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heart to speak; but throwing her lean arms round his neck, she seemed to forget in that moment all her troubles; and still more when Kolmarr, with a terrible oath, swore that after that night he would never fret her again.
The grateful Margaret, being very humble and weak-spirited, was ready to fall down on her knees to him for this unusual kindness, and her conscience smiting her, she was just going to confess to him the concealment of her cousin, and to beseech his forgiveness for that disobedience, as the first she had ever committed as his wife. But luckily she held her peace, for her fears still prevailed over her; and on these terms they bestowed themselves together for the night.
Now it was Kolmarr's custom of a night, to pay a visit to his stable; he, as a rogue himself, being very fearful of the dishonesty of others; for which reason he likewise^ locked behind him the door of his bed-chamber, in which he deposited his commodities. About midnight, thereal,
fore, Margaret heard him go down as usu but his stay was three times as long as ever it had been before. She became very uneasy at this circumstance; and moreover, at a strong smoke which began to creep into the chamber; whereupon, going to the window, she heard Kolmarr beneath, moaning like a person in great pain. In answer to her questions, he told her he had been beaten by some robbers, who had taken away his mules, and then set fire to the house.
"The back of it," said he, "is all wrapt in a flame; but what most grieves me of all, my dear Margaret, is that I cannot rescue thee; seeing that in my strife with the villains, I have lost the key of the outer-door. Nevertheless, if thou wilt take courage and cast thyself down, I will catch thee in my arms; or at the worst, I have dragged hither a great heap of straw, so that no harm may befal thy precious limbs.'"
The crafty ruffian, however, intended her no kinder reception than the hard bare earth would afford to her miserable bones. His brutality being well known in the country, he did not care to kill her openly; whereas, in this way he hoped to make it apparent that her death was caused by accident; and besides, as it would be in a manner by her own act, he flattered himself there would be the less guilt upon his head.
The window being very far from the ground, Margaret, however, hesitated at the fall: and in the meantime the pedlar awaked; and smelling the smoke, and going forth to the window above, he overheard the entreaties of Kolmarr. The danger, by his account, was very imminent; so stepping in again for his pack, which was very heavy, the pedlar pitched it out in the dark upon Kolmarr; who immediately began to groan in the most dismal earnest. The pedlar, knowing how heavy the box was,
and hearing the crash, with the lamentations that followed, made no doubt that he had done for the man beneath; so, without staying to make any fruitless enquiries, he groped about for the rope which he had noticed in the chamber, and knotting it here and there, and tying one end of it to the bed, he let himself down, as nimbly as a cat, to his kinswoman's window. Margaret, touched by the moans of her husband, had just made up her mind to leap down at a venture, when the pedlar withheld her; and being very stout and active, he soon made shift to lower her down safely to the ground, and then followed himself, like a sailor, by means of the rope.
As soon as Margaret was on her feet, she sought for Kolmarr, who by this time was as quiet as a stone, and made no answer to her enquiries; the pedlar, therefore, concluded justly that he was dead, and speedily found out with his fingers, that there was a great hole in the wretch's skull. At first he was very much shocked and troubled by this discovery; but afterwards, going behind the house, and seeing the smouldering remains of a heap of straw, which Kolmarr had lighted, he comprehended the whole matter, and was comforted. Then bringing Margaret, who was lamenting very loudly, to the same spot, he showed her the ashes, and told her how foolish it was to mourn so for a wicked man, who had died horribly through his own plotting against her life.
"The devices of the bloody man," said he, "have fallen upon his own head. Consider this, therefore, as the good deed of Providence, which, pitying your distresses, has ordained you a happier life hereafter; and for your maintenance, if God should fail to provide you, I will see to it myself."
In this manner, comforting her judiciously, Margaret dried her tears, reflecting as many women do, but with less reason, that she must