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Anna Alice Chapin.

Wonder tales from Wagner, told for young people online

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which he hopes to win you to-morrow."

" You must take my place," declared Eva, " and
listen to his song. I must wait for my knight,
for he told me he would come this evening."

Pogner's voice was heard calling, " Lene ! Eva !"
and Magdalene attempted to draw her mistress
within the door, but at that moment Walther ap-
peared, hastening up the narrow alley, and Eva flew
to meet him. So all that Magdalene could do was
to beseech her not to stay long. She then entered
the house, leaving the knight and her mistress to-
gether.

Walther soon told Eva the story of his rejection
by the guild, and described the narrowness and
stupidity of the miserable masters, who, he de-




'SHE BEGAN TO QUESTION HIM IN REGARD TO THE GUILD MEETING



Hans Sac /is, tJie Cobbler 163

clared, had derided his Song of Spring and cruelly
scoffed at his tribute to love.

He grew more and more enraged as he con-
tinued, and finally succeeded in working himself up
to a veritable frenzy at his recollections of that ter-
rible song trial. The long-drawn note of an ox-
horn in the distance made him start and clasp the
hilt of his sword.

" It is only the watchman," explained Eva, sooth-
ingly. " Come and hide under the linden-tree."

The old watchman appeared, carrying a lantern
and singing his evening exhortation to peaceable
customs :

" To my words ye people hearken :
Your houses straightway darken !
Tis ten o'clock, all fires put out !
Let naught of evil lurk about.
Praise give to the Lord !"

With a long blast on his ox-horn he departed.
Hans Sachs, within his house, had heard through
his half -open door whispered words from Walther
and Eva words which told him that they were
planning to go away together and be married, since
Pogner would only give his daughter to a follower
of art, and Walther could never be a Mastersinger.
The cobbler opened wide his door and looked out.
A few minutes before he did so Eva had gone into



164 The Mastersingers of Nuremberg

the house, and now crept out in Magdalene's dress,
having changed costumes with the maid. She hast-

o o

ened to Walther's side, and Hans Sachs relapsed
into thought.

He decided that they must not be allowed to
elope ; but, he further concluded, it would be most
unjust to keep them apart ; they must be allowed
to wed - that was certain - and he made up his
mind to bring this about.

He first turned his lamp so that a broad stream
of light fell through the doorway across the street.
Walther and Eva would have to pass through this
belt of brightness before they could escape, and this
he knew they would not wish to do, lest they should
be seen.

The cobbler was unexpectedly aided in his plans
by Beckmesser, who arrived with his lute to sere-
nade Eva. When they saw the approaching min-
strel, the lovers drew swiftly back into the foliage.

Walther was hurt and wounded by his merciless
cjefeat, and reckless enough to forget Eva's real
welfare in his desire to carry her away from the ter-
rible masters. Eva, who was little more than an in-
experienced child, did not think of her father, whom
she was deciding to leave, nor of her home. Think-
ing of nothing save her love and the happiness for
which she hoped, she had contentedly agreed to go
away with her knight from Nuremberg.



Hans Sac /is, tJie Cobbler 165

Sachs quietly carried his work-bench and lamp
outside his door and seated himself. Beckmesser
tuned his lute vigorously, practising various pas-
sages and chords. Suddenly Sachs lifted his ham-
mer, struck a sharp blow upon one of the shoes
which he held, and, having greatly startled Beck-
messer, proceeded to sing a loud cobbling-song.

Beckmesser tried to silence him, but Sachs ex-
plained that he was making the town-clerk's own
shoes, and that he always sang while at work. He
then went on with his song once more. Beckmes-
ser was particularly disturbed by the thought that
Eva might possibly mistake Hans Sachs's voice for
his. Finally, much agitated, he began to pace up
and down, his hands at his ears, to shut out the
sound of the cobbling-song.

Sachs, as he worked and sang, drifted from the
boisterous humor of the first stanzas into words of
tenderer and deeper meaning. He sang to the
Angel of Poetry, his consoler and helper :

" Oh ! hearken to my cry of woe,

My heavy, sad vexation :
Those works of art shoemakers show

Receive small approbation !
If to my toil and grief
No angel brought relief,
And called me oft to Paradise,
I'd leave these shoes that I despise !



1 66 The Master singers of Nuremberg

But when he lifts me heavenward,
The world beneath me I discard ;
Rest comes unto
Hans Sachs, the shoe-
Maker and the poet too !"

" Ah," whispered Eva, feeling a strange pain in
her heart ; " the song brings me grief I know not
why."

One of the shutters on Pogner's house opened,
and Magdalene, in Eva's dress, appeared.

Beckmesser prepared for his serenade. He sought
to silence and propitiate Sachs by asking him to
listen to his song and to give him his critical opin-
ion, worth so much in Nuremberg. But Sachs
would not listen, and began to repeat the first part
of his cobbling- song. Beckmesser urged that he
would wake the neighbors with his noise, but Sachs
replied that they were used to it, and would pay no
attention.

At last he consented to hear the song if he might
mark each error by a tap of his hammer upon one
of the shoes which he was making. In this way he
hoped to get well on with his work before the end
of the serenade.

Beckmesser reluctantly agreed to this, and began
to sing to Magdalene, the supposed Eva, accom-
panying himself upon his lute. A very ridiculous
and unmusical performance it was, and Sachs found



Hans Sacks, the Cobbler 167

so many grave faults against time and tune that he
was kept busy tapping, and by the end of the song
had finished both shoes.

The loud sounds had at last awakened the neigh-
bors ; windows began to open, and nightcaps to ap-
pear. The men, seeing that there was some disturb-
ance in the street below, soon arrived on the scene,
and the clamor grew and swelled.

David, startled by the general tumult, opened his
window on the ground-floor of Sachs's cottage. See-
ing Beckmesser singing to a woman, whom the 'pren-
tice recognized to be Magdalene, he became ex-
tremely jealous, and, providing himself with a cud-
gel, leaped out of the window and began to belabor
the unfortunate musician.

The excitement increased, though no one knew
the real cause or beginning of the commotion. Fi-
nally, as such disturbances often end, there was a
general street fight, and masters, apprentices, and
ordinary burghers beat each other unmercifully.

Walther and Eva tried to push through the crowd
and escape in the general confusion to the city gate,
where the knight's servants and horses waited. But
divining their purpose, Sachs started forward and
grasped Walther's arm, pushing Eva towards her
father, who had appeared on the steps of his house,
crying, " Lene !" and now caught her hand, thinking
her the maid, and drew her within.



1 68 The Master singers of Nuremberg

Sachs fairly dragged the knight into his workshop
and shut the door. David released Beckmesser, and
at that instant the sound of the ox-horn was heard
in the distance. The people hastily dispersed. In
a very few moments the street was empty and quiet.

The sleepy old watchman came, rubbing his eyes
and yawning, and wondering if he could have dream-
ed that he heard a noise. Much puzzled, he shook
his head, peered down the alley, and repeated his
call commanding all good people to be at peace.
Then, blowing his ox -horn, he walked slowly on
once more.

The full moon rose above the roofs at this mo-
ment, the air was sweet and cool, the houses were
dark. Rest seemed to lie like a cloak upon the old
city of Nuremberg. The watchman paused at the
corner, fancying that he heard a sound, but all was
silent, and, turning, he went on his way down the
moonlit street.



Hans Sachs's Cobbling-Song

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ti



Rest comes un - to Hans Sachs, the shoe
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mak - er and the po et, too !"



Motif of David




CHAPTER III
THE COBBLER'S WORKSHOP

IT was St. John's Day. The morning sunshine
fell brightly into Hans Sachs's workshop and upon
his bent head as he sat near the window reading an
old folio with dusty covers and yellow pages.

So absorbed was he that he did not hear David
enter the house. The prentice carried a basket
upon his arm which he proceeded to open. Inside
it were flowers and gay ribbons, and at the bottom
a superb sausage and a deliciously tempting cake.
He had begun to eye these dainties with the inten-
tion of eating them at once, when Sachs turned over
a leaf of his folio with a suddenness which startled
David.

Thinking that his master had summoned him, he
advanced to his side, assuring him that he had car-
ried the shoes to Master Beckmesser, as directed ;
and, finally, as Sachs was silent, he asked his pardon
for his misdeeds of the previous night. He explained



170 The Mastersingers of Nuremberg

that he had been jealous of Beckmesser because
Lene had been very cold to him in the afternoon,
and he had been on the lookout for the cause of her
displeasure.

"But now Lene is kind again," he added, " and,
for the festival, has given me these flowers and rib-
bons."

Sachs had paid no attention to his words, but he
now closed the book and gazed past the 'prentice
towards the articles which David had taken from the
basket.

"Flowers and ribbons do I see there?" he said,
softly. " They seem like the fancies of youth. How
came they into my house?"

David reminded him that it was the feast day of
St. John, and that every one must be gay.

"Ah, yes ! Last night was your Folly Eve," said
Sachs, musingly.

After a few moments, during which David won-
dered if he were very angry, Sachs told him to sing
him the Song of St. John, which he had learned.
The boy obeyed, first, by mistake, singing the words
to the air of Beckmesser's serenade. He hastily cor-
rected himself, with a laugh, and sang the song
through. Having finished, he offered the sausage
which Lene had given him to his master.

" Thank you, my lad," said Sachs, quietly. " Keep
it for yourself, and deck yourself with the flowers




"READING AN OLD FOLIO WITH DUSTY COVERS"



The Cobbler s Workshop 171

and the ribbons for the festival. You shall go be-
fore me like my herald."

" Ah, master !" cried honest David, with tears in
his eyes. " I should like better to be your grooms-
man ! Why should you not wed again ? Beckmes-
ser cannot win," he added, confidentially.

" That may well be," answered Sachs, smiling ;
and then said, gently, " Go now, and array yourself
gayly. And be careful not to wake Sir Walther."

David obeyed, and the cobbler was left alone. He
gazed down at the book lying on his knees, but he
did not read. Instead, he fell into a deep reverie.
He seemed to see the world before him, full of striv-
ing people ; and the memory of the Folly Eve twist-
ed itself into fantastical, symbolic shape.

First he pictured Nuremberg sleeping, content
with old rules and old customs ; then, through a
shoemaker, a commotion arose madness seemed to
be in every one. " Let us see what Hans Sachs
can do," he murmured, " to make the madness serve
for noble ends."

A door opened, and Walther appeared on the
threshold of Sachs's room.

As he saw him the cobbler rose, letting his book
slide unnoticed to the floor.

" Good greeting, Sir Knight ! You were awake
late; but did you finally have rest?"

" What sleep I had was very sound and good,"



172 The Master singers of Nuremberg

replied Walther, advancing. He seemed dreamy
and preoccupied, and when the shoemaker again
addressed him, the young man exclaimed, with a
rapt look, " I had a marvellously lovely dream !"

" That is good !" said his host, kindly. " Relate
it to me."

" I fear to put it into words," declared Walther,
softly.

" My friend," said Sachs and there was much
wisdom and sweetness in the smile which came to
his lips " the poet's work is to put dreams into
words. In dreams men's highest thoughts come to
them, and poetry is only dreaming made real."
Then he added, humorously, " Did your dream tell
you how you might become a master?"

" No," said Walther, quietly, but with suppressed
bitterness. " No ; the masters had no place in my
dream !"

" But," persisted Sachs, " did it teach you no
magic by which you might conquer?"

" How can you hope longer?" asked the knight,
quickly and despairingly.

" Indeed, my hope has far from left me," said
Sachs; and added, jokingly, "if it had, I should
have run away with you last night, instead of with-
holding you !" He paused a moment ; then, with
great kindliness in his eyes and voice, he continued :
" Remember that in the masters you have to deal



The Cobbler s Workshop 173

with honorable men. In spite of their mistakes,
you must accept them as they are. Judges and
donors of a prize must consider a song justly, ac-
cording to their convictions, and they could not ap-
prove of yours, because it was fashioned at variance
with their rules rules made by old, worn men, as
a means of framing music to remind them of their
lost spring-time. These rules are worth consider-
ing, and if you will but follow them, and yet give
your idea full scope, you must make a mastersong.
Take for your subject your morning dream and try
now."

" But one is a dream, and one should be poetry,"
began Walther, perplexed.

" They are friends," said Sachs, smiling. " Now,
sing the description of your dream. I will correct
you if you make errors."

He drew towards him a piece of paper and a pen,
and wrote down the words of the knight as, after a
moment's pause, he began to sing :

" Morning light brightened with roseate beam ;
Flower fragrance rare
Swelled through the air;
My eyes with rapture then did capture
A garden all a-gleam-
Such was my dream !"

" That," said Sachs, as he wrote, " is a stanza.



174 The Master singers of Nuremberg

Now be sure that the next is like it, and, in form,
wedded to the first."

" Why?" asked the knight.

" That people may know you are going to be
married !" said Sachs, his eyes twinkling with fun.

Walther laughed, and continued :

" Wondrous above that bright garden, alone,
A fragrant tree
Stood royally,

It's fair boughs showing the fruits there growing,
Gold fruitage richly grown,
'Mid scents soft-blown."

Sachs smiled delightedly, then shook his head.
" You close in a different key from the beginning ;
the masters do not like that ; but I agree with you
it is always so in spring. Now sing the After-
song."

Walther sang once more :

" Hear while I tell
What marvel awed me, gazing there :
A woman met my wondering sight
Ne'er saw I one so sweet, so fair !

Heed what befell
I clasped her, in supreme delight;
With soft eyes glowing,
She pointed showing
What roused desires manifold :
The fruit that crowned with gold
The Tree of Life!"



The Cobbler s Workshop 175

" That is really an After-song!" said Sachs, much
touched. " The verse is complete ; but with the
melody you are a trifle free. I do not say that I
dislike it ; but 'tis not easy to remember, and that
annoys our old masters."

He then bade Walther sing a second verse. The
knight obeyed, making his theme and climax the
Tree of Fame, instead of the Tree of Life.

Having finished it, he declared that he had com-
pleted the narrative of his dream, and had no more
to sing. After entreating him not to forget the
melody, Sachs said that the knight's servant had
arrived some time before " With the clothes in
which I suppose you had expected to be married,"
added the cobbler. "A bird must have pointed out
the way to his master! Come, now, and don all the
finery for the festival." He led the way to the
door of his room, paused respectfully for Walther
to pass through, and followed him.

No sooner had the door closed than Sixtus Beck-
messer entered the workshop from the street, limp-
ing painfully, for he had not yet recovered from the
effects of David's cudgelling. So intense was his
nervousness that he paused and stared about him at
every step ran, then stumbled ; wheeled about to
return to the door, then hastily advanced. At last
he reached the chair wherein the cobbler had med-
itated so deeply, and stood looking down at the



176 The Master singers of Nuremberg

table. There he saw a slip of paper which, with
his customary inquisitiveness, he lifted. He glanced
through it, and seeing that it was a love -song in
Hans Sachs's writing, he instantly concluded that
the cobbler was going to compete for the master-
prize.

He had only time to put the paper into his pocket
when Sachs, in festival garb, entered the workshop,
and greeted the town-clerk with much surprise, ask-
ing if the shoes sent him that morning were unsatis-
factory.

Beckmesser declared, angrily, that the shoes were
miserable things, thin and ill-fitting. He then burst
into a storm of fury, telling Sachs that he now knew
the depth of his cunning, and accusing him of dis-
honesty in pretending to be disinterested and devot-
ed to art when he himself was really a suitor for
Eva's hand, and an aspirant for the laurel-wreath of
victory.

These suppositions Sachs quietly denied.

" But I hold proof!" persisted Beckmesser, search-
ing in his pocket. The cobbler glanced at the table
and saw that the song-poem was gone.

" Is this your writing?" demanded the town-clerk,
showing the paper which he had taken from his
pocket.

"Yes," replied Sachs. "Of what matter is
that?"



The Cobblers Workshop

"Is the writing fresh?" continued Beckmesser,
shaking with rage.

Sachs nodded. "And the ink is still wet," he
said.

" Is it a love-song ?" screamed the clerk, wrathful,
but triumphant.

" Undoubtedly," answered Sachs, much amused.

" Well!" cried Beckmesser, breathlessly.

" Well, what more ?"

"You ask that?" gasped the town-clerk.

" Why not ask it ?" tranquilly responded Sachs.

"Then," declared Beckmesser, "you must be the
blackest knave alive !"

" Perhaps," said the cobbler, quietly ; " but still I
think I have never put papers belonging to another
in my own pocket. That you may not be consid-
ered a thief, I give you leave to keep the song."

Now the song was one such as the town-clerk
would wish to sing before the judges, and the gift
filled him with so much amazement and rapture
that it was long before he could collect his wits.
Finally he recovered sufficiently to beseech Sachs to
promise that he would never tell any one that the
song was composed by him. This touched the cob-
bler's sense of humor, but he controlled his amuse-
ment and answered, " No one shall ever be told by
me that that song is mine !"

Wild with delight, Beckmesser embraced him
12



178 The Master singers of Nuremberg

gratefully, and danced to the door. Suddenly fancy-
ing in his excitement that he had left the paper on
the table, he flew back to look. When he saw it in
his own hand, he once more embraced the cobbler,
and gayly leaped, limped, and capered to the door
of the workshop and down the street.

A smile came to Sachs's lips as he watched him
depart, and he murmured to himself: " So much
evil in one man I have never before found. He will
be punished some day."

The good cobbler had given the song to his late
visitor with his eyes well open. He knew that Beck-
messer could not find a melody which would fit the
poetry, even if he could remember the words ; and
though, being above petty trickery, he had not de-
ceived the town-clerk, he yet felt that Beckmesser,
by his foolishness and conceit, would ruin his own
opportunities, and that Walther's would thereby be
bettered.

Looking up, suddenly, Sachs saw Eva, in a holiday
dress of white, standing at the door of the workshop,
and started forward, exclaiming, " Greeting, my
Evchen ! Hey! how fine you are to-day !"

Eva's face was pale and her eyes were sad. She
seemed troubled and vexed. Declaring that her
shoe hurt her, she advanced to a stool which Sachs
brought, and put her foot upon it. First she said
that it was too tight, then assured him that it was




"'AHA! NOW i HAVE FOUND THE PLACE THAT HURTS'



The Cobbler s Workshop 179

far too wide. Finally she indicated the various
parts of her foot which were hurt by the ill-fitting
shoe.

As Sachs knelt, trying to discover the fault, Wal-
ther opened the chamber door and came in, dressed
in the rich garb of a knight. Eva uttered a cry, and
Sachs said, softly, " Aha ! Now I have found the
place that hurts ! Wait, and I will fix it."

He gently removed her shoe, while she stood
motionless, her foot upon the stool, and went to his
bench. He began to work upon the shoe, pretend-
ing not to notice Walther, who still stood at the
door of the inner room, gazing at Eva.

"Always cobbling!" said Sachs, as he worked.
" That is my fate both night and day. Once upon
a time, I thought of ending this shoemaking by en-
tering the contest ; then I might become a poet. It
\vas certainly you, child, who made me think of that !
But well, you are right ! I seem to hear you say
' Go on, and make your shoes !' However, will
no one else sing ? I heard a lovely song to-day. I
wonder if a third verse might not be forthcoming?"

Gazing on the face of the maiden before him,
Walther began to sing. He sang of the starlight
which shone from the eyes of the beautiful woman
in the garden, and her marvellous tenderness, which
waked the sleeping poet within his heart, and blessed
him with the glory of the Dream of Love.



i So The Mastersingers of Nuremberg

As he sang, Sachs continued to work quietly at
the shoe. Finally he brought it to Eva, and gently
put it on her foot once more. When Walther be-
gan to sing the cobbler had said, " Hark, child ; this
is a Mastersong!" And, as the tender melody came
to a close, he whispered, softly, " Was I not right ?
Try the shoe now ; does it still hurt ?"

Eva burst into a storm of sobs and sank into
Sachs's arms, clinging to him and weeping passion-
ately. Walther advanced and grasped the cobbler's
hand silently, unable to speak. Sachs himself was
deeply moved with both sadness and happiness.
After a moment or two he put Eva gently from him
and turned away, talking loudly and jovially, leaving
them standing together.

A few minutes passed, and then Eva came tow-
ards him, her face bright with smiles and tears.

" You are my best and truest friend," she said,
brokenly; "without you, what should I be?- -a
child, weak and blind. Through you I feel that I
am awake and living and a woman. I feel my own
soul for the first time and all through you."

Sachs would scarcely listen to her words of grati-
tude. At this point Magdalene, gayly dressed, ap-
peared at the shop door, and David came out from
his room, decked out with the flowers and ribbons.
Sachs bade them all gather around, and told them
that they must witness the christening of a Master-



Tlie Cobbler s Workshop 181

song. " David, as a 'prentice, cannot be witness,"
said the cobbler; " so I will set him free from his
apprenticeship and make him a journeyman."

David knelt, and received a box on the ear from
Sachs and a few words declaring his freedom.

Then, with great solemnity, the shoemaker said
that the song should be called the " Glorious Song
of the Morning Dream," and requested Eva, whom
he laughingly appointed godmother, to say a few
words suited to the occasion.

Eva's voice trembled as she spoke, describing the
tender beauty of the song, and all echoed her sim-
ple words. Meanwhile, Magdalene and David whis-
pered together. \Valther seemed overpowered by
his happiness, and the cobbler smiled upon them
all with tears in his eyes.

After the wonder and delight of all had some-
what abated, Sachs told Eva and Magdalene to go
to Pogner, who was waiting for them. They hastily
obeyed, and the cobbler and knight, with the new-
made journeyman, left the shop and made their way
to the scene of the coming festival.



Sachs's Reverie







The Dance of the 'Prentices and the Peasant Maidens



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CHAPTER IV
THE SINGING OF THE MASTERSONG

SOME miles from Nuremberg, where the river
Pegnitz wound its way between the meadows, the
people assembled for the festival. A raised plat-


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Online LibraryAnna Alice ChapinWonder tales from Wagner, told for young people → online text (page 9 of 10)