THE ARTIST'S MASTERPIECE
 A little village with its scattered glimmering lights
lay in peaceful
dreams. Just as a black swan draws her young under her,
so the mighty
Cathedral rested in the midst of the low houses, which
seemed to creep,
like birds, under its wing.
It struck twelve from the church tower, and larger and
near and far, carried the message onward. Dead silence
over the sleeping village.
Just as dawn bathed the hills in sunlight, two stately
along the Cathedral Square. One seemed somewhat older,
with his full
gray beard. His hair, rich and abundant, curled beneath
his velvet cap.
He walked so majestically that one could see, at the
very first glance,
that he was no ordinary person, but one upon whose
invisible weight rested. Handsome, tall and noble, just
as one would
picture the highest type of man—a king from head to
Here, in the little village of Breisach, as he named
Maximilian liked to rest from
 the cares of his
Empire. Here, in this
little retreat, filled with calm and quietude, he loved
to wander. From
here he sent letters full of tender thoughts to his
daughter in the
He loved the place well, and christened it "Care-Free."
As Emperor Maximilian walked proudly, but with heavy
tread, along the
parapet of the Cathedral Square, his eye rested upon
the gay scene at
his feet. To-day the invisible world of care pressed
heavily upon his
shoulders. Suddenly he stood still, and turning to his
secretary, he said, "I wonder who those children are
who are so
industriously planting a rose-bush in the niche of the
The children, a girl and a boy (the former about eight,
and the latter
twelve years of age), were so engrossed in their work
that they had not
noticed the approach of the Emperor, until his presence
was so near that
it startled them. They turned full face upon him. Then
the boy touched
the girl and said, "It's the Emperor!"
"What are you doing there?" he asked, and his artistic
eye feasted on
the beauty of this charming pair.
"We are planting a rose-bush," said the boy, undaunted.
The Emperor smiled, and said, "What is your name?"
"Hans Le Fevre, sir."
 "And the little one, is she your sister?"
"No, she is Marie, our neighbor's child."
"Ah!—you like each other very much?"
"Yes, when I'm old enough, and when I own a knife, I'm
going to marry
The Emperor opened his eyes wide, and said, "Why do you
need a knife?"
"Surely," answered the boy, earnestly, "if I have no
knife I cannot cut,
and if I cannot cut I can earn no money. My mother has
always said that
without money one cannot marry. Besides, I should have
to have much
money to enable me to marry my little friend Marie, as
she is the
"But," questioned the Emperor, "what do you want to
"Ha! ha! I understand. You want to be a wood-carver.
Now, I remember
that I once met two young boys, named Le Fevre. They
were studying in
Nürnberg, with Dürer, 'The Prince of Artists.' Were
they, perhaps, your
"Yes, my cousins, and once I saw them carve, and I
would like to learn
how, too; but my father and uncle are dead, and my
mother never buys me
The Emperor thrust his hand into his pocket, and after
much fumbling and
jingling, pulled out a knife with an artistically
carved handle. "Will
that do?" said he.
 The boy flushed, and one could see how beneath his
coarse, torn shirt
his heart beat with joy.
"Yes," stammered the boy, "it's beautiful."
"Well, take it and use it diligently," said the
The boy took the treasure from the Emperor's hand as
carefully as if it
were red hot and might burn his fingers.
"I thank you many times!" was all that he could say;
but in his dark
eyes there beamed a fire of joy whose sparks of love
electrified the Emperor.
"Would you like to go to your cousins in Nürnberg, and
help them in
plate-engraving? There's plenty of work there."
"I would like to go to Dürer in Nürnberg, but I don't
want to be a
plate-engraver. I would rather cut figures that look
"That's right," said the Emperor, "you will be a man,
hold to that which is natural and you will not fail."
At that moment the Emperor drew a leather bag from his
jacket and gave it to the boy.
"Be careful of it. Save the golden florins within; give
them to no one.
Remember, the Emperor has ordered that they be used
education. Study well, and when you are full-grown and
able to travel,
then go to Dürer, in Nürnberg. Convey to him my
 to him
that, as I, while in his studio one day, held the
ladder for him lest he
fall, so should he now hold the ladder of fame for you,
that you may be
able to climb to the very top of it. Will you promise
me all that, my
"Yes, your majesty!" cried Hans, inspired, and, seizing
right hand, he shook it heartily and kissed it. Then
the Emperor passed
on, while the boy stood there in a dream. Marie still
held tightly to
Just at that moment a servant appeared who had been in
search of Marie.
The children ran to meet her and related their
experience with the
Emperor. The servant called all the townsfolk together
to see the knife
and the contents of the bag, but wise Hans kept the bag
The next day the Emperor rode off; but for many days to
come his talk
with Hans was the town topic. "Surely, it is no
wonder," said the
envious ones. "Hans always was a bold boy and knew how
to talk up for
himself, so why shouldn't he know how to talk to the
speech was decidedly undeserved; but Hans was too young
their meanness. He was absorbed in the Emperor's
UNDER THE EMPEROR'S BUSH
 Years passed. Hans Le Fevre lost his mother and Marie
hers; and closer
and closer did the bond of companionship draw these
In the evening, when her father was busy with a
the housekeeper was gossiping with the neighbors, Hans
and Marie would
climb the garden wall. Here they would sit together,
while Hans cut
beautiful toys for her, such as no child of those times
had. He would
talk with her about all the beautiful pictures and
carvings he had
lately seen, and of the masters in the art of
wood-carving; for now he
was attending art lectures and studying hard. Hours
were spent in this
way; but often, when the opportunity offered, they
would run off to the
Cathedral and water the rose-bush, which Hans had now
There they loved best to linger, for there they hoped
always that the
Emperor would return. And often they would cry out
aloud, "Your Majesty,
Your Majesty, come again!"
But their voices died away unanswered; for, far from
them, the Emperor
was concerned with
 the affairs of State. The children
waited for him in
vain. The Emperor came no more.
As the time went by, the children grew, and the
rose-bush grew also.
Just as if the tender threads of love in their hearts
entwined them as one around the roots of the little
bush, it kept
drawing them to itself, there in the niche of the wall.
There they found
each other, day after day. The bush was like a true
friend, who held
their two hands fast in his. But their true friend was
not strong enough
to hold together what other people wished to separate.
The lovely, highly respected Counselor's daughter was
permitted to meet Hans. Her father forbade her one day,
saying that Hans
was not only poor but was not even a native of the
town. His ancestors
were Hollanders who had wandered into Breisach. A
stranger he was, and a
poor stranger at that. He was a sort of Pariah and
could not be fitted
into their time-honored customs. Then, too, he did not
regular trade. "He expects to be an artist." At that
time that was as
good as to be a robber, or a tramp or a conjurer.
Whatever Hans did or whatever he worked at, he kept a
secret. He had
bought the little house in which he dwelt, and since
his mother's death
had lived there all alone. Nobody came or went, except
a famous sculptor
who had quarreled one day with a native in Breisach and
been obliged to
 leave the town. People said that Hans helped him get
away. Ever since
that time Hans had been in ill-repute with his rich
Often Hans met Marie at the "Emperor's Bush," and these
seemed to make them like each other more than they had
After Hans had missed Marie for many days, he sang a
little song beneath
The next day she met Hans at the "Emperor's Bush," and
promised to be true to each others always. Then, in a
moment of ecstasy,
Hans cried out, "Would that the Emperor were here!"
Just as if he felt
that no one but the Emperor was worthy of sharing his
As the Emperor did not come, Hans cut the initials "M."
and "H." in the
bark of the rose-bush, and above it a little crown. This
Hans and Emperor Maximilian."
The fall passed and winter came; and the children now
seldom saw each
other. Hans sang so frequently beneath Marie's window
that her father
heard him one night, and in great anger threatened to
punish her if she
continued her acquaintance with this boy.
One evening Hans and Marie stood for the last time
under the rose-bush
which they had planted eight years before. He was now a
youth of twenty
years; she a rosebud of sixteen summers.
 It was a lowering day in February. The snow had
melted and a light wind
shook the bare branches of the bush. With downcast eyes
she had related
to him all she had been forced to hear concerning him;
and big tears
rolled down her cheeks.
"Marie," said the boy in deep grief, "I suppose you
will finally be made
to believe that I am really a bad person?"
Then she looked full upon him, and a light smile played
features as she said: "No, Hans, never, never. No one
can make me doubt
you. They do not understand you, but I do. You have
taught me (what the
others do not know) everything that is good and great
and noble. You
have made me what I am; just as your artistic hands
have cut beautiful
forms out of dead wood." She took his big, brown hands
pressed them to her lips. "I believe in you, for you
worship the Supreme
with your art; and the man who does that, in word or
deed, cannot be
"And will you always remain true, Marie, till I have
and my art, and can return to claim you?"
"Yes, Hans, I will wait for you; and should I die
before you return, it
is here under this rose-bush, where we have spent so
many happy hours,
that I wish to be buried. You must return here to rest,
when wearied by
your troubles; and every
 rose-leaf that falls upon
you will be a good
wish from me."
Her tears fell silently, and their hearts were sorely
tried by the grief
"Don't cry," said Hans, "all will yet be well. I am
going to Dürer, as
the Emperor bade me. I will learn all that I can; and
when I feel I know
something, I will seek the Emperor, wherever he may be,
tell him my
desires, and beg him to intercede for me with your
"Oh, yes, the Emperor—if he were only here, he would
"Perhaps he will come again," said Hans. "We will pray
that he be sent
to us, or I to him."
They sank upon their knees in the cold, soft winter
grass; and it seemed
to them as if a miracle would be performed, and the
rose-bush be changed
into the Emperor.
There—what was that? The big clock on the church
The two looked up. "What is it, do you suppose? A
perhaps? I sense a great calamity," said she.
Just at that moment people were coming toward the
church. Hans hurried
up to them, to find out what was the trouble, while
"Where have you been, that you don't know? Why, yonder
in the market
place the notice was read—'the Emperor is dead!' " they
"The Emperor is dead?"
 There stood Hans, paralyzed. All his hopes seemed
shattered. As soon as
quiet reigned again, he returned to Marie, and seated
himself on a
bench. Leaning his head in uncontrollable grief against
the slender stem
of the rose-bush, he moaned aloud: "Oh, my Emperor, my
Emperor, why did you leave me?" Lightly Marie touched
his shoulder in
The last rays of the setting sun had now departed. The
last tones of the
dirge had died away. Everything was still and deserted,
as if there
could never again be spring.
"Oh, Marie!" lamented Hans, hopelessly, "the King will
"Bear up," said Marie, "for we have each other." And as
she gazed far
off in the twilight, her eyes seemed like two exiled
seeking their home.
As Hans gazed at her, standing there before him with
her hands crossed
over her breast, in all her purity and humility, a
great joy lit up his
countenance. He folded his hands, inspired.
"Marie," he whispered, "let us not despair. In this
very moment I have
received an inspiration, and if I can bring to pass
that which I now see
in my mind's eye, I shall be an artist who will need
the help of no one—not even an Emperor."
The dawn of the next day found Hans ready to set out on
his journey. He
carried a knapsack on his back, and on his breast the
which the Emperor had given him, with the few florins
that remained. He
closed the door of his little house, put the key into
his pocket, and
walked slowly off. Loud and clear sounded his rich,
soft voice as he
sang, "On the rose thorn, on the rose thorn, there my
hope is hanging!"
Softly in Marie's house a window was raised, and with a
handkerchief she gently waved her mute farewell.
Quickly mastering himself, Hans grasped his staff more
firmly, and now
only his heavy tread echoed through the streets.
NO PROPHET IN HIS OWN COUNTRY
 Year after year passed. Hans Le Fevre had not been
heard from. People
thought of him, however, when they passed his house
with the front door
firmly locked and the shades drawn, and wondered who
would next lay
claim to it.
Only Marie thought constantly of him, and hoped and
waited longingly. No
pleading, no scolding, no threats could arouse her. She
never left the
house, unless it was to visit the rose-bush which she
watered and tended
so well that it had now grown tall and stately. She
knew that the sight
of it would cheer his faithful heart on his return. It
was the only bond
between them. He had planted it with her, and they both
loved it. It was
almost as high as the niche where it stood, and seemed
as if it wished
to stretch beyond. Marie bent it and fastened it to the
wall with a
string, so that its flowering top had to bend beneath
the vaulted niche.
These quiet acts were her only joy, her only
recreation. In work and
prayer she passed her days, and her fresh young cheeks
began to pale.
Her father noticed the change, but without pity.
 It was fortunate for her that his busy life took
him away from home so
Just at this time the people of Breisach desired a new
altar for their
church. A proclamation was accordingly sent forth to
all German artists
to compete, by submitting drawings and estimates for
the work. To the
one who sent the best the contract would be given to
carry out the
Marie heard little about this, as she seldom came in
contact with the
people. She lived lonely in her little home. It was now
the fifth year
since Hans' departure, and long ago his letters had
ceased to come,
because her father had forbidden any correspondence.
Hans had no friends
in Breisach through whom he could communicate. But such
gnaws. Marie was tired of waiting—very tired.
One afternoon she seated herself at her desk and
started to write her
last wish. Her father was absent, and she was
"When I die," she wrote, "I beg you to bury me yonder
Cathedral wall, under the rose-bush which I planted in
Should Hans Le Fevre ever return, I beg you—" she
paused, for just then
a song, at first soft, then louder, greeted her ears.
No star ever fell from heaven, no swallow ever flew
more quickly than
flew the maiden to her window, drawn by this call.
 In trembling tones the final words of the song
died away. Her paper, her
ink, her pen, everything had fallen from her in her
haste. As a captive
bird, freed from its cage, flies forth joyously, so
Marie bounded forth
from her home. Faster and faster she went, never
stopping till she
reached the rose-bush. Breathless and with beating
heart, she halted.
There before her stood Hans Le Fevre.
They seated themselves upon the bench. Long, long they
At last Hans said, "My dear, true girl, how pale you
have grown. Are you
She shook her head. "No more, and I trust never again.
But you stayed
away much too long. Couldn't you have come back
"No, my dear, I could not. Had I returned as a poor,
carver your father would have banished me from his
door-step. We should
then have seen each other again, only to be parted for
the second time.
So I waited till I had accomplished what I set out to
do. I have
traveled extensively and feasted my eyes on the
beautiful works of art
in great cities. I have studied under Dürer, and now my
mentioned with honor as one of Dürer's pupils."
"Oh, Hans, do you really believe that that will soften
heart?" said Marie, anxiously.
"Yes, Marie, I don't think that he can fail me. I heard
in Nürnberg that
a new altar is to be
 built in this Cathedral, so I
hastened here to
compete. Should I be deemed worthy to do such a piece
of work, what
could your father have against me?"
Marie, however, shook her head doubtfully; but Hans was
full of hope.
"But see how our rose-bush has grown!" cried Hans in
tended it well; but it seems almost as if the roses had
taken from you
all your life and strength and health. Return my
darling's strength to
her," Hans said laughingly; and taking a handful of
roses, he softly
stroked her face with them; but her cheeks remained
"Rejoice, my rosebud, rejoice, my darling, for the
spring will soon be
here; and with my care you will soon be well."
A half hour later, the beadle walked timidly into the
council hall of
the high-gabled Council House, and said, "Honored
Counselor, will you
graciously pardon me, but there is a man without who
pressingly begs to
be ushered into your presence."
"Who is it?" asked the Counselor.
"It is Hans Le Fevre," answered the beadle, "but he is
attired. I hardly recognized him."
This was a great surprise to all. Hans, the runaway,
the tramp, who
slipped away by
night—  whither, no one had
learned; and had wandered for years—where, no one
"What does he want?" cried the Counselor.
"He wishes to make inquiry concerning the construction
of the altar, and to lay his designs before you."
"What, I should hold conversation with a scamp like
that; with a boy who never accomplished anything but
what any old cooper could do?" shouted the Counselor.
The other wise counselmen fully agreed with him.
"He had better take himself off," was the final
decision. "Such a piece of work we will not give to any
The good-natured beadle sadly retraced his steps, after
this blunt speech. But he returned immediately, and
with a thousand bows, brought with him a large
portfolio. Hans followed.
"Hans would not have it otherwise but that the honored
gentlemen should look, at least for a moment, upon his
designs, and, if the worthy gentlemen are ignorant of
what Hans Le Fevre can do, possibly by inquiring of
Dürer, in Nurnberg, they would be enlightened."
"If this scamp does not leave instantly," cried the
Counselor, "we will have the beadle drag him away."
"If this scamp does not leave instantly we will have the beadle drag him away."
"Easy, easy, Mr. Counselor," said the Mayor (a quiet
man, who in the meanwhile had opened the portfolio),
"the design does not seem so bad
 to me. "See! see!
ingeniously thought out," cried
"But just to design a thing is far easier than to carry
it out," said
"Hans Le Fevre never did this kind of work before."
"Perhaps he has progressed," remarked the Mayor, "and
possibly he would
do it cheaper than the renowned Master Artist."
This idea took root. "But," said one, "it would be an
unheard of thing
to give such an exalted work to a simple boy like Hans
Le Fevre, whom
everybody knew as a stupid child, and whom we looked
The appearance of the thing alone would not justify us
But this remark had its good side, too; for the
gentlemen now decided
that, in order that the work be given to the most
competent, it would be
advisable to send to Dürer all the designs thus far
submitted, and ask
his opinion in the matter.
Marie cried bitterly when she heard of the treatment
Hans had received;
but Hans did not yet despair. At the same time that
gentlemen dispatched the designs to Dürer, Hans sent a
letter to his
great friend and teacher, in whom he had great faith.
Weeks elapsed. The Counselor's attention was directed
to affairs of
state, and thus withdrawn
 from his daughter, who
lived and bloomed with
the returning spring.
Hans had opened his desolate house, for which, in the
meantime, he had
carved a beautiful front door. Notwithstanding all the
expressed for the native artist's ability, this door
caused quite a
Dürer's answer was long delayed. At last, after four
weeks, the letter
arrived. Who can describe the astonishment of the
as the contents of the letter revealed the design of
rejected applicant, Hans Le Fevre.
Dürer wrote, "With the very best intentions, I could
recommend no wiser
course for you to pursue than to use the sketch
presented by my friend
and pupil, Hans Le Fevre; and I will furnish security
for the complete
execution of his plan. I cannot understand how a town
that harbors in
its midst such a genius, should look abroad for other
artists. Hans Le
Fevre is such an honorable lad and such a great artist,
that the town of
Breisach should be proud to name him as her own, and
everything in its power to hold him captive; for to
Hans the world lies
open, and only his attachment to Breisach has moved him
to return there
Directly upon receipt of this letter, an unheard of
number of villagers
crowded the narrow street. Hans, who was working
quietly in his shop, ran
 to the window to see what the noise was about. But lo!
the crowd had
stopped at his house and loudly did they make the
resound, as it struck the carved lion's head upon the
Hans came forth, and before him stood a deputation of
men in festive
attire, followed by a throng of residents.
"What do you desire of me?" asked Hans, surprised.
"Hans Le Fevre," began the speaker, "the honorable
Counselor makes known
to you that he has finally decided to honor your
application, with the
instruction that if money be needed for the purchase of
application may be made to the clerk of the town."
Hans clapped his hands in glee. "Is it true—is it
possible?" said he.
"To whom am I indebted for this good fortune?"
"The Council sends you this letter which we will now
read before these
assembled people." Hans had not noticed in his joy that
the Counselor, had angrily closed his windows, as if
the praise bestowed
upon the young artist might offend his ears.
After the deputation had departed, and Hans found
himself alone, he
dressed, put a flower in his buttonhole, and walked
over to the
Counselor's house; for now the moment had arrived when
he could prove
 Marie opened the door. A loud cry of joy escaped her,
and she ran to her
Hans, undaunted, stepped up to her father.
"Hans, undaunted, stepped up to her father."
"What do you wish?" said the Counselor, with flashing
"I wish first to thank you for your faith in me."
"You need not thank me," interrupted her father. "I did
not cast my vote
"So?" said Hans, disappointed. "That was not kind. What
did you have to
say against me?"
"What, do you still ask the same old question? You well
know my opinion
of you. You know that I wish my daughter to marry a
good and honorable
"Well," said Hans, "I know a worthy man and I have come
to bring him
"Pray, who can he be?"
"I, worthy Counselor."
"You? Did anyone ever hear such audacity from a beggar
"Mr. Counselor, I never was a beggar. I was poor, but
let that person
come before you who dares say he ever gave me a cent.
supported me until his death, when my mother
up the burden. The
only thing I ever received was the King's gift, and for
that I never
begged. The King gave it to me out of his big heart.
His eye could
pierce with love the soul of humanity; and in me, a
poor boy, he sensed
appreciation. Truly, his money has accumulated
interest. I am no beggar,
Mr. Counselor, and will not tolerate such a speech."
"No, you will not tolerate it;" said he, somewhat
calmed. "Where, then,
is your wealth?"
"Here," said Hans Le Fevre, and he touched his head and
his hands. "I
have a thinking head and skilled hands."
"Well, what do you purpose doing?"
"For the next two years I shall be busy with the altar,
which will yield
me ample means to marry your daughter."
Long and wearily they argued, till Hans felt as if he
himself no longer.
"O, patience!" he cried, "if it were not that I regard
you as something
holy, because you are the father of Marie, I would not
disdain. A king held the ladder for Dürer, and a
Counselor treats his
beloved pupil like a rogue. Yonder is a laughing,
alluring world. There
I have enjoyed all the honors of my calling; and here,
in this little
dark corner of the earth, I must let myself be trodden
upon. All because
I bring a ray of sunshine and beauty that hurts your
short, because I am an artist."
 "Go, then, into your artistic world. Why didn't
you stay there? Why did
you bother to return to this dark corner, as you name
"Because I love your daughter so much, that no
sacrifice I could make
would be too great."
"Did you for one moment think that I could sink so far
as to allow my
daughter to marry an artist?"
"Yes, considering the respect I enjoyed."
"Well, I don't care how many times the King held the
ladder, or whether
or not he cleaned Dürer's shoes, I will hold to this:
that as impossible
as it is for you to build within the Cathedral an altar
that is yet
higher than the Cathedral, just so impossible is it for
you to marry my
daughter, who is so much above you in station."
"Mr. Counselor, is this your last word?" said Hans.
The Counselor laughed scornfully, and said, "Carve an
altar that is
higher than the church in which it is to stand. Then,
and not before
then, you may ask for my daughter."
Hans hastened from his presence and turned his steps to
It was a beautiful day. Shadowless the world lay before
and glory streamed from the sky. But nature in all her
beauty seemed to
him, this day, like a disinterested friend, who laughs
grieves. He seated himself in the niche under the
somehow he always
 felt the Emperor's presence and
influence, and where,
too, he always found peace and hope.
But what hope could ever come to him again? Could the
bush uproot itself
and plead with the Counselor? Could the King, who had
never returned in
life, return from death to help him? No one could help
him, for had not
the Counselor taken an oath, that he would not give his
daughter to him,
unless he built an altar higher than the church in
which it should
stand. This, of course, was impossible. His overcharged
vent to tears, and he cried, "My Emperor, my Emperor,
why did you desert
me?" This time Marie was not at his side to cheer him,
and tell him that
God would not desert him.
All was still, except the humming of the bees among the
roses; and in
the distance the birds sang. All of a sudden something
struck him in the
back. He thought that maybe the Emperor had returned.
But what was it
but the rose-bush, which by the force of its own weight
itself from the arched wall and had pressed itself
outward. For the
first time, Hans noticed that the bush had grown much
higher than the
niche in which it had been planted. As quick as
lightning a thought
flashed through his brain. What had the rose-bush
 Hans could not see Marie, for her father had sent her
From early morn till late at night Hans worked, without
rest or quiet.
Neither pleadings nor threats moved him to desist from
his labors. He
lived like a hermit in his workshop. Two long years had
passed; and at
last Hans appeared at the Council Chamber and made
known the fact that
he had accomplished the work assigned him.
Great excitement reigned in Breisach. The Cathedral was
locked for three
days, during which time the altar was to be placed.
neighbors gathered around the Cathedral to get a
glimpse of the work, if
possible. But well-wrapped and concealed, Hans brought
the pieces, one
by one, from his house—and so the excitement grew
On the fourth day the altar was to be dedicated. Early
in the day the
people started for the Cathedral. Joyously the big
clock resounded. From
all sides, by foot and by wagon, the country folk
swarmed to see the
wonderful work, the talk of the neighborhood for the
past two years.
At break of day Hans had hastened to the
once more to test his
work with his critical eye. Just then the bell pealed
forth. He dropped
his hat, and with folded hands offered a short prayer.
Anyone who has worked for years, in the sweat of his
brow, for future
and fortune, knows how Hans felt as he stood there in
eloquence. His God understood it, too.
Now the crowd surged into the Cathedral, and the
critical moment had
arrived when the artist gave his work, executed through
days and nights, freely to the public eye. One last
look he cast upon
his creation, then he withdrew, and in anxious suspense
impression it would make upon the assembled people.
The morning sun sent her full rays directly upon the
altar, and an
exclamation of astonishment echoed from the
high-vaulted roof. Joy and
wonder filled each breast. There stood the altar before
the people in
all its glory. Was it really wood—stiff, hard
wood—from which these
figures had been carved? Were they not human? And that
host of angels
that seemed to be singing "Hallelujah," each one so
All figures were life size. The entire work was
entwined and crowned
with wreaths of artistically carved foliage, the center
branch of which
reached upward to the arched ceiling.
The untrained eye of the simple villagers could not all
at once, drink
in such a work. Not one
 of them had ever beheld
the like. They felt
there must be some magic in it. They now crowded around
the artist, who,
modest and deeply affected, felt every eye that beamed
Mayor stepped forward and heartily shook him by the
hand. Each one
followed his example, except the Counselor, who leaned
Marie, who had been permitted to return for this
occasion, stood beside
her father, paler than ever, but with a heavenly
expression in her
"Do you not notice that one of the angels on the altar
said one to the other.
"True it is."
"And that another angel resembles the Emperor
Maximilian?" said an old
man. Like lightning, this news flew from row to row.
Marie and the
Emperor had been portrayed.
"Yes, my friends," said Hans, calmly and distinctly, "I
did that because
I know of nothing more beautiful in the world than the
Marie. God made people in His image, and the sculptor,
who is like a
creator, has the right to choose those forms which he
feels are most
like the Image."
"Well said," echoed from all sides.
Now Hans, with bold strides, neared the bench where the
with his daughter.
"I still have something to say to you, and you
 must hear me. I have
fully carried out your behest. Will you now keep your
oath? You demanded
of me what seemed impossible; namely, 'To build an
altar higher than the
Church in which it should stand,' and you solemnly
vowed, that if I
accomplished this, I should wed your daughter. Now, Mr.
up. The altar is exactly one foot higher than the
Church, and yet it
stands within the Church—I have merely bent the top of
The Counselor saw it and paled. He had not dreamed of
such a thing. It
sickened him; but, as Counselor, in all propriety and
dignity, he would
have to keep his word before these assembled people.
A long pause ensued. Hans kept his patience. Then the
and taking his daughter by the hand, presented her to
Hans, saying, "A
Counselor should never break his word. There, take my
child. You have
fulfilled the condition and I keep my vow."
Two young boys hastily brought in some branches from
the rose-bush, and
wove wreaths for the pair. With loud approval, they
crowned the master
and his bride. Humbly, Hans removed his crown, and laid
it on the altar.
"These roses belong to God. With them He saved me. Do
Marie," said he, as he pointed upward to the curved top
of the altar,
"that's what the rose-bush taught me. To you, Mr.
 I would say
that one may bend and still be greater than the one who
causes him to
A few weeks later, Hans and Marie were married at this
altar. It was a
wedding the elegance of which surprised Breisach. For
his work the
grateful town had paid Hans a sum of money which, for
that period, was a
Marie's father paid all the expenses which this
occasion demanded. By
this time he realized how unreasonable he had been, and
did all in his
power to make amends. Besides, he now respected his
and for many years he lived with the couple in peace
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