THE NETTLE SPINNER
he still refused his consent to the marriage. Guilbert became impatient.
The poor girl loved him with her whole soul, and she was more unhappy than she had been before, when Burchard was only tormenting her body.
' Let us have done with it,' said Guilbert.
' Wait a little still,' pleaded Eenelde.
But the young man grew weary. He came more rarely to Locquignol, and very soon he did not come at all. llenelde felt as if her heart would break, but she held firm.
One day she met the Count. She clasped her hands as if in prayer, and cried:
' My lord, have mercy !'
Burchard the Wolf turned away his head and passed on.
She might have humbled his pride had she gone to her spinning-wheel again, but she did nothing of the sort.
Not long after she learnt that Guilbert had left the country. He did not even come to say good-bye to her, but, all the same, she knew the day and hour of his departure, and hid herself on the road to see him once more.
When she came in she put her silent wheel into a corner, and cried for three days and three nights.
So another year went by. Then the Count fell ill, and the Countess supposed that Kenelde, weary of waiting, had begun her spinning anew; but when she came to the cottage to see, she found the wheel silent.
However, the Count grew worse and worse till he was given up by the doctors. The passing bell was rung, and he lay expecting Death to come for him. But Death was not so near as the doctors thought, and still he lingered.
He seemed in a desperate condition, but he got neither better nor worse. He could neither live nor die; he suffered horribly, and called loudly on Death to put an end to his pains.
In this extremity he remembered what he had told the little spinner long ago. If Death was so slow in coming, it was because ' he was not ready to follow him, having no shroud for his burial.
He sent to fetch Benelde, placed her by his bedside, and ordered her at once to go on spinning his shroud.