The good mother had made a bundle for her son that would have brought a smile to my lips had it not brought tears to my eyes. There were her homely balsams to cure Max’s ailments; true, he had never been ill, but he might be. There was a pillow of down for his head, and a lawn kerchief to keep the wind from his delicate throat. Last, but by no means least, was the dear old mother’s greatest treasure, a tooth of St. Martin, which she firmly believed would keep her son’s heart pure and free from sin. Of that amulet Max did not stand in need.
We followed the Save for many leagues, and left its beautiful banks only to journey toward Vienna. At that city I drew my slender stock of gold from the merchant that had been keeping it for me, and bought a beautiful chain coat for Max. He already had a good, though plain, suit of steel plate which his father had given him when he received the accolade. I owned a good plate armor and the most perfect chain coat I have ever seen. I took it from a Saracen lord one day in battle, and gave him his own life in payment. Max and I each bore a long sword, a short sword, and a mace. We carried no lance. That weapon is burdensome, and we could get one at any place along our journey.
I was proud of Max the morning we rode out of Vienna, true knights-errant, with the greatest princess in Europe as our objective prize. Truly, we were in no wise modest; but the God of heaven, the god of Luck, and the god of Love all favor the man that is bold enough to attempt the impossible.
My stock of gold might, with frugality, last us three months, but after that we should surely have to make our own way or starve. We hoped that Max would be successful in filling our purses with prize money and ransoms, should we fall in with a tournament now and then; but, lacking that good fortune, we expected to engage ourselves as escorts to merchant caravans. By this kind of employment we hoped to be housed and fed upon our travels and to receive at each journey’s end a good round sum of gold for our services. But we might find neither tournament nor merchant caravan. Then there would be trouble and hardship for us, and perhaps, at times, an aching void under our belts. I had often suffered the like.
Ours, you see, was not to be a flower-strewn journey of tinselled prince to embowered princess. Before our return to Styria, Max would probably receive what he needed to make a man of him—hard knocks and rough blows in the real battle of life. Above all, he would learn to know the people of whom this great world is composed, and would return to Hapsburg Castle full of all sorts of noxious heresies, to the everlasting horror of the duke and the duchess. They probably would never forgive me for making a real live man of their son, but I should have my reward in Max.
To Max, of course, the future was rosy-hued. Caravans were waiting for our protection, and princes were preparing tournaments for our special behoof. We want for food to eat or place to lay our heads? Absurd! Our purses would soon be so heavy they would burden us; we should soon need squires to carry them. If it were not for our desire to remain incognito, we might presently collect a retinue and travel with herald and banner. But at the end of all was sweet Mary of Burgundy waiting to be carried off by Maximilian, Count of Hapsburg.