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.The man smiled kindly at his son.“Ah, lad, dreams are often what we make them to be.When you dream this night, dream of Blasius with his long, yellow hair.Dream that you are he.Then mount a big-chested steed and gallop from the darkness toward the torches.Then, as you come by Albert, swing your sword with all your might and cut that cursed rope! Ha… won’t that anger the bailiff! Then catch the lad and set him behind you on your horse.With a yell turn and charge toward your brother and me.We shall open a path midst your fellows and off you shall ride to a place far away and safe!”Wil brightened.“Ja, I shall save him! And then I shall save others!”Heinrich nodded and lifted Wil high toward the smoke hole in the ceiling.“Fly, lad, fly like the embers, far, far away … and be free!”Chapter 15LOSSESSince Gottwald’s death Heinrich had spent each All Souls’ Eve with Emma.The night was one of great sadness for the woman and she treasured the company of her friend.As Heinrich walked to her home on this particular November night, he sensed her time was short.Emma had battled her illness bravely and without complaint for the past several years.In the summer just past she was barely fit enough to walk in the garden and had spent only a few precious hours at the Magi with Heinrich and his boys.Of late she had become bedridden, ashen, and pale.No potion helped, though Brother Lukas tried many.“Greetings!” Heinrich offered as he closed the door behind himself.A lump filled his throat as he tried to smile.His Butterfly Frau was lying atop her straw mattress with her head resting on a goose feather pillow.Lukas sat quietly by her side.He had arrived at Emma’s cottage just after vespers with a flask of chicken broth smuggled from the refectory.The two friends had spent a quiet hour together before Heinrich joined them.Above Emma’s head hung a season’s worth of dried flowers and herbs that filled her home with a musky scent more potent than the sweet smoke of her spruce-log hearth.She breathed lightly and was half-asleep but smiled as Heinrich came to her side.“Ah, good and dear friend,” she said slowly, “I am so … so very thankful to God that you have come to see me on this night.”Heinrich knelt by her.“Dear Emma.I am thankful to be here.”Lukas wiped her head with a scented napkin.“Rosemary and flower of thistle.”“What does that do?” asked Heinrich.Lukas shrugged.“I don’t really know, but I like the sound of it.”Emma laughed weakly until her eyes watered.“Ach, Lukas! Do not ever change!”The monk grinned.“Now, sister.It is you who taught we must always change!”Emma coughed and chuckled.“Ah, and so I did, so I did.” Her voice faded a little.“Heinrich, all is in order with your land.I’ve received the rents and I’ve given them to Blasius, that wondrous Templar.” She grimaced and clutched her chest.The pain passed quickly and she went on.“The prior is furious … I must confess, I like that somewhat.” She smiled.“He wants your land very badly.It seems Gottwald …” Another pain gripped her and this time she cried out.Heinrich backed away and let Lukas comfort the woman.The monk held her to his chest and entreated God’s mercy with a desperate prayer.The two were still for a few moments until the pain eased, and the woman wiped the tears off the brother’s kind face.She smiled at him and turned to Heinrich once more.“Gottwald granted your land in the very center of what he gave to the abbey! He was an old fox, ha! An old, gray fox indeed.He knew the abbey would offer a heavy price for it.”“But Emma, I want it to be your land, always.I…”“Ah, dear boy.You know that cannot be.I am ready to die, quite ready, indeed.Brother Lukas brought a priest from the abbey for my final confession just an hour before you came.I think he was angry I did not die right away; he thinks he wasted a trip!” She chuckled, then paused.“I told him the suffering of Christ was the only penance I need look to.I told him the perfection of Christ was all the goodness I might claim.He said I was strident.” The woman sighed peacefully, then closed her eyes in sleep.The monk and the baker sat quietly alongside Emma’s bed for an hour or so, when a sudden pain awakened her.She grimaced.Lukas bathed her head and prayed with her.She then fixed a glassy stare on Heinrich.“Hear me, lad, m’precious little Heinz, look past what you see, and truth shall find you.”Heinrich glanced anxiously at Lukas as tears blurred his red eyes.He held the woman’s cooling hands in his [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]