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Margery   By: (1837-1898)

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MARGERY, Complete



By Georg Ebers

Translated from the German by Clara Bell


In translating what is supposed to be a transcript into modern German of the language of Nuremberg in the fifteenth century, I have made no attempt to imitate English phraseology of the same date. The difficulty would in fact be insuperable to the writer and the annoyance to the reader almost equally great.

I have merely endeavored to avoid essentially modern words and forms of speech.


"PIETRO GIUSTINIANI, merchant, of Venice." This was the signature affixed to his receipt by the little antiquary in the city of St. Mark, from whom I purchased a few stitched sheets of manuscript. What a name and title!

As I remarked on the splendor of his ancestry he slapped his pocket, and exclaimed, half in pride and half in lamentation:

"Yes, they had plenty of money; but what has become of it?"

"And have you no record of their deeds?" I asked the little man, who himself wore a moustache with stiff military points to it.

"Their deeds!" he echoed scornfully. "I wish they had been less zealous in their pursuit of fame and had managed their money matters better! Poor child!"

And he pointed to little Marietta who was playing among the old books, and with whom I had already struck up a friendship. She this day displayed some strange appendage in the lobes of her ears, which on closer examination I found to be a twist of thread.

The child's pretty dark head was lying confidentially against my arm and as, with my fingers, I felt this singular ornament, I heard, from behind the little desk at the end of the counter, her mother's shrill voice in complaining accents: "Aye, Sir, it is a shame in a family which has given three saints to the Church Saint Nicholas, Saint Anna, and Saint Eufemia, all three Giustinianis as you know in a family whose sons have more than once worn a cardinal's hat that a mother, Sir, should be compelled to let her own child But you are fond of the little one, Sir, as every one is hereabout. Heh, Marietta! What would you say if the gentleman were to give you a pair of ear rings, now; real gold ear rings I mean? Thread for ear rings, Sir, in the ears of a Giustiniani! It is absurd, preposterous, monstrous; and a right thinking gentleman like you, Sir, will never deny that."

How could I neglect such a hint; and when I had gratified the antiquary's wife, I could reflect with some pride that I might esteem myself a benefactor to a family which boasted of its descent from the Emperor Justinian, which had been called the 'Fabia gens' of Venice, and, in its day had given to the Republic great generals, far seeing statesmen, and admirable scholars.

When, at length, I had to quit the city and took leave of the curiosity dealer, he pressed my hand with heartfelt regret; and though the Signora Giustiniani, as she pocketed a tolerably thick bundle of paper money, looked at me with that kindly pity which a good woman is always ready to bestow on the inexperienced, especially when they are young, that, no doubt, was because the manuscript I had acquired bore such a dilapidated appearance. The margins of the thick old Nuremberg paper were eaten into by mice and insects, in many places black patches like tinder dropped away from the yellow pages; indeed, many passages of the once clear writing had so utterly faded that I scarcely hoped to see them made legible again by the chemist's art. However, the contents of the document were so interesting and remarkable, so unique in relation to the time when it was written, that they irresistibly riveted my attention, and in studying them I turned half the night into day. There were nine separate parts. All, except the very last one, were in the same hand, and they seemed to have formed a single book before they were torn asunder. The cover and title page were lost, but at the head of the first page these words were written in large letters: "The Book of my Life... Continue reading book >>

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