‘She’s nothing less than the white rose of Germany,’ said the stranger, with a good bend of the shoulders to Margarita.
‘So she’s called,’ exclaimed Gottlieb; ’she ‘s worthy to be a man!’
‘Men would be the losers, then, more than they could afford,’ replied the stranger, with a ringing laugh.
‘Come, good friend,’ said Gottlieb; ’you must need refreshment. Prove you are a true hero by your appetite. As Charles the Great said to Archbishop Turpin, “I conquered the world because Nature gave me a gizzard; for everywhere the badge of subjection is a poor stomach.” Come, all! A day well ended, notwithstanding!’
At the threshold of Gottlieb’s house a number of the chief burgesses of Cologne had corporated spontaneously to condole with him. As he came near, they raised a hubbub of gratulation. Strong were the expressions of abhorrence and disgust of Werner’s troop in which these excellent citizens clothed their outraged feelings; for the insult to Gottlieb was the insult of all. The Rhinestream taxes were provoking enough to endure; but that the licence of these free-booting bands should extend to the homes of free and peaceful men, loyal subjects of the Emperor, was a sign that the evil had reached from pricks to pokes, as the saying went, and must now be met as became burgesses of ancient Cologne, and by joint action destroyed.
‘In! in, all of you!’ said Gottlieb, broadening his smile to suit the many. ’We ’ll talk about that in-doors. Meantime, I’ve got a hero to introduce to you: flesh and blood! no old woman’s coin and young girl’s dream-o’day: the honest thing, and a rarity, my masters. All that over some good Rhine-juice from above Bacharach. In, and welcome, friends!’
Gottlieb drew the stranger along with him under the carved old oak-wood portals, and the rest paired, and reverentially entered in his wake. Margarita, to make up for this want of courtesy, formed herself the last of the procession. She may have had another motive, for she took occasion there to whisper something to Farina, bringing sun and cloud over his countenance in rapid flushes. He seemed to remonstrate in dumb show; but she, with an attitude of silence, signified her wish to seal the conversation, and he drooped again. On the door step she paused a moment, and hung her head pensively, as if moved by a reminiscence. The youth had hurried away some strides. Margarita looked after him. His arms were straightened to his flanks, his hands clenched, and straining out from the wrist. He had the aspect of one tugging against the restraint of a chain that suddenly let out link by link to his whole force.
‘Farina!’ she called; and wound him back with a run. ’Farina! You do not think me ungrateful? I could not tell my father in the crowd what you did for me. He shall know. He will thank you. He does not understand you now, Farina. He will. Look not so sorrowful. So much I would say to you.’