Alsatian Stories of Long Ago

Translated by C. Knapp
Treasury of Truth No. 102.
Loizeaux Brothers, Bible Truth Depot, 1 East 13th Street, New York

1. Little Mathis and the Doctor of Kaisersberg
2. The Fur Cloak
3. The Closing Days of Pastor Tell
4. Pastor John Hofer in Mulhausen


The four narratives that make up the contents of this little volume have been translated from the Spanish. It was felt from the very first, on reading them, that they were too good to remain locked in that language from those who know English only. They were doubtless written originally in German, and appear in Spanish over the name of Margaret Sporlin.

Besides their excellence as historical narratives in those momentous and most interesting times, they contain valuable moral and spiritual lessons for both old and young; in this indeed consists their chief value. They tell of God's constant care for and over His dear servants, and the power of prayer on their behalf as in the case of Pastor John Hofer. In the beautiful story of "The Fur Cloak" we see the importance of patience in tribulation, and the blessedness of letting patience have "her perfect work;" as well as "the end of the Lord, that He is very pitiful, and of tender mercy" (James 5:11). The love of these early brethren one for the other is also touchingly seen in that lovely tale; and how in their sufferings for Christ's sake and the gospel's they were drawn together in the sweet bonds of love, sympathy and fellowship.

In the learned Doctor Geiler we can see how God's spirit was at work in hearts, even in days preceding the Reformation, preparing the way by the ministry of such godly men for the more advanced teaching of Luther, soon to follow. They are as so many side-lights on the history of those momentous times, giving us delightful glimpses of the family life, personal feelings and trials of God's faithful witnesses in those days before and after the advent of the mighty Luther. May we and our children profit by the reading of these instructive records, knowing that the same afflictions and trials may at any hour come upon us that were accomplished in our brethren that were at that time in the world (1 Peter 5:9).

How sad to think that in that fair land bordering on the Rhine, where brethren once loved so ardently and battled so valiantly for the truth, their descendants should now be destroying each other in the fearful conflict raging about the very places mentioned in our stories.

May God hasten the day when Christ the Lord shall come and bring peace, not only to poor war-torn Alsace, but throughout this whole sin-cursed, groaning world. Amen.
C. Knapp.
March, 1916

1. Little Mathis and the Doctor of Kaisersberg

In the year of grace, 1480, the last Saturday in Lent, the inhabitants of the little town of Kaisersberg in Alsace were in a state of unusual agitation. John Geiler, called "the Doctor of Kaisersberg," the most popular preacher of the cathedral of the free city of Strassburg, was coming, after many years of absence, to visit his native city, accompanied by his friend Sebastian Brandt, professor of law at Basle, and well-known as the author of "The Ship of Fools" — a burlesque poem reviewing all the extravagances of the time. Geiler was going to entertain him in the paternal home where, as an orphan from his third year, he had received from his pious grandmother his first Christian impressions. The following day he was to preach in the church of Kaisersberg, and great and small, relations and friends, rejoiced at the opportunity of hearing the illustrious Doctor, whom the city of Strassburg was proud to own as one of her sons.*
{* John Geiler, born in Schaffhausen in 1445, came in his infancy to Alsace, where his father settled in Ammerswihr as a notary. In 1448 his father died, and the child was educated in Kaisersberg by his grandparents.}

In the house in which she was born, lived his mother's niece, the lady Magdalene, married to the honorable Anselm, the imperial notary in Kaisersberg. The worthy dame having the unexpected honor of receiving into her house this venerated guest, was exceedingly busy. The guest-chamber had been ventilated and warmed, and the bed with its wide crimson curtains had been made up with sheets as white as snow. Facing the bed, the life-sized portraits of the Doctor's grandparents seemed to look affectionately down on the place reserved for him, as if they still wished to bless and smile upon the man who had fulfilled the expectations placed in him from his childhood.

In the dining hall the lady Magdalene was spreading her best damask cloth over the great oaken table polished with the use of centuries. On this, in the place of honor, she placed a silver mug engraved with the family arms, while her husband went to a hidden recess of the cellar to look for some bottles of the very best wine, almost as old as himself, to be poured into pewter goblets, polished till they shone like silver.

Before the kitchen fire the old servant Martha was gravely bending over her serious task of watching to see when the sponge of the Lenten cakes should rise; they were prepared for her beloved Doctor who used to be so fond of them in the days long past; for Martha had served in the home of his grandmother when the young student set out for the university of Freiburg, and she had the great satisfaction of having predicted to all who would hear her, that some day a great man would come from that child whom she so dearly loved.

The weather was beautiful, the sun smiled in the heavens, a cool refreshing breeze blew through the valley, and the roads were as dry as in midsummer. The first citizens of the city, were gathered before the house of the honorable Anselm to offer to the Doctor, on his descent from his carriage, the wine of honor from a cup of gold. The younger ones had gone in cavalcade before him, while others placed themselves at the gate of the city, beyond the drawbridge, to await his arrival.

In the midst of this noisy scene, and at this gate of entry, poor blind Fridli found himself, with his black dog, the faithful companion which never left him. Fridli was barely twenty years old; he was thin and wiry, but the pockmarks which covered his face disfigured him horribly. He was born in Breisgau, where his first employment was as a cowherd. But attacked with the smallpox he was left blind; and now, guided by his dog and carrying a violin which some compassionate friends had given him, he went from town to town begging alms. Gifted with a melodious voice, he tried to excite compassion in the hearts of passers-by, singing popular ballads and songs of the day. Knowing that the Doctor of Kaisersberg was going to his native city to preach, he had turned his steps in that direction, led by his dog, and hoped to collect at the door of the church an abundance of alms.

But instead of the great collection he was counting on, poor Fridli found nothing but disappointment and misfortune. His face, all spotted with pock-marks, brought upon him coarse jests rather than sympathy. While trying to please his listeners with his merriest songs, the poor musician felt more like weeping, for not a farthing was cast into his beggar's bag, though his faithful dog, seated on his haunches, with his master's cap between his teeth, was imploring the charity of passers-by with a look of supplication that should have softened even a heart of stone.

Suddenly a cry was heard: "Here is the Doctor's coach!" The multitude immediately dispersed, thinking no more of the poor blind man than if he had never been. Fridli would gladly have followed them and attempted to get near to the good and great man who was praised so much for his kindness to the poor. But, alas, on attempting to rise he discovered that some wicked boy had cut the string that united him to his faithful guide. The dog, instead of taking advantage of his liberty, took hold of his master's trousers to lead him as best he might. The blind man could not see the peril before him, and there being no one to warn him, stumbled, and fell into the moat, and badly wounded his leg. He gave one cry of pain, then lay at the bottom of the foss with no one to help him out.

But, thank God, little Mathis, son of the lady Magdalene, who had been attracted there by the occasion, herd that cry of pain, and came to see what it was. Seeing the poor beggar fallen at the bottom of the moat, he went to the help of Fridli. With his aid, the blind man was able to raise himself, but so painful was his leg that he was unable to walk. What was to be done? The street, that a few moments ago was filled with people, was now deserted, and little Mathis remained alone with the wounded beggar. Then he remembered that not far from there lived his kind godmother Ursula. "Wait a bit," he said to the blind man, "I'm going for help," and he started to run as fast as his little legs were capable. Frau Ursula had a godchild in almost every street of the city, so that young and old used to call her "godmother," as if she had no other mission in this world than to stand for children at their baptism.

Frau Ursula was the youngest daughter of the Doctor's grandparents — his aunt therefore. She had seen him from his birth, and had cared for him with the tenderness of the mother whom he had lost. The good woman divided half her income between the church and the poor, to whom she distributed bread and soup twice a week. Little by little she had aged, and the love for order and cleanliness which had been a virtue in the youthful Ursula became a dominating passion. Anything that changed the routine of her ordinary life made her unhappy. Only little Mathis, her favorite, had the privilege of sometimes persuading her to depart from her inveterate customs.

But to-day, wonderful to tell, she and her house were in festivity. She was coming up from the cellar where she had been to get a bottle of a special kind of cider that no one knew how to make so well as she, to celebrate the welcome of her nephew, when the child Mathis rushed breathless into her room.

"Well, now," said the good Ursula, brushing back the dishevelled hair from the child's eyes, and wiping the perspiration from his heated brow, "I am sure you must have had another one of your adventures, little rogue. Some of these times you will do something to hurt yourself, I'm afraid."

"Godmother," replied the child, "just think of it! They have cut the cord that a poor blind man had tied to his dog to lead him, and he has fallen into the moat and hurt his foot badly!"

"Poor man I who could have had such a wicked thought as to do this? Conrad must go and carry him another cord and an alms," said Frau Ursula.

"But, godmother, this would do him no good; his foot hurts him so much that he can hardly bear it. Conrad should put him in the handcart and bring him here for you to bandage his foot and cure him."

"Are you in your senses, Mathis? Do you want my house converted into a hospital?"

"But see, godmother," said the child, "it is getting dark; the night will be very cold, and poor Fridli cannot lay all night on the bank of the foss with such a foot. Oh, you must send for him."

"And after he is here and I have bandaged his foot, what will we do with him?"

"We can have straw put in the granary and he can lie on that, and we can keep him here till he is well."

"Why, child I you know very well that that is impossible," said Ursula, astonished. "You would not have me receive into my house a blind vagabond?"

"Oh do, godmother! I know that you will receive him," said Mathis in his most affectionate voice. "You are so good and kind; and you know if you receive him for the love of God you will get your reward from God."

And at once, taking his request for granted, and without waiting for an answer, he ran toward the granary in search of his good friend Conrad. Little Mathis and the old servant pushing the handcart disappeared before poor Ursula had time to gather enough decision to say No. Strangely confused she walked back and forth mechanically in the yard before the back door of the house, grumbling beneath her breath, more angry at herself than with her little favorite. "That little rogue does with me just as he likes," she said to herself.

Ursula had a really kind heart, but to receive a beggar, undoubtedly full of vermin and misery, in her granary so clean and orderly, and herself to bandage his wounded foot in her holiday dress, this was more than she could reconcile herself to. It is true, her conscience inwardly told her what she was bound to do, and to quiet its importunate voice she resolved to spend a gulden or more to have the Sisters of Charity or the Hospitaller Brothers care for the wounded beggar.*
{* The Hospitaller Brothers, or Lollards, were called by the people of Alsace "the Smallpox Brothers" because they were the ones who usually cared for those attacked by this then greatly dreaded malady. The Sisters of Charity were women, who without taking vows like the nuns, lived in communities, and often cared for the sick.}

Meanwhile, the cart was returning with poor Fridli, drawn by the strong arms of old Conrad, and Mathis with the water spaniel formed the rearguard. At the same moment a messenger arrived from the lady Magdalene announcing that the Reverend Doctor requested the presence of his Aunt Ursula. The poor godmother, wavering between the conflicting emotions of distress and joy, pleasure and obligation, knew not to what saint to commend herself. But the wounded man was there and must be taken in; the Doctor could wait better than he. The unpleasant medicine had to be taken, as they say, and there was nothing to do but to put the beggar in the granary on a shake-down of straw.

Now, stretched on a bed begrudged him a while ago, with a burning fever and tears streaming down his face, poor Fridli was crying: "Oh, mother, mother, if I could only be at thy side." Sympathetic tears also filled the eyes of the kind-hearted Ursula. She forgot for the moment the upsetting of things in her well-kept granary, and bending over the blind musician spoke to him a few words of consolation. She examined his swollen foot without troubling herself to know if it had ever been washed, and applied a compress of wine and aromatic herbs. After attending to all his necessities and covering him with a well-warmed cloak, she commended him to the care of old Conrad, and taking Mathis by the hand, went hastily toward the house where the Doctor was awaiting her, as if she had become twenty years younger.

As she went along she was anxiously asking herself in what tone she should speak to her illustrious nephew; should she address him in the second person and by his familiar name of Hans as before? The old name would come to her tongue, though it certainly would be very unbecoming to her, she thought, with a man so wise, the anointed of the Lord, and one that had so honored the family. On the other hand, to call him "Reverend Doctor," or "Sir Doctor," or "Reverend Sir," none of these honorable titles came spontaneously to her lips. He was to her still the same little Hans, scarcely three years old (she could remember it as if it had been but yesterday), that she had gone to bring from Ammerswihr, where his father had lost his life in a bear hunt. She had promised his dying mother to care for him as if he were her own child, and God knows she had fulfilled her promise.

Old Martha met her on the steps, full of joy, to tell her that even though the "Sir Doctor" was undoubtedly a very pious and wise man, equal to any bishop, he was just as in the days of old, the same good light-hearted Hans. He had recognized her at first sight, and taking her hand in a familiar friendly way, asked her if she still knew how to make such good cakes as when his grandmother was living and when he set out for the university to make his way in the world.

The good Ursula, a little recovered from her misgivings, and with a heart somewhat less fearful, yet not without making a profound bow, entered the dining hall. The Doctor, as soon as he saw her, ran to meet her, embraced her, and said with a tender naturalness, "A thousand times welcome, my good aunt; I was really hungering to see you once more. But the world is upside down to-day — the older ones trouble themselves to come to see the young. I would have wished to come to see you, to salute you, as was my obligation, but Magdalene assured me that you would be better pleased to have me await you here."

"Indeed, Sir Doctor, it would have been too great an honor for me and my poor house," sobbed poor Ursula, so surprised at her reception that all her plans in reference to what she should say and do were entirely forgotten and upset.

"Come now, my good aunt! Am I not just your nephew Hans, as in the good old times? — the same that you loved so tenderly from the day of his birth? Leave off this 'Sir Doctor,' then, and all ceremony in this day of rejoicing in which the goodness of God permits us to see each other again after so many years of separation." And, so saying, he conducted her to the seat of honor at the table that had been reserved for her, adding that it was hers by right because it used to belong to her mother. He then presented his traveling companion, Sebastian Brandt, adding with a mischievous smile: "Now, my good aunt, do not scold me if I have offered to my friend a bed for to-night in your house — the asylum of perfect order."

The poor godmother was dumbfounded at these words — before, a blind beggar in her granary, and now a wise Doctor under her roof! — and all without warning or preparation of any kind

But the lady Magdalene who saw her confusion, and pitied her, managed to whisper in her ear not to worry; she had only to give her the keys, and she would send her old servant Martha to make up the bed for the unexpected guest whom God had sent them.

It was now the turn of little Mathis to be presented to the illustrious Doctor. He took him in his arms, lifted him to the height of his head to imprint on his forehead a warm kiss. Then, following the custom of those times, ordered the child to eat his bread and milk, and go to bed at six, instead of staying up for the family banquet.

As for the good Doctor he could not contain himself for joy at finding himself again in the midst of his old and beloved friends, where nothing had changed, not even the old armchair, stuffed with horse-hair, where his grandmother used to sit, and where she had so often prayed with him and told him so many beautiful stories, whose memory after so many years still lived in his remembrance.

"Do you remember, dear aunty," he said suddenly, "that one beautiful day your nephew (who then must have been about fifteen), at carnival time, as now, was dying with desire to go to a masquerade? And you too, though even then no more a child, would have been pleased to have gone with me: and then Grandmother told us a dream she had had …' "Oh, yes," interrupted Ursula "a reaper with a scythe appeared to her in the night."

"That is," continued the Doctor, "the man of her dream was God's great reaper, Death. And Grandmother received him very coldly and said to him, Friend, go along; try some more convenient time. Just now we have other things to do than to think about you. As in the days of Noah, we are eating and drinking and making merry. We masquerade, and are in very deed carnival-crazy. Rather come on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.' But the reaper answered: 'All times are suitable to me, and I must reap without resting till the end of the world. Woe to the one that I surprise in the midst of the world's foolish pleasures I Be warned, and think of your end that cannot be far off; you do not know if you will be alive on Ash Wednesday.' 'Children,' said Grandmother to us then, do not forget my dream, and go nowhere where the reaper can frighten you by coming upon you unawares; for we, the old, must die; but you, though young, may quickly follow us, and Death may come when you least think it.' And that night we stayed at home. Don't you remember, my good aunt Ursula? We did not go out for fear of death. And in later life when the fiercest temptations have come to me, when my companions tried to draw me into evil, Grandmother's dream has frequently come to my mind and preserved me from many follies."

"Yes," answered Ursula, with a deep sigh, "Sooner or later we must all come to that; we must die. But when one, like myself, has passed sixty, ah! it seems as if you could see before you all the time that fearful spectre, making such horrible gestures that my heart is oppressed whenever I think of it."

"Dear aunt, a good Christian was one day asked what country he belonged to, and pointing toward heaven he answered, 'That is my fatherland.' And we are poor fools to think that we are going to stay in this world of a day, and so forget the other."

"For myself," said the godmother, "I have bought of a Dominican friar just come from Rome, for a gold florin, a full indulgence for all my sins, past, present and future."

"You should also have bought of your Dominican a good stock of repentance, for without it, my poor Ursula, your indulgence is not worth a florin, nor even a farthing."

A slight smile played over the face of Brandt while this conversation was going on, while Anselm and his wife appeared astonished at what they heard, and Ursula was gazing at the Doctor with frightened eyes. Then he took her hand and asked kindly, "I ask you to tell me, my dear aunt, has your indulgence even delivered you from the fear of death?"

"Alas! no, Sir Doctor — my beloved Hans, I wish to say — absolutely, no; and he that can tell me what I must do to be free from this fear will take a heavy weight off my breast," said the godmother very humbly and with her eyes filled with tears.

"You have brought me a bottle of excellent cider, my beloved Ursula, to refresh and fortify me during Lent, when my stomach so troubles me. But suppose you had brought me an empty bottle, would it then be possible for me to refresh myself?"

"Of course not, nephew Hans. Had I done this I would have mocked you."

"And yet you would treat our Lord God as you would never think of treating a poor sinful man! You act with your paper indulgence as if offering me an empty bottle; which would be as worthless for my weak stomach as your Dominican's paper for your sin-sick soul! You cannot drink from it the saving elixir of eternal life."

"What then must I do, nephew Hans?"

"What must you do? Sincerely repent, confess your sinfulness to God, and say day and night from the bottom of your heart, Forgive me my sins, and for the sake of Thy Son Jesus Christ receive me into Thy favor.' If you do this, God will put into your heart the assurance of forgiveness and take away from you the fear of death forever. What does the prophet Isaiah say? — 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that has no money, come ye, buy and eat yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.' Without money, do you hear, Ursula? — by the free gift of grace. The Lord will have nothing to do with your gold florin. What He asks of you is a penitent heart that sighs for pardon. And this offering, thanks be to God, the poorest is sufficiently rich to make."

"Why has no one ever said anything of this to me before?" sighed the poor godmother.

"Give me your hand, Sir Doctor," exclaimed the honorable Anselm. "It has filled my heart to hear you attack in this way that shameful traffic, and to say without hesitation that it is not with money that sins are put away. The priests and friars cannot and would not dare to contradict it."

The Doctor warmly pressed the hand stretched out to him. "What is necessary above all other things to remember, beloved cousin," he continued gravely, "is that the only thing that can cleanse our sins is the blood of Jesus Christ. It is by forgetting this that the poor church of Christ has lost so much, and her divine services have degenerated into a vain comedy. Do you know what was going on in my cathedral at Strassburg when I went to preach there the first time? The nobles came to church with their dogs and falcons, and got up from time to time to amuse themselves during divine service. The people of the town talked of their business while mass was being said, as if they were at a fair. They drove the pigs to market through the church, and by their grunting they obliged the priest to stop in the middle of the mass. On Holy Innocents' Day, a child dressed as a bishop celebrated the service and they had masquerade processions and representations of comedies and sang profane songs. The sacred place was given up to scandal to the utmost limit. Men and women passed the night there intoxicated, in the midst of singing, dancing and the most obscene jests. The great altar was used as a banquet table, and in the chapel of Saint Catherine barrels of wine flowed freely, and merriment was everywhere. Every time I set eyes on this sad spectacle it seemed I heard the voice of the Lord bursting upon me, "My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves" (Mark 11: 17).

Brandt, on his part, seconding heartily what his friend had said, painted with his satirical imagination the disorderly lives of the clergy, the pride and covetousness of the bishops, the ignorance of the priests, the laxity of their conduct and the scandal of the monasteries. Finally, Anselm and he agreed to stir up the Doctor, and all good Catholics with him, to insist before the Pope and the Emperor upon the urgent need of a reform in the church.

"Beloved friends," said Geiler with a smile, "Every time that I have proposed to my superiors to rid our church of this plague, neither Pope nor bishops have given any sign of understanding me, and all has continued as before."

"Doctor," said Sebastian Brandt, "God has given you an important task, and you must not shrink from it. You, the confessor of his grace the bishop, the favorite of the populace; you, for whom the town councillors have made a beautiful sculptured stone pulpit in the cathedral; you, who stand so well in court with the Pope and the Emperor, you are evidently designed by God to bring about the great work of reforming the church."

"I much doubt it, friend Sebastian; but in some way or other it must be done; things cannot go on much longer as they are in our afflicted Christendom. And since the Pope, the Emperor and the kings refuse to reform this condition, which is without God, without law and without piety, the Bishop of bishops, and King of kings, Jesus Christ, will have pity on His fallen church, and will send her a reformer who shall fulfil that work better than I can; and I shall consider myself happy to have prepared him the way. A voice within tells me I shall not see that lovely day; but if you, beloved friends, see its dawn, remember at least that I have announced it, standing like Moses on the threshold of the promised land."

"Alas!" replied Brandt, "the bark of Saint Peter is being beaten by the waves, and I fear may make shipwreck. She is being driven hither and thither by storms, and she no longer has Jesus Christ for her pilot. Let us do our best, therefore, beloved Doctor, so that in the great day of harvest we may not be found as unprofitable servants who have hidden our talent in the earth. One must plant and sow, and another water, and the Lord will give the increase."

So the conversation went on between the three men, while the women listened, approving what was said by both gesture and look. It was getting late, and as the doctor had to prepare his sermon for the next day, the conversation ended, to the great regret of the two women who would have listened much longer with pleasure. Brandt escorted his hostess to her house, and knew so well how to entertain her on the way, thanks to his good humor, that she forgot all about the blind beggar, as well as her worry as to the care of her honorable guest — as much desired now as before it had been feared.

Little Mathis, after sleeping soundly the whole night through, awoke very happy, as though the angels of heaven had kept their guardian watch at his bedside. The honorable Anselm had invited to dinner some of the notables of Kaisersburg to do honor to his learned cousin, and the child was sent to spend the day at the house of his godmother where he amused himself to the full; for nowhere, not even with his mother, was he so well cared for as with the good Ursula. Besides he had promised poor Fridli the evening before to make him a visit and bring him the bun and butter which was always given him on Sunday mornings. So when our little friend set out in his holiday clothes, with his bun in his pocket, his velvet cap jauntily set over his chestnut curls, and his cheeks fresh and crimson with the crisp morning air, some one remarked as he passed: "That child is indeed a jewel."

But, meantime, hapless Fridli, stretched on his bed of straw, was fighting against God; his inward darkness becoming more and more dense. He knew not, for no one had ever troubled to teach it him, that God does not afflict the children of men for His own pleasure, but chastens them as a father his children for their own profit and ultimate good. In other days, Fridli had been useful in minding cattle; being intelligent and industrious he was able to earn his own living easily; and he had become proud. What I you say, pride in a cowherd? And why not? The cowherd has his pride just the same as a king has his. So when the hospitaller brother who attended him in his sickness told, him he would be blind for life, poor Fridli rebelled against God's dispensation which seemed to him as hard as it was unmerited. Afterwards, when crossing a bridge he heard the water flowing beneath, he would have cast himself into the river, and so put an end to his miserable life, had not his good mother's image presented itself before him as if to say, as she had said when bidding him farewell: "Fridli, always be good and pious, and do not forget to pray to God that He may be with you."

And now the poor wounded fellow felt an inexpressible longing for that faithful mother, whose heart beat with love for him far away in her hut in the Black Forest; but he would not return to her with empty hands. His father was dead; he was the eldest of his six brothers, and the mother did not always have sufficient to feed them: it was for this reason that Fridli added farthing to farthing, and lived on nothing but black hard bread that he might soon return to his mother with the little hoard he had saved. And it was not so much for the hoped-for collection that he had come to Kaisersburg as to tell his sad story to Doctor Geiler, and ask his help; for it was a popular saying that no one cared more compassionately for the poor and unfortunate than the good Doctor.

And now poor Fridli was lying there in trouble, blind and lame for the time being; for there had neither been alms at the church door nor visit at the charitable Doctor's; and, above all, the poor child of misfortune was unable to return to his mother. "Oh, that I might die now!" he had exclaimed repeatedly during that long and sorrowful night.

When at last it dawned, and the first rays of the sun penetrated the gloomy court in which he lay, the poor blind man, embittered against God and hopeless as to his destiny, continued overcome with his desperate grief. In vain did his faithful dog come and lick his face and hands, though repulsed by his master; and when the good Conrad came to offer him a cup of hot milk for his breakfast, Fridli answered him with bitterness that he did not wish either to eat or to drink, and that he wished he might be in the deepest part of the river's bottom.

"No, Fridli, you must not talk so, for it is a sin," said little Mathis, who entered the granary just in time to hear poor Fridli's speech. "It would have been better to have left him to pass the night in the foss if he has no better appreciation of the kindness shown him," murmured Conrad, while offering him a second time the cup of milk. But our little friend Mathis took it from his hands and handed it to Fridli with his buttered bun. He persuaded him to take it with such tact, at the same time saying a few kind words to his good dog, that the poor beggar, revived by the child's sympathy as if by a ray of sunshine, seemed for a time to forget his sorrows, and received from his hand all that was offered him. He found it delicious, and compared the cup of milk to that which his mother used to bring to his bedside each morning when he was a little child. Better feelings were aroused in the heart of the poor blind man by these sweet recollections of mother and home, and he answered readily the sympathetic questions put to him by his little friend, and ended by opening his heart to him completely. He talked to him of his tender mother, of the fine cows he used to mind when he had his sight, of the cruel pox that had caused his blindness, the deep darkness that had ever since shrouded him, and his hopelessness at finding himself sightless for life! Then he spoke of his great desire to return to his own country to be with his beloved mother, and of his great disappointment at having come to Kaisersburg for nothing, unable either to beg at the door of the church or speak to the good Doctor Geiler. With this long story, interrupted by the simple questions of the child, Mathis, it seemed as if a heavy load was taken from Fridli's breast; without knowing how or why he felt less unhappy by finding ears to listen and a heart to sympathize with him in his misfortunes.

Conrad, who was coming and going during the conversation, interested himself so much in the poor fellow's case that without saying anything he went to get his own pillow for the beggar's use. In spite of the solemnity of the day he came near forgetting to prepare himself for church. As to Mathis, while hearing this tale of misfortune and sorrow, his eyes shone like sparkling rubies. "Don't worry, Fridli," he said, after a while, "I am going to ask my good cousin this evening to come and see you and to have you taken to your mother's house." And then, calling the dog after him, he ran toward the house where his godmother and her guest were at breakfast.

Ordinarily the dog did not like boys; he would growl and bark when he saw one coming near; but at the call of Mathis he followed him as if he had fullest confidence in his friendship, and they both went running into the house of godmother Ursula.

"Down, down!" cried the startled godmother. "And you, Mathis, drive out that horrible animal at once!" And then, thinking of her honorable guest, she said apologetically, "I beg of you to pardon this spoiled child, Sir Doctor."

So saying, she rose up quickly, opened the door, and tried to drive out the dog that was hiding behind Mathis, who was doing his best to protect him.

"Oh, godmother, godmother, please do not put him out," said the child in his most appealing voice. "I need him, for to-day I must beg at the door of the church for our poor blind man. Oh, do let me, dearest godmother!" he said, rubbing the frightened dog's head with his little hands.

The good Ursula, already beside herself at the sudden entrance of the dog, all covered with mud, into her room shining with cleanness, lost her head completely at the strange proposal of her godchild. She fixed her startled eyes on him, not being entirely certain if she had heard correctly or whether she was asleep or awake. The situation was comical in the extreme, and Brandt, who was a mute witness to it all, could not suppress a smile.

This was enough to renew Mathis' courage; he took his godmother by the hand, and leading her back to the seat from which she had risen, repeated with sweet insistency his petition. "Surely you will let me, will you not, my dearest godmother? The blind man's dog looks as if he knew we must do so." Then, making the intelligent spaniel sit on his haunches, he placed his velvet cap between his teeth, and made him give Ursula a demonstration of his talent for begging. Then, with the eloquence of a compassionate heart, he told her of Fridli's despair, his ardent desire to return to his mother, and how the idea came to him to beg at the door of the church, so that the poor blind beggar might not lose the collection he had counted on getting. All this was said so feelingly and with such grace that more than once, as they listened to him, Brandt and Ursula felt the tears coming to their eyes.

"Yes," said the godmother to Brandt, after a moment's silence, "such a child he is! He cannot see an unfortunate without his heart being moved he would give the last drop of his blood to protect him."

"Oh, cultivate carefully the treasure of a tender heart, madam," said Brandt, "for it is of more value than all the riches of earth. And as for thee, little man," he said, turning to Mathis, "it is not your work to beg at a church door, nor must you take the beggar-man's dog with you, for you both would disturb the services of God. I promise to arrange to-day with the Doctor to see that poor Fridli is helped."

Deep down in his heart, Mathis was sorry not to be able to carry out his plan of imploring the pity of the church-goers, assisted by the eloquent pantomime of the dog, for he thought the hardest heart would not be able to resist such an appealing demonstration; but he was accustomed to obey. So he quietly returned the dog to his owner, telling him what the Doctor Brandt had offered to do for him, filling the heart of the poor sufferer with the balm of consolation.

All the bells of the city now began to ring, calling the people to worship. Ursula took her favorite by the hand, and, accompanied by Sebastian Brandt, they set out for the cathedral.

The services, from beginning to end, were most edifying. The Doctor saw with great satisfaction that there were neither masquerades nor buffoonery; everyone was decently dressed, and their deportment corresponded with their clothing. The monks and nuns were there from their cloisters, and also the nobles from the neighboring castles. The castle ladies did not come dressed in their usual glittering elegance, for, no doubt, they feared the bold preacher might apostrophize them from the pulpit as he had done more than once in Strassburg.

This day Geiler took for his text that verse in St. Matthew, chapter 25 verse 40: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me." He spoke of the origin of Lent, how it had been instituted in memory of the Lord's forty days' fast in the wilderness, before He began His life of service and work of redemption. He then set before them how the early Christians fasted, giving to the poor half of the money set apart for their ordinary daily bread, and contenting themselves with the simplest kind of food. He invited his audience to practise the same kind of fasting, sanctifying it with deeds of charity, and exhorted them in a most affectionate manner to love, to visit, and succor Jesus Christ in the person of His poor, quoting those touching words of the Saviour: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

"The Lord," he continued, "did not command us to build convents and churches, and leave neglected the poor whom He thought worthy to call His brethren. Has He not told us in the Bible what He will say in the great day of judgment: 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.' And He will not add: Because ye have founded convents and built churches,' but: 'I was hungry, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me.' I do not wish to say that there is any evil in building churches, no, for these are necessary; while this may be done, the other should not be left undone, for the first and greatest commandment of all is love."

The sermon over, the good godmother, leading little Mathis by the hand, returned to her house very thoughtful, and with wounded heart, for it seemed to her as if the Doctor had preached only for her. So, once at home, her first act was to visit Fridli. She carefully dressed his wounded foot, telling him not to worry about anything for she would care for him with all pleasure until he was able to walk again. At midday she sent him from her table a part of the dinner, with a cup of good wine to refresh him. Conrad, who at any other time might have been jealous of him, looked upon this as very proper, for he also had received in his heart the sermon of Geiler.

In Kaisersburg, as with one voice, it was said, Never had they heard anyone preach like the Doctor. His words, solemn yet inspiriting, had found a way to every heart. Many good resolutions were made, and many of his hearers had resolved henceforth to share of their abundance and even of their necessities with the poor. Those invited to the table of Anselm were also of the same mind, and all, on saying good-bye to the revered Doctor, promised with a warm pressure of his hand to do everything they could, that the poor in his native city should no more languish in forgetfulness and neglect.

In the evening the Doctor went to visit his aunt Ursula. On the way Brandt related to him the story of poor Fridli, and how little Mathis had taken such a compassionate interest in him that he wanted to beg for him at the church door. The Doctor was charmed with the story — "a living illustration of my sermon," he said. So when he arrived at the house of Ursula his first question was: "Where is the child?" and the next, "How is poor Fridli?"

"He is much better," answered Ursula; "his foot does not pain him so much, and I wish him to remain here with me until he is completely cured. I myself will dress his wound and see to his wants. As for Mathis, he is playing with his companions."

"What procession of children is this?" asked Brandt who was looking out of the window.

"Well! it is our Mathis," exclaimed Ursula, recognizing her godson in the midst of a crowd of boys whom he appeared to be directing. And sure enough, two by two, and in perfect order, came the boys of the district, headed by Mathis, who with a white tunic over his other clothes and a little bell in his hand was directing the march towards the granary where Fridli was lying. "It is a sight worth seeing," said Brandt and the Doctor at the same time; and going down with Ursula, they placed themselves quietly behind the door where they could see without being seen.

Mathis had not given up his project of begging alms for the blind man without regret; so, in view of helping poor Fridli, he had gone from door to door to gather all his companions, and brought them to his godmother's house to visit the wounded beggar. To him, as the doctor had said from the pulpit, this blind man lying in the straw of the granary was as our Lord Jesus Christ personally. Each one of them there.. fore should succor him with his lunch or with the money that he might have gathered for the carnival.

Carried away by the novelty of the adventure, all these excited and turbulent boys had followed the little missionary with great enthusiasm, carrying their various offerings to him. It was certainly a lovely sight to see all those children, with Mathis at their head, approach the straw bed of blind Fridli. At the foot of it, sitting on his hind-quarters, was the dog with the cap in his mouth, making mute appeals with his supplicating look, while each one of the boys came in silence to deposit his apple, his nuts, or his cake before Fridli, and to drop into the cap held by his dog their two farthings, and some their half-francs. Meantime the good Conrad, overcome with surprise, viewed the scene with pious awe.

When the last of the children had deposited his offering, they all formed in a circle around Mathis, and he, setting the bell on the floor, clasped his little hands in prayer to God, and in joyful accents said this simple prayer: "My Lord Jesus Christ, make this poor blind man see, I pray Thee; cure his foot, and take him back to his dear mother; and when we meet Thee in heaven, Thou wilt say to us, as my cousin, the Doctor Geiler, has promised us today, All that you have given Fridli, you have given it to Me. Amen."

The Doctor, profoundly moved, advanced towards the circle formed by the children, all dumb and somewhat frightened by his sudden appearance, and said, as if moved by a spirit of prophecy: "Have faith, beloved child, and you also some day shall become great."*
{* These were the very words spoken by John Geiler to little Mathis Zell, who was afterwards the reformer of Alsace. We shall meet him again in the next two narratives as Matthew Tell — the more usual form of his name.}

"As great as you, Sir Doctor?" asked the child, fixing his eyes on the imposing figure of Doctor Geiler.

"Yes, it is true," said the Doctor, greatly affected, and pressing the child to his heart, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." Then, seeing that the eyes of all were fixed upon him, he told them how our Lord Jesus Christ in His journey through this world had loved the little children, that He had called them to Him to bless them, and that they, in return for His love, should be always kind to the sick and the poor.

Here the sermon was interrupted by little Samson Hiller who was hidden away, weeping bitterly, behind the granary door.

"Why are you crying so, my child?" asked Brandt, approaching him.

"Oh," said Samson, sobbing still more deeply, "our Lord Jesus Christ cannot love me because I am so bad, and I shall surely go to the pit."

"What have you done, my child?"

Samson was pale as death; and with sorrow and shame he said, "Mathis will tell you."

Mathis at first refused to tell anything; but pressed by the Doctor and by Samson himself, who said, "Tell all you know; they will punish me, and then I shall have rest," Mathis twined his little arms about the Doctor's neck, and whispered in his ear, "He is the one that cut the blind man's cord yesterday, and is to blame for his falling into the ditch."

"This is surely a very bad deed," said Geiler; "but is it not true, Samson, that at the time you did not think what your action might lead to? Had you known what it was going to cost the poor blind man you would not have cut his cord."

The child, shaking his head sadly, hid his face in his hands and sobbed with sorrow and shame: "I did it purposely to make him fall," he cried; "and I laughed when he stumbled into the foss. I deserve to be badly punished."

"Truly, these children teach us lessons," said the doctor to Brandt. "Never in my life have I seen such sincere repentance." Then turning to Samson, who was still weeping, he said tenderly; "Be comforted, my child. Your guilt is forgiven for Christ's sake who bore it on the cross."

"Did He, Sir Doctor?" asked Samson.

"As sure as the angels are now rejoicing to see you repent and condemn yourself, my son. But there is one thing you have yet to do — go and ask pardon of Fridli. For surely, our God who knows how to bring good out of evil has made this accident a means of blessing to him also. What do you think of this, my good Fridli? I am sure that you are not sorry now that you fell into the foss."

Poor Fridli, abashed to find himself surrounded by such visitors and the object of so much kindness and solicitude, could hardly murmur a few broken words in response. Samson, kneeling by his side, took his hand, and said in tones of supplication: "Oh, Fridli, forgive me; I am so sorry for what I did to you. I shall never forget it while I live."

"Fridli," said the Doctor, "start the hymn, 'Great God, we bless Thee.'"

Well pleased at the honor shown him, Fridli began the hymn with his melodious voice, and the good Ursula and the two learned friends uniting with the clear voices of the children, gave full expression to the feelings that filled their hearts. During the singing of the hymn Mathis stood holding the hand of blind Fridli, his beautiful eyes fixed upon him with a look of tender sympathy. Samson, on the other hand, fixed his eyes, wet with tears, steadily on the ground.

Brandt was looking at the two children with considerable interest; and when the hymn ceased he asked the Doctor: "What do you think will come, some day, of these two children?"

"God only knows," responded Geiler, "but His hand is on them at any rate."

The children withdrew, but the Doctor remained with the blind man to hear his lengthy story, and to console him and offer him his assistance. A great change had come over Fridli since that morning; deeply thankful he was for all the goodness that had been shown him — but to remain blind all his life! This was more than he could bear to think of; and his last words after the Doctor's kind conversation with him were, "But why should I be blind?"

"Listen, Fridli. To your Why, I can give no answer, except that God wills it. To be resigned to His will in all the evils that may come upon us, this is the secret of happiness both for this life and that which is to come."

Did the good Doctor succeed in causing the light of heaven to shine in Fridli's soul? This we cannot be sure of now; but we do know that the visit of the Doctor left him more peaceful and somewhat consoled.

The poor fellow remained in the house of the charitable Ursula until Easter, and more than once his sick bed was made pleasant by the visits of Mathis and his friend Samson Hiller. Brandt, who had come to Kaisersburg for the Easter holidays, took poor Fridli with him when he went away, and had him sent to his mother in the Black Forest.

Doctor Geiler continued laboring and preaching in Strassburg for thirty years with great blessing. He firmly refused all the brilliant posts offered him in Augsburg, Basle and Freiburg, and remained true to his beloved Alsace. He was the favorite of the good Emperor Maximilian I., who often came to Strassburg to hear him. He urged the Emperor to prohibit the torture, and succeeded at least in having prisoners treated more humanely and in permitting them to receive spiritual ministrations, which before that, according to ancient custom, criminals had been denied. By his influence Sebastian Brandt, the famous poet of "The Ship of Fools," was appointed to the post of chancellor of his native Strassburg in 1500, where he continued till his death in 1521. With his friend Geiler he was enabled to found various establishments for the care of the poor, the sick, and the friendless in Strassburg.

Geiler died in 1510 in the 64th year of his life, mourned by all, and especially by the poor. The spirit of his sermons which are left us bear testimony that he was a faithful servant of God, and a zealous laborer in the vineyard of the Lord. He was buried beneath the beautiful sculptured stone pulpit which the city magistrates had raised in his honor, and around which the multitude of his hearers had so often pressed.

Note. It was at this time that the light from the word of God was beginning to shine into Luther's heart, though still a monk — a light which, a few years later, was to deliver so many from the power of Rome. — [Ed.

The Fur Cloak
Part One

It was St. Andrew's day,* of the year 1525, that with a heavy heart I left the town hall where in a harsh way the burgomaster had just informed me that the bishop had ordered that I should leave the rectory and church of Hanau within three days, and deliver them over to a Roman Catholic priest.
{* The 30th day of November.}

In the street my good parishioners were awaiting me. They surrounded me sorrowing, and asked, "Is it true, beloved pastor, that you are about to leave us?" I gave them no other answer than to bow my head, pressing their hands in silence, for I was unable to speak. My voice was choked, and I hurried to the rectory where Christina, my wife, with our child in her arms, received me pale and trembling. I pressed her to my heart, and she understood at once what it signified.

"We must leave, then, George?" she said. "Yes, within three days."

"To where?"

"I do not know; but let us have faith in God; He will provide."

"Oh," she said, sighing, "Poor and without shelter, to have to wander through the world, with this poor child, in this bitter, winter season! It is very hard!"

I was praying in my heart, asking help of Heaven; but unable to control myself, I too burst into bitter weeping. Never before this day of trial needed I help from on high so much, for not only should I console my poor Christina, but also my beloved flock. These poor people could not understand how they were going to do without the preaching of the holy Word of God and the pure moral teaching of the gospel. All asked how it was that their pastor whom they so loved was obliged to leave his post so suddenly. But lamentation and sighing accomplish nothing, and I, almost as much cast down as they, quoted to them the words of Paul: "What mean ye to weep and to break my heart?" Then we all kneeled and prayed in humble confidence like the disciples of old. On rising I said, "The will of the Lord be done."

Afterwards the elders and friends set themselves to deliberate over the grave question as to where we should go at such an unpropitious time; for we were poor as Job, and in all the earth had no place of refuge. The elders would have given me hospitality for the winter with the greatest pleasure, but the burgomaster had strictly forbidden it. Within three days I had to leave, with my wife and child, as was the order of the bishop.

As we were consulting together, a messenger from Lampertheim presented himself, sent by my brother and colleague John Seitz, to inform me that the bishop had ordered him also out of his parish, and that his intention was to take his wife and child to Brumath, to the house of his father-in-law, who also was a good Christian. Knowing that my Christina was an orphan, and that I had no one to entrust her to (as her relatives were all Roman Catholics, and therefore unwilling to receive her), he offered to take her and my child to Brumath, where she would find an asylum for the winter in the house of his wife's father. Our wives thus cared for, we were to go to Strassburg together to ask the most honorable Council* to employ us anew in the vineyard of the Lord. I need not say that message was to me like a ray of light from God amidst the darkness.
{* The Council were leading men among the Reformed in consultation for the relief and direction of those who having turned from Rome to the gospel suffered in consequence. — [Ed.}

But the most sorrowful blow was to come from a quarter I least expected — from my beloved Christina herself. To make myself better understood, it is necessary I should go back a little in my story.

The father of Christina had been an able hunter. On one occasion he killed a large bear. Herr Fabian of Eschenau had ordered a magni- ficent fur cloak to be made of it as a reward for such prowess. That cloak had been carefully kept by the family as a valuable souvenir, as if it had been a title of nobility. Not only had it been my Christina's only legacy, but it was was also her only dowry, and the was as proud of it as Nebuchadnezzar of his Babylon. It was indeed a goodly garment, and worthy of anybody's pride; but for me, poor, and in precarious circumstances, such a garment was too luxurious; and, certainly, my flock would suspect me of vanity to see me so gorgeously appareled. So that notwithstanding Christina's entreaties that I should wear it, if only on Lord's days and holidays, I had persistently refused.

Christina had taken great care of this cloak in the first months of our married life, but after our little Sergius was born the cloak was quite forgotten.

On a very cold day, while snowing heavily, my old friend Schuch, pastor of St. Hippolitus, arrived at our house. He had preached the word of God at that place with much blessing, and the fruit of his labor was the establishment there of Protestant worship. Having been informed of this, the Duke of Lorraine threatened the heretical city with fire and sword. To avoid such a calamity Schuch departed for Nancy; but seeing what awaited him he came to see me for the last time, before delivering himself up, to strengthen me in the faith of Christ. This faithful servant of God looked very thin and weak; he was but thinly clothed, and the day was raw and cold. Christina had gone down with her baby, and I did not think it advisable to consult with her then; so I took the responsibility upon myself to lend the cloak to my friend, and shield him from the cold, with this condi- tion, that he return me the cloak from Nancy. But when he arrived there, the dear man was cast into prison, put upon the rack, and on the 20th of June, 1525, was led out to the stake, to which he went in perfect calmness, repeating the 51st psalm until the flames choked his voice and the angels carried his soul to heaven.

As for the fur cloak I heard nothing more of it, nor could I discover its whereabouts. To me it was a gain rather than a loss, for when I learned that in Nancy my dear friend had been tortured to make him deny the faith, and that by the grace of God he had remained faithful, nobly confessing our Lord Jesus Christ, I had the sweet satisfaction in my soul that his poor martyred body had been protected by so good a cloak, and while confined in a cold and gloomy cell he had thought on me with gratitude and love. But Christina fully believed that her idol was safely kept in the wardrobe, where she would complacently see it from time to time, like the rich man of the Gospel with his overflowing barns. Ah, how much trial came upon me on account of that idolized fur cloak I I undoubtedly did well to lend it to that servant of God, and in spite of the belief that it must be lost I could not regret having loaned it to him. But I had not the courage to tell Christina, and my fear of her tears or her anger was an unpardonable weakness in me, a Christian, for which I dearly paid.

Having to depart, we began to pack our belongings. Alas, we had few things to carry, for the greater part of what we used belonged to the church. When Christina discovered the fur cloak was missing, and learned from me what had become of it, my poor wife was so angry, and so little open to reason, that all my words and patient pleading had no effect whatever. She called me a waster, a senseless father without care for my only child, depriving him of that precious garment which could have protected him from the rigors of such a winter. All my words and tender appeals were despised; she refused to listen, and kept repeating that without that precious cloak we would become victims of the cold on the road. Thus were the three last days of our stay in Hanau, my beloved pastorate, days of torment to me. How my lacerated heart needed a friendly word, a loving look! but, alas, she whom God had given me for a companion, by her constant lamentations, contributed to make the burden of our misfortune many times greater. God forgive me, but those reproaches and selfish tears made me almost repent that I had loaned the cloak to my beloved friend Schuch. I would then have given anything to recover it, so as to restore the domestic peace so greatly disturbed. In suppressing that feeling of brotherly love that God had put in my heart I surely sinned, and God had to deal with me for it.

Monday, the third of December, was the day of our sad departure. At daybreak a rude cart drawn by two strong oxen was at our door. The snow was heavily falling; and to protect us from it our good conductor, Martin, had spread over the cart a piece of canvas, as an awning, with a bed of straw for Christina and little Sergius. The hour had now come to leave my beloved pastorate where for two full years God had enabled me to faithfully announce the gospel. Now we must say good-bye to my dear parishioners, many of them my children in Christ Jesus, who were surrounding me weeping. One brought me a gift for the journey; others, a heavy garment; others, provisions, a piece of meat and a bottle of milk for the baby.

My heart was bleeding at these partings, but Christina was mute as a statue and pale as marble when, helped by Martin, she mounted the cart. After putting her on the bed of straw and wrapping her feet in a woolen mantle that the burgomaster's wife had sent, I put our beloved child in her arms. This seemed to arouse her as from a dream, and casting the mantle from her she pressed the child to her bosom and began to cry bitterly. "May God go with you, Master George," was the farewell cry of the whole congregation, as we started off. The Lord bless you," I replied, too full to say one word more. In a whirlwind of snow we started on our way under the shadow of a sorrowful and uncertain future. To calm my poor heart in its anguish I kept repeating in my heart, "He that keeps thee will neither slumber nor sleep."

Arriving at the Rhine we had to wait until we could be ferried to the opposite shore: first ourselves; then the oxen and cart on a barge, with the driver. The wind was piercingly cold, the snow falling heavily, and the child cried, loudly. I myself trembled with cold; and, adding to my misery, Christina unceasingly complained of the lost fur cloak. At my wits' end, and to pacify her, I put mine arm about her with the mantle she had cast away, saying, "See, Christina, our good heavenly Father has sent us this mantle in place of the cloak you are weeping so much about. You must forgive my loaning it to poor Schuch, for I did it for the Lord's sake. Do, help me to bear our cross with patience and resignation. Do not offend God by your resentment."

But pride had the upper hand, and without replying she tore herself from mine arms, and again burst into weeping together with our crying child. I could do no more and jumped from the cart, preferring to walk in the snow beside the ox-driver than remain with one so unreasonable.

"Dear pastor," said Martin, "excuse my frankness. You have great talent to preach the gospel, but I see you do not know how to manage your wife."

"How so, dear Martin?"

"Sir, when women are so ungrateful and bitter we pet them without effect. When gentleness and caresses are useless, it is necessary to act as our Lord does when He clears the atmosphere with thunder. I myself treat my Barbara very differently; when she takes it into her head to trouble me with bad temper, I make the dust fly from her back; then she does very well indeed."

So spake friend Martin, but a voice within kept saying to me that a Christian, and above all a pastor, should never lift his hand against the companion God has given him; and the gospel commands us to "do good to them that curse you," and that in the end "the meek shall inherit the earth." I was weak, I confess, and like Adam, was allowing her to rule who should have obeyed.

We made a halt in the forest of Brumath to feed the oxen and make a good pot of soup for ourselves. Martin gathered wood, and built a great fire. The snow had ceased, and the dense woods sheltered us from the wind. When our clothes were dried by the heat of the great fire, and its agreeable warmth had comforted our shivering bodies, we gladly partook of the nutritious soup prepared; we felt comforted, and so grateful for such goodness that we gave thanks to the Lord with all our heart. The child, soothed by the agreeable warmth, slept tranquilly on its mother's breast, but Christina's brow remained overcast as the winter sky above us.

"Oh, why do we make one another's life so burdensome?" I sighed within me, and a voice within answered, "Because we are sinners; yet we must bear one another's burdens as our divine Master bore the cross."

Once more we started on our journey through the newly fallen snow, making but slow progress. Night was coming on; the forest became more dark and gloomy as we went, and from time to time we heard the howling of the wolves. The darkness became so dense that Martin had to stop, not knowing the direction in which to go. Having unhitched the oxen, he started a fire again, and said to me, "Sir pastor, it is impossible to go further; we will have to remain here until daybreak. You remain here beside the cart while I go for dry wood to feed the fire, that we may not freeze nor be eaten by wolves in the night."

Sad and disheartened, I sat by the fire. Christina was lying on the straw in the cart with the child. Only the distant howl of the savage wolves was herd. With anguished heart I gave myself to prayer, crying to the Lord from the depths of my soul as never before, remem- bering that it is written in His holy Word: "Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me."

Suddenly, through the black forest I saw a light. Then a friendly voice cried out, "Is it you, George?" I leaped to my feet, looking from whence the voice came; and in a few moments was in the embrace of my dear friend Seitz. Seeing that we did not come in the evening they had set out to seek us with two good horses and men provided with torches; and directed by the good hand of our God they had soon found us.

That unexpected consolation made me quite forget all that I had suffered. Christina herself jumped down from the cart, and cast herself into mine arms, crying. Between her tears and smiles, she said: "O George, I thought mine hour had come, and already saw myself and babe a sure prey of the terrible wolves." I pressed her to my breaking heart, and cried with deepest gratitude, "The Lord be praised!"

The horses then were hitched to the cart; Seitz and myself got in with Christina, while the rest of the party from Brumath preceded us with the lights; Martin coming on with the oxen behind the cart. Going on at a good pace we were soon at Brumath, benumbed with cold, but our hearts filled with gratitude.

My happiness, however, was to be of short duration. The wife and the father-in-law of Seitz, it is true, received us cordially, but when we were conducted to the room we were to occupy, without convenience, cold, a straw mattress and two chairs as its only furniture, Christina wept anew at the sight, complaining of our hard lot, and again of the loss of her fur cloak. So we passed the unhappy night; the constant noise of rats also contributing.

There lived in Brumath an aunt of Christina, the lady Charlotte Hequerin — a widow, rich, and without children. She called to see us the following morning, and honored me with a chilly salutation, while she soothed Christina with caresses, addressing her in most endearing terms, offering her house to her, promising to accept her as her daughter if she would dwell with her. I had not the courage to forbid her going, for I well knew that neither she nor the child could pass another night in that freezing attic room: "Where one would be ashamed to put a dog," said the lady Charlotte ironically. Nor was I asked what I thought about it. My wife gave me to understand that she was going to live with her aunt, and to remain there till I should find better lodgings. After she had gone out with the child, Seitz said to me, "You should not have permitted her to go. Old Charlotte is a bitter Papist; she and my mother-in-law have done everything possible to perplex and turn back my good Marguerite; but thanks be to God she has remained steadfast in the faith. Now they will begin it with Christina."

I pass swiftly over the sad week spent in Brumath. Alas, the love that "suffers all things, that believes all things, that hopes all things, that endures all things," came nearly being wrecked in my heart. The lady Charlotte, as Seitz had foretold, knew how to press her purpose. She and Father Boniface, her confessor, made the most of my poor wife's resentment towards me. They so instilled in her mind the fear of perdition for having married a "renegade" and "perjured priest," that she sent this priest to inform me that she had resolved to return to the bosom of "the Holy Mother Church, out of which there was no salvation," and that she could no longer live with me in a union cursed by Heaven; that I was not to worry about her, for her Aunt Charlotte would take her in for good, with the child (to whom the holy father had given the name of bastard), her aunt offering to adopt him also and make him her heir.

It would be impossible for me to describe what I passed through at that time. There was nothing to do but accept the chastisement of God which I felt was merited. I determined to see Christina, however. The lady Charlotte received me with glacial courtesy, and gave me to understand that she could not bring Christina to me because she wished never to see me again; and, she added, it would be better for us both not to see each other again. She told me that Christina had fever, was very ill, and that the child, because of the cold it had endured, was ill also, but was improving since the mother had taken the holy resolution of renouncing a life of sin to save herself and child from the eternal pains of hell.

To dispute with lady Charlotte would have been useless. I insisted that I wished to speak with my wife herself and to see my child, but it was all in vain. She remained inflexible, and threatened to denounce me before the ecclesiastical authorities as a renegade and polluted priest. With a sad heart I had to leave, having accomplished nothing. Seitz afterwards visited the house, and was able to see Christina. He found her with the child in her arms. She related to him, with bitter tears and sighs, the whole lesson taught her by Father Boniface, and added that the best thing I could do was to leave her in peace and not come again to see her. Her aunt coming at that moment, my good friend could say nothing to Christina, nor pass any remarks on the course she was pursuing, her aunt not leaving her one moment. He then left the house.

"My good George," he said on his return, while pressing my hand affectionately, "it is necessary to act the man. Lay your cares in the bosom of Him who has said, 'Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee.' Pray for your poor blinded wife; only God can touch her heart and bring her back to the faith. Meanwhile, without wife or child, you will be freer for the service of the Lord, and I am tempted to say to you with Paul: 'He that marries does well, and he that marries not does better.'"

I could answer nothing to my friend Seitz; only knew that my heart is flesh, and my happiness was entirely destroyed. I read and re-read the seven penitential psalms, so well translated into the German by Luther. There alone is where I could find any consolation.

Yesterday Martin returned from Hanau, bringing me the request of the congregation that the Council of Strassburg send them an evangelical pastor. They had learned all that had happened, and their sympathies toward me did much towards soothing my lacerated heart — "Almighty God, I was so rich in the love and hearty sympathy of my dear Hanau, so happy in the midst of my faithful flock. And now, behold me here — poor, alone and abandoned! But Thou, my dear Saviour, art with me; Thou wilt give me through this sore trial Thy divine peace and consolation. If I have really sinned in binding myself in the bonds of matrimony, forgive me, for I believed I was obeying Thy holy Word and Thy sacred commandments. I cannot separate from my heart my poor Christina or my son, nor can I do anything for them. But Thou lovest them, and I place them in Thy hands; I entrust them to Thine omnipotent hands, those hands once pierced for us! Amen."

This is the Lord's day, and I have tried to improve it by writing these pages. I will give them into the hands of my friend Seitz, in order that he may keep them for my son Sergius when he becomes of age, that he may know why he has lost his father. They are written also for thee, Christina, should I not see thee again in this life — for thee who doest me evil, but whom I cannot cease to love. I say Good-by without animosity; may God bless us both! Tomorrow Seitz and I will take our pilgrim staff and go whither God may lead us. May He grant me His grace and admit me to His heaven at the end of my course. There we shall rest from all our conflicts; there Jesus Christ Himself shall wipe all tears from our eyes in His holy glory. Amen.

Written in Brumath, December 9th, in the year of our Lord 1525, by my hand — George Wickenhauer, minister of the gospel, pastor of Hanau, Germany.

Part Two

O, how wonderful are the ways of the Lord! Marvelous things have happened in the four weeks since I wrote of the fur cloak and the troubles it caused me. I now wish to complete its story for the instruction of my son Sergius in after years, that he may see how through sore trials, and by their means, the Lord knows how to bless and also to comfort; for has He not given Himself the beautiful name of "the Lord, powerful, mighty, merciful, and full of pity, slow to anger and great in mercy?

It was a beautiful winter's morning when I set out with Seitz from Brumath; the air was pure and the sky cloudless. With oppressed hearts we trudged over the snow, frozen so hard that it bore our weight. Like Jacob, when he passed over Jordan, we had nothing but a staff in our hands. While Seitz was occupied with our future prospects, asking himself where we should be found working for the Lord, I was thinking of nothing but saying good-by to all earthly happiness, and remembrances of the past that would never return. It appeared to me that in losing Christina and my child, half of my heart was violently torn away; and I felt so sad and cast down that I sighed for death that I might be with the Lord. Seitz, to whom I confided my feelings, reproved me mildly, saying, "It is not in this way that God wants us to reach the heavenly country; no, this would be to enter without suffering and without conflict." He was right — that wise and faithful friend 1 I had promised to have no strange gods in my life, and now I was turning my face backwards, like Lot's wife, to Brumath where mine was. Alas for us 1 Our best resolutions are no better than a reed shaken with the wind

When we reached that part of the forest where Seitz had first encountered us, and Christina had embraced me after our quarrel, I asked my friend to allow me to rest a while there. I seated myself upon the stone on which I had sat the night of our arrival, where I had prayed so earnestly and been so quickly heard. I wished to pray there once more; but, oppressed with anguish, I could only hide my face between my hands and give myself to tears. Seitz left me to weep while he started a little fire with the wood collected by Martin. We had been there half an hour, and the tears had alleviated my sorrowful heart; the fire was already dying out, and Seitz gave the signal to resume our journey.

Suddenly, I seemed to hear the cry of an infant, and with it the sound of hurried footsteps over the frozen snow. I listened attentively, when, through the trees, I saw the form of a woman hastening toward us. Was I in my senses? I seemed to recognize my beloved Christina! In drawing near she exclaimed, "My George, my beloved George! Oh, can you forgive me?" and, breathless, she fell at my feet.

Blessed be the God of mercy! It was not a dream; it was Christina, my Christina, who came with our child in her arms to unite herself to me once more, like the prodigal son of the parable. There she lay at my feet. I lifted her up, pressing her to my heart, never to be parted from her again.

It was one of those moments in life which are never repeated, that no pen can rightly describe, and which I shall never forget. Christina clung to me like the ivy to its chosen tree. While weep. ing, she said, "Oh, George, is it true that you forgive me, and consent to receive me again to your heart?"

When we were somewhat calmed, the beloved fugitive told me how the evening before, while her aunt was at church, the wife of Seitz had come to speak to her heart and conscience, and told her that on the morrow I was going to leave Brumath never to return. "And," said Christina, "when Marguerite had gone it seemed that a mist had come over me and my heart beat violently within my breast. My conscience, whose voice I had tried in vain to drown, spoke louder and louder; my sins, like a great wall, seemed to enclose me. I remembered how I had tormented you because of that miserable cloak; how in the midst of your misfortune and trials I added to your sorrow, disobeying God's express command that the woman be subject to her husband as unto the Lord. I have sinned against the Holy Spirit; but God who reads my heart knows that though I did you so much evil, I did not do it with heart intent. Vanity and anger blinded me no less than fear of my aunt and Father Boniface. But my conscience gave me not a moment's rest, and I have come to seek you, my poor George, and here I am. — Will you forgive me? Did I not at the foot of the altar promise to be yours, your faithful companion, your helpmeet? Last night, my aunt may have suspected something, for she did not allow me out of her sight the whole evening; and I had not the courage to tell her I had seen my wrong and wished to return to my duty and to you. But, when she had retired, I attempted to flee from the house, but found the door locked. I remained awake all night and was able to confess to God freely all my sins, and ask His forgiveness and help in my misfortune. My room was on the lower floor, and the window opened out into the garden; at daybreak I wrapped our child in my mantle, and climbed the garden wall. I met the sacristan who was on his way to the church to ring the morning bell, and I opened my heart to the good man, for an inward voice impelled me to confide in him. He brought me to his house, to make soup for myself, and gave me milk for our child, and his son led me by a hidden path to the woods and would have accompanied me to Wendenheim, where I was sure to find you, but I saw the fire as we came along and you by it, dearest George! And now my good, my beloved husband," added Christina in a supplicating tone, "will you receive me again to yourself? Can you forgive me the injury and indignity I have done to you? Alas, all that I had brought with me from Hanau I had to leave in the house of my aunt, who surely will not return me anything. O George, I am a great sinner! — so to forsake you, poor and unfortunate as you are!"

"Enough! enough, my poor Christina!" I exclaimed; "I have never been richer in my life; for, by the grace of God, I have recovered the two persons I love most in the world — you and my child; I receive both to my bosom!"

"Well, very well, Frau Christina!" said Seitz. "You have found which is the good way. Pride has had the upper hand; but when there is true contrition it produces healthful repentance not to be repented of."

After a while we resumed our march, but Christina and I, bearing our poor child, could travel but slowly and with much labor. Having no money with which to pay for lodging we were anxious to arrive at Strassburg before night, but were compelled to stop at Wendenheim where we lodged in the house of an old friend.

Ah, we were very poor, and without resources; but I felt so happy I I faced the future with quiet confidence. What comforted me most of all was to see how resignedly Christina bore the fatigues and sufferings of the way. Instead of murmuring and lamenting as before, a peaceful smile was on her face, and when I looked at her compassionately, she gently reproved me, saying, "Truly, my beloved George, I have not merited anything else, and I bless God with all my heart because I can be once more at your side."

As we arrived at Strassburg the next day, we questioned whither we should go, and if the Lord would open to us a door of hospitality. We decided to hunt up Master Tell,* explain to him our situation, and ask his advice. On arriving at his house, Christina's face flushed, and she remained at the door, not having the courage to enter with us. She said not a word, and with difficulty restrained her tears. To be compelled to beg, O Lord, it is so humiliating At the threshold of the door we were met by a beautiful young woman with eyes radiant with intelligence. It was Katherine Tell. Having asked our names she shook hands warmly, and exclaimed, "You are welcome, brethren in the faith. I have heard our friends speak of you you have been persecuted for the cause of Christ. You are in your own house, and our table is always at your disposal. Only," she added, with a sweet smile, "we will be a little crowded because the house is already quite full."
{* Tell is the Swiss and French form of Zell in German as also Strassburg becomes Strasburg in modern spelling.}

Her worthy husband immediately appeared, and received us very lovingly. Whilst I answered his questions, so full of sympathy, Seitz spoke a few words with Tell's wife concerning Christina. "Poor woman!" she exclaimed and quickly coming down the steps, she affectionately took Sergius in her arm, and my weeping Christina by the hand and brought her in.

Oh worthy couple! God will reward you in eternity for that cordial reception accorded so graciously to three poor exiles.

I might write whole pages telling all that I saw and heard in that parsonage, and the love that was practised there. I counted at the supper-table no less than thirty all were fugitives and persecuted for the gospel's sake. I at first thought that Pastor Tell must be some Croesus to be able to maintain so many people but no, except in living faith, which works by love and can do much with little. Would to God that in my poverty I might have grace to be as rich in charity!

As Tell's house was completely filled, Seitz was appointed deacon to the Doctor Heido, and we were allotted lodgings in the ancient convent of St. Mark, which had been fitted up as a refuge for the exiles. Ah, a man needs very little to be happy 1 We ate there the bread of poverty, and lived in the vast convent library to which Frau Tell had sent a table, a bed, and two chairs but on that table was my beloved Testament, with some of the works of Luther, which opened more and more my understanding to the heavenly light of the gospel.

While absorbed in such sweet study, and applying myself to the Hebrew, under the direction of Bucer, my dear Christina, as born anew, was seated at my side mending our clothes, with Sergius sleeping like a prince in a great basket in white clothing. Oh, we passed happy days within the quiet precincts of that cloister! We enjoyed sweet peace of mind, for we firmly believed that He who feeds the sparrows would take in His Fatherly hands the care of our future. Christina from the first day of our arrival had confessed her sin to Frau Tell, and this placed me in such a brilliant light, that everyone showed me a profound respect, which I did not in any way merit.

One beautiful day there arrived in Strassburg the godfather of Christina, Herr Fabian of Es chenau, the same who had ordered that troublesome fur cloak to be made. He had heard of the persecution raised in Hanau, and came to ask if I had the courage to preach the gospel in the village of Rumolsweiler, to which I readily replied in the affirmative, and with great joy. But the nobleman did not hide from me the fact that I could only count on a very small salary, because, though the majority of the inhabitants clamored for a Protestant pastor, the Catholic party was sustained by the authorities, and refused to pay a "heretical" pastor on the pretext that the income set aside for religious purposes should be reserved for the worship of the saints and for the mass. But as there was then no one to say mass, I was promised half the income, for the authorities, though Roman Catholic, acknowledged that they had no right to deprive those who did not belong to the Romish communion of the word of God and the income of the community could not be reserved for an unused altar or a closed church, but for the souls of all, and that they should assist all, whatever faith they might profess.*
{* The formal separation between the Protestants and the Romanists in many communities had not yet taken place at this time. — [Ed.}

Half the allowance, without the occasional receipts and the tithes, was a very small sum for us, so poor and almost naked. This I said to myself, with a sigh, looking at my beloved Christina and our poor little one. Christina then took my hand, drew it lovingly to her lips, and said to me with sweet voice; "By God's help, my dear George, do not fear that we shall lack anything. You read to me this morning in the Gospel, Your Father knows that ye have need of these things.'"

I cannot express how much those words from my dear companion moved me and rejoiced my heart. If the noble lord had not been present, I should have pressed to my heart my courageous wife. Herr Fabian himself was affected. He was silent a moment, and then said to me kindly: "Master George, 'Who can find a courageous (virtuous) woman? for her price is far above rubies.' Do you not see here a fulfilment of Solomon's proverb?" He then added, with a smile, "By the by, dear lady, I hope you will always keep that fur cloak of your worthy father, and give it the care it deserves."

On hearing this, Christina's face flushed like a flame, and I felt myself turning pale. Herr Fabian looked at us with a searching eye, and continued in a serious tone, "It would displease me much to know it had passed into strange hands or was sold." With an effort I then told him with some embarrassment how I had given the cloak to the martyr Schuch, and was ignorant as to what had since become of it.

The noble lord passed his hands over his eyes then, leaning on my shoulder, said in a voice full of emotion, "You are a man according to the word of the Gospel, Master George, and I shall do all in my power to have you called to the pastorate of Rumolsweiler; for there is great need there of a messenger to tranquillize souls, and to revive the links of brotherly love."

When he had gone out Christina gave herself to tears, saying, "Oh, with what willingness I would have told the gentleman that it is my fault that you are so poor, for I had to leave all we possessed at my aunt's. But when I attempted to speak, the words seemed to choke in my throat, and I could say nothing. You, George, should have told him how I sinned against you and added to the weight of the cross you have had to bear." "All is forgotten now, my dear Christina;" I gladly answered; "all is forgiven and washed in the blood of Christ, who has returned to me a new wife, regenerated by divine grace, and made humble and meek by repentance;" — and I pressed her to my heart.

The courage shown by that weak woman had put me to shame; I felt my faith to be very weak compared with hers, and thought on the words of the Lord, "The last shall be first, and the first last." We then decided to accept the post at Rumolsweiler, not forgetting that many privations, many persecutions, and much suffering were possibly awaiting us there.

A few days later one of the notables of Strassburg, an Elder in the church, gave a splendid banquet to the burgomaster, the dean of the cathedral, with all the Protestant ministers of the city. Seitz and I were also invited; but I had no desire to go, for I thought, What a figure I would cut in the midst of such an assemblage — I, a poor and ignorant village pastor, with patched clothes! But Matthew Tell and Bucer insisted that I should go; they would not listen to my excuses, saying, "It is good for the brethren to see the privations and sufferings of those who announce the word of God."

But my poor Christina could not bear the thought of her husband presenting himself in such a splendid company with clothes so worn and poor; and she said, "Your suit is so much patched that it has become something like Joseph's coat of many colors, and in spite of all my willingness I must give up trying to improve it."

On hearing this I shook my head and said, "Enough, Christina, the old man threatens to come back to you little by little to occupy the place he once had."

"No, my husband," she replied, "It is not for pride that I would see you more decently dressed, but because a pastor's dress should be according to his occupation before men and before God." And the frank look with which she met my glance was so full of sincerity that I did at once believe her, and told her to do as she pleased in the matter. She had made me a very nice shirt with a little linen, and she had washed and ironed it with great care. But when I came to dress myself, that shirt, so white and beautiful, made my patched suit look worse than ever.

Suddenly the door was opened; it was Master Simon who was bringing a box from the lord of Eschenau, addressed to me. Christina opened it, and what was our surprise! In it was THE FUR CLOAK!

Filled with surprise, and astonished at such a miracle of God's goodness, we stood a good while before the open box — speechless. Finally, my wife cast herself upon my neck, weeping like a child, and murmured, "O my good George, you have forgiven me, have you not? And God has forgiven me too since He has returned the cloak I wept so much about."

Then taking the cloak she put it over my shoulders, and smiling through her tears, like the sun through a shower, she said with childish joy: "It suits you so well, George, you, must wear it at the banquet. I am sure the good lord of Eschenau has sent it you for this very purpose … But what is this?" she said in a frightened tone, pointing to some dark red stains on the gray lining of the cloak. "It is the farewell left me by my brother Schuch," I said with a deep sigh, recognizing the blood of the holy martyr.

Seitz entered at that moment; he had come to accompany me to the banquet. He knew of the surprise awaiting us, and had come to be a witness of our joy. "Come, George," he said, "and wear the cloak! Master Tell wishes to see you in this new dress, to present you to his colleagues."

"Friend Seitz," I said, "do you see those blood-stains? Do you think I could bring myself to wear it?"

My friend was as greatly surprised as I had been, and remained a moment contemplating this mute witness of our martyred friend's faithfulness, by which, though dead, he seemed to be speaking to us still. Then, moved by reverence and sorrow, we prayed together before going out. It was time to go to the banquet, and we set out without any one thinking of my patched coat, and I least concerned of all.

In the street Seitz told me that if Christina had recovered the cloak she had to thank the good Frau Tell, who had left no stone unturned to obtain possession of it. She had made inquiries in Nancy. The jailer there, like the one of Philippi, had been converted by the patience of our martyr, manifested in the midst of his sufferings by his sweetness towards his executioners and by his calm joy in the presence of death; and because of this, he, the jailer, had almost lost his position. He had promised the prisoner to send the cloak after his death to the pastor of Hanau, and was ready to do so at the first opportunity.

Katherine Tell had related all this to Herr Fabian of Eschenau, who had caused the cloak to be brought from Nancy, just in time for the banquet, without any one seeing the spots of blood we had discovered.

Arriving a little late we found the whole company already assembled. This house, in which the company was gathered, was like a palace — at least so it appeared to me, a poor pastor accustomed to live among simple villagers. The table was set with a magnificent solid silver service, such as I had never seen before, not even in the episcopal palace in Sevennes. When Seitz and I found ourselves in such sumptuous surroundings we remained mute and timid in the midst of it all. But the kind Master Tell saw us, and coming up to us graciously, asked me why I had not worn the fur cloak. With low voice I told him of the reason, and I saw tears run down his cheeks as he pressed my hand warmly. Contrary to his usual custom he remained silent during the meal, and took no part in a discussion concerning the holy supper, in which all the pastors present gave their opinion; I should have been so pleased to hear what he might have to say.*
{* The controversies as to the real presence of the flesh and blood of Christ in the Eucharist (the Lord's Supper) were already agitating the Protestants. Luther, who was never delivered from this Romish delusion, persistently maintained it, while the Swiss reformer Zwingle, Bucer and others, held and taught that the bread and wine of the Eucharist are symbols — not the real flesh and blood of Christ. — [Ed.}

I was seated beside Master Tell at the table, who had asked this place for me of the master of the house, and this unexpected honor placed Inc in the most cruel embarrassment. In moving my arm the sleeve of my much worn coat became rent a little at the shoulder, and through the opening could be seen the snow-white shirt, contrasting strongly with the dark cloth of the coat. Seated as we were at the place of honor, all could see the rent when I made a move, and it seemed to me that the servants waiting on the table in rich livery, with difficulty refrained from laughing. But the noble-minded guests seemed to take no notice of it, and treated me with exceeding consideration, especially the dean, who, seated at the head of the table, frequently addressed his remarks to me.

At the dessert, the host of the banquet took a magnificent cup of chased silver, gilded within, and filled it with old Rhine wine. He told how the Emperor Maximilian had given it to the venerable Doctor Geiler, and how after his death the Doctor's family, in view of important services rendered to the deceased, had presented it to him as an invaluable memento. Then the cup went round from one hand to another, and after putting it to their lips, all praised the magnificent work of the artist displayed in this masterpiece. Only Matthew Tell did not taste the wine, contenting himself with looking at the precious chalice.

Little by little the seriousness displayed in the venerable face of Tell appeared to communicate itself to the other guests, and when the magnificent cup, after having gone the rounds of the circle, shone in the centre of the table like a Roman emperor clothed in all his glory, a profound silence reigned in that assemblage. Then Master Tell arose and expressed himself as follows:

"Beloved brethren in Jesus Christ: you know the ancient legend of Saint Martin, how in the rigor of winter he passed out of his castle-gate on horse-back, and saw beside the gate an almost naked beggar, that he took his cloak from off his shoulders, tore it in two, and gave half to the beggar to cover his nakedness. You know also how that same night the Lord appeared to him, saying, 'Thank you, Martin; what you gave to that beggar you gave to Me.' Now listen: Saint Martin was a rich gentleman, who no doubt possessed more than one mantle, yet he gave only half to the beggar, reserving the other half for himself; but you see here seated at my side a better Martin, poor as he is modest, who blushes for his rent coat while the angels in heaven rejoice over him, for he gave his only decent cloak to our dear martyred brother Schuch to protect him from the cold of his dungeon, and reserved for himself nothing but this rent coat at the time he was exiled from Hanau with his wife and child for Christ's sake and the gospel's in the depths of winter."

Master Tell then went on to tell the whole story of the fur cloak, without making any reference whatever to Christina. As for myself, I was so abashed that it seemed as if a haze was before mine eyes and a heavy weight pressed upon my head, making the banquet hall turn round and round; my cheeks burned, and I knew not what to say when all those gentlemen and brethren came one after another to shake my hand and praise me for what I had done.

But I have not told the best; for after all had once more seated themselves, and silence had been restored, Master Tell again rose up to speak, and talked to us in such a way of the infinite love and mercy of Jesus Christ that one could hardly believe a poor sinner could express himself so well, and concluded by saying, "Now, if our good Saviour should at this moment enter this banquet hall with His crown of thorns, with pierced hands, and His wounded side, if He should say to each one of us, 'What art thou doing for Me?' O beloved brethren, how ashamed we should be, and how we would lower our eyes before Him! — guests as we are at this splendid banquet, in the midst of the opulence that surrounds us, and especially in this time of affliction, when so many faithful witnesses to the truth have to contend with hunger and cold, immured in dungeons or led out to martyrdom! The venerated Geller once said when preaching against pomp and luxury, 'It is high time this sad waste of the patrimony of the poor should cease.' Yes, beloved brother in Christ," continued pastor Tell, addressing the master of the house in a tone at once of supplication and authority, "there is too much gold quietly sleeping in your house: give to the poor, satisfy the hungry, clothe the naked, offer an asylum to those exiles who have neither home nor country, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven."

A profound silence reigned in all the gathering when the speaker sat down. Then the owner of the house arose, and taking Tell by the hand, said to him with manifest emotion: "Thanks, brother, you have opened mine eyes; I recognize my fault, and will do all that you say." Then Capito and Bucer prayed, and we all sang with contrite hearts the song,
"My God, pour out Thy grace upon Thy servants,"
and departed to our houses, unable to speak another word, so moved were we.

The next morning I set out for Rumolsweiler in order to arrange with the authorities for my installation. The cold was intense, my coat was very much worn, and, in spite of a secret repugnance, I had to put on the fur cloak. Christina and Frau Tell had cleaned the stains. I rebelled against what appeared to me a profanation; but presently I remembered that this very sentiment might lead me first to honor and then worship the cloak as a relic. Meanwhile it was gradually restoring warmth to my chilled members: with it, I felt I could defy the ice and snow; and while enjoying its benefit, with sweet melancholy I could think of the dear friend that had worn it, whose brow was now wreathed with the martyr's crown.

At Rumolsweiler a contract in due form was presented to me, made out by the lord of Eschenau, which guaranteed me half the income of the parish, and it was agreed I should take possession the first of the following January. (May God give me of His grace to keep faithful, and enable me in my weakness to discharge the responsibility placed upon me.) There would be labor, no doubt, and the authorities of the town gave me to understand that I could expect little from them. But there is great thirst for the word of God in the congregation, as I could see when the elders of the church were presented to me. For this, with the help of God, I wished to begin work at once. But I confess that I felt some oppression in my. heart when I looked upon the cold, bare walls of the parsonage, to which I was to bring nothing but the blessing of the Lord.

While returning to Strassburg, I pondered in my heart if it would not be better for Christina and the child to pass the winter in Strassburg, in the convent where we had been so comfortable, while I took possession of the place alone, and so avoid exposing the poor things to the privations which threatened them. Fool that I was! God had already blessed me more than I could ask or think, and thinking on these mercies I can but feel ashamed for my fears and lack of faith!

I had promised to return to Strassburg for Christmas eve; so I kept my word. On entering the cloister I was met by Christina, who received me radiant with joy, with Frau Tell at her side. I had many questions to ask but they prevented me, and almost drew me by force to the library. I found it brightly lighted, with a beautiful Christmas tree, and round about it were presents — bedding, furniture, linen, clothing and provisions There was nothing lacking; and there also were our household goods from Hanau, all placed in order. I looked upon it all as one in a dream. Christina did not know whether to laugh or cry, and in the excess of her joy threw herself into mine arms, then embraced Frau Tell, after which she picked up our child and raised him up on high that he might see the sparkling lights of the Christmas tree, skipping about the room with overflowing happiness.

But who could have prepared all this joy, and sent us this assistance — so unexpected that it seemed as come from heaven? Oh, first of all, it is our kind heavenly Father; He only could prepare for His children such a surprise. He had blessed the words spoken by Master Tell at the banquet. The patron of the feast had consecrated to the service of the Lord the whole of his plate, both gold and silver, and a great part of the proceeds were employed to relieve our necessities. As to the household goods from Hanau, I do not know whether the lady Charlotte had sent them of her own good will or for money; but there was nothing missing. The Lord had counted our tears and heard our secret prayers, and He will not forget to reward our benefactors, for they have the beautiful promise, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

So we were ready, with a heart filled with gratitude to God and men, to take the road to my new parish, where Christina desired to do her best to be the worthy wife of an evangelical pastor, according to the mind of the Lord, and the example of Katherine Tell.

"Just see, my dear George," she exclaimed joyfully, "this stock of flour! How many loaves I can make for those who suffer hunger, and how much soup for the sick poor And you, my poor husband, may wear the fur cloak without remorse; it will protect you so nicely, and it has taught me to watch and pray. Only, my beloved George, as I know now that no good dwells in me, notwithstanding the good that I would do, sternly remind me if I should do the evil that I would not."

Thus ends abruptly, but happily, the story of George Wickenhauer and the Fur Cloak.

The Closing Days of Pastor Tell

It is Lord's day, in January of the year 1548,* and we are in the house of our old friend "Mathis," now Pastor Tell, beside the cathedral of Strassburg. The bell has been ringing for morning prayer, and around the good pastor are gathered all the exiles living beneath his roof. We are to see for the last time, in this pious gathering, both Tell and his faithful wife Katherine. They have grown old; their hair has turned gray, especially the aged pastor's, whom we first knew as the happy rosy-cheeked boy "Mathis." They have been identified with and deeply concerned for the welfare of the Reforma- tion; but now, weak and weary, the aged man frequently repeats the words of the apostle: "Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better" (Phil. 1:23). His beloved companion is no longer the spirited and fearless Katherine she once was, whom we saw in our previous narrative so nobly receiving the exiles in trial. She gravely looks now on the trembling head and bent shoulders of her husband, and on the sickly child, tardy fruit of her old age, who through his weakness of body and mind seemed destined to be a "son of her sorrow."
{* This is already 30 years after the birth of Protestantism in Germany,when Luther affixed his theses on the church door, and afterwards burned the Pope's bull at the gate of Wittemberg.}

Among the guests in the hospitable parsonage are some French Huguenot refugees, and among them is Marcelina, a Waldensian girl, habitually called "Lina," for short. She had come from the locality of Merindol in Provence. In the days of Peter Waldo, some of his disciples driven by persecution from the Piedmont valleys had established themselves on the banks of the River Durance, and by toil and perseverance converted those sterile regions into cultivated and fruitful fields. They had built up twenty-two communities with a total of 18,000 inhabitants.

In 1525, having heard that the true gospel, to which their fathers had remained faithful through so many persecutions, was being preached in Germany, they sent some of their number to Basle and Strassburg. They were lovingly received by their brethren, the Swiss and German reformers, and strengthened in their faith. They found in the doctrines of the reformation what Peter Waldo had taught, and the apostles before them they returned, therefore, with rejoicing to their people, strengthened in the bonds of brotherly love, and happy to find themselves no longer isolated and alone in their faith.

But Francis I., the political ally of the Protestant princes of Germany, thought that he must buy of the Romish clergy absolution for his dissolute life by persecutions against the French Protestants. The peaceful Waldenses of Provence, therefore, were exterminated without mercy by fire and sword: their towns were burned, their women and children and old men cast into the flames, their men murdered, or loaded with chains were sent to prison, and left there to languish in noisome dungeons. Thousands of them, in seeking to escape slaughter, perished of hunger and cold among the mountains. Some of the more fortunate succeeded in reaching evangelical Switzerland, where they found pity for their sufferings, and an asylum. Amongst these was the father of Marcelina, who having sought refuge in Strassburg died a few days after his arrival, confiding the poor orphan to the care of Katherine Tell, who received her with her usual Christian devotion and with affection.

Marcelina became a blessing to the home of Pastor Tell, ever open as it was to all the unfortunate sufferers. Brought up in the school of adversity, she was so economical, so fitted for, and so active in, household duties that in a short time she came to be as Katherine's right hand. While unable to understand and speak German she would pass from 'room to room noiselessly and with quick step — her large soft eyes and sweet, pale face frequently wet with tears. Pastor Tell's wife, unable to speak French, could not well comfort her, but commended the poor girl to the pious care of Jean Gamier, pastor of the church founded by Calvin for French refugees in Strassburg.

Through the ministry of this faithful servant of God Marcelina found comfort and peace for her weary heart, so violently torn from her mother and brothers whom she had seen murdered before her eyes, then deprived of her father dying in exile the bitterness of all these memories. were then converted into holy aspirations for the home above. Little by little the dark images of her home in flames, her relatives beheaded at her side, the cries and moans of the dying that had filled the timid girl's mind, were gradually being effaced from her memory, so lacerated by those scenes of terror. Resignation and peace were taking their place, and her faith looked upward to that other and "better country" where her loved ones were awaiting her, forever freed from tribulation and gathered to God's eternal rest. And as her heart lived there above, dwelling in heaven rather than upon earth, she devoted herself entirely to the Lord whom she found in the exiled and persecuted with whom Strassburg was filled.*
{* "The houses of the Reformed were like inns in those times — such was the strength of brotherly love." — D'Aubigné's History.}

The aged pastor Tell particularly was the object of Marcelina's loving ministrations. When the aged minister became too much disturbed, thinking of the perils to which his beloved church was exposed, then it was that Marcelina would take him tenderly by the hand, and say in her poor German: "Beloved father, eternity is longer than this earthly life neither king nor emperor can burn the faith at the stake, nor cause one soul to perish that is chosen of Heaven."

That very Lord's day, when everyone was painfully expecting the Emperor should establish in Strassburg the Roman Catholic service, and cast of all the evangelical pastors, the heart of the aged Tell, in view of all these misfortunes, seemed as if about to break. And when his anxious wife saw him rise from prayer pale and trembling, leaning on the arm of the youthful Marcelina, a voice that pierced her soul seemed to whisper in her ear: "He is soon to leave thee to dwell with his Lord."

"Father," she said, taking his cold, trembling hands between her own, "you are not well; let some other pastor preach in your place at the cathedral at this cold season."

"No, no, my beloved Katherine, I will preach while the Lord spares me a remnant of voice. I have not much time to speak to my beloved flock, for I feel Death knocking at my door; but," he added, with his accustomed cheerfulness, "when I can no more speak to you, know that I ever love you and shall think of you in heaven."

Then he entered his study room, and seated himself in his big armchair to rest and collect his thoughts for the sermon. When the hour arrived for service, the Lord gave him strength to speak for the last time to his beloved congregation on this text: "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer" (Luke 22:15). With calm faith he told them that his end was drawing near, and even gave them the communion with his own hand; after which he bade farewell to his beloved flock in the words of the apostle Paul: "And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up … Therefore watch and remember, that by the space of thirty years* I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears" (Acts 20:31-32). Moved to the very depths of their souls, his hearers left the cathedral with the sorrowful consciousness that they had heard their beloved pastor's voice for the last time. Yet lie appeared to revive after finishing his sermon, and was even able to attend another service at midday. In the evening, having learned of the death of Glaser, one of his colleagues and friends, he was taken with a sudden hemorrhage. "Why," said he, with a sweet smile, "should we afflict ourselves for his death as those that have no hope? God has taken our friend from this world of sin and suffering, and has called him as of old He called Elijah, not leaving him to languish on a bed of pain! May the Lord grant me the same favor before persecution falls upon us, and may I, as he, lay down my poor worn body as one lays aside his garments before casting himself on his couch to sleep."
{* It is three years in the text. The aged pastor was accommodating the passage to the number of the years of his labor in the city of Strassburg.}

As Marcelina was helping him to his room, he stopped several times on the way to take breath, and said: "I am tired, my poor Lim; the Lord will soon allow me to fall asleep sweetly till His kingdom come."

Tell became weaker and weaker — not suffering but breathing with difficulty. His devoted wife and Marcelina passed the night with him. Katherine read to him the fifth chapter of the second Epistle to the Corinthians: "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Tell then exhorted them to continue in service to the poor and the persecuted. He urged his colleagues to preach Christ to all men without distinction, to gather the sheep, and not scatter them. Then, feeling the chill of death coming over him, he kneeled, and gathering all his strength in a last effort, prayed as follows: "O Lord, permit me still to commend to Thee my beloved flock! They have loved me, and Thou lovest them. Send them not trials above what they are able to bear, that what I have built up on Thee may not be torn down. Be Thou Thyself their chief Shepherd …" His voice failed, his clasped hands fell, and his head rested upon his breast. They raised the dying man to his chair. His eyes opened once more, and gazing with tenderness on his beloved Katherine, Tell expired without a struggle — he slept, rather than died, the 6th of January, 1548, at the age of seventy, after having preached the gospel for twenty-seven years in the cathedral of Strassburg, and made his dwelling a refuge for the oppressed and those that suffered persecution for Christ's sake.

The death of Pastor Tell spread through Strassburg a feeling as if each family had lost one of its own members. All desired to see his beloved remains for a last farewell. His beloved Katherine was so sustained from above and her faith so bright, that her eyes had no tears, and her countenance was almost joyful while she remained by the one she had so much loved. Some might even have misinterpreted this Christian fortitude, born of the glorious hope that takes away the sting of death. "I should prefer to see dear mother weep," said Marcelina, while she wept with the tenderness of a child for her father.

When the mortal remains of this servant of God were borne to their resting-place it was such a funeral as Strassburg had never seen before. Five thousand persons in reverential procession followed the modest bier, and the tears in many eyes were the best tribute that could be paid to his beloved memory.

Tell was buried in the cemetery of Saint Urban. No sculptured stone adorned his tomb. Another monument, imperishable for time and eternity, had been raised in the hearts of the people who in all the evangelical churches mourned his death.

The testimony that the apostle confessed of himself might be applied, in measure, at least, to the good Pastor Tell: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

Pastor Hofer in Mulhausen

The old Mulhausen of the sixteenth century was very different from the present one, which extends far over the plain — its streets interspersed with gardens and factories, with cottages and palaces. It was a small fortified town in those days, surrounded by walls (now destroyed), and ancient towers, some of which still remain as memorials of a vanished past.

It was an independent republic, sandwiched between Austrian possessions, but under the immediate protection of the Empire. From 1515 Mulhausen was the ally of those terrible Swiss cantons, which made their powerful neighbors respect their liberties. The customs of its inhabitants had at that time a stamp of simplicity, with frank independency. The Reformation had quickly taken root there, in spite of a muffled opposition which dared not come out into open resistance. Like Strassburg, in those days of trial Mulhausen was noted for its hospitality towards persecuted believers, who from all the surrounding countries sought refuge within her walls. More than once it had to struggle for giving shelter to refugees, and for the maintainance of its faith.

One beautiful summer afternoon in 1526, the venerable secretary of the city, Oswald de Gamsharst, the priest Bernard Roemer, and Pastor John Hofer, were seated on a bench before the ancient monastery of the Augustines, converted then into a parsonage for John Hofer.

The three friends were discussing the grave questions of the moment. A few steps away, under the great linden tree, little Idelette, the two year old daughter of Pastor Hofer and Theresa his wife, was enjoying a piece of bread given her for her lunch. A black dog, whose very eyes looked hunger, and whose lean body expressed the misery then reigning in the town, looked appealingly on the child, and licked up the crumbs which fell upon the ground. Idelette, who understood nothing of the dog's mute supplication, gave him a sudden kick, and in doing so let fall her bread, which the dog was not slow in snapping up, unmindful of Idelette's cries.

Then a rude voice was heard from the wagon-maker's shop situated across the little square in front of the cloister: "Spitzi, you crazy thief! Come here, you evil beast."

It was Michael Fininger's voice — a young ruffian of some sixteen years, who then came on with a rope in his hand, at the sight of which the poor dog crept trembling behind Pastor Hofer as if seeking his protection. "That rascal is hiding," again he said, with an oath; and laying hold on the dog, threw him to the ground, stamped upon him, and fastened the rope to his neck to drag him to the "dump," saying, "He is mad — he bit my sister Inez this morning."

"Because your sister pricked him with a sharp hat-pin," answered Hansel, Idelette's cousin, who was just returning from the woods with a basket of strawberries. "I saw her do it this morning."

Pastor Hofer then said: "This dog is not mad. Watch him"; and he fetched a dish of fresh water which he set before the animal. The dog licked the pastor's hand and, reassured by this kindness, drank the whole contents of the dish. "Listen, Michael," said the pastor, "'A righteous man regards the life of his beast,' the Scriptures say; but you and your brothers mistreat this poor animal in such a way that it naturally irritates him."

Michael, red with anger, answered the pastor in a tone of insolent defiance: "That dog is mine, and I can do with him as I like." And with an oath against "the Lutheran heretics" who "meddled with what did not concern them," tightened the cord about Spitzi's neck to drag him away.

Herr Gamsharst then interposed, and pointing to a notice upon the door of the church, said, "Michael Fininger, can you read what is written there?"

The shameless ruffian gave a step backward, growling an unintelligible answer.

"Michael," continued Herr Gamsharst, "in that decree Christian authorities prohibit under severe penalties anyone calling ministers of the gospel heretics. It also forbids swearing and blasphemy; you have violated both these prohibitions; go to your father's house, whom the law holds responsible for your conduct. I shall settle this matter with him." And taking Michael by the arm he led him to his father's shop.

Father Bernard expressed his fear as to the result of taking away the poor animal from the grasp of such evil masters, "for if they do not dare to do us evil," he said, "they will avenge themselves on him, and increase his sufferings."

"Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind,'" exclaimed Herr Gamsharst, as he returned indignant from the house of Fininger. "Behold," said he, "here is a home in which the mother brings up her children in idleness, and the father teaches them insolence and rudeness. Master John, do not scold me for having usurped your ministry; I have given them a sermon which you would not approve, but I could not tolerate such insolence. However, I have commuted the penalty imposed on Michael to a suspension of his rights over the dog, that he may not beat him to death. Take him away, Hansel — away from his murderers. He is vigilant, and in such times as these we have need of watchful friends; he may be of use to your father's family."

Hansel tried to take away the freed captive, calling and caressing him by turns; but the dog cast himself at the pastor's feet, as if to say, "This is my master." At last it had to be as the dog wished, and Hansel resigned the dog to his uncle, the pastor, and Spitzi clung like a good servant to the peaceful family of the cloister. Whenever the pastor set out for Obersteinbrunn to minister there, Spitzi accompanied him, and Theresa had the satisfaction that her husband went well guarded. In the house Spitzi became the playmate of Idelette, and when Father Bernard, who lived in the same house (for Hofer and Theresa were his children by adoption), was taking his nap in his armchair, the faithful animal would lay himself down before the door as if to keep guard.

Of his old masters the dog evidently had no good recollection, for he would growl and bark when they came near; and not even the pastor himself could make him keep quiet. But if the Finingers did not dare to bark they were none the less ready to bite. Their evil conduct would have taxed the patience of any one less pacific than our friends of the cloister; but they bore it in true Christian calmness and neigh,. borly kindness, while peace and love reigned in their family life — one of the blessed fruits of the Reformation, which was beginning to take firm root in Mulhausen. Augustine Kraemer, Otto Binder and Jacob Augsburger preached the word of God in the church of St. Stephen, and Father Bernard and John Hofer in the church of the Augustinians. In the evening the pastors would gather under the linden tree and the people in the surrounding square. The pastors started the hymns which the assembly repeated in chorus. When the time came to separate one of the spiritual guides made a brief prayer. But in Mulhausen, as in every place, a newly formed evangelical church could only establish itself after a struggle.

For some time the governor of Ensisheim, an Austrian fortification near the city, had looked upon the little republic of Mulhausen with hate, excited now by their change of religion. He carried his complaints to the court of the archduke Ferdinand (who later became emperor) and to his counsellors, who shared his sentiments toward the evangelicals. A chaplain of Mulhausen who at times went to preach the gospel in Brunnstadt, and Link, pastor of Illzach, had been accused of treason, and were executed without formal trial in Ensisheim. With these evil tidings fresh in the minds of the people, it was but natural that fear and uneasiness reigned in Mulhausen.

The little republic not only saw itself hemmed in on every side by the dreaded Austria, but its allies, the Swiss confederations, refused to interfere in its favor. Four deputies of the cantons came to promise them aid on condition that they abjured the doctrines of Luther, but if not, they had orders to depart immediately and leave the city to its fate. The effect of such a message to Mulhausen can be imagined. The majority, frightened by the sad prospect, were inclined to submit but the Secretary Gamsharst's noble character now shone forth in facing the peril unflinchingly. Firm as a rock in the tempest, and sustained by the faithful pastors, he succeeded in re-encouraging his vacillating fellow-citizens, and it was decided to send by the deputies of the Swiss cantons this noble and dignified answer: "The Church of Mulhausen has suppressed nothing in its worship of what is essentially Christian it has only suppressed the abuses which have prejudiced religion. We have placed all our hope in God Almighty and in His Son. We have His holy Word according to the Testaments preached in our city, with nothing either added or subtracted, and this we shall continue doing. We wish in all things to please our appreciated lords and confederates of the Swiss leagues, but in that which pertains to the glory of God and the salvation of our souls, we can alter nothing in our reply, which is the only answer that could be given by Christians."

These energetic resolutions gave peace to the souls of the Reformed, and when the day following they saw the four deputies take the road for Switzerland, sullen and dissatisfied, in spite of all the tokens of deference accorded them, these brave men of Mulhausen said, "All that we do is for the Faith, not for our own profit or pleasure; and we must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God."

Pastor Hofer had to preach the following day at Obersteinbrunn, and had abundant reason to be disquieted. "Do not go, dearest John," pleaded his wife, Theresa, and she told him weeping how many times she had trembled for his life, dearer to her than her own. She reminded him of the perils to which he exposed. himself in going to preach the gospel on Austrian soil; she told him how during the deliberations of the Council, the Finingers and their sympathizers had been throwing stones at the walls of the cloister, with threats against the pastor and songs against the Reformed.

Instead of answering, the pastor opened his old Bible, uttered a brief prayer,* then read the words of Jesus to Peter: "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me? And he said unto Him, Lord, Thou knowest all things: Thou knowest that I love Thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep." Hofer then put his arm tenderly around his wife and said: "Theresa, there is an ancient tradition concerning the martyrdom of Peter that when the emperor had decreed his death, and his brethren had assisted him in escaping under cover of the night, he saw a brilliant light beside him, and recognized his Saviour who was going the other way. 'Lord, whither goest Thou?' asked Peter, casting himself at His feet. 'To Rome to be crucified,' responded the Lord; and He added, 'Follow thou Me.' Theresa, Peter also had a home and a beloved wife, but at the words of the Lord he returned to Rome, and suffered martyrdom. Do you wish me to forsake my Master, and refuse to feed His sheep?"
{* It was the custom of the Reformed in Germany and France, when about to open the word of God to ask His enlightenment and blessing upon the Word read. — [Ed.}

"No, no, beloved husband, do the will of God," said Theresa; and resting on his shoulder, she wept a long time in silence. Then they both knelt in prayer; and Father Bernard, who had been a silent witness to the scene, blessed them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

The next day was one of those tranquil mornings over the waking city, which seem to say, "This is the day of the Lord." John Hofer commended himself and his loved ones to the grace of the Lord, and set out, accompanied by faithful Spitzi, to Obersteinbrunn, where duty was calling him, though with an inward sentiment that he also would be bound by another, and led whither he would not."

There are in life certain times when a shadow seems to hang over our head, an indescribable oppression upon the soul. Such was this Lord's day to Theresa. She first went to the solitary church to pour her disquietude in her Saviour's bosom, then went to make her usual visits to the sick and the poor, but nothing could divert her or take the deep pain from her heart.

Slowly and wearily the hours passed; evening and night came, and he whom they were waiting for did not come. The alarm became general, and messengers were sent out. The night was dark, and the sky overcast as for a great storm. It soon burst upon Mulhausen, and the wind moaned through the deserted cloisters. The pastor's family watched and prayed in the great refectory where Herr Gamsharst came to unite with them, while messengers sent by him came and went without bringing any news.

Suddenly Hansel, who stood watching at the gate, entered crying, "Here is Spitzi without my uncle!" and the dog, jaded and dripping, darted into the hall, whining and barking, going towards the door and returning as if to ask help. The thing that they feared had happened, then: but where, and how? That was something the dog could not answer.

Suddenly, before the half-opened door appeared Michael Fininger, and with an air of triumph cried, "Now they have him, now they have him" and instantly disappeared. Shortly after this, one of the messengers that had been sent out by Gamsharst returned, and related, weeping, how Pastor John had conducted the morning service at Obersteinbrunn, and had visited the sick of his flock afterwards; but, in returning to Mulhausen accompanied by the guard Vincent, he was assaulted by Austrian soldiers, made prisoner, and taken to the castle of Brunnstadt. "All Obersteinbrunn is in a commotion," he said, "and, as the pastor is much beloved, they did not dare to take him back through the town for fear of the inhabitants."

Theresa was terrified, and the women wept and prayed while the men were deliberating. "If he is in the castle it will be impossible to rescue him," remarked Gamsharst, "they will not even give us time to protest against his detention. The governor has already shown how he disposes of our evangelical pastors."

"He is not in the castle of Brunnstadt," said the guard Vincent, who, just arrived, drenched to the skin, and overcome with fatigue, let himself fall into the first seat. "They mean to take him to Ensisheim by cross roads to avoid passing through towns where they know the pastor is esteemed. Set out at once with all the valiant men you can gather, for you may yet surprise them. Go to the Hart Forest, they have to cross it, and with the help of God you may yet be able to snatch the pastor from the hands of those murderers."

Vincent then told them how he had taken him by retired paths where they believed themselves secure, but the scoundrel Michael Fininger had conducted the soldiers to an ambuscade where, lying in wait for Pastor John, they cast themselves suddenly upon him, bound him, and tied him crosswise on a horse, his feet hanging on one side and his head on the other. The dog had escaped the soldiers who sought to kill him; Vincent had hidden in the thicket; and the Austrians, so elated with their capture of the pastor, had sought no further for him; but from his hiding-place he heard their deliberations and learned the route they intended to take.

This gave exact news; so, with his accustomed decision, Gamsharst at once decided to act.

"Franz, get your cart ready; get in with some armed men, to go quickly to the Hart. Vincent, call together the most determined men, and let them follow us on horseback by another way. The place of meeting is the guardsman's hut; there we will make our final plans. Take this order to the council; let them set guards on the walls; let the house of the Finingers be watched; close the city gates and let none go out or come in without this countersign, 'God is for us'; and may the Lord." he added, removing his cap, "be with us and for us."

"Don't forget to take along Spitzi," said Theresa, the pastor's wife, to whom the magistrate had spoken words of consolation. "Do not forget Spitzi," she repeated; "he will guide you better than all your men on the scent of his master."

Spitzi was not forgotten. Trembling with excitement, he was going from one to the other, and when the cart came before the door he leaped into it. Herr Gamsharst shook hands with Theresa, bidding her to be of good cheer, then cried, "Let us go forward in the name of the Lord," and they set out amid thunder and lightning accompanied by torrents of rain.

Marguerite Blaurer, sister of the reformer of Constance, was at that time in Mulhausen. She was one of those women whom God brings to light in times of trial — noble characters, who think not of their own life, or of themselves, when others are in jeopardy. From her early youth she had consecrated herself to the noble work of comforting the afflicted, visiting the sick and prisoners, and praying for and with the dying. She knew all that was happening on that memorable night, and when the cart had set out, she, with that instinct which led her where there was suffering and need, came as a messenger from heaven to the poor woman in trial. It was not yet day-break, but the two women went to the chapel where a few had gathered with Otto Binder, colleague of the missing pastor. Two verses of one of Luther's earliest hymns were fervently repeated by him:
"Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord;"
and those present repeated after him the supplications of the psalm. Then Marguerite Blaurer with clear and firm voice repeated the second verse
"Fear not, Israel, God knows thy feelings."
The holy confidence of this pious soul, the well-known words of the psalm which testify to God's faithfulness toward those who hope in Him, greatly fortified the depressed spirits of the little congregation.

The little expedition which had set out for the rescue of the captive pastor had to wait in the guardsman's hut until the storm had passed; but at the first dawn of day, though all traces of footprints had been obliterated by the storm, they resumed their march.

The Hart Forest, also called the Great Forest, at that time extended beyond the jurisdiction of Mulhausen to the town of Modenheim. Various ways and paths which traversed it united in the highway of Ensisheim. Which way would the soldiers take? They surely had not travelled all night in such a terrible storm. It was agreed that the armed men should hide in separate parties, while Franz, the guard Vincent, and Hansel who knew the woods thoroughly, with the dog's help should seek the soldiers' track. But Spitzi — where was he? He had disappeared, and no one could tell when or whither.

"After all, what does it matter" said Gamsharst: "the Lord does not need the dog to show us the way." On this each one turned to the place assigned him.

Meanwhile, what was the poor pastor's situation? We left him bound across a horse, with head and feet hanging down, the victim of the double torture of body and spirit, and taken towards the castle of Brunnstadt. As night came on, the storm compelled his escort to seek an asylum in the hut of a charcoal burner, the darkness preventing them from continuing their march in paths bemired with the rain. The soldiers had formed a circle about the cheery fire, while joking about their prisoner, who was kept outside on his horse, and exposed to the fury of the tempest. The customs of the times permitted this harsh treatment of prisoners, especially when dealing with "heretics" — unworthy of all pity.

In this cruel position, his back almost broken, his arms and legs lacerated and swollen with the cords that bound them, John Hofer learned only too well what it was to be "bound by another, and to go where he would not." Without doubt he loved his Saviour fervently, but despite his faith, his lot seemed to be well nigh unendurable. He too, like David, cried to the Lord "out of the depths," imploring deliverance, or grace to continue faithful in his supreme hour.

Near morning, while his afflicted friends at Mulhausen were praying for him, peace came into the heart of the suffering pastor. The rain ceased, the tempest had passed, and the break of day fell on the captive's face while his wife and friends were praying for him in the chapel at home. The spiritual darkness that had enshrouded his soul in that dreadful night was breaking, as if a ministering angel had come to relieve him of his horror and agony, as with his Lord in Gethsemane.

Suddenly there was a noise in the brush, and out rushed an animal. It was Spitzi, who leaped towards his master, and tried to lick his face as if overcome with joy.

"Spitzi, good Spitzi!" said the pastor with delight and surprise, while the dog continued his demonstrations of affection. But Spitzi was uneasy, going toward the bush, lifting up his nose as if scenting after something, and looking and listening as if in expectation of someone; then returning to the pastor to lick his hands.

The morning was coming on, and as the charcoal burner's wife came out she saw the black dog going back and forth about the prisoner. She crossed herself, and rushed to the soldiers saying, "The devil is with the Protestant preacher like a black dog." "Oh," said one of the soldiers, "it is that cursed dog;" and they went out to make an end of him; but Spitzi had disappeared.

"I doubt not," said another, "that he has gone to seek help. By this time the city must be in alarm; they will follow our steps and we shall have a band of men on our track. Let us get away as soon as possible."

They made ready immediately; the cords that bound the pastor were tightened, and they set out with him in the midst of the escort. They had set out in order, but as they went deeper into the forest the path was broken by gullies which became difficult to cross, making considerable detours necessary. Finally they came to a clearing; the place was strange to the company, and a halt was made. Desiring to make sure if they were on Austrian, not Mulhausen territory, the leader with certain others went to investigate as to the paths leading out of the clearing.

Suddenly a voice was heard — "God is for us," which was echoed by others in other directions, and before the soldiers had time to collect for united action the parties from Mulhausen were upon that guarding the pastor. The scattered Austrians, so taken by surprise, made but a brief resistance; giving up the unequal contest they retreated to the forest and fled, leaving the pastor in the hands of his friends.

The poor pastor was in no condition to answer the many questions of his friends. His arms and legs, benumbed, swollen and lacerated by the cords, were soon released, and himself was placed upon a bed of leaves in the cart, and all returned with rejoicing hearts to the guardsman's cabin, and thence to Mulhausen in triumph. Spitzi, faithful Spitzi, came in for plenty of caresses and praise, for he it was that had guided the rescuers.

On entering the city, the watch on St. Stephen's tower proclaimed the glad news to the town, and a royal welcome was given their loved pastor by singing Luther's well-known hymn,
"A mighty fortress is our God."

They carried the pastor into the church of St. Stephen where all kneeled to give thanks to God who had shown Himself "strong on behalf of them that trust in Him."

We cannot enter into the feelings of Theresa in receiving back her husband, nor of Pastor Hofer on finding himself again under the cloisters' roof, among his own. But one of his first cares after his recovery was to go to the house of Fininger, who feared reprisals and a well.. merited punishment upon his son. What was his surprise when Hofer extended to him his hand, saying, "Neighbor, your son Michael did me ill, and God has turned it into good. It is time we should live in unity and peace, and to forgive also if we expect our heavenly Father to forgive us. But believe me, neighbor, it is I necessary for you to think of your soul and of that of your sons."

Such a tender, persuasive way of speaking to the unfortunate father (who also had a heart beneath his rough exterior) had in result that he melted, and stretched forth his hand to the pastor. All went well while he lived. Unfortunately, after his death, his wife and children, with difficulty restrained during the father's life, cast themselves afresh into their evil way.

Let Spitzi, the hero of the day, teach us a lesson. After he had been the means of saving his master and seen him safely home, he went quietly to a corner and lay himself down, with no thought of the great things he had been the means of doing. Are we as faithful and humble in serving our Master who is in heaven?

The Bible Truth Press, 1 East 13th Street, New York.
Printed at the Bible Truth Press, 1 & 3 East 18th Street, New York.