Dietrich gulped and winked, like a patient recovering wry-faced from an abhorred potion.
‘We have warned you, Fraulein Groschen!’ he exclaimed. ’It now becomes our duty to see that you are not snared.’
Margarita reddened, and returned: ’You are kind. But I am a Christian maiden and not a Pagan soldan, and I do not require a body of tawny guards at my heels.’
Thereat she flung back to her companions, and began staining her pretty mouth with grapes anew.
THE TAPESTRY WORD
Fair maids will have their hero in history. Siegfried was Margarita’s chosen. She sang of Siegfried all over the house. ’O the old days of Germany, when such a hero walked!’ she sang.
‘And who wins Margarita,’ mused Farina, ’happier than Siegfried, has in his arms Brunhild and Chrimhild together!’
Crowning the young girl’s breast was a cameo, and the skill of some cunning artist out of Welschland had wrought on it the story of the Drachenfels. Her bosom heaved the battle up and down.
This cameo was a north star to German manhood, but caused many chaste expressions of abhorrence from Aunt Lisbeth, Gottlieb’s unmarried sister, who seemed instinctively to take part with the Dragon. She was a frail-fashioned little lady, with a face betokening the perpetual smack of lemon, and who reigned in her brother’s household when the good wife was gone. Margarita’s robustness was beginning to alarm and shock Aunt Lisbeth’s sealed stock of virtue.
‘She must be watched, such a madl as that,’ said Aunt Lisbeth. ’Ursula! what limbs she has!’
Margarita was watched; but the spy being neither foe nor friend, nothing was discovered against her. This did not satisfy Aunt Lisbeth, whose own suspicion was her best witness. She allowed that Margarita dissembled well.
‘But,’ said she to her niece, ’though it is good in a girl not to flaunt these naughtinesses in effrontery, I care for you too much not to say—Be what you seem, my little one!’
‘And that am I!’ exclaimed Margarita, starting up and towering.
‘Right good, my niece,’ Lisbeth squealed; ’but now Frau Groschen lies in God’s acre, you owe your duty to me, mind! Did you confess last week?’
‘From beginning to end,’ replied Margarita.
Aunt Lisbeth fixed pious reproach on Margarita’s cameo.
‘And still you wear that thing?’
‘Why not?’ said Margarita.
’Girl! who would bid you set it in such a place save Satan? Oh, thou poor lost child! that the eyes of the idle youths may be drawn there! and thou become his snare to others, Margarita! What was that Welsh wandering juggler but the foul fiend himself, mayhap, thou maiden of sin! They say he has been seen in Cologne lately. He was swarthy as Satan and limped of one leg. Good Master in heaven, protect us! it was Satan himself I could swear!’