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Otto of the Silver Hand
Written and Illustrated
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
Copyright, 1888, by Charles Scribner's Sons
In the belfry
The Dragon's House
How the Baron Went Forth to Shear
How the Baron Came Home Shorn
The White Cross on the Hill
How Otto Dwelt at St. Michaelsburg
How Otto Lived in the Dragon's House
The Red Cock Crows on Drachenhausen
In the House of the Dragon Scorner
How One-eyed Hans Came to Trutz-Drachen
How Hans Brought Terror to the Kitchen
How Otto was Saved
A Ride for Life
How Baron Conrad Held the Bridge
How Otto Saw the Great Emperor
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
There they sat, just as little children in the town might sit upon their father's door-step
Away they rode with clashing hoofs and ringing armor
No one was within but old Ursela, who sat crooning over a fire
Abbot Otto, of St. Michaelsburg, was a gentle, patient, pale-faced old man
"While I lay there with my horse upon me, Baron Frederick ran me down with his lance,"
The poor, simple Brother sitting under the pear-tree, close to the bee-hives, rocking the little baby in his arms
Always it was one picture that little Otto sought
Poor Brother John came forward and took the boy's band
Otto lay close to ber feet upon a bear-skin
The grim Baron sat silent with his chin resting upon his clenched fist
Slowly raising himself upon the narrow foothold be peeped cautiously within
Schwartz Carl, holding his arbelast in his hand, stood silently watching
He strode forward into the room and laid his hand heavily on the boy's shoulder
"Then dost thou not know why I am here?" said the Baron
Fritz, the swineherd, sat eating his late supper of porridge
Hans held up a necklace of blue and white beads
"Thou ugly toad," said the woman
The man was Long Jacob, the Bowman
In an instant he was flung back and down
The next moment they were banging in mid-air
He was gazing straight before him with a set and stony face
In the middle of the narrow way stood the motionless, steel-clad figure
For a moment they stood swaying backward and forward
It was the great Emperor Rudolph
ETWEEN the far away past history of the world, and that which lies near to us; in the time when the wisdom of the ancient times was dead and had passed away, and our own days of light had not yet come, there lay a great black gulf in human history, a gulf of ignorance, of superstition, of cruelty, and of wickedness.
That time we call the dark or middle ages.
Few records remain to us of that dreadful period in our world's history, and we only know of it through broken and disjointed fragments that have been handed down to us through the generations.
Yet, though the world's life then was so wicked and black, there yet remained a few good men and women here and there (mostly in peaceful and quiet monasteries, far from the thunder and the glare of the world's bloody battle), who knew the right and the truth and lived according to what they knew; who preserved and tenderly cared for the truths that the dear Christ taught, and lived and died for in Palestine so long ago.
This tale that I am about to tell is of a little boy who lived and suffered in those dark middle ages; of how he saw both the good and the bad of men, and of how, by gentleness and love and not by strife and hatred, he came at last to stand above other men and to be looked up to by all. And should you follow the story to the end, I hope you may find it a pleasure, as I have done, to ramble through those dark ancient castles, to lie with little Otto and Brother John in the high belfry-tower, or to sit with them in the peaceful quiet of the sunny old monastery garden, for, of all the story, I love best those early peaceful years that little Otto spent in the dear old White Cross on the Hill.
Poor little Otto's life was a stony and a thorny pathway, and it is well for all of us nowadays that we walk it in fancy and not in truth.