THE NETTLE SPINNER
grandmother, and was more than ninety years old. All day long she sat in her chair nodding her head and never saying a word.
' My children,' she said, ' all the years that I have lived in the world, I have never heard of a shift spun from nettles. But what God commands, man can do. Why should not Renelde try it ? '
Renelde did try, and to her great surprise the nettles when crushed and prepared gave a good thread, soft and light and firm. Very soon she had spun the first shift, which was for her own wedding. She wove and cut it out at once, hoping that the Count would not force her to begin the other. Just as she had finished sewing it, Burchard the Wolf passed by.
' Well,' said he, 'how are the shifts getting on? '
' Here, my lord, is my wedding garment,' answered Renelde, showing him the shift, which was the finest and whitest ever seen.
The Count grew pale, but he replied roughly, ' Very good. Now begin the other.'
The spinner set to work. As the Count returned to the castle, a cold shiver passed over him, and he felt, as the saying is, that some one was walking over his grave. He tried to eat his supper, but could not; he went to bed shaking with fever. But he did not sleep, and in the morning could not manage to rise.
This sudden illness, which every instant became worse, made him very uneasy. No doubt Renelde's spinning-wheel knew all about it. Was it not necessary that his body, as well as his shroud, should be ready for the burial ?
The first thing Burchard did was to send to Renelde and to stop her wheel.
Renelde obeyed, and that evening Guilbert asked her :
' Has the Count given his consent to our marriage'?'
' No,' said Renelde.
' Continue your work, sweetheart. It is the only way of gaining it. You know he told you so himself.'
The following morning, as soon as she had put the house in order, the girl sat down to spin. Two hours after there arrived some soldiers, and when they saw her spinning they seized her, tied her e. U