fagots ready
for the lighting; "no matter, I was not running after Long
Jacob, the bowman, to try to catch him for a sweetheart, as thou
hast been doing."
The reply was instant and ready. The cook raised her hand;
"smack!" she struck and a roar from the scullion followed.
"Yes, good," thought Hans, as he looked down upon them; "I am
glad that the boy's ear was not on my head."
"Now give me no more of thy talk," said the woman, "but do the
work that thou hast been bidden." Then - "How came all this
black soot here, I should like to know?"
"How should I know?" snuffled the scullion, "mayhap thou wouldst
blame that on me also?"
"That is my doing," whispered Hans to himself; "but if they
light the fire, what then becomes of me?"
"See now," said the cook; "I go to make the cakes ready; if I
come back and find that thou hast not built the fire, I will
warm thy other ear for thee."
"So," thought Hans; "then will be my time to come down the
chimney, for there will be but one of them."
The next moment he heard the door close and knew that the cook
had gone to make the cakes ready as she said. And as he looked
down he saw that the boy was bending over the bundle of fagots,
blowing the spark that he had brought in upon the punk into a
flame. The dry fagots began to crackle and blaze. "Now is my
time," said Hans to himself. Bracing his elbows against each
side of the chimney, he straightened his legs so that he might
fall clear His motions loosened little shower of soot that fell
rattling upon the fagots that were now beginning to blaze
brightly, whereupon the boy raised his face and looked up. Hans
loosened his hold upon the chimney; crash! he fell, lighting
upon his feet in the midst of the burning fagots. The scullion
boy tumbled backward upon the floor, where he lay upon the broad
of his back with a face as white as dough and eyes and mouth
agape, staring speechlessly at the frightful inky-black figure
standing in the midst of the flames and smoke. Then his
scattered wits came back to him. "It is the evil one," he
roared. And thereupon, turning upon his side, he half rolled,
half scrambled to the door. Then out he leaped and, banging it
to behind him, flew down the passageway, yelling with fright and
never daring once to look behind him.
All the time One-eyed Hans was brushing away the sparks that
clung to his clothes. He was as black as ink from head to foot
with the soot from the chimney.
"So far all is good," he muttered to himself, "but if I go
wandering about in my sooty shoes I will leave black tracks to
follow me, so there is nothing to do but e'en to go barefoot.
He stooped and drawing the pointed soft leather shoes from his
feet, he threw them upon the now blazing fagots, where they
writhed and twisted and wrinkled, and at last burst into a
flame. Meanwhile Hans lost no time; he must find a hiding-place,
and quickly, if he would yet hope to escape. A great bread
trough stood in the corner of the kitchen - a hopper-shaped
chest with a flat lid. It was the best hiding place that the
room afforded. Without further thought Hans ran to it, snatching
up from the table as he passed a loaf of black bread and a
bottle half full of stale wine, for he had had nothing to eat
since that morning. Into the great bread trough he climbed, and
drawing the lid down upon him, curled himself up as snugly as a
mouse in its nest.
For a while the kitchen lay in silence, but at last the sound of
voices was heard at the door, whispering together in low tones.
Suddenly the door was flung open and a tall, lean, lantern-jawed
fellow, clad in rough frieze, strode into the room and stood
there glaring with half frightened boldness around about him;
three or four women and the trembling scullion crowded together
in a frightened group behind him.
The man was Long Jacob, the bowman; but, after all, his boldness
was all wasted, for not a thread or a hair was to be seen, but
only the crackling fire throwing its cheerful ruddy glow upon
the wall of the room, now rapidly darkening in the falling gray
of the twilight without.
The fat cook's fright began rapidly to turn into anger.
"Thou imp," she cried, "it is one of thy tricks," and she made a
dive for the scullion, who ducked around the skirts of one of
the other women and so escaped for the time; but Long Jacob
wrinkled up his nose and sniffed. "Nay," said he, "me thinks
that there lieth some truth in the tale that the boy hath told,
for here is a vile smell of burned horn that the black one bath
left behind him."
It was the smell from the soft leather shoes that Hans had
The silence of night had fallen over the Castle of Trutz-
Drachen; not a sound was heard but the squeaking of mice
scurring behind the wainscoting, the dull dripping of moisture
from the eaves, or the sighing of the night wind around the
gables and through the naked windows of the castle.
The lid of the great dough trough was softly raised, and a face,
black with soot, peeped cautiously out from under it. Then
little by little arose a figure as black as the face; and One-
eyed Hans stepped out upon the floor, stretching and rubbing
"Methinks I must have slept," he muttered. " Hui, I am as stiff
as a new leather doublet, and now, what next is to become of me?
I hope my luck may yet stick to me, in spite of this foul black
Along the middle of the front of the great hall of the castle,
ran a long stone gallery, opening at one end upon the court-yard
by a high flight of stone steps. A man-at-arms in breast-plate
and steel cap, and bearing a long pike, paced up and down the
length of this gallery, now and then stopping, leaning over the
edge, and gazing up into the starry sky above; then, with a long
drawn yawn, lazily turning back to the monotonous watch again.
A dark figure crept out from an arched doorway at the lower part
of the long straight building, and some little distance below
the end gallery, but the sentry saw nothing of it, for his back
was turned. As silently and as stealthily as a cat the figure
crawled along by the dark shadowy wall, now and then stopping,
and then again creeping slowly forward toward the gallery where
the man-at-arms moved monotonously up and down. It was One-eyed
Hans in his bare feet.
Inch by inch, foot by foot - the black figure crawled along in
the angle of the wall; inch by inch and foot by foot, but ever
nearer and nearer to the long straight row of stone steps that
led to the covered gallery. At last it crouched at the lowest
step of the flight. Just then the sentinel upon watch came to
the very end of the gallery and stood there leaning upon his
spear. Had he looked down below he could not have failed to have
seen One-eyed Hans lying there motionlessly; but he was gazing
far away over the steep black roofs beyond, and never saw the
unsuspected presence. Minute after minute passed, and the one
stood there looking out into the night and the other lay
crouching by the wall; then with a weary sigh the sentry turned
and began slowly pacing back again toward the farther end of the
Instantly the motionless figure below arose and glided
noiselessly and swiftly up the flight of steps.
Two rude stone pillars flanked either side of the end of the
gallery. Like a shadow the black figure slipped behind one of
these, flattening itself up against the wall, where it stood
straight and motionless as the shadows around it.
Down the long gallery came the watchman, his sword clinking
loudly in the silence as he walked, tramp, tramp, tramp! clink,
Within three feet of the motionless figure behind the pillar he
turned, and began retracing his monotonous steps. Instantly the
other left the shadow of the post and crept rapidly and
stealthily after him. One step, two steps the sentinel took; for
a moment the black figure behind him seemed to crouch and draw
together, then like a flash it leaped forward upon its victim.
A shadowy cloth fell upon the man's face, and in an instant he
was flung back and down with a muffled crash upon the stones.
Then followed a fierce and silent struggle in the darkness, but
strong and sturdy as the man was, he was no match for the almost
superhuman strength of One-eyed Hans. The cloth which he had
flung over his head was tied tightly and securely. Then the man
was forced upon his face and, in spite of his fierce struggles,
his arms were bound around and around with strong fine cord;
next his feet were bound in the same way, and the task was done.
Then Hans stood upon his feet, and wiped the sweat from his
swarthy forehead. "Listen, brother," he whispered, and as he
spoke he stooped and pressed something cold and hard against the
neck of the other. "Dost thou know the feel of this? It is a
broad dagger, and if thou dost contrive to loose that gag from
thy mouth and makest any outcry, it shall be sheathed in thy
So saying, he thrust the knife back again into its sheath, then
stooping and picking up the other, he flung him across his
shoulder like a sack, and running down the steps as lightly as
though his load was nothing at all, he carried his burden to the
arched doorway whence he had come a little while before. There,
having first stripped his prisoner of all his weapons, Hans sat
the man up in the angle of the wall. "So, brother;" said he,
"now we can talk with more ease than we could up yonder. I will
tell thee frankly why I am here; it is to find where the young
Baron Otto of Drachenhausen is kept. If thou canst tell me, well
and good; if not, I must e'en cut thy weasand and find me one
who knoweth more. Now, canst thou tell me what I would learn,
The other nodded dimly in the darkness.
"That is good," said Hans, "then I will loose thy gag until thou
hast told me; only bear in mind what I said concerning my
Thereupon, he unbound his prisoner, and the fellow slowly rose
to his feet. He shook himself and looked all about him in a
heavy, bewildered fashion, as though he had just awakened from a
His right hand slid furtively down to his side, but the dagger-
sheath was empty.
"Come, brother!" said Hans, impatiently, "time is passing, and
once lost can never be found again. Show me the way to the young
Baron Otto or -." And he whetted the shining blade of his
dagger on his horny palm.
The fellow needed no further bidding; turning, he led the way,
and together they were swallowed up in the yawning shadows, and
again the hush of night-time lay upon the Castle of Trutz-
How Otto was Saved.
Little Otto was lying upon the hard couch in his cell, tossing
in restless and feverish sleep; suddenly a heavy hand was laid
upon him and a voice whispered in his ear, "Baron, Baron Otto,
waken, rouse yourself; I am come to help you. I am One-eyed
Otto was awake in an instant and raised himself upon his elbow
in the darkness. "One-eyed Hans," he breathed, "One-eyed Hans;
who is One-eyed Hans?"
"True," said the other, "thou dost not know me. I am thy
father's trusted servant, and am the only one excepting his own
blood and kin who has clung to him in this hour of trouble. Yes,
all are gone but me alone, and so I have come to help thee away
from this vile place."
"Oh, dear, good Hans! if only thou canst!" cried Otto; "if only
thou canst take me away from this wicked place. Alas, dear Hans!
I am weary and sick to death." And poor little Otto began to
weep silently in the darkness.
"Aye, aye," said Hans, gruffly, "it is no place for a little
child to be. Canst thou climb, my little master? canst thou
climb a knotted rope?"
"Nay," said Otto, "I can never climb again! See, Hans;" and he
flung back the covers from off him.
"I cannot see," said Hans, "it is too dark."
"Then feel, dear Hans," said Otto.
Hans bent over the poor little white figure glimmering palely in the darkness. Suddenly he drew back with a snarl like an angry wolf. "Oh! the black, bloody wretches!" he cried, hoarsely; "and have they done that to thee, a little child?"
"Yes," said Otto, "the Baron Henry did it." And then again he began to cry.
"There, there," said Hans, roughly, "weep no more. Thou shalt get away from here even if thou canst not climb; I myself will help thee. Thy father is already waiting below the window here, and thou shalt soon be with him. There, there, cry no more."
While he was speaking Hans had stripped off his peddler's
leathern jacket, and there, around his body, was wrapped coil
after coil of stout hempen rope tied in knots at short
distances. He began unwinding the rope, and when he had done he
was as thin as ever he had been before. Next he drew from the
pouch that hung at his side a ball of fine cord and a leaden
weight pierced by a hole, both of which he had brought with him
for the use to which he now put them. He tied the lead to the
end of the cord, then whirling the weight above his head, he
flung it up toward the window high above. Twice the piece of
lead fell back again into the room; the third time it flew out
between the iron bars carrying the cord with it. Hans held the
ball in his hand and paid out the string as the weight carried
it downward toward the ground beneath. Suddenly the cord stopped
running. Hans jerked it and shook it, but it moved no farther.
"Pray heaven, little child," said he, "that it hath reached the
ground, for if it hath not we are certainly lost."
"I do pray," said Otto, and he bowed his head.
Then, as though in answer to his prayer, there came a twitch
upon the cord.
"See," said Hans, "they have heard thee up above in heaven; it
was thy father who did that." Quickly and deftly he tied the
cord to the end of the knotted rope; then he gave an answering
jerk upon the string. The next moment the rope was drawn up to
the window and down the outside by those below. Otto lay
watching the rope as it crawled up to the window and out into
the night like a great snake, while One-eyed Hans held the other
end lest it should be drawn too far. At last it stopped. "Good,"
muttered Hans, as though to himself. "The rope is long enough."
He waited for a few minutes and then, drawing upon the rope and
finding that it was held from below, he spat upon his hands and
began slowly climbing up to the window above. Winding his arm
around the iron bars of the grating that guarded it, he thrust
his hand into the pouch that hung by his side, and drawing forth
a file, fell to work cutting through all that now lay between
Otto and liberty.
It was slow, slow work, and it seemed to Otto as though Hans
would never finish his task, as lying upon his hard couch he
watched that figure, black against the sky, bending over its
work. Now and then the file screeched against the hard iron, and
then Hans would cease for a moment, but only to begin again as
industriously as ever. Three or four times he tried the effects
of his work, but still the iron held. At last he set his
shoulder against it, and as Otto looked he saw the iron bend.
Suddenly there was a sharp crack, and a piece of the grating
went flying out into the night.
Hans tied the rope securely about the stump of the stout iron
bar that yet remained, and then slid down again into the room
"My little lord," said he, "dost thou think that if I carry
thee, thou wilt be able and strong enough to cling to my neck?"
"Aye," said Otto, "methinks I will be able to do that."
"Then come," said Hans.
He stooped as he spoke, and gently lifting Otto from his rude
and rugged bed he drew his broad leathern belt around them both,
buckling it firmly and securely. "It does not hurt thee?" said
"Not much," whispered Otto faintly.
Then Hans spat upon his hands, and began slowly climbing the
They reached the edge of the window and there they rested for a
moment, and Otto renewed his hold around the neck of the
"And now art thou ready?" said Hans
"Aye," said Otto.
"Then courage," said Hans, and he turned and swung his leg over
the abyss below.
The next moment they were hanging in mid-air.
Otto looked down and gave a gasp. "The mother of heaven bless
us," he whispered, and then closed his eyes, faint and dizzy at
the sight of that sheer depth beneath. Hans said nothing, but
shutting his teeth and wrapping his legs around the rope, he
began slowly descending, hand under hand. Down, down, down he
went, until to Otto, with his eyes shut and his head leaning
upon Hans' shoulder, it seemed as though it could never end.
Down, down, down. Suddenly he felt Hans draw a deep breath;
there was a slight jar, and Otto opened his eyes; Hans was
standing upon the ground.
A figure wrapped in a dark cloak arose from the shadow of the
wall, and took Otto in its arms. It was Baron Conrad.
"My son - my little child!" he cried, in a choked, trembling
voice, and that was all. And Otto pressed his cheek against his
father's and began crying.
Suddenly the Baron gave a sharp, fierce cry. "Dear Heaven!" he
cried; "what have they done to thee?" But poor little Otto could
"Oh!" gasped the Baron, in a strangled voice, "my little child!
my little child!" And therewith he broke down, and his whole
body shook with fierce, dry sobs; for men in those days did not
seek to hide their grief as they do now, but were fierce and
strong in the expression of that as of all else.
"Never mind, dear father," whispered Otto; "it did not hurt me
so very much," and he pressed his lips against his father's
Little Otto had but one hand.
A Ride For Life.
But not yet was Otto safe, and all danger past and gone by.
Suddenly, as they stood there, the harsh clangor of a bell broke
the silence of the starry night above their heads, and as they
raised their faces and looked up, they saw lights flashing from
window to window. Presently came the sound of a hoarse voice
shouting something that, from the distance, they could not
One-eyed Hans smote his hand upon his thigh. Look said he, "here
is what comes of having a soft heart in one's bosom. I overcame
and bound a watchman up yonder, and forced him to tell me where
our young Baron lay. It was on my mind to run my knife into him
after he had told me every thing, but then, bethinking how the
young Baron hated the thought of bloodshed, I said to myself,
'No, Hans, I will spare the villain's life.' See now what comes
of being merciful; here, by hook or by crook, the fellow has
loosed himself from his bonds, and brings the whole castle about
our ears like a nest of wasps."
"We must fly," said the Baron; "for nothing else in the world is
left me, now that all have deserted me in this black time of
trouble, excepting these six faithful ones."
His voice was bitter, bitter, as he spoke; then stooping, he
raised Otto in his arms, and bearing him gently, began rapidly
descending the rocky slope to the level road that ran along the
edge of the hill beneath. Close behind him followed the rest;
Hans still grimed with soot and in his bare feet. A little
distance from the road and under the shade of the forest trees,
seven horses stood waiting. The Baron mounted upon his great
black charger, seating little Otto upon the saddle in front of
him. "Forward!" he cried, and away they clattered and out upon
the road. Then - "To St. Michaelsburg," said Baron Conrad, in
his deep voice, and the horses' heads were turned to the
westward, and away they galloped through the black shadows of
the forest, leaving Trutz-Drachen behind them.
But still the sound of the alarm bell rang through the beating
of the horses' hoofs, and as Hans looked over his shoulder, he
saw the light of torches flashing hither and thither along the
outer walls in front of the great barbican.
In Castle Trutz-Drachen all was confusion and uproar: flashing
torches lit up the dull gray walls; horses neighed and stamped,
and men shouted and called to one another in the bustle of
making ready. Presently Baron Henry came striding along the
corridor clad in light armor, which he had hastily donned when
roused from his sleep by the news that his prisoner had escaped.
Below in the courtyard his horse was standing, and without
waiting for assistance, he swung himself into the saddle. Then
away they all rode and down the steep path, armor ringing,
swords clanking, and iron-shod hoofs striking sparks of fire
from the hard stones. At their head rode Baron Henry; his
triangular shield hung over his shoulder, and in his hand he
bore a long, heavy, steel-pointed lance with a pennant
flickering darkly from the end.
At the high-road at the base of the slope they paused, for they
were at a loss to know which direction the fugitives had taken;
a half a score of the retainers leaped from their horses, and
began hurrying about hither and thither, and up and down, like
hounds searching for the lost scent, and all the time Baron
Henry sat still as a rock in the midst of the confusion.
Suddenly a shout was raised from the forest just beyond the
road; they had come upon the place where the horses had been
tied. It was an easy matter to trace the way that Baron Conrad
and his followers had taken thence back to the high-road, but
there again they were at a loss. The road ran straight as an
arrow eastward and westward - had the fugitives taken their way to
the east or to the west?
Baron Henry called his head-man, Nicholas Stein, to him, and the
two spoke together for a while in an undertone. At last the
Baron's lieutenant reined his horse back, and choosing first one
and then another, divided the company into two parties. The
baron placed himself at the head of one band and Nicholas Stein
at the head of the other. "Forward!" he cried, and away
clattered the two companies of horsemen in opposite directions.
It was toward the westward that Baron Henry of Trutz-Drachen
rode at the head of his men.
The early springtide sun shot its rays of misty, yellow light
across the rolling tops of the forest trees where the little
birds were singing in the glory of the May morning. But Baron
Henry and his followers thought nothing of the beauty of the
peaceful day, and heard nothing of the multitudinous sound of
the singing birds as, with a confused sound of galloping hoofs,
they swept along the highway, leaving behind them a slow-
curling, low-trailing cloud of dust.
As the sun rose more full and warm, the misty wreaths began to
dissolve, until at last they parted and rolled asunder like a
white curtain and there, before the pursuing horsemen, lay the
crest of the mountain toward which they were riding, and up
which the road wound steeply.
"Yonder they are, cried a sudden voice behind Baron Henry of
Trutz-Drachen, and at the cry all looked upward.
Far away upon the mountain-side curled a cloud of dust, from the
midst of which came the star-like flash of burnished armor
gleaming in the sun.
Baron Henry said never a word, but his lips curled in a grim
And as the mist wreaths parted One-eyed Hans looked behind and
down into the leafy valley beneath. "Yonder they come," said he.
"They have followed sharply to gain so much upon us, even though
our horses are wearied with all the travelling we have done
hither and yon these five days past. How far is it, Lord Baron,
from here to Michaelsburg?"
"About ten leagues," said the Baron, in a gloomy voice.
Hans puckered his mouth as though to whistle, but the Baron saw
nothing of it, for he was gazing straight before him with a set
and stony face. Those who followed him looked at one another,
and the same thought was in the mind of each - how long would it
be before those who pursued would close the distance between them?
When that happened it meant death to one and all.
They reached the crest of the hill, and down they dashed upon
the other side; for there the road was smooth and level as it
sloped away into the valley, but it was in dead silence that
they rode. Now and then those who followed the Baron looked back
over their shoulders. They had gained a mile upon their pursuers
when the helmeted heads rose above the crest of the mountain,
but what was the gain of a mile with a smooth road between them,
and fresh horses to weary ones?
On they rode and on they rode. The sun rose higher and higher,
and hotter and hotter. There was no time to rest and water their
panting horses. Only once, when they crossed a shallow stretch
of water, the poor animals bent their heads and caught a few
gulps from the cool stream, and the One-eyed Hans washed a part
of the soot from his hands and face. On and on they rode; never
once did the Baron Conrad move his head or alter that steadfast
look as, gazing straight before him, he rode steadily forward
along the endless stretch of road, with poor little Otto's
yellow head and white face resting against his steel-clad
shoulder - and St. Michaelsburg still eight leagues away.
A little rise of ground lay before them, and as they climbed it,
all, excepting the baron, turned their heads as with one accord
and looked behind them. Then more than one heart failed, for
through the leaves of the trees below, they caught the glint of
armor of those who followed - not more than a mile away. The
next moment they swept over the crest, and there, below them,
lay the broad shining river, and nearer a tributary stream
spanned by a rude, narrow, three-arched, stone bridge where the
road crossed the deep, slow-moving water.
Down the slope plodded the weary horses, and so to the bridge-
"Halt," cried the baron suddenly, and drew rein.
The others stood bewildered. What did he mean to do? He turned
to Hans and his blue eyes shone like steel.
"Hans," said he, in his deep voice, "thou hast served me long
and truly; wilt thou for this one last time do my bidding?"
"Aye," said Hans, briefly.
"Swear it," said the Baron.
"I swear it," said Hans, and he drew the sign of the cross upon
"That is good," said the Baron, grimly. "Then take thou this
child, and with the others ride with all the speed that thou
canst to St. Michaelsburg. Give the child into the charge of the
Abbot Otto. Tell him how that I have sworn fealty to the
Emperor, and what I have gained thereby - my castle burnt, my
people slain, and this poor, simple child, my only son,
mutilated by my enemy.
"And thou, my Lord Baron?" said Hans.
"I will stay here," said the Baron, quietly, "and keep back
those who follow as long as God will give me grace so to do."
A murmur of remonstrance rose among the faithful few who were
with him, two of whom were near of kin. But Conrad of
Drachenhausen turned fiercely upon them.
"How now," said he, "have I fallen so low in my troubles that
even ye dare to raise your voices against me? By the good
Heaven, I will begin my work here by slaying the first man who
dares to raise word against my bidding." Then he turned from
them. "Here, Hans," said he, "take the boy; and remember, knave,
what thou hast sworn."
He pressed Otto close to his breast in one last embrace. "My
little child," he murmured, "try not to hate thy father when
thou thinkest of him hereafter, even though he be hard and
bloody as thou knowest."
But with his suffering and weakness, little Otto knew nothing of
what was passing; it was only as in a faint flickering dream
that he lived in what was done around him.
"Farewell, Otto," said the Baron, but Otto's lips only moved
faintly in answer. His father kissed him upon either cheek.
"Come, Hans," said he, hastily, "take him hence;" and he loosed
Otto's arms from about his neck.
Hans took Otto upon the saddle in front of him.
"Oh! my dear Lord Baron," said he, and then stopped with a gulp,
and turned his grotesquely twitching face aside.
"Go," said the Baron, harshly, "there is no time to lose in
"Farewell, Conrad! farewell, Conrad!" said his two kinsmen, and
coming forward they kissed him upon the cheek then they turned
and rode away after Hans, and Baron Conrad was left alone to
face his mortal foe.
How Baron Conrad Held the Bridge.
As the last of his followers swept around the curving road and
was lost to sight, Baron Conrad gave himself a shake, as though
to drive away the thoughts that lay upon him. Then he rode
slowly forward to the middle of the bridge, where he wheeled his
horse so as to face his coming enemies. He lowered the vizor of
his helmet and bolted it to its place, and then saw that sword
and dagger were loose in the scabbard and easy to draw when the
need for drawing should arise.
Down the steep path from the hill above swept the pursuing
horsemen. Down the steep path to the bridge-head and there drew
rein; for in the middle of the narrow way sat the motionless,
steel-clad figure upon the great war-horse, with wide, red,
panting nostrils, and body streaked with sweat and flecked with
patches of foam.
One side of the roadway of the bridge was guarded by a low stone
wall; the other side was naked and open and bare to the deep,
slow-moving water beneath. It was a dangerous place to attack a
desperate man clad in armor of proof.
"Forward!" cried Baron Henry, but not a soul stirred in answer,
and still the iron-clad figure sat motionless and erect upon the
"How," cried the Baron Henry, "are ye afraid of one man? Then
follow me!" and he spurred forward to the bridge-head. But still
no one moved in answer, and the Lord of Trutz-Drachen reined
back his horse again. He wheeled his horse and glared round upon
the stolid faces of his followers, until his eyes seemed fairly
to blaze with passion beneath the bars of his vizor.
Baron Conrad gave a roar of laughter. "How now," he cried; "are
ye all afraid of one man? Is there none among ye that dares come
forward and meet me? I know thee, Baron Henry thou art not
afraid to cut off the hand of a little child. Hast thou not now
the courage to face the father?"
Baron Henry gnashed his teeth with rage as he glared around upon
the faces of his men-at-arms. Suddenly his eye lit upon one of
them. "Ha ! Carl Spigler," he cried, "thou hast thy cross-bow
with thee; - shoot me down yonder dog! Nay," he said, "thou
canst do him no harm under his armor; shoot the horse upon which
Baron Conrad heard the speech. "Oh! thou coward villain !" he
cried, "stay; do not shoot the good horse. I will dismount and
fight ye upon foot." Thereupon, armed as he was, he leaped
clashing from his horse and turning the animal's head, gave it a
slap upon the flank. The good horse first trotted and then
walked to the further end of the bridge, where it stopped and
began cropping at the grass that grew beside the road.
"Now then !" cried Baron Henry, fiercely, "now then, ye cannot
fear him, villains! Down with him! forward!"
Slowly the troopers spurred their horses forward upon the bridge
and toward that one figure that, grasping tightly the great two-
handed sword, stood there alone guarding the passage.
Then Baron Conrad whirled the great blade above his head, until
it caught the sunlight and flashed again. He did not wait for
the attack, but when the first of the advancing horsemen had
come within a few feet of him, he leaped with a shout upon them.
The fellow thrust at him with his lance, and the Baron went
staggering a few feet back, but instantly he recovered himself
and again leaped forward. The great sword flashed in the air,
whistling; it fell, and the nearest man dropped his lance,
clattering, and with a loud, inarticulate cry, grasped the mane
of his horse with both hands. Again the blade whistled in the
air, and this time it was stained with red. Again it fell, and
with another shrill cry the man toppled headlong beneath the
horse's feet. The next instant they were upon him, each striving
to strike at the one figure, to ride him down, or to thrust him
down with their lances. There was no room now to swing the long
blade, but holding the hilt in both hands, Baron Conrad thrust
with it as though it were a lance, stabbing at horse or man, it
mattered not. Crowded upon the narrow roadway of the bridge,
those who attacked had not only to guard themselves against the
dreadful strokes of that terrible sword, but to keep their
wounded horses (rearing and mad with fright) from toppling
bodily over with them into the water beneath.
Presently the cry was raised, "Back! back!" And those nearest
the Baron began reining in their horses. "Forward!" roared Baron
Henry, from the midst of the crowd; but in spite of his command,
and even the blows that he gave, those behind were borne back by
those in front, struggling and shouting, and the bridge was
cleared again excepting for three figures that lay motionless
upon the roadway, and that one who, with the brightness of his
armor dimmed and stained, leaned panting against the wall of the
The Baron Henry raged like a madman. Gnashing his teeth
together, he rode back a little way; then turning and couching
his lance, he suddenly clapped spurs to his horse, and the next
instant came thundering down upon his solitary enemy.
Baron Conrad whirled his sword in the air, as he saw the other
coming like a thunderbolt upon him; he leaped aside, and the
lance passed close to him. As it passed he struck, and the iron
point flew from the shaft of the spear at the blow, and fell
clattering upon the stone roadway of the bridge.
Baron Henry drew in his horse until it rested upon its haunches,
then slowly reined it backward down the bridge, still facing his
foe, and still holding the wooden stump of the lance in his
hand. At the bridge-head he flung it from him.
"Another lance!" he cried, hoarsely. One was silently reached to
him and he took it, his hand trembling with rage. Again he rode
to a little distance and wheeled his horse; then, driving his
steel spurs into its quivering side, he came again thundering
down upon the other. Once more the terrible sword whirled in the
air and fell, but this time the lance was snatched to one side
and the blow fell harmlessly. The next instant, and with a
twitch of the bridle-rein, the horse struck full and fair
against the man.
Conrad of Drachenhausen was whirled backward and downward, and
the cruel iron hoofs crashed over his prostrate body, as horse
and man passed with a rush beyond him and to the bridge-head
beyond. A shout went up from those who stood watching. The next
moment the prostrate figure rose and staggered blindly to the
side of the bridge, and stood leaning against the stone wall.
At the further end of the bridge Baron Henry had wheeled his
horse. Once again he couched lance, and again he drove down upon
his bruised and wounded enemy. This time the lance struck full
and fair, and those who watched saw the steel point pierce the
iron breast-plate and then snap short, leaving the barbed point
within the wound.
Baron Conrad sunk to his knees and the Roderburg, looming upon
his horse above him, unsheathed his sword to finish the work he
Then those who stood looking on saw a wondrous thing happen: the
wounded man rose suddenly to his feet, and before his enemy
could strike he leaped, with a great and bitter cry of agony and
despair, upon him as he sat in the saddle above.
Henry of Trutz-Drachen grasped at his horse's mane, but the
attack was so fierce, so sudden, and so unexpected that before
he could save himself he was dragged to one side and fell
crashing in his armor upon the stone roadway of the bridge.
"The dragon! the dragon!" roared Baron Conrad, in a voice of
thunder, and with the energy of despair he dragged his prostrate
foe toward the open side of the bridge.
"Forward !" cried the chief of the Trutz-Drachen men, and down
they rode upon the struggling knights to the rescue of their
master in this new danger. But they were too late.
There was a pause at the edge of the bridge, for Baron Henry had
gained his feet and, stunned and bewildered as he was by the
suddenness of his fall, he was now struggling fiercely,
desperately. For a moment they stood swaying backward and
forward, clasped in one another's arms, the blood from the
wounded man's breast staining the armor of both. The moment
passed and then, with a shower of stones and mortar from beneath
their iron-shod heels, they toppled and fell; there was a
thunderous splash in the water below, and as the men-at-arms
came hurrying up and peered with awe-struck faces over the
parapet of the bridge, they saw the whirling eddies sweep down
with the current of the stream, a few bubbles rise to the
surface of the water, and then - nothing; for the smooth river
flowed onward as silently as ever.
Presently a loud voice burst through the awed hush that
followed. It came from William of Roderburg, Baron Henry's
"Forward!" he cried. A murmur of voices from the others was all
the answer that he received. "Forward!" cried the young man
again, "the boy and those with him are not so far away but that
we might yet catch up with them."
Then one of the men spoke up in answer - a man with a seamed,
weather-beaten face and crisp grizzled hair. "Nay," said he,
"our Lord Baron is gone, and this is no quarrel of ours; here be
four of us that are wounded and three I misdoubt that are dead;
why should we follow further only to suffer more blows for no
gain?" A growl of assent rose from those that stood around, and
William of Roderburg saw that nothing more was to be done by the
Trutz-Dragons that day.
How Otto Saw the Great Emperor.
Through weakness and sickness and faintness, Otto had lain in a
half swoon through all that long journey under the hot May sun.
It was as in a dreadful nightmare that he had heard on and on
and on that monotonous throbbing of galloping hoofs upon the
ground; had felt that last kiss that his father had given him
upon his cheek. Then the onward ride again, until all faded away
into a dull mist and he knew no more. When next he woke it was
with the pungent smell of burned vinegar in his nostrils and
with the feeling of a cool napkin bathing his brow. He opened
his eyes and then closed them again, thinking he must have been
in a dream, for he lay in his old room at the peaceful monastery
of the White Cross on the hill; the good Father Abbot sat near
by, gazing upon his face with the old absent student look,
Brother John sat in the deep window seat also gazing at him, and
Brother Theodore, the leech of the monastery, sat beside him
bathing his head. Beside these old familiar faces were the faces
of those who had been with him in that long flight; the One-eyed
Hans, old Master Nicholas his kinsman, and the others. So he
closed his eyes, thinking that maybe it was all a dream. But the
sharp throbbing of the poor stump at his wrist soon taught him
that he was still awake.
"Am I then really home in St. Michaelsburg again? he murmured,
without unclosing his eyes.
Brother Theodore began snuffling through his nose; there was a
pause. "Yes," said the old Abbot at last, and his gentle voice
trembled as he spoke; "yes, my dear little child, thou art back
again in thine own home; thou hast not been long out in the
great world, but truly thou hast had a sharp and bitter trial of
"But they will not take me away again, will they?" said Otto
quickly, unclosing his blue eyes.
"Nay," said the Abbot, gently; "not until thou art healed in
body and art ready and willing to go."
Three months and more had passed, and Otto was well again; and
now, escorted by One-eyed Hans and those faithful few who had
clung to the Baron Conrad through his last few bitter days, he
was riding into the quaint old town of Nurnburg; for the Emperor
Rudolph was there at that time, waiting for King Ottocar of
Bohemia to come thither and answer the imperial summons before
the Council, and Otto was travelling to the court.
As they rode in through the gates of the town, Otto looked up at
the high-peaked houses with their overhanging gables, the like
of which he had never seen before, and he stared with his round
blue eyes at seeing them so crowded together along the length of
the street. But most of all he wondered at the number of people
that passed hither and thither, jostling each other in their
hurry, and at the tradesmen's booths opening upon the street
with the wonderful wares hanging within; armor at the smiths,
glittering ornaments at the goldsmiths, and rich fabrics of
silks and satins at the mercers. He had never seen anything so
rich and grand in all of his life, for little Otto had never
been in a town before.
"Oh! look," he cried, "at that wonderful lady; see, holy father!
sure the Emperor's wife can be no finer than that lady."
The Abbot smiled. "Nay, Otto," said he, "that is but a burgher's
wife or daughter; the ladies at the Emperor's court are far
grander than such as she."
"So!" said Otto, and then fell silent with wonder.
And now, at last the great moment had come when little Otto with
his own eyes was to behold the mighty Emperor who ruled over all
the powerful kingdoms of Germany and Austria, and Italy and
Bohemia, and other kingdoms and principalities and states. His
heart beat so that he could hardly speak as, for a moment, the
good Abbot who held him by the hand stopped outside of the
arrased doorway to whisper some last instructions into his ear.
Then they entered the apartment.
It was a long, stone-paved room. The floor was covered with rich
rugs and the walls were hung with woven tapestry wherein were
depicted knights and ladies in leafy gardens and kings and
warriors at battle. A long row of high glazed windows extended
along the length of the apartment, flooding it with the mellow
light of the autumn day. At the further end of the room, far
away, and standing by a great carved chimney place wherein
smouldered the remains of a fire, stood a group of nobles in
gorgeous dress of velvet and silks, and with glittering golden
chains hung about their necks.
One figure stood alone in front of the great yawning fireplace.
His hands were clasped behind him, and his look bent
thoughtfully upon the floor. He was dressed only in a simple
gray robe without ornament or adornment, a plain leathern belt
girded his waist, and from it hung a sword with a bone hilt
encased in a brown leathern scabbard. A noble stag-hound lay
close behind him, curled up upon the floor, basking in the
grateful warmth of the fire.
As the Father Abbot and Otto drew near he raised his head and
looked at them. It was a plain, homely face that Otto saw, with
a wrinkled forehead and a long mouth drawn down at the corners.
It was the face of a good, honest burgher burdened with the
cares of a prosperous trade. "Who can he be," thought Otto,
"and why does the poor man stand there among all the great
But the Abbot walked straight up to him and kneeled upon the
floor, and little Otto, full of wonder, did the same. It was the
great Emperor Rudolph.
"Who have we here " said the Emperor, and he bent his brow upon
the Abbot and the boy.
"Sire," said Abbot Otto, "we have humbly besought you by
petition, in the name of your late vassal, Baron Conrad of
Vuelph of Drachenhausen, for justice to this his son, the Baron
Otto, whom, sire, as you may see, hath been cruelly mutilated at
the hands of Baron Henry of Roderburg of Trutz-Drachen. He hath
moreover been despoiled of his lands, his castle burnt, and his
household made prisoner."
The Emperor frowned until the shaggy eyebrows nearly hid the
keen gray twinkle of the eyes beneath. "Yes," said he, "I do
remember me of that petition, and have given it consideration
both in private and in council." He turned to the group of
listening nobles. " Look," said he, "at this little child marred
by the inhumanity and the cruelty of those robber villains. By
heavens! I will put down their lawless rapine, if I have to give
every castle from the north to the south to the flames and to
the sword." Then turning to Otto again, "Poor little child,"
said he, "thy wrongs shall be righted, and so far as they are
able, those cruel Roderburgs shall pay thee penny for penny, and
grain for grain, for what thou hast lost; and until such
indemnity hath been paid the family of the man who wrought this
deed shall be held as surety."
Little Otto looked up in the kind, rugged face above him. "Nay,
Lord Emperor," said he, in his quaint, quiet way, "there are but
two in the family - the mother and the daughter - and I have
promised to marry the little girl when she and I are old enough;
so, if you please, I would not have harm happen to her."
The Emperor continued to look down at the kneeling boy, and at
last he gave a short, dry laugh. "So be it," said he, "thy plan
is not without its wisdom. Mayhap it is all for the best that
the affair should be ended thus peacefully. The estates of the
Roderburgs shall be held in trust for thee until thou art come
of age; otherwise it shall be as thou hast proposed, the little
maiden shall be taken into ward under our own care. And as to
thee - art thou willing that I should take thee under my own
charge in the room of thy father, who is dead?"
"Aye," said Otto, simply, "I am willing, for it seems to me that
thou art a good man."
The nobles who stood near smiled at the boy's speech. As for the
Emperor, he laughed outright. "I give thee thanks, my Lord
Baron," said he; "there is no one in all my court who has paid
me greater courtesy than that."
So comes the end of our tale.
But perhaps you may like to know what happened afterward, for no
one cares to leave the thread of a story without tying a knot in
Eight years had passed, and Otto grew up to manhood in the
Emperor's court, and was with him through war and peace.
But he himself never drew sword or struck a blow, for the right
hand that hung at his side was of pure silver, and the hard,
cold fingers never closed. Folks called him "Otto of the Silver
Hand," but perhaps there was another reason than that for the
name that had been given him, for the pure, simple wisdom that
the old monks of the White Cross on the hill had taught him,
clung to him through all the honors that the Emperor bestowed
upon his favorite, and as he grew older his words were listened
to and weighed by those who were high in Council, and even by
the Emperor himself.
And now for the end of all.
One day Otto stood uncertainly at the doorway of a room in the
imperial castle, hesitating before he entered; and yet there was
nothing so very dreadful within, only one poor girl whose heart
fluttered more than his. Poor little Pauline, whom he had not
seen since that last day in the black cell at Trutz-Drachen.
At last he pushed aside the hangings and entered the room.
She was sitting upon a rude bench beside the window, looking at
him out of her great, dark eyes.
He stopped short and stood for a moment confused and silent; for
he had no thought in his mind but of the little girl whom he had
last seen, and for a moment he stood confused before the fair
maiden with her great, beautiful dark eyes.
She on her part beheld a tall, slender youth with curling,
golden hair, one hand white and delicate, the other of pure and
He came to her and took her hand and set it to his lips, and all
that she could do was to gaze with her great, dark eyes upon the
hero of whom she had heard so many talk; the favorite of the
Emperor; the wise young Otto of the Silver Hand.
The ruins of Drachenhausen were rebuilt, for the walls were as
sound as ever, though empty and gaping to the sky; but it was no
longer the den of a robber baron for beneath the scutcheon over
the great gate was carved a new motto of the Vuelphs; a motto
which the Emperor Rudolph himself had given:
"Manus argentea quam manus ferrea melior est"
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