St Elizabeth of Hungary
At the beginning of the thirteenth century, during the reign of Herman, Landgrave of Thuringia, it happened that strife arose among the nobles of his court as to which among them excelled in the art of song. Rivalry climbed to so high a pitch, it became so hard to decide without prejudice or offence in favour of any one of the gifted minstrels, that a celebrated man of Transylvania, one well versed in the arts of necromancy and astronomy as well as of poetry and song, was sent for to settle the dispute, and preside as judge over a final contest.
Klingsohr was the magician's name. He came in answer to the summons to Thuringia, and while there, upon being asked by the people for any news he might have to relate to them, he answered after long contemplating the heavens:
"I give you joyous news. I see a beautiful star rising over Hungary. On this night is born to the king of that land a daughter who shall be given in marriage to the son of your Prince Herman of Thuringia. She will be a Saint, whose sanctity shall rejoice the whole Christian world.
The sorcerer, having spoken and having also satisfactorily presided over the song contest, returned on the wings of the wind to his far country, which journey he was rumoured to have accomplished in a single night.
His prediction was soon proved true: on that night, in that hour, Elizabeth was born to Gertrude, wife of the Christian King Andreas of Hungary.
Herman took a natural interest in the little princess 169 who had been foretold as bride to his eldest son, wherefore he frequently questioned travellers who came from the Hungarian court concerning her. All agreed in extolling her beauty, charm, and goodness. The tiny princess had seemed to bring into the world with her peace and goodwill toward men; wars had ceased and even private feuds had been dissipated in her father's realm. From her first consciousness, her thoughts seemed to have leaned toward holy things. Her first voluntary action was one of alms giving; her first words had taken the form of a prayer.
When she had reached the age of four, Herman sent a company of lords and ladies formally to ask the hand of the young princess. He begged, moreover, that she might be brought to his court, there to be educated and to grow up by the side of his son Louis.
Andreas and Gertrude consented, although they found it difficult to part with their child. After many days of entertainment and feasting, with which they entertained the ambassadors, Elizabeth, wrapped in silks embroidered with gold and silver, and lying in a cradle of gold, was given by the King into the arms of Count Walter of Varila, with the charge that he would ever be his daughter's friend, counsellor, and protector. Count Walter promised and lovingly kept his word to the end.
The Hungarian monarch sent with his daughter a royal dowry and vast store of treasure, gems, and gold. Whereas the ambassadors with their retinue had brought with them but two conveyances to carry their effects, they returned with thirteen, loaded with the princess's belongings, her silver bath and gold implements, her fine garments and jewels, with richest offerings to Herman and his wife Sophia, as well as many gifts to the ambassadors themselves. She was accompanied by thirteen Hungarian maidens of noble rank.
The journey back to Eisenach was safely accomplished, and Herman received the princess joyously. Her betrothal to Louis was immediately celebrated with great pomp, after which the two children were laid to sleep in the same cradle, where they gave signs of mutual affection, stretching out their little arms and smiling at each other, to the delight of Herman and his court. From that day they became inseparable, and loved each other more and more with every hour.
For five years all went well, for Herman loved Elizabeth as his own daughter, but when he died she lost a friend indeed. He and Louis alone had understood her and did not count against her her difference from all other children. She was ever more a creature of heaven than of earth; all her thoughts, even in those years of earliest childhood, seemed centred on the desire to serve God and his poor. Her playmates reported that angels took part in her games, and that the Child Jesus often came to play with her and saluted her tenderly. Her compassion for the suffering and her charity toward the needy were the very breath of life to her. From the time she was three years old she continually gave away everything that was given to her, her clothing, her toys, her food. The aged, the children, and the sick were those of whom she made her chosen, her closest companions.
Sophia and her daughter Agnes had small patience with Elizabeth's unpractical generosity, and still less with her humility and self-abasement. They contended that her behaviour was more fitting a serving-maid than a royal princess.
Once, on the occasion of a Church festival, when Sophia had bidden Agnes and Elizabeth accompany her to Mass down in Eisenach and told them to array themselves in their finest garments, the two princesses entered the church with her, clad in robes of state, with floating mantles and with their golden crowns upon their heads. After they had approached the high altar and had knelt upon the carved prie-Dieu, Elizabeth, looking up at the crucifix above, removed her crown and bowed herself down upon the ground.
Sophia spoke to her sharply: "What are you dreaming of, Elizabeth! Is your crown too heavy? Young princesses should hold themselves erect and not throw themselves upon the floor like tired jades!"
Elizabeth answered, meekly: "Dear lady, forgive me, but as I looked upon my Saviour hanging naked upon the Cross, crowned with thorns, my crown seemed a mockery, and my own body clad in velvet and pearls and gold seemed to me a vile thing."
She returned obediently to her bench, but without replacing her crown, covered her face with a fold of her cloak, and continued in prayer, letting Sophia and Agnes rail on as they chose. These two, to escape the unfavourable comment which they knew themselves to be attracting from the mass of the people, whose eyes were fixed upon them, now felt obliged to remove their crowns and cover their own fair countenances, which they had not the least desire to do, and which "misliked them greatly."
From the accumulation of occurrences similar to this, hatred of Elizabeth grew in these mean and worldly souls, which but deepened as the years passed. They treated her with invariable dislike and contempt; Agnes openly mocked her, and her example was followed by the people of the court, who imitated their superiors in a scornful neglect, and in complaints of her to Louis. She bore all this with a patience so saintly that Louis sometimes questioned whether she were not a creature too holy to become his earthly bride. His love, however, only deepened day by day, although he did not openly cross or resist his mother and all his counsellors when they insisted that Elizabeth was no fit bride for him, and that she ought to be sent back to Hungary. Sophia, moreover, tried in every way to induce Elizabeth to retire to some convent and take the veil, and Agnes was wont to taunt her, telling her that she was only fit for an underling, and that her brother would never in the world think of marrying her now!
They were bitter years for the little exiled princess, for the occasions were not frequent when she could see Louis alone, when he would assure her of his undiminished love, and console her for the wounds inflicted by others upon her gentle soul.
As he was often away from home on journeys, and on visits to other courts, it was his custom never to return without bringing her the gift of something rich or rare which he had chosen for her in passing through a foreign city; it might be a crucifix, a chain, a brooch, or gloves, a knife, a jewel. Once it happened that he was accompanied on all his journey by strangers, and either had had no opportunity, or else had forgotten to bring her the customary gift. She had been used always to run joyously to meet him on his return, when he would take her in his arms and, embracing her, give her the token that he had thought of her and loved her in his absence. This time he was still accompanied by the strange guests and so engrossed with their entertainment that he paid no heed to Elizabeth. The court could be trusted to mark this apparent neglect and to make the most of it. Poor Elizabeth, rendered distrustful by mockery and unkindness, could only believe that her dear love's heart was finally changed toward her, as every one declared. She confided her fear to Count Walter of Varila, the faithful friend who had always attempted to stand between her and the intriguers of the court.
He determined to speak of the matter to the young Duke, and soon after had the opportunity he sought.
He was out hunting with Louis one day, and it happened that they were separated from the rest of the party. They were resting, lying on the grass under trees; before them rose the Inselberg, the highest mountain in Thuringia. Count Walter spoke:
"My lord, will it please you to answer me a question?"
"With all my heart," said the Duke.
Count Walter came to the point directly: "What is to be done with Elizabeth? Do you intend to marry her, as was determined when first I brought her to you from Hungary, or do you mean to send her back to her father?"
Louis sprang to his feet, his face and eyes ablaze: "Do you see the mountain before us? If it were made of pure gold from base to summit and were offered me in exchange for Elizabeth, I should refuse it! Let them say what they will, I love Elizabeth more than anything on earth, and I love her alone!"
"My lord, I beseech you," said the Count, "let me repeat your words to her."
"I pray you will," answered Louis, "and give her this pledge of my love and faith." So speaking, he took from the pouch he wore at his belt a little mirror, framed in silver and mounted in ivory, the handle of which was formed by the Cross and figure of the Saviour.
This incident brought events to a climax. The following year, on his successful return from his first campaign, Louis married Elizabeth, putting an end to the slanders and persecutions of her enemies. She was led to the altar by Count Varila, surrounded by all the noble ladies of the land. A magnificent Mass was celebrated, and banquets, dancing, and tournaments, lasting three days, inaugurated the royal nuptials.
Louis was then in his twentieth year, Elizabeth barely fifteen. How beautiful they both were! As their story is like a fairy-tale, even so they seem truly to have been the living types of the hero and heroine of fairy lore or romance: Louis, superbly tall and straight and strong, with long fair hair, kindly blue eyes, and an expression of great candour and serenity; in manner gentle and modest as a maid; with a valiant spirit he ever vigorously defended the right, and battled against injustice and evil. He was said to resemble the paintings which represented the conventional type of the figure of Christ. Never in all his life was he unfaithful or disloyal to his beloved Elizabeth, and this although the temptations set before a princely youth might have been thought irresistible.
As to Elizabeth, she was the true representative of her race: slim and dark and glowingly lovely, with a body of marvellous beauty and a face irradiated by the light of her angelic spirit; deep eyes full of love, from which tears of sympathy were never far; she was said to be the most beautiful person in all the world.
If one might but end the telling of their story with the period that followed their union, a time of honour and happiness for Elizabeth after the long years of humiliation and insult; if one might but make of it a happy fairy-tale, and finish it with the old words "and they lived happy ever after "! For they loved with entire devotion, their union was of the tenderest, and their happiness most complete. This is not to say that her enemies ceased from attempts to do her ill; in this they never desisted to the end of Elizabeth's days, but to their eternal complaints of her Louis invariably answered: "Let her do as she will," for he felt in his heart that he and his realm could only receive blessings through his wife's saintliness and unparalleled generosity.
Elizabeth had as confessor and spiritual adviser a priest by name Conrad of Marburg, a man whose stern and rigid severity ruled her as an inquisitor through her sensitive conscience. It was he who told her that certain unjust imposts were levied upon the people, the proceeds of which were destined to furnish the Duke's lavish table. He charged Elizabeth to eat nothing except such food as had been legitimately paid for. After this, unable to distinguish between what was and what was not permitted by her confessor, Elizabeth would touch no food save bread and water. Once when, contrary to the custom of great ladies of her day, she sat beside her husband at the banqueting table (she could not bear to be separated from him even so long), Louis, taking up her cup, drank from it. Never, it seemed to him, had he known wine so delicious. He called to him the cupbearer and questioned him where he had got it. The astonished cupbearer declared that he had poured only cold water into the Duchess's goblet. Louis breathed no word but, as a biographer has put it, "he had wit enough" to know that his wife was attended by angels.
On the occasion of the nuptials of Louis's sister Agnes, when he was about to receive as guests all the nobles of his duchy, Louis begged Elizabeth to array herself in her most regal costume, as became the Duchess and his most dear wife, to do honour to the festival. Although Elizabeth took no pleasure in rich apparel, on this occasion she bade her maids clothe her in her finest garments. When, ready in her magnificent silk robe, wrapped in a mantle of blue velvet studded all over with pearls and lined with ermine, she was crossing a court to join Louis, she heard herself called by name. Glancing down she saw a wretched beggar appealing to her, who lay stretched half naked upon the pavement, shivering with cold and disease. In haste she answered him that she could not at that moment give him aid, but that she would later send him food and assistance from the banquet hall; he, however, insisting, entreated her to take immediate pity on him, in the name of John the Baptist, her patron Saint, one in whose name she was never known to refuse anything. Impulsively snatching off her cloak she threw it over him and hurried back to her apartment, for she could not proceed to the hall of state without a mantle to cover her dress, such being the custom. The seneschal who had witnessed the scene went to Louis and related what he had seen, adding: "Does my lord think our Duchess has done well to keep us all waiting while she clothes a beggar with her royal mantle?"
Louis smiled, saying: "I will go to her; she will join us presently."
Leaving the assembled company, he went to his wife's apartments, and asked her if she were not ready to descend to the guests who were awaiting her arrival before commencing the feast.
"Yes, my dear lord, I am ready."
"But your mantle, my Elizabeth, the mantle which you wore to church—"
"I have given it away," answered she, meekly, "but if it is the same to you, I can go without it."
Before Louis could make answer, one of the maids in waiting entered the room, bearing on her arm the cloak.
"My dear lady, is this not the cloak you intended to wear? In coming through the dressing room I found it hanging in its place."
Elizabeth and Louis, without another word, fell for a moment on their knees and gave thanks to God, then hand in hand descended. And all who beheld the young Duchess on that occasion saw that her raiment shone with an unearthly splendour, and that her face was irradiated with a celestial light. Louis, filled with wonder and with awe, had no doubts that it was Christ Himself Who in the guise of a beggar had come to prove His beloved Elizabeth.
Once again, when Louis was away from home, spending some days at his castle in Naumburg, Elizabeth, as was her custom, devoted the time of his absence to caring for the sick of Eisenach. Among these, she found one unfortunate, Heli by name, a leprous boy whose condition was so loathsome that none would touch him, and he had been left to die alone. Unshrinkingly she took him back to the castle with her, bathed him herself, applied healing remedies, and then placed him in her own and her husband's bed.
Sophia's disgust knew no bounds, and Louis happening at that moment to return, his mother went to meet him, saying: "My dear son, come with me. I will show you something which will surprise you. You shall see with whom your wife shares her bed in your absence." Then she told him of the diseased creature.
For once impatient, Louis hastened to his wife's chamber, and snatching aside the coverlet from the bed, saw—no leper—but the figure of Christ extended upon the Cross, which vanished while he gazed. At the sight both he and his mother remained stupefied. Sinking on his knees before Elizabeth, who had arrived on the spot to calm his possible anger against the leper, he exclaimed: "Oh, God, have mercy upon me, a sinner! I am not worthy to behold these wonders. Help me to become a man after Thy heart!"
One day in midwinter, as she walked down the steep snow-covered path leading from the Wartburg, burdened beyond her strength with bread and provisions for the poor of the town below, Louis met her and, stopping, questioned her. "Dear love, why goest thou thus alone and bowed down with such a weight? Is this fitting that the lady of the castle go burdened like a menial? And what is it thou dost carry, held so close in thy mantle?"
Elizabeth, confused at having been thus discovered, shrank from showing him what she carried, but he urged, and finally, taking one end of her cloak, drew it aside. And her upheld robe was filled with red and white roses, roses of such beauty and fragrance as grow only in Paradise. Louis would have embraced his adored one, but looking at her he dared not, for she seemed like one not of this earth, but an angel; so, taking one of the red roses from her heaven-sent store, he went on his way and treasured the flower in his bosom to his dying day.
In all this time Conrad so worked upon Elizabeth's sensitive conscience and fervent heart that she dared not permit herself to be innocently happy with her loved one. She constantly tortured herself with fears for his soul's salvation and her own. She scourged herself and wore a hair shirt against her delicate flesh. At night, Louis, awakening, would miss her from his side, and rising to seek her, would find her at prayer on the icy stones.
It is told that on one occasion, while she was assisting at a solemn Mass, she so completely lost herself in the contemplation of her husband, in thoughts of his beauty and of the kindness which made him dear to all, that she forgot where she was and what she was doing. She only recovered herself when, upon the elevation of the Host, she beheld a vision of the crucified Saviour, His wounds all bleeding. The sight informed her that she had offended her Divine Spouse by her purely human adoration. She spent the rest of her day weeping before the altar and imploring forgiveness. Her problem seemed impossible of solution. She considered that she owed all her thoughts, allegiance, actions, life, and love to God, and yet here beside her was a love which likewise clamoured to engross all her life and thoughts, actions and allegiance. Her soul was torn by the never-ceasing conflict between these two masters: a jealous God and an adored husband.
Now came the year 1226 when the Emperor Frederic went into Italy. With him went his vassal, Louis of Thuringia.
Elizabeth's only solace during any separation from her husband lay in her redoubled care of the poor and the sick. On this occasion more than ever they needed her attention, for no sooner had the Duke departed than all the land suffered from a famine. Wisely and well Elizabeth distributed money and grain among the needy. She doled out only so much as was necessary to each, preventing waste and loss. She herself bestowed upon nine hundred people daily loaves hot from the castle ovens. She gave grain for planting, and when harvest-time came, furnished the workers with clothing, shoes, and harvesting implements.
But during the following winter, as is so often the case, pestilence broke out as a result of the famine, from the weakness consequent upon privation. Here again Elizabeth expended wealth and strength without stint. She founded new hospitals and spent her time between them all, tending the sick whose diseases were so revolting that her ladies in waiting refused to accompany her. She now poured out all the money of the treasury in the maintenance of these hospitals, she sold her rich robes and gems, she even pawned the state jewels. So that when Louis returned, the councillors of state, the steward, the seneschal, and all who had been incensed by Elizabeth's course, hastened to meet him, fearing his displeasure, and wishing to forestall all blame by setting upon her the responsibility of the depleted exchequer and granaries.
Louis would listen neither to the officials nor to his mother and brothers, who had come to meet him with bitter complaints.
"Tell me no more of these things," he cried. "Is my wife well, are my children well? That is all that I wish to know." And to their renewed accusations he replied: "Let my Elizabeth give to God all she pleases. He will restore all to us in good time. Let her bestow all the charities she chooses if she but leave me Eisenach and my castles of Wartburg and Naumburg! Charities will never ruin us. I want you to aid rather than thwart her!"
When, after the sharp ascent, he had reached the castle, Elizabeth flew out with her three children to greet him, and they fell weeping for joy in each other's arms.
"Dear one," he said, presently, "what has become of your poor people during this disastrous year?"
"I have given to God what was His, and God has preserved for us what was thine and mine," she answered, pointing to their children.
And they say that while the reunited lovers walked arm and arm up and down the great hall, grain flowed from all sides and slipped in under the gates, so that they trod it under, foot, Inquiring the cause of this, Louis was told that the bins of the granaries were so full that they overflowed, and the grain was scattered everywhere.
Again, one would wish to dwell upon the period of happiness that now followed, for alas, the joy of these two was short-lived—and it was to be their last.
The following year Louis must join the Emperor in the Third Crusade. For days after he had received his summons and accepted his cross, he dared not tell Elizabeth, knowing that with another separation her heart would break. Instead of wearing his cross in plain sight, he concealed it upon his person.
But one night, when they were in Elizabeth's bower, she unfastened his belt, and as she unthinkingly looked into the pouch attached to it—she saw the cross. In an instant she understood, she saw her doom upon her, and sank unconscious to the floor. Lifting her tenderly, Louis restored her and tried to comfort her, but "Oh," she cried in anguish, "if it be not against the will of God, stay with me, I beseech you!"
Yet in the end she acquiesced: "Against God's will I have no wish to keep you. I make the sacrifice to Him both of you and myself. Go, then, in the name of God!"
Before leaving, Louis recommended Elizabeth to the care of his mother and his brothers, and all his officers.
"I know very well," said the steward, "that the Duchess will give away all she finds, and reduce us to misery."
"God will replace all that she may give away," replied Louis.
Unable to bring herself to bid her lord farewell, Elizabeth accompanied him first to Smalkald, the appointed meeting-place of the knights and soldiers who were going to Palestine. Then, still unable to resign herself to the final parting, she went with him to the frontier of Thuringia. Having arrived there, she had not the courage to leave him, and rode on one more day and then another. At the end of the second day she confessed herself unable to tear herself from him, and wondered if she might not journey on with him to the end. Count Varila, however, urged the necessity of her now returning, and finally, swooning, more dead than alive, she turned her face homeward, supported by her companions, the black presentiment chilling her heart that she would never see Louis again.
The last hour of her happiness had struck—for she was indeed never to meet him again on earth.
Louis never reached Palestine. He was smitten with fever and died in Calabria, at Otranto, in the arms of the Patriarch of Jerusalem. With his last breath he charged his knights and followers to bear his body back to Eisenach, and to champion and serve Elizabeth and her children, even unto death.
Meanwhile, upon her desolate return to the Wartburg, so widowed did her prophetic soul already feel itself, Elizabeth had laid aside her royal robes and donned the widow's garb, which she never more doffed. Her fourth child was born soon after. Before she had fairly recovered her strength came the news of Louis's death. It was imparted to her by Sophia.
"Now I have lost all," cried Elizabeth, "the whole world is now dead for me, the world and all that it contains of sweetness." She seemed bereft of reason, and ran distractedly from one end of the castle to the other until the walls blocked her way. How continue to live without the beloved of her life? How live bowed under the burden of so great a grief?
Calamities now fell thick and fast upon her unprotected head. Without an hour's delay Louis's brother Henry resolved to take the rule of the realm and to banish Elizabeth from it. In the depth of winter, with her infant daughter in her arms, followed by her three other children, accompanied by two devoted maids of honour, Elizabeth, Princess of Hungary, and Margravine of Thuringia, slowly descended the icy path leading from the castle whose gates were closed behind her.
In Eisenach, which she had, one might say, deluged with her charity, she might well have expected hospitality, but Henry, determined to drive her out of the land, had forbidden any to receive her. The little unfriended group wandered about forlornly in the snow, in cruel need, incredible as it might seem in the case of one who had given so much and done so much for others in need. Finally, they found asylum in a miserable tavern, where they for a while remained, Elizabeth earning money for their necessities by spinning wool.
Her uncle, Egbert, Bishop of Bamberg, hearing of her plight, sent for her and offered her hospitality becoming her station. He placed at her disposal the castle of Bottenstein. But, seeing his niece still so young and so beautiful, he urged upon her, even insisted upon arranging for her, a second marriage. Nothing could have been more revolting or intolerable to Elizabeth, whose heart was passionately devoted to the memory of her life's love.
At this juncture, the knights returned from Calabria, bringing Louis's body, and true to the vow to their dying lord, they so pleaded Elizabeth's cause that Henry was forced to place Louis's son Herman upon the throne, himself retaining the regency during the Prince's minority—and to give Elizabeth as dowry the city of Marburg.
But this relief brought small improvement in her condition, for, completely under Conrad's dominion, now that Louis was no longer there to protect her, Elizabeth never again knew an hour's peace.
Seeing that here indeed was material for a canonized Saint, her inquisitor seems to have been determined to make of her a martyr as well. One by one the fanatic separated her from her children—his reason being that she loved them too well. Also from her followers, Pentrude and Guta, he detached her and replaced them by two strangers, harsh and unloving women, upon whom Elizabeth waited as if she had been their servant and whose perpetual chiding she bore with meekness and patience, Hardest of all was his prohibition of her charities, charity which was woven into the very fibre of her being. Were her charities a solace? Then must she abstain from them. Would it have been joy to her to join herself to an Order of nuns? He forbade it. By his command, as well as by her own choice, she lived in a low hovel, and spun her wool and prayed; she still visited the sick, bringing to them the comfort of her care and of her love, having nothing more now to give them. Some joy she must have found in the utter abnegation of self, and in the giving up of every human tie and pleasure, for, when Count Varila came to her with a messenger, Count Parma, from her father, asking that she return to the Hungarian court and live there as his beloved daughter, she gently refused, feeling neither strength nor desire to change her state, or to take up again the life of the world.
When Count Varila told her that evil tongues were busy with slanderous insinuations that she and her adviser, Conrad, were bound by other than spiritual ties, and begged her to be careful of her good name, she answered, unresentfully:
"I have given up everything, husband, father, children, country, riches, beauty, and nobility. But one possession I had retained—my reputation. If it please my God to ask this of me now, I give it to Him with all my heart, but oh, my Saviour, let not my poor children who are innocent suffer because of me! As for you, my old and dear friend," she added sadly to Count Varila, "you will, I know, not doubt me," and she told him of the penitences and scourging inflicted upon her by Conrad; she showed him her shoulders scarred and lacerated by his stripes.
She grew daily weaker, until she could no longer stand, but continued to spin, stretched upon her pallet. Finally her hands could not even hold the distaff, and she painlessly faded out of existence.
Before her death she sang heavenly melodies in a voice more than mortal sweet; then, with the murmured words, "Silence—silence—" she bowed her head as if in sleep, and angels singing bore her soul to Paradise, while a divine fragrance filled the air.
This was three and a half years after Louis's death, when Elizabeth was but twenty-four years old.
No sooner had she breathed her last than the people acclaimed her as a Saint. They parted her garments and cut off her long hair, which they distributed as relics made and which worked numberless miracles. Conrad made these known to Pope Gregory IV, along with the detailed history of her life. In the fourth year after her death the Pope canonized her. A beautiful church was built in her honour; in a magnificent chapel her remains were enshrined, and for centuries worshipped by countless pilgrims whose knees wore grooves in her altar's steps.
It is told of Blanche of Castille, Queen of France, and mother of Louis IX, afterward St Louis, that one day as she sat in the banqueting hall she noticed among the pages serving her a lad whom she did not remember to have seen before.
"Who is the beautiful youth with the yellow hair, standing with the other pages, the Count de Sant-Pol and the Count de Boulogne?"
"That," was the reply, "is Prince Herman of Thuringia, eldest son of Elizabeth of Hungary, serving his term at your court page before knighthood."
Rising from her throne, the Queen went toward him, and stood for a long moment gazing into the noble countenance.
"Fair youth," she said, at last, "thou hadst a beautiful and blessed mother. Tell me, where was she wont to kiss thee?"
In silence, Herman pointed to a space upon the broad brow between his blue eyes, and Blanche reverently placed her lips upon it. Then, looking upward with tearful eyes, she murmured: "Blessed St Elizabeth, saddest of ladies, sweetest of patrons, pray for us!"