Excitement at the Hog’s Snout–Part 2

Fabri’s Many Talents

A loud commotion caused us to turn toward the door as a man’s voice shouted, “I told you to wait outside!”  The speaker was large, larger than Hubmaier, wearing a scholar’s robe that was mud-streaked and rumpled.  It ballooned around him in the wind from the opened door.  I could not see to whom the man spoke, but I saw the sleeve of the gown draw back and then fly down, a vulture’s wing.  There was the slightest cry, no louder than the mew of a kitten, and something scurried on all fours out the door. 

The room was silent as the large man rejoined a table of four slovenly companions.  “Damned swine dog,” I heard him say.  “How can he learn anything if he can’t be taught obedience?”

Fabri’s stool scraped the floor.

“Must we do this?” Hubmaier said with a sigh.

Fabri strode across the crowded room and out the door.  The bully looked for a moment at the door Fabri had closed behind him, and then he too rose and went out into the stormy night.

Now we all grabbed our cloaks.  I saw that the big man’s companions also rose.  A crowd gathered in the street, which ran ankle-deep in rain.  By the lanterns, I could see Fabri kneeling in the water, talking to a young boy.

The bully stepped forward.  “That’s my property there.  You’ve no business with it.”

Fabri stood, his soaked robe clinging to his legs, rain running in streams down his face.  But he was a jurist, an orator, and he knew how to give his voice authority over the storm, over the drumming downpour on the tiles, over the murmuring crowd.  “Your property?  How is this child your property?”

“His uncle in the Tyrol gave him to me as servant, if I would educate him.”

“I see you are educating him in the Triumvirate of starvation, cold, and drowning!”

The crowd laughed a little, even the bully’s friends.  But he leaned forward, his arms straight at his sides ending in fists.  “Leave the boy alone.  Go back to your ale, Master Fabri.”

“Oh, you know my name?  Then you should know that it is Doctor Johann Fabri of Leutkiirch in Allgäu.  I’m taking this boy tonight.  You may press your claim in the courts.  But mark me well.  You can not win.”

“Win in court against Ulrich Zasius’ lackey?  I expect not.  But right here, right now?  I wager I can win here.”

But Fabri was already undoing the carved wooden buttons of his robe. . .

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