‘Halloo!’ he sung out.
The monk crossed over to him.
‘Friend!’ said he, ’weariness is teaching thee wantonness. Wilt thou take service for a night’s work, where the danger is little, the reward lasting?’
‘As for that,’ replied the Thier, ’danger comes to me like greenwood to the deer, and good pay never yet was given in promises. But I’m bound for the next hour to womankind within there. They’re my masters; as they’ve been of tough fellows before me.’
‘I will seek them, and win their consent,’ said the monk, and so left him.
‘Quick dealing!’ thought the Thier, and grew brisker. ’The Baron won’t want me to-night: and what if he does? Let him hang himself—though, if he should, ‘twill be a pity I’m not by to help him.’
He paced under the wall to its farthest course. Turning back, he perceived the monk at the gateway.
‘A sharp hand!’ thought the Thier.
‘Intrude no question on me,’ the monk began; ’but hold thy peace and follow: the women release thee, and gladly.’
‘That’s not my plan o’ life, now! Money down, and then command me’: and Schwartz Thier stood with one foot forward, and hand stretched out.
A curl of scorn darkened the cold features of the monk.
He slid one hand into a side of his frock above the girdle, and tossed a bag of coin.
’Take it, if ‘tis in thee to forfeit the greater blessing,’ he cried contemptuously.
The Thier peeped into the bag, and appeared satisfied.
‘I follow,’ said he; ’lead on, good father, and I’ll be in the track of holiness for the first time since my mother was quit of me.’
The monk hurried up the street and into the marketplace, oblivious of the postures and reverences of the people, who stopped to stare at him and his gaunt attendant. As they crossed the square, Schwartz Thier spied Henker Rothhals starting from a wine-stall on horseback, and could not forbear hailing him. Before the monk had time to utter a reproach, they were deep together in a double-shot of query and reply.
‘Whirr!’ cried the Thier, breaking on some communication. ’Got her, have they? and swung her across stream? I’m one with ye for my share, or call me sheep!’
He waved his hand to the monk, and taking hold of the horse’s rein, ran off beside his mounted confederate, heavily shod as he was.
The monk frowned after him, and swelled with a hard sigh.
‘Gone!’ he exclaimed, ’and the accursed gold with him! Well did a voice warn me that such service was never to be bought!’
He did not pause to bewail or repent, but returned toward the prison with rapid footsteps, muttering: ’I with the prison-pass for two; why was I beguiled by that bandit? Saw I not the very youth given into my hands there, he that was with the damsel and the aged woman?’