THE NETTLE SPIN NEB
This offer produced no more effect than the other, and Renelde did not go to the castle.
' If you will only come,' said the Count to her when next he rode by, ' I will send away the Countess, and will marry you.'
But two years before, when Benelde's mother was dying of a long illness, the Countess had not forgotten them, but had given help when they sorely needed it. So even if the Count had really wished to marry Eenelde, she would always have refused.
Some weeks passed before Burchard appeared again.
Eenelde hoped she had got rid of him, when one day he stopped at the door, his duck-gun under his arm and his game-bag on his shoulder. This time Eenelde was spinning not hemp, but flax.
' What are you spinning ? ' he asked in a rough voice.
' My wedding shift, my lord.'
' You are going to be married, then ? '
' Yes, my lord, by your leave.'
For at that time no peasant could marry without the leave of his master.
' I will give you leave on one condition. Do you see those tall nettles that grow on the tombs in the churchyard ? Go and gather theni, and spin them into two fine shifts. One shall be your bridal shift, and the other shall be my shroud. For you shall be married the day that I am laid in my grave.' And the Count turned away with a mocking laugh.
Eenelde trembled. Never in all Locquignol had such a thing been heard of as the spinning of nettles.
And besides, the Count seemed made of iron and was very proud of his strength, often boasting that he should live to be a hundred.
Every evening, when his work was done, Guilbert came to visit his future bride. This evening he came as usual, and Eenelde told him what Burchard had said.
' Would you like me to watch for the Wolf, and split his skull with a blow from my axe ? '
' No,' replied Eenelde, ' there must be no blood on my bridal bouquet. And then we must not hurt the Count. Eemember how good the Countess was to my mother.'
An old, old woman now spoke : she was the mother of Eenelde's