THE NETTLE SPINNER
at a wild beast. The bullet rebounded without harming the spinner, who still spun on.
Burchard fell into such a .violent rage that it nearly killed him. He broke the wheel into a thousand pieces, and then fell fainting on the ground. He was carried back to the castle, unconscious.
The next day the wheel was mended, and the spinner sat down to spin. Feeling that while she was spinning he was dying, the Count ordered that her hands should be tied, and that they should not lose sight of her for one instant.
But the guards fell asleep, the bonds toosed themselves, and the spinner spun on.
Burchard had every nettle rooted up for three leagues round. Scarcely had they been torn from the soil when they sowed themselves afresh, and grew as you were looking at them.
They sprimg up even in the well-trodden floor of the cottage, and as fast as they were uprooted the distaff gathered to itself a supply of nettles, crushed, prepared, and ready for spinning.
And every day Burchard grew worse, and watched his end approaching.
Moved by pity for her husband, the Countess at last found out the cause of his illness, and entreated him to allow himself to be cured. But the Count in his pride refused more than ever to give his consent to the marriage.
So the lady resolved to go without his knowledge to pray for mercy from the spinner, and in the name of llenelde's dead mother she besought her to spin no more. Kenelde gave her promise, but in the evening Guilbert arrived at the cottage. Seeing that the cloth was no farther advanced than it was the evening before, he inquired the reason. Renelde confessed that the Countess had prayed her not to let her husband die.
' "Will he consent to our marriage ? '
' Let him die then.'
' But what will the Countess say '? '
' The Countess will understand that it is not your fault; the Count alone is guilty of his own death.'
' Let us wait a little. Perhaps his heart may be softened.'
So they waited for one month, for two, for six, for a year. The spinner spun no more. The Count had ceased to persecute her, but