The marquise had not yet left her litter. The wind had extinguished two of the torches. One bearer walked in front of Barbara with his, and the gale blew the smoking flame aside. But, ere she had reached the gate, a man who had been concealed behind the old elm by the path stepped forward to meet her. She started back and, as he called her by name, she recognised the young Wittenberg theologian, Erasmus Eckhart. Sincerely indignant, she ordered him to go away at once, but her first words were interrupted by the shrill voice of the marquise, who had now left her litter, and with loud shrieks ordered the steward to seize the burglar.
Erasmus, however, trusted to his strength and nimbleness and, instead of promptly taking flight, entreated Barbara to listen to him a moment. Not until, far from allowing herself to be softened, she, too, threatened him, did he attempt to escape, but both litters were in his way, and when he had successfully passed around them the gardener, suddenly emerging from the darkness, seized him. But the sturdy young fellow knew how to defend his liberty, and had already released himself from his assailant when other servants grasped him.
Above the roar of the storm now rose the shrieks of the marquise, the shouts of “Stop thief!” from the men, and Erasmus’s protestations that he was no robber, coupled with an appeal to Jungfrau Blomberg, who knew him.
Barbara now stated that he was the son of a respectable family, and had by no means come here to steal the property of others; but the marquise, though she probably correctly interpreted the handsome young fellow’s late visit, vehemently insisted upon his arrest. She treated Barbara’s remonstrance with bitter contempt; and when Cassian, the almoner’s servant, appeared and declared that he had already caught this rascal more than once strolling in a suspicious manner near the castle, and that he himself was here so late only because his beloved bride, in her mistress’s absence, was afraid of the robber and his companions, Barbara’s entreaties and commands were disregarded, and Erasmus’s hands were bound.
By degrees the noise drew most of the inmates of the castle out of doors, and among them Frau Lerch. Lastly, several halberdiers, who were coming from the Lindenplatz and had heard the screams in the garden, appeared, chained the prisoner, and took him to the Prebrunn jail.
But scarcely had Erasmus been led away when the priests of the household also came out and asked what had happened. In doing this Barbara’s caution in not calling Erasmus by name proved to have been futile, for Cassian had recognised him, and told the ecclesiastics what he knew. The chaplain then asserted that, as the property of the Prince Abbot of Berchtesgaden, the house and garden were under ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and committed the further disposal of the burglar’s fate to the Dominican whom the almoner had placed there. For the present he might remain in secular custody. Early the following morning he must be brought before the Spanish Dominicans who had come with the Emperor, and from whom greater severity might be expected than from the Ratisbon brotherhood, by whom monastic discipline had been greatly relaxed.