Click here if you haven't read part 1 of The Nettle Spinner
The following morning, as soon as she had put the house in order, the girl sat down to spin. Two hours after there arrived some soldiers, and when they saw her spinning they seized her, tied her arms and legs, and carried her to the bank of the river, which was swollen by the late rains.
When they reached the bank they flung her in, and watched her
sink, after which they left her. But Renelde rose to the surface,
and though she could not swim she struggled to land. Directly she got home she sat down and began to spin. Again came the two soldiers to the cottage and seized the girl, carried her to the river bank, tied a stone to her neck and flung her into the water.
The moment their backs were turned the stone untied itself. Renelde waded the ford, returned to the hut, and sat down to spin. This time the Count resolved to go to Locquignol himself; but, as he was very weak and unable to walk, he had himself borne in a litter.
And still the spinner spun.
When he saw her he fired a shot at her, as he would have fired at a wild beast. The bullet rebounded without harming the spinner, who still spun on.
Burchard fell into such a violent rage that it nearly killed him. He broke the wheel into a thousand pieces, and then fell fainting on the ground. He was carried back to the castle, unconscious.
The next day the wheel was mended, and the spinner sat down to spin. Feeling that while she was spinning he was dying, the Count ordered that her hands should be tied, and that they should not lose sight of her for one instant.
But the guards fell asleep, the bonds loosed themselves, and the spinner spun on.
Burchard had every nettle rooted up for three leagues round. Scarcely had they been torn from the soil when they sowed themselves afresh, and grew as you were looking at them. They sprung up even in the well-trodden floor of the cottage, and as fast as they were uprooted the distaff gathered to itself a supply
of nettles, crushed, prepared, and ready for spinning.
And every day Burchard grew worse, and watched his end approaching.
Moved by pity for her husband, the Countess at last found out the cause of his illness, and entreated him to allow himself to be cured. But the Count in his pride refused more than ever to give his consent to the marriage.
So the lady resolved to go without his knowledge to pray for mercy from the spinner, and in the name of Renelde's dead mother she besought her to spin no more. Renelde gave her promise, but in the evening Guilbert arrived at the cottage. Seeing that the cloth was no farther advanced than it was the evening before, he inquired the reason. Renelde confessed that the Countess had prayed her not to let her husband die.
`Will he consent to our marriage?'
`Let him die then.'
`But what will the Countess say?'
`The Countess will understand that it is not your fault; the Count alone is guilty of his own death.'
`Let us wait a little. Perhaps his heart may be softened.'
So they waited for one month, for two, for six, for a year. The spinner spun no more. The Count had ceased to persecute her, but 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 Renelde.
But the young man grew weary. He came more rarely to Locquignol, and very soon he did not come at all. Renelde 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 Renelde, 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 Renelde, placed her by his bedside, and ordered her at once to go on spinning his shroud.
Hardly had the spinner begun to work when the Count began to feel his pains grow less.
Then at last his heart melted; he was sorry for all the evil he had done out of pride, and implored Renelde to forgive him.
So Renelde forgave him, and went on spinning night and day.
When the thread of the nettles was spun she wove it with her shuttle, and then cut the shroud and began to sew it.
And as before, when she sewed the Count felt his pains grow less, and the life sinking within him, and when the needle made the last stitch he gave his last sigh.
At the same hour Guilbert returned to the country, and, as he had never ceased to love Renelde, he married her eight days later.
He had lost two years of happiness, but comforted himself with thinking that his wife was a clever spinner, and, what was much more rare, a brave and good woman.