| Otto of the Silver Hand|
|by Howard Pyle|
|A stirring tale of medieval Germany in the days of robber barons and deadly feuds. The kidnapping of Otto, his adventures among the rough soldiers, and his daring rescue, make for a spirited and thrilling story. The author says of his tale that it '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.' Vigorous illustrations by the author add much to the interest of the book. Ages 11-14 |
HOW THE BARON CAME HOME SHORN
UT Baron Conrad was not dead. For days he lay upon his hard bed, now muttering incoherent words beneath his red
beard, now raving fiercely with the fever of his wound. But one day he woke again to the things about him.
He turned his head first to the one side and then to the other; there sat Schwartz Carl and the one-eyed Hans.
Two or three other retainers stood by a great window that looked
 out into the courtyard beneath, jesting and laughing together in low tones, and one lay upon the heavy oaken
bench that stood along by the wall snoring in his sleep.
"Where is your lady?" said the Baron, presently; "and why is she not with me at this time?"
The man that lay upon the bench started up at the sound of his voice, and those at the window came hurrying to
his bedside. But Schwartz Carl and the one-eyed Hans looked at one another, and neither of them spoke. The
Baron saw the look and in it read a certain meaning that brought him to his elbow, though only to sink back
upon his pillow again with a groan.
"Why do you not answer me?" said he at last, in a hollow voice; then to the one-eyed Hans, "Hast no tongue,
fool, that thou standest gaping there like a fish? Answer me, where is thy mistress?"
"I—I do not know," stammered poor Hans.
For a while the Baron lay silently looking from one face to the other, then he spoke again. "How long have I
been lying here?" said he.
"A sennight, my lord," said Master Rudolph, the steward, who had come into the room and who now stood among
the others at the bedside.
"A sennight," repeated the Baron, in a low voice, and then to Master Rudolph, "And has the Baroness been often
beside me in that time?" Master Rudolph hesitated. "Answer me," said the Baron, harshly.
 "Not—not often," said Master Rudolph, hesitatingly.
The Baron lay silent for a long time. At last he passed his hands over his face and held them there for a
minute, then of a sudden, before anyone knew what he was about to do, he rose upon his elbow and then sat
upright upon the bed. The green wound broke out afresh and a dark red spot grew and spread upon the linen
wrappings; his face was drawn and haggard with the pain of his moving, and his eyes wild and bloodshot. Great
drops of sweat gathered and stood upon his forehead as he sat there swaying slightly from side to side.
"My shoes," said he, hoarsely.
Master Rudolph stepped forward. "But, my Lord Baron," he began and then stopped short, for the Baron shot him
such a look that his tongue stood still in his head.
Hans saw that look out of his one eye. Down he dropped upon his knees and, fumbling under the bed, brought
forth a pair of soft leathern shoes, which he slipped upon the Baron's feet and then laced the thongs above
"Your shoulder," said the Baron. He rose slowly to his feet, gripping Hans in the stress of his agony until
the fellow winced again. For a moment he stood as though gathering strength, then doggedly started forth upon
that quest which he had set upon himself.
At the door he stopped for a moment as though overcome by his weakness, and there Master Nicholas, his cousin,
met him; for the steward had sent one of the retainers to tell the old man what the Baron was about to do.
NO ONE WAS WITHIN BUT OLD URSELA, WHO SAT CROONING OVER A FIRE.
 "Thou must go back again, Conrad," said Master Nicholas; "thou art not fit to be abroad."
The Baron answered him never a word, but he glared at him from out of his bloodshot eyes and ground his teeth
together. Then he started forth again upon his way.
Down the long hall he went, slowly and laboriously, the others following silently behind him, then up the
steep winding stairs, step by step, now and then stopping to lean against the wall. So he reached a long and
gloomy passageway lit only by the light of a little window at the further end.
He stopped at the door of one of the rooms that opened into this passage-way, stood for a moment, then he
pushed it open.
No one was within but old Ursela, who sat crooning over a fire with a bundle upon her knees. She did not see
the Baron or know that he was there.
"Where is your lady?" said he, in a hollow voice.
Then the old nurse looked up with a start. "Jesu bless us," cried she, and crossed herself.
"Where is your lady?" said the Baron again, in the same hoarse voice; and then, not waiting for an answer, "Is
The old woman looked at him for a minute blinking her watery eyes, and then suddenly broke into a shrill,
long-drawn wail. The Baron needed to hear no more.
As though in answer to the old woman's cry, a thin piping complaint came from the bundle in her lap.
 At the sound the red blood flashed up into the Baron's face. "What is that you have there?" said he, pointing
to the bundle upon the old woman's knees.
She drew back the coverings and there lay a poor, weak, little baby, that once again raised its faint reedy
"It is your son," said Ursela, "that the dear Baroness left behind her when the holy angels took her to
Paradise. She blessed him and called him Otto before she left us."
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