The cantor house was only a few steps from the Red Cock, and Wolf knew every stone in the street, which was named for the tavern. Yet that very circumstance delayed him, for even the smallest trifle which had changed during his absence attracted his attention.
He had already noticed at the familiar inn that the gay image of the Madonna and Cluld, and the little lamp above, were no longer there. The pictures of the saints had been removed from the public rooms, and even the painting which had been impressed upon his memory from boyhood—like a sign of the house—had vanished. A large red cock, crowing with wide-open beak at the Apostle Peter, had been there.
This venerable work of an old artist ought to have been retained, no matter what doctrine the Leitgebs now professed. Its disappearance affected the knight unpleasantly.
It also induced him to see whether the Madonna with the swords in her heart, which, at the time of his departure, had adorned the Ark, the great house at the corner of the Haidplatz, had met with the same fate, and this sacred witness of former days had likewise been sacrificed to the iconoclasm of the followers of the new Protestant faith. This also grieved him, and urged him to go from street to street, from church to church, from monastery to monastery, from one of the chapels which no great mansion in his native land lacked to another, in order to ascertain what else religious fanaticism had destroyed; but he was obliged to hasten if he wished to be received by those in his home whom he most desired to see.
The windows of the second story in the Golden Cross, opposite to the Ark, were brilliantly lighted. The Emperor Charles lodged there, and probably his royal sister also. Wolf had given his heart to her with the devotion with which he had always clung to every one to whom he was indebted for any kindness. He knew her imperial brother’s convictions, too, and when he saw at one of the windows a man’s figure leaning, motionless against the casement with his hand pressed upon his brow, he realized what deep indignation had doubtless seized upon him at the sight of the changes which had taken place here during the five years of his absence.
But Emperor Charles was not the man to allow matters which aroused his wrath and strong disapproval to pass unpunished. Wolf suspected that the time was not far distant when yonder monarch at the window, who had won so many victories, would have a reckoning with the Smalcalds, the allied Protestants of Germany, and his vivid imagination surrounded him with an almost mystical power.
He would surely succeed in becoming the master of the Protestant princes; but was the steel sword the right weapon to destroy this agitation of the soul which had sprung from the inmost depths of the German nature? He knew the firm, obstinate followers of the new doctrine, for there had been a time when his own young mind had leaned toward it.