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Title: Debit and Credit - Translated from the German of Gustav Freytag
Author: Freytag, Gustav, 1816-1895
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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|Transcribers Note: In this book the authors words and their usage|
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DEBIT AND CREDIT.


Translated from the German of Gustav Freytag,

BY L.C.C.


WITH A PREFACE,

BY CHRISTIAN CHARLES JOSIAS BUNSEN,

D.D., D.C.L., D.PH.


NEW YORK:

HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,

FRANKLIN SQUARE.

1858.



LETTER FROM CHEVALIER BUNSEN.


CHARLOTTENBERG, NEAR HEIDELBERG, _10th October, 1857._

DEAR SIR,--It is now about five months since you expressed to me a wish
that I might be induced to imbody, in a few pages, my views on the
peculiar interest I attached--as you had been informed by a common
friend--to the most popular German novel of the age, Gustav Freytag's
_Soll und Haben_. I confess I was at first startled by your proposal. It
is true that, although I have not the honor of knowing the author
personally, his book inspired me with uncommon interest when I read it
soon after its appearance in 1855, and I did not hesitate to recommend
translation into English, as I had, in London, recommended that of the
Life of Perthes, since so successfully translated and edited under your
auspices. I also admit that I thought, and continue to think, the
English public at large would the better appreciate, not only the
merits, but also the importance of the work, if they were informed of
the bearing that it has upon the reality of things on the Continent;
for, although _Soll und Haben_ is a work altogether of fiction, and not
what is called a book of _tendency_, political or social, it exhibits,
nevertheless, more strikingly than any other I know, some highly
important social facts, which are more generally felt than understood.
It reveals a state of the relations of the higher and of the middle
classes of society, in the eastern provinces of Prussia and the adjacent
German and Slavonic countries, which are evidently connected with a
general social movement proceeding from irresistible realities, and, in
the main, independent of local circumstances and of political events. A
few explanatory words might certainly assist the English reader in
appreciating the truth and impartiality of the picture of reality
exhibited in this novel, and thus considerably enhance the enjoyment of
its poetical beauties, which speak for themselves.

At the same time, I thought that many other persons might explain this
much better than I, who am besides, and have been ever since I left
England, exclusively engaged in studies and compositions of a different
character. As, however, you thought the English public would like to
read what I might have to say on the subject, and that some observations
on the book in general, and on the circumstances alluded to in
particular, would prove a good means of introducing the author and his
work to your countrymen, I gladly engaged to employ a time of recreation
in one of our German baths in writing a few pages on the subject, to be
ready by the 1st of August. I was the more encouraged to do so when,
early in July, you communicated to me the proof-sheets of the first
volume of a translation, which I found not only to be faithful in an
eminent degree, but also to rival successfully the spirited tone and
classical style for which the German original is justly and universally
admired.

I began, accordingly, on the 15th July, to write the Introductory
Remarks desired by you, when circumstances occurred over which I had no
control, and neither leisure nor strength could be found for a literary
composition.

Now that I have regained both, I have thought it advisable to let you
have the best I can offer you in the shortest time possible, and
therefore send you a short Memoir on the subject, written in German,
placing it wholly at your disposal, and leaving it entirely to you to
give it either in part or in its totality to the English public, as may
seem best adapted to the occasion.

I shall be glad to hear of the success of your Translation, and remain,
with sincere consideration,

Dear sir, yours truly,
BUNSEN.

TO THOMAS CONSTABLE, ESQ.



PREFACE BY CHEVALIER BUNSEN.

THE HISTORY AND SPIRIT OF THE BOOK.


Since our German literature attained maturity, no novel has achieved a
reputation so immediate, or one so likely to increase and to endure, as
_Soll und Haben_, by Gustav Freytag. In the present, apparently
apathetic tone and temper of our nation, a book must be of rare
excellence which, in spite of its relatively high price (15s.), has
passed through six editions within two years; and which, notwithstanding
the carping criticism of a certain party in Church and State, has won
most honorable recognition on every hand. To form a just conception of
the hold the work has taken of the hearts of men in the educated middle
rank, it needs but to be told that hundreds of fathers belonging to the
higher industrious classes have presented this novel to their sons at
the outset of their career, not less as a work of national interest than
as a testimony to the dignity and high importance they attribute to the
social position they are called to occupy, and to their faith in the
future that awaits it.

The author, a man about fifty years of age, and by birth a Silesian, is
editor of the _Grenz-bote_ (Border Messenger), a highly-esteemed
political and literary journal, published in Leipsic. His residence
alternates between that city and a small estate near Gotha. Growing up
amid the influences of a highly cultivated family circle, and having
become an accomplished philologist under Lachmann, of Berlin, he early
acquired valuable life-experience, and formed distinguished social
connections. He also gained reputation as an author by skillfully
arranged and carefully elaborated dramatic compositions--the weak point
in the modern German school.

The enthusiastic reception of his novel can not, however, be attributed
to these earlier labors, nor to the personal influence of its author.
The favor of the public has certainly been obtained in great measure by
the rare intrinsic merit of the composition, in which we find aptly
chosen and melodious language, thoroughly artistic conception, life-like
portraiture, and highly cultivated literary taste. We see before us a
national and classic writer, not one of those mere journalists who count
nowadays in Germany for men of letters.

The story, very unpretending in its opening, soon expands and becomes
more exciting, always increasing in significance as it proceeds. The
pattern of the web is soon disclosed after the various threads have been
arranged upon the loom; and yet the reader is occasionally surprised,
now by the appearance on the stage of a clever Americanized German, now
by the unexpected introduction of threatening complications, and even of
important political events. Though confined within a seemingly narrow
circle, every incident, and especially the Polish struggle, is depicted
grandly and to the life. In all this the author proves himself to be a
perfect artist and a true poet, not only in the treatment of separate
events, but in the far more rare and higher art of leading his
conception to a satisfactory development and _dénouement_. As this
requirement does not seem to be generally apprehended either by the
writers or the critics of our modern novels, I shall take the liberty of
somewhat more earnestly attempting its vindication.

The romance of modern times, if at all deserving of the name it inherits
from its predecessors in the _romantic_ Middle Ages, represents the
latest _stadium_ of the epic.

Every romance is intended, or ought to be, a new Iliad or Odyssey; in
other words, a poetic representation of a course of events consistent
with the highest laws of moral government, whether it delineate the
general history of a people, or narrate the fortunes of a chosen hero.
If we pass in review the romances of the last three centuries, we shall
find that those only have arrested the attention of more than one or two
generations which have satisfied this requirement. Every other romance,
let it moralize ever so loudly, is still immoral; let it offer ever so
much of so-called wisdom, is still irrational. The excellence of a
romance, like that of an epic or a drama, lies in the apprehension and
truthful exhibition of the course of human things.

_Candide_, which may appear to be an exception, owes its prolonged
existence to the charm of style and language; and, after all, how much
less it is now read than _Robinson Crusoe_, the work of the talented De
Foe; or than the _Vicar of Wakefield_, that simple narrative by
Voltaire's English contemporary. Whether or not the cause can be clearly
defined is here of little consequence; but an unskillfully developed
romance is like a musical composition that concludes with discord
unresolved--without perhaps inquiring wherefore, it leaves an unpleasant
impression on the mind.

If we carry our investigation deeper, we shall find that any such defect
violates our sense of artistic propriety, because it offends against our
healthy human instinct of the fundamental natural laws; and the artistic
merit, as well of a romance as of an epic, rises in proportion as the
plot is naturally developed, instead of being conducted to its solution
by a series of violent leaps and make-shifts, or even by a pretentious
sham. We shall take occasion hereafter to illustrate these views by
suitable examples.

That the work we are now considering fulfills, in a high degree, this
requirement of refined artistic feeling and artistic treatment, will be
at once apparent to all discriminating readers, though it can not be
denied that there are many of the higher and more delicate chords which
_Soll und Haben_ never strikes. The characters to whom we are introduced
appear to breathe a certain prosaic atmosphere, and the humorous and
comic scenes occasionally interwoven with the narrative bear no
comparison, in poetic delicacy of touch, with the creations of
Cervantes, nor yet with the plastic power of those of Fielding.

The author has given most evidence of poetic power in the delineation of
those dark characters who intrude like ghosts and demons upon the fair
and healthy current of the book, and vanish anon into the caverns and
cellars whence they came.

The great importance of the work, and the key to the almost unexampled
favor it has won, must be sought in a quite different direction--in the
close relation to the real and actual in our present social condition,
maintained throughout its pages. Such a relation is manifested, in very
various ways, in every novel of distinguished excellence. The object of
all alike is the same--to exhibit and establish, by means of a narrative
more or less fictitious, the really true and enduring elements in the
complicated or contradictory phenomena of a period or a character. The
poetic truthfulness of the immortal _Don Quixote_ lies not so much in
the absurdities of an effete Spanish chivalry as in the portraiture that
lies beneath, of the insignificance and profligacy of the life of the
higher ranks, which had succeeded the more decorous manners of the
Middle Ages. Don Quixote is not the only hero of the book, but also the
shattered Spanish people, among whom he moves with gipsies and smugglers
for companions, treading with all the freshness of imperishable youth
upon the buried ruins of political and spiritual life, rejoicing in the
geniality of the climate and the tranquillity of the country, reposing
proudly on his ancestral dignity. This conception--and not alone the
pure and lofty nature of the crazy besieger of wind-mills, who, in spite
of all, stands forth as at once the worthiest, and fundamentally the
wisest character in the book--constitutes the poetic background, and the
twilight glimmer amid the prevailing darkness in the life of the higher
classes. We feel that there is assuredly something deeply human and of
living power in these elements, and this reality will one day obtain the
victory over all opponents.

By what an entirely different atmosphere do we feel ourselves to be
surrounded in _Gil Blas_, where the highest poetry, the cunning
dexterity of the modern Spanish Figaro, is manifested in the midst of a
depraved nobility, and a priesthood alive only to their own material
interests. It is only the most perfect art that could have retained for
this novel readers in every quarter of the world. The _dénouement_ is as
perfect as with such materials it can be; and we feel that, instead of
Voltaire's withering and satiric contempt of all humanity, an element
of unfeigned good-humor lies in the background of the picture. How far
inferior is Swift! and how utterly horrible is the abandoned humor of a
despair that leaves all in flames behind it, which breathes upon us from
the pages of the unhappy _Rabelais_!

Fielding's novels, _Tom Jones_ in particular, bear the same resemblance
to the composition of Cervantes that the paintings of Murillo bear to
those of Rembrandt. The peculiarity of _Wilhelm Meister_ as a novel is
more difficult of apprehension, if one does not seek the novel where in
truth it lies--in the story of Mignon and the Harper, and only sees in
the remainder the certainly somewhat diffuse but deeply-thought and
classically-delineated picture of the earnest striving after culture of
a German in the end of the eighteenth century. It would argue, however,
as it appears to me, much prejudice, and an utterly unreasonable temper,
not to recognize a perfect novel in the _Wahlverwandschaften_, however
absolutely one may deny the propriety of thus tampering with and
endangering the holiest family relationships, or thus making them the
subjects of a work of fiction. Goethe, however, has here placed before
us, and that with the most noble seriousness and the most artistic
skill, a reality which lies deep in human nature and the period he
represents. The tragical complications and consequences resulting even
from errors which never took shape in evil deeds could not in the
highest tragedy be represented more purely and strikingly than here. The
stain of impurity rests upon the soul of him who thinks that he detects
it, not in the book itself. Ottilie is as pure and immortal a creation
of genius as Mignon.

As novel-literature has developed itself in Europe, an attempt has been
made to employ it as a mirror of the past, into which mankind shall love
to look, and thereby ascertain whether civilization has advanced or
retrograded with the lapse of time. This is a reaction against the
eighteenth century, and it appears under two forms--the
idealistic-sentimental and the strongly realistic-social. The earliest
instance in Germany of the romantic school, _Heinrich von Ofterdingen_,
is the apotheosis of the art and literature of the Middle Ages. The
writings of Walter Scott put an end to this sentimentalism, and this is
indeed their highest merit. Those of his works will continue to maintain
the most prominent place, standing forth as true and living
representations of character, which deal with the events of Scottish
history in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Still more the work
of genius, however, and of deeper worth, Hope's _Anastasius_ must be
admitted to be--that marvelous picture of life in the Levant, and in the
whole Turkish Empire, as far as Arabia, as it was about the end of the
last and the beginning of the present century. In this work truth and
fiction are most happily blended; the episodes, especially that of
Euphrosyne, may be placed, without disparagement, beside the novels of
Cervantes, and strike far deeper chords in the human heart than the
creations of Walter Scott. Kingsley's _Hypatia_, alone of modern works,
is worthy to be named along with it. That, indeed, is a marvelous and
daring composition, with a still higher aim and still deeper
soul-pictures. Both of them will live forever as examples of union of
the idealistic and the realistic schools, poetic evocations of a by-gone
reality, with all the truth and poetry of new creations. In reading
either of them we forget that the work is as instructive as it is
imaginative.

The most vehement longing of our times, however, is manifestly after a
faithful mirror of the present; that is to say, after a life-picture of
the social relations and the struggles to which the evils of the present
day have given rise. We feel that great events are being enacted; that
greater still are in preparation; and we long for an epic, a
world-moulding epic, to imbody and depict them. The undertaking is a
dangerous one--many a lance is shivered in the first encounter. A mere
tendency-novel is in itself a monster. A picture of the age must be, in
the highest acceptation of the word, a poem. It must not represent real
persons or places--it must create such. It must not ingraft itself upon
the passing and the accidental, but be pervaded by a poetic intuition of
the real. He that attempts it must look with a poet's eye at the real
and enduring elements in the confusing contradictions of the time, and
place the result before us as an actual existence. It has been the high
privilege of the English realistic school, which we may call without
hesitation the school of Dickens, that it has been the first to strike
the key-note with a firm and skillful hand. Its excellence would stand
out with undimmed lustre had it not, as its gloomy background, the
French school of Victor Hugo and Balzac, that opposite of "the poetry of
despair," as Goethe calls it. Here again, in this new English school,
has the genius of Kingsley alighted. Most of his novels belong to it.
And, besides himself and Dickens, there stand forth as its most
brilliant members the distinguished authoress of _Mary Barton_, and the
sorely-tried Charlotte Brontë, the gifted writer of _Jane Eyre_--too
soon, alas! removed from us. This school has portrayed, in colors
doubtless somewhat strong, the sufferings and the virtues, the dangers
and the hopes of the working-classes, especially in towns and factories.
But, instead of enjoining hatred of the higher classes, and despair of
all improvement in the future for humanity, a healthy tone pervades
their writings throughout, and an unwavering and cheering hope of better
things to come shines through the gloomy clouds that surround the dreary
present. There are throes of anguish--but they tell of coming
deliverance; there are discords--but they resolve into harmony. The
spirit finds, pervading the entire composition, that satisfaction of the
desires of our higher nature which constitutes true artistic success.

Dickens, too, has at length chosen the real life of the working-classes
in their relations to those above them as a subject for his masterly
pen. _Dombey and Son_ will not readily be forgotten.

It was necessary to take a comprehensive view of novel literature,
and--although in the merest outline--still to look at it in its
historical connection, in order to find the suitable niche for a book
which claims an important place in its European development; for it is
precisely in the class last described--that which undertakes faithfully,
and yet in a poetic spirit, to represent the real condition of our most
peculiar and intimate social relations--that our author has chosen to
enroll himself. With what a full appreciation of this high end, and with
what patriotic enthusiasm he has entered on his task, the admirable
dedication of the work at once declares, which is addressed to a
talented and liberal-minded prince, deservedly beloved and honored
throughout Germany. In the work itself, besides, there occur repeated
pictures of these relations, which display at once a clear comprehension
of the social problem, and a poetic power which keeps pace with the
power of life-like description. To come more closely to the point,
however, what is that reality which is exhibited in the story of our
novel? We should very inadequately describe it were we to say, the
nobility of labor and the duties of property, particularly those of the
proprietor of land. This is certainly the key-note of the whole
conservative-social, or Dickens school, to which the novel belongs. It
is not, however, the conflict between rich and poor, between labor and
capital in general, and between manufacturers and their people in
particular, whose natural course is here detailed. And this is a point
which an English reader must above all keep clearly in view. He will
otherwise altogether fail to understand the author's purpose; for it is
just here that the entirely different blending of the social masses in
England and in Germany is displayed. We have here the conflict between
the feudal system and that class of industrial and wealthy persons,
together with the majority of the educated public functionaries, who
constitute in Germany the citizen-class. Before the fall of the Prussian
monarchy in 1807, the noble families--for the most part hereditary
knights (Herrn _von_)--almost entirely monopolized the governmental and
higher municipal posts, and a considerable portion of the peasantry were
under servitude to them as feudal superiors. The numbers of the lesser
nobility--in consequence of the right of every nobleman's son, of
whatever grade, to bear his father's title--were so great, and since the
introduction by the great Elector,[A] and his royal successors, of the
new system of taxation, their revenues had become so small, that they
considered themselves entitled to the monopoly of all the higher offices
of state, and regarded every citizen of culture, fortune, and
consideration with jealousy, as an upstart. The new monarchic
constitution of 1808-12, which has immortalized the names of Frederick
William III., and of his ministers, Stein and Hardenberg, altered this
system, and abolished the vassalage and feudal service of the peasants
in those provinces that lie to the east of the Elbe. The fruits of this
wise act of social reform were soon apparent, not only in the increase
of prosperity and of the population, but also in that steady and
progressive elevation of the national spirit which alone made it
possible in 1813-14 for the house of Hohenzollern to raise the monarchy
to the first rank among the European powers.

[Footnote A: The friend and brother-in-law of William III.]

The further development in Prussia of political freedom unfortunately
did not keep pace with these social changes; and so--to say no more--it
happened that the consequences of all half measures soon resulted. Even
before the struggles of 1848, down to which period the story of our
novel reaches, the classes of the more polished nobility and citizens,
instead of fusing into one band of _gentry_, and thus forming the basis
of a landed aristocracy, had assumed an unfriendly attitude, in
consequence of a stagnation in the growth of a national lower nobility
as the head of the wealthy and cultivated _bourgeoisie_, resulting from
an unhappy reaction which then took place in Prussia. The feudal
proprietor was meanwhile becoming continually poorer, because he lived
beyond his income. Falling into embarrassments of every sort, he has
recourse for aid to the provincial banks. His habits of life, however,
often prevent him from employing these loans on the improvement of his
property, and he seldom makes farming the steady occupation and business
of his life. But he allows himself readily to become involved in the
establishment of factories--whether for the manufacture of brandy or for
the production of beet-root sugar--which promise a larger and speedier
return, besides the enhancement of the value of the land. But, in order
to succeed in such undertakings, he wants the requisite capital and
experience. He manifests even less prudence in the conduct of these
speculations than in the cultivation of his ancestral acres, and the
inevitable result ensues that an ever-increasing debt at length
necessitates the sale of his estate. Such estates are ever more and more
frequently becoming the property of the merchant or manufacturer from
the town, or perhaps of the neighboring proprietor of the same inferior
rank, who has lately settled in the country, and become entitled to the
exercise of equal rights with the hereditary owner. There is no
essential difference in social culture between the two classes, but
there is a mighty difference between the habits of their lives. The
mercantile class of citizens is in Germany more refined than in any
other country, and has more political ambition than the corresponding
class in England has yet exhibited. The families of public functionaries
constitute the other half of the cultivated citizen class; and as the
former have the superiority in point of wealth, so these bear the palm
in respect of intellectual culture and administrative talent. Almost all
authors, since the days of Luther, have belonged to this class. In
school and college learning, in information, and in the conduct of
public affairs, the citizen is thus, for the most part, as far superior
to the nobleman as in fashionable manners the latter is to him. The
whole nation, however, enjoys alike the advantage of military education,
and every man may become an officer who passes the necessary
examination. Thus, in the manufacturing towns, the citizens occupy the
highest place, and the nobility in the garrison towns and those of royal
residence. This fact, however, must not be lost sight of--that Berlin,
the most populous city of Germany, has also gradually become the chief
and the richest commercial one, while the great fortress of Magdeburg
has also been becoming the seat of a wealthy and cultivated mercantile
community.

Instead of desiring landed property, and perhaps a patent of nobility
for his children, and an alliance with some noble country family, the
rich citizen rather sticks to his business, and prefers a young man in
his own rank, or perhaps a clergyman, or professor, or some municipal
officer as a suitor to his daughter, to the elegant officer or man of
noble blood; for the richest and most refined citizen, though the wife
or daughter of a noble official, is not entitled to appear at court with
her husband or her father. It is not, therefore, as in England or
Scotland, the aim of a man who has plied his industrious calling with
success to assume the rank and habits of a nobleman or country squire.
The rich man remains in town among his equals. It is only when we
understand this difference in the condition of the social relations in
Germany and in England that the scope and intention of our novel can be
apprehended.

It would be a mistake to suppose that our remarks are only applicable to
the eastern provinces of Prussia. If, perhaps, they are less harshly
manifested in the western division of our kingdom, and indeed in Western
Germany, it is in consequence of noble families being fewer in number,
and the conditions of property being more favorable to the citizen
class. The defective principle is the same, as also the national feeling
in regard to it. It is easily understood, indeed, how this should have
become much stronger since 1850, seeing that the greater and lesser
nobility have blindly united in endeavoring to bring about a
reaction--demanding all possible and impossible privileges and
exemptions, or compensations, and are separating themselves more and
more widely from the body of the nation.

In Silesia and Posen, however, the theatres on which our story is
enacted, other and peculiar elements, though lying, perhaps, beneath the
surface, affect the social relations of the various classes. In both
provinces, but especially in Posen, the great majority of noblemen are
the proprietors of land, and the enactment under Hardenberg and Stein in
1808-10, in regard to peasant rights, had been very imperfectly carried
out in districts where vassalage, as in all countries of Slavonic
origin, was nearly universal. Many estates are of large extent, and
some, indeed, are strictly entailed. These circumstances naturally give
to a country life in Silesia or Posen quite a different character than
that in the Rhine provinces. In Posen, besides, two foreign
elements--found in Silesia also in a far lesser degree--exercise a
mighty influence on the social relations of the people. One is the
Jewish, the other the Polish element. In Posen, the Jews constitute in
the country the class of innkeepers and farmers; of course, they carry
on some trade in addition. The large banking establishments are partly,
the smaller ones almost exclusively, in their hands. They become, by
these means, occasionally the possessors of land; but they regard such
property almost always as a mere subject for speculation, and it is but
rarely that the quondam innkeeper or peddler settles down as a tiller of
the soil. In Silesia, their chief seat is in Breslau, where the general
trade of the country, as well as the purchase and the sale of land, is
for the most part transacted. It is a pretty general feeling in Germany
that Freytag has not dealt altogether impartially with this class, by
failing to introduce in contrast to the abandoned men whom he selects
for exhibition a single honest, upright Jew, a character not wanting
among that remarkable people. The inextinguishable higher element of our
nature, and the fruits of German culture, are manifested, it is true, in
the Jewish hero of the tale, ignorant alike of the world and its ways,
buried among his cherished books, and doomed to early death; but this is
done more as a poetic comfort to humanity than in honor of Judaism, from
which plainly in his inmost soul he had departed, that he might turn to
the Christianized spirit and to the poetry of the Gentiles.

The Polish element, however, is of still far greater importance.
Forming, as they once did, with the exception of a few German
settlements, the entire population of the province, the Poles have
become, in the course of the last century, and especially since the
removal of restrictions on the sale of land, less numerous year by year.
In Posen proper they constitute, numerically, perhaps the half of the
population; but in point of prosperity and mental culture their
influence is scarcely as one fourth upon the whole. On the other hand,
in some districts, as, for instance, in Gnesen, the Polish influence
predominates in the towns, and reigns undisputed in the country. The
middle class is exclusively German or Jewish; where these elements are
lacking, there is none. The Polish vassal, emancipated by the enactment
of 1810, is gradually ripening into an independent yeoman, and knows
full well that he owes his freedom, not to his former Polish masters,
but to Prussian legislation and administration. The exhibition of these
social relations, as they were manifested by the contending parties in
1848, is, in all respects, one of the most admirable portions of our
novel. The events are all vividly depicted, and, in all essential
points, historically true. One feature here appears, little known in
foreign lands, but deserving careful observation, not only on its own
account, but as a key to the meaning and intention of the attractive
narrative before us.

The two national elements may be thus generally characterized: The
Prusso-German element is Protestant; the Polish element is Catholic.
Possessing equal rights, the former is continually pressing onward with
irresistible force, as in Ireland, in virtue of the principles of
industry and frugality by which it is animated. This is true alike of
landlord and tenant, of merchant and official.

The passionate and ill-regulated Polish element stands forth in
opposition--the intellectual and peculiarly courteous and accomplished
nobility, as well as the priesthood--but in vain. Seeing that the law
secures perfect equality of rights, and is impartially administered;
that, besides, the conduct of the German settlers is correct and
inoffensive, the Poles can adduce no well-grounded causes of complaint
either against their neighbors or the government. It is their innate
want of order that throws business, money, and, at length, the land
itself, into the hands of Jews and Protestants. This fact is also here
worthy of notice, that the Jewish usurer is disappearing or withdrawing
wherever the Protestant element is taking firmer ground. The Jew remains
in the country, but becomes a citizen, and sometimes even a
peasant-proprietor. This phenomenon is manifesting itself also in other
places where there is a concurrence of the German and Slavonic elements.
In Prussia, however, there is this peculiarity in addition, of which
Freytag has made the most effective use--I mean the education of the
Prussian people, not alone in the national schools, but also in the
science of national defense, which this people of seventeen millions has
in common with Sparta and with Rome.

It is well known that every Prussian not physically disqualified, of
whatever rank he be, must become a soldier. The volunteer serves in the
line for one year, and without pay; other persons serve for two or
three years. Thereafter, all beyond the age of twenty-five are yearly
called out as militia, and drilled for several weeks after harvest. This
enactment has been in force since 1813, and it is a well-known fact,
brought prominently forward in the work before us, that, notwithstanding
the immense sacrifice it requires, it is enthusiastically cherished by
the nation as a school of manly discipline, and as exercising a most
beneficial influence on all classes of society. This institution it is
which gives that high standard of order, duty, and military honor, and
that mutual confidence between officers and men, which at the first
glance distinguishes the Prussian, not only from the Russian, but the
Austrian soldier. This high feeling of confidence in the national
defenses is indeed peculiar to Prussia beyond the other German nations,
and may be at once recognized in the manly and dignified bearing, even
of the lowest classes, alike in town and country.

This spirit is depicted to the life in the striking episode of the
troubles in the year 1848. Even in the wildest months of that year, when
the German minority were left entirely to their own resources, this
spirit of order and mutual confidence continued undisturbed. Our
patriotic author has never needed to draw upon his imagination for
facts, though he has depicted with consummate skill the actual reality.
We feel that it has been to him a labor of love to console himself and
his fellow-countrymen under so many disappointments and shattered hopes,
to cherish and to strengthen that sense of independence, without which
no people can stand erect among the nations.

The Prusso-German population feel it to be a mission in the cause of
civilization to press forward in occupation of the Sarmatian
territory--a sacred duty, which, however, can only be fulfilled by
honest means, by privations and self-sacrificing exertions of every
kind. In such a spirit must the work be carried forward; this is the
suggestive thought with which our author's narrative concludes. It is
not without a meaning, we believe, that the zealous German hero of the
book is furnished with the money necessary for carrying out his schemes
by a fellow-countryman and friend, who had returned to his fatherland
with a fortune acquired beyond the Atlantic. Our talented author has
certainly not lost sight of the fact that Germany, as a whole, has as
little recovered from the devastation of the Thirty Years' War as the
eastern districts of Prussia have recovered from the effects of the war
with France in the present century. Let the faults and failings of our
national German character be what they may (and we should like to know
what nation has endured and survived similar spoliation and partition),
the greatest sin of Germany during the last two hundred years,
especially in the less-favored north, has always been its poverty--the
condition of all classes, with few exceptions. National poverty,
however, becomes indeed a political sin when a people, by its
cultivation, has become constitutionally fit for freedom.

In the background of the whole picture of the disordered and sickly
condition of our social circumstances here so vividly presented, the
author has plainly discerned Dante's noble proverb--

"Di libertà indipendenza è primo grado."

The existence of independent citizen-families qualified and ready for
every public service, though beyond the need of such employment--this is
the fundamental condition of a healthy development of political freedom,
alike impregnable by revolution and reaction; this is the only sure
ground and basis on which a constitutional form of government can be
reared and administered with advantage to every class, repressing alike
successfully absolutism and democracy.

And now we have reached the point where we are enabled to gather up, and
to express to the reader, without desiring to forestall his own
judgment, or to load him with axioms and formulas beyond his
comprehension, the beautiful fundamental idea of the book, clearly and
simply.

We would express it thus: The future of all European states depends
mainly on three propositions, and the politics of every statesman of our
period are determined by the way in which he views them.

These propositions are,

1st. The fusion of the educated classes, and the total abolition of
bureaucracy, and all social barriers between the ancient nobility and
the educated classes in the nation, especially the industrial and
mercantile population.

2d. The just and Christian bearing of this united body toward the
working-classes, especially in towns.

3d. The recognition of the mighty fact that the educated middle classes
of all nations, but especially of those of Germany, are perfectly aware
that even the present, but still more the near future, is their own, if
they advance along the legal path to a perfect constitutional monarchy,
resisting all temptations to the right hand or to the left, not with
imbittered feelings, but in the cheerful temper of a moral
self-confidence.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is faith in truths such as these that has inspired our author in the
composition of the work which is here offered to the English reading
public. It is his highest praise, however, that he has imbodied this
faith in a true work of art, which speaks for itself. He has thereby
enkindled or strengthened a like faith in many thousand hearts, and that
with a noble and conciliatory intention which the dedication well
expresses.

The admirable delineation of character, the richness of invention, the
artistic arrangement, the lively descriptions of nature, will be ever
more fully acknowledged by the sympathizing reader as he advances in the
perusal of the attractive volumes.



TO HIS HIGHNESS ERNEST II.,

DUKE OF SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA.


I visited Kallenberg one lovely evening in the month of May. The high
ground near the castle was steeped in perfume from the blossoms of the
spring, and the leaves of the pink acacia cast their checkered shadows
on the dewy grass. Beneath me, in the shady valley, deer bounded
fearless from their covert in the wood, following greedily with their
eyes the bright figure of that lady who greets with kind and hospitable
welcome all who enter the precincts of the castle--men, and all living
things. The repose of evening lay on hill and dale; no sound was heard
save the occasional roll of thunder from afar above the bright and
cheerful landscape. On this very evening, leaning against the wall of
the ancient castle, your highness gazed with troubled aspect into the
gloomy distance. What my noble prince then said about the conflicts of
the last few years, the relaxed and utterly despondent temper of the
nation, and the duty of authors, at such a time especially, to show the
people, for their encouragement and elevation, as in a mirror, what they
are capable of doing--those were golden words, revealing a great grasp
of intellect and a warm heart, and their echo will not soon die away in
the heart of him who heard them. It was on that evening the desire awoke
within me to grace with your highness's name the work whose plan had
been already in my mind.

Nearly two years have passed since then. A terrible war is raging, and
Germans look with gloomy apprehension to the future of their fatherland.
At such a time, when the strongest political feelings agitate the life
of every individual, that spirit of cheerful tranquillity, so needful to
an author for the artistic moulding of his creations, readily forsakes
his writing-table. It is long, alas! since the German author has enjoyed
it. He has far too little interest in home and foreign life; he wants
that composure and proud satisfaction which the writers of other
countries feel in dwelling on the past and present of their nation,
while he has enough and to spare of humiliation on account of his
country, of wishes unfulfilled and passionate indignation. At such a
time, in drawing an imaginative picture, not love alone, but hatred too,
flows freely and readily from the pen--practical tendencies are apt to
usurp the place of poetic fancy; and, instead of a genial tone and
temper, the reader is apt to find an unpleasing mixture of blunt reality
and artificial sentiment.

Surrounded by such dangers, it becomes twofold the duty of an author
carefully to avoid distortion in the outline of his pictures, and to
keep his own soul free from unjust prepossession. To give the highest
expression to the beautiful in its noblest form is not the privilege of
every time; but, in all times alike, it is the duty of the writer of
fiction to be true to his art and to his country. To seek for this
truth, and where found to exhibit it, I hold to be the duty of my own
life.

And now let me dedicate, with deepest reverence, my unimportant work to
you, my honored lord. I shall rejoice if this novel leaves on the mind
of your highness the impression that its conception is in faithful
keeping with the laws of life and of art, without ever being a slavish
copy of the accidental occurrences of the day.

GUSTAV FREYTAG.

LEIPSIC, _April_, 1855.



DEBIT AND CREDIT.



CHAPTER I.


Ostrau is a small town near the Oder, celebrated even as far as Poland
for its gymnasium and its gingerbread. In this patriarchal spot had
dwelt for many years the accountant-royal, Wohlfart, an enthusiastically
loyal subject, and a hearty lover of his fellow-men--with one or two
exceptions. He married late in life, and his wife and he lived in a
small house, the garden of which he himself kept in order. For a long
time the happy pair were childless; but at length came a day when the
good woman, having smartened up her white bed-curtains with a broad
fringe and heavy tassels, disappeared behind them amid the approbation
of all her female friends. It was under the shade of those white
bed-curtains that the hero of our tale was born.

Anton was a good child, who, according to his mother, displayed
remarkable peculiarities from the very day of his birth. For instance,
he had a great objection to going to bed at the proper hour; he would
pore time untold over his picture-alphabet, and hold lengthy
conversations with the red cock depicted upon its last page, imploring
him to exert himself in the cause of his young family, and not allow the
maid-servant to carry them off and roast them. Lastly, he would often
run away from his playfellows, and sit lost in thought in a corner of
the room. His greatest delight, however, was to perch himself on a chair
opposite his father, cross his legs in the same way, and smoke a mimic
pipe in emulation. Moreover, he was so seldom naughty, that all such of
the female population of Ostrau as took a gloomy view of things in
general held it doubtful that he could live to grow up, till one day
Anton publicly thrashed the councilor's son, which in some degree
modified the opinions concerning him. In short, he was just the boy that
the only child of warm-hearted parents might be expected to prove. At
school he was an example of industry; and when the drawing-master began
to declare that he must be a painter, and the classical teacher to
devote him to Philology, the boy might have been in some danger of being
diverted from the serious pursuit of any one specific calling but for an
accident which determined his choice.

Every Christmas evening the mail brought to the house of the paternal
Wohlfart a box containing a loaf of the finest sugar and a quantity of
the best coffee. This sugar the good man himself broke into squares: the
coffee was roasted by his wife's own hands; and the complacency with
which they sipped their first cup was pleasant to behold. These were
seasons when, to the childish soul of Anton, the whole house seemed
pervaded with poetry, and his father was never weary of telling him the
history of this periodical present. Many years ago, he had chanced to
find, in a dusty bundle of law-papers, a document of great importance to
a well-known mercantile house in the capital. This document he had at
once forwarded, and, in consequence of it, the firm had been enabled to
gain a long-pending lawsuit, which had previously threatened to go
against them; upon which the young head of the concern had written his
acknowledgments, and Wohlfart had refused to be thanked, having, he
said, only done his duty. From that time forth the box we have described
made its appearance every Christmas evening, accompanied by a few
cordial lines, to which Wohlfart responded in a masterpiece of
caligraphy, expressing his surprise at the unexpected arrival, and
wishing a happy new year to the firm. The old gentleman persisted, even
to his wife, in treating this Christmas box as a mere accident, a
trifle, a whim of some clerk in the house of T. O. Schröter, and yearly
protested against the expectation of its arrival, by which the good
woman's household purchases were more or less influenced. But its
arrival was, in reality, of the utmost importance in his eyes; and that,
not for the sake of the actual coffee and sugar themselves, but of the
poetry of this connecting link between him and the life of a perfect
stranger. He carefully tied up all the letters of the firm, together
with three love-letters from his wife. He became a connoisseur in
colonial produce, an oracle in coffee, whose decision was much deferred
to by the Ostrau shopkeepers. He began to interest himself in the
affairs of the great firm, and never failed to note the ups and downs
reported in a certain corner of the newspapers, wholly mysterious to the
uninitiated. Nay, he even indulged in fancy speculations and an ideal
partnership, chafed when sugars fell, and chuckled at the rise of
coffee.

A strange, invisible, filmy thread it was, this which connected
Wohlfart's quiet household with the activity of the great mercantile
world, and yet it was by this that little Anton's whole life was swayed;
for when the old gentleman sat in his garden of an evening in his satin
cap, and pipe in his mouth, he would dilate upon the advantages of
trade, and ask his son whether he should like to be a merchant;
whereupon a kind of kaleidoscope-picture suddenly shaped itself in the
little fellow's mind, made up of sugar-loaves, raisins, and almonds,
golden oranges, his father's smile, and the mysterious delight which the
arrival of the box always occasioned him, and he replied at once, "Yes,
father, _that_ I should!"

Let no one say that our life is poor in poetical influences; still does
the enchantress sway us mortals as of old. Rather let each take heed
what dreams he nurses in his heart's innermost fold, for when they are
full grown they may prove tyrants, ay, and cruel ones too.

In this way the Wohlfart family lived on for many a year; and whenever
the good woman privately entreated her husband to form some decision as
to the boy's way of life, he would reply, "It is formed already; he is
to be a merchant." But in his own heart he was a little doubtful as to
how this dream of his could ever be realized.

Meanwhile a dark day drew on, when the shutters of the house remained
late unclosed, the servant-girl with red eyes, ran up and down the
steps, the doctor came and shook his head, the old gentleman stood in
prayer near his wife's bed, and the boy knelt sobbing by, while his
dying mother's hand still tried to stroke his curls. Three days later
came the funeral, and father and son sat together alone. Both wept, but
the boy's red cheeks returned. Not so the old man's health and strength.
Not that he complained; he still sat and smoked his pipe as before, and
still concerned himself about the price of sugars, but there was no
heart in the smoking or the concern; and he would often look anxiously
at his young companion, who wondered what his father could have on his
mind. One evening, when he had for the hundredth time asked him whether
he would really like to be a merchant, and received the unvarying
answer, he rose from his seat with an air of decision, and told the
servant-girl to order a conveyance to take him the next morning to the
capital, but he said nothing about the object of his expedition.

Late on the following day he returned in a very different mood--happier,
indeed, than he had ever been since his wife's death. He enchanted his
son by his account of the incredible charms of the extensive business,
and the kindness of the great merchant toward himself. He had been
invited to dinner, he had eaten peewits' eggs, and drunk Greek wine,
compared to which the very best wine in Ostrau was mere vinegar; and,
above all, he had received the promise of having his son taken into
their office, and a few hints as to the future course of his education.
The very next day saw Anton seated at a ledger, disposing arbitrarily of
hundreds of thousands, converting them into every existing currency, and
putting them out at every possible rate of interest.

Thus another year passed away. Anton was just eighteen, when again the
windows remained darkened, and the red-eyed servant-girl ran up and
down, and the doctor shook his head. This time it was the old gentleman
by whose bed Anton sat, holding both his hands. But there was no keeping
him back; and after repeatedly blessing his son, he died, and Anton was
left alone in the silent dwelling, at the entrance of a new life.

Old Wohlfart had not been an accountant for nothing; he left his house
in the highest order; his affairs were balanced to a farthing, and he
had written a letter of introduction to the merchant only a few days
before his death. A month later, on a fine summer morning, Anton stood
upon the threshold of his home, placed the key in a friendly hand, made
over his luggage to the carrier, and, with his father's letter in his
pocket, took his way to the great city.



CHAPTER II.


The new-mown grass was already fading in the sun when Anton shook the
hand of the neighbor who had accompanied him as far as the nearest
station to the capital, and then walked off merrily along the high road.
The day was bright, the mower was heard whetting his scythe in the
meadows close by, and the indefatigable lark sang high overhead. On all
sides rose church-towers, central points of villages buried in woods,
near many of which might be seen a stately baronial residence.

Anton hurried on as if his feet were winged; the future lay before him
sunny as the plain, a life of radiant dreams and evergreen hopes; his
heart beat high, his eyes beamed, he felt intoxicated by the beauty and
the fragrance around him. Whenever he saw a mower, he called out to him
that it was a lovely day, and got many a friendly greeting in return.
The very birds seemed as though they congratulated him, and cheered him
onward.

He now took a footpath that led through a meadow, crossed a bridge, and
found himself in a plantation with neatly-graveled paths. As he went on,
it more and more assumed the character of a garden; a sudden turn, and
he stood on a grass-plot, and saw a gentleman's seat, with two side
towers and a balcony, rise before him. Vines and climbing roses ran up
the towers, and beneath the balcony was a vestibule well filled with
flowers. In short, to our Anton, brought up as he had been in a small
town, it all appeared beauteous and stately in the extreme. He sat down
behind a bushy lilac, and gave himself up to the contemplation of the
scene. How happy the inhabitants must be! how noble! how refined! A
certain respect for every thing of acknowledged distinction and
importance was innate in the son of the accountant; and when, in the
midst of the beauty around him, his thoughts reverted to himself, he
felt utterly insignificant, a species of social pigmy scarcely visible
to the naked eye.

For some time he sat and looked in perfect stillness; at last the
picture shifted. A lovely lady came out on the balcony clad in light
summer attire, with white lace sleeves, and stood there like a statue.
When a gay paroquet flew out of the room and lighted on her hand,
Anton's admiration went on increasing; but when a young girl followed
the bird, and wound her arms around the lovely lady's neck, and the
paroquet kept wheeling about them, and perching now on the shoulder of
one, and then on that of the other, his feeling of veneration became
such that he blushed deeply, and drew back further into the lilac-tree's
shadow.

Then, with his imagination filled by what he had seen, he went with
elastic step along the broad walk, hoping to find a way of exit.

Soon he heard a horse's feet behind him, and saw the younger of the two
ladies come riding after him, mounted upon a black pony, and using her
parasol as a whip. Now the ladies of Ostrau were not in the habit of
riding. He had, indeed, once upon a time, beheld a professional
equestrian with very red cheeks and flowing garments, and had
unspeakably admired her, but now the same feeling was far more intense.
He stood still and bowed reverentially. The young girl acknowledged his
homage by a gracious nod, pulled up her horse, and asked whether he
wished to speak to her father.

"I crave your pardon," replied Anton, with the deepest respect;
"probably I am in a path not open to strangers. I came across the
meadow, and saw no gate and no hedge."

"The gate is on the bridge; it is open by day," said the young lady,
with great benignity, for reverence was not the sentiment her fourteen
years often inspired, and she was the more pleased therewith. "But,
since you are in the garden," continued she, "will you not look around?
We shall be very glad if it give you pleasure."

"I have already taken that liberty," replied Anton, with another bow. "I
have been on the lawn before the castle: it is magnificent."

"Yes," said the young lady, reining in her pony; "the gardener laid it
out under mamma's own direction."

"Then the lady who stood with you on the balcony was your mother?"
timidly inquired Anton.

"What! you have been watching us, then? Do you know that that was
wrong?"

"Forgive me," was the humble reply; "I retreated at once, but it was
such a lovely sight--the two ladies, the roses in full blossom, the
framework of vine leaves--I shall never forget it."

"He is charming!" thought the young girl. "Since you have already seen
the garden," said she, condescendingly, "you must go to the point from
which we have the best view. I am on my way thither now, if you like to
follow."

Anton followed, lost in delight. The lady bade her horse walk slowly,
and played the cicerone. At last she dismounted and led the pony,
whereupon Anton ventured to stroke his neck--an attention which the
little fellow took in good part, and returned by sniffing his coat
pockets. "He trusts you," said the young lady; "he is a sagacious
beast." She then tied the bridle round his neck, told him to go home,
and turning to Anton, added, "We are going into the flower-garden, where
he must not come; and so, you see, he trots back to his stable."

"This pony is a perfect wonder," cried Anton.

"He is very fond of me; he does all I tell him," was the reply.

Anton thought that the most natural thing in the world.

"I think you are of a good family," said the little lady, decidedly,
looking at Anton with a discriminating air.

"No," replied he, sadly. "My father died last month, my dear mother a
year ago; I am alone, and on my way to the capital." His lips quivered
as he spoke.

The lady looked at him with the utmost sympathy, and in some
embarrassment. "Oh, poor, poor lad!" cried she. "But come quickly; I
have something to show you. These are the beds of early strawberries;
there are still a few. Do, pray, take them. No guest must leave my
father's house without partaking of the best each season brings. Pray,
pray eat them."

Anton looked at her with tearful eyes.

"I am going to share with you," said she, taking two strawberries. Upon
that, the youth obediently followed her example.

"And now I will take you across the garden," said she, leading him to a
little lake where old swans and young were swimming about.

"They are coming hither," cried Anton, in delight.

"They know that I have something for them," said his companion,
loosening the while the chain of a small boat. "Now, sir, jump in, and I
will row you across, for yonder lies your way."

"I can not think of troubling you."

"No opposition!" said she, imperatively, and they set off.

Anton was entranced. Behind, the rich green trees; beneath, the clear
water rippling round the prow; opposite him, the slender figure of his
companion, and the swans, her snowy subjects, following in her train--it
was a dream such as is only granted to youth.

The boat grounded; Anton leaped out, and involuntarily offered his hand,
which the little lady touched with the tips of her fingers as she wished
him good-by. He sprang up the hill and looked down. Through an opening
in the wood he saw the castle with its flag floating, and its vines and
roses shining in the sun.

"How noble! how magnificent!" said he, aloud.

"If you were to count out to that baron a hundred thousand dollars, he
would not sell you the property he inherited from his father," said a
sharp voice behind him. He angrily turned; the dream was gone; he stood
on the dusty highway, and saw a meanly-dressed youth, with a great
bundle under his arm, looking at him with cool familiarity.

"Is it you, Veitel Itzig?" cried Anton, without showing much pleasure at
the meeting. Indeed, young Itzig was by no means a pleasant apparition,
pale, haggard, red-haired, and shabbily clothed as he was. He came from
Ostrau, and had been a schoolfellow of Anton's, who had once fought a
battle on his behalf, and had stood between the young Jew and the
general ill-will of the other boys. But of late they had seldom met,
just often enough to give Itzig an opportunity of keeping up in some
measure their old schooldays' familiarity.

"They say that you are going to the great city to learn business," added
Veitel; "to be taught how to twist up paper bags and sell treacle to old
women. I am going there too, but _I_ mean to make my fortune."

To this Anton replied, dryly enough, "Go, then, and make it, and do not
let me detain you."

"There's no need to hurry," said the other, carelessly; "I will walk on
with you, if you are not ashamed of my dress." This appeal to our hero's
humanity was successful, and, casting a last look at the castle, he went
on his way, his unwelcome companion a foot or so behind him. At length
he turned, and inquired who the proprietor was.

Itzig displayed wonderful familiarity with the subject. The baron, said
he, had only two children, large flocks, and a clear estate. His son was
at a military school. Finally, observing Anton's interest, he remarked,
"If you wish for his property, I will buy it for you."

"Thanks," was the cold reply. "You have just told me he was not disposed
to sell."

"When a man is not disposed to sell, he must be forced to do so."

"You are the very person to force him, I suppose," replied Anton,
thoroughly out of patience.

"Whether I am or not, does not signify; there is a receipt for making
any man sell."

"What! can they be bewitched, or given some magic potion?" asked Anton,
contemptuously.

"A hundred thousand dollars is a potion that can work wonders; but a
poor man must get hold of a secret to accomplish his ends. Now, I am on
my way to town to get at the knowledge of this secret. It is all
contained in certain papers, and I will search for those papers till I
find them."

Anton looked askance at his companion as at a lunatic, and at length
replied, "Poor Veitel, you never will find them."

However, Itzig went on to say confidentially, "Never repeat what I tell
you. Those papers have been in our town; and a certain person, who is
become a very great man now, got them from an old dying beggar-man, who
gave them to him one night that he watched by his bedside."

"And do you know this man?" inquired Anton, in a tone of curiosity.

"Never mind whether I know him or not," answered the other, slyly. "I
shall find out the receipt I spoke of. And if ever you wish to have this
baron's property, horses, flocks, and his pretty daughter to boot, I'll
buy them for you, for the sake of our old friendship, and the thrashing
you once gave some of our schoolfellows on my account."

"Take care," said Anton, "that you don't turn out a thorough rascal; you
seem to me to be in the fair way."

So saying, he crossed over to the other side of the road in high
dudgeon; but Itzig took his caution with the utmost equanimity, and ever
and anon, as they passed different country-seats, gave him an account of
the names and rentals of their proprietors, so that Anton was perfectly
stupefied with the extent of his statistical information. At length both
walked on in silence.



CHAPTER III.


The Baron of Rothsattel was one of the few men whom not only the world
pronounced happy, but who believed himself to be so. The descendant of
an ancient and honorable house, he had married, out of sheer love, a
beautiful young lady without any fortune. Like a sensible man, he had
retired with her into the country, lived for his family, and within his
means. He was a thoroughly noble-hearted man, still handsome and
dignified in appearance, an affectionate husband, a hospitable host; in
short, the very model of a landed proprietor. His means were not,
indeed, very large, but he might have sold his property over and over
again for a far higher sum than the sagacious Itzig had surmised, had he
felt any inclination to do so. Two healthy, intelligent children
completed his domestic happiness; the boy was about to enter the
military career, which had been that of all his ancestors; the girl was
to remain yet a while under her mother's wing. Like all men of old
descent, our baron was a good deal given to speculate upon the past and
the future of his family. We have said that his means were not large,
and though he had always intended to lay by, the time for beginning to
do so had never yet come. Either some improvement to house or grounds
was wanted, or a trip to the baths--rendered necessary by his wife's
delicate health--consumed the overplus income. Reflections of this
nature were occupying him just now, as he came galloping up the great
chestnut avenue. The cloud on his brow was, however, but a little one,
and it soon vanished in sunshine when he saw the flutter of feminine
garments, and found that his wife and daughter were coming to meet him.
He leaped off his horse, kissed his favorite child on the brow, and
cheerfully remarked to his wife, "We have capital weather for the
harvest; the bailiff vows we never have had such a crop."

"You are a fortunate man, Oscar," said the baroness, tenderly.

"Yes, ever since I brought you here, seventeen years ago," replied he,
with a politeness that came from the heart.

"There are indeed seventeen years since then," cried his wife, "and they
have flown by like a summer day. We have been very happy, Oscar," said
she, bending over his arm, and looking gratefully in his face.

"Been happy!" cried the baron; "why, so we still are, and I see not why
we should not continue so."

"Hush!" implored she. "I often feel that so much sunshine can not last
forever. I desire, as it were, to fast and do penance, thus to
propitiate the envy of fortune."

"Come, come," was the good-humored reply; "fortune has given us a few
rubs already: we have had our clouds, only this little hand has always
conjured them away. Why, have you not had plague enough with the
servants, the pranks of the children, and sometimes with your tyrant
too, that you should be wishing for more?"

"You dear tyrant!" cried the wife, "I owe all my happiness to you; and,
after seventeen years, I am as proud as ever of my husband and my home.
When you brought me here, a poor maid of honor, with nothing but my
trinket-box, and that a gift, I first learned the blessedness of being
mistress in my own house, and obeying no other will than that of a
beloved husband."

"And yet you gave up much for me," returned the baron; "I have had many
a fear lest our country life should seem petty and dull to you, a
favorite at court."

"There I obeyed, here I rule," said the baroness, laughing. "There I had
nothing besides my fine dresses that I could call my own; here, every
thing around is mine. You belong to me (she wound her arms around the
baron), and so do the children, the castle, and our silver
candlesticks."

"The new ones are only plated," suggested the baron.

"Never mind; no one finds it out," cried she, merrily. "When I look at
our own dinner-service, and see your and my arms on the plates, two
spoonfuls give me ten times more satisfaction than all the courses of
the court dinner ever did."

"You are a bright example of contentment," said the baron; "and for your
and the children's sake, I wish this property were ten times larger, so
that I might keep a page and a couple of maids of honor for my lady
wife."

"For heaven's sake, no maids of honor; and as for a page, I need none
with such an attentive knight as yourself."

And so the pair walked on to the house, Lenore having taken possession
of the horse's bridle, affectionately exhorting him to raise as little
dust as possible.

"I see a carriage," said the baron, as they drew near the door; "have
any visitors come?"

"It is only Ehrenthal, who wished to see you," replied his wife, "and
meanwhile expended all his pretty speeches upon us. Lenore was so
arrogant that it was high time I should carry her off--the droll man was
quite put out of countenance by the saucy girl."

The baron smiled. "I like him the best of his class," said he. "His
manners are at least not repulsive, and I have always found him
obliging. How do you do, Mr. Ehrenthal; what brings you here?"

Mr. Ehrenthal was a portly man in the prime of life, with a face too
yellow, fat, and cunning to be considered exactly handsome. He wore
gaiters, and a large diamond breast-pin, and advanced with a series of
low bows toward the baron.

"Your servant, good sir," said he, with a deferential smile; "although
no business matters lead me here, I must sometimes crave permission to
look round your farm, it is such a treat and refreshment to me; all your
live-stock is so sleek and well-fed, and the barns and stables in such
perfect order. The very sparrows look better off here than elsewhere. To
a man of business, who is often obliged to see things going to wrack
and ruin, it is a delight, indeed, to contemplate an estate like yours."

"You are so complimentary, Mr. Ehrenthal, that I can but believe you
have some weighty business on hand. Do you want to make a bargain with
me?" asked the count, good-naturedly.

With a virtuous shake of the head in refutation of the charge, Mr.
Ehrenthal went on: "Not a word of business, baron, not a word. _Our_
business, when we have any, admits of no compliments--good money and
good stock, that is our plan; and so, please God, it will be. I merely
came, in passing by"--here he waved his hand--"in passing by, to inquire
about one of the horses the baron has to sell; I promised a friend to
make inquiries. But I can settle the matter with the bailiff."

"No, no; come along with me, Ehrenthal--I am going to take my horse to
the stable."

With many bows to the ladies, Ehrenthal followed, and, arrived at the
stable-door, respectfully insisted that the baron should enter it first.
After the customary questions and answers, the baron took him to the
cow-house, and he then fervently requested to see the calves, and then
the sheep. Being an experienced man, his praise, although somewhat
exaggerated, was in the main judicious, and the baron heard it with
pleasure.

After the inspection of the sheep, there was a pause, Ehrenthal being
quite overcome by the thickness and fineness of their fleece. He nodded
and winked in ecstasy. "What wool!" said he; "what it will be next
spring! Do you know, baron, you are a most fortunate man? Have you good
accounts of the young gentleman, your son?"

"Thank you, he wrote to us yesterday, and sent us his testimonials."

"He will be like his father, a nobleman of the first order, and a rich
man too; the baron knows how to provide for his children."

"I am not laying by," was the careless reply.

"Laying by, indeed!" said the tradesman, with the utmost contempt for
any thing so plebeian; "and why should you? When old Ehrenthal is dead
and gone, you will be able to leave the young gentleman this
property--with--between ourselves--a very large sum indeed, besides a
dowry to your daughter of--of--what shall I say? of fifty thousand
dollars, at least."

"You are mistaken," said the baron, gravely; "I am not so rich."

"Not so rich!" cried Ehrenthal, ready to resent the speech, if it had
not been made by the baron himself. "Why, you may then be so any moment
you like; any one, with a property like yours, can double his capital in
ten years, without the slightest risk. Why not take joint-stock
promissory notes upon your estate?"

Ehrenthal alluded to a great joint-stock company of landed proprietors
which lent money on a first mortgage on estates. This money took the
form of promissory notes, made payable to the holder. The company itself
paid interest to those who accepted the mortgages, and advanced money on
them, raising from its own debtors, in addition to the interest, a small
sum as commission, for the purpose of defraying expenses, and also for
the gradual extinction of the debt incurred.

"I will have nothing to do with money transactions," said the baron,
proudly. But the string the tradesman had touched went on vibrating
notwithstanding.

"Transactions such as those I speak of are carried on by every prince,"
continued Mr. Ehrenthal, fervently. "If you were to do as I suggested,
you might any day obtain fifty thousand dollars in good parchment. For
it you would pay to the company four per cent.; and if you merely let
the mortgages lie in your cash-box, they would bring you in three and a
half. So you would only have a half per cent. to pay, and by so doing
you would liquidate the capital."

"That is to say, I am to run into debt in order to get rich," said the
baron, shrugging his shoulders.

"Excuse me, baron; if a nobleman like you has fifty thousand dollars
lying by him, for which he only pays a half per cent., he may buy up
half the world. There are always opportunities of getting estates for a
mere nothing, or shares in mines, or something or other, if you only
have the money ready. Or you might establish some kind of works on your
property; as, for instance, for making beet-root sugar, like Herr von
Bergue; or a brewery, like your neighbor, Count Horn. There is no
possible risk to be feared. Why, you would receive ten, twenty, ay,
fifty per cent. for the capital borrowed at four per cent."

The baron looked down thoughtfully. Ideas of the sort had often flitted
across his mind. It was just the time when numerous industrial
speculations had started up, and landed proprietors looked upon them as
the best way to increase their means. Mr. Ehrenthal perceived the effect
his words had taken, and concluded in the obsequious tone most natural
to him: "But what right have I to give any advice to a nobleman like
you? Only, every capitalist will tell you that in our days this is the
surest method by which a man of rank can provide for his family; and,
when the grass is growing over old Ehrenthal's grave, you will think of
me and say, 'Ehrenthal was but a plain man, but he gave me advice which
has proved advantageous to my family.'"

The baron still looked thoughtfully down. His mind was made up, but he
merely replied, with affected indifference, "I will think the matter
over." Ehrenthal asked no more.

It was a pity that the baron did not see the expression of the
tradesman's face as he got into his conveyance and drove away. He told
the coachman to go slowly through the grounds, and looked with delight
at the flourishing crops on either side. "A fine property," he went on
muttering to himself; "truly a fine property."

Meanwhile the baroness sat in the shrubbery, and turned over the leaves
of a new magazine, every now and then casting a look at her daughter,
who was occupied in framing, with old newspapers and flowers, a
grotesque decoration for the pony's head and neck, while he kept tearing
away all of it that he could reach. As soon as she caught her mother's
glance, she flew to her, and began to talk nonsense to the smart ladies
and gentlemen who displayed the fashions in the pages of the magazine.
At first her mother laughed, but by-and-by she said, "Lenore, you are
now a great girl, and yet a mere child. We have been too careless about
your education; it is high time that you should begin and learn more
systematically, my poor darling."

"I thought I was to have done with learning," said Lenore, pouting.

"Your French is still very imperfect, and your father wishes you to
practice drawing, for which you have a talent."

"I only care for drawing caricatures," cried Lenore; "they are so easy."

"You must leave off drawing these; they spoil your taste, and make you
satirical." Lenore hung her head. "And who was the young man with whom I
saw you a short time ago?" continued the baroness, reprovingly.

"Do not scold me, dear mother," cried Lenore; "he was a stranger--a
handsome, modest youth, on his way to the capital. He has neither father
nor mother, and that made me so sorry for him."

Her mother kissed her, and said, "You are my own dear, wild girl. Go and
call your father; his coffee will get cold."

As soon as the baron appeared, his head still full of his conversation
with Ehrenthal, his wife laid her hand in his, and said, "Oscar, I am
uneasy about Lenore!"

"Is she ill?" inquired her father, in alarm.

"No, she is well and good-hearted, but she is more free and
unconventional than she should be at her age."

"She has been brought up in the country, and a fine, clever girl she
is," replied the baron, soothingly.

"Yes, but she is too frank in her manner toward strangers," continued
his wife; "I fear that she is in danger of becoming an original."

"Well, and is that a very great misfortune?" asked the baron, laughing.

"There can be no greater to a girl in our circle. Whatever is unusual in
society is ridiculous, and the merest shade of eccentricity might ruin
her prospects. I am afraid she will never improve in the country."

"What would the child do away from us, and growing up with strangers?"

"And yet," said the baroness, earnestly, "it must come to this, though I
grieve to tell you so. She is rude to girls of her own age,
disrespectful to ladies, and, on the other hand, much too forward to
gentlemen."

"She will change," suggested the baron, after a pause.

"She will not change," returned the baroness, gently, "so long as she
leaps over hedge and ditch with her father, and even accompanies him out
hunting."

"I can not make up my mind to part with both children," said the
kind-hearted father; "it would be hard upon us, indeed, and hardest upon
you, you rigid matron!"

"Perhaps so," said the baroness, in a low voice, and her eyelids
moistened; "but we must not think of ourselves, only of their future
good."

The baron drew her closer to him, and said in a firm voice, "Listen,
Elizabeth; when in earlier days we looked forward to these, we had other
plans for Lenore's education. We resolved to spend the winter in town,
to give the child some finishing lessons, and then to introduce her into
the world. We will go this very winter to the capital."

The baroness looked up in amazement. "Dear, kind Oscar," cried she;
"but--forgive the question--will not this be a great sacrifice to you in
other respects?"

"No," was the cheerful reply; "I have plans which make it desirable for
me to spend the winter in town."

He told them, and the move was decided upon.



CHAPTER IV.


The sun was already low when the travelers reached the suburbs of the
capital. First came cottages, then villas, then the houses crowded
closer, and the dust and noise made our hero's heart sink within him. He
would soon have lost his way but for Veitel Itzig, who seemed to have a
preference for by-streets and narrow flag-stones. At length they reached
one of the main streets, where large houses, with pillared porticoes,
gay shops, and a well-dressed crowd, proclaimed the triumph of wealth
over poverty. Here they stopped before a lofty house. Itzig pointed out
the door with a certain degree of deference, and said, "Here you are,
and here you will soon get as proud as any of them; but, if you ever
wish to know where I am to be found, you can inquire at Ehrenthal's, in
Dyer Street. Good-night."

Anton entered with a beating heart, and felt for his father's letter. He
had become so diffident, and his head felt so confused, that he would
gladly have sat down for a moment to rest and compose himself. But there
was no rest here. A great wagon stood at the door, and within, colossal
bales and barrels; while broad-shouldered giants, with leathern aprons
and short hooks in their belts, were carrying ladders, rattling chains,
rolling casks, and tying thick ropes into artistic knots; while clerks,
with pens behind their ears and papers in their hands, moved to and fro,
and carriers in blue blouses received the different goods committed to
their care. Clearly there was no rest to be had here. Anton ran up
against a bale, nearly fell over a ladder, and was with difficulty saved
by the loud "Take care!" of two leathern-aproned sons of Anak from being
crushed flat under an immense tun of oil.

In the centre of all this movement--the sun around which porters, and
clerks, and wagoners revolved--stood a young official, of decided air
and few words, holding a large black pencil in his hand, with which he
made colossal hieroglyphics on the bales before he desired the porters
to move them. To him Anton addressed himself in a nearly inaudible
voice, and was directed by a wave of the pencil to the counting-house.
Slowly he approached the door, which it cost him a mighty effort to
open, and as it gently yielded, and he saw the great room before him,
his alarm was such that he could scarcely enter. His entrance, however,
did not make much sensation. Half a dozen clerks were dashing in haste
over the blue folio paper before them, to save the post. Only one of
them, who sat next the door, rose, and asked what Anton was pleased to
want.

Upon his replying that he wished to speak to Mr. Schröter, there emerged
from an inner room a tall man, with a deeply-marked visage, standing
shirt-collar, and thoroughly English aspect. Anton took a rapid survey
of his countenance, and felt his courage return. He at once discovered
uprightness and kindness of heart, though the air and manner were
somewhat stern. He rapidly drew out his letter, gave his name, and, in a
broken voice, mentioned his father's death.

At this a friendly light beamed from the merchant's eyes; he opened the
letter, read it attentively, and stretched out his hand, saying, "You
are welcome." Then turning to one of the clerks, who wore a green coat
and a gray over-sleeve on the right arm, he announced, "Mr. Wohlfart
enters our office from this day." For an instant the six pens were
silent, and the principal went on to say to Anton, "You must be tired;
Mr. Jordan will show you your room: the rest to-morrow." So saying, he
went back to his office, and the six pens began again with fearful
rapidity.

The gentleman in the green coat rose, drew off his over-sleeve,
carefully folded and locked it up, and invited Anton to follow him.
Anton felt a different man to that he had done ten minutes before; he
had now a home, and belonged to the business. Accordingly, as he passed,
he patted a great bale as though it had been the shoulder of a friend,
at which his conductor turned and benevolently vouchsafed the word
"cotton;" next he rapped a gigantic barrel, and received the information
"currants." He no longer fell over ladders--nay, he boldly pushed one
out of his way, bestowed a friendly greeting upon one of the
leathern-aproned Anakims, and felt pleased to be politely thanked in
return, especially when informed that this was the head porter.

They crossed the court, mounted a well-worn staircase, and then Mr.
Jordan opened the door of a room which he told Anton would most probably
be his, and had been formerly occupied by a friend of his own. It was a
neat little room, with a beautiful stucco cat sitting on the
writing-table, which had been left by the former tenant for the benefit
of his successor.

Mr. Jordan hurried off to the office, where he had to be earliest and
latest of all; and Anton, with the help of a friendly servant, arranged
his room and his dress.

Soon the green coat reappeared, and said that Mr. Schröter was gone out,
and not to be seen again that day. "Would the new-comer make the
acquaintance of his colleagues? It was not necessary to dress."

Anton followed him down stairs, and Mr. Jordan was just about to knock
at the door of a certain room, when it was opened by a handsome, slender
young man, whose whole appearance made a great impression upon our hero.

He wore a riding-dress, had on a jockey's cap, and a whip in his hand.
"So you are trotting your colt round already?" said the stranger,
laughing. Mr. Jordan looked solemn, and went on to introduce Mr.
Wohlfart, the new apprentice, just arrived; Herr von Fink, son of the
great Hamburg firm, Fink and Becker.

"Heir of the greatest train-oil business in the world, and so forth,"
broke in Fink, carelessly. "Jordan, give me ten dollars; I want to pay
the groom; add them to the rest." Then turning to Anton, he said, with
some degree of politeness, "If you were coming to call upon me, as I
guess from the festive air of your Mercury, I am sorry not to be at
home, having to buy a new horse. I consider your visit paid, return you
my most ceremonious thanks, and give you my blessing on your entrance."
And, with a careless nod, he went rattling down the stairs.

Anton was a good deal discomposed by this cool behavior, and Jordan
thought it desirable to add a short commentary of his own. "Fink only
half belongs to us, and has been here but a short time. He was brought
up in New York, and his father has sent him here to be made a rational
being."

"Is he not rational, then?" inquired Anton, with some curiosity.

"Why, he is too wild, too full of mischief--else, a pleasant fellow
enough. And now come with me; I have invited all our gentlemen to tea,
that they may make your acquaintance."

Mr. Jordan's room was the largest of those appropriated to the clerks,
and having a piano-forte and a few arm-chairs, it was occasionally used
as a drawing-room.

Here, then, the gentlemen were sitting and standing, awaiting the
new-comer. Anton went through the ceremony of introduction with becoming
gravity, shaking each of them by the hand, and asking for their
good-will and friendly assistance, as he had been but little in the
world, and was totally inexperienced as to business. This candor
produced a favorable impression. The conversation grew animated, and was
seasoned with many allusions and jests wholly unintelligible to the
stranger, who held his peace, and devoted himself to observation. First,
there was the book-keeper, Liebold, a little, elderly man, with a gentle
voice and a modest smile, that seemed to apologize to the world at large
for his having taken the liberty of existing in it. He said but little,
and had a way of always retracting what he had advanced, as, for
example, "I admit this tea is too weak; though, to be sure, strong tea
is unwholesome," and so on. Next came Mr. Pix, the despotic wielder of
the black pencil, a decided kind of man, who seemed to look upon all
social relations as mere business details, respectable but trivial. As a
chair was wanting, he sat astride on a small table. Near him was Mr.
Specht, who spoke much, and dealt in assertions that every one else
disputed. Then there was a Mr. Baumann, with short hair and thoughtful
aspect, very regular in his attendance at church, a contributor to every
missionary association, and, as his friends declared, much inclined to
be a missionary himself, but that the force of habit retained him in
Germany and with the firm. Anton remarked with pleasure the courtesy and
good feeling that prevailed. Being tired, he soon made his retreat; and
having contradicted no one, and been friendly to all, he left a
favorable impression behind.

Meanwhile, Veitel Itzig made his way through the narrow and crowded
streets till he reached a large house, the lower windows of which were
secured by iron bars; while, on the drawing-room floor, the panes of
glass were large, and showed white curtains within; the attic windows
again being dirty, dusty, and here and there broken; in short, the house
had a disreputable air, reminding one of an old gipsy who has thrown a
new and gayly-colored shawl over her rags.

Into this house he entered, kissing his hand to a smart maid-servant,
who resented the liberty. The dirty staircase led to a white door, on
which the name "Hirsch Ehrenthal" was inscribed. He rang; and an old
woman, with a torn cap, appeared, who, having heard his request, called
out to those within, "Here is one from Ostrau, Itzig Veitel by name, who
wishes to speak to Mr. Ehrenthal." A loud voice replied, "Let him wait;"
and the clatter of plates showed that the man of business meant to
finish his supper before he gave the future _millionnaire_ a hearing.
Accordingly, Veitel sat upon the steps admiring the brass plate and the
white door, and wondering how the name of Itzig would look upon just
such another. That led him to reflect how far he was from being as rich
as this Hirsch Ehrenthal; and, feeling the half dozen ducats his mother
had sewn into his waistcoat, he began to speculate how much he could
daily add to them, provided the rich man took him into his service. In
the midst of these reflections the door was flung open, and Mr.
Ehrenthal stood before him, no longer the same man we saw in the
morning; the deference, the kindness, all were gone. No Eastern despot
so proud and lofty. Itzig felt his own insignificance, and stood humbly
before his master.

"Here is a letter to Baruch Goldmann, in which Mr. Ehrenthal has sent
for me," began Veitel.

"I wrote Goldmann word to send you, that I might see whether you would
suit; nothing is yet settled," was the dignified reply.

"I came that you might see me, sir."

"And why did you come so late, young Itzig? this is not the time for
business."

"I wished to show myself to-night, in case, sir, you should have any
commission to give me for to-morrow. I thought I might be useful, as it
is market-day; and I know most of the coachmen of the farmers who come
in with rape-seed and other produce; and I know many of the brokers
too."

"Are your papers in good order," was the reply, "so that I may have no
trouble with the police?"

When Veitel had given satisfaction on this important subject, Ehrenthal
vouchsafed to say, "If I take you into my house, you must turn your hand
to any thing that I, or Mrs. Ehrenthal, or my son, may chance to order;
you must clean the boots and shoes, and run errands for the cook."

"I will do any thing, Mr. Ehrenthal, to make you satisfied with me," was
the humble reply.

"For this you will receive two dollars a month; and, if I make a good
bargain by your assistance, you will have your share. As for your
sleeping-quarters, they had better be with Löbel Pinkus, that I may know
where to find you when wanted." So saying, Ehrenthal opened the door,
and called, "Wife, Bernhard, Rosalie, come here."

Mrs. Ehrenthal was a portly lady in black silk, with strongly-marked
eyebrows and black ringlets, who laid herself out to please, and was
extremely successful, report averred. As for her daughter, she was,
indeed, a perfect beauty, with magnificent eyes and complexion, and a
very slightly aquiline nose. But how came Bernhard to be one of the
family? Short, slight, with a pale, deeply-lined face, and bent figure,
it was only his mouth and his clear eye that bespoke him young, and he
was more negligently attired, too, than might have been expected. They
all looked at Veitel in silence, while Ehrenthal proceeded to say that
he had taken him into his service; and Veitel himself mentally resolved
to be very subservient to the mother, to fall in love with the daughter,
to clean carelessly Bernhard's boots, and carefully to search his pocket
in brushing his coat. On the whole, he was well pleased with the
arrangement made, and smiled to himself as he went along to Löbel
Pinkus.

This Löbel Pinkus was a householder who kept a spirit-shop on the ground
floor; but one thing was certain, no mere spirit-shop could have
enriched him as this did. However, he bore a good character. The police
willingly took a glass at his counter, for which he always declined
payment. He paid his taxes regularly, and passed, indeed, for a friend
of the executive. On the first floor he kept a lodging-house for bearded
and beardless Jews. These gentlemen generally slipped in late and out
early. Besides such regular guests, others of every age, sex, and creed
arrived at irregular intervals. These had strictly private dealings with
the host, and showed a great objection to having a lucifer match struck
near their faces. The other lodgers took their own views of these
peculiarities, but judged it best to keep them to themselves. In this
house it was that Itzig went up a dark stair, and, groping along a dirty
wall, came to a heavy oaken door, with a massive bolt, and, after a good
push, entered a waste-looking room that ran the whole length of the
house. In the middle stood an old table with a wretched oil lamp, and
opposite the door a great partition, with several smaller doors, some of
which were open, and showed that the whole consisted of narrow
subdivisions, with hooks for hanging clothes. The small windows had
faded blinds, but on the opposite side of the room the twilight entered
through an open door that led to a wooden gallery running along the
outside of the house.

Itzig threw down his bundle and went out on this gallery, which he
viewed with much interest. Below him rolled a rapid stream of dirty
water, hemmed in on either side by dilapidated wooden houses, most of
which had similar galleries to every story. In olden times, the worthy
guild of dyers had inhabited this street, but now they had changed their
quarters, and instead of sheep and goat skins, there hung over the
worm-eaten railings only the clothes of the poor put out to dry. Their
colors contrasted strangely with the black woodwork; the light fell in a
remarkable way upon the rude carvings, and the dark posts that started
here and there out of the water. In short, it was a wretched place, save
for cats, painters, or poor devils.

Young Itzig had already been here more than once, but never alone. Now
he observed that a long, covered staircase led down from the gallery to
the water's edge, and that a similar one ran up to the next house,
whence he concluded that it would be possible to go from one house to
another without doing more than wetting the feet; also, that when the
water was low, one could walk along at the base of the houses, and he
wondered whether there were men who availed themselves of these
possibilities. His fancy was so much excited by this train of thought,
that he ran back, crept into the partition, and found out that the wall
at the back of it was also of wood. As this was the wall dividing the
neighboring house from the one in which he was, he considered it a
pleasant discovery, and was just going to see whether some chink in the
main wall might not afford a further prospect, when he was disturbed by
a hollow murmur, which showed him that he was not alone. So he settled
himself upon a bag of straw opposite his companion, who was too sleepy
to talk much. By-and-by Pinkus came in, placed a jug of water on the
table, and locked the door outside. Itzig ate in the dark the dry bread
he had in his pocket, and at length fell asleep to the snoring of his
companion.

At the same hour his fellow-traveler wrapped himself round in his
comfortable bed, looked about him more asleep than awake, and fancied
that he saw the stucco cat rise on his feet, stretch out his paws, and
proceed to wash his face. Before he had time to marvel at this, he fell
asleep. Both the youths had their dreams. Anton's was of sitting on a
gigantic bale, and flying on it through the air, while a certain lovely
young lady stretched her arms out toward him; and Itzig's was of having
become a baron, and being teased into flinging an alms to old Ehrenthal.

The following morning each set to work. Anton sat at the desk and copied
letters, while Itzig, having brushed the collective boots and shoes of
the Ehrenthal family, stationed himself as a spy at the door of the
principal hotel, to watch a certain gentleman who was discontented with
his master, and suspected of applying to other moneyed men.

The first idle hour he had, Anton drew from memory the castle, the
balcony, and the turrets, on the best paper the town could afford; the
next, he put the drawing in a gilt frame, and hung it over his sofa.



CHAPTER V.


Just at first Anton found some difficulty in adapting himself to the new
world in which he was placed.

The business was one of a kind becoming rare nowadays, when rail-roads
and telegraphs unite remotest districts, and every merchant sends from
the heart of the country to bid his agents purchase goods almost before
they reach the shore. Yet there was a something about this old-fashioned
house of a dignified, almost a princely character; and what was still
better, it was well calculated to inspire confidence. At the time of
which we speak, the sea was far off, facilities of communication were
rare, so that the merchants' speculations were necessarily more
independent, and involved greater hazard. The importance of such a
mercantile house as this depended upon the quantity of stores it bought
with its own money and at its own risk. Of these, a great part lay in
long rows of warehouses along the river, some in the vaults of the old
house itself, and some in the warehouses and stores of those around.
Most of the tradesmen of the province provided themselves with colonial
produce from the warehouses of the firm, whose agents were spread to
east and south, and carried on, even as far as the Turkish frontier, a
business which, if less regular and secure than the home trade, was
often more lucrative than any other.

Thus it happened that the every-day routine afforded to the new
apprentice a wide diversity of impressions and experiences. A varied
procession poured through the counting-house from morning to evening;
men of different costumes, all offering samples of different articles
for sale--Polish Jews, beggars, men of business, carriers, porters,
servants, etc. Anton found it difficult to concentrate his thoughts amid
this endless going and coming, and to get through his work, simple as it
was.

For instance, Mr. Braun, the agent of a friendly house in Hamburgh, had
just come in and taken a sample of coffee out of his pocket. While it
was being submitted to the principal, the agent went on gesticulating
with his gold-headed cane, and talking about a recent storm, and the
damage it had done. The door creaked, and a poorly-dressed woman
entered.

"What do you want?" asked Mr. Specht.

Then came lamentable sounds, like the peeping of a sick hen, which
changed, as soon as the merchant had put his hand into his pocket, into
a joyful chuckle.

"Waves mountain-high," cried the agent.

"God reward you a thousand-fold," chuckled the woman.

"Comes to 550 merks, 10 shillings," said Baumann to the principal.

And now the door was vehemently pushed open, and a stoutly-built man
entered, with a bag of money under his arm, which he triumphantly
deposited on the marble table, exclaiming, with the air of one doing a
good action, "Here am I; and here is money!"

Mr. Jordan rose immediately, and said, in a friendly voice,
"Good-morning, Mr. Stephen; how goes the world in Wolfsburg?"

"A dreadful hole!" groaned Mr. Braun.

"Where?" inquired Fink.

"Not such a bad place either," said Mr. Stephen; "but little business
doing."

"Sixty-five sacks of Cuba," returned the principal to a question of one
of the clerks.

Meanwhile, the door opened again, and this time admitted a man-servant
and a Jew from Brody. The servant gave the merchant a note of invitation
to a dinner-party--the Jew crept to the corner where Fink sat.

"What brings you again, Schmeie Tinkeles?" coldly asked Fink; "I have
already told you that we would have no dealings with you."

"No dealings!" croaked the unlucky Tinkeles, in such execrable German
that Anton had difficulty in understanding him. "Such wool as I bring
has never been seen before in this country."

"How much a hundred weight?" asked Fink, writing, without looking at the
Jew.

"What I have already said."

"You are a fool," said Fink; "off with you!"

"Alas!" screamed he of the caftan, "what language is that? 'Off with
you!'--there's no dealing so."

"What do you want for your wool?

"41-2/3," said Tinkeles.

"Get out!" suggested Fink.

"Don't go on forever saying 'Get out!'" implored the Jew, in despair;
"say what you will give."

"If you ask such unreasonable prices, nothing at all," replied Fink,
beginning another sheet.

"Only say what you will give."

"Come, then, if you speak like a rational man," answered Fink, looking
at the Jew.

"I _am_ rational," was the low reply; "what will you give?"

"Thirty-nine," said Fink.

At that Schmeie Tinkeles went distracted, shook his black greasy hair,
and swore by all he held holy that he could not take it under 41,
whereupon Fink signified that he should be put out by one of the
servants if he made so much noise. The Jew, therefore, went off in high
dudgeon; soon, however, putting his head in again, and asking, "Well,
then, what will you give?"

"Thirty-nine," said Fink, watching the excitement he thus raised much as
an anatomist might the galvanic convulsions of a frog. The words
"thirty-nine" occasioned a fresh explosion in the mind of the Jew; he
came forward, solemnly committed his soul to the deepest abyss, and
declared himself the most unworthy wretch alive if he took less than 41.
As he could not profit by Fink's repeated exhortations to quit, a
servant was called. His appearance was so far composing, that Mr.
Tinkeles now declared he could go alone, and would go alone; whereupon
he stood still, and said 40-1/2. The agent, the provincials, and the
whole counting-house watched the progress of the bargain with some
curiosity; while Fink, with a certain degree of cordiality, proceeded to
counsel the poor Jew to retire without further discussion, seeing that
he was an utter fool, and there really was no dealing with him. Once
more the Jew went out, and Fink said to the principal, who was reading a
letter the while, "He'll let us have the wool if I let him have another
half dollar."

"How much is there of it?" asked the merchant.

"Six tons," said Fink.

"Take it," said Mr. Schröter, reading on.

Again the door opened and shut, the chattering went on, and Anton kept
wondering how they could speak of a purchase when the seller had been so
decided in his refusal of their terms. Once more the door was gently
pushed open, and Tinkeles, creeping behind Fink, laid his hand on his
shoulder, and said, in a melancholy but confidential voice, "What will
you give, then?"

Fink turned round, and replied with a good-natured smile, "If you please
to take it, Tinkeles, 39-1/3; but only on the condition that you do not
speak another word, otherwise I retract the offer."

"I am not speaking," answered the Jew. "Say 40."

Fink made a movement of impatience, and silently pointed to the door.
The wool-dealer went out once more.

"Now for it!" said Fink.

In a moment or two Tinkeles returned, and, with more composure of
manner, brought out "39-1/2, if you will take it at that."

After some appearance of uncertainty, Fink carelessly replied, "So be
it, then;" at which Schmeie Tinkeles underwent an utter transformation,
behaving like an amiable friend of the firm, and politely inquiring
after the health of the principal.

And so it went on; the door creaking, buyers and sellers coming and
going, men talking, pens scratching, and money pouring ceaselessly in.

The household of which Anton now formed part appeared to him to be most
impressive and singular. The house itself was an irregular and ancient
building, with wings, court-yards, out-houses, short stairs, mysterious
passages, and deep recesses. In the front part of it were handsome
apartments, occupied by the merchant's family. Mr. Schröter had only
been married for a very short time, his wife and child had died within
the year, and his sister was now his only near relation.

The merchant adhered rigidly to the old customs of the firm. All the
unmarried clerks formed part of the household, and dined with him
punctually at one o'clock. On the day after Anton's arrival, a few
minutes before that hour, he was taken to be introduced to the lady of
the house, and gazed with wonder at the elegance and magnificence of the
rooms through which he passed on his way to her presence.

Sabine Schröter's pale, delicate face, crowned with hair of raven black,
shone out very fair above her graceful summer attire. She seemed about
Anton's own age, but she had the dignity of a matron.

"My sister governs us all," said the merchant, looking fondly at her.
"If you have any wish, make it known to her; she is the good fairy who
keeps the house in order."

Anton looked at the fairy, and modestly replied, "Hitherto I have found
every thing exceed my wishes."

"Your life will, in time, appear a monotonous one," continued the
merchant. "Ours is a rigidly regular house, where you have much work to
look forward to, and little recreation. My time is much engrossed; but,
if you should ever need advice or assistance, I hope you will apply
directly to myself."

This short audience over, he rose and led Anton to the dining-room,
where all his colleagues were assembled; next, Sabine entered,
accompanied by an elderly lady, a distant relation, who looked very
good-natured. The clerks made their obeisance, and Anton took the seat
appointed to him at the end of a long table, among the younger of his
brethren. Opposite him sat Sabine, beside her brother, then the elderly
relative, and next to her, Fink. On the whole, it was a silent dinner.
Anton's neighbors said little, and that under their breath; but Fink
rattled away with thorough unconcern, told droll stories, mimicked
voices and manners, and was exaggerated in his attentions to the
good-natured relative. Anton was positively horrified at this freedom,
and fancied that the principal did not like it much better. The
black-coated domestics waited with the utmost propriety; and Anton rose
with the impression that this repast had been the most solemn and
stately of which he had ever partaken, and that he should get on with
all the household with the exception of "that Von Fink."

One day that they accidentally met on the staircase, Fink, who had not
for some time appeared conscious of his existence, stopped and asked
him, "Well, Master Wohlfart, how does this house suit you?"

To which Anton replied, "Exceedingly well, indeed. I see and hear so
much that is new to me that I have hardly thought of myself as yet."

"You'll soon get accustomed to it," said Fink, laughing; "one day is the
same as the other all the year long. On Sunday, an extra good dinner, a
glass of wine, and your best coat--that's all. You are one of the wheels
in the machine, and will be expected to grind regularly."

"I am aware that I must be industrious in order to merit Mr. Schröter's
confidence," was the rather indignant reply.

"Truly a virtuous remark; but you'll soon see, my poor lad, what a gulf
is fixed between the head of the firm and those who write his letters.
No prince on earth stands so far removed above his vassals as this same
coffee-lord above his clerks. But do not lay much stress on what I say,"
added he, more good-naturedly; "the whole house will tell you that I am
not quite _compos_. However, I'll give you a piece of good advice. Get
an English master, and make some progress before you got rusty. All they
teach you here will never make a clever man of you, if you happen to
want to be one. Good-night." And, turning upon his heel, he left our
Anton somewhat disconcerted.

Indeed, he too, in course of time, began to be conscious of the monotony
of a business life, but he did not fret about it, having been taught by
his parents habits of industry and order.

Mr. Jordan took much pains to initiate him into the mysteries of divers
wares; and the hours that he first spent in the warehouses, amid the
varied produce of different lands, were fraught with a certain poetry of
their own, as good, perhaps, as any other. There was a large, gloomy,
vaulted room on the ground floor, in which lay stores for the traffic of
the day. Tuns, bales, chests, were piled on each other, which every
land, every race, had contributed to fill. The floating palace of the
East India Company, the swift American brig, the patriarchal ark of the
Dutchman, the stout-ribbed whaler, the smoky steamer, the gay Chinese
junk, the light canoe of the Malay--all these had battled with winds and
waves to furnish this vaulted room. A Hindoo woman had woven that
matting; a Chinese had painted that chest; a Congo negro, in the service
of a Virginian planter, had looped those canes over the cotton bales;
that square block of zebra-wood had grown in the primeval forests of the
Brazils, and monkeys and bright-hued parrots had chattered among its
branches. Anton would stand long in this ancient hall, after Mr.
Jordan's lessons were over, absorbed in wonder and interest, till roof
and pillars seemed transferred to broad-leaved palm-trees, and the noise
of the streets to the roar of the sea--a sound he only knew in his
dreams; and this delight in what was foreign and unfamiliar never wore
off, but led him to become, by reading, intimately acquainted with the
countries whence all these stores came, and with the men by whom they
were collected.

Thus the first months of his life in the capital fled rapidly away; and
it was well for him that he took so much interest in his studies, for
Fink proved right in one respect. In spite of the daily meal in the
stately dining-room, Anton remained as great a stranger as ever to the
principal and his family. He was too rational, indeed, to murmur at
this, but he could not avoid feeling depressed by it; for, with the
enthusiasm of youth, he was ready to revere his chief as the ideal of
mercantile greatness. He admired his sagacity, decision, energy, and
inflexible uprightness, and would have been devoted to him heart and
soul, but that he so seldom saw him. When the merchant was not engaged
by business, he lived for his sister, whom he most tenderly loved. For
her he kept a carriage and horses which he himself never used, and gave
evening parties to which Anton and his colleagues were not invited. Gay
equipages rolled in one after the other, liveried servants ran up and
down stairs, and graceful shadows flitted across the windows, while
Anton sat in his little upper chamber, and yearned eagerly after the
brilliant gayeties in which he had no part. True, his reason told him
that they did not belong to men of his class, but at nineteen reason is
not always supreme; and many a time he went back with a sigh from his
window to his books, and tried to forget the alluring strains of the
quadrille and waltz in the descriptions of the lion's roar and the
bull-frog's croak in the far-off tropics.



CHAPTER VI.


The Baron of Rothsattel had moved to his town residence. It was not
indeed large, but its furniture, the arabesques on its walls, the
arrangement of its hangings were so graceful, that it ranked as a model
of comfort and elegance. The baron had made all his preparations in
silence. At length the day came when the new carriage stopped at the
door, and, lifting down his wife, he led her through the suite of
apartments to her own little boudoir, all fitted up with white silk.
Enchanted beyond measure, she flew into his arms, and he felt as proud
and happy as a king. They were soon perfectly settled, and able to begin
their course of visiting.

It was the custom of a large portion of the nobility to spend the winter
in town, and accordingly the Rothsattels met many friends, and several
of their acquaintance. Every one was pleased to welcome them, and after
a few weeks they found themselves immersed in gayety. The baroness soon
became a leader of the feminine world, and her husband, after at first
missing his walks through his farm and his woods, began to take equal
pleasure in reviving his youthful acquaintance. He became member of a
nobleman's club, indulged his virtuoso tendencies, played whist, and
filled his idle hours with a little politics and a little art. And so
the winter passed pleasantly on, and the baron and his wife often
wondered why they had not earlier indulged in this agreeable variety.

Lenore was the only one dissatisfied with the change. She continued to
justify her mother's fear lest she should become an original. She found
it difficult to pay proper respect to the numberless elderly cousins of
the family, and still more difficult to refrain from accosting first any
pleasant gentleman she had known in the country, and now chanced to meet
in the streets. Likewise, the Young Lady's Institution, which she had to
attend, was in many ways objectionable to her. She had certain maps and
tiresome lesson-books to take to and fro, and her mother did not approve
of the servants' time being occupied in carrying them after her. One
day, when walking like an angry Juno--the tokens of her slavery upon her
arm, and her little parasol in her hand--she beheld the young gentleman
to whom she had shown her flower-garden coming to meet her, and she
rejoiced at it, for he was pleasantly associated in her mind with home,
the pony, and the family of swans. He was still some way off when her
hawk's eye discerned him, but he did not see her even when he came
nearer. As her mother had forbidden her ever to accost a gentleman in
the street, there was nothing for it but to stand still and to strike
her parasol on the flags.

Anton looked up and saw to his pleasant surprise the lovely lady of the
lake. Blushing, he took off his hat, and Lenore observed with
satisfaction that, in spite of the satchel on her arm, she impressed him
as much us ever.

"How are you, sir?" she inquired, in a dignified way.

"Very well," replied Anton; "how delighted I am to see you in town!"

"We are living here at present," said the young lady, with less
stateliness, "at No. 20 Bear Street."

"May I inquire for the pony?" said Anton, respectfully.

"Only think, he had to be left behind!" was the sorrowful reply; "and
what are you doing here?"

"I am in the house of T. O. Schröter," said Anton, bowing.

"Oh! a merchant; and what do you deal in?"

"In colonial produce. It is the largest firm in that department in the
whole town," replied Anton, complacently.

"And have you met with kind people who take care of you?"

"My principal is very kind, but I must take care of myself."

"Have you any friends here with whom you can amuse yourself?"

"A few acquaintances. But I have much to do, and I must improve myself
in my leisure hours."

"You look rather pale," said the young lady, with motherly interest;
"you should move more about, and take long walks. I am glad to have met
you, and shall be pleased to hear of your well-doing," added she,
majestically; and, with an inclination of her pretty little head, she
vanished in the crowd, while Anton remained gazing after her, hat in
hand.

Lenore did not consider it necessary to mention this meeting. But a few
days later, when the baroness happened to inquire where they should get
some necessary stores, she looked up from her book and said, "The
largest firm here is that of T. O. Schröter, dealer in colonial produce."

"How do you know that?" inquired her father, laughing; "you speak like
an experienced merchant."

"All the result of the Young Lady's Institution," answered Lenore,
pertly.

Meanwhile, in the midst of his social pleasures, the baron did not
forget the chief end of his town life. He made close inquiries as to the
speculations of other landed proprietors, visited the factories in the
town, became acquainted with educated manufacturers, and acquired some
knowledge of machinery. But the information thus gained was so
contradictory, that he thought it best not to precipitate matters, but
to wait till some specially advantageous and safe undertaking should
offer.

We must not omit to mention that about this time the family property was
increased by a small, handsome, brass-inlaid casket, with a lock that
defied any thief's power of opening, so that, if minded to steal, he
would have nothing for it but to carry off the casket itself. In it were
laid forty-five thousand dollars in the form of new promissory notes.
The baron contemplated these with much tenderness. At first he would sit
for hours opposite the open casket, never weary of arranging the
parchment leaves according to their numbers, delighting in their glossy
whiteness, and forming plans for paying off the capital; and even when,
for safety's sake, the casket had been made over to the keeping of the
Joint-stock Company, the thought of it was a continual pleasure. Nay,
the spirit of the casket began to peep out even in household
arrangements. The baroness was surprised at her husband counseling
certain economies, or telling with a degree of pleasure of ten louis
d'or won last evening at cards. She was at first a little afraid that he
had become in some way embarrassed; but, as he assured her, with a
complacent smile, that this was far from being the case, she soon
learned to treat these little attempts at saving as an innocent whim,
especially as they only extended to trifling details, the baron
insisting as much as ever upon keeping up a dignified and imposing
social appearance. Indeed, it was impossible for him to retrench just
now. The town life, the furnishing of the house, and the necessary
claims of society, of course increased the outgoings.

And so it came to pass that the baron, after having paid a visit to his
property to settle the yearly accounts, returned to town much out of
tune. He had become aware that the expenditure of the last year had
exceeded the income, and that the income of the next year gave no
promise of balancing the existing deficit of two thousand dollars. The
thought occurred that the sum must be taken from the white parchments;
and the man who would have stood calm beneath a shower of bullets, broke
out into a cold perspiration at the idea of the debts thus to be
incurred. It was plain that there had been an error in his calculations.
He who wishes to raise a sum by small yearly savings must not increase,
but lessen his expenditure. True, the increase in his case had been
unavoidable; but still, a most unlucky coincidence. The baron had not
felt such anxiety since his lieutenant-days. There were a thousand good
reasons, however, against giving up the town house; it was rented for a
term of years; and then, what would his acquaintance say? So he kept
his troubles to himself; quieted the baroness by talking of a cold
caught on his journey; but all day long the same thought kept gnawing at
his heart. Sometimes in the evening he was able to drive it away a
while, but it was sure to return in the morning.

It was one of these weary mornings that Mr. Ehrenthal, who had to pay
for some grain, was announced. The very name was at that moment
unpleasant to the baron, and his greeting was colder than usual; but the
man of business did not mind little ups and downs of temper, paid his
money, and was profuse in expressions of devoted respect, which all fell
coldly, till, just before going away, he inquired, "Did the promissory
notes duly arrive?"

"Yes," was the ungracious reply.

"It is sad," cried Ehrenthal, "to think of forty-five thousand dollars
lying dead. To you, baron, a couple of thousands or so is a mere trifle,
but not to one of my sort. At this moment I might speculate boldly, and
safely too; but all my money being locked up, I must lose a clear four
thousand." The baron listened attentively; the trader went on: "You have
known me, baron, for years past, to be a man of honor, and of some
substance too; and now I will make a proposition to you. Lend me for
three months ten thousand dollars' worth of promissory notes, and I will
give you a bill of exchange, which is as good as money. The speculation
should bring in four thousand dollars, and that I will divide with you
in lieu of interest. You will run no risk; if I fail, I will bear the
loss myself, and pay back the principal in three months."

However uninteresting these words may appear to the reader, they threw
the baron into such a state of joyous excitement that he could scarce
command himself sufficiently to say, "First of all, I must know what
sort of a bargain it is that you wish to drive with my money." Ehrenthal
explained. The offer of purchasing a quantity of wood had been made to
him, which wood lay on a raft in an upper part of the province. He would
take all the expense of transport on himself; and he proceeded to
demonstrate the certain profit of the transaction.

"But," said the baron, "how comes it that the present proprietor does
not carry out this profitable scheme himself?"

Ehrenthal shrugged his shoulders. "He who means to speculate must not
always inquire the reason of bargains. An embarrassed man can not wait
two or three months; the river is at present frozen, and he wants the
money in two or three days."

"Are you sure that his right to sell is incontestable?"

"I know the man to be safe," was the reply; "and that, if I pay him this
evening, the wood is mine."

Now it was painful to the baron, much as he wanted money, to turn the
embarrassment of another to his own profit; and he said, "I consider it
unfair to reckon upon what is certain loss to the seller."

"Why should it be certain loss?" cried Ehrenthal. "He is a
speculator--he wants money; perhaps he has a greater bargain still in
his eye. He has offered me the whole quantity of wood for ten thousand
dollars, and I have no business to inquire whether he can or can not
make more of my money than I of his wood."

And so far Ehrenthal was right; but this was not all. The seller was an
unlucky speculator, pressed by his creditors, threatened with an
execution, and determined to frustrate their hopes by driving an
immediate bargain with a stranger, and then making off with the money.
Perhaps Ehrenthal knew this; perhaps the baron too surmised that there
must be a mystery, for he shook his head. And yet _he_ ran no risk,
incurred no responsibility; he but lent his money to a safe man, whom he
had known for years, and in a short time he should get rid of the evil
genius that tormented him ceaselessly. Too much excited to reflect
whether this was not a casting out of devils by Beelzebub, their chief,
he rang the bell for his carriage, and said, in a lordly tone, "You
shall have the money in an hour."

From that day the baron led a life of anxious suspense. He was always
going over this interview, always thinking of the piles of wood; and,
whenever he rode out, his horse's head was turned to the river, that he
might watch the progress of the thaw.

He had not seen Ehrenthal for some time. At length he came one morning
with his endless bows, and, taking out a large packet, said
triumphantly, "Well, baron, the affair is settled. Here are your notes,
and here the two thousand dollars, your share of the profit."

The baron snatched the packet. Yes; they were the very same parchments
he had taken out of the casket with so heavy a heart, and a bundle of
bank-notes besides. A weight fell from him. The parchments were safe,
the deficit made up. Ehrenthal was courteously dismissed. That very day
the baron bought a turquoise ornament for his wife, which she had long
silently wished for, and sunshine prevailed in the family circle.

But a dark shadow from the recent past had yet to fall athwart it. The
baron, reading the paper one day in his wife's room, observed an
advertisement concerning a bankrupt dealer in wood, who had made his
escape after swindling his creditors. He laid down the paper, and the
drops stood on his brow. "If it should be the same man!"

Ehrenthal had given no name. Had he, a man of honor, been the means of
defrauding just claims; had he taken part in a swindling transaction,
ay, and gained by it too! The thought was too fearful. He hurried to his
desk that he might pack up and send off the accursed profits--whither he
knew not, but any where, away. He saw with horror that only a small
portion of them remained. In extreme agitation, he rang the bell, and
sent for Ehrenthal.

As chance would have it, Ehrenthal was gone on a journey. Meanwhile
arose those soothing inward voices which know so well how to place
things doubtful in a favorable light. "How foolish this anxiety! There
were hundreds of dealers in wood in that part of the country; and was it
likely that this very man should be Ehrenthal's client? Or, even if he
were, in a business point of view, how could they help the use he might
make of their money? Nothing could be fairer than the transaction
itself." Thus the voices within; and oh! how attentively the baron
listened.

But still, when Ehrenthal at length appeared, the baron met him with an
expression that positively appalled him. "What was the name of the man
from whom you bought the wood?" cried he.

Ehrenthal had read the newspaper too, and the truth now flashed upon
him. He gave a name at once.

"And the place where the wood lay?"

Ehrenthal named that too.

"Are you telling me the truth?" asked the baron, drawing a third deep
breath.

Ehrenthal saw that he had a sick conscience to deal with, and treated
the case with the utmost gentleness. "What is the baron uneasy about?"
said he, shaking his head; "I believe that the man with whom I dealt has
made a good profit out of the affair. Nothing could be more fair than
the whole transaction. But, even had it not been so, why, my good sir,
should you be troubled? There was no reason why I should not tell you
the names, both of the man and place, before; but I did not do so,
because the bargain was mine, not yours. I became your debtor, and I
have repaid you with a bonus--a large one, it is true; but I have dealt
with you for years, and why should I keep back from you the share of
profit which I should have had to give any one else?"

"That is all right, Ehrenthal," said the baron, more graciously; "and I
am glad that the case stands thus. But, had this man been the bankrupt
in question, I should have broken off our connection, and should never
have forgiven you for involving me in a fraudulent transaction."

Ehrenthal bowed himself out, muttering, as he went down stairs, "He's a
good man, this baron; a good, good man."



CHAPTER VII.


We now return to Anton, who had been placed under the joint command of
Messrs. Jordan and Pix, and who found himself the small vassal of a
great body corporate, containing a variety of grades and functions
little dreamed of by the uninitiated. First in the counting-house was
the book-keeper Liebold, who, as minister of the home department,
reigned supreme and solitary in a window of his own, forever recording
figures in a colossal book, and seldom looking off their columns.

In the opposite part of the room ruled the second dignitary in the
state, the cashier Purzel, surrounded by iron safes, heavy bags, and
with a large stone table before him, on which dollars rung, or gray
paper money fell noiselessly the whole day through.

Jordan was the principal person in the office. He was the head clerk,
and his opinion was sometimes asked by the principal himself. In him
Anton found, from the day of his arrival, a good adviser, and an example
of activity and healthy common sense.

Of all the clerks under Jordan's superintendence, the most interesting
to Anton was Baumann, the future missionary. Not only was he a truly
religious man, he was an admirable and infallible accountant. But,
besides all these, the firm had some officials who did not live in the
house. One was Birnbaum, the custom-house clerk, who was seldom visible
in the office, and only dined with the principal on Sundays. Then there
was the head of the warehouse department, Mr. Balbus, who, though by no
means a cultivated man, was always treated by the chief with great
respect; and, as Anton heard it said, had a mother and sick sister
entirely dependent upon him.

But of all these men, the most aggressively active, the most despotic in
his measures, was Pix, the manager of the provincial traffic department.
His domain began in the office, and extended throughout the house, and
far into the street. He was the divinity of all the country shopkeepers,
who looked upon him as the real head of the business. He arranged the
whole exports of the house, knew every thing, was always to be found,
and could do half a dozen things at once. Like all dignitaries, he was
impatient of contradiction, and fought for his opinions against the
merchant himself with a stiff-neckedness that often horrified Anton. One
of his peculiarities was that of abhorring a vacuum as much as nature
herself. Wherever there was an empty corner, a closet, a cellar, a
recess to be discovered, there Pix would intrude with tuns, ladders,
ropes, and all imaginable commodities; and wherever he and his giant
band of porters had once got a footing, no earthly power could dislodge
them--not even the principal himself.

"Where is Wohlfart?" called Mr. Schröter from the door of his office.

"Up stairs," calmly replied Pix.

"What is he doing there?" was the amazed inquiry.

At that moment loud voices were heard, and Anton came thundering down
the steps, followed by a servant, and both laden with cigar-boxes, while
behind them appeared the female relative in much excitement.

"They will not tolerate us up stairs," said Anton, hurriedly, to Pix.

"Now they have actually come to the laundry," said the lady, just as
hurriedly, to the principal.

"The cigars can not stand down here," declared Pix to both.

"And I will not have cigars in the laundry," cried the distant cousin.
"I declare there is not a place in the house safe from Mr. Pix. He has
filled the maid-servants' rooms with cigars, and they complain that the
smell is intolerable."

"It is dry up there," explained Mr. Pix to the merchant.

"Could you not, perhaps, place them elsewhere?" inquired the latter,
respectfully.

"Impossible!" was the decided reply.

"Do you really require the whole laundry, my dear cousin?" said the
principal, turning to the lady.

"The half of it were ample," interpolated Pix.

"I hope, Pix, you will content yourself with a corner," said the head of
the firm, by way of decision. "Tell the carpenter to run up a partition
at once."

"If Mr. Pix once gets admittance, he will take the whole of our
laundry," expostulated the too experienced cousin.

"It is the last concession we will make," was the reply.

Mr. Pix laughed silently--or grinned rebelliously, as the lady phrased
it; and, as soon as the authorities were out of sight, sent Anton up
again with the cigar-boxes.

But what chiefly constituted the importance of Pix in the eyes of the
community were the Herculean porters under his command. When these men
rolled mighty casks about, and lifted hundred weights like pounds, they
seemed to the new apprentice like the giants of fairy lore. Some of them
belonged to this firm exclusively, others to a corporation of porters
who worked for different houses, but T. O. Schröter's was the house they
liked best. For more than one generation the head of this particular
firm had enjoyed their highest consideration, and stood godfather to all
their large-headed babies.

Among these men, the strongest and tallest was Sturm, their chief--a man
who could hardly get through narrow streets, and was frequently called
to move a weight found impracticable by his comrades. Wonderful stories
were told of his exploits; and Specht affirmed that there was nothing on
earth beyond his powers.

His relations with the firm were very intimate indeed; and having an
only child, upon whom he doted, and who had early lost his mother, he
placed him, at the age of fifteen, in T. O. Schröter's house, in a
nondescript capacity. The boy was a universal favorite, knew every hole
and corner, collected all the nails and pieces of packthread, folded all
the packing-paper, fed Pluto the watch-dog, and did sundry other odd
jobs. Up to every thing, invariably good-humored and ready-witted, the
porters fondly called him "our Karl;" and his father often glanced aside
from his work to look at him with delight.

But in one point Karl did disappoint him: he gave no promise of ever
attaining to his father's stature. He was a handsome, fair-haired,
rosy-cheeked youth; but all the giants agreed that he would never be
more than a middle-sized man; and so his father fell into the habit of
treating him like a sort of delicate dwarf, with the utmost
consideration, and a certain touch of compassion.

"I don't care," said the indulgent parent to Mr. Pix, when introducing
the boy into the business, "what the little fellow learns besides, so
that he does learn to be honorable and practical." This was a speech
after Mr. Pix's own heart; and this system of education was at once
begun by Sturm taking his son into the great vaulted room, and saying,
"Here are the almonds and the raisins--taste them."

"Oh, they are good, father," cried the boy.

"I believe you, Liliputian," nodded Sturm. "Now, see, you may eat as
many of them as you like; neither Mr. Schröter, Mr. Pix, nor I shall
interfere. But, my little lad, you had better see how long you can hold
out without beginning. The longer the better for yourself, and the more
honor in it; and when you can stand it no longer, come to me and say
'Enough;'" upon which he left him, having laid his great turnip of a
watch on a chest standing by. The boy proudly placed his hands in his
pockets, and walked up and down among the goods. After more than two
hours, he came, watch in hand, to his father, exclaiming "Enough."

"Two hours and a half," said old Sturm, nodding at Mr. Pix. "Very well,
child; come and nail up this chest; here is a new hammer for you; it
cost tenpence."

"It's not worth it," was the reply. "You always pay too much." Such was
Karl's education.

The day after Anton's arrival, Pix had introduced him to Sturm, and
Anton had said, in a tone of respect, "this is my first experience of
business; pray give me a hint whenever you can."

"Every thing is to be learned in time," replied the giant; "yonder is my
little boy, who has got on capitally in a year. So your father was not a
merchant?"

"My father was an accountant; he is dead," was the reply.

"I am sorry to hear it," said Sturm; "but you have still the comfort of
a mother?"

"My mother, too, is dead."

"Alas! alas!" cried the porter, compassionately. He went on shaking his
head for a long time, and at length added, in a low voice, to his Karl,
"He has no mother."

"And no father either," rejoined Karl.

"Be kind to him, little one," said old Sturm; "you are a sort of orphan
yourself."

"Not I," cried Karl; "any one with such a great father as mine to look
after has his hands full."

"Why, you are a perfect little monster!" said his father, cheerfully
hammering away at a cask.

From that hour Karl showed all manner of small attentions to Anton, and
a species of affectionate intimacy sprang up between the two youths.

Indeed, Anton was on excellent terms with all the officials. He listened
attentively to Jordan's sensible remarks, was prompt and unconditional
in his obedience to Mr. Pix, entered into political discussions with
Specht, read with interest Baumann's missionary reports, never asked Mr.
Purzel for money in advance, and often encouraged Mr. Liebold to utter
some palpable truth without retracting the statement. There was only one
with whom he could not get on well, and that was the volunteer clerk,
Fink.

One gloomy afternoon, Mr. Jordan chanced to give our hero a certain
message to take to another house, and, as he rose, Fink looked up from
his desk, and said to Jordan, "Just send him at the same time to the
gunsmith--the good-for-nothing fellow can send my gun by him."

Our hero crimsoned. "Do not give me that commission," said he to Jordan;
"I shall not execute it."

"Really!" asked Fink, in amazement; "and why not, my fine fellow?"

"I am not your servant," replied Anton, bitterly. "Had you requested me
to do this for you, I might have complied; but I will take no orders
from you."

"Dolt!" muttered Fink, and went on writing.

The whole office had heard him, and every eye turned to Anton, whose
eyes flashed as he exclaimed, "You have insulted me--I will not bear an
insult from any one--you must explain yourself."

"I am not fond of giving any one a thrashing," said Fink, negligently.

"Enough!" cried Anton, turning deadly pale; "you shall hear farther;"
and off he rushed to deliver Jordan's message.

A cold rain was falling, but Anton was not aware of it: he felt nothing
but an agonizing sense of insult and wrong. As he reached the
establishment he sought, he saw his principal's carriage at the door,
and as he came out again he met Sabine just about to enter it. He could
not avoid handing her in; and, struck with his appearance, she asked him
what was the matter.

"A trifle," was the reply.

Insignificant as the incident was, it changed Anton's mood. Her
courteous greeting and kindly inquiry raised his spirits. He felt that
he was no longer a helpless child; and, raising his hand to heaven, his
resolve was taken.

On his return to the office, he quietly went on with his work, heedless
of the inquiring glances around him; and, when the office was closed, he
hurried to Jordan's room, where Pix and Specht were already met. They
all treated him with a commiseration not quite free from contempt; but
he, having inquired from Jordan, in their presence, whether Fink had any
right to give him such an order, and whether in his (Jordan's) opinion
he had done wrong in resenting it, and having been satisfactorily
answered on both heads, requested a few moments' private conversation,
and then proceeded to declare that he should demand a public apology
from Fink.

"Which he will never consent to," said Jordan, with a shake of the head.

"In that case I challenge him, either with sword or pistols."

Now, if Jordan had seen a dusky vapor rise from his ink-bottle, and take
the form of a hideous genie, after the manner of fairy tales, and this
genie had announced his intention of strangling him on the spot, he
could not have been more amazed. "The devil is in you, Wohlfart," said
he at last; "you want to fight a duel with Herr von Fink, a dead shot,
while you are only an apprentice, and not half a year in the business:
impossible."

"I should now be a student if I had not been brought up to be a
merchant. Curses on business, if it so degrades me that I can not even
ask satisfaction for insult. I shall go to Mr. Schröter at once, and
give in my resignation."

Jordan's surprise increased. Here was the good-natured apprentice
transformed before his eyes. At length it was agreed that he should take
the message; but Fink was not found at home. "Very possibly he has
forgotten all about it, and is amusing himself at some club or other,"
was Jordan's commentary on the fact.

"In that case," said Anton, "I shall at once write to him, and have the
letter laid on his table."

Meanwhile great conferences were held in Jordan's room; for, although
Pix and Specht had promised secrecy, they indulged in such dark and
mysterious hints that the truth was soon known. Baumann stole up to
Anton to implore him not to peril two human lives for the sake of a
rough word; and, when he was gone, Anton found a New Testament on his
table, open at the words, "Bless them that curse you." Although not
exactly in the mood to enter into their spirit, he took up the sacred
book, and, having read the passages his good mother so often repeated to
him, he prepared for bed in a softened frame of mind.

Meanwhile, a rumor of some impending catastrophe pervaded the whole
house.

Sabine was in her treasure-chamber. Along its walls stood great oaken
presses, richly carved; in the middle, a table with twisted legs, and a
few old-fashioned chairs around. On the shelves of the presses appeared
piles of linen, and rows of glass, china, and plate, collected by the
taste of more than three generations. The air was fragrant with old
lavender and recent eau de Cologne. Here Sabine reigned supreme. She
herself took out and replaced whatever was wanted, and was not fond of
admitting any other person. She was now standing at the table, which was
covered with newly-washed linen, and, as she looked over the arabesques
of the exquisitely fine table-napkins, a cloud passed over her brow.
Two, three, four holes! She rang for the servant.

"It is intolerable, Franz," said she; "there are three spoiled now in
No. 24; one of the gentlemen runs his fork through the napkins. There is
surely no need for that here."

"That there is not," was the indignant reply; "the plate is under my own
care."

"Which of the gentlemen is so reckless?" asked Sabine, severely.

"It is Herr von Fink," was the reply; "he has a habit of constantly
running his fork through the napkins. It goes to my heart, Miss Sabine;
but what can I do?"

Sabine hung her head. "I knew that it was he," she sighed; "but we can
not go on thus. I will give you a set for Herr von Fink's use, and we
must sacrifice it." She went to the cupboard, and began to look for one,
but the choice was difficult; the beautiful table-linen was dear to her
heart. At length, with a lingering look at the pattern, she sorrowfully
laid a set on the servant's arm.

Franz still lingered. "He has burned a curtain in his bed-room," said
he; "the pair is spoiled."

"And they were quite new!" sighed Sabine again. "Take them away
to-morrow. What more, Franz? What else has happened?"

"Ah! ma'am," replied the servant, mysteriously, "Herr von Fink has
insulted Herr Wohlfart, who is quite raging, and Herr Specht says there
is to be a duel."

"A duel!" cried Sabine; "you must have misunderstood Herr Specht."

"No, indeed, ma'am, it's all too true. Something dreadful will happen.
Herr Wohlfart brushed past me angrily, and did not touch his tea."

"Has my brother returned?"

"He does not come back till late to-day; he is on committee."

"Very well," said Sabine; "say nothing about it, Franz, to any one."

And Sabine sat down again at the table, but the damask was forgotten.
"So that was what made poor Wohlfart look so sad! This wild youth--he
came to us like a whirlwind, and the blossoms all fall in his path. His
whole life is confusion and excitement, and he carries away with him all
who approach within his reach. Even me--even me! Do what I will, I too
feel his spell--so beautiful, so brilliant, so strange. He is always
grieving me, and yet all day long I am thinking and caring about him.
Oh, my mother! it was in this room that I sat at your feet for the last
time when, with your hand on my head, you prayed that Heaven might
shield me from every sorrow. Beloved mother, shield thy daughter against
her own beating heart. Strengthen me against him, his ensnaring levity,
his daring mockery."

Long did Sabine sit thus, communing with her guardian spirits. Then
wiping her eyes, she resolutely returned to count and arrange the
table-linen.

Anton had got into bed, and was just going to put out his candle, when a
loud knock was heard at the door, and the man he least expected stood
before him--Herr von Fink himself, with his riding-whip, and his usual
careless manner. "Ah! in bed already!" said he, sitting astride on a
chair close by. "I am sorry to disturb you. You have written me a very
spirited letter, and Jordan has told me the rest, so I am come to answer
you in person."

Anton was silent, and looked darkly at him.

"You are all good and very sensitive people," continued Fink, whipping
his boots; "I am sorry that you took my words so to heart, but I am glad
you have so much spirit."

"Before I listen further," said Anton, angrily, "I must know whether it
is your intention to make an apology to me before the other gentlemen.
Perhaps a more experienced man would not consider this sufficient, but
it would satisfy me."

"There you are right," nodded Fink; "you _may_ be quite satisfied."

"Will you make this apology to-morrow morning?" inquired Anton.

"Why should I not? I don't want to fight with you, and I will declare
before the assembled firm that you are a hopeful young man, and that I
was wrong to insult one younger and--forgive me the expression--much
greener than myself."

Our hero listened with mingled feelings, and then declared that he was
not satisfied with this explanation.

"Why not?" asked Fink.

"Your manner at this moment is unpleasant to me; you show me less
respect than is conventional. I know that I am young, have seen little
of the world, and that in many points you are my superior; but, for
these very reasons, it would better become you to behave differently."

Fink stretched out his hand good-humoredly, and said in reply, "Do not
be angry with me, and give me your hand."

"I can not do so yet," cried Anton, with emotion; "you must first assure
me that you do not treat the matter thus because you consider me too
young or too insignificant, or because you are noble and I am not."

"Hark ye, Master Wohlfart," said Fink, "you are running me desperately
hard. However, we'll settle these points too. As for my German
nobility"--he snapped his fingers--"I would not give that for it; and as
for your youth and position, all I can say is, that, after what I have
seen this evening, the next time we quarrel I will fight you with any
murderous weapon that you may prefer." And again he held out his hand,
and said, "Now, then, take it; we have settled every thing."

Anton laid his hand in his, and Fink, having heartily shaken it, wished
him good-night.

The following morning, the clerks being all assembled earlier than
usual, Fink made his appearance last, and said, in a loud voice, "My
lords and gentlemen of the export and home-trade, I yesterday behaved to
Mr. Wohlfart in a manner that I now sincerely regret. I have already
apologized to him, and I repeat that apology in your presence; and beg
to say that our friend Wohlfart has behaved admirably throughout, and
that I rejoice to have him for a colleague." At this the clerks smiled,
Anton shook hands with Fink, Jordan with both of them, and the affair
was settled.

But it had its results. It raised Anton's position in the opinion of his
brother officials, and entirely changed his relation to Fink, who, a few
days after, as they were running up stairs, stopped and invited him into
his own apartment, that they might smoke a friendly cigar.

It was the first time that Anton had crossed the threshold of the
volunteer, and he stood amazed at the aspect of his room. Handsome
furniture all in confusion, a carpet soft as moss, on whose gorgeous
flowers cigar-ashes were recklessly strewed. On one side a great press
full of guns, rifles, and other weapons, with a foreign saddle and heavy
silver spurs hanging across it; on the other, a large book-case,
handsomely carved, and full of well-bound books, and above, the
outspread wings of some mighty bird.

"What a number of books you have!" cried Anton, in delight.

"Memorials of a world in which I no longer live."

"And those wings--are they a part of those memorials?"

"Yes, they are the wings of a condor. I am proud of them, as you see,"
answered Fink, offering Anton a packet of cigars, and propelling a great
arm-chair toward him with his foot. "And now let us have a chat. Are you
knowing in horses?"

"No," said Anton.

"Are you a sportsman?"

"Not that either."

"Are you musical?"

"Very slightly so," said Anton.

"Why, what specialities have you, then, in Heaven's name?"

"Few in your sense of the word," answered Anton, indignantly. "I can
love those who please me, and can, I believe, be a true friend; I can
also resent insolence."

"Very well," said Fink, "I am quite aware of that. I know there is
plenty of spirit in you. Now let me hear what fate has hurled you into
this dreary tread-mill, where all must at last go dusty and resigned,
like Liebold, or, at best, punctual and precise, like Jordan."

"It was a kind fate, after all," replied Anton, and began to tell the
story of his life.

Fink kept nodding approvingly, and then said, "After all, the greatest
difference between us is that you remember your mother, and I do not
mine. I have known people who found less love in their home than you
have done."

"You have seen so much of the world," pleaded Anton; "pray let me hear
how you chanced to come here."

"Very simply," began Fink; "I have an uncle at New York, one of the
aristocrats of the Exchange. When I was fourteen, he wrote to my father
to send me over, as he meant to make me his heir. My father was a
thorough merchant. I was packed up and sent across. In New York I soon
became an accomplished scapegrace, was up to every species of folly, and
kept race-horses at an age when German boys eat bread and butter, and
play with tops in the streets. I had my favorite _danseuses_ and
_cantatrices_, and so bullied my servants, both white and black, that my
uncle had enough to do to bribe them into taking it quietly. My friends
had torn me from my home without consulting my feelings, and I did not
care a straw for theirs. In short, I was the most renowned of the young
scamps who pique themselves upon their devilry on the other side the
water. It was on one of my birth-days that, returning home from a
certain _petit souper_, the thought suddenly struck me that this career
must come to an end, or it would end me. So I went to the harbor instead
of to my uncle's house, and having, on my way, bought a coarse sailor's
dress and put it on, I hired myself to an English captain. We sailed
round Cape Horn, and when we reached Valparaiso I thanked the Englishman
for my passage, treated the crew, and jumped on shore with twenty
doubloons in my pocket, to make my fortune by the strength of my arm. I
soon fell in with an intelligent man, who took me to his _hacienda_,
where I won my laurels as herdsman. I was about half a year with him,
and liked the life. I was treated as a useful guest, and much admired as
sportsman and horseman. What did I need further? We were just going to
have a great buffalo hunt, when suddenly two soldiers made their
appearance on the scene, and trotted me off with them to the town, where
I was made over to the American consul; and as my uncle had moved heaven
and earth to track me, and as I found, from a long letter he had
written, that my father was really unhappy, I resolved to return to
Europe by the next ship. I at once told my father that I did not mean to
be a merchant, but an agriculturist. At this the firm of Fink and Becker
went distracted; but I stood to my point. At last we came to a
compromise. I went for two years to a business-house in North Germany;
then I came here to learn office-work, through which discipline they
hope to tame me. So here I am now in a cloister. But it's all in vain. I
humor my father by sitting here, but I shall only stay long enough to
convince him that I am right, and then I shall take to agriculture."

"Will you buy land in this country?" inquired Anton.

"Not I," returned Fink; "I prefer riding half the day without coming to
the end of my property."

"Then you mean to return to America?"

"There or elsewhere. I am not particular as to hemisphere. Meanwhile, I
live like a monk, as you see," said Fink, laughing, as he mixed for
himself a fiery potion, and pushed the bottle to Anton. "Brew for
yourself, my lad," said he; "and let us chat away merrily, as becomes
good fellows and reconciled foes."

From that evening forth Fink treated our hero with a friendship that he
showed to none of the other clerks. He often took him into his room, and
even went up the long staircase to his. Anton soon discovered that his
new friend was a well-known character in the town--a perfect despot
among the fashionables, and the leader of all riding and hunting parties
given. Accordingly, he was much in society, and often did not come home
till morning. Anton could not help admiring the strength and energy of
this man, who could take his place at the desk after only two or three
hours' sleep without showing a trace of fatigue. Fink also departed from
the rigid regularity of the house by sometimes appearing after
office-hours had begun, or leaving before they ended. Of this, however,
Mr. Schröter took no notice.

Thus the winter passed away, and signs of spring penetrated even here.
The visitors no longer brought in snow-flakes, but left brown footmarks.
The brokers began to speak of the yellow blossoms of the olive, and at
length Mr. Braun came in with a rose in his button-hole.

A year was gone since Anton crossed the little lake with the fleet of
swans behind him. The whole year through he had thought of that one
day.



CHAPTER VIII.


Veitel Itzig still occupied the same sleeping-quarters as on the evening
of his arrival. If, according to the assertions of the police, every man
must have some home or other--and, according to popular opinion, our
home be where our bed stands--Veitel was remarkably little at his home.
Whenever he could slip away from Ehrenthal's, he would wander about the
streets, and watch for such youths as were likely to buy from or sell to
him. He had always a few dollars to rattle in his pocket. He never
addressed the rawest of schoolboys but as a grown-up man; he was a
proficient in the art of bowing, could brighten up old brass and silver
as good as new, was always ready to buy old black coats, and possessed
the skill of giving them a degree of gloss which insured their selling
again.

With every bargain that he made for Ehrenthal he combined one for
himself, and soon won a reputation that excited the envy of gray-bearded
fripperers. He did not confine his activity to any one department
either, but became a horse-dealer's agent, the _employé_ of secret
money-lenders--nay, a money-lender himself. Then he had the faculty of
never getting tired, was all day on his feet, would run any length for a
few pence, and never resented a harsh word. He allowed himself no other
recreation than that of counting over his different transactions and
their probable results. He lived upon next to nothing; a slice or two of
bread abducted from Ehrenthal's kitchen would serve for his supper. Only
once during the first year of his town life did he allow himself a glass
of thin small beer, and that after a very profitable bargain.

He was always remarkably neat in his attire, considering it essential
that a man of business should bear the aspect of a gentleman. In short,
at the end of twelve months his six ducats had increased thirty fold.

He soon became indispensable in Mr. Ehrenthal's household. Nothing
escaped him. He never forgot a face, and was as familiar with the daily
state of the funds as any broker on 'Change. He still occupied the post
of errand-boy, blacked Bernhard's boots, and dined in the kitchen; but
it was plain that a stool in the office, which Ehrenthal kept for form's
sake, would ultimately be his. This was the goal of his ambition--the
paradise of his hopes. He soon saw that he only wanted three things to
attain to it--a more grammatical knowledge of German, finer caligraphy,
and an initiation into the mysteries of book-keeping, of which he as yet
knew nothing.

Meanwhile, he had become a distinguished man in his caravanserai, one
whom even Löbel Pinkus himself treated with respect. Veitel owed this to
his own sharp-wittedness. Ever since his first arrival, the hollow sound
of the wooden partition had a good deal excited him, and he had often
vainly sought to explore the mystery. At last, one Saturday evening, he
pretended to be ill, and remained at home, when his host and the rest of
the household had gone to the synagogue.

Having had the good fortune to widen a chink in the partition, he beheld
what delighted him in the extreme. A large dirty room, quite full of
chests, coffers, and a chaos of desirable articles--old clothes, beds,
piles of linen, stuffs, hangings, hardware-goods, etc. Aladdin at his
first entrance into the magician's cave was hardly so enraptured as
Itzig by his discovery, which he carefully kept to himself. Sometimes at
night he heard a stir in the mysterious room; nay, once whispers reached
him, some of them in the deep voice of Pinkus himself. One evening, too,
coming home late, he saw boxes and bundles in a little carriage before
the next house, all modestly covered up with white linen; and that very
night two silent guests disappeared, and came back no more; from all of
which Veitel concluded that his host was a commission agent, who had his
reasons for carrying on business by night rather than by day.

It was as clear as possible. These goods were taken eastward, smuggled
over the border, and spread all over Russia.

Veitel used his discovery judiciously, only giving such hints of it to
Pinkus as to insure his most respectful behavior.

On one eventful day Veitel returned in thoughtful mood to his lodgings,
and sat in the public room. He was pondering how best to get hold of
some scribe who would initiate him into the mysteries of grammar and
book-keeping for the smallest possible fee; nay, perhaps for a certain
old black coat, which, owing to the peculiarity of its cut, he had never
yet been able to dispose of. Happening to look up in the midst of his
reflections, his eye fell on a stranger who held a pen in his hand, and
conversed with a tradesman. It was plain that this man was no Jew. He
was little and fat. He had a red turned-up nose, bushy gray hair, and he
wore an old pair of spectacles, which had great difficulty in keeping on
the nose aforesaid. Veitel remarked that he had on an unusually bad
coat, and took snuff. It was plain that this man was a writer of some
kind; so, as soon as he had seen him hand over a paper to the tradesman,
and receive a small piece of money, Veitel approached, and began:

"I wished, sir, to ask you if you happened to know any one who could
give lessons in writing and book-keeping to a man of my acquaintance?"

"And this man of your acquaintance is yourself?" said the little man.

"Why should I make a secret of it?" said Veitel. "Yes, it is I; but I am
only a beginner, and able to give but little."

"He who gives little receives little, my dear fellow," said the elderly
scribe, taking a pinch of snuff. "What is your name, and with whom are
you placed?"

"My name is Veitel Itzig, and I am in Hirsch Ehrenthal's office."

The stranger grew attentive. "Ehrenthal," he said, "is a rich man, and a
wise. I have had dealings with him in my time; he has a very fair
knowledge of law. What fee are you willing to pay, provided a master
could be found?"

"I do not know what should be given," said Veitel.

"Then I will tell you," said he of the spectacles. "I might or might not
give you instructions myself; but first I must know more about you. If I
were to do so, in consideration of your being but poor, and a beginner,
as you say, and also of having myself a little spare time on hand, I
should only ask fifty dollars."

"Fifty dollars!" cried Veitel, in horror, sinking down on a stool, and
repeating mechanically, "fifty dollars!"

"If you think that too much," said he of the spectacles, sharply, "know
that I am not going to deal with a greenhorn; secondly, that I never
gave my assistance for so little before; and, thirdly, that I should
never think of teasing myself with you if I had not a fancy to spend a
few weeks here."

"Fifty dollars!" cried Itzig; "why, I had thought it would not cost more
than three or four, and a waistcoat and a pair of boots, and"--for
Veitel saw that a storm was coming, and that the hat on the table was
much dilapidated--"a hat almost as good as new."

"Go, you fool!" said the old man, "and look out for a parish
schoolmaster."

"Then," said Itzig, "you are not a writing-master?"

"No, you great donkey," muttered the stranger; then, in a soliloquy,
"Who could have supposed that Ehrenthal would keep such a booby as this?
He takes me for a writing-master!"

"Who are you, then?"

"One with whom you have nothing to do," was the curt reply, and the
little man rose and betook himself to the loft, while Veitel went off to
ask Pinkus, as unconcernedly as he could, the name and calling of the
new guest.

"Don't you know him?" said Pinkus, with an ironical smile; "take care
you don't know him to your cost. Ask him his name; he knows it better
than I do."

"If you will put no confidence in me, I will in you," said Veitel, and
told him the whole conversation.

"So he would have given you instruction?" said Pinkus, shaking his head
in amazement; "fifty dollars is a large sum; but many a man would give a
hundred times as much to know what he does. Not that I care what you
learn, or from whom."

Veitel went to his lair in greater perplexity than ever. Soon came
Pinkus with a slight supper for the stranger, to whom he manifested a
remarkable degree of sociability.

He now called him out on the balcony, and after a short talk in the
dark, of which Veitel guessed himself the subject, re-entered the room,
saying,

"This gentleman wishes to spend a few weeks here in private; therefore,
even if questioned, you will not mention it."

"I don't even know who the gentleman is," said Veitel; "how could I tell
any one that he is living here?"

"You may trust this young man," observed Pinkus to the stranger, and
then wished the two good-night.

The man in spectacles sat down to his supper, every now and then casting
such a glance at Veitel as an old raven might do at an unfledged
chicken, who had innocently ventured within his reach.

Meanwhile, the thought darted across Itzig's mind that this mysterious
person might be one of the chosen few--a possessor of the infallible
receipt by which a poor man could become rich. Veitel knew now that
there was no magic in this, that the receipt consisted in being more
cunning than the rest of the world, and that this cunning was not
without its serious consequences to its possessor; nay, it seemed to him
as though to acquire it were to make a compact with Satan himself. His
hand trembled, his pale face glowed, but his desire for more certain
knowledge on the subject prevailed; and he told the stranger that,
having heard that there was an art of always buying and selling to the
best advantage, and so of making a fortune, he wished to ask whether it
was that art that he (the stranger) could impart if he chose.

The old man pushed his plate away, and looked at him with amazement.
"Either," said he, "you are a great dolt, or the best actor I have ever
seen."

"No; I am only a dolt, but I wish to become clever," was the reply.

"A singular fellow," said the other, adjusting his spectacles so as to
see him better. After a long examination, he went on: "What you, my lad,
call an art, is only a knowledge of law, and the wisdom to turn it to
one's own profit. He who is up to this can not fail to be a great man,
for he will never be hanged." At which he laughed in a way that made a
painful impression even upon Itzig.

"This art," he went on, "is not easily acquired, my boy. It takes much
practice, a good head, prompt decision, and, above all, what the knowing
call 'character.'" At which he laughed again.

Veitel felt that a crisis in his life had come. He fumbled for his
worn-out pocket-book, and held it for a moment in his trembling hand.
During that moment, all manner of conflicting thoughts flashed like
lightning through his mind. He thought of his worthy mother's tearful
farewell, and how she had said, "Veitel, this is a wicked world; gain
thy bread honestly." He saw his old father on his death-bed, with his
white head drooping over his emaciated frame. He thought, too, of his
fifty dollars gathered together so laboriously--of the insults he had
had to bear for their sake--the threatened blows. At that thought he
threw his pocket-book on the table, and cried, "Here is the money!" but
he knew, at the same time, that he was committing sin, and an invisible
weight settled on his heart.

A few hours later, the lamp had burned low, but still Veitel sat with
mouth open, eyes fixed, and face flushed, listening to the old man, who
was speaking about what most people would vote a tiresome
subject--promissory notes.

Later still, the light was gone out; and the stranger, having emptied
his bottle of brandy, was asleep on his straw bed, but still Veitel sat
and wrote in fancy on the dark walls fraudulent bonds and receipts,
while the sweat ran down from his brow; then he opened the balcony door,
and, leaning on the railing, saw the water rush by like a mighty stream
of ink. Again he traced bonds on the shadows of the opposite walls, and
wrote receipts on the surface of the stream. The shadows fled, the water
ran away; but his soul had contracted, in that dark night, a debt to be
one day required with compound interest.

From that night Veitel hurried home every evening, and the lessons went
on regularly.

We may here briefly relate what he gradually discovered as to the
history of his teacher.

Herr Hippus had seen better days. He had once been a leading attorney,
and had then taken to the Bar, where he soon gained a high reputation
for his skill in making a doubtful cause appear a good one. At first he
had no intention of gaining a fortune by confounding right and wrong. On
the contrary, he had a painful sense of insecurity when retained for a
client whose cause seemed to him unjust. He differed but little, indeed,
from the best of his colleagues; perhaps he had somewhat fewer scruples;
and, certainly, he was too fond of good red wine. He had a caustic wit,
made an admirable boon companion, and, having a subtle intellect, was
fond of paradoxes and skillful hair-splitting. Thanks to the red wine,
he fell into the habit of spending much, and so into the necessity of
making much also. Vanity and the love of excitement led him to devote
the whole energy of his brilliant intellect to winning bad cases, and
thus that frequent curse of barristers overtook him; all who had bad
cases applied to him. For a long time this annoyed him; but gradually,
very gradually, he became demoralized by the constant contact with
falsehood and wrong. His wants went on increasing, temptations
multiplied, and conscience weakened. But, though long hollow within, he
continued outwardly prosperous, and many prophesied that he, with his
immense practice, would die one of the richest men in the city, when,
cunning lawyer as he was, he had the misfortune to provoke inquiry by
appearing in a desperate case. The result was, that he was at once
disgraced, and vanished like a falling star from the circle of his
professional brethren. He soon lost the last remains of respectability.
In reality, he had amassed very little, and his love of drink went on
increasing. He sunk to a mere frequenter of brandy-shops, a promoter of
unfair litigation, and an adviser of rogues and swindlers. Owing to some
of these practices it was that he now found it convenient, under the
pretense of a long journey, to become for a time invisible. Pinkus was
an old ally, and hence the opportunity for Veitel's lessons.

These lessons soon became an absolute necessity to the old man's
heart--ay, to his heart; for, bad as he was, its warmth was not yet
utterly extinguished.

It grew a melancholy pleasure to him to open out his mental resources to
the youth, whose attention flattered him, and gradually he began to
attach himself to him. He would put by a portion of his supper, and even
of his brandy for him, and enjoy seeing him consume it. Once, when
Veitel had caught a feverish cold, and lay shivering under his thin
coverlet, the old man spread his own blankets over him, and felt a glow
of pleasure on seeing his grateful smile.

Veitel repaid these sparks of friendly feeling with a degree of
reverence, greater than ever pupil felt before. He did many small
kindnesses on his side, and made Hippus the confidant of all his own
transactions. It is true that this intimacy had its thorns. The old man
could not refrain from practicing his sharp wit on Itzig, who called
him, too, by many an irreverent name when he had stupefied himself with
brandy; but, on the whole, they got on capitally, and were essential to
each other.

During the months that the old man spent in this retreat, Veitel learned
much besides the special science already alluded to; he improved in
speaking and writing German, and gained a great amount of general
information. This change did not escape Mr. Ehrenthal, who mentioned it
in his family circle much as a farmer would the promising points of a
young bullock; and, at the end of the quarter, announced of his own
accord to Veitel that the shoe-blacking and kitchen dinner were to
cease, and that he was prepared to give him a place in his office, and a
small salary besides. Veitel received the long-desired intelligence with
great self-command, and returned his humble thanks, adding, "I have
still one very, very great favor to ask. May I have the honor of dining
once a week at Mr. Ehrenthal's table, that I may see how people conduct
themselves in good society? If you will do me this kindness, you may
deduct it from my salary."

Ehrenthal shook his head, and said that he must refer the question to
his wife; the result of which consultation was, that on the following
Sabbath Veitel was invited to eat a roast goose with the family.



CHAPTER IX.


One warm summer evening, office hours being over, Fink said to Anton,
"Will you accompany me to-day? I am going to try a boat that I have just
had built." Anton was ready at once; so they jumped into a carriage, and
drove to the river. Fink pointed out a round boat that floated on the
water like a pumpkin, and said, in a melancholy tone, "There it is--a
perfect horror, I declare! I cut out the model for the builder myself
too; I gave him all manner of directions, and this is the sea-gull's egg
he has produced."

"It is very small," replied Anton, with an uncomfortable foreboding.

"I'll tell you what it is," cried Fink to the builder, who now came
forward, respectfully touching his hat, "our deaths will be at your
door, for we shall inevitably be drowned in that thing, and it will be
owing to your want of sense."

"Sir," replied the man, "I have made it exactly according to your
directions."

"You have, have you?" continued Fink. "Well, then, as a punishment, you
shall go with us; you must see that it is but fair that we should be
drowned together."

"No, sir, that I will not do, with so much wind as this," returned the
man, decidedly.

"Then stay ashore and make sawdust pap for your children. Give me the
mast and sails." He fitted in the little mast, hoisted and examined the
sails, then took them down again, and laid them at the bottom of the
boat, threw in a few iron bars as ballast, told Anton where to sit, and,
seizing the two oars, struck out from shore. The pumpkin danced gayly on
the water, to the great delight of the builder and his friends, who
stood watching it.

"I wanted to show these lazy fellows that it is possible to row a boat
like this against the stream," said Fink, replacing the mast, setting
the sail, and giving the proper directions to his pupil. The wind came
in puffs, sometimes filling the little sail, and bending the boat to
the water's edge, sometimes lulling altogether.

"It is a wretched affair," cried Fink, impatiently; "we are merely
drifting now, and we shall capsize next."

"If that's the case," said Anton, with feigned cheerfulness, "I propose
that we turn back."

"It doesn't matter," replied Fink, coolly; "one way or other, we'll get
to land. You can swim?"

"Like lead. If we do capsize I shall sink at once, and you will have
some trouble to get me up again."

"If we find ourselves in the water, mind you do not catch hold of me,
which would be the surest way of drowning both. Wait quietly till I draw
you out; and, by the way, you may as well be pulling off your coat and
boots; one is more comfortable in the water _en négligé_." Anton did so
at once.

"That's right," said Fink. "To say the truth, this is wretched sport. No
waves, no wind, and now no water. Here we are, aground again! Push off,
will you? Hey, shipmate! what would you say if this dirty shore were
suddenly to sink, and we found ourselves out on a respectable sea--water
as far as the horizon, waves as high as that tree yonder, and a good
hearty wind, that blew your ears off, and flattened your nose on your
face?"

"I can't say that I should like it at all," replied Anton, nervously.

"And yet," said Fink, "there are few plights so bad but they might be
still worse. Just think; in that case it would be some comfort to have
even these good-for-nothing planks between us and the water; but what if
we ourselves lay on the stream--no boat, no shore--mountain waves all
round?"

"I at least should be lost!" cried Anton, with genuine horror.

"I have a friend, a good friend, to whom I trust implicitly in any
crisis, to whom this once happened. He sauntered down to the shore on a
glorious evening, had a fancy to bathe, stripped, plunged, and struck
out gayly. The waves lifted him up and drew him down; the water was
warm, the sunset dyed the sea with ten thousand exquisite hues, and the
golden sky glowed above him. The man shouted with ecstasy."

"You were that man?" inquired Anton.

"True. I went on swimming for about an hour, when the dull look of the
sky reminded me that it was time to return; so I made for land; and what
think you, Master Wohlfart, that I saw?"

"A ship?" said Anton; "a fish?"

"No. I saw _nothing_--the land had vanished. I looked on all sides--I
rose as high as I could out of the water--there was nothing to be seen
but sea and sky. The current that set out from the land had
treacherously carried me out. I was in mid ocean, somewhere between
England and America, that I knew; but this geographical fact was by no
means soothing to one in my circumstances. The sky grew dark, the
hollows filled with black uncanny shadows, the waves got higher, and a
cold wind blew round my head; nothing was to be seen but the dusky red
of the sky and the rolling waters."

"Horrible!" cried Anton.

"It was a moment when no priest in the world could have prevented a poor
human being from wishing himself a pike, or some such creature. I knew
by the sky where the land lay. Now came the question, which was
stronger--the current or my arm? I began a deadly struggle with the
treacherous ocean deities. I should not have done much by such swimming
as they teach in schools. I rolled like a porpoise, and struck out
desperately for about two hours; then the labor got hard indeed. It was
the fiercest battle I ever fought. The sky grew dark, the emerald waves
pitchy black, only they were crested with foam that blew in my face. At
times a single star peeped from the clouds--that was my only comfort. So
I swam on and on, and still there was no land to be seen. I was tired
out, and the hideous darkness sometimes made me think of giving up the
struggle. The clouds gathered darker, the stars disappeared; I began to
doubt whether I was taking the right direction, and I was making very
little way. I knew the game was nearly up--my chest heaved--countless
sparks rose before my eyes. Just then, my boy, when I had glided half
unconsciously down the slope of a wave, I felt something under my feet
that was no longer water."

"It was land!" cried Anton.

"Yes," said Fink; "it was good firm sand. I found myself on shore about
a mile to leeward of my clothes, and fell down like a dead seal." Then
stopping, and with a steady look at Anton, "Now, mate, get ready!" cried
he; "take your legs from under the bench; I am going to tack and make
for shore. Now for it!"

At that moment came a violent gust of wind; the mast creaked, the boat
heeled over, and could not right herself. According to promise, Anton
went to the bottom without any more ado. Quick as lightning Fink dived
after him, brought him up, and, with a violent effort, reached a spot
whence they could wade ashore. "Deuce take it," gasped Fink; "take hold
of my arm, can't you?"

But Anton, who had swallowed a quantity of water, was hardly conscious,
and only waved Fink off.

"I do believe he'll be down again," cried the latter, impatiently,
catching hold of him and making for the shore.

A crowd had by this time assembled round the spot where Fink was holding
his companion in his arms and exhorting him to recover himself. At
length Anton opened his eyes.

"Why, Wohlfart," said Fink, anxiously, "how goes it, my lad? You have
taken the matter too much to heart. Poncho y ponche!" cried he to the
by-standers; "a cloak and a glass of rum--that will soon bring him
round."

A cloak was willingly lent, and our hero carried to the builder's house.

"Here is an end of boat, sails, oars, and all," said Fink,
reproachfully, "and of our coats into the bargain. Did not I tell you
that it was a good-for-nothing tub?"

For an hour, at least, Fink tended his victim with the greatest
tenderness, but it was late before Anton was sufficiently recovered to
walk home.

The next day was Sunday, and the principal's birth-day besides. On this
important occasion, the gentlemen of the office spent some hours after
dinner with the family circle, and coffee and cigars were served. As
they were sitting down to table, the good-natured cousin said to Fink,
"The whole town is full of the fearful risk which you and Mr. Wohlfart
ran yesterday."

"Not worth mentioning, my dear lady!" replied Fink, carelessly; "I only
wanted to see how Master Wohlfart would behave in drowning. I threw him
into the water, and he was within a hair's-breadth of remaining at the
bottom, considering it indiscreet to give me the trouble of saving him.
Only a German is capable of such self-sacrificing politeness."

"But," cried the cousin, "this is a sheer tempting of Providence. It is
dreadful to think of it!"

"It is dreadful to think of the impurity of your river. The water
sprites that inhabit it must be a dirty set. But Wohlfart did not mind
their mud. He fell into their arms with enthusiasm. He threw both legs
over the boat's edge before there was any occasion."

"You told me to do so," cried Anton, in self-exculpation.

"Poor Mr. Wohlfart!" exclaimed the astonished cousin. "But your coats!
This morning I met a policeman with the wet bundle in his arms, and it
was he who told me of your accident."

"The coats were fished up at an early hour," said Fink, "but Karl doubts
whether they will ever dry. Meanwhile, Wohlfart's boots are on a voyage
of discovery toward the ocean."

Anton blushed with anger at his friend's jests, and looked stealthily
toward the upper end of the table. The merchant glanced darkly at the
cheerful Fink. Sabine was pale and downcast--the cousin alone was fluent
in her pity for the coats.

The dinner was more solemn than usual. After the plates were removed,
Mr. Liebold rose to fulfill the arduous duty imposed upon him by his
position--to propose the health of their principal. He took all possible
pains not to retract or qualify his eulogiums and good wishes; but even
this toast fell flat--a certain painful excitement seemed to prevail at
the head of the table.

After dinner they all stood round in groups, drinking their coffee; and
bold spirits--Mr. Pix, for instance, ventured upon a cigar as well.
Meanwhile, Anton roamed through the suite of rooms, looking at the
paintings on the walls, turning over albums, and fighting off ennui as
well as he could. In this way he reached the end room, and stopped there
in amazement. Sabine stood before him, tears falling from her eyes. She
was sobbing silently, her slender form shaken by the conflict within,
but yet she was trying to repress her grief with an energy that only
made it the more touching.

As Anton, filled with deepest sympathy, turned to go, she looked round,
composed herself, passed her handkerchief over her eyes, and said
kindly, "Take care, Mr. Wohlfart, that the foolhardiness of your friend
leads you into no fresh danger. My brother would be very sorry that your
intercourse with him should prove an injury to you."

"Miss Sabine," replied Anton, looking reverentially at her, "Fink is as
noble as he is reckless. He saved me at the peril of his own life."

"Oh yes!" cried Sabine, with an expression Anton did not quite
understand; "he loves to play with whatever is sacred to others."

At that moment Mr. Jordan came to request her to give them some music.
She went at once.

Anton was excited to the utmost. Sabine Schröter stood so high in the
estimation of the gentlemen of the counting-house that they paid her the
compliment of rarely naming her. Most of the younger clerks had been
desperately in love with her; and though the flames had burned down for
want of fuel, yet the embers still glowed in the innermost recesses of
their hearts. All alike would have fought for her against any enemy in
the world. But they looked upon her as a marble saint, a being beyond
the influence of human weaknesses.

Anton, however, now doubted whether she were really this. To him, too,
the young lady of the house had been like the moon, only visible afar
off, and on one side. Daily he sat opposite her, saw the delicate
sadness of her face--the deep glance of her beautiful eyes--heard her
speak the same commonplace sentences, and knew no more of her. All at
once an accident made him her confidant. He felt sure, by many a token,
that this grief was connected with Fink; and although he had for him the
devoted admiration that an unsophisticated youth readily bestows upon a
daring and experienced comrade, yet, in this case, he found himself
enlisted on the lady's side against his friend; he resolved to watch him
narrowly, and be to her a brotherly protector, a faithful
confidant--all, in short, that was sympathizing and helpful.

A few hours later, Sabine sat in the window with folded hands. Her
brother had laid aside his newspaper, and was watching her anxiously. At
last he rose, stepped silently up to her, and laid his hand on her head.
She clasped him in her arms. There they stood, leaning against each
other, two friends who had so shared their lives that each knew the
other's thoughts without a spoken word.

Tenderly stroking his sister's hair, the merchant began: "You know what
large dealings we have with Fink's father?"

"I know that you are not satisfied with the son."

"I could not help taking him into our house, but I regret the hour I did
so."

"Do not be hard upon him," pleaded the sister, kissing her brother's
hand; "think how much there is that is noble in his character."

"I am not unjust toward him. But it is yet to be proved whether he will
be a blessing or a curse to his fellow-men. He may become a more paltry
aristocrat, who wastes his energies in refined self-indulgence, or a
covetous, unscrupulous money-maker, like his uncle in America."

"He is not heartless!" murmured Sabine; "his friendship for Wohlfart
shows that."

"He does but play with him--throws him into the water, and picks him out
again."

"Nay," cried Sabine; "he esteems his good sense and high principles, and
feels that he has a better nature than his own."

"Do not deceive yourself and me," replied the merchant; "I know the
fascination that this strange man has long had for you. I have said
nothing, for I could trust you. But, now that I see that he makes you
really unhappy, I can not but wish for his absence. He shall leave our
house without delay."

"Oh no, no!" cried Sabine, wringing her hands. "No, Traugott, that shall
not, must not be! If there be any way of rescuing him from the evil
influences of his past life, it is the being with you. To see, to take
part in the regular activity, the high honor of your mercantile career,
is salvation to him. Brother," continued she, taking his hand, "I have
no secrets from you; you have found out my foolish weakness; but I
promise you that henceforth it shall be no more to me than the
recollection of some tale that I have read. Never by look or word will I
betray it; only do not, oh! do not be angry with him--do not send him
away, and that on my account."

"But how can I tell whether his remaining here may not subject you to a
painful conflict?" inquired the merchant. "Our position as regards him
is difficult enough without this. He ranks as a brilliant match in every
sense of the word. His father has intrusted him to me. If an attachment
were to spring up between you, it would be treachery to his father to
withhold it from him. It might seem to him as if we had a wish to secure
the young heir; and he, accustomed as he is to easy conquests, might
perhaps laugh at what he would call your weakness and my
long-headedness. The very thought calls up all my pride."

"Brother," cried Sabine, with burning cheeks, "do not forget that I am
your sister. I am a merchant's daughter, and he would never belong
entirely to our class. I am as proud as you, and have always had the
conviction that not all the love in the world could ever fill the gulf
between us. Trust me," continued she, with tears; "you shall see no more
sad looks. But be kinder to him; think what his fate has been, tossed
about among strangers; think how he has grown up without affection,
without a home; spoiled in many ways, but still with a high sense of
honor, an abhorrence of all that is little. Trust me, and be kinder to
him."

"He shall stay," said the merchant; "but besides, my darling, there is
another whom we should seek to guard from his influence."

"Wohlfart!" cried Sabine, cheerfully; "oh, I will answer for him."

"You undertake a good deal. So he, too, is a favorite?"

"He is tender-hearted and honorable, and devoted to you; and he has
plenty of spirit too. Trust him, he will be a match for Fink. I happened
to meet him at the time that Fink had insulted him, and I have given him
a place in my heart ever since."

"How does this heart find room for every thing?" cried the merchant,
playfully; "above and beyond all, the great store-room, the oaken
presses of our grandmother, and the piles of white linen; then, in a
side-chamber apart, your strict brother; then--"

"Then all the others in the ante-chamber," broke in Sabine.

Meanwhile Fink entered Anton's room, humming a tune, little suspecting
the storm in the front part of the house, and, truth to tell, little
caring what they thought about him there. "I have fallen into disgrace
on your account, my son," cried he, merrily. "His majesty has treated me
all the day long with killing indifference, and the black-haired has not
deigned me a single glance--good sort of people, but desperately matter
of fact. That Sabine has at bottom plenty of life and spirit, but she
plagues herself about the merest trifles. She would raise a question as
to whether it was a fly's duty to scratch its head with the right leg or
the left. Why, you are on the way to be looked upon as the 'Mignon' of
the counting-house, and I as your evil genius. Never mind; to-morrow we
will go together to the swimming-school."

And so it was. From that day forth Fink delighted to initiate his young
friend into all his own pursuits. He taught him to swim, to ride, to
leap, to shoot at a mark, and even threatened to get him an invitation
to a hunting-party. Against this Anton vehemently protested.

Anton on his side rewarded him by the greatest devotion. They were happy
evenings for both when, sitting under the shadow of the condor's wings,
they chatted away and laughed so loud that through the open window the
sound reached old Pluto the watch-dog, who, feeling himself the guardian
of the establishment, and considered by all as a distinguished member of
it, woke up to bay out his hearty sympathy with their enjoyment--ay,
they were happy hours; for their intimacy ripened for the first time in
the life of either into sincere friendship. And yet Anton never left off
watching Fink's bearing to Sabine; although he did not name her to him,
he was always expecting to hear of some important event: a betrothal, or
a quarrel between Fink and the merchant, or something extraordinary. But
nothing of the kind occurred; the solemn daily meals went on, and
Sabine's behavior to both friends was the same as before.

Another year had passed away, the second since our apprentice's arrival,
and again the roses blossomed. One evening Anton bought a large nosegay
of them, and knocked with them at the door of Jordan, who was a great
lover of flowers. He was surprised to find all the clerks assembled, as
they had been on the day of his arrival, and he saw at a glance that
they were embarrassed by his appearance. Jordan hurried to meet him,
and, with a slight degree of confusion, requested that he would leave
them for about an hour, as they were discussing a subject into which he,
as an apprentice, could not enter. It was the first time that these
kind-hearted men had ever allowed him to feel any difference between his
position and theirs, and therefore his banishment slightly depressed
him. He carried back his nosegay, placed it with a resigned air upon his
own table, and took up a book.

Meanwhile a solemn deliberation was going on in Jordan's room. He rose,
struck the table with a ruler, and went on to state that a colleague
having, as they all knew, left the business, a vacancy had occurred,
which Mr. Schröter himself wished should be filled by Wohlfart; but as
his case would thus be made exceptional--he having been an apprentice
only two years instead of four--the principal kindly referred the
decision to the body of the clerks.

An imposing silence succeeded to these words, which was at length
interrupted by Mr. Pix proposing punch, and that they should order in
the kettle for the tea-drinkers.

The other gentlemen preserved a dignified silence, looked with
solemnity at the preparations going forward, and each felt his
responsibility and his importance as a man and a clerk.

The next question was, "How shall we vote?"

It was decided that the youngest should begin.

Specht was the youngest. "First of all, I have to remark that Herr von
Fink is not present," said he, looking around in some excitement.

A general murmur arose, "He does not belong to us; he is a volunteer."

"In that case," continued Specht, somewhat taken down by this universal
opposition, "I am of opinion that Anton ought, according to custom, to
remain an apprentice for four years; but, as he is a good fellow, and
likely to prove useful, I am also of opinion that an exception should be
made in his favor; while I propose that, in order to remind him of his
former position, he be appointed to make tea for us during a year, and
to mend a hundred pens for each of his colleagues."

"Stuff and nonsense!" muttered Pix; "you have always such overstrained
notions."

"What do you mean by overstrained notions?" inquired Specht, angrily.

"I must call you to order," said Mr. Jordan.

The rest of the colleagues proceeded to give in their adherence to the
plan. Baumann did so with enthusiasm. At last it came to the turn of
Pix. "Gentlemen," said he, "what is the use of much talking? His
knowledge of business is fair, considering that he is but a young
fellow; his manner is pleasant--the servants respect him. According to
my notions, he is too tender and considerate; but it is not given to all
to manage others. He is a poor hand at cards, and can make little or
nothing of punch--that's about what he is. But, as these last
peculiarities have nothing to do with the present proposal, I see no
reason why he should not, from the present date, become our colleague."

Then came Purzel and Liebold, who each gave his vote in his own
characteristic way, and the affair was settled. Baumann was about to
rush off and call Anton, when Specht insisted upon the solemnity of a
deputation, and Liebold and Pix were appointed to escort the astonished
youth, who could not conceive what it all meant, till Jordan, advancing
to meet him, said, with the utmost cordiality, "Dear Wohlfart, you have
now worked with us two years; you have taken pains to learn the
business, and have won the friendship of us all. It is the will of the
principal, and our united wish, that the term of your apprenticeship
should be abridged, and that you should to-morrow enter upon your duties
as a clerk. We congratulate you sincerely, and hope that, as our
colleague, you will show us the same friendly regard that you have
hitherto shown." So said worthy Mr. Jordan, and held out his hand.

Anton stood for a moment as if stupefied, and then there followed an
amount of hand-shaking and congratulation never witnessed before in that
apartment. Next came toasts, speeches, and, after an evening of most
hearty enjoyment, the colleagues separated at a late hour.

Anton could not go to bed, however, without imparting his good fortune
to his friend Fink. So he went to meet him on his return home, and told
him the important event in the bright moonlight. Fink made a grand
flourish in the air with his riding-whip, and said, "Bravo! bravo! I
should not have given our despot credit for such contempt of precedent.
You will be launched a year the sooner into life."

The following day the principal called the new clerk into his own
sanctuary, and received his thanks with a smile.

Last of all, at dinner, the ladies congratulated the new official.
Sabine even came down the whole length of the table to where Anton
stood, and greeted him in the kindest terms. A bottle of wine was placed
beside each cover; while the merchant, raising his glass, and bowing to
our happy hero, said, with earnest kindness, "Dear Wohlfart, we drink to
the memory of your excellent father."



CHAPTER X.


One winter morning Anton was reading diligently the "Last of the
Mohicans," while the first snow-flakes were dancing down outside his
window, when Fink came in hurriedly, saying, "Anton, let me have a look
at your wardrobe?" He opened the different drawers, examined their
contents, and, shaking his head, said, "I will send my tailor to measure
you for a new suit."

"I have no money," replied Anton, laughing.

"Nonsense!" cried Fink; "the tailor will give you as much credit as you
like."

"I do not, however, choose to buy on credit," said Anton, settling
himself upon the sofa to argue the point with his friend.

"You must make an exception in this case. It is high time that you
should see more of society, and I am going to introduce you."

Anton started up, blushed, and exclaimed, "It won't do, Fink; I am quite
a stranger, and have no position to give me confidence."

"That's the very reason why you must go into society," replied Fink,
severely. "You must get rid of this miserable timidity as soon as
possible. Can you waltz? Have you any remote conception of the figures
of a quadrille?"

"A few years ago I had some dancing-lessons in Ostrau."

"Very well; now you shall have some more. Frau von Baldereck informed me
yesterday that a few families purposed instituting a private assembly,
where their half-grown chickens might learn to spread their wings,
secure from birds of prey. It is to be held in her house, as she has a
chicken of her own to bring up for the market. It's the very thing for
you, and I will introduce you."

"Fink," said our hero, "this is another of your mad adventures. Frau von
Baldereck belongs to the aristocratic set; you would only occasion me
the mortification of being rejected, or, worse, treated with hauteur."

"Is he not enough to put a saint out of patience?" cried Fink, in
dudgeon; "you and your class have more reason to hold your heads high
than half of those here assembled. And yet you are the very people, with
your timidity and subserviency, to keep up their foolish pretensions!
How can you suppose yourself their inferior? I should never have
expected to have found such meanness in you."

"You mistake me," replied Anton, angry in his turn. "I am not wanting in
self-respect; but it would be foolish and unbecoming to intrude into a
circle where I am not wished for, and where a man would be despised for
being in a counting-house."

"Nonsense! you _are_ wished for. There is a paucity of gentlemen. The
lady of the house (I am a favorite--no honor, mind you) has asked me to
introduce three young men of my acquaintance, and so nothing can be more
simple. You pay for your lessons like another; and whether you whirl
round a countess or a young _bourgeoise_, what matters it?"

"It won't do," replied Anton, shaking his head; "I have an inward
conviction that it is unbecoming, and wish to be guided by this."

"Well, then," said Fink, impatiently, "I have one other proposal to
make. You shall this very day call with me upon Frau von Baldereck. I
will introduce you as Anton Wohlfart, one of the clerks in the firm of
T. O. Schröter. Not a word shall be said of these dancing-lessons, and
you shall see that she herself will invite you. If she does not, or if
she shows the very least hauteur, you can stay away. This you can not
object to."

Anton demurred. The case seemed by no means so clear as Fink made it
out, but he was no longer able to weigh it dispassionately. For years
past he had yearned for the free, dignified, refined life of the upper
circles. Whenever he heard music--whenever he read of the doings of the
aristocracy, the turreted castle and the noble maiden rose before him in
the golden light of poetry. He consented to the proposal of his
experienced friend.

An hour later came the tailor, and Fink himself determined the cut of
the new suit with a technical precision which impressed the tailor no
less than it did Anton.

That afternoon, as the November sun melted away the snow, Fink, with a
large bundle of papers in his hand, loitered down the most unfrequented
streets, evidently on the look-out for some one or other. At last he
crossed over, and encountered, apparently to his surprise, two
elegantly-dressed gentlemen who were sauntering, on the opposite side.

"Ah! Fink."

"Oh, how do you do?"

"Where are you wandering to in this absent mood?" inquired young Von
Tönnchen.

"I am looking," replied Fink, in a melancholy voice, "for two good
fellows who will come and drink a bottle of wine with me this gloomy
afternoon, and assist me in a little matter of business beforehand."

"What! a duel?" inquired Herr von Zernitz.

"No, fair sir," replied Fink; "you know that I have forsworn all evil
ways, and am become a hard-working man of business, a worthy son of the
firm of Fink and Becker. I only want two witnesses to a legal document,
which must be executed at once. Will you accompany me for a quarter of
an hour to the notary--for the rest of the evening to Feroni's?"

The two gentlemen were only too happy. Fink took them to a well-known
lawyer, to whom he delivered a long and important-looking document,
written in English, and setting forth that Fritz von Fink was the
lawful proprietor of the territory of Fowling-floor, in the State of New
York. This, he explained to the lawyer, he now wished to make over to
Anton Wohlfart, at present clerk in the house of T. O. Schröter,
imploring the man of business, at the same time, to keep the matter
secret, which he duly promised; and the two witnesses attested the deed.
As they left, Fink earnestly besought them never to reveal the
circumstance to Mr. Wohlfart. They both gave him their word of honor,
evincing, however, some degree of curiosity as to the whole transaction.

"I can not explain it to you," said Fink, "there being about it a
political mystery that is not quite clear even to myself."

"Is the estate large that you have just ceded?" inquired Von Tönnchen.

"An estate!" said Fink, looking up to the sky; "it is no estate. It is a
district, mountain and vale, wood and water--but a small part,
certainly, of America. But then, what _is_ large? On the other side of
the Atlantic we measure things by a very different scale to that used in
this corner of Germany. At all events, I shall never again call the
property mine."

"But who is this Wohlfart?" asked the lieutenant.

"You shall make his acquaintance," answered Fink. "He is a handsome
youth from the heart of the province, over whom a remarkable destiny
hovers--of which, however, he knows, and is to know, nothing. But enough
of business. I have a plan for you this winter. You are old boys, it is
true; but you must take dancing-lessons."

And, so saying, he led the way into Feroni's, where the three were soon
deep in a bottle of port wine.

Frau von Baldereck was one of the main supports of the very best
society, consisting as it did of the families of the county nobility,
the officers, and a few of the highest officials. It was difficult to
say what had given this lady her social importance, for she was neither
very well connected, nor very rich, nor very elegant, nor very
intellectual. Perhaps it was this absence of all marked superiority
which accounted for it. She had a very large acquaintance, was rigidly
conventional, valued every one according to a social standard, and,
therefore, her estimate was always attended to. She had a young daughter
who promised to be very like her, and she inhabited a suite of large
rooms on a first floor, where for many years dramatic representations,
_tableaux vivants_, rehearsals, etc., had been constantly held.

This influential lady was deep in consultation with her mantuamaker as
to how the new dress of her daughter could be best made so as to display
her faultless bust without exciting comment at the dancing-lesson, when
her favorite, Fink, was announced. Dismissing a while the weighty
consideration, she hurried down to give him a most gracious reception.

After a few introductory remarks upon the last evening party at which
they had met, Fink began:

"I have obeyed your orders, lady patroness, and shall bring you three
gentlemen."

"And who are they?"

"First, Lieutenant von Zernitz."

"A great acquisition," was the reply, for the lieutenant was considered
an accomplished officer. He made neat verses, was great in the
arrangement of _tableaux vivants_, and was said to have written a tale
in some annual or other. "Herr von Zernitz is a delightful companion."

"Yes," said Fink; "but he can not bear port wine. The second is young
Von Tönnchen."

"An old family," observed the mistress of the house; "but is he not a
little--just a little--wild?" added she, modestly.

"By no means," said Fink; "though sometimes, perhaps, he makes other
people so."

"And the third?" inquired the lady.

"The third is a Mr. Wohlfart."

"Wohlfart!" returned she, somewhat perplexed; "I do not know the name."

"Very likely not," said Fink, coolly; "Mr. Wohlfart came here from the
country two or three years ago, to get an insight into the mysteries of
business; he is now in Schröter's office, like myself."

"But, my dear Fink!" interposed the lady.

Fink was by no means taken aback. Comfortably reclining in his
arm-chair, he went on: "Mr. Wohlfart is a striking and interesting
person. There are some singular circumstances connected with him. I
think him the finest fellow I ever met with. He comes from Ostrau, and
calls himself the son of an accountant there, now dead. But there hangs
a mystery over him, of which he himself knows nothing."

"But, Herr von Fink," said the lady, anxious to be heard.

Fink looked intently at the cornice, and went on. "He is already the
possessor of certain lands in America. The title-deeds have passed
through my hands confidentially; but he must know nothing of it for the
present. I myself believe that he has every prospect of more than a
million some future day. Did you ever see the late archduke?"

"No," said the lady, with some curiosity.

"There are people," continued Fink, "who maintain that Anton is
strikingly like him. What I have said is a secret, however, of which my
friend knows nothing. One thing is certain, that the late emperor, on
the occasion of his last journey through the province, stopped at
Ostrau, and had a long conversation with the pastor there."

Now this last circumstance was true, and Anton had chanced to mention it
to Fink among other of his childish recollections. He had also stated
that the pastor in question had been an army-chaplain in the last war,
and that the emperor had asked him in what corps he had served.

Fink, however, did not think it necessary to descend to such minutiæ.
Frau von Baldereck declared herself ready to receive Mr. Wohlfart.

"One word more," said Fink, rising; "what I have confided to you, good
fairy"--the fairy weighed upward of ten stone--"must remain a secret
between us. I am sure I may trust to your delicacy what, were it to be
spoken of by others, I should resent as a liberty taken with me and my
friend, Mr. Wohlfart." He pronounced the name so ironically that the
lady felt convinced that this gentleman, now under the disguise of a
clerk, would soon burst upon the world as a prince.

"But," said she, as they parted, "how shall I introduce him to my
acquaintance?"

"Only as my best friend; for whom I will answer, in every respect, as a
great addition to our circle."

When Fink found himself in the street, he muttered irreverently enough,
"How the old lady swallowed all my inventions, to be sure! As the son of
plain honest parents, they would have given the poor lad the cold
shoulder; now, however, they will all behave with a courtesy that will
charm my young friend. I never thought that old sand-hole and its
tumble-down hut would turn out so useful."

The seed that Fink had sown fell on fruitful soil. Frau von Baldereck,
who had a maternal design upon him, was only too glad to have a chance
of him as her daughter's partner in these dancing-lessons, which she had
not expected him to attend. The few hints that she ventured to throw out
about Anton being confirmed by certain mysterious observations made by
two officers, a rumor became current that a gentleman of immense
fortune, for whom the Emperor of Russia had purchased extensive
possessions in America, would make his appearance at the
dancing-lessons.

A few days later, Anton was taken by Fink to call upon Frau von
Baldereck, from whom he received the most gracious, nay, pressing
invitation to join their projected _réunions_.

The visit over, Anton, tripping down stairs on his Mentor's arm,
remarked, in all simplicity, that he was surprised to find it so easy to
converse with people of distinction.

Fink muttered something, which might or might not be an assent, and
said, "On the whole, I am satisfied with you. Only you must, this
winter, get over that confounded habit of blushing. It's bad enough in a
black neckcloth, but what will it be in a white one? You will look like
an apoplectic Cupid."

Frau von Baldereck, however, thought this modesty exceedingly touching;
and when her daughter announced decidedly that she liked Fink much the
best of the two, she shook her head, and smiling, replied, "You are no
judge, dear; there is a nobility and natural grace in every thing the
stranger does and says that is perfectly enchanting."

Meanwhile the great day of the opening lesson arrived, and Fink, having
superintended Anton's toilette, carried him off to the scene of action.

As they went down stairs, the door of Jordan's room softly opened, and
Specht, stretching out his long neck to look after them, cried out to
those within, "He is gone. Did you ever hear of such a thing? Why, there
are only the nobility there! A pretty story it will make."

"After all, why should he not go, since he is invited?" said the
good-natured Jordan. To this no one knew exactly what to answer, till
Pix cried angrily, "I do not like his accepting such an invitation. He
belongs to us and to the office. He will learn no good among such
people."

"These dancing-lessons must be curious scenes," chimed in Specht;
"frivolous in the extreme, mere love-making and dueling--for which we
know Wohlfart has always had a turn. Some fine morning we shall have him
going out with pistols under his arm, and not returning on his feet."

"Nonsense!" replied the irritable Pix; "they don't fight more than other
people."

"Then he will have to speak French?"

"Why not Russ?" asked Mr. Pix.

At which the two fell into a dispute as to what was the medium of
communication in the great lady's _salon_. However, all the colleagues
agreed in considering that Wohlfart had taken an exceedingly bold and
mysterious step, and one pregnant with calamitous consequences.

Nor was this the only discussion on the subject. "He is gone!" announced
the cousin, returning from an interview with some of the domestics.

"Another trick of his friend Fink," said the merchant.

Sabine looked down at her work. "I am glad," said she at length, "that
Fink should use his influence to give his friend pleasure. He himself
does not care for dancing, and I am sure that to attend these lessons is
in him an act of self-denial; and I am also truly glad that Wohlfart,
who has hitherto led such a solitary life, should go a little into
society."

"But into such society as this? How is it possible!" cried the cousin.

Sabine tapped the table with her thimble. "Fink has spoken highly of
him, and that was good and kind. And, in spite of the grave face of my
dear brother, he shall, as a reward, have his favorite dish to-morrow."

"Ham, with Burgundy sauce," added the cousin.

Meanwhile Fink and Anton were entering Frau von Baldereck's lighted
rooms, and Fink, whispering, "Come, summon all your courage; you have
nothing to fear," led his unresisting friend up to the lady of the
house, by whom they were most graciously received, and who, saying at
once to Anton, "I will introduce you to Countess Pontak," led him off to
a gaunt lady of uncertain age, who sat on a slightly-elevated seat,
surrounded by a small court of her own. "Dear Betty, this is Mr.
Wohlfart." Anton saw at once that "dear Betty" had a nose of parchment,
thin lips, and a most unpleasing countenance. He bowed before her with
the resigned air of a prisoner, while she began to cross-examine him as
to who he was and whence he came, till his shyness was fast changing
into annoyance, when Fink stepped in.

"My friend, proud lady, is half Slavonic, though he passionately
protests against any doubts cast upon his German origin. I recommend him
to your kindness. You have just given a proof of your talent for
investigation, now give my friend the benefit of the gentle indulgence
for which we all admire you." The ladies smiled, the gentlemen turned
away to hide their laughter, and Betty sat there with ruffled feathers,
like some small bird of prey whom a larger has robbed of its victim.

As for Anton, he was hurrying away into a corner to recover, when he
felt a light tap on his arm, and heard a fresh young voice say, "Mr.
Wohlfart, do you not remember your old friend? This is the second time
that I have been obliged to speak first."

Anton turned, and saw a tall, slight figure, with fair hair, and large
dark blue eyes, smiling at him. The expression of delight on his face
was so unmistakable that Lenore could not help telling him how glad she
too was to see him again. Soon they were in full conversation; they had
met but three times in their lives, and yet had so much to say. At last
the young lady reminded him that he must now speak to others, told him
to join her when the music began, and, with the majesty of a queen,
crossed the room to her mother.

Anton was now hardened against all social terrors, and his embarrassment
over and gone. He joined Fink, who introduced him to a dozen gentlemen,
not one of whose names he remembered, caring for them no more than for
poplars along a high road.

But this audacious mood vanished when he approached the baroness. There
were the delicate features, the unspeakable refinement, which had so
impressed him when he saw her first. She at once discovered that he was
unaccustomed to society, and looked at him with a curiosity not
unmingled with some misgiving; but Lenore cut the interview as short as
she could by saying that it was time to take their places in the dance.

"He waltzes tolerably--too much swing, perhaps," muttered Fink to
himself.

"A distinguished-looking pair," cried Frau von Baldereck, as Anton and
Lenore whirled past.

"She talks too much to him," said the baroness to her husband, who
happened to join her.

"To him?" asked he; "who is the young man? I have never seen the face
before."

"He is one of the adherents of Herr von Fink--he is alone here--has rich
relatives in Russia or America; I do not like the acquaintance for
Lenore."

"Why not?" replied the baron; "he looks a good, innocent sort of youth,
and is far better suited for this child's-play than the old boys that I
see around. There is Bruno Tönnchen, whose only pleasure is to make the
girls blush, or teach them to leave off blushing. Lenore looks
uncommonly well to-night. I am going to my whist; send for me when the
carriage is ready."

Anton heard none of these comments upon him; and if the hum of the
company around had been as loud as that of the great bell of the city's
highest steeple, he would not have heard it better. For him the whole
world had shrunk to the circle round which he and his partner revolved.
The beautiful fair head so near his own that sometimes they touched, the
warm breath that played on his cheek, the unspeakable charm of the white
glove that hid her small hand, the perfume of her handkerchief, the red
flowers fastened to her dress--these he saw and felt; all besides was
darkness, barrenness, nothingness.

Suddenly the music stopped, and Anton's world fell back into chaos.
"What a pity!" said Lenore, as the last note died away.

"I thank you for this bliss!" said Anton, leading her back to her place.

As he moved to and fro in the crowd like a rudderless ship amid the
waves, Fink took him in tow, and said, "I say, you hypocrite, you have
either drunk sweet wine, or you are a quiet sort of Don Juan. How long
have you known the Rothsattel? You have never spoken of her to me. She
has a lovely figure and a classical face. Has she any sense?"

At that moment how unspeakably Anton despised his friend! Such an
expression as that could only proceed from the most degraded of human
beings.

"Sense!" exclaimed he, casting on Fink a look of deadly enmity; "he who
doubts it must be utterly devoid of sense himself."

"Well, well!" exclaimed Fink, in amazement; "I am not in that melancholy
plight, for I think the girl, or rather the young lady, uncommonly
lovely; and, had I not some small engagements elsewhere, I might feel
constrained to choose her for the mistress of my affections. As it is, I
can only admire her afar off."

"You are right," said Anton, squeezing his arm.

"Really," returned Fink, in his usual careless tone, "you begin well, it
must be allowed; go on, my son, and prosper."

And Anton did go on, and did his Mentor honor. He was indeed
intoxicated, but not with wine. The music, the excitement of the dance,
the gay scene around, inspired him; he felt self-confident, nay,
daring; and, one or two trifling solecisms excepted, behaved as if he
had been surrounded by waxlights and obsequious domestics all the days
of his life. He was a good deal remarked--made, indeed, quite a
sensation; while dark hints of a mystery attached to him spread from
corner to corner of the spacious rooms.

At length came the cotillon. Anton sought out Lenore, who exclaimed, "I
knew that you would dance it with me!" This was to both the happiest
part of the whole happy evening.

As to all that followed, it was a mere indistinct vision. Anton was
dimly conscious of walking about with Fink, of talking and laughing with
him and others, of bowing before the lady of the house, and murmuring
his thanks; of having his paletot reached him by a servant, and of
putting something into his hand; but all this was shadowy and unreal. He
only saw one thing clearly: a white cloak, with a silk hood and a
tassel--oh, that tassel! Once more the large eyes shone full upon him,
and he heard the whispered words, "Good-night!" Then came an
uninteresting dream of going up stairs with Fink, and but half hearing
his jesting comments; of entering a small room, lighting a lamp, and
wondering whether it was really here he lived; of slowly undressing, and
at length falling asleep.



CHAPTER XI.


Since the important evening above described, the dancing-lessons had
gone on regularly, and Anton, having got over the purgatory of the first
introduction, began to feel perfectly at home. Indeed, he became a
useful member of the association, and was a pattern of assiduity and
punctuality, and a striking contrast to Fink, who horrified the
dancing-master by declaring that the _galop_ step was fitted for every
and all dances alike, and by waltzing in the most eccentric orbits
conceivable.

The fact was, Anton was so happy that his transfigured aspect struck
both the young and the old ladies, confirming the former in their
conviction that he was good and true-hearted, and the latter in theirs,
that he was a prince in disguise. He himself best knew the secret of his
bliss. Every thought of his loyal heart revolved around its absolute
mistress. All dances or conversations with others he looked upon as
more flourishes surrounding her name; neither was he without his
reward. She soon treated him like an old friend; and, whenever she
entered the room, it was not till she had discovered his brown curls
among the circle that she felt at home in the brilliant assembly.

It is, however, a melancholy fact, that destiny never long permits a
child of earth to feel his whole nature and circumstances strung up to
their utmost sweetness and power. It invariably contrives to let down
some string while winding up another. Hence arises a discord, such as
Anton was now called upon to experience.

It was plain that the gentlemen of the counting-house looked with
critical eye upon the change in his way of life. There existed every
possible diversity among them, it is true; but all were unanimous in
pronouncing that, since he had attended these dancing-lessons, our hero
had greatly changed for the worse. They declared that his increased
silence was pride, his frequent absences in an evening tokens of
unbecoming levity; and he who had once been a universal favorite was now
in danger of being universally condemned. He himself considered the
colder bearing of his colleagues very unkind; and so it came to pass
that, for several weeks, he lived almost exclusively with Fink, and that
the two formed, as it were, an aristocratic section in opposition to the
rest.

Anton was more depressed by this state of things than he chose to
confess: he felt it every where--at his desk, in his room, nay, even at
dinner. If Jordan wanted a commission executed, it was no longer to him,
but to Baumann, that he turned; when Purzel, the cashier, came into the
office, he no longer accepted Anton's seat; and though Specht addressed
him oftener than ever, it was no comfort to have questions like these
whispered in his ear, "Is it true that Baron von Berg has dapple-gray
horses?" or, "Must you wear patent leather boots, or shoes, at Frau von
Baldereck's?" But Pix, his former patron, was the severest of all.
Excessive toleration had never been one of this gentleman's weaknesses,
and he now, for no very definite reasons, looked upon Anton as a traitor
to himself and the firm. He was in the habit of keeping his birth-day in
a most festal manner, surrounded by all his friends, and, knowing this,
Anton had purposely refused an invitation of Herr von Zernitz; yet, when
the day came, Fink and he were not included among the birth-day guests.

Anton felt this deeply; and, to make matters worse, Specht
confidentially told him that Pix had declared that a young gentleman who
associated with lieutenants, and frequented Feroni's, was no companion
for a plain man of business. As he sat alone and heard the merry
laughter of his colleagues, he fell into a melancholy mood, which none
of his ball-room recollections had the power to dispel.

For, truth to tell, he was not satisfied with himself--he was changed.
He was not exactly negligent of business, but it gave him no
pleasure--his work was a task. Sometimes, in writing letters, he had
forgotten the most important clauses; nay, once or twice he had made
mistakes as to prices, and Jordan had handed him them back to re-write.
He fancied, too, that the principal had not noticed him for some time
past, and that Sabine's greeting had grown colder. Even the good-natured
Karl had asked him, ironically he thought, whether he, as well as Fink,
had a pass-key. It was in this mood that he now sat down to look over
his own accounts, which of late he had omitted to keep punctually. He
was horrified to find that his debts amounted to more than he could pay
without mortgaging his little inheritance. He felt very unhappy and out
of tune; but fate willed that the discord should increase.

Two or three evenings later, the merchant, returning early from his
club, answered Sabine's greeting dryly, and paced up and down the room.

"What is the matter, Traugott?" asked she.

He threw himself into a chair. "Would you like to know how Fink got his
protégé introduced into Frau von Baldereck's circle? You were so ready
to admire this proof of his friendship! He has concocted a whole system
of lies, and made the inexperienced Wohlfart play the part of a mere
adventurer." And he went on to narrate all that we already know.

"But is it certain that Fink has done this?"

"Not a doubt of it. It is exactly like him. It is the same reckless,
unscrupulous spirit, that neither heeds the life nor the reputation of a
friend."

Sabine fell back in her chair, and again her heart swelled with
indignation. "Oh, how sad it is!" cried she; "but Wohlfart is innocent,
that I am convinced of. Such falsehoods are not in his nature."

"I shall know to-morrow," said the merchant; "for his own sake, I hope
you are right."

The next day the principal summoned Anton to his own apartment, and
telling him the rumors that had arisen, asked him what he had done to
contradict them.

Anton replied in much amazement, "That he knew nothing of such rumors as
these; that sometimes, indeed, he had been joked with as to his means,
but that he had always avowed how small they were."

"Have you spoken decidedly?" asked the merchant, severely.

"I believe that I have," was the honest reply.

"These idle tales would not signify," continued the principal, "but that
they expose you to the charge of having sought, by unworthy means, to
gain a position to which you are not entitled, and also that they tend
to degrade your parents' reputation, for it is given out that you are
the son of a man of very high rank."

"Oh my mother!" cried Anton, wringing his hands, and the tears rolling
down his cheeks. As soon as he could control his emotion, he said,

"The most painful part of all this is, that you should have supposed me
capable of circulating these falsehoods. I implore you to believe that I
never knew of them till now."

"I am glad to believe it," said the merchant; "but you have done much to
substantiate them. You have appeared in a circle and incurred expenses
which were alike unsuited to your position and your fortune."

Anton felt that he would greatly prefer the centre of the earth to its
surface. At length he cried, "I know it--you are right--nay, I knew it
all the time; and especially since I found that I had run into
debt"--here the merchant smiled almost imperceptibly--"I have felt that
I was on the wrong road altogether, though I did not know how to retrace
my steps. But now I will lose no more time."

"Was it not Fink who introduced you to that circle? Perhaps," said the
merchant, "he may be able to throw some light on the affair."

"Allow me to call him," said Anton, "and let him be witness as to
whether I knew of this."

"Certainly, if it be any satisfaction to you;" and Fink was summoned. On
entering, he looked with astonishment at Anton's excited aspect, and
cried, without particularly heeding the principal's presence, "The
devil! you have been weeping!"

"Over calumnies," said the merchant, gravely, "which affect his own
character as a respectable man of business, and the honor of his
family." And he proceeded to state the whole affair.

"He is quite innocent," said Fink, good-naturedly: "innocent and
harmless as the violet that blows in the shade. He knew nothing of this
ridiculous affair; and, if any one be to blame, it is I, and the
babbling fools who have spread the story. Don't torment yourself, Anton;
since it annoys you, we will soon set it all to rights."

"I shall go once more," declared Anton, "to Frau von Baldereck, and tell
her that I can no longer attend the dancing-parties."

"As you like," said Fink. "At all events, you have learned to dance, and
to hold your hat like a gentleman."

Before dinner, the merchant said to his sister, "You were right,
Wohlfart had nothing to do with it; it was all Fink's invention."

"I knew it," cried Sabine, drawing out her needle vehemently.

Anton worked hard all day, said little, and, when evening came, went up
stairs to dress, like a man whose mind is made up.

If Fink could have seen into his heart, he would have been shocked at
the sorrow there. It was not alone wounded self-love, mortification,
shame, but the anguish of bidding farewell to Lenore. As it was, "I
say," cried he, "I have a notion that you take this nonsense a great
deal too tragically. Are you angry with me?" holding out his hand.

"Neither with you nor with any one else; but let me for once act for
myself."

"What are you going to do?"

"Do not ask me. I have but one thing to do."

"So be it, then," was the good-humored reply; "but do not forget that
any thing like a scene would only amuse those people."

"Trust me," said Anton, "I shall make none."

It happened to be a very gay meeting, and there were more gentlemen
present than usual. Anton at once went up to Lenore, who came to meet
him more lovely than ever, in her first ball-dress, saying, "How late
you are! Come, papa is here, and I want to introduce you to him. But
what is the matter, you look so grave?"

"Dear lady," returned Anton, "I do indeed feel sad. I can not dance the
next dance with you, and am only come to apologize to you, and to the
lady of the house, for my abrupt departure."

"Mr. Wohlfart!" cried Lenore, clasping her hands.

"Your good opinion is more to me than that of all others," said he,
blushing; and proceeded rapidly to state the whole story, assuring her
that he had known nothing of it.

"I believe you," said Lenore, cordially; "and, indeed, papa said that it
was all most probably an idle tale. And because of this you will give up
our dancing-parties!"

"I will," said Anton; "for, if I do not, I run a risk of being
considered an intruder or an impostor."

Lenore tossed her little head. "Go, then, sir!" and she turned away.

Anton stood like one annihilated. Had he been ten years older, he might
have interpreted her anger more favorably. As it was, a bitter pang
thrilled through him. But the thought of what was still to be done
nerved him to overcome it, and he walked steadily, nay, proudly to where
Frau von Baldereck was doing the honors. All the most distinguished
members of the party were around her. The gaunt old countess sat
drinking a cup of tea. The baroness was there; and near her a tall,
handsome man, whom Anton knew instinctively to be Lenore's father. As he
advanced to make his bow to the lady of the house, his glance took in
the whole scene at once. Years have passed since then; but still he
knows the color of every dress, could count the flowers in the bouquet
of the baroness, ay, and remembers the gilt pattern on the countess's
tea-cup. Frau von Baldereck received his obeisance with a gracious
smile, and was about to say something flattering, when Anton interrupted
her, and in a voice that shook a little, perhaps, but was audible
throughout the room, began his address, which was soon listened to in
profound silence. "Madam, I have this day heard that a rumor has been
spread of my possessing lands in America, and exciting an interest in
certain high quarters. I now declare that this is all false. I am the
son of a late accountant in Ostrau, and I inherit from my parents hardly
any thing beyond an unsullied name. You, madam, have been kind enough to
invite me, an insignificant stranger, to take part in your _réunions_
this winter. After what I have just heard, I dare do so no longer, lest
I should thus substantiate the idle reports I have mentioned, and be
suspected of imposing upon your hospitality. Therefore I have only to
thank you sincerely for your past kindness, and to take my leave."

The whole party was struck dumb. Anton bowed, and turned to go.

Just then there flew out from the paralyzed circle a brilliant form, and
taking both his hands in hers, Lenore looked at him with tearful eyes,
and said, in a broken voice, "Farewell!" The door closed, and all was
over.

When life returned in the room he had left, the first words audible were
the baroness's whisper to her daughter, "Lenore, you have forgotten
yourself."

"Do not blame her," said the baron, aloud, with great presence of mind;
"the daughter only did what the father should have done. The young man
has behaved admirably, and we can not but esteem him."

A murmur, however, began to arise from different groups. "Quite a
dramatic scene," said the lady of the house; "but who then said--"

"Ay, who was it that said," interposed Von Tönnchen. All eyes turned to
Fink.

"It was you, Herr von Fink, who--" Frau von Baldereck majestically
began.

"I, my dear lady!" said Fink, with the composure of a just man unjustly
accused. "What have I to do with the report? I have always contradicted
it as much as possible."

"Yes," said several voices; "but then you used to hint--"

"And you certainly did say--" interpolated Frau von Baldereck.

"What?" coldly inquired the imperturbable Fink.

"That this Mr. Wohlfart was mysteriously connected with the Czar."

"Impossible!" cried Fink, earnestly; "that is a complete
misunderstanding. In describing the appearance of the gentleman, then
unknown to you, I may possibly have mentioned an accidental likeness,
but--"

"But the American property," chimed in Herr von Tönnchen; "why, you
yourself made it over to him, and requested us to keep the transaction a
profound secret."

"As you have kept my secret so well," replied Fink, "as to tell it every
where, and now in my presence, before all assembled here, you and
Zernitz are evidently answerable for the whole foolish rumor. And now
listen, gentlemen; my friend Wohlfart having once expressed a playful
wish to have land in America, I amused myself by making him a
Christmas-box of a certain possession of mine on Long Island, near New
York, which possession consists of a few sand-hills and a tumble-down
hut, built for wild-duck shooting. It was natural that I should ask you
not to mention this, and I am very sorry that, from such a trifle, you
should have spun a web that excludes a delightful man from our circle."
And then a cold irony spreading over his features, he went on: "I
rejoice to see how strongly you all share my feeling, and despise the
low snobbishness of soul which could consider a man more fitted for
society because a foreign potentate had evinced an interest in him. And,
since we have begun this evening's dance with explanations, let me
further explain, that Mr. Anton Wohlfart is the son of a late accountant
in Ostrau, and that I shall consider any further allusion to this
misunderstanding as an insult to my most intimate friend. And now, my
dear lady, I am engaged to your daughter for the first quadrille, and
can positively wait no longer."

In the course of the evening Lieutenant von Zernitz came up and said,
"Fink, you have made fun of us, and I am sorry to be under the necessity
of demanding satisfaction."

"Be rational, and do nothing of the kind," replied Fink. "We have shot
together so often, it would be a pity now to take each other for a
mark."

Fink being by far the best shot in the room, Herr von Zernitz allowed
himself to be convinced.

Anton had vanished from the fashionable circle like a falling star, and
he never reappeared therein. True, it did occur to Frau von Baldereck,
rather late in the day, that it would be proper occasionally to invite
the young man, to prove that he had not been tolerated merely as--what
he was not, and some other families thought the same; but as these
invitations came, as before said, rather late, and as Anton declined
them, his fate was that of many a greater man--society forgot him. For a
short time the two chief hatchers of the grand report, Messrs. von
Tönnchen and von Zernitz, spoke to him when they met him in the street;
for a whole year they bowed, then they too knew him no more.

The following day Anton told the merchant all that had passed, begged
him to forgive his late remissness, and promised greater attention in
future.

"I have no fault to find," replied the merchant, kindly. "And now let me
see the amount of your debts, that we may get your affairs in order."
Anton drew a slip of paper from his pocket, the cashier was called, the
sum paid, and put down to Anton's account, and that was settled.

In the evening Fink said to Anton, "You went off with flying colors; the
oldest man there declared aloud that you had behaved admirably."

"Who said that?" Fink told him it was the Baron Rothsattel, and did not
appear to remark his deep blush. "It would have been better," continued
he, "if you had not taken such a decided step. Why avoid the whole
circle, in which there are some who have a strong personal regard for
you?"

"I have done what my own feelings prompted," said Anton; "perhaps one
older and more experienced might have managed better; but you can not
blame me for not taking _your_ advice in this matter."

"It is singular," thought Fink, as he went down stairs, "what different
events teach different men to have and exert wills of their own. This
boy has become independent in one night, and whatever Fate may now have
in store for him, he is sure to acquit himself well."

It spoke highly, both for Anton and his friend, that their intimacy was
by no means decreased by the circumstances just related. On the
contrary, it was deepened. Fink behaved with more consideration, and
Anton gained more freedom, both of opinion and action. The influence of
the younger of the friends weaned the elder from many an evil habit.
Anton being more than ever zealous in his office duties, and more
obliging to his colleagues, Fink insensibly accustomed himself to
greater application and punctuality. There was only one subject that he
never touched upon, though he well knew that it was always uppermost in
Anton's mind, and that was the lovely young girl who had shown so much
heart and spirit on the occasion of his last dancing-lesson.



CHAPTER XII.


Never had the flowers bloomed so gorgeously, never had the birds sung so
gayly, as they did this summer on the baron's estate. The season spent
in town had greatly extended the family acquaintance, and the castle
was, in consequence, almost always full of guests. Dances, rides, acted
charades, amusements of every kind, filled up the laughing hours.

What happy days these were to Lenore! True, she still remained something
of an original, and her mother would at times shake her head at some
daring freak or over-emphatic speech. It came naturally to her to play
the gentleman's part whenever there was a lack of gentlemen. She was the
leader in every expedition, delighting to carry off all her young female
friends to some distant spot whence there was a fine view, to force them
into some little village inn, where they had only milk and black bread
for supper, and then to carry them all home dead-tired in a wagon, which
she herself would drive standing. She had a way of treating young men
with a sort of motherly kindness, as though they were still little
bread-and-butter-eating urchins; and on the occasion of a certain
dramatic representation, she horrified her mother by appearing in a male
character, with a riding-whip and a little beard, which she twisted
about in the most fascinating way. But she looked so wondrously lovely,
even thus attired, that her mother could not chide in earnest.

If, however, there was any one not entirely satisfied with this way of
life, it was the baroness. A certain preoccupation and restlessness had
stolen over her husband--the cloudless serenity of former years was
gone. It was but a slight change, visible only to the wife's eyes; and
even she owned to herself that she was hardly justified in grieving over
it.

Just at this time, too, a great joy awaited her. Eugene had passed his
examination, and promised them a visit to show them his epaulettes. His
mother had his room newly fitted up, and his father placed some
first-rate guns and a new hunting-dress in it as a present for him. On
the day of his arrival he rode out to meet him, and it was a pleasant
sight to see the two noble-looking men embrace, and then ride home
together.

"We will surprise the ladies," said the baron, and soon the baroness
clasped her son in her arms. This was the climax of happiness at the
castle. Both parents' eyes glistened whenever they rested on their son.
True, some of his expressions and gestures savored of the riding-school,
but the baroness only smiled at them all. From time immemorial, indeed,
the stable has been for the young cavalier the ante-chamber of the
saloon. Eugene soon became supreme among the band of young ladies; he
paid visits all around, invited friends in return; in short, one gayety
succeeded another.

To all this there was only one drawback of which the baron was
conscious. He could no longer live within his income. What had been
possible for twenty years now became manifestly an utter impossibility.
The winter residence in town, the epaulettes of his son, Lenore's gauzes
and laces--even the additional interest of his promissory notes, all
tended to embarrass him. The returns from his property were eagerly
expected, and already in part forestalled; nor were they increased. Nay,
many a projected improvement of former years remained unaccomplished. He
had once meant to plant a sandy waste at the extremity of his estate,
but even that small outlay was inconvenient, and the yellow sand still
glistened in the sun. Again he was obliged to open the inlaid casket,
and take out some of the fair parchments, and again his brow grew
clouded and his mind troubled; but it was no longer the same agony of
anxiety as before: he had had a little practice, and looked at things
with a calmer eye. Something would turn up--there would be some way or
other of becoming freed from these embarrassments; at most, he need only
spend two more winters in town till Lenore's education should be quite
completed, and then he would devote himself energetically to the care of
his property. Meanwhile, he resolved to talk matters over a little with
Ehrenthal, for, on the whole, he was an honorable man, that is, as far
as a tradesman could be so; and, what was more, he knew the baron's
circumstances exactly, and it was easier to discuss them with him than
with a stranger.

As usual, Ehrenthal appeared just when wanted. His diamond breast-pin
shone as usual, his obsequious compliments were as ludicrous as ever,
and his admiration of the property as boundless. The baron took him all
over the farm, and good-humoredly said, "You must give me some advice,
Ehrenthal."

Only two or three years had passed since a similar walk over this farm,
and how the times had changed! Then, Ehrenthal had to insinuate his
advice to the proud baron, and now the baron himself asked him for it.

In the lightest tone that he could assume, he went on to say, "I have
had greater expenses than usual this year. Even the promissory notes do
not yield enough, and I must therefore think of increasing my income.
What would you consider the best means of doing this?"

The usurer's eyes brightened; but he answered, with all due deference,
"The baron must be a better judge of that than I can be."

"None of your bargains, however, Ehrenthal. I shall not enter into
partnership with you again."

Ehrenthal replied, shaking his head, "There are not, indeed, many such
bargains to be made, which I could conscientiously recommend. The baron
has five-and-forty thousand dollars' worth of promissory notes. Why do
you keep them when they pay so small an interest? If you were, instead,
to buy a good mortgage at five per cent, you would pay four per cent to
the Joint-stock Company, and one per cent. would be your own; in other
words, a yearly addition of four hundred and fifty dollars. But you
might make a better thing of them than that. There are many safe
mortgages which are offered to sale for ready money, at a great profit
to the purchaser. You might, perhaps, for forty thousand dollars, or
even less, get a mortgage that would bring you in five per cent. on
forty-five thousand dollars."

"I have thought of that," replied the baron; "but the security for such
mortgages as these, which come into the hands of you brokers, is
exceedingly poor, and I can not rely on it."

Ehrenthal waived off this reproach, and said, in a tone of virtuous
indignation against all dealers in insecure mortgages, "For my own part,
I am very shy of mortgages altogether, and such as are in the market are
not fit for the baron, of course. You must apply to a trustworthy man;
your own lawyer, for instance, may be able to procure you a good
mortgage."

"Then you really know of none?" said the baron, secretly hoping that he
did.

"I know of none," was the positive reply; "but if you wish, I can
inquire; there are always some to be had. Your lawyer can tell you what
he would consider good security; only you would have to pay down the sum
total in case you procured it from him, whereas, if you could get one
from a commercial man, you might make a profit of some thousands."

Now this profit was a most important point to the baron, and his mind
was made up to realize it if possible. But he only said, "There is no
hurry; should you hear of any thing desirable, you can let me know."

"I will do all I can," was the cautious reply; "but it will be well that
the baron should also make inquiries himself, for I am not accustomed to
deal in mortgages."

If this assertion were not strictly true, it was, at all events,
politic, for the cool indifference of the tradesman increased the
baron's confidence in him tenfold. The following day he went to town,
and had a consultation with his lawyer, who strongly advised him to give
up the idea of making any such profit as he contemplated, because such a
mortgage would infallibly prove insecure. But this good advice only
confirmed the baron in his intention of taking his own way in the
matter.

A few days later, a tall stout man, with a shining red face, called upon
the baron--a Mr. Pinkus, from the capital. He had heard, he said, that
the baron wished to invest, and he knew of a remarkably safe and
desirable mortgage, on a large property in the neighboring province,
belonging to the rich Count Zaminsky, who lived abroad. This property
had every possible advantage, including two thousand acres of
magnificent natural wood. The mortgage was at present in Count
Zaminsky's own hands. It was possible, Pinkus mysteriously hinted, to
purchase it for ninety per cent.; in other words, for thirty-six
thousand dollars. Certainly, it was a pity that the property lay in
another province, where agriculturists had many primitive peculiarities.
But it was only six miles from the frontier--the neighboring town was on
the high road--the estate was princely. In short, the drawbacks were so
small, and the advantages so great, that Pinkus never could have made up
his mind to let a stranger purchase it, had he not been such an example
of human perfection as the baron.

The baron received the compliment in a dignified manner, and before his
departure Pinkus laid down a heavy roll of parchment, that the question
of the security might be carefully investigated.

Early the next morning the baron took the deeds to his man of business,
and himself ascended the dirty staircase that led to the white door of
Ehrenthal, who was overjoyed to hear of his visit--dressed himself with
the utmost rapidity, and insisted upon the baron doing him the infinite
honor of breakfasting with him. The baron was not cruel enough to
refuse, and accordingly he was ushered into the state apartment, where
the contrast between splendor and shabbiness amused him not a little, as
did also that between the gorgeous attire of the beautiful Rosalie, and
the sneaking, crouching manner of her father.

During breakfast the baron asked Ehrenthal whether he happened to know a
Mr. Pinkus.

At this business-like inquiry Rosalie vanished, and her father sat bolt
upright. "Yes, I do know him," said he; "he is in a very small way, but
I believe him an upright man. He is in a very small way, and all his
business is with Poland."

"Have you mentioned to him my wish to buy a mortgage?"

"How should I have thought of mentioning it to him? If he has offered
you a mortgage, he must have heard of it from another dealer, of whom I
did make inquiries. But Pinkus is in a small way; how can he procure a
mortgage for you?" And Ehrenthal indicated by a gesture how small Pinkus
was, and by a look upward how immeasurably great his guest.

The baron then told him all particulars, and asked about the property
and circumstances of the count.

Ehrenthal knew nothing; but he bethought himself that there was then in
town a respectable tradesman from that very district, and promised to
have him sent to the baron, who soon after took his leave, Ehrenthal
accompanying him down stairs, and saying, "Be cautious about the
mortgage, baron; it is good money, and there are many bad mortgages. To
be sure, there are good mortgages too; and, of course, people will say a
good deal to recommend their own. As to Löbel Pinkus, he is in but a
small way of business; but, so far as I know, a trustworthy man. All you
tell me about the mortgage sounds well, I own; but I humbly entreat you,
baron, to be cautious--very cautious."

The baron, not much enlightened by this worthy address, went to his town
house, and impatiently awaited for the arrival of the stranger, who soon
came. His name was Löwenberg, and his appearance was a sort of medley of
that of Ehrenthal and Pinkus, only he was thinner. He gave himself out
as a wine-merchant, and appeared intimately acquainted with the count
and his property. He said that the present possessor was young, and
lived abroad; that his father had been rather a bad manager; but that,
though the estate was burdened, it was not in the very least endangered.
The land was not in high cultivation, therefore was susceptible of
improvement, and he hoped the young count was the very man to see to it.
On the whole, his report was decidedly favorable; there was no
exaggeration about it--all was sensible and straightforward. The baron's
mind was very nearly made up, and he went off straightway to one of his
acquaintance, who knew the Zaminsky family. He did not hear much from
him certainly, but still it was rather favorable than otherwise. On the
other hand, Ehrenthal called to inform him that the wool of the sheep
of that district was seldom fine, and to beg that he would consult his
lawyer before he decided.

Ehrenthal's little office was on the same floor as the rest of the
apartments, and opened out upon the hall. It was evening before he
returned to it, in a state of great excitement. Itzig, who had been
sitting before a blank book, wearily waiting for his master, wondered
what could be the matter, when Ehrenthal eagerly said to him, "Itzig,
now is the time to show whether you deserve your wages, and the
advantage of a Sabbath dinner in good society."

"What am I to do?" replied Veitel, rising.

"First, you are to tell Löbel Pinkus to come here, and then to get me a
bottle of wine and two glasses. Next go and bring me word to whom in
Rosmin, Councilor Horn, who lives near the market-place, has written
to-day, or, if not to-day, to whom he writes to-morrow. In finding this
out you may spend five dollars, and if you bring me back word this
evening you shall have a ducat for yourself."

Veitel felt a glow of delight, but replied calmly, "I know none of
Councilor Horn's clerks, and must have some time to become acquainted
with them."

He ordered the bottle of wine, and ran off into the street like a dog in
scent of game.

Meanwhile Ehrenthal, his hat still on, his hands behind his back, walked
up and down, nodding his head, and looking in the twilight like an ugly
ghost who once has had his head cut off and can not now keep it steadily
on.

As Veitel went on his way, his mind kept working much as follows: "What
can be in the wind? It must be an important affair, and I am to know
nothing about it! I am to send Pinkus. Pinkus was with Ehrenthal a few
days ago, and the next morning he went to Baron Rothsattel's place in
the country; so it must have something to do with the baron. And now, as
to these letters. If I could catch the clerk who takes them to the post,
and contrive to read the directions, I should save money. But how manage
this? Well, I must find out some way or other." And, accordingly, Veitel
posted himself at the door, and soon saw a young man rush out with a
packet of letters in his hand. He followed him, and, turning sharply
round a corner, contrived to meet him. Touching his hat, "You are from
Councilor Horn's office?"

"Yes," said the clerk, in a hurry to get on.

"I am from the country, and have been waiting for three days for an
important letter from the councilor; perhaps you may have one for me."

"What is your name?" said the clerk, looking at him mistrustfully.

"Bernhard Madgeburg, of Ostrau," said Veitel; "but the letter may be
addressed to my uncle."

"There is no letter for you," replied the clerk, hurriedly glancing at
the directions.

Do what he would, Veitel's eyes could not follow this rapid shuffling,
so he seized the packet, and while the enraged official, catching hold
of him, exclaimed, "What are you about, man! how dare you?" he devoured
the directions, gave back the letters, and touching his hat, coolly
said, "Nothing for me; do not lose the post; I am going to the
councilor," turned on his heel and made his escape.

Spite of this bold stroke, he could only remember two or three of the
addresses. "Perhaps I have made my money," thought he; "and if not,
there's no time lost." So he went back, and, creeping to the office
door, stood and listened. The worthy Pinkus was speaking, but very low,
and Veitel could make little of it. At last, however, the voices grew
louder.

"How can you ask such a large sum!" cried Ehrenthal, angrily; "I have
been mistaken in thinking you a trustworthy man."

"I am trustworthy," replied Pinkus; "but I must have four hundred
dollars, or this affair will fall through."

"How dare you say it will fall through? What do you know about it?"

"I know this much, that I can get four hundred dollars from the baron by
telling him what I know," screamed Pinkus.

"You are a rascal! You are a traitor! Do you know who it is that you use
thus? I can ruin your credit, and disgrace you in the eyes of all men of
business."

"And I can show the baron what sort of a man you are," cried Pinkus,
with equal vehemence.

At this the door opened, and Veitel plunged into the shadow of the
staircase.

"I will give you till to-morrow to consider," were Pinkus's parting
words.

Veitel coolly stepped into the office, and his patron hardly noticed
him. He was pacing up and down the little room, like a wild beast in its
cage, and exclaiming, "Just heavens! that this Pinkus should turn out
such a traitor! He will blab the whole matter; he will ruin me!"

"Why should he ruin you?" asked Veitel, throwing his hat on the desk.

"What are you doing here? What have you overheard?"

"Every thing," was the cool reply. "You have both screamed so as to be
heard all over the hall. Why do you keep the affair a secret from me? I
could have compelled Löbel to give you better terms."

Ehrenthal stared in utter amazement at the audacious youth, and could
only bring out, "What does this mean?"

"I know Pinkus well," continued Veitel, determined henceforth to take a
part in the game. "If you give him a hundred dollars, he will readily
sell you a good mortgage for the baron."

"How should you know any thing about the mortgage?"

"I know enough to help in the matter," replied Itzig; "and I will help
you, if you trust me."

Ehrenthal continued to stare and stare, till at last it dawned upon him
that his assistant had more coolness and decision than himself.
Accordingly, he said, "You are a good creature, Veitel; go and bring in
Pinkus; he shall have the hundred dollars."

"I have seen the directions of the councilor's letters: there was one to
Commissary Walter."

"I thought so," cried Ehrenthal, with delight. "All right, Itzig; now
for Löbel."

"I have to pay five dollars to the councilor's clerk," continued the
youth, "and I am to have a ducat for myself."

"All right! you shall have the money; but first I must see Pinkus."

Veitel hastened to his lodgings, and found Pinkus still much excited,
and revolving all Ehrenthal's injurious speeches.

In a few decided words, he gave him to understand that he was quietly to
accept a hundred dollars, and to help Ehrenthal in this matter, else he,
Veitel, would give the police a hint of the mysterious chamber in the
next house, and of the smuggling guests; and further, that henceforth he
must have a comfortable room on reasonable terms, and be treated no
longer like a poor devil, but an equal. The result of which address was,
that, after a good deal of useless fuming and fretting, Pinkus
accompanied Veitel to Ehrenthal's house, where both worthies shook hands
and came to terms; soon after which Veitel opened the door for
Löwenberg, the wine-merchant, and was politely dismissed. This time he
did not care to listen, but returned to enjoy his supper in his new
apartment.

Meanwhile Ehrenthal said, over a glass of wine, to Löwenberg, "I have
heard that Councilor Horn has written for information respecting this
mortgage to Commissary Walter, in your town. Is there any thing to be
made of him?"

"Not by money," answered the stranger, thoughtfully, "but possibly by
other means. He does not know that I have been authorized by the count's
attorney to sell this mortgage. I shall go to him, as if on business of
my own, and take some opportunity of praising the property."

"But if he knows it himself, of what use is that?" said Ehrenthal,
shaking his head.

"There will still be some use; for, after all, those lawyers must trust
to us traders for details. How can they know, as we do, how wool and
grain sell on estates? At all events, we must do what we can."

Ehrenthal sighed, "You can believe, Löwenberg, that it makes me
anxious."

"Come, come," said the other, "it will be a profitable concern. The
buyer you have in view pays ninety per cent., and seventy is sent to the
count in Paris; of the twenty per cent. remaining, you pay the count's
attorney five, and me five for my trouble, and you keep ten. Four
thousand dollars is a pretty profit where no capital has been risked."

"But it makes me anxious," said Ehrenthal. "Believe me, Löwenberg, it
excites me so much that I can not sleep at night; and when my wife asks
me, 'Are you asleep, Ehrenthal?' I have always to say, 'I can not sleep,
Sidonie; I must think of business.'"

An hour later a carriage with four horses rolled away from the door. The
following morning Commissary Walter received a business call from
Löwenberg, and was convinced, by the cool, shrewd manner of the man,
that the circumstances of the Count Zaminsky could not be so desperate
as was commonly believed.

Eight days after, the baron received a letter from his legal adviser,
containing a copy of one from Commissary Walter. These experienced
lawyers both agreed in thinking that the mortgage in question was not
positively undesirable; and when Ehrenthal next called, he found the
baron's mind made up to the purchase. The irresistible inducement was
the making a few thousand dollars. He was resolved to think the
mortgage good, and would perhaps have bought it even had his lawyer
positively dissuaded him.

Ehrenthal, having a journey to take to that part of the country, most
unselfishly offered to complete the purchase for the baron, who was
pleased with this arrangement.

In about a fortnight he received the deeds. All were well contented with
their share in the business, but Veitel Itzig with most reason, for he
had by it got a hold over his master, and was now friend and confidant
in the most secret transactions. The baron took out his richly-inlaid
casket, and, in place of the fair white parchments, put in a thick,
dirty bundle of deeds. Having done this, he joined the ladies, and gave
a humorous account of Ehrenthal's bows and compliments.

"I hate that man," said Lenore.

"On this occasion he has behaved with a certain disinterestedness,"
replied her father. "But there is no denying that people of his class
have their absurdities of manner, and it is difficult to help laughing
at them."

That evening Ehrenthal was so cheerful in his family circle that his
wife asked him whether he had settled the affair with the baron.

"I have," he gayly replied.

"He is a handsome man," remarked the daughter.

"He is a good man," rejoined Ehrenthal, "but he has his weaknesses. He
is one of those who require low bows and civil speeches, and pay others
to think for them. There must be such people in the world, or what would
become of people of our profession?"

About the same time Veitel was relating to his friend, the ex-advocate,
the whole particulars of the affair. Hippus had taken off his
spectacles, and sat on a corner of the four-cornered chest Mrs. Pinkus
was pleased to call a sofa, looking like a sagacious elderly ape who
despises the race of men, and bites his keeper when he can. He listened
with critical interest to his pupil's narrative, and shook his head or
smiled, according as he dissented or approved.

When Veitel had done, Hippus cried, "Ehrenthal is a simpleton. He is up
to nothing great; he is always trying half-measures. If he goes on thus,
the baron will throw him overboard yet."

"What more can he do?" asked Veitel.

"He must give him anxieties--the anxieties of business, extensive
business, ceaseless activity, daily cares--that's what the baron could
not stand. That class is accustomed to little work and much enjoyment.
Every thing is made easy to them from their childhood. There are few of
them who may not be ruined by having some great care always boring at
their brains. If Ehrenthal wishes to have the baron in his power, he
must entangle him in business."

So said the advocate, and Veitel understood him, and looked with a
mixture of respect and aversion at the ugly little imp gesticulating
before him. At last Hippus took out the brandy bottle, and cried, "An
extra glass to-day. What I have just told you, you young gallows-bird,
is worth more than a bottle of brandy."



CHAPTER XIII.


"I am eighteen years old to-day," said Karl to his father, who was
sitting at home one Sunday morning, never weary of contemplating the
handsome youth.

"So you are," replied the father; "there are eighteen tapers round the
cake."

"Therefore, father," Karl went on, "it is time that I should turn to,
something, and make some money. I will be a porter."

"Make some money!" repeated old Sturm, looking at his son in amazement.
"Do I not make as much, and more than we want? Why, you are going to
turn a miser!"

"I can't always hang to your apron," said Karl; "and if you were to earn
a thousand dollars, would that make an active, useful man of me? Or, if
I were to lose you, what would become of me?"

"You will lose me, boy," said the giant, nodding, "in a few years,
perhaps, and then you may become what you like, so it be not a porter."

"But why should I not be what you are? Do not be unreasonable."

"You know nothing about the matter. Do not be covetous; I can not bear
covetous people."

"But, father, if I am not to be a porter, I must learn _something_,"
cried Karl.

"Learn!" exclaimed his father; "how much learning have you not had
stuffed into your little head already! Two years at the infant school,
four at the city school, two at the industrial. Why, you have had eight
years' schooling, and you know the different goods as well as a clerk.
Why, you are an insatiable youth."

"Yes; but I must have a calling," replied Karl. "I must be a shoemaker,
tailor, shopkeeper, or mechanic."

"Don't tease yourself about that," said his father; "I have provided for
all that in your education. You are practical and honorable too."

"Yes; but can I make a pair of boots? can I cut out a coat?"

"You can," replied old Sturm; "try, and you'll succeed."

"Very well; to-morrow I'll buy you some leather, and make you a pair of
boots: you shall feel how they'll pinch. But, once for all, I can't go
on as I am, and I'll set some one at you who will tell you the same."

"Don't be covetous, Karl," said his father, "or spoil this day for me.
Give me the can of beer, and be a good boy."

Karl placed the great can before his father, and soon took up his cap
and went out. Old Sturm sat still a while, but his comfort was
destroyed, and the house seemed dull without his son's cheerful face. At
length he went into the next room, and drew out a heavy iron chest from
under the bed. He opened it with a little key that he took out of his
waistcoat pocket, lifted one bag after another, began a long mental
calculation, then pushed the chest under the bed again, and returned to
his can of beer with a calmer aspect.

Meanwhile Karl had hurried off to the town, and soon made his appearance
in Anton's apartment. After the kindly greeting on both sides, he began:

"I am come, sir, to ask your advice as to what is to become of me? I can
make nothing of my father. He won't hear of my being a porter; and if I
speak of another calling, he comforts me with saying that he shall not
live long. A pretty comfort that! Would you be so good as to speak to
him about me? He has a high opinion of you, and knows that you are
always kind to me."

"That I will, gladly," replied Anton; "but what do you think of
becoming?"

"It's all one to me," said Karl, "so that it's something regular. Here I
turn my hands to all sorts of things, but that's different to regular
work."

The next Sunday Anton went to old Sturm's. The home of the head porter
was a small house near the river, distinguished from those of his
neighbors by its red-washed walls. Anton opened the low door, and
wondered how the giant could possibly live in so small a space. It must
have required constant patience and forbearance; for, had he ever drawn
himself up to his full height, he would infallibly have carried off the
roof.

"I am delighted to see you in my house, sir," said Sturm, taking Anton's
hand in his immense grasp as gently as he could.

"It is rather small for you, Mr. Sturm," answered Anton, laughing. "I
never thought you so large as I do now."

"My father was still taller," was the complacent reply; "taller and
broader. He was the chief of the porters, and the strongest man in the
place; and yet a small barrel, not half so high as you are, was the
death of him. Be seated, sir," said he, lifting an oaken chair, so heavy
that Anton could hardly move it. "My Karl has told me that he has been
to see you, and that you were most kind. He is a good boy, but he is a
falling off as to size. His mother was a little woman," added Sturm,
mournfully, draining a quart of beer to the last drop. "It is draught
beer," he said, apologetically; "may I offer you a glass? It is a custom
among us to drink no other, but certainly we drink this the whole day
through, for our work is heating."

"Your son wishes to become one of your number, I hear," said Anton.

"A porter!" rejoined the giant. "No, that he never shall." Then laying
his hand confidentially on Anton's knee, "It would never do; my dear
departed wife besought me against it on her death-bed. And why? Our
calling is respectable, as you, sir, best know. There are not many who
have the requisite strength, and still fewer who have the requisite--"

"Integrity," said Anton.

"You are right," nodded Sturm. "Always to have wares of every kind in
immense quantities under our eyes, and never to touch one of them--this
is not in every body's line. And our earnings are very fair too. My dear
departed saved a good deal of money, gold as well as silver. But that is
not my way. For why? If a man be practical, he need not plague himself
about money, and Karl will be a practical man. But he must not be a
porter. His mother would not hear of it, and she was right."

"Your work is very laborious," suggested Anton.

"Laborious!" laughed Sturm; "it may be laborious for the weak, but it is
not that. It is this," and he filled his glass; "it is the draught
beer."

Anton smiled. "I know that you and your colleagues drink a good deal of
this thin stuff."

"A good deal," said Sturm, with self-complacency; "it is a custom of
ours--it always has been so--porters must be strong men, true men, and
beer-drinkers. Water would weaken us, so would brandy; there is nothing
for it but draught beer and olive oil. Look here, sir," said he, mixing
a small glassful of fine oil and beer, stirring plenty of sugar into it,
and drinking off the nauseous compound; "this is a secret of ours, and
makes an arm like this;" and he laid his on the table, and vainly
endeavored to span it. "But there is a drawback. Have you ever seen an
old porter? No; for there are none. Fifty is the greatest age they have
ever reached. My father was fifty when he died, and the one we lately
buried--Mr. Schröter was at the funeral--was forty-nine. I have still
two years before me, however."

Anton looked at him anxiously. "But, Sturm, since you know this, why not
be more moderate?"

"Moderate!" asked Sturm; "what is moderate? It never gets into our
heads. Twenty quarts a day is not much if you know nothing of it.
However, Mr. Wohlfart, it is on this account that my dear departed did
not choose that Karl should be a porter. As for that, few men do live to
be much more than fifty, and they have all sorts of ailments that we
know nothing about. But such were my wife's wishes, and so it must be."

"And have you thought of any other calling? True, Karl is very useful in
our house, and we should all miss him much."

"There it is," interrupted the porter; "you would miss him, and so
should I. I am alone here; when I see my little lad's red cheeks, and
hear his little hammer, I feel my heart glad within me. When he goes
away, and I sit here by myself, I know not how I shall bear it." And his
features worked with strong emotion.

"But must he leave you at present?" inquired Anton; "perhaps he may
remain on for another year."

"Not he; I know him; if he once thinks of a thing at all, he thinks of
nothing else. And, besides, I have been considering the matter these
last days, and I see I have been wrong. The boy did not come into the
world merely to amuse me; he must turn to something or other; so I try
to think of what my dear departed would have liked. She had a brother,
who is my brother-in-law, you know, and who lives in the country; I
should like my boy to go to him. It is far away, but then there's
kinship."

"A good thought, Sturm; but, since you are resolved, keep your son no
longer in uncertainty."

"He shall know at once; he is only in the garden." And he went and
called him in stentorian tones.

Karl hastened in, greeted Anton, and looked expectantly first at him and
then at his father, who had seated himself, and now inquired, in his
usual voice, "Little mannikin, will you be a farmer?"

"A farmer! that never occurred to me. Why, I should have to leave you,
father."

"He thinks of that," said the father, nodding his head to Anton.

"Do you then wish that I should leave you?" asked Karl, in amazement.

"I must, my little man," said Sturm, gravely; "I must wish it, because
it is necessary for your dear departed mother's sake."

"I am to go to my uncle!" cried Karl.

"Exactly so," said his father; "it's all settled, provided your uncle
will have you. You shall be a farmer, you shall learn something regular,
you shall leave your father."

"Father," said Karl, much downcast, "I do not like leaving you. Can't
you come with me to the country?"

"_I_ go to the country! Ho, ho, ho!" Sturm laughed till the house shook
again. "My mannikin would put me into his pocket, and take me to the
country." Then wiping his eyes: "Come here, my Karl," said he, holding
the youth's head between his two great hands; "you are my own good lad;
but there must be partings on this earth, and if it were not now, it
would be in a couple of years."

And thus Karl's departure from the firm was arranged.

As the time drew near, he tried in vain to conceal his emotion by a
great deal of cheerful whistling. He stroked Pluto tenderly, executed
all his various odd jobs with intense zeal, and kept as close as he
could to his father, who often left his barrels to place his hand in
silence on his son's head.

"Nothing heavy in farming!" said the paternal Sturm to Anton, looking
anxiously into his face.

"Heavy!" replied Anton; "it will be no light matter to learn all
connected with it."

"Learn!" cried the other; "the more he has to learn the better, so it be
not very heavy."

"No," said Pix, who understood his meaning, "nothing heavy. The heaviest
are sacks of corn--hundred and eighty; beans--two hundred pounds. And
those he need not lift; the servants do it."

"If that's the case with farming," cried Sturm, contemptuously rearing
himself to his full height, "it's all one to me whether he lifts them or
not. Even my mannikin can carry two hundred pounds."



CHAPTER XIV.


Anton was now the most assiduous of all the clerks in the office. Fink
was seldom able to persuade him to accompany him out riding or to the
shooting gallery, but, on the other hand, he made diligent use of his
friend's book-shelves, and having, after arduous study, gained some
insight into the mysteries of the English language, he was anxious to
exercise his conversational powers upon Fink. But the latter proving a
most irregular and careless master, Anton thought it best to put himself
in the hands of a well-educated Englishman.

One day, looking up from his desk as the door opened, he saw, to his
amazement, Veitel Itzig, his old Ostrau schoolfellow. Hitherto they had
but seldom met, and whenever they did so, Anton had taken pains to look
another way.

"How are you getting on?" asked he, coldly enough.

"Poorly," was the reply; "there is nothing to be made in our business. I
was to give you this letter, and to inquire when Mr. Bernhard Ehrenthal
may call upon you."

"Upon me!" said Anton, taking the letter and a card with it.

The letter was from his English master, asking whether he would join
young Ehrenthal in a systematic course of some of the older English
writers.

"Where does Mr. Bernhard Ehrenthal live?" asked Anton.

"At his father's," said Itzig, making a face. "He sits in his own room
all the day long."

"I will call upon him," rejoined Anton; and Itzig took his departure.

Anton was not much inclined to agree to the proposal. The name of
Ehrenthal did not stand high, and Itzig's appearance had not conferred
any pleasant associations upon it. But the ironical way in which he had
mentioned his master's son, and something Anton had heard of him
besides, determined him to take the matter at least into consideration.

Accordingly, one of the next days he mounted the dingy staircase, and
was at once ushered into Bernhard's room, which was long and narrow, and
filled with books great and small.

A young man came toward him with the uncertainty of manner that
short-sight gives. He had fine features, a fragile frame, brown curling
hair, and deep, expressive gray eyes. Anton mentioned the reason of his
visit, and inquired the terms for the course. To his astonishment, young
Ehrenthal did not know them, but said that, if Anton insisted upon
sharing the expense, he would inquire. Our hero next asked whether
Bernhard was in business with his father.

"Oh no," was the reply; "I have been at the University, and as it is not
easy for a young man of my creed to get a government appointment, and I
can live with my family, I occupy myself with my books." And, casting a
loving glance at his book-shelves, he rose as if to introduce his guest
to them.

Anton looked at their titles, and said, "They are too learned for me."

Bernhard smiled. "Through the Hebrew I have gone on to the other Asiatic
languages. There is much beauty in them, and in their Old-World legends.
I am now engaged upon a translation from the Persian, and some day or
other, when you have a few idle minutes, I should like to inflict a
short specimen upon you."

Anton had the politeness to beg to hear it at once. It was one of those
countless poems in which a votary of the grape compares his beloved to
all fair things in heaven and earth. Its complicated structure impressed
Anton a good deal, but he was somewhat amazed at Bernhard exclaiming,
"Beautiful! is it not? I mean the thought, for I am unable to give the
beauty of language;" and he looked inspired, like a man who drinks
Schiraz wine, and kisses his Zuleika all day long.

"But must one drink in order to love?" said Anton; "with us the one is
very possible without the other."

"With us, life is very commonplace."

"I do not think so," Anton replied, with fervor. "We have the sunshine
and the roses, the joy in existence, the great passions and strange
destinies of which poets sing."

"Our present time is too cold and uniform," rejoined Bernhard.

"So I read in books, but I do not believe it. I think that whoever is
discontented with our life would be so still more with life in Teheran
or Calcutta, if he remained there long enough. It is only novelty that
charms the traveler."

"But how poor in vivid sensations our civilized existence is," rejoined
Bernhard. "I am sure you must often feel business very prosaic."

"That I deny," was the eager reply; "I know nothing so interesting as
business. We live amid a many-colored web of countless threads,
stretching across land and sea, and connecting man with man. When I
place a sack of coffee in the scales, I am weaving an invisible link
between the colonist's daughter in Brazil, who has plucked the beans,
and the young mechanic who drinks it for his breakfast; and if I take up
a stick of cinnamon, I seem to see, on the one side, the Malay who has
rolled it up, and, on the other, the old woman of our suburb who grates
it over her pudding."

"You have a lively imagination, and are happy in the utility of your
calling. But if we seek for poetry, we must, like Byron, quit civilized
countries to find it on the sea or in the desert."

"Not so," replied Anton, pertinaciously; "the merchant has just as
poetical experiences as any pirate or Arab. There was a bankruptcy
lately. Could you have witnessed the gloomy lull before the storm broke,
the fearful despair of the husband, the high spirit of his wife, who
insisted upon throwing in her own fortune to the last dollar to save his
honor, you would not say that our calling is poor in passion or
emotion."

Bernhard listened with downcast eyes, and Anton remarked that he seemed
embarrassed and distressed.

Changing the conversation, he proposed that they should both walk
together to the English master, and make the final arrangements. They
left the house like two old acquaintances; Anton surprised that
Ehrenthal's son should be so little of a trader, Bernhard delighted to
find a man with whom he could discuss his favorite subjects.

That evening he joined the family circle in a cheerful mood, and placing
himself behind his sister, who was practicing a difficult piece on a
costly piano, he kissed her ear. "Do not disturb me, Bernhard," said
she; "I must get this piece perfect for the large party on Sunday, when
I shall be asked to play."

"Of course you will be asked," said her mother. "There is no company
that does not wish to hear Rosalie play. If you could only be persuaded
to come with us, Bernhard--you are so clever and so learned. It was but
the other day that Professor Starke, of the University, spoke of you to
me in the highest terms. It is so pleasant for a mother to feel proud of
her children! Why will you not join us? The society will be as good as
any in the town."

"You know, mother, that I am not fond of strangers."

"And I desire that my son Bernhard should have his own way," cried
Ehrenthal from a neighboring room, having chanced, during a pause in
Rosalie's practice, to hear the last sentence, and now joining his
family: "our Bernhard is not like other people, and his way is sure to
be a good one. You look pale, my son," stroking his brown curls; "you
study too much. Think of your health. The doctor recommended exercise.
Will you have a horse, my son Bernhard? I will get the most expensive
horse in the town for you, if you like."

"Thank you, dear father; but it would give me no pleasure," and he
gratefully pressed the hand of his father, who looked sorrowfully at his
pale face.

"Do you always give Bernhard what he likes to eat? Get him some peaches,
Sidonie; there are hot-house peaches to be had. You shall have any thing
you like; you are my good son Bernhard, and my delight is in you."

"He will not have any thing of the kind," interposed his mother. "All
his joy is in his books. Many a day he never asks for Rosalie and me. He
reads too much, and that's why he looks like a man of sixty. Why will he
not go with us on Sunday?"

"I will, if you like," said Bernhard, mournfully; adding soon after, "Do
you know a young man of the name of Wohlfart, in Schröter's house?"

"No," said his father, decidedly.

"Perhaps you do, Rosalie. He is handsome and refined-looking; I think
you must have met him."

"Hardly, if he is in an office."

"Our Rosalie dances chiefly with officers and artists," explained her
mother.

"He is a clever and a delightful man," continued Bernhard; "I am going
to study English with him, and rejoice to have made his acquaintance."

"He shall be invited," decreed Ehrenthal; "if he pleases our Bernhard,
he shall be welcome to our house. Let us have a good dinner on Sunday,
Sidonie, at two o'clock. He shall come to all our parties; Bernhard's
friend shall be the friend of us all."

The mother gave her consent, and Rosalie began to ponder what dress she
should wear, so as to make the greatest impression.

But whence came it to pass that Bernhard did not communicate to his
family the subject of the conversation that had so much interested him?
that he soon relapsed into silence and returned to his study? that, when
there, he bowed his head over his old manuscripts, while large drops
rolled down on them, erasing the much-prized characters unobserved?
Whence came it that the young man, of whom his mother was so proud, whom
his father so loved and honored, sat alone, shedding the bitterest tears
that an honest man can, while in another part of the house Rosalie's
white fingers were flying over the keys, practicing the difficult piece
that was to astonish the next soiree? From that day dated a friendship
between Anton and Bernhard which was a source of pleasure and profit to
both. Anton described the studious youth to the free and easy Fink, and
expressed his wish to bring about a meeting between the two by a
tea-drinking in his rooms.

"If it amuses you, Tony," said Fink, shrugging his shoulders, "I will
come; but I warn you that of all living characters I most dislike a
book-worm. No one theorizes more presumptuously upon every possible
subject, or makes a greater fool of himself when it comes to practice.
And, besides, a son of the worthy Ehrenthal! Don't be angry if I soon
run away."

On the evening appointed, Bernhard sat on Anton's sofa in anxious
expectation of the arrival of this well-known character, many wild
anecdotes of whom had found their way even into his study.

At first Anton feared that the two would never suit. Two greater
contrasts could hardly be imagined; the thin, transparent hand of
Bernhard, and the healthy, muscular development of Fink; the bent form
of the one, the elastic strength of the other; here, a deeply-lined
face, with dreamy eyes; there, a proud set of features, lighted up by a
glance like an eagle's--how could these possibly harmonize? But all
turned out better than he had expected. Bernhard listened with much
interest to what Fink had to say of foreign countries, and Anton did all
he could to turn the conversation to subjects likely to bring out
Bernhard.

The result was, that a few days later Bernhard found himself sitting in
one of Fink's easy-chairs, and even ventured to invite him, with Anton,
to spend an evening with him. Fink consented.

And now arose great excitement in the Ehrenthal circle.

Bernhard dusted his books and set them in order, and for the first time
in his life troubled himself about household matters. "We must have tea,
supper, wine, and cigars," said he.

"You need not be uneasy," replied his mother; "Herr von Fink shall find
every thing well arranged."

"I will buy you some of the very finest cigars, and see to the wine,"
added his father.

As the hour drew near, Bernhard grew increasingly anxious, nay,
irritable. "Where is the tea-kettle? The tea-kettle is not yet in my
room! Nothing is ready!" cried he to his mother.

"I will make the tea and send it in--that is the fashionable way,"
replied his mother, rustling up and down in a new silk.

"No," said Bernhard, decidedly, "I will make the tea myself. Anton makes
it, and so does Von Fink."

"Bernhard will make the tea himself!" cried the astonished mother to
Rosalie. "Wonderful! he will make his own tea!" exclaimed Ehrenthal, who
was in his room drawing on his boots. "He is going to make the tea!"
cried the cook in the kitchen, clapping her hands in amazement.

On their way, Anton said to Fink, "It is very kind of you, Fritz, to
come; Bernhard will be delighted."

"One must make sacrifices," replied Fink. "I have taken the liberty to
eat my supper beforehand, for I have a horror of Jewish cookery. But the
handsomest girl in town is worth a little effort. I saw her lately at a
concert--a gorgeous figure, and such eyes! The old usurer, her father,
has never seen such diamonds pass through his hands."

"We are invited to see Bernhard," replied Anton, somewhat reproachfully.

"And we shall certainly see his sister too," said Fink.

"I hope not," thought Anton.

Bernhard's room was wonderfully adorned for their reception, and he
himself was a most pleasant host. The three were soon in full talk. Fink
was in one of his most benevolent moods, and Anton mentally prayed that
the beautiful sister might be kept out of sight.

But, just as the clock struck nine, the door opened, and Madam Ehrenthal
majestically crossed the threshold. "Bathsheba entering in to Solomon,"
whispered Fink to Anton, who angrily trod upon his foot in return.
Bernhard, in some embarrassment, introduced his mother, and she invited
them all three to the next room, where Ehrenthal and the fair Rosalie
awaited them. Fink soon fell into a lively discussion with her about
music, for which, in reality, he little cared; promised her an excellent
place at the ensuing races, and told her and her mother satirical
anecdotes of the best society, which, as they were excluded from it,
they particularly enjoyed. A princess of celebrated beauty came under
discussion. Fink, who had been introduced to her once upon a time,
declared that the young lady now before him might be taken for her,
except, indeed, that the princess was not quite so tall and
majestic-looking; and then he went into ecstasies over Mrs. Ehrenthal's
mosaic brooch. The paternal Ehrenthal, however, tried in vain to keep up
a conversation with him. Fink contrived not to appear aware of his
presence, without, however, being in any way rude. Every one felt it to
be in the nature of things; and Ehrenthal himself humbly acted the part
of nonentity assigned to him, and consoled himself by eating a whole
pheasant.

The supper lasted till midnight, and then Rosalie moved to the piano,
after which Fink ran his fingers over the keys, and sang a wild Spanish
song. When at length the guests took their departure, the family
remained perfectly enraptured. Rosalie ran to the piano to try and
remember the air Fink had sung; her mother was full of his praises, and
her father, spite of his temporary annihilation, was enchanted with the
visit of the rich young heir, and kept repeating that he must be worth
more than a million. Even Bernhard's ingenuous spirit was captivated by
his manner and brilliant rattle. True, he had occasionally felt an
uncomfortable misgiving, as though Fink might be making fun of them all;
but he was too inexperienced to feel sure of it, and soothed himself by
thinking that it was only the way of all men of the world.

Anton alone was dissatisfied with his friend, and he told him so as they
walked home.

"Why, you sat there like a stock," replied Fink; "I entertained the good
people, and what more would you have? Change yourself into a mouse,
creep into the decked-out room, and hear how they are singing my
praises. What more can be wanted than that our behavior to people should
be what they themselves find pleasant?"

"I think," said Anton, "that our aim should rather be to behave in a
manner worthy of ourselves. You went on like a frivolous nobleman who
meant to ask a loan from old Ehrenthal on the morrow."

"I choose to be frivolous," cried Fink; "and perhaps I may want a loan
from the Ehrenthal house. And now have done with your preachments--it is
past one o'clock."

A few days later, Anton remembered, at the close of the office, that he
had promised to send on a book to the young student. As Fink, who had
gone out an hour before, had carried off his paletot, which indeed often
happened, Anton wrapped himself in Fink's burnoose, which chanced to lie
in his room, and hurried off to Ehrenthal's house. As he reached the
door, he was not a little amazed to see it noiselessly open, and a
shawled and veiled figure come out. A soft arm wound itself round his,
and a low voice said, "Come quickly; I have waited for you long." Anton
recognized Rosalie's voice, and stood petrified. At length he said, "You
are mistaken." With a suppressed scream the young lady rushed up stairs,
and Anton, little less confused, entered his friend's room, where he had
the shock of being at once addressed by the short-sighted Bernhard as
Herr von Fink. A dreadful suspicion crossed his mind; and, pretending to
be in the utmost haste, he carried the luckless cloak home, over a heart
full of grief and anger. If it were, indeed, Fink that Ehrenthal's fair
daughter had been expecting! The longer Anton had to wait for his
friend, the more angry he grew. At last he heard his step in the
court-yard--ran down to meet him--told him the circumstance--and ended
by saying, "Look! I wore your cloak; it was dusk; and I have a horrible
suspicion that she mistook me for you, and that you have most
unjustifiably abused Bernhard's friendship."

"Ah ha!" said Fink, shaking his head, "here we have a proof of how ready
these virtuous ones are to throw a stone at others. You are a child.
There are other white cloaks in the town; how can you prove that mine
was the one waited for? And then allow me to remark, that you showed
neither politeness nor presence of mind on the occasion. Why not have
led the lady down stairs, and when the mistake became apparent, have
said, 'It is true that I am not he you take me for, but I am equally
ready to die in your service,' and so forth?"

"You don't deceive me," rejoined Anton; "when I think the matter over, I
can not, spite of your lies, shake off the belief that you were the one
expected."

"You cunning little fellow," said Fink, good-humoredly, "confess, at
least, that when a lady is in the case, I needs must lie. For seest
thou, my son, to admit this were to compromise the fair daughter of an
honorable house."

"Alas!" said Anton, "I fear that she already feels herself compromised."

"Never mind," said Fink, coolly, "she will bear it."

"But, Fritz," said Anton, wringing his hands, "have you, then, no sense
of the wrong you are doing to Bernhard? It is just because his pure
heart beats in the midst of a family circle that he only endures because
he is so trusting and inexperienced, that this injury pains me so
bitterly."

"Therefore you will do wisely to spare your friend's sensitiveness, and
keep his sister's secret."

"Not so," replied Anton, indignantly; "my duty to Bernhard leads me to a
different course. I must demand from you that you break off your
connection with Rosalie, whatever its nature, and strive only to see in
her what you always should have seen--the sister of my friend."

"Really," returned Fink, in a mocking tone, "I have no objection to your
making this demand; but if I do not comply with it, how then?--always
supposing, which, by the way, I deny, that I was the fortunate expected
one."

"If you do not," cried Anton, in high excitement, "I can never forgive
you. This is more than mere want of feeling--it is something worse."

"And what, pray?" coldly asked Fink.

"It is base," cried Anton. "It is bad enough to take advantage of the
young girl's coquetry, but worse to forget her brother as well as me,
through whom you made this unfortunate acquaintance."

"Be so good as to hear me say," replied Fink, lighting the lamp of his
tea-kettle, "that I never gave you any right to speak to me thus. I
have no wish to quarrel with you, but I shall be much obliged to you
henceforth to drop this subject."

"Then I must leave you, for I can speak of nothing else while I have the
conviction that you are acting unworthily."

Anton moved to the door. "I give you your choice; either you break with
Rosalie, or, dreadful as it is to me to think of it, you break with me.
If you do not by to-morrow evening give me an assurance that this
intrigue is at an end, I go to Rosalie's mother."

"Good-night, thou stupid Tony!" said Fink.

The following day was a gray one for both.

It was Fink's constant custom, on entering the office, to beckon to his
friend, whereupon Anton would leave his place, and exchange a few words
as to how Fink had spent the previous evening. But this morning Anton
doggedly remained where he was, and bent down over his letters when Fink
took his seat opposite him. Whenever they looked up, they had to make as
though empty space were before them, and not each other's faces. Fink
had found it easy to treat the paternal Ehrenthal as a nonentity, but it
was not so in this case; and Anton, who had had no practice in the art
of overlooking others, felt himself supremely uncomfortable. Then every
thing conspired to make it peculiarly difficult to each to play his
part. Schmeie Tinkeles, the unfortunate little Jew who spoke such
execrable German, and whom Fink always found especial pleasure in
badgering and beating down, made his appearance in the office, and, as
usual, a laughable scene ensued. All the clerks watched Fink, and chimed
in with him, but Anton had to behave as though Tinkeles were a hundred
miles away. Then Mr. Schröter gave him a commission, which obliged him
to ask Fink a question, and he had to cough hard to get out the words at
all. He received a very short answer, which increased his anger.
Finally, when the dinner hour struck, Fink, who used regularly to wait
till Anton came for him, walked off with Jordan, who wondered what could
keep Wohlfart, to which Fink could only reply that he neither knew nor
cared.

During the afternoon Anton could not avoid a few furtive glances at the
haughty face opposite him. He thought how dreadful it would be to become
estranged from one he so dearly loved; but his resolve was firm as ever.
And so it happened that Fink, chancing to look up, met his friend's eyes
mournfully fixed upon his face, and this touched him more than the
anger of the previous night. He saw that Anton's mind was made up, and
the side of the scale in which sat the fair Rosalie kicked the beam.
After all, if Anton did, in his virtuous simplicity, tell her mother,
the adventure was spoiled, and, still worse, their friendship forever at
an end. These reflections furrowed his fine brow.

A little before seven o'clock a shadow fell on Anton's paper, and,
looking up, he saw Fink silently holding out a small note to him,
directed to Rosalie. He sprang up at once.

"I have written to tell her," said Fink, with icy coldness, "that your
friendship left me no other choice than that of compromising her or
giving her up, and that, therefore, I chose the latter. Here is the
letter; I have no objection to your reading it; it is her dismissal."

Anton took the letter out of the culprit's hand, sealed it in all haste
with a little office seal, and gave it to one of the porters to post at
once.

And so this danger was averted, but from that day there was an
estrangement between the friends. Fink grumbled, and Anton could not
forget what he called treachery to Bernhard; and so it was, that for
some weeks they no longer spent their evenings together.



CHAPTER XV.


The firm of T. O. Schröter had one day in the year invariably dedicated
to enjoyment. It was the anniversary of their principal's first entrance
into partnership with his father. Upon this festive occasion there was a
dinner given to the whole counting-house assembled, after which they all
drove to a neighboring village, where the merchant had a country house,
and whither a number of public gardens and summer concerts always
attracted the inhabitants of the town. There they drank coffee, enjoyed
nature, and returned home before dark.

This year was the five-and-twentieth of these jubilees. Early in the
morning came deputations of servants and porters to congratulate, and
all the clerks appeared at the early dinner in full state; M. Liebold in
a new coat, which, for many years past, he had been in the habit of
first wearing upon this auspicious day.

After dinner, the carriages drove up and took them to the great
"Restauration" of the village. There they got out, the gentlemen all
surrounding their young lady, and loud music sounding a welcome as they
entered the beechen avenues of the garden, which was bright to-day with
gay toilettes from the town.

Sabine floated on with a perfect nebula of gentlemen around her.
Possibly this court would have given more pleasure to most other women,
but, at all events, the effect was very striking. The gentle Liebold's
face wore a continual smile of delight, which he was obliged to
suppress, as well as he could, from the fear of being supposed to laugh
at the passers-by: Sabine's shawl hung on his arm. Specht had, by a bold
_coup de main_, possessed himself of her parasol, and walked on, hoping
that some falling blossom, some passing butterfly, might afford him a
pretext for beginning a conversation with her. But this was no easy
matter, for Fink was on the other side. He was in one of his most
malevolent moods, and Sabine could not help laughing against her will at
his unmerciful comments upon many of the company. And so they walked on
among the tripping, rustling crowd of pleasure-seekers. There was a
constant bowing, smiling, and greeting; the merchant had each moment to
take off his hat, and, whenever he did so, the fourteen clerks took off
theirs too, and created quite a draught; and very imposing it was. After
having swum thus with the stream for some time, Sabine expressed a wish
to rest. Instantly benches were set, the table got ready, and an
ubiquitous waiter brought a giant coffee-pot and the number of cups
required. Sabine's office was no sinecure. She chose Anton for her
adjutant, and it was a pretty sight to see how kindly she gave each one
his cup, how watchful she was lest the sugar-bowl and the cream-jug
should be interrupted in their rounds, and at the same time how she
contrived to bow to her passing acquaintance, and to carry on a
conversation with any friends of her brother's who came up to her. She
was very lovely thus. Anton and Fink both felt how well her serene
activity became her; and Fink said, "If this be for you a day of
recreation, I do not envy your other days. No princess has such a
reception--so many to bow, smile, and speak to as you; but you get on
capitally, and have no doubt studied it. Now comes the mayor himself to
pay his compliments. I am really sorry for you; you have to lend me your
ear; Liebold's cup is in your hand, and your eyes must be reverentially
fixed upon the great civic official. I am curious to know whether you
understand my words."

"Take your spoon out of your cup, and I will fill it immediately," said
Sabine, laughing, as she rose to greet her old acquaintance. Meanwhile,
Anton amused himself by listening to the remarks made on his party by
the passers-by. "That is Herr von Fink," whispered a young lady to her
companion. "A pretty face; a capital figure," drawled a lieutenant.
"What is one among so many?" muttered another idler. "Hush! those are
the Schröters," said a clerk to his brother. Then two tall handsome
forms came slowly by--Dame Ehrenthal and Rosalie. Rosalie passed next to
the table: a deep flush suffused her face. She threw a troubled glance
at Fink, who, in spite of the lively conversation he was carrying on
with Sabine, had eyes for every thing that was going on. Anton rose to
bow; and the imperturbable Fink coolly took off his hat, and looked at
the two ladies with as much unconcern as though he had never admired the
bracelets on Rosalie's white arm. Anton's bow, Rosalie's striking
beauty, and, perhaps, some peculiarity in their dress, had attracted
Sabine's attention.

Ehrenthal's daughter did not heed the bow, but fixed her dark eyes on
Sabine, whom she took for her fortunate rival, with such a flashing
glance of anger and hatred that Sabine shrank as though to avoid the
spring of a beast of prey.

Fink's lip curled, and he slightly shrugged his shoulders. When the
ladies had passed by, Sabine asked who they were.

"Some acquaintances of Anton's," said he, satirically.

Anton named them as the mother and sister of the young student of whom
he had lately told her.

Sabine was silent, and leaned back on the bench; her gay spirits were
over. The conversation flagged; and when her brother returned from a
visit to the next table, she rose and invited the party to come and see
her garden. Again the nebula followed her, but Fink was no longer at her
side. That burning glance had withered the green tendrils that had been
drawing them together. Sabine turned to Anton, and tried to be cheerful,
but he saw the effort it cost her.

This large garden, with its hot-houses and conservatories, was one of
Sabine's favorite resorts, both in summer and winter. While the merchant
carried off Fink to look at a plot of neighboring ground which he
thought of buying, the clerks besieged Sabine with questions as to the
names and peculiarities of the different plants. She showed them a
great palm-tree that her brother had given her, tropical ferns, gorgeous
cactuses, and told them that she often drank coffee under these large
leaves on sunny winter days. Just then the gardener came up to her with
crumbs of bread and bird-seed on a plate. "Even when I have not so large
a party with me as to-day, I am not quite alone," said she.

"Pray let us see your birds," cried Anton.

"You must go out of sight, then, and keep quite still. The little
creatures know _me_, but so many gentlemen would terrify them."

Sabine then went out a few steps, scattered the crumbs on the gravel,
and clapped her hands. A loud chirping instantly succeeded, and numbers
of birds shot down, hopping boldly about, and picking up the crumbs
close to her feet. They were not a very distinguished company--finches,
linnets, and a whole nation of sparrows. Sabine gently stepped back to
the door, and said, "Can you see any difference among these sparrows?
They have, I assure you, individualities of dress and character. Several
of them are personal acquaintances of mine." She pointed to a large
sparrow with a black head and a bright brown back. "Do you see that
stout gentleman?"

"He is the largest of them all," said Anton, with delight.

"He is my oldest acquaintance, and it is my dinners that have made him
so fat. He moves about among the others like a rich banker. Only hear
him! His very chirp has in it something aristocratic and supercilious.
He looks upon this crumb-scattering as a duty society owes him, and
determines generously to leave for the others all he can not eat up
himself. But I think I see a tuft on his little breast."

"A loose feather?" whispered Specht.

"Yes," continued Sabine; "I much fear his wife has pulled it out; for,
important as he seems, he is under petticoat government. That gray
little lady yonder, the lightest of them all, is his wife. Now look,
they are going to quarrel." And a great contest began for an especially
large crumb, in which all the birds manifested a strong dislike to the
banker, and the wife came off victorious.

"And now, do look!" cried Sabine, joyfully; "here comes my little
one--my pet;" and down plumped a young sparrow, with helpless outspread
wings, and fluttered up to the maternal bird, who hacked the large crumb
into little bits, and put them into its wide-opened beak, while the
father hopped up and down, at a little distance, looking with a certain
misgiving at his energetic better half.

"What a pretty sight!" cried Anton.

"Is it not?" said Sabine. "Even these little creatures have characters
and a family life."

But the scene was suddenly changed; a quick step came round the
hot-house; the birds flew away, and the mother called piteously to her
child to follow. But the little thing, heavy and stupefied with all it
had eaten, could not so quickly lift its weak wings. A cut from Fink's
riding-whip caught him, and sent its little body dead among the flowers.
An angry exclamation arose, and all faces looked darkly on the murderer.
As for Sabine, she went to the bed, picked up the bird, kissed its
little head, and said, in a broken voice, "It is dead." Then she put it
down on the bench near the door, and covered it with her handkerchief.

An awkward silence ensued. At length Jordan said reproachfully, "You
have killed Miss Sabine's favorite bird."

"I am sorry for it," replied Fink, drawing a chair to the table. Then
turning to Sabine, "I did not know that you extended your sympathy to
this class of rogues. I really believed that I deserved the thanks of
the house for disposing of the young thief."

"The poor little fellow!" said Sabine, mournfully; "his mother is
calling for him; do you hear her?"

"She will get over it," rejoined Fink; "I consider it overdone to expend
more feeling upon a sparrow than his own relatives do. But I know you
like to consider all around you in a tender and pathetic light."

"If you have not this peculiarity yourself, why ridicule it in others?"
asked Sabine, with a quivering lip.

"Why," cried Fink, "because this eternal feeling, which here I meet with
every where, expended on what does not deserve it, makes people at
length weak and trivial. He who is always getting up emotions about
trifles will have none to give when a strong attachment demands them."

"And he who ever looks on all around him with cold unconcern, will not
he too be wanting in emotion when a strong attachment becomes a duty?"
returned Sabine, with a mournful glance.

"It would be impolite to contradict you," said Fink, shrugging his
shoulders. "At all events, it is better that a man should be too hard
than too effeminate."

"But just look at the people of this country," said he, after another
uncomfortable pause. "One loves the copper kettle in which his mother
has boiled sausages; another loves his broken pipe, his faded coat, and
with these a thousand obsolete customs. Just look at the German
emigrants! What a heap of rubbish they take away with them--old
birdcages, worm-eaten furniture, and every kind of lumber! I once knew a
fellow who took a journey of eight days merely to eat _sauer-kraut_. And
when once a poor devil has squatted in an unhealthy district, and lived
there a few years, he has spun such a web of sentimentalism about it
that you can not stir him, even though he, his wife and children, should
die there of fever. Commend me to what you call the insensibility of the
Yankee. He works like two Germans, but he is not in love with his
cottage or his gear. What he has is worth its equivalent in dollars, and
no more. 'How low! how material!' you will say. Now, I like this. It has
created a free and powerful state. If America had been peopled by
Germans, they would be still drinking chicory instead of coffee, at
whatever rate of duty the paternal governments of Europe liked to
impose."

"And you would require a woman to be thus minded?" asked Sabine.

"In the main, yes," rejoined Fink. "Not a German housewife, wrapped up
in her table-linen. The larger her stock, the happier she. I believe
that they silently rate each other as we do men on 'Change--worth five
hundred, worth eight hundred napkins. The American makes as good a wife
as the German, but she would laugh at such notions. She has what she
wants for present use, and buys more when the old set is worn out. Why
should she fix her heart on what is so easily replaced?"

"Oh, how dreary you make life!" rejoined Sabine. "Our possessions lose
thus their dearest value. If you kill the imagination which lends its
varied hues to lifeless things, what remains? Nothing but an egotism to
which every thing is sacrificed! He who can thus coldly think may do
great deeds perhaps, but his life will never be beautiful nor happy, nor
a blessing to others;" and unconsciously she folded her hands and looked
sadly at Fink, whose face wore a hard and disdainful expression.

The silence was broken by Anton's cheerfully observing, "At all events,
Fink's own practice is a striking refutation of his theory."

"How so, sir?" asked Fink, looking round.

"I shall soon prove my case; but first a few words in our own praise. We
who are sitting and standing around are working members of a business
that does not belong to us, and each of us looks upon his occupation
from the German point of view which Fink has been denouncing. None of us
reasons, 'The firm pays me so many dollars, consequently the firm is
worth so many dollars to me.' No; when the house prospers we are all
pleased and proud; if it loses, we regret it perhaps more than the
principal does. When Liebold enters his figures in the great book, and
admires their fair caligraphical procession, he silently smiles with
delight. Look at him; he is doing so now."

Liebold, much embarrassed, pulled up his shirt collar.

"Then there is our friend Baumann, who secretly longs for another
calling. A short time ago he brought me a report of the horrors of
heathenism on the African coast, and said, 'I must go, Wohlfart; the
time is come.' 'Who will attend to the calculations?' asked I; 'and what
will become of the department which you and Balbus keep so entirely in
your own hands?' 'Ay, indeed,' cried Baumann, 'I had not thought of
that; I must put it off a little longer.'"

The whole party looked smilingly at Baumann, who said, as if to himself,
"It was not right of me."

"As for the tyrant Pix, I will only say that there are many hours in
which he is not quite clear as to whether the concern is his or Mr.
Schröter's."

All laughed. Mr. Pix thrust his hand into his breast, like Napoleon.

"You are an unfair advocate," said Fink; "you enlist private feelings."

"You did the same," replied Anton. "And now I will soon dispose of you.
About half a year ago, this Yankee went to our principal and said, 'I
wish no longer to be a volunteer, but a regular member of your house.'
Why was this? Of course, only for the sake of a certain number of
dollars."

Again all smiled and looked kindly at Fink, for it was well known that
he had said on that occasion, "I wish for a regular share of employment,
I wish for the responsibility attached to it, and I thoroughly like my
work."

"And then," continued Anton, triumphantly, "he shares all the weak
sentimentalities he so condemns. He loves his horse, as you all know,
not as the sum of five hundred dollars represented by so many hundred
weight of flesh, and covered by a glossy skin--he loves it as a friend."

"Because he amuses me," said Fink.

"Of course," said Anton; "and thus table-linen amuses our housewives, so
that is even. And then his pair of condor wings, his pistols,
riding-whips, red drinking-glasses, are all trifles that he values, just
as a German emigrant does his birdcages; and, in short, he is, in point
of fact, nothing more than a poor-spirited German, like the rest of us."

Sabine shook her head, but she looked more kindly at the American, and
his face too had changed. He looked straight before him, and there was a
something playing over his haughty features that, in any one else, would
have been called emotion.

"Well," said he, at length, "both the lady and I were perhaps too
positive." Then pointing to the dead sparrow, "Before this serious fact
I lay down my arms, and confess that I wish the little gentleman were
still alive, and likely to reach a good old age among the cherries and
other delicacies of the firm. And so," turning to Sabine, "you will not
be angry with me any more, will you?"

Sabine smiled, and cordially answered "No."

"As for you, Anton, give me your hand. You have made a brilliant
defense, and gained me a verdict of 'Not guilty' from a German jury.
Take your pen and scratch out a few weeks from our calendar; you
understand?" Anton pressed his hand, and threw his arm around his
shoulder.

Once more the party was in a thoroughly genial mood. Mr. Schröter joined
them, cigars were lit, and all tried to be as pleasant as possible. Mr.
Liebold rose to ask permission from the principal and his sister--that
is, if it would not be considered an interruption--to sing a few
concerted pieces with some of his colleagues. As he had for several
years regularly made the same proposition in the same words, all were
prepared for it, and Sabine good-naturedly cried, "Of course, Mr.
Liebold; half the pleasure would be gone if we had not our quartette."
Accordingly, the four singers began. Mr. Specht was the first tenor,
Liebold the second, Birnbaum and Balbus took the base. These formed the
musical section of the counting-house, and their voices went really very
well together, with the exception of Specht's being rather too loud, and
Liebold's rather too low; but their audience was well-disposed, the
evening exquisite, and all listened with pleasure.

"It's an absurd thing," began Fink, when the applause was over, "that a
certain sequence of tones should touch the heart, and call forth tears
from men in whom all other gentle emotions are dead and gone. Every
nation has its own simple airs, and fellow-countrymen recognize each
other by the impression these make. When those emigrants of whom we
spoke just now have lost all love for their fatherland--nay, have
forgotten their mother tongue, their home melodies still survive, and
many a foolish fellow, who piques himself on being a naturalized Yankee,
suddenly feels himself German at heart on chancing to hear a couple of
bars familiar to him in youth."

"You are right," said the merchant. "He who leaves his home is seldom
aware of all that he relinquishes, and only finds it out when home
recollections become the charm of his later years. Such recollections
often form a sanctuary, mocked and dishonored indeed, but always
revisited in his best hours."

"I confess, with a certain degree of shame," said Fink, "that I am
little conscious of this charm. The fact is, I do not exactly know where
my home is. Looking back, I find that I have lived most of my years in
Germany, but foreign countries have left a livelier impression on my
mind. Destiny has always torn me away before I could take deep root any
where. And now, at times, I find myself a stranger here. For example,
the dialects of the provinces are unintelligible to me. I get more
presents than I deserve on Christmas-day, but am not touched by the
magic of the Christmas-tree; and few of the popular melodies you are all
so proud of, haunt my ear. And, besides these smaller matters, there are
other things in which I feel deficient," continued he, more earnestly;
"I know that at times I make too heavy demands upon the indulgence of my
friends. I shall have to thank your house," said he, in conclusion,
turning to the merchant, "if I ever acquire a knowledge of the best side
of the German character."

Fink spoke with a degree of feeling he rarely showed. Sabine was happy;
the sparrow was forgotten; and she cried, with irrepressible emotion,
"That was nobly said, Herr von Fink."

The servants then announced that supper was ready.

The merchant took his place in the middle, and Sabine smiled brightly
when Fink sat down, at her side.

"I must have you opposite me, Liebold," cried the principal; "I must
see your honest face before me to-day. We have now been connected for
five-and-twenty years. Mr. Liebold joined us a few weeks after my father
took me into partnership," said he, by way of explanation to the younger
clerks; "and while I am indebted to you all, I am most indebted to him."
He held up his glass: "I drink your good health, my old friend; and so
long as our desks stand side by side, separated only by a thin
partition, so long shall there exist between us, as heretofore, a full
and firm confidence, without many spoken words."

Liebold had stood at the beginning of this speech, and he remained
standing. He wished to propose a health, it was evident, for he looked
at the principal, held up his glass, and his lips moved. At last he sat
down again, speechless. Straightway, to the amazement of all, Fink rose,
and said, with deep earnestness, "Join me in drinking to the prosperity
of a German house where work is a pleasure, and honor has its home.
Hurrah for our counting-house and our principal!"

Thundering hurrahs followed, in which Sabine could not help joining. The
rest of the evening was unbroken hilarity, and it was long past ten when
they reached the town.

As they went up stairs, Fink said to Anton, "To-day, my boy, you are not
to pass me by. I have found it a great bore to be so long without you;"
and the reconciled friends sat together far into the night.

Sabine went to her own room, where her maid gave her a note in an
unknown handwriting. The smell of musk and the delicate characters
showed that it came from a lady.

"Who brought it?" inquired she.

"A stranger," replied the maid; "he said that there was no answer, and
would not give his name."

Sabine read, "Do not triumph too soon, fair lady. You have by your
coquetry allured a gentleman who is accustomed to mislead, to forget,
and shamefully to use those who trust him. A short time ago he said to
another all he now says to you. He will but betray and forsake you
also."

The note was not signed: it came from Rosalie.

Sabine knew well who had written it. She held it to the taper, and then
flinging it on the hearth, silently watched spark by spark die out. Long
did she stand there, her head against the mantel-piece, her eyes fixed
upon the little heap of ashes.

Tearless, voiceless, she held her hand pressed firmly on her heart.



CHAPTER XVI.


Veitel Itzig was in the highest excitement. After many consultations
with his adviser Hippus, many nightly calculations as to the state of
his purse, he had ventured upon a bold stroke of business, and had
succeeded in it. He had wormed himself into a not very creditable
secret, and had sold it for eight thousand dollars. The happy day had at
length arrived when he was to carry home this large capital. After his
long endeavor to appear calm, while his heart was beating with anxious
suspense like a smith's hammer, he was now happy as a child; he jumped
round the room, laughed with pleasure, and asked Hippus what sort of
wine he would like to drink to-day. "Wine alone will not do," replied
Hippus, ominously. "However, it is long since I have tasted any
Hungarian. Get a bottle of old Upper Hungarian; or, stay, it is dark
enough, I will go for it myself."

"How much does it cost?"

"Two dollars."

"That is a good deal, but 'tis all one; here they are;" and he threw
them on the table.

"All right," said Hippus, snatching at them. "But this alone will not
do, I must have my percentage. However, as we are old acquaintances, I
will be satisfied with only five per cent. of what you have made
to-day."

Veitel stood petrified.

"Not a word against it," continued Hippus, with a wicked glance at him
over his spectacles; "we know each other. I was the means of your
getting the money, and I alone. You make use of me, and you see that I
can make use of you. Give me four hundred of your eight thousand at
once."

Veitel tried to speak.

"Not a word," repeated Hippus, rapping the table with the dollars in his
hand; "give me the money."

Veitel looked at him, felt in the pocket of his coat, and laid down two
notes.

"Now two more," said Hippus, in the same tone. Veitel added another.

"And now for the last, my son," nodded he, encouragingly.

Veitel delayed a moment and looked hard at the old man's face, on which
a malevolent pleasure was visible. There was no comfort there, however;
so he laid down the fourth note, saying, in a stifled voice, "I have
been mistaken in you, Hippus;" and, turning away, he wiped his eyes.

"Do not take it to heart, you booby," said his instructor; "if I die
before you, you shall be my heir. And now I am off to taste the wine,
and I will make a point of drinking your health, you sensitive Itzig;"
and, so saying, he crept out of the door.

Veitel once more wiped away a bitter tear that rolled down his cheeks.
His pleasure in his winnings was gone. It was a complex sort of feeling,
this grief of his. True, he mourned the lost notes, but he had lost
something more. The only man in the world for whom he felt any degree of
attachment had behaved unkindly and selfishly toward him. It was all
over henceforth between him and Hippus. He could not, indeed, do without
him, but he hated him from this hour. The old man had made him more
solitary and unscrupulous than before. Such is the curse of bad men;
they are rendered wretched not only by their crimes, but even their best
feelings turn to gall.

However, this melancholy mood did not long continue. He took out his
remaining treasure, counted it over, felt cheered thereby, and turned
his thoughts to the future. His social position had been changed at a
stroke. As the possessor of eight thousand dollars--alas! there were but
seven thousand six hundred--he was a small Croesus among men of his
class: many carried on transactions involving hundreds of thousands
without as much capital as he had; in short, the world was his oyster,
and he had but to bethink himself with what lever he should open it--how
invest his capital--how double it--how increase it tenfold. There were
many ways before him: he might continue to lend money on high interest,
he might speculate, or carry on some regular business; but each of these
involved his beloved capital in some degree of risk; he might win,
indeed, but then he might lose all, and the very thought so terrified
him that he relinquished one scheme after another.

There was, indeed, one way in which a keen-witted man might possibly
make much without great danger of loss.

Veitel had been accustomed, as a dealer in old clothes, to visit the
different seats of landed proprietors; at the wool market he was in the
habit of offering his services to gentlemen with mustaches and orders of
merit; in his master's office he was constantly occupied with the means
and affairs of the nobility. How intimately he knew old Ehrenthal's
secret desire to become the possessor of a certain estate! And how came
it that in the midst of his annoyance with Hippus, the thought of his
schoolfellow Anton suddenly flashed across him, and of the day when he
had walked with him last? That very morning he had walked about the
baron's estate, and lounged by the cow-house, counting the double row of
horns within, till the dairy-maid ordered him away. Now the thought
passed like lightning through his brain that he might as well become the
owner of that estate as Ehrenthal, and drive with a pair of horses into
the town. From that moment he had a fixed plan, and began to carry it
out.

And he speculated cunningly too. He determined to acquire a claim upon
the baron's property by a mortgage; thus he would safely invest his
capital, and work on quietly till the day came when he could get hold of
the property itself. At all events, if he did not succeed in that, his
money would be safe. Meanwhile, he would become an agent and
commissioner, buy and sell, and do many clever things besides. Also, he
must remain Ehrenthal's factotum as long as it suited him. Rosalie was
handsome and rich, for Bernhard would not live to inherit his father's
wealth. Perhaps he might desire to become Ehrenthal's son-in-law,
perhaps not; at all events, there was no hurry about that. There was one
other whom he must get on a secure footing--the little black man now
drinking that expensive wine down stairs. Henceforth he would pay him
for whatever he did for him, but he would not confide in him.

These were the resolves of Veitel Itzig; and, having concocted his
plans, he locked his door, threw himself down exhausted on his hard bed,
the imaginary possessor of Baron Rothsattel's fair property.

That evening the baroness and her daughter sat together in the
conservatory, and both were silent; the baroness intently watching a
bright moth, which was bent upon flying into the lamp, and came knocking
its thick little body over and over against the glass which saved its
life.

Lenore bent over her book, but often cast an inquiring glance at her
mother's thoughtful face.

There came a quick step along the gravel, and the old bailiff, cap in
hand, asked for the master.

"What do you want?" said Lenore; "has any thing happened?"

"It's all over with the old black horse," said the bailiff, in great
concern; "he has been biting and kicking like mad, and now he is gasping
his last."

Lenore sprang up with an exclamation for which her mother chid her.

"I will come and see to him myself," said she, and hurried off with the
old man.

The sick horse lay on his straw, with the sweat running down, and his
sides heaving violently. The stable-boys stood around, looking at him
phlegmatically. When Lenore entered, the horse turned his head toward
her as if asking help.

"He knows me yet," cried she. Then turning to the head groom, "Ride off
instantly for a veterinary surgeon."

The man did not like the thought of a long ride at night, and replied,
"The doctor is never at home, and the horse will be dead before he can
come."

"Go at once!" commanded Lenore, pointing to the door.

"What is the matter with the groom?" asked Lenore, as they left the
stable.

"He is grown good for nothing, and ought to be sent off, as I have often
told my master; but the lout is as obedient to him as possible--he knows
the length of his foot--while to every one else he is cross-grained, and
gives me daily trouble."

"I will speak to my father," replied Lenore, with a slight frown.

The old servant continued: "Ah! dear young lady, if you would but look
after things a little, it would be a good thing for the property. I am
not satisfied with the dairy either: the new housekeeper does not know
how to manage the maids; she is too smart by half--ribbons before and
behind. Things used to go on better; the baron used to come and look at
the butter-casks, now he is busy with other things; and when the master
grows careless, servants soon snap their fingers at the bailiff. You can
be sharp enough with people; it's a thousand pities you are not a
gentleman."

"You are right; it is a thousand pities," said Lenore, approvingly; "but
there's no help for it. However, I will see to the butter from this very
day. How is corn now? You have been buying some lately?"

"Yes," said the old man, dejectedly, "my master would have it so. I
don't know what's come to him: he sold the whole granary full to that
Ehrenthal in winter."

Lenore listened sympathizingly, with her hands behind her.

"Do not fret about it, my old friend," said she; "whenever papa is not
at home, I will go about the fields with you, and you shall smoke your
pipe all the same. How do you like the new one I brought you?"

"It has a beautiful color already," said the bailiff, chuckling, and
drawing it out of his pocket. "But to return to the black horse; the
baron will be very angry when he hears of it, and we could not help it
either."

"Well, then," said Lenore, "if it could not be helped, it must be
endured. Good-night. Go back now to the horse."

"I will, dear young lady; and good-night to you too," said the bailiff.

The baroness had remained in the conservatory, thinking of her husband,
who formerly would have been by her side on an evening like this. Yes,
there was a change in him: kind and affectionate toward her as ever, he
was often absent and preoccupied, and more easily irritated by trifles;
his cheerfulness was of a more boisterous character, and his love for
men's society increasing; and she mournfully asked herself whether it
were the fading of her youth that accounted for this.

"Is not my father yet returned?" asked Lenore, as she entered.

"No, my child, he has much to do in town; perhaps he will not be back
till to-morrow morning."

"I do not like papa being so much away," said Lenore; "it is long since
he has read aloud to us in the evening, as he used to do."

"He means you to be my reader," said her mother, with a smile; "so take
your book, and sit down quietly by me, you impetuous child."

Lenore pouted, and instead of taking up the book, threw her arms round
her mother, and said, "Darling, you too are sad and anxious about my
father. Things are no longer as they used to be. I am no child now; tell
me what he is doing."

"Nonsense," calmly replied the baroness. "I am keeping nothing back from
you. If there really be any reason for your father's frequent absence,
it is our duty to wait till he chooses to communicate it; and this is
not difficult to those who love and trust him as we do."

"And yet your eyes are tearful, and you do seek to hide your anxiety
from me. If you will not, I will ask my father myself."

"No, you shall not," said the baroness, in a tone of decision.

"My father!" cried Lenore; "I hear his step."

The stately form came rapidly toward them. "Good-evening, my home
treasures!" he called out. Then clasping wife and daughter at once in
his arms, he looked so cheerfully at them that the baroness forgot her
anxiety and Lenore her question. The baron sat down between them, and
asked whether they saw any thing unusual about him.

"You are cheerful," said his wife, fondly, "as you always are."

"You have been paying visits," said Lenore; "I know that by your white
cravat."

"Right," replied the baron; "but there's something more: the king has
been graciously pleased to give me the Order my father and grandfather
have both worn, and I am much pleased that the cross should thus become,
as it were, hereditary in our family. And with the Order came a most
gracious letter from the prince."

"How charming!" cried his wife, throwing her arms around him; "I have
longed for this star for some years past. We will put on the
decoration;" and, having done so, she loyally kissed, first her husband,
and then the cross.

"We know indeed," said the baron, "how such things are rated in our
days, and yet I confess that the rank implied by such a decoration is
intensely precious to me. Our family is one of the oldest in the
kingdom, and there has never been a _mésalliance_ among us. However, at
the present time, money is beginning to replace our former privileges,
and even we nobles must take thought for it if we wish to preserve our
families in the same position as ourselves. I must provide for you,
Lenore, and your brother."

"As for me," said Lenore, crossing her arms, "I can do nothing for the
honor of the family. If I marry, which I have, however, no inclination
to do, I must take some other name; and little will my old ancestors, in
armor yonder in the hall, care whom I choose for master. I can not
remain a Rothsattel."

The father drew her toward him laughingly. "If I could only find out how
my child has got these heretical notions!" said he.

"She has always had them," said her mother.

"They will pass," answered the baron, kissing his daughter's brow. "And
now read the prince's letter, while I go and look after the black
horse."

"I will go with you," said Lenore.

The order, a memorial of the chivalrous past, was a source of still more
satisfaction to the baron than he cared to avow. The congratulations of
his numerous acquaintance pleased him, and he felt it a prop to his
self-respect, which it often needed. A week later, Ehrenthal came on his
way to the neighboring village to offer his congratulations too, and
just as he was making his final bow he said, "You had once a notion,
baron, of setting up a beet-root-sugar factory. I find that a company is
about to be formed to build one in your neighborhood. I have been asked
to take shares, but first of all I thought I would ascertain your
views."

This intelligence was very unwelcome; for though, after much
deliberation and consultation, he had resolved, for the present, to
postpone the project, the baron did not like it to be hopelessly
interfered with by a rival factory.

In a tone of vexation, he exclaimed, "Just now, when I have, for a time,
that capital to dispose of!"

"Baron," said Ehrenthal, heartily, "you are a rich man, and much
respected. Give out that you mean to set up a factory yourself and the
company will be dispersed in a few days."

"You know I can not do so at present," said the baron, reluctantly.

"You can, gracious sir, if you choose. I am not the man to urge you to
it. What do you want with money-making? But if you say to me,
'Ehrenthal, I will set up a factory,' why, I have capital for you as
much as you like. I myself have a sum of ten thousand dollars ready; you
may have it any day. And now I will make a proposal. I will get you the
money you want, at a moderate rate of interest; and for the money I
myself advance, you shall give me a share of the business until you are
able to repay the sum. Should you require further money, you must take a
mortgage on your property until you can replace the whole."

The proposal appeared disinterested and friendly, but the baron felt a
certain misgiving, and declined it.

Accordingly, Ehrenthal had to retire, saying, "You can think the matter
over; I shall, at all events, put off the forming of the company for a
month."

From that day forth the baron was deluged with letters, notes, and
messages. First Ehrenthal wrote to say he had got the month's delay;
then Herr Karfunkelstein, one of the projected company, wrote to say he
resigned his pretensions; then Ehrenthal wrote again, inclosing the
yearly accounts of a similar factory, that the profits might be judged
of. Then a Herr Wolfsdorf wrote to offer capital at a low rate of
interest. Then, lastly, an unknown person of the name of Itzigveit wrote
to beg that at least the baron would not enter into partnership with
Ehrenthal, as was rumored in the town, for, though a rich, he was a very
selfish man, and that the writer could advance capital on much better
terms; whereupon Ehrenthal wrote again that some of his enemies were, he
knew, intriguing against him, and wishing to make money themselves in
the baron's promising undertaking, but that the baron must please
himself; that, for his part, he was an honorable man, and did not wish
to push himself forward.

The consequence of all these communications was, that the baron grew
familiar with the thought of building his factory with borrowed money.
However, there was one thing that offended his pride, and that was the
thought of Ehrenthal as a shareholder; so far the letter of the unknown
Itzigveit had taken effect.

During the next month he was the prey of a miserable irresolution, and
his wife, in silent sorrow, observed his excitement. He often went to
town, and often inspected similar factories. True, the evidence thus
collected was not encouraging, but this he attributed to dread of his
competition, or to unfavorable details of site or management.

The month was over, and a letter came from Ehrenthal to beg for a
decision, as some members of the company were impatient of further
delay.

It was on the evening of a hot day that the baron wandered restlessly
over his grounds. Heavy black, clouds gathered over an arch of yellow
sky. The grasshoppers chirped far louder than their wont. The little
birds twittered as if in apprehension of some coming evil. The swallows
flew low, and darted by close to the baron, as if they did not see him.
The wild flowers along the road hung down covered with dust. The
shepherd who passed him looked gray and spectral in the lurid light.

The baron strolled on to the other side of the lake whence Anton had
taken his last look of the lordly home. The castle now stood before him
in a crimson glow; every window-pane seemed on fire, and the red roses
lay like drops of blood upon the dark green climbers beneath. And nearer
and nearer rolled on the black clouds, as if to shroud the bright pile
from sight. Not a leaf stirred, not a ripple curled the water. The baron
looked down into the water for some living thing, a spider, a
dragon-fly, and started back from the pale face that met him, and which
at first he did not recognize as his own. There was a sultry, boding,
listless gloom over his heart, as over all nature.

Suddenly a strange shivering sound in the tree-tops--a signal to the
storm. Again a pause, and then down rushed the mighty wind, bending the
trees, curling the lake, driving the dust in wild whirls along. The
bright light faded from the castle, and all the landscape toned down
into bluish gray. Then forked lightning, and a long and solemn peal.

The baron drew himself up to his full height, and turned to meet the
storm. Leaves and branches flew round him, big drops fell on his head,
but he kept looking up at the clouds, and at the lightning that flashed
from them, as though expecting a decision from on high.

Then came the galloping of a horse's feet, and a gay voice cried out,
"Father!" A young cavalry officer had drawn up beside him.

"My son! my beloved son!" cried the baron, with a quivering voice; "you
are come at the right time;" and he clasped the youth to his heart, and
then held his hands and looked long into his face. All indecision, all
mournful forebodings were over; he felt again as the head of his house
should feel. Before him stood, blooming in youth and health, the future
of his family. He took it as an omen, as the voice of fate to him in the
hour of decision. "And now," said he, "come home; there is no further
need for our remaining in the rain."

While the baroness drew her son down by her on the sofa, and never
wearied of looking at and admiring him, the baron sat at the window and
watched the torrents of rain. Brighter grew the flashes, and shorter the
interval between them and the thunder's roll.

"Shut the window," said she; "the storm comes this way."

"It will do our house no harm," replied her husband, encouragingly. "The
conductor stands firm on the roof, and shines through the clouds. And
now look there where the clouds are blackest, behind those bright green
ash-trees."

"I see the spot," returned she.

"Make up your mind," continued he, smiling, "always to have your beloved
blue sky covered with gray smoke in that direction. Above those trees
will rise the factory chimney."

"You mean to build?" inquired the baroness, anxiously.

"I do," was the reply. "The undertaking will involve much that will be
disagreeable to you and me, and will require all my energies. If I
venture upon it, it is not for our own sake, but our children's. I wish
to secure this property to our family, and so to increase its return
that the owner may be able amply to provide for the rest of his
children, and yet leave the estate to the eldest son. After much painful
deliberation, I have this day taken my resolve."



CHAPTER XVII.


The baron carried on his undertaking with the greatest possible spirit.
He superintended the burning of the bricks; he himself marked the trees
destined to be cut down for the building. Ehrenthal had recommended a
builder, and the baron had found out a manager for the concern. He had
made careful inquiries as to this man's past career, and congratulated
himself upon the amount of his theoretical knowledge. Possibly this was
not wholly an advantage, for plain practical men declared that he could
never let a factory go quietly on, but was always interrupting the daily
work with new inventions and contrivances, and was therefore both
expensive and unsafe. But the baron, naturally enough, considered his
probity and intelligence to be the main point, and valued the
theoretical skill of the manager in proportion to his own ignorance.

Pleasant as his prospects were, there were yet many drawbacks. Order and
comfort had flown away with the storks, who had for years been
accustomed to make their nests on the great barn. Every body suffered
from the new undertaking. The baroness lost a corner of the park, and
had the grief of seeing a dozen noble old trees felled. The gardener
wrung his hands over the thefts committed by the strange laborers that
swarmed in all directions. The bailiff was in perfect despair at the
disorders in his jurisdiction. His horses and oxen were taken from him
to carry timber when he wanted them to plow. The wants of the household
increased; the returns from the property became less and less. Lenore
had much to do to comfort him, and brought him many pounds of tobacco
from the town, that he might smoke off his annoyance. But the heaviest
burden of course pressed upon the baron himself. His study was now
become a place of public resort, like any tradesman's shop. He had to
give advice, to come to a decision, to overcome difficulties in a dozen
directions at once. He went almost daily to town, and when he returned
he was absent and morose in the midst of his family. His was a fair hope
indeed, but it was one very difficult to realize.

The baron found some comfort, however, in Ehrenthal's cheerful
devotedness. He was always useful, and fertile in expedient, and never
appeared doubtful as to the result of the undertaking. He was now a
frequent visitor, welcome to the master of the house, but less so to the
ladies, who suspected him of having been the prompter of the factory
scheme.

One sunny day, Ehrenthal, with shirt-frill and diamond pin, made his
appearance in his son's room. "Will you drive with me to-day to the
Rothsattel's Castle, my Bernhard? I told the baron that I should bring
you with me to introduce you to the family."

Bernhard sprang up from his seat. "But, father, I am an utter stranger
to them all."

"When you have seen and spoken to them, you will no longer be a
stranger," replied his father. "They are good people--good people,"
added he, benevolently.

Bernhard had still some modest scruples, but they were overruled, and
the two set out together--the pale student in much excitement at the
novelty of the drive, and the prospect of seeing a renowned beauty like
Lenore.

Meanwhile, his father overflowed with the praises of the family. "Noble
people," said he; "if you could only see the baroness as she is in her
lace cap, so delicate and so refined! Too refined for this world as it
is! Every thing so elegant! To be sure, the pieces of sugar are too
large, and the wine is too dear, but it all seems of a piece with their
rank."

"Is Fräulein Lenore a great beauty?" inquired Bernhard. "Is she very
proud?"

"She is proud, but she is a beauty indeed. Between ourselves, I admire
her more than Rosalie."

"Is she a blonde?"

Ehrenthal took some time to consider. "Blonde? what should she be but a
blonde or a brunette? One thing I know, she has blue eyes. You can look
over the farm, and do not forget to walk round the park. See whether you
can find a spot where you would like to sit with your book."

The guileless Bernhard heard in silence.

The carriage stopped at the castle door. The servants announced that the
baron was in his room--the baroness not visible, but that the young lady
was walking in the garden. Ehrenthal and his son went round the house,
and saw Lenore's tall figure slowly crossing the grass-plot. Ehrenthal
threw himself into a deferential attitude, and presented his son, who
bowed low. Lenore bestowed a cool sort of salutation upon the student,
and said, "If you want my father, he is up stairs in his room."

"I will go to him, then. Bernhard, you may, I am sure, remain with the
young lady."

Arrived in the baron's room, the trader placed some thousand dollars on
the table, saying, "Here is the first sum. And now, what does the baron
wish as to the security?"

"According to our agreement, I must give you a mortgage on the
property," was the reply.

"Do you know what, baron? It would never do for you to grant a fresh
mortgage for every thousand dollars that I might happen to pay in; it
would be very expensive, and would bring the property into disrepute.
Rather have a deed of mortgage drawn up for some considerable sum, say
twenty thousand dollars, and let it stand in the name of the baroness;
you will then have a security that you may sell any day. And every time
I pay you, give me a simple note of hand, pledging your word of honor
that I have a claim to that amount on the mortgage. That is a simple
plan, and remains a secret between you and me. And when you need no
further advances, we can settle the matter finally before an attorney.
You can make over the mortgage to me, and I return you the notes of
hand, and repay you whatever may be wanted to make up the twenty
thousand. I only ask your word of honor on a slip of paper no longer
than my finger, and when the deed is ready, I should wish to have it
executed in my house. You can not object to that. Any lawyer would tell
you that I am not dealing in a business-like way. A man's word is often
broken, but if there is one thing sure and steadfast in the world, I
believe it is your word of honor, baron."

Ehrenthal said this with an expression of sincerity, which was not
altogether assumed. This plan of his was the result of many a
consultation with Itzig. He knew that the baron would require far more
than twenty thousand dollars, and it was to his advantage that he should
procure them easily; besides which, he, the thorough rogue, had firm
trust in the nobleman's integrity.

Meanwhile, Lenore had asked Bernhard whether he would like to walk in
the park. He followed her in silence, looking timidly at the fair young
aristocrat, who carried her head high, and troubled herself but little
about her companion. When she reached the grass-plot station that had
once so enchanted Anton, she stood still, and pointed to the
gravel-walk, saying, "That way leads to the lake, and this to the garden
again."

Bernhard looked up in amazement at the castle and its turrets, its
balcony and creeping plants, and exclaimed, "I have seen all this
before, and yet I have never been here."

"And certainly," said Lenore, "the castle has never been to the town;
there may be others like it."

"No," replied Bernhard, trying to collect his ideas, "no; I have seen a
drawing of it in a friend's room. He must know you," cried he, with
delight; "and yet he never told me so."

"What is your friend's name?"

"Anton Wohlfart."

The lady turned round at once with sudden animation. "Wohlfart? a clerk
in T. O. Schröter's house? Is it he? And this gentleman is your friend?
How did you become acquainted with him?" And she stood before Bernhard
with her hands behind her back, like a severe schoolmistress
cross-examining a little thief about a stolen apple.

Bernhard told her how he had learned to know and love Anton; and in
doing so, he lost some of his embarrassment, while the young lady lost
some of her haughty indifference.

She asked him many questions about his friend, and Bernhard grew
eloquent as he replied.

Then she led him through the park, as once she had led Anton. Bernhard
was a son of the city. It was not the lofty, wide-spreading trees, nor
the gay flower-beds, nor the turreted castle which made an impression on
him; his eyes were riveted on Lenore alone. It was a bright September
evening; the sunlight fell through the branches, and whenever Lenore's
hair caught its rays, it shone like gold. The proud eye, the delicate
mouth, the slender limbs of the noble girl took his fancy prisoner. She
laughed, and showed her little white teeth--he was enraptured; she
broke off a twig, and struck the shrubs with it as she passed--it seemed
to him that they bent before her in homage to the ground.

They came to the bridge between the park and the fields, where a few
little girls ran to Lenore and kissed her hands; she received the
tribute of respect as a queen might have done. Two other children had
made a long chain of dandelion stalks, and with it barred Bernhard's
way.

"Away with you, rude little things," cried Lenore; "how can you think of
barring our way? The gentleman comes from the castle."

And Bernhard felt with pride that, for the moment, he belonged to her.
He put his hand in his purse, and soon got rid of the children. "It is
long," said he, "since I have seen a dandelion chain. I have an
indistinct recollection of sitting as a little boy in a green nook, and
trying to make one;" and, gathering a few dandelion stalks, he began the
childish task.

"If you are so expert in such childish play," said Lenore, "here is
something for you," and she pointed to a great burdock near the
road-side. "Have you ever seen a cap of burs?"

"No," answered Bernhard, with some slight misgiving.

"You shall have one immediately," said Lenore. She went to the burdock;
Bernhard gathered her some handfuls of burs. She fitted one into the
other, and made a cap with two little horns. "You may put it on," said
she, graciously.

"I dare not; the very birds would be frightened. If you too would--"

"You can not expect me to wear burs," replied she; "but you shall have
your wish." She led him back to a group of sunflowers in the shrubbery,
and, gathering a few of them, she made a kind of helmet, which she
laughingly put on. "Now for your cap," commanded she. Bernhard obeyed,
and his thoughtful, deeply-marked features, black coat, and white cravat
looked so strange and incongruous beneath the cap of burs, that Lenore
could not help laughing. "Come with me," said she; "you shall look at
yourself in the lake." And she led him past the site of the factory--a
rough place, with heaps of earth, tiles, beams, in utmost confusion. It
was a holiday; all the laborers had left, but some village children were
playing about and collecting chips. A few steps farther on they came to
a little bay, covered with water-lilies and surrounded by brushwood.
"How desolate it looks!" said Lenore; "the bushes half pulled
away--even the trees injured: all the result of this building. We seldom
come here on account of the strange workmen. The village children, too,
are become so bold, they make this their play-ground, and there is no
keeping them away."

That moment a boat came in sight. A little village girl, a red-faced
chubby thing, stood up tottering in it, while her older brother tried to
get as far from shore as with one oar he could. "Look!" cried Lenore,
angrily, "the little wretches have actually taken our boat. Come back
instantly to the shore." The children were startled, the boy dropped the
oar, the little girl tottered more than before, and, in the terror of a
guilty conscience, lost her balance and fell into the water. Her brother
drifted helplessly into the bay. "Save the child!" screamed Lenore.
Bernhard ran into the lake forgetting that he could not swim, waded in a
few steps, and then stood up to the breast in mud and water. He
stretched out his arms to the spot where the child had sunk, but could
not reach it. Meanwhile Lenore had sprung, quick as lightning, behind a
bush. After a few seconds she returned and ran to a projecting bank.

Bernhard looked with rapture and terror at her tall figure. She still
wore her fantastic coronal, her light garments floated round her, her
eyes were fixed upon the spot where the child would reappear. Raising
her arms above her head, she leaped in and swam toward it, seized its
frock, struck out with her free arm, and soon reached the boat. Exerting
all her strength, she lifted the child in, and then drew the boat to
land. Bernhard, who, pale as death, had stood watching her efforts,
fought his way back to the land, gave her his hand, and drew in the
boat. Lenore carried the unconscious child. Bernhard lifted out the boy,
and both hurried to the gardener's house, while the little lad ran
screaming behind them. Lenore's soaked garments clung closely to her
beautiful form, and every movement of her fair limbs was seen almost
unveiled by her companion. She did not heed it. Bernhard went with her
into the room, but she hastily sent him out again; while, with the help
of the gardener's wife, she undressed, and sought by friction and other
means to restore the child to life. Meanwhile Bernhard stood without,
his teeth chattering with cold, but in a state of excitement which made
his eyes glow like fire. "Is the child alive?" he called through the
door.

"She is," answered Lenore from within.

"Thank God!" cried Bernhard; but his thoughts rose no higher than the
fair being within. Long he stood there shuddering and dreaming, till at
length a tall figure in woolen garments came out of the door. It was
Lenore in the clothes of the gardener's wife, still agitated by all she
had gone through, but with a happy smile on her lips. Bernhard, beside
himself, kissed her hand more than once.

"You look very well," said Lenore, cheerfully; "but you will catch
cold."

He stood before her, wet and dripping, covered with weeds and mud. "I do
not feel cold," cried he, but his limbs shook.

"Go in at once," urged Lenore; and, opening the door, she called to the
good woman, "Give this gentleman your husband's clothes."

Bernhard obeyed, and when he came out metamorphosed into a rustic, he
found Lenore rapidly walking up and down.

"Come to the castle," said she, with all her former dignity.

"I should like once more to see the child," replied he.

They went to the bed on which the little girl lay. She looked up
dreamingly at Bernhard, who bent over her and kissed her forehead. "She
is the child of a laborer in the village," said the gardener's wife.
Unobserved by Lenore, Bernhard laid his purse on the bed.

On their return they found Ehrenthal impatient to depart. His amazement
at recognizing his Bernhard in the rustic before him was boundless.

"Give the gentleman a cloak," said Lenore to the servants; "he is
benumbed with cold. Wrap yourself up well, or you may long have cause to
remember your march among the water-lilies."

And Bernhard did remember it. He wrapped the cloak about him, and
squeezed himself up into a corner of the carriage. A burning heat had
succeeded to the chill, and his blood rushed wildly through his veins.
He had seen the fairest woman on the earth; he had experienced realities
more transporting, more absorbing, than any of his favorite poet's
dreams. He could hardly answer his father's questions. There they sat
side by side, cold cunning and burning passion personified. This
excursion had been propitious to both; the father had got the
long-desired hold on the Rothsattel property, the son had had an
adventure which gave a new coloring to his whole existence.

On the baron's estate the factory slowly rose; in Ehrenthal's coffers
the baron's casket was filled by notes of hand and the new deed of
mortgage; and while Bernhard's tender frame drooped under the effects of
the cold bath above described, he gave his spirit up to the intoxication
of the sweetest fancies.



CHAPTER XVIII.


One afternoon the postman brought to Fink a letter with a black seal.
Having opened it, he went silently to his own room. As he did not
return, Anton anxiously followed, and found Fink sitting on the sofa,
his head resting on his hand.

"You have had bad news?" inquired Anton.

"My uncle is dead," was the reply; "he, the richest man, perhaps, in
Wall Street, New York, has been blown up in a Mississippi steamer. He
was an unapproachable sort of man, but in his way very kind to me, and I
repaid him by folly and ingratitude. This thought imbitters his death to
me. And, besides that, the fact decides my future career."

"You will leave us!" cried Anton, in dismay.

"I must set off to-morrow. My father is heir to all my uncle's property,
with the exception of some land in the Far West, to which I am left
executor. My uncle was a great speculator, and there is much troublesome
business to be settled. Therefore my father wishes me to go to New York
as soon as possible, and I plainly see that I am wanted there. He has
all at once conceived a high idea of my judgment and capacity for
business. Read his letter." Anton scrupled to take it. "Read it, my
boy," said Fink, with a sad smile; "in my family circle, father and son
write each other no secrets." Anton read. "The excellent accounts which
Mr. Schröter sends me of your practical sense and shrewdness in business
lead me to request you to go over yourself, in which case I shall send
Mr. Westlock, of our house, to assist you."

Anton laid the letter down, and Fink asked, "What say you to this praise
of the principal's? You know that I had some reason to believe myself
far from a favorite."

"Be that as it may, I consider the praise just, and his estimate
correct," replied Anton.

"At all events," said Fink, "it decides my fate. I shall now be what I
have long wished, a landed proprietor on the other side of the
Atlantic. And so, dear Anton, we must part," he continued, holding out
his hand to his friend; "I had not thought the time would so soon come.
But we shall meet again."

"Possibly," said Anton, sadly, holding the young nobleman's hand fondly
in his. "But now go to Mr. Schröter; he has the first claim to hear
this."

"He knows it already; he has had a letter from my father."

"The more reason why he should expect you."

"You are right; let us go."

Anton returned to his desk, and Fink went to the principal's little
office. The merchant came to meet him with a serious aspect; and, after
having expressed his sympathy, invited him to sit down, and quietly to
discuss his future prospects.

Fink replied with the utmost courtesy: "My father's views for me--based
on your estimate--agree so well with my own wishes, that I must express
my gratitude to you. Your opinion of me has been more favorable than I
could have ventured to expect. If, however, you have really been
satisfied with me, I should rejoice to hear it from your own lips."

"I have not been entirely satisfied, Herr von Fink," replied the
merchant, with some reserve; "you were not in your proper place here.
But that has not prevented my discerning that for other and more active
pursuits you were eminently well fitted. You have, in a high degree, the
faculty of governing and arranging, and you possess uncommon energy of
will. A desk in a counting-house is not the place for such a nature."

Fink bowed. "Nevertheless, it was my duty," said he, "to fill that place
properly, and I own that I have not done so."

"You came here unaccustomed to regular work, but during the last few
months you have differed but little from a really industrious
counting-house clerk. Hence my letter to your father."

Fink rose, and the merchant accompanied him to the door, saying, "Your
departure will be a great loss to one of our friends."

Fink abruptly stopped, and said, "Let him go with me to America. He is
well fitted to make his fortune there."

"Have you spoken to him on the subject?"

"I have not."

"Then I may state my opinion unreservedly. Wohlfart is young, and I
believe the defined and regular work of a house like this very
desirable discipline for him for some years to come. Meanwhile, I have
no right to sway his decision. I shall be sorry to lose him, but if he
thinks he will make his fortune more rapidly with you, I have no
objection to make."

"If you will allow me, I will ask him at once," said Fink.

Then calling Anton into the office, he went on to say, "Anton, I have
requested Mr. Schröter to allow you to accompany me. It will be a great
point to me to have you with me. You know how much attached to you I am;
we will share my new career, and get on gloriously, and you shall fix
your own conditions. Mr. Schröter leaves you to decide."

Anton stood for a moment thoughtful and perplexed; the future so
suddenly opened out to him looked fair and promising, but he soon
collected himself, and, turning to the principal, inquired, "Is it your
opinion that I should do right to go?"

"I can not say it is, dear Wohlfart," was the merchant's grave reply.

"Then I remain," said Anton, decidedly. "Do not be angry with me, Fritz,
for not following you. I am an orphan, and have now no home but this
house and this firm. If Mr. Schröter will keep me, I will remain with
him."

Evidently touched by the words, the merchant replied: "Remember,
however, that thus deciding you give up much. In my counting-house you
can neither become a rich man, nor have any experience of life on a
large and exciting scale; our business is limited, and the day may come
when you will find this irksome. All that tends to your future
independence, wealth, connections, and so forth, you will more readily
secure in America than with me."

"My good father often used to say to me, 'Dwell in the land; and verily
thou shalt be fed.' I will live according to his wish," said Anton, in a
voice low with emotion.

"He is, and always will be, a mere cit," cried Fink, in a sort of
despair.

"I believe that this love of country is a very sound foundation for a
man's fortune to rise upon," said the merchant, and there was an end of
the matter.

Fink said nothing more about the proposal, and Anton tried, by countless
small attentions, to show his friend how dear he was to him, and how
much he regretted his departure.

That evening Fink said to Anton, "Hearken, my lad; I have a fancy to
take a wife across with me."

Anton looked at his friend in utter amazement, and, like one who has
received a great shock and wishes to conceal it often does, he inquired,
in forced merriment, "What! you will actually ask Fräulein von
Baldereck--"

"That's not the quarter. What should I do with a woman whose only
thought would be how she could best amuse herself with her husband's
money?"

"But who else can you be thinking of? Not of the ancient cousin of the
house?"

"No, my fine fellow, but of the young lady of the house."

"For Heaven's sake, no!" cried Anton, springing up; "that would, indeed,
be a pretty business."

"Why so?" was the cool reply. "Either she takes me, and I am a lucky
man, or she takes me not, and I start without a wife."

"But have you ever thought of it before?" inquired Anton, uneasily.

"Sometimes--indeed often during the last year. She is the best
housewife, and the noblest, most unselfish creature in the world."

Anton looked at his friend in growing astonishment. Not once had Fink
given him the remotest hint of such a thing.

"But you never told me of it."

"Have you ever told me of your feelings for another young lady?" replied
Fink, laughing.

Anton blushed and was silent.

"I think," continued Fink, "that she does not dislike me; but whether
she will go with me or not I can not tell; however, we shall soon know,
for I am going at once to ask her."

Anton barred the way. "Once more I implore you to reflect upon what you
are going to do."

"What is there to reflect upon, you simple child?" laughed Fink; but an
unusual degree of excitement was visible in his manner.

"Do you then love Sabine?" asked Anton.

"Another of your home questions," replied Fink. "Yes, I do love her in
my own way."

"And do you mean to take her into the back woods?"

"Yes; for she will be a high-hearted, strong-minded wife, and will give
stability and worth to my life there. She is not fascinating--at least
one can't get on with her as readily as with many others; but if I am to
take a wife, I need one who can look after me. Believe me, the
black-haired one is the very one to do that; and now let me go; I must
find out how I stand."

"Speak at least to the principal in the first instance," cried Anton
after him.

"First to herself," cried Fink, rushing down the stairs.

Anton paced up and down the room. All that Fink had said in praise of
Sabine was true; that he warmly felt. He knew, too, how deep her feeling
for him was, and yet he foresaw that his friend would meet with some
secret obstacle or other. Then another thing displeased him. Fink had
only spoken of himself; had he thought of her happiness in the
matter--had he even felt what it would cost her to leave her beloved
brother, her country, and her home? True, Fink was the very man to
scatter the blossoms of the New World profusely at her feet, but he was
always restless; actively employed, would he have any sympathy for the
feelings of his German wife? And involuntarily our hero found himself
taking part against his friend, and deciding that Sabine ought not to
leave the home and brother to whom she was so essential; and, absorbed
in these thoughts, Anton paced up and down, anxious and heavy-hearted.
It grew dark, and still Fink did not return.

Meanwhile he was announced to Sabine. She came hurriedly to meet him,
and her cheeks were redder than usual as she said, "My brother has told
me that you must leave us."

Fink began in some agitation, "I must not, I can not leave without
having spoken openly to you. I came here without any interest in the
quiet life to which I had been so unaccustomed. I have here learned the
worth and the happiness of a German home. You I have ever honored as the
good spirit of the house. Soon after my arrival, you began to treat me
with a distance of manner which I have always lamented. I now come to
tell you how much my eyes and heart have clung to you. I feel that my
life would be a happy one if I could henceforth ever hear your voice,
and if your spirit could accompany mine along the paths of my future
life."

Sabine became very pale, and retreated. "Say no more, Herr von Fink,"
said she, imploringly, raising her hand unconsciously, as if to avert
what she foresaw.

"Nay, let me speak," rapidly continued he. "I should consider it the
greatest happiness if I could take with me the conviction of not being
indifferent to you. I have not the audacity to ask you to follow me at
once into an uncertain life, but give me a hope that in a year I may
return and ask you to become my wife."

"Do not return," said Sabine, motionless as a statue, and in a voice
scarcely audible; "I implore you to say no more."

Her hands convulsively grasped the back of the chair next to her, and,
supporting herself by it, she stood with bloodless cheeks, looking at
her suitor through her tears with eyes so full of grief and tenderness
that the wild-hearted man before her was thoroughly overcome, and lost
all self-confidence--nay, forgot his own cause in his distress at her
emotion, and his anxiety to soothe it.

"I grieve that I should thus have shocked you," said he; "forgive me,
Sabine."

"Go! go!" implored Sabine, still standing as before.

"Let me not part from you without some comfort; give me an answer; the
most painful were better than this silence."

"Then hear me," said Sabine, with unnatural calmness, while her breast
heaved and her hands trembled; "I loved you from the first day of your
arrival; like a childish girl, I listened with rapture to the tone of
your voice, and was fascinated by all your lips uttered; but I have
conquered the feeling. I have conquered it," she repeated. "I dare not
be yours, for I should be miserable."

"But why--why?" inquired Fink, in genuine despair.

"Do not ask me," said Sabine, scarce audibly.

"I must hear my sentence from your own lips," cried Fink.

"You have played with your own life and with the life of others; you
would always be unsparing in carrying out your plans; you would
undertake what was great and noble--that I believe--but you would not
shrink from the sacrifice of individuals. I can not bear such a spirit.
You would be kind to me--that, too, I believe; you would make as many
allowances for me as you could, but you would always have to make them:
that would become burdensome to you, and I should be alone--alone in a
foreign land. I am weak, spoiled, bound by a hundred ties to the customs
of this house, to the little domestic duties of every day, and to my
brother's life."

Fink looked down darkly. "You are punishing severely in this hour all
that you have disapproved in me hitherto."

"No," cried Sabine, holding out her hand, "not so, my friend. If there
have been hours in which you have pained me, there have been others in
which I have looked up to you in admiration; and this is the very reason
that keeps us apart forever. I can never be at rest near you; I am
constantly tossed from one extreme of feeling to another; I am not sure
of you, nor ever should be. I should have to conceal this inward
conflict in a relation where my whole nature ought to be open to you,
and you would find that out, and would be angry with me."

She gave him her hand. Fink bent low over the little hand, and pressed a
kiss upon it.

"Blessings on your future!" said Sabine, trembling all over. "If ever
you have spent a happy hour among us, oh! think of it when far away. If
ever in the German merchant's house, in the career of my brother, you
have found any thing to respect, think, oh! think of it in that far
country. In the different life that awaits you, in the great
enterprises, the wild struggles that you will engage in, never think
slightly of us and of our quiet ways;" and she held her left hand over
his head, like an anxious mother blessing her parting darling.

Fink pressed her right hand firmly in his own; both looked long into
each other's eyes, and both faces were pale. At last Fink said, in his
deep, melodious voice, "Fare you well!"

"Fare you well!" replied she, so low that he hardly caught the words. He
walked slowly away, while she looked after him motionless, as one who
watches the vanishing of an apparition.

When the merchant, after the close of his day's work, went into his
sister's room, Sabine flew to meet him, and, clasping him in her arms,
laid her head on his breast.

"What is it, my child?" inquired he, anxiously stroking back her hair
from her damp brow.

"Fink has been with me; I have been speaking with him."

"About what? Has he been disagreeable? Has he made you an offer?" asked
the merchant, in jest.

"He has made me an offer," said Sabine.

Her brother started: "And you, my sister?"

"I have done what you might expect me to do--I shall not see him again."

Tears started at the words; she took her brother's hand and kissed it.

"Do not be angry with me for weeping. I am still a little shaken: it
will soon pass."

"My precious sister--dear, dear Sabine!" cried the merchant; "I can not
but fear that you thought of me when you refused."

"I thought of you and of your self-sacrificing, duty-loving life, and
his bright form lost the fair colors in which I had once seen it
clothed."

"Sabine, you have made a sacrifice for my sake," cried her brother.

"No, Traugott; if this has been a sacrifice, I have made it to the home
where I have grown up under your care, and to the memory of our good
parents, whose blessing rests on our quiet life."

It was late when Fink re-entered Anton's room; he looked heated, threw
his hat on the table, himself on the sofa, and said to his friend,

"Before any thing else, give me a cigar."

Anton shook his head as he reached him a bundle, and asked, "How have
you fared?"

"No wedding to be," coolly returned Fink. "She plainly showed me that I
was a good for nothing sort of fellow, and no match for a sensible girl.
She took the matter rather too seriously, assured me of her regard, gave
me a sketch of my character, and dismissed me. But, hang me!" cried he,
springing up, and throwing away his cigar, "if she be not the best soul
that ever preached virtue in a petticoat. She has only one fault, that
of not choosing to marry me; and even there she is right."

Fink's strange bearing made Anton feel anxious.

"Why have you been so long away, and where have you been?" said he.

"Not to the wine-shop, as your wisdom seems to surmise. If a man be
refused, he has surely a good right to be melancholy for a couple of
hours or so. I have done what any one would in such desperate
circumstances. I have walked about and philosophized. I have quarreled
with the world--that is to say, with the black-haired and myself--and
then ended by standing still before a lamp-lit stall, and buying three
oranges." So saying, he drew them out of his pocket. "And now, my son,
the past is over and gone; let us speak of the future: this is the last
evening that we shall spend together; let no cloud hang over our
spirits. Make me a glass of punch, and squeeze these fat fellows in.
Orange-punch-making is one of the accomplishments you owe to me. I
taught it you, and now the rogue makes it better than I do. Come and sit
down beside me."

The next morning old Sturm himself came to carry off the luggage. Fink
took Anton's hand, and said, "Before I go through my leave-taking of all
the others, I repeat to you what I said in our early days. Go on with
your English, that you may come after me. And be I where I may, in log
hut or cabin, I shall always have a room ready for you. As soon as you
are tired of this Old World, come to me. Meanwhile, I make you my heir;
you will take possession of my rooms. For the rest, be perfectly sure
that I have done with all bad ways. And now--no emotion, my boy!--there
are no great distances nowadays on our little earth." He tore himself
away, hurried into the counting-house, returned, bowed to the ladies at
the window, clasped his friend once more to his heart, leaped into the
carriage, and away--away to the New World.

Meanwhile Anton mournfully returned to the office, and wrote a letter to
Herr Stephan in Wolfsburg, inclosing that worthy man a new price current
and several samples of sugar.



CHAPTER XIX.


A bad year came upon the country. A sudden rumor of war alarmed the
German borderers in the east, and our province among the rest. The
fearful consequences of a national panic were soon perceptible. Trade
stood still; the price of goods fell. Every one was anxious to realize
and withdraw from business, and large sums embarked in mercantile
speculations became endangered. No one had heart for new ventures.
Hundreds of ties, woven out of mutual interest, and having endured for
years, were snapped at once. Each individual existence became more
insecure, isolated, and poor. On all sides were anxious faces and
furrowed brows. The country was out of health; money, the vital blood of
business, circulated slowly from one part of the great body to the
other--the rich fearing to lose, the poor becoming unable to win. The
future was overcast all at once, like the summer sky by a heavy storm.

That word of terror, "Revolution in Poland!" was not without serious
effects in Germany. The people on the other side of the frontier,
excited by old memories and by their landed proprietors, rose, and, led
by fanatical preachers, marched up and down the frontier, falling upon
travelers and merchandise, plundering and burning small towns and
noblemen's seats, and aiming at a military organization under the
command of their favorite leaders. Arms were forged, old fowling-pieces
produced from many a hiding-place; and, finally, the insurgents took and
occupied a large Polish town not far from the frontier, and proclaimed
their independent national existence. Troops were then assembled in all
haste by government, and sent to invest the frontier. Trains filled with
soldiers were incessantly running up and down the newly-constructed
railway. The streets of the capital were filled with uniforms, and the
drum every where heard. The army, of course, was all at once in the
ascendant. The officers ran here and there, full of business, buying
maps, and drinking toasts in all sorts of wines. The soldiers wrote home
to get money if possible, and to send more or less loving greetings to
their sweethearts. Numberless young clerks grew pale; numberless mothers
knit strong stockings through their tears, and providently made lint for
their poor sons; numberless fathers spoke with an unsteady voice of the
duty of fighting for king and country, and braced themselves up by
remembering the damage they had in their day done to that wicked
Napoleon.

It was on a sunny autumn morning that the first positive intelligence of
the Polish insurrection reached the capital. Dark rumors had indeed
excited the inhabitants on the previous evening, and crowds of anxious
men of business and scared idlers were crowding the railway terminus. No
sooner was the office of T. O. Schröter open, than in rushed Mr. Braun,
the agent, and breathlessly related (not without a certain inward
complacency, such as the possessor of the least agreeable news
invariably betrays) that the whole of Poland and Galicia, as well as
several border provinces, were in open insurrection, numerous quiet
commercial travelers and peaceable officials surprised and murdered, and
numerous towns set fire to.

This intelligence threw Anton into the greatest consternation, and with
good cause. A short time before, an enterprising Galician merchant had
undertaken to dispatch an unusually large order to the firm; and, as is
the custom of the country, he had already received the largest part of
the sum due to him for it (nearly twenty thousand dollars) in other
goods. The wagons that were to bring the merchandise must now, Anton
reckoned, be just in the heart of the disturbed district. Moreover,
another caravan, laden with colonial produce, and on its way to Galicia,
must be on the very confines of the enemy's land. And, what was still
worse, a large portion of the business of the house, and of the credit
granted it, was carried on in, and depended upon, this very part of the
country. Much--nay, every thing, he apprehended, would be endangered by
this war. So he rushed up to his principal, met him coming down, and
hastily related the news just heard; while Mr. Braun hurried to deliver
a second edition in the office, with as many further particulars as were
compatible with his love of truth.

The principal remained for a moment silent where he stood, and Anton,
who was watching him anxiously, fancied that he looked a shade paler
than usual; but that must have been a mistake, for the next moment,
directing his attention to the porters beyond, he called out, in the
cool, business-like tone which had so often impressed Anton with
respect, "Sturm, be good enough to remove that barrel: it's in the very
middle of the way; and bestir yourselves, all of you; the carrier will
set out in an hour." To which Sturm, with a sorrowful look upon his
broad face, replied, "The drums are beating, and our men marching off.
My Karl is there as a hussar, with gay lace on his little coat. It is
unlucky, indeed. Alas for our wares, Mr. Schröter!"

"Make the more haste on that account," replied the principal, smiling.
"Our wagons are going to the frontier too, laden with sugar and rum; our
soldiers will be glad of a glass of punch in the cold weather." Then
turning to Anton, he said, "These tidings are not satisfactory, but we
must not believe all we hear." And then, going into his office, he spoke
rather more cheerfully than usual to Mr. Braun; and, having quietly
heard his whole story, made a few comforting observations as to the
probability of the wagons not having yet reached the frontier.

And so the great subject of interest was laid aside for the day, and
office-work went on as usual. Mr. Liebold wrote down large sums in his
ledger; Mr. Purzel piled dollar on dollar; and Mr. Pix wielded the black
brush and governed the servants with his wonted decision. At dinner the
conversation was as calm and cheerful as ever; and after it, the
principal went out walking with his sister and a few ladies of his
acquaintance, while all business men who met him exclaimed in amazement,
"He goes out walking to-day! As usual, he has known it all before the
rest of us. He has a good head of his own. The house is a solid house.
All honor to him!"

Anton sat all day at his desk in a state of nervous excitement till then
unknown to him. He was full of anxiety and suspense, and yet there was
something of enjoyment in his feelings. He was keenly alive to the
danger in which his principal and the business were placed, but he was
no longer dejected or spiritless--nay, he felt every faculty enhanced;
never had he written so easily; never had his style been so' clear, or
his calculations so rapidly made. He remarked that Mr. Schröter moved
with a quicker step, and looked round with a brighter glance than usual.
Never had Anton so honored him before; he seemed, as it were,
transfigured in his eyes. In wild delight, our hero said to himself,
"This is poetry--the poetry of business; we can only experience this
thrilling sense of power and energy in working our way against the
stream. When people say that these times are wanting in inspiration, and
our calling wanting most of all, they talk nonsense. That man is at this
very moment staking all he has at a single cast--all that he holds
dearest, the result of a long life, his pride, his honor, his happiness;
and there he sits coolly at his desk, writes letters about logwood, and
examines samples of clover-seed--nay, I believe that he actually laughs
within himself." So mused Anton while locking up his desk and preparing
to join his colleagues. He found them discussing, over a cup of tea, the
news of the day, and its probable effect upon business, with a pleasant
sort of shudder. All agreed that the firm must indeed suffer loss, but
that they were the men to retrieve it sooner than ever was done before.
Various views were then propounded, till at length Mr. Jordan pronounced
that it was impossible to know beforehand what turn things would take,
which profound opinion was generally adopted, and the conference broke
up. Through the thin wall of his room Anton heard his neighbor Baumann
put up a fervent prayer for the principal and the business, and he
himself worked off his excitement by walking up and down till his lamp
burned low.

It was already late when a servant noiselessly entered, and announced
that Mr. Schröter wished to speak to him. Anton followed in all haste,
and found the merchant standing before a newly-packed trunk, with his
portfolio on the table, together with that unmistakable symptom of a
long journey, his great English cigar-case of buffalo hide. It contained
a hundred cigars, and had long excited the admiration of Mr. Specht.
Indeed, the whole counting-house viewed it as a sort of banner never
displayed but on remarkable occasions. Sabine stood at the open drawers
of the writing-table, busily and silently collecting whatever the
traveler might want. The merchant advanced to meet Anton, and kindly
apologized for having summoned him so late, adding that he had not
expected him to be still up.

When Anton replied that he was far too excited to sleep, such a ray of
gratitude for his sympathy shone from Sabine's eyes that our hero was
mightily moved, and did not trust himself to speak.

The principal, however, smiled. "You are still young," he said;
"composure will come by-and-by. It will be necessary that I go and look
after our merchandise to-morrow. I hear that the Poles show special
consideration to our countrymen; possibly they imagine that our
government is not disaffected toward them. This illusion can not last
long; but there will be no harm in our trying to turn it to advantage
for the safety of our goods. You have conducted the correspondence, and
know all that is to be done for me. I shall travel to the frontier, and,
when there, shall decide what steps should next be taken."

Sabine listened in the utmost excitement, and tried to read in her
brother's face whether he was keeping back any thing out of
consideration for her. Anton understood it all. The merchant was going
over the frontier into the very heart of the insurrection.

"Can I not go in your stead?" said he, imploringly. "I feel, indeed,
that I have hitherto given you no grounds for trusting me in so
important an affair, but, at least, I will exert myself to the utmost,
Mr. Schröter." Anton's face glowed as he spoke.

"That is kindly said, and I thank you," replied the principal; "but I
can not accept your offer. The expedition may have its difficulties, and
as the profits will be mine, it is but fair that the trouble should be
so too." Anton hung his head. "On the contrary, I purpose leaving
definite instructions with you, in case of my not being able to return
the day after to-morrow."

Sabine, who had been anxiously listening, now seized her brother's hand,
and whispered, "Take him with you."

This support gave Anton fresh courage. "If you do not choose to send me
alone, at least allow me to accompany you; possibly I may be of some
use; at least I would most gladly be so."

"Take him with you," again implored Sabine.

The merchant slowly looked from his sister to Anton's honest face, which
was glowing with youthful zeal, and replied, "Be it so, then. If I
receive the letters I expect, you will accompany me to-morrow to the
frontier; and now good-night."

The following morning, Anton, who had thrown himself ready dressed on
the bed, was awakened by a slight knock. "The letters are come, sir."
And, hurrying into the office, he found the principal and Mr. Jordan
already there, engaged in earnest conversation, which the former merely
interrupted for a moment by the words "We go." Never had Anton knocked
at so many doors, run so quickly up and down stairs, and so heartily
shaken the hands of his colleagues, as in the course of the next hour.
As he hurried along the dim corridor, he heard a slight rustling. Sabine
stepped toward him and seized hold of his hand. "Wohlfart, protect my
brother." Anton promised, with inexpressible readiness, to do so; felt
for his loaded pistols, a present from Mr. Fink, and jumped into the
railway carriage with the most blissful feelings a youthful hero could
possibly have. He was bent on adventure, proud of the confidence of his
principal, and exalted to the utmost by the tender relation into which
he had entered with the divinity of the firm. He was indeed happy.

The engine puffed and snorted across the wide plain like a horse from
Beelzebub's stables. There were soldiers in all the carriages--bayonets
and helmets shining every where; at all the stations, crowds of curious
inquirers, hasty questions and answers, fearful rumors, and marvelous
facts. Anton was glad when they left the railroad and the soldiers, and
posted on to the frontier in a light carriage: The high road was quiet,
less frequented indeed than usual, but when they drew near the border
they repeatedly met small detachments of military. The merchant did not
say any thing to Anton about the business in hand, but spoke with much
animation on every other subject, and treated his traveling companion
with confidential cordiality. Only he showed an aversion to Anton's
pistols, which a little damped the latter's martial ardor; for when, at
the second station, he carefully drew them out of his pocket to examine
their condition, Mr. Schröter pointed toward their brown muzzles,
saying, "I do not think we shall succeed in getting back our goods by
dint of pocket pistols. Are they loaded?"

Anton bowed assent, adding, with a last remnant of martial vanity, "They
are at full cock."

"Really!" said the principal, seriously, taking them out of Anton's
pocket, and then calling to the postillion to hold his horses, he coolly
shot off both barrels, remarking good-naturedly as he returned the
pistols to their owner, "It is better to confine ourselves to our
accustomed weapons: we are men of peace, and only want our own property
restored to us. If we can not succeed in convincing others of our
rights, there is no help for it. Plenty of powder will be shot away to
no purpose--plenty of efforts without result, and expenditure which only
tends to impoverish. There is no race so little qualified to make
progress, and to gain civilization and culture in exchange for capital,
as the Slavonic. All that those people yonder have in their idleness
acquired by the oppression of the ignorant masses they waste in foolish
diversions. With us, only a few of the specially privileged classes act
thus, and the nation can bear with it if necessary; but there, the
privileged classes claim to represent the people. As if nobles and mere
bondsmen could ever form a state! They have no more capacity for it than
that flight of sparrows on the hedge. The worst of it is that we must
pay for their luckless attempt."

"They have no middle class," rejoined Anton, proudly.

"In other words, they have no culture," continued the merchant; "and it
is remarkable how powerless they are to generate the class which
represents civilization and progress, and exalts an aggregate of
individual laborers into a state."

"In the town before us, however," suggested Anton, "there is Conrad
Gaultier, and the house of the three Hildebrands in Galicia as well."

"Worthy people," agreed the merchant, "but they are all merely settlers,
and the honorable burgher-class feeling has no root here, and seldom
goes down to a second generation. What is here called a city is a mere
shadow of ours, and its citizens have hardly any of those qualities
which with us characterize commercial men--the first class in the
state."

"The first?" said Anton, doubtingly.

"Yes, dear Wohlfart, the first. Originally individuals were free, and,
in the main, equal; then came the semi-barbarism of the privileged idler
and the laboring bondsman. It is only since the growth of our large
towns that the world boasts civilized states--only since then is the
problem solved which proves that free labor alone makes national life
noble, secure, and permanent."

Toward evening our travelers reached the frontier station. It was a
small village, consisting, in addition to the custom-house and the
dwellings of the officials, of only a few poor cottages and a public
house. On the open space between the houses, and round about the
village, bivouacked two squadrons of cavalry, who had posted themselves
along the narrow river that defined the border, and who were appointed
to guard it in company with a detachment of riflemen. The public house
presented a scene of wild confusion: soldiers moving to and fro, and
sitting cheek by jowl in the little parlor; gay hussars and green coats
camped round the house on chairs, tables, barrels, and every thing that
could by any contrivance be converted into a seat. They appeared to
Anton so many Messrs. Pix, such was the peremptoriness with which they
disposed of the little inn and its contents. The Jew landlord received
the well-known merchant with a loud welcome, and his zeal was such that
he actually cleared out a small room for the travelers, where they could
at least spend the night alone.

The merchant had scarcely dismounted when half a dozen men surrounded
him with shouts of joy. They were the drivers of the wagons that had
been recently expedited. The oldest of their party related that, when
just beyond the frontier, they had been induced to make a hasty retreat
by the alarming spectacle of a body of armed peasants. In turning round,
the wheel of the last wagon had come off; the driver, in his fright, had
unharnessed the horses and left the wagon. While the delinquent stood
there, flourishing his hat in the air, and excusing himself as well as
he could, the officer in command came up and confirmed the story.

"You may see the wagon on the road, about a hundred yards beyond the
bridge," he went on to say; and when the merchant begged leave to cross
the bridge, he offered to send one of his officers with him.

A young officer belonging to a squadron just returned from a patrol was
curbing his fiery steed at the door of the tavern.

"Lieutenant von Rothsattel," called the captain, "accompany the
gentlemen beyond the bridge."

It was with rapture that Anton heard a name linked with so many sweet
recollections. He knew at once that the rider of the fiery charger could
be no other than the brother of his lady of the lake.

The lieutenant, tall and slender, with a delicate mustache, was as like
his sister as a young cavalry officer could be to the fairest of all
mortal maidens. Anton felt at once a warm and respectful regard for him,
which was perhaps discernible in his bow, for the young gentleman
acknowledged it by a careless inclination of his small head. His horse
went prancing on by the side of the merchant and his clerk. They hurried
to the middle of the bridge, and looked eagerly along the road. There
lay the colossal wagon, like a wounded white elephant resting on one
knee.

"A short time ago it had not been plundered," said the lieutenant; "the
canvas was stretched quite tightly over it; but they have been at it
now, for I see a corner fluttering."

"There does not appear to have been much mischief done," replied the
principal.

"If you could get over a wheel and a pair of horses, you might carry off
the whole affair," replied the lieutenant, carelessly. "Our men have had
a great hankering after it all day. They were very anxious to ascertain
whether there was any thing drinkable in it or not. Were it not that we
are commanded not to cross the borders, it would be a mere trifle to
bring the wagon here, if the commanding officer allowed you to pass the
sentinels, and if you could manage those fellows yonder." So saying, he
pointed to a crowd of peasants, who were camping behind some stunted
willows just out of reach of shot, and who had stationed an armed man on
the high road as sentinel.

"We will fetch the wagon if the officer in command permit us to do so,"
said the principal. "I hope we may find a way of dealing with those
people yonder."

Meanwhile Anton could not refrain from murmuring, "The whole day long
these gentlemen have allowed two thousand dollars' worth to lie there on
the highway; they have had plenty of time to get back the wagon for us."

"We must not be unreasonable in our demands upon the army," replied the
merchant, with a smile. "We shall be satisfied if they only allow us to
rescue our property from those boors;" and, accordingly, they turned
back to make their wishes known to the captain.

"If you can find men and horses, I have nothing to object," replied he.

As soon as the wagoners were reassembled, the principal inquired which
of them would accompany him, engaging to make good any harm that might
happen to the horses.

After some scratching and shaking of their heads, most of them declared
their willingness to go. Four horses were speedily harnessed, a child's
sledge belonging to the landlord produced, a wheel and some levers
placed thereon, and then the little caravan set off in the direction of
the bridge, pursued by the jocular approbation of the soldiers, and
accompanied by some of the officers, who showed as much interest in the
expedition as comported with their martial dignity.

On the bridge the captain said, "I wish you success, but unfortunately I
am unable to send any of my men to assist you."

"It is better as it is," answered the principal, bowing; "we will
proceed to recover our goods like peaceable people, and while we do not
fear those gentry yonder, we do not wish to provoke them. Be so good,
Mr. Wohlfart, as to leave your pistols behind you; we must show these
armed men that we have nothing to do with war and its apparatus."

Anton had replaced his pistols in his pocket, whence they peeped out
with an air of defiance, but now he gave them to a soldier called by
Lieutenant von Rothsattel. And so they crossed the bridge, at the end of
which the lieutenant reluctantly reined up his charger, muttering,
"These grocers march into the enemy's country before us;" while the
captain called out, "Should your persons be in danger, I shall not
consider it any departure from duty to send Lieutenant Rothsattel and a
few soldiers to your aid." The lieutenant rushed back and gave the word
of command to his troop, which was not far off, to sit still, and then
he dashed again to the end of the bridge, and watched with great
interest and warlike impatience the progress of the grocers, as he
called them. To his and his country's honor, be it here said, that they
all alike wished the poor civilians a warm reception, and some serious
inconvenience, that they might have a right to interfere, and cut and
hack a little on their behalf.

Meanwhile, the march of the merchants into the enemy's country had
nothing very imposing about it; lighting his cigar, and walking with a
brisk step, the principal went on, Anton close by his side, and behind
them three stout wagoners with the horses. When they had got within
about thirty yards of certain peasants in white smock frocks, these
brandished their weapons, and cried out to them in Polish to halt.

The principal, raising his voice, addressed them in their own tongue,
desiring that they would call their leader.

Accordingly, some of the savages began by wild gesticulations to
communicate with their companions at a distance, while others held
their weapons in readiness, and aimed, as Anton remarked without any
particular satisfaction, pretty exactly at him. Meanwhile the leader of
the band advanced with long strides. He wore a blue coat with colored
lace, a square red cap trimmed with gray fur, and he carried a wild-duck
gun in his hand. He seemed a dark-hued fellow, of a formidable aspect,
enhanced by a long black mustache falling down on each side of his
mouth. As soon as he came near, the merchant addressed him in a loud
voice, and rather imperfect Polish. "We are strangers. I am the owner of
that wagon yonder, and am come to fetch it; tell your people to help me,
and I will give them a good gratuity." At which word all the weapons
were reverentially lowered. The chief of the krakuse, or irregulars, now
placed himself pathetically in the middle of the highway, and began a
long oration, accompanied by much action, of which Anton understood very
little, and his principal not all, but which, being interpreted by one
of the wagoners, was found to signify that the leader much regretted his
inability to serve the gentlemen, as he had received orders from the
corps stationed behind him to keep watch over the wagon till the horses
should arrive which were to take it to the nearest town.

The merchant merely shook his head, and replied, in a tone of quiet
command, "That won't do. The wagon is mine, and I must carry it off. I
can not wait the permission of your expected wagoners;" and, putting his
hand into his pocket, he displayed to the owner of the blue coat half a
dozen shining dollars, unseen by the rest. "So much for you, and as much
for your people." The leader looked at the dollars, scratched his head
vehemently, and turned his cap round and round; the result of which was,
that he at last arrived at the conclusion that, since things stood thus,
the worthy gentleman might drive off his wagon.

The procession now triumphantly proceeded; the drivers seized the
levers, and, by their united efforts, raised the fallen side, detached
the fragments of the broken wheel, put on the new one, and harnessed the
horses; and all this with the active assistance of some of the peasants,
and the brotherly support of their commandant, who himself wielded a
lever. Then the horses were set off with a good will, and the wagon
rolled on toward the bridge amid the loud acclamations of the krakuse,
which were perhaps intended to drown a dissentient voice in his
innermost breast.

"Go on with the wagon," said the merchant to Anton; and when the latter
hesitated to leave his principal alone with the boors, the command was
still more peremptorily repeated. And so the wagon slowly progressed
toward the frontier; and Anton already heard from a distance the
laughing greetings of the soldiers.

Meanwhile the merchant remained in animated conversation with the
peasant band, and at length parted on the best possible terms with the
insurgents' leader, who, with true Slavonic politeness, acted the part
of landlord on the public road, and, cap in hand, accompanied the
travelers till within gunshot of the military on the bridge. The
principal got into the wagon, underwent the warlike ceremonial of
"Halt!" &c., on the part of the sentinels, and received the smiling
congratulations of the captain, while the lieutenant said satirically to
Anton, "You have had no cause to lament the want of your pocket
pistols."

"All the better," answered Anton; "it was a tame affair indeed. The poor
devils had stolen nothing but a small cask of rum."

An hour later, the travelers were sitting with the officers of both
regiments, in the little tavern parlor, over a bottle of old Tokay,
which the host had disinterred from the lowest depths of his cellar. Not
the least happy of the party was Anton. For the first time in his life
he had experienced one of the small perils of war, and was, on the
whole, pleased with the part he had played; and now he was sitting by a
young soldier, whom he was prepared to admire to the utmost, and had the
privilege of offering him his cigars, and discussing with him the day's
adventures.

"The boors pointed their guns at you at first," said the young nobleman,
carelessly curling his mustache; "you must have found that a bore."

"Not much of one," replied Anton, as coolly as he could. "For a moment I
felt startled as I saw the guns aimed at me, and behind them men with
scythes, pantomiming the cutting off of heads. It struck me
uncomfortably at first that all the muzzles should point so directly at
my face; afterward I had to work away at the wagon, and thought no more
about it; and when, on our return, each of our wagoners affirmed that
the guns had pointed at him and no one else, I came to the conclusion
that this many-sidedness must be part of the idiosyncrasy of guns--a
sort of optical unmannerliness that does not mean much."

"We should soon have cut you out if the peasants had been in earnest,"
replied the lieutenant, benevolently. "Your cigars are remarkably good."

Anton was rejoiced to hear it, and filled his neighbor's glass. And so
he entertained himself, and looked at his principal, who seemed to be
unusually inclined to converse with the gay gentlemen around him on all
subjects connected with peace and war. Anton remarked that he treated
the officers with a degree of formal politeness, which considerably
checked the free and easy tone which they had at first adopted. The
conversation soon became general, and all listened with attention to the
merchant while he spoke of the disturbed districts, with which former
journeys had made him familiar, and sketched some of the leaders of the
insurrection. Young Von Rothsattel alone, to Anton's great distress, did
not seem to like the attention lent by his comrades to the civilian, nor
the lion's share of the conversation conceded him. He threw himself
carelessly back on his chair, looked absently at the ceiling, played
with his sword-hilt, and uttered curt observations, intended to denote
that he was not a little bored. When the captain mentioned that he
expected their commander-in-chief to arrive in the morning, and the
merchant said in reply, "Your colonel will not be here till to-morrow
evening, so at least he said to me when I met him at the station," the
demon of pride in the young officer's breast became uncontrollable, and
he rudely said, "You know our colonel, then? I suppose he buys his tea
and sugar from you."

"At all events, he used to do so," politely replied the merchant;
"indeed, as a younger man, I have sometimes weighed out coffee for him
myself."

A certain degree of embarrassment now arose among the officers, and one
of the elder attempted, according to his light, to rectify the
intentional rudeness by saying something about a most highly-respectable
establishment where civilians or military alike might procure, with
perfect satisfaction, whatever they needed.

"I thank you, captain, for the confidence you repose in my house,"
replied the merchant, with a smile, "and I am indeed proud that it
should have become respectable through my own active exertions and those
of my firm."

"Lieutenant Rothsattel, you head the next patrol; it is time that you
should set out," said the captain. Accordingly, with clink and clatter,
the lieutenant rose.

"Here comes our landlord with a new bottle on which he sets great value;
it is the best wine in his cellar. May not Herr von Rothsattel take a
glass of it before he goes to watch over our night's rest?" inquired the
merchant, with calm politeness.

The young man haughtily thanked him and clattered out of the room. Anton
could have thrashed his new favorite with all his heart.

It was now late; and Anton saw, with some astonishment, that the
merchant still continued with the utmost politeness to play the host,
and to evince a pleasure in every fresh experience of the Tokay not easy
to reconcile with the purpose of his journey. At last, another bottle
having been uncorked, and the captain having taken and commenced a fresh
cigar of the merchant's, the latter casually observed, "I wish to travel
to the insurgent capital to-morrow, and request your permission, if it
be necessary."

"You do!" cried all the officers round the table.

"I must!" said the merchant, gravely, and proceeded briefly to state the
reasons for his resolve.

The captain shook his head. "It is true," said he, "that the exact terms
in which my orders are couched leave it optional whether I bar the
frontier against all alike, but yet the chief aim of our occupying this
position is the closing up of the disturbed district."

"Then I must make known my wishes to the commander-in-chief; but this
will delay me more than a day, and this delay will very probably defeat
the whole object of my journey. As you have kindly informed me, there
still exists a certain degree of order among the insurgents, but it is
impossible to say how long this may last. Now it is upon the existence
of this very order that I must depend for the recovery of my property,
for I can only get the loaded wagons out of the town with the consent of
the revolutionary party."

"And do you hope to obtain it?"

"I must endeavor to do so," was the reply; "at all events, I shall
oppose might and main the plundering and destroying of my goods."

The captain mused a while. "Your plans," said he, "place me in a strait;
if any harm should befall you, which is, I fear, only too likely, I
shall be reproached for having allowed you to cross the frontier. Can
nothing persuade you to give up this undertaking?"

"Nothing," said the merchant--"nothing but the law of the land."

"Are the wagons, then, of such consequence to you, that you are willing
to risk your life for them?" asked the captain, rather morosely.

"Yes, captain, of as much consequence as the doing your duty is to you.
To me their safety involves far more than mere mercantile profit. I must
cross the frontier unless prevented by a positive prohibition. That I
should not actually resist, but I should do all in my power to have an
exception made in my favor."

"Very good," said the captain; "I will lay no hinderance in your way;
you will give me your word of honor that you will disclose nothing
whatever as to the strength of our position, the arrangement of our
troops, or as to what you have heard of our intended movements."

"I pledge my word," said the merchant.

"Your character is sufficient guarantee that your intentions in taking
this journey are upright; but officially I could wish to see the papers
connected with it, if you have them by you."

"Here they are," said the merchant, in the same business-like tone.
"There is my passport for a year, here the bill of goods of the Polish
seller, the copies of my letters to the custom-house officer, and the
replies to them."

The captain glanced over the papers, and gave them back. "You are a
brave man, and I heartily wish you success," said he, in a dignified
tone. "How do you mean to travel?"

"With post-horses. If I can not hire, I shall buy, and drive them
myself. Our host will let me have a carriage, and I shall set out
to-morrow morning, as I might cause more suspicion traveling by night."

"Very well, then, I shall see you again at break of day. I believe that
we ourselves are to move over into the enemy's country in three days'
time; and if I hear no tidings from you in the mean time, I shall look
you out in the conquered city. We must disperse, gentlemen; we have
already sat here too long."

The officers then retired with clank of arms, and Anton and his
principal remained alone with the empty bottles. The merchant opened the
window, and then turning to Anton, who had listened to the foregoing
conversation in the greatest excitement, began, "We must part here, dear
Wohlfart--"

Before he could finish his sentence Anton caught hold of his hand, and
said, with tears in his eyes, "Let me go with you; do not send me back
to the firm. I should reproach myself intolerably my whole life through
if I had left you on this journey."

"It would be useless, perhaps unwise, that you should accompany me. I
can perfectly well do alone all that has to be done; and if there be any
risk to run, which, however, I do not believe, your presence could not
protect me, and I should only have the painful feeling of having
endangered another for my sake."

"Still, I should be very grateful to you if you would take me with you,"
urged Anton; "and Miss Sabine wished it too," added he, wisely keeping
his strongest argument for the last.

"She is a terrible girl," said the merchant, with a smile. "Well, then,
so let it be. We will go together; call the landlord, and let us make
all our traveling arrangements."



CHAPTER XX.


It was still night when Anton stepped over the threshold of the tavern.
A thick cloud hung over the plain. A red glare on the horizon marked the
district through which the travelers had to pass. The mist of night
covered, with a gray veil, a dark mass on the ground. Anton went nearer,
and found that it consisted of men, women, and children, cowering on the
earth, pale, hungry, and emaciated. "They are from the village on the
other side of the boundary," explained an old watchman, who stood
wrapped in his cavalry cloak. "Their village was on fire; they had run
into the forest, and during the night they had come down to the river,
stretching out their hands, and crying piteously for bread. As they were
mostly women and children, our captain allowed them to cross, and has
had a few loaves cut up for them. They are half famished. After them
came larger bodies, all crying 'Bread! bread!' and wringing their hands.
We fired off a few pistol-shots over their heads, and soon scattered
them."

"Ha!" said Anton, "this is a poor prospect for us and our journey. But
what will become of these unfortunate creatures?"

"They are only border rascals," said the watchman, soothingly. "Half
the year they smuggle and swill, the other half they starve. They are
freezing a little just now."

"Could one not have a caldron full of soup made for them?" inquired
Anton, compassionately, putting his hand into his pocket.

"Why soup?" replied the other, coldly; "a drink of brandy would please
the whole fry better. Over there they all drink brandy, even the child
at the breast; if you are inclined to spend something upon them in that
way, I'll give it out, not forgetting a loyal old soldier at the same
time."

"I will request the landlord to have something warm got ready for them,
and you will have the goodness to see that it is all right." And again
Anton's hand went into his pocket, and the watchman promised to keep his
warlike heart open to compassion.

An hour later the travelers were rolling along in an open britzska. The
merchant drove; Anton sat behind him, and looked eagerly out into the
surrounding landscape, where, through darkness and mist, a few detached
objects were just beginning to appear. When they had driven about two
hundred yards, they heard a Polish call. The merchant stopped, and a
single man cautiously approached. "Come up, my good friend," said the
merchant; "sit here by me." The stranger politely took off his cap, and
swung himself up to the driving-box. He turned out to be the chief
krakuse of the day before--the man with the drooping mustache.

"Keep an eye on him," said the merchant in English to Anton; "he shall
serve us as a safe-conduct, and be paid for it too; but if he touches
me, lay hold of him from behind."

Anton took his despised pistols out of an old leathern pouch on one side
of the carriage, and, in sight of the krakuse, arranged them
ostentatiously in the pocket of his paletot. But the latter only smiled,
and soon showed himself a creature of a friendly and social nature,
nodding confidentially to both travelers, drinking some mouthfuls out of
Anton's traveling flask, trying to keep up, over his left shoulder, a
conversation with him, calling him "your grace" in broken German, and
giving him to understand that he too smoked, though he did not happen to
have any tobacco. At last he requested the honor of driving the
gentlemen.

In this manner they passed a group of fallen houses, which lay on a flat
close to a marsh, looking like giant fungi that had shot up on a
malarian soil, when they suddenly found themselves surrounded by a band
of insurgents. It was a general levy, such as they had seen the day
before. There were flails in abundance, a few scythes, old muskets,
linen smock-frocks, a strong smell of spirits, and wild, staring eyes.
This troop at once seized the horses by the bridles, and quick as
lightning began to unharness them. The krakuse now sprang up lion-like
from his seat, and displayed, in his Polish tongue, a vast amount of
eloquence, aided by much gesticulation with hands and feet. He declared
that these gentlemen were great noblemen, who were traveling to the
capital that they might speak with the government, and that it would
cost the head of every man who presumed to pull a hair out of one of
their horses' tails. This speech provoked several animated replies,
during which some clenched their fists, and some took off their caps.
Upon that the driver began a still more powerful oration, setting before
the patriots a prospective quartering if they even ventured to look
askance at the heads of the horses. This had the effect of diminishing
the number of clenched fists, and increasing that of the doffed caps. At
length the merchant put an end to the whole scene by suddenly flogging
the horses, and thus compelling the last recusants to jump aside as fast
as they could. The horses galloped off, loud interjections were heard in
the distance, and a few shots passed harmlessly over the heads of the
travelers, probably fired out of a general enthusiasm for fatherland
rather than with any definite purpose.

So the hours passed on. They not unfrequently met bands of armed
peasantry screaming and brandishing their cudgels, or else following,
with bent heads and hymn-singing, a priest who bore a church banner
displayed. The travelers were sometimes, indeed, stopped and threatened,
but at other times saluted with the utmost reverence, especially Anton,
who, sitting as he did behind, was taken for the most important
personage.

At length they approached a larger village, the bands grew closer, the
uproar greater, and here and there a uniform, a cockade, or a bayonet
appeared among the smock-frocks. Here, too, the driver began to show
symptoms of disquiet, and announced to the merchant that he could not
take them any farther, and that they must report themselves to the
leader in command. To this Mr. Schröter made no objection, but paid the
driver and stopped the carriage.

A young man with a blue head-piece, and a red and white scarf about his
waist, stepped forward, obliged the travelers to dismount, and with a
great display of zeal led them to the chief. The merchant still held the
reins in his hand, and whispered to Anton that he was on no account to
lose sight of the carriage. Anton pretended the utmost unconcern, and
pressed a coin into the hand of the friendly krakuse, who had crept
behind the carriage, that he might go and get the horses a bundle of
hay.

The sentry was in a house whose thatched roof had been dignified by the
whitewashing of the walls. A few muskets and guns leaned up against it,
watched by a youthful volunteer in blue coat and red cap. Near at hand
sat the commanding officer, whose flat face was surmounted by an immense
white plume, and whose person was adorned by an enormous white scarf,
and a sword with elaborate hilt. This dignitary was considerably excited
when he beheld the strangers; he clapped his hat more firmly on his
head, stroked his unkempt beard, and began to give audience. After a few
preliminary remarks, the travelers told him that they had weighty
business to transact with the heads of the government. They refused,
however, to give any account of its purport. This statement wounded the
dignity of the authority before them. He made harsh allusions to
suspicious characters and spies, and called to his guard to stand to
their arms. Instantly five youths in blue caps rushed out of the house,
ranged themselves in order, and were commanded to hold their guns in
readiness. Involuntarily Anton sprang between them and his principal.
Meanwhile the man of the giant sword, on seeing that the merchant still
stood quietly by the post round which he had fastened the reins, changed
his murderous intent, contenting himself with assuring him that he
considered him a very dangerous character, and was much inclined to
shoot him as a traitor.

The merchant shrugged his shoulders, and said, with calm politeness,
"You are entirely mistaken as to the object of our journey. You can not
seriously believe us to be spies, for we have just been brought to you
by one of your own people, in order that we might obtain from your
kindness a convoy to the capital. I must once more request you not to
detain us, as our business with the government is of a pressing nature,
and I shall be obliged to make you responsible for all unnecessary
delay." This address led to another volley of oaths on the part of the
man in authority, who snorted violent defiance against the travelers,
drank off a large glass of brandy, and finally came to a decision. He
called three of his men, and desired them to take their seats in the
carriage, and to convey it to the capital. A bundle of fresh straw was
thrown in, two youths with arms in their hands placed themselves behind
the travelers, while a white-frocked peasant sat on the box, took the
reins, and indifferently drove the whole cargo, suspicious characters,
patriots, and all, at a gallop toward the capital.

"Our condition has changed for the worse," said Anton. "Five men in this
little carriage, and the poor horses tired already."

"I told you," replied the merchant, "that our journey would have some
inconveniences. Men are never more troublesome than when they play at
being soldiers. In other respects, this guard over us does no harm; at
least, with such an escort, we are sure to be admitted into the city."

It was evening when they reached the capital. A red glare in the sky
showed them their goal while they were still far from it. As they
approached, they met numerous companies of armed men moving in and out.
Next came a long detention at the gates--an interchange of questions and
answers--an examination of the travelers by the aid of lanterns and pine
torches, angry looks, and even intelligible threats, and, finally, a
long drive through the streets of the old capital. Sometimes all around
them was still as death; sometimes a wild cry resounded from the crowd,
all the more alarming because the words were not understood.

At length the driver turned into a square, and stopped before a handsome
house. The travelers were surrounded and pushed up a broad staircase by
a crowd of gay uniforms, laced coats, and clean smock frocks. Next they
were thrust into a large apartment, and placed before a gentleman
wearing white silk gloves, who looked into a written report, and briefly
informed them that, according to the report of the commandant at the
station, they were suspected of being spies, and were to undergo a
court-martial. The merchant at once broke out in high displeasure: "I am
sorry that your informant should have told you a great falsehood, for we
have undertaken this journey on the highway and in broad daylight, for
the express purpose of speaking to your governors. The horses and
carriage which brought me here are both mine, and it was an uncalled-for
act of politeness on the part of your commandant to furnish me with an
escort. I wish to see the gentleman in command here as soon as possible;
it is to him alone that I mean to impart the motive of my journey; be so
good, therefore, as to hand him my passport."

The official examined the passport, and, looking at Anton, proceeded to
inquire, with somewhat more consideration, "But this gentleman? He has
the appearance of an officer in your army."

"I am a clerk of Mr. Schröter's," returned Anton, with a bow; "and out
and out a civilian."

"Wait a while," said the young man, superciliously, going with the
passport into a neighboring room.

As he remained away some time, and no one interfered with the travelers,
they sat down on a bench, and tried to appear as unconcerned as
possible. Anton first cast an anxious glance at his principal, who was
looking down gloomily, and then gazed about him in amazement. The room
in which they were was lofty, and the ceiling much ornamented, but the
walls were dirty and smoke-stained; tables, chairs, and benches stood
about in confusion, and seemed as if just brought in from the nearest
tavern. A few writers bent over their papers, while soldiers sat or lay
along the walls, asleep or talking loudly, several of them in French. A
room like this, dimly lighted, was not calculated to make a cheerful
impression upon Anton, who whispered to the merchant, "If revolutions in
general look like this, they are ugly things."

"They always destroy, and seldom recreate," was the reply. "I am afraid
that this room is an emblem of the whole town: the painted coat of arms
on the ceiling, and the dirty bench on which we are sitting. When such
contrasts as these are brought into juxtaposition, it is enough to make
a sober-minded man cross himself in horror. The nobles and the people
are bad enough, taken separately, when they each try their hands at
government; but when they unite, they are sure to bring down the house
that holds them."

"The nobles are the most troublesome," said Anton. "Commend me to our
krakuse; he was a polite insurgent, and knew the value of a half dollar;
but these gentlemen seem to have no business notions at all."

"Let us wait a little," said the principal.

A quarter of an hour had passed, when a young man, tall in stature and
stately in aspect, followed by the white-gloved gentleman, politely
approached the merchant, saying so loudly that even the sleepers could
hardly fail to hear, "I rejoice to see you here, and have indeed been
expecting it; have the goodness to follow me with your companion."

"By Jove, we are looking up!" thought Anton.

They followed their majestic guide into a small corner room, which was
evidently the boudoir of the quarters, for it contained an ottoman, easy
chairs, and a handsome writing-table. Different uniforms and articles of
dress were carelessly thrown upon the furniture; and on the table lay,
in the midst of papers, a pair of double-barreled pocket pistols, and a
large seal richly set in gold.

While Anton was noticing that the whole room was very elegant, but, at
the same time, very untidy, the young chief turned to the merchant and
said, with somewhat more reserve and less amenity, "You have, through a
misunderstanding, been exposed to some rudeness, as is indeed often
unavoidable in troubled times. Your escort has confirmed your
statements. I now beg you to impart to me the reason of your visit."

The merchant accordingly briefly but precisely explained the purpose of
his journey, named those men in the place with whom he was connected in
business, and appealed to them to ratify his statements.

"I know both those gentlemen," answered the officer, carelessly. Then
looking fixedly at the merchant, he asked, after a pause, "Have you
nothing further to communicate?"

The principal said he had not; but the other rapidly continued, "I quite
understand that our peculiar position prevents your government from
treating with us directly, and that, in the event of your being charged
with a commission, you must proceed with the utmost caution."

Here the merchant hastily interrupted him. "Before you say more, I again
assure you, as a man of honor, that I am come merely on my own business,
and that my business is only what I have already stated. But as I
conclude from your words, as well as much that I have heard on my way
hither, that you take me for a delegate, I feel constrained to tell you
that I never could have been charged with any commission such as you
seem to expect, its very existence being an utter impossibility."

The noble looked grave, and said, after a moment's silence, "Very well;
you shall not suffer on that account. The wish that you express is so
singular, that it would be impossible, in the common course of things,
to grant it. If we are not permitted to consider you a friend, the rules
of war command us to deal with you and yours as enemies. But the men of
my nation have ever possessed, in taking up arms, the rare virtue of
trusting to the virtue of others, as well as of acting nobly, even when
they could expect no gratitude in return. Be assured that I will, as far
as in me lies, assist you to recover your property."

So said the nobleman with self-conscious dignity; and Anton was keenly
alive to the true nobility of the words, though too thoroughly a man of
business to give himself up to the impression they made, his budding
enthusiasm being frostbitten by a very matter-of-fact thought: "He
promises to help us, and yet he is not quite convinced that the property
we wish to carry off is of right our own."

"I am not, alas! so absolute," continued the chief, "as to be able to
gratify you at once. However, I hope in the morning to furnish you with
a pass for your wagons. First of all, try to find out where your
property now is, and I will send one of my officers with you as a
protection. The rest to-morrow."

With these words the travelers were courteously dismissed; and as Anton
went out he saw the officer wearily throw himself back into an
easy-chair, and with bent head begin to play with the trigger of his
pistols.

A slight youth, with a large scarf, almost a child in years, but of a
most noble bearing, accompanied our friends. As they left the house,
they were politely saluted by several present, and it was plain that the
ante-chamber still believed in their diplomatic character.

The officer inquired whether he should accompany the gentlemen, as it
was his duty not to lose sight of them.

"Is this by way of protection or surveillance?" inquired Anton, who now
felt in good spirits.

"You will give me no occasion, I am sure, to exercise the latter,"
returned the small warrior in exquisite French.

"No," said the merchant, looking kindly at the youth; "but we shall
weary you, for we have yet to get through a good deal of uninteresting
and commonplace business this evening."

"I am only doing my duty," replied their escort, with some haughtiness,
"in accompanying you wherever you wish."

"And in order to do ours, we must make all the haste we can," said the
merchant. And so they traversed the streets of the capital. Night had
set in, and the confusion and bustle seemed sadder still under her
cloak. Crowds of the lowest of the populace, patrols of military, bands
of fugitive peasantry jostled each other, snatching, shrieking, cursing.
Many windows were illuminated, and their brilliance cast a shadowless,
ghostly glare over the streets. Thick red clouds rolled above the roofs
of the houses, for one of the suburbs was on fire, and the wind blew
swarms of golden sparks and burning splinters over the heads of the
travelers. Meanwhile the bells of the churches kept up a monotonous
tolling. The strangers hurried silently along, the imperious tones of
their escort always making way for them through the most unruly throng.
At length they reached the house of the agent of their firm. It was shut
up, and they had to knock long and loud before a window was opened, and
a piteous voice heard asking who was there.

When they entered the agent ran to meet them, wringing his hands, and
tearfully falling on the merchant's neck. The presence of the young
insurgent prevented him from expressing his feelings. He threw open the
nearest door, and in lamentable tones apologized for the exceeding
disorder in which the room was. Chests and coffers were being packed up;
male and female servants were running to and fro, hiding silver
candlesticks here, thrusting in silver spoons there. Meanwhile the
master of the house never left off wringing his hands, lamenting his
misfortunes and those of the firm, welcoming, and, in the same breath,
regretting the arrival of the principal, and every now and then assuring
the young officer, with choking voice, that he too was a patriot, and
that it was only owing to an unaccountable mistake on the part of one of
the maids that the cockade had been taken off his hat. It was plain that
the man and his whole family had quite lost their wits.

The merchant had much trouble before he could get him into a corner and
hear some business details. It appeared that the wagons had arrived in
town on the very day that the insurrection broke out. Through the
foresight of one of the wagoners, they had been taken into the great
court-yard of a remote inn, but as to what had become of them since then
the agent knew nothing.

After some further conversation the merchant said, "We shall not claim
your hospitality to-night; we shall sleep wherever our wagons are." All
the persuasions of the agent were peremptorily rejected.

This worthy but weak man seemed really distressed at the new danger into
which his friend was determined to run.

"I shall call you up early," said the merchant, as he left; "I propose
setting out to-morrow with my wagons, but first I wish to make a few, as
you know, necessary visits to our customers, and to have your company
during them." The agent promised to do his best by daylight.

Again our travelers went forth into the night, accompanied by the Pole,
who had scornfully listened to the half-whispered conversation. As they
went along the street, the principal, angrily throwing away his cigar,
said to Anton,

"Our friend will be of little use to us; he is helpless as a child. In
the beginning of the disturbance, he neglected to do his duty--to
collect money, and seek for reimbursement."

"And now," said Anton, sorrowfully, "no one will be inclined to pay or
reimburse us."

"And yet we must bring this about to-morrow, and you shall help me to do
so. By heaven, these warlike convulsions are in themselves inconvenient
enough to trade without this addition, paralyzing as they do all useful
activity, which is the only thing that prevents us from becoming mere
animals. But if a man of business allows himself to be more crushed than
is absolutely unavoidable, he does an injury to civilization--an injury
for which there is no compensation."

They had now reached a part of the town where empty streets, and the
silence of the grave immediately at hand, only enhanced the horrors of
the distant clamor and the red glare in the sky. At length they stopped
before a low building with a large gateway. Entering, they looked into
the bar, a dirty room with blackened rafters, in which loud-voiced and
brandy-drinking patriots clustered on bench and table. The young officer
called for the landlord. A fat figure with a red face appeared.

"In the name of the government, rooms for myself and my companions,"
said the young man. The host sullenly took up a bundle of rusty keys and
a tallow candle, and led them to an upper floor, where he opened the
door of a damp room, and morosely declared that he had no other for
them.

"Bring us supper and a bottle of your best wine," said the merchant; "we
pay well, and at once."

This announcement occasioned a visible improvement in the mood of the
fat landlord, who even made an unsuccessful attempt to be polite. The
merchant next asked for the wagons and wagoners. These questions were
evidently unwelcome. At first Boniface pretended to know nothing about
them, declaring that there were a great many wagons coming and going in
his court-yard, and that there were several wagoners too, but that he
did not know them.

It was in vain that the merchant tried to make him understand the object
of his coming; the landlord remained obtuse, and was about to relapse
into his former moroseness, when the young Pole came forward, and
informed Mr. Schröter that this was not the way of dealing with such
people. He then faced the landlord, called him all manner of hard names,
and declared that he would arrest and carry him off on the spot unless
he at once gave the most exact information.

The landlord looked timidly at the officer, and begged to be allowed to
retire and send up one of the wagoners.

Soon a lanky figure with a brown felt hat came lumbering up stairs,
started at the sight of the merchant, and at last announced, with
pretended cheerfulness, that there he was.

"Where are the wagons? where are the bills of lading?"

The wagons were in the court-yard. The bills were reluctantly produced
from the dirty leather purse of the wagoner.

"You guarantee me that your load remains complete and undisturbed?"
asked the merchant.

The felt hat ungraciously replied that he could do nothing of the kind.
The horses had been unharnessed and hid in a secret stable, that they
might not be confiscated by the government; as to the fate of the
wagons, he could neither prevent nor ascertain it, and all
responsibility ceased in troublous times like these.

"We are in a den of thieves," said the merchant to his escort; "I must
request your assistance in bringing these people to reason."

Now bringing people to reason was just what the young Pole believed to
be his speciality; so, with a smile, he took a pistol in one hand, and
said aside to Anton, "Do as I, and have the goodness to follow me." Next
he seized the wagoner by the throat, and dragged him down the stair.
"Where is the landlord?" cried he, in the most formidable tone he could
raise. "The dog of a landlord and a lantern!" The lantern being brought,
he drove the whole pack--the strangers, the fat landlord, the captured
wagoner, and all others assembled by the noise, before him into the
court-yard. Arrived there, he placed himself and his prisoner in the
centre of the circle, bestowed a few more injurious epithets upon the
landlord, rapped the wagoner on the head with his pistol, and then
courteously observed in French to the merchant, "This fellow's skull
sounds remarkably hollow; what next do you require from the boobies?"

"Have the goodness to summon the wagoners."

"Good," said the Pole; "and then?"

"Then I will examine the freight of the wagons, if it be possible to do
so in the dark."

"Every thing is possible," said the Pole, "if you like to take the
trouble to search through the old canvas in the night. But I should be
inclined to advise a bottle of Sauterne and a few hours' repose instead.
In times like these, one should not lose an opportunity of refreshing
one's self."

"I should prefer to inspect the wagons at once," said the merchant, with
a smile, "if you have no objection to it."

"I am on duty," replied the Pole, "therefore let's to work at once;
there are plenty of hands here to hold lights for you. You confounded
rascals," continued he, in Polish, again cuffing the wagoner and
threatening the landlord, "I will carry you all off together, and have a
court-martial held upon you, if you do not instantly bring all the
drivers belonging to this gentleman into my presence. How many of them?"
inquired he, in French, from the merchant.

"There are fourteen wagons," was the reply.

"There must be fourteen wagoners," thundered the Pole again to the
people; "the devil shall fly away with you all if you do not instantly
produce them." With the help of an old domestic servant, a dozen of the
drivers were at length brought forward; two, however, were in no way to
be recovered, and finally the landlord confessed that they had gone to
join the patriots.

The young Pole did not seem to attach much value to this instance of
patriotism. Turning to the merchant, he said, "Here you have the men,
now see to the freight; if a single article be found wanting, I will
have the whole of these fellows tried by court-martial." Then he
carelessly sat down on the pole of a carriage, and looked at the points
of his polished boots, which had got a good deal bemired.

A number of lanterns and torches were now brought, and after a few
encouraging words from the merchant, the wagoners proceeded to roll
away some empty carts, and to open out a passage to their own goods.
Most of these men had been employed by him before, and knew him and
Anton personally; some of them proved themselves trustworthy and
obliging; and while Mr. Schröter was cross-questioning the most
intelligent of their number, Anton hastened to ascertain, as well as he
could, the condition of the freight, which mostly consisted of wool and
tallow. Some wagons were untouched; one was entirely unloaded, and many
had lost their canvas covering, and been otherwise plundered. The
merchant had once more recourse to the young Pole. "It is just as we
supposed," said he; "the landlord has persuaded some of the drivers
that, now the revolution has set in, their obligations have ceased, and
they have begun to unload the wagons. Had we been a day later, every
thing would have been carried off. The landlord and a few of his
associates have been the instigators, and some of the wagoners have been
frightened into compliance."

At this announcement a new volley of imprecations proceeded from the
lips of the small authority, and the landlord, from whose face all
ruddiness had vanished, was soon on his knees before the officer, who
pulled him by the hair, and treated him very roughly indeed. Meanwhile
Anton and some of the men laid siege to a locked-up coach-house, broke
open the door, and disclosed the bales of wool and the remainder of the
stolen goods.

"Let these people reload," said the merchant; "they may well work the
night through as a punishment." After some opposition, the wagoners set
to, overpowered by a combination of threats and promises. The Pole drove
the drunken guests out of the tavern, had the outer door closed, and all
the candles and lanterns of the establishment brought into the
court-yard. Next he dragged the host by the hair of his head to the
upper story, and then, by the help of some patriots with great cockades,
tied him to a bedpost, and gave him to understand that that was the
nearest approach to a night's rest which he had to expect. "In the event
of the freight being found entire, and safely removed from your
premises, you shall be forgiven," said the Pole; "in the opposite case,
I shall have you tried at once, and shot."

Meanwhile the uproar in the court was great indeed. Anton had the wagons
reloaded and the freight properly secured. Full of his work, he scarcely
looked around, and only realized at odd moments his singular
_entourage_, and the exciting nature of the scene. It was a large square
court, surrounded by low, ruinous wooden buildings, stables, and
coach-houses, and having two entrances, one through the inn itself, and
one through a gate opposite. It occupied a space of several acres, as is
often the case with these hostelries of eastern Europe, stationed on
great thoroughfares; and afforded, as do the caravanseries of Asia,
shelter for large transports of goods, as well as for multitudes of the
poor and needy. All sorts of wagons were now assembled in the square
court in question, and it was crowded besides with ladders, poles,
wheels, gigantic hampers, gray canvas coverings, bundles of hay and
straw, old tar-barrels, and portable racks. Besides the stable lanterns
and flaming pine torches, there was the red glare in the sky, and the
lurid clouds of smoke and sparks rolling still over the heads of the
travelers. This strange sort of twilight shone here at least upon a
peaceful task. The wagoners worked hard, shouting loudly the while; dark
forms now vanished in the shadow of the bales, now sprang on the top of
them, while their animated gesticulations made them look, in the red
light, like a crowd of savages holding some mysterious nocturnal orgies.

The merchant, meanwhile, walked up and down between the inn and the
scene of action. It was in vain that Anton implored him to rest for a
few hours. "This is no night for us to sleep in," said he, gloomily; and
Anton read in his dark glance the resolve of a man who is ready to stake
his all upon the accomplishment of his inflexible will.

It was nearly morning when the last giant bale was firmly secured with
ropes and chains on the wagon top. Anton, who had himself been lending a
hand, now slipped down, and announced to his principal that their work
was done.

"At last!" replied the merchant, drawing a long breath; and then he went
up to announce the fact to their friendly escort.

He, for his part, had contrived to get through the night in his own way;
first, he thoroughly enjoyed the supper and wine brought him by the
terrified maids, and found leisure to say a few encouraging words to the
prettiest of them. Then he contemplated the dirty bed, and at last threw
himself, with a French oath, upon it, looking now at the distorted
countenance of the roguish host, who sat opposite him on the ground, now
at the ceiling; and, while half asleep himself, complimenting the
merchant, who looked in from time to time, upon his capacity of keeping
awake a whole night. At length the youth fell fast asleep. At least the
merchant found him in the morning outstretched on the coarse coverlet,
his delicate face shaded by his long black hair, his small hands
crossed, and a pleasant smile playing around his lips.

As he lay there he afforded no incorrect type of the aristocracy of his
nation: noble child that he was, with the passions, and perhaps the sins
of a man; while over against him crouched the coarse build of the
fettered plebeian, who pretended to sleep too, but often cast a
malicious glance at the recumbent form before him.

The aristocrat sprang up when the merchant approached the bed, and,
throwing the window open, said, "Good-day: it is morning, I see; I have
slept admirably." Next he called to a patrol passing by, briefly
informed the leader how things stood, made over to him the landlord and
the remainder of the supper, and desired him to stop at once, and keep
guard over the house until he should return. Then he ordered the
wagoners to harness the horses, and led the travelers out into the gray
dawn of a comfortless-looking day.

On their way to the agent the merchant said to Anton, "We shall divide
the most necessary visits between us. Tell our customers that we have no
kind of intention of oppressing them; that, on the restoration of some
degree of order, they may reckon upon the greatest forbearance and
consideration--nay, under conditions, upon an extension of credit, but
that at present we insist upon securities. We shall not effect much in
this confusion; but that these gentlemen should be, at a time like this,
even reminded of our firm, is worth a good deal." Then, in a lower tone,
he added, "The town is doomed: we shall do little business here for some
time to come; remember that, and be firm." And, turning to the Pole, he
said, "I request you to allow my fellow-traveler to pay a few business
calls in the company of our agent."

"If your agent will answer with his person for the gentleman's return,"
returned the Pole, with some reluctance, "I consent."

The light of day had exercised its gracious office of giving color to
flowers and courage to the faint-hearted, even in favor of the agent. He
declared himself ready to accompany Anton upon the terms proposed.
Accordingly, under the protection of the great cockade upon his
companion's hat, Anton hurried from house to house, pale indeed from
loss of rest, but with an undaunted heart. Every where he was received
with amazement not always free from confusion. "How could people think
in such a time about winding up matters of business, with the noise of
arms all round, and in deadly fear of a horrible future?"

Anton coolly replied, "Our firm is not accustomed to trouble itself
about rumors of war when not absolutely obliged to do so. All times are
suited for the fulfillment of obligations; and if this be a fit season
for us to come here, it is also a fit season for you to arrange matters
with me;" through which representations he succeeded here and there in
obtaining definite promises, commissions, nay, even reimbursement.

After a few hours' hard work, Anton met his principal in the agent's
house. When he had made his report, the merchant said, reaching out his
hand to him, "If we can succeed in getting our wagons safely out of the
town, we shall have done enough to enable us to bear the unavoidable
losses that we must undergo. Now, then, to the commandant." He gave a
few further instructions to the agent, whispering to him in parting, "In
a few days our troops will enter; I take it for granted that you will
not leave your house till then. We shall thus meet again."

With upraised hands the agent invoked the protection of all the saints
in the calendar upon the travelers, locked and bolted the house door
behind them, and hid his revolutionary cockade in the stove.

Our friends now hurried on through the tumult, led by the Pole. The
streets were full again; bands of armed men passed by, the populace was
in wilder excitement, and the noise greater than on the previous
evening. The houses were thundered at, and an entrance insisted on.
Brandy-casks were rolled on to the flags, and surrounded by drunken men
and women. Every thing denoted that the authorities were not
sufficiently strong to enforce street-discipline. Even in the house of
the commandant there was agitation and restlessness, soldiers were
hurrying to and fro, and the messages which they brought were evidently
unfavorable, for there was much whispering going on in the great
ante-chamber, and anxious suspense was visible on every face.

As soon as the young Pole entered he was surrounded by his friends and
drawn into a corner. After some hasty questions, he seized a musket,
called off a few soldiers by name, and left the room, without troubling
himself any further about the travelers.

The merchant and Anton were shown into the next room, where the young
commander-in-chief received them. He too looked pale and dejected, but
it was with the bearing of a true nobleman that he addressed Mr.
Schröter: "I have forwarded your wishes; here is a passport for you and
your wagons. I pray you to infer from this that we are anxious to treat
the citizens of your state with consideration, possibly even more than
the duty of self-preservation would dictate."

The merchant received the important document with shining eyes. "You
have shown me a remarkable degree of kindness," said he; "I feel myself
deeply indebted to you, and wish that I may one day be permitted to
prove my gratitude."

"Who knows?" answered the young commandant, with a melancholy smile; "he
who stakes all upon a cast may lose all."

"He may lose much," replied the merchant, courteously, "but not all, if
he has striven honorably."

At that moment a hollow sound was heard, a sound like the sweep of a
howling wind, or the roaring of a rushing flood. The commandant stood
motionless and listened. Suddenly a discordant scream of many voices
resounded close by, and some shots followed. Anton, made susceptible by
a night of wakefulness and long-continued excitement, started with
terror, and remarked that his principal's hand, in which was the
passport, shook violently. The door of the cabinet now burst open, and a
few stately-looking men rushed in, with garments torn, arms in their
hands, the traces of a street combat visible on their excited
countenances, and at their head the young escort of the travelers.

"Mutiny!" cried the youth to his commanding officer; "they are seeking
you. Save yourself. I will keep them off."

Quick as thought Anton sprang toward his principal, dragged him away,
and both flew through the ante-chamber, and down the staircase to the
ground floor. Here they came upon a band of soldiers who were
endeavoring to garrison the house against masses of the populace. But,
swift as were the movements of the travelers, those of their last
night's escort were quicker still, as, with a loud shout, he rushed to
head his friends in their resistance to the invaders. His black hair
flew wildly around his bare head, and his eyes shone out from his
beautiful and now pallid face with the unconquerable energy of a brave
man.

"Back!" he cried, with a loud, clear voice, to the raging people, and
sprang like a panther in among them, dealing sword-strokes round. The
masses gave way; the comrades of the brave youth ranged themselves
behind him. Again Anton seized his principal's arm, and dragged him off
with such speed as is only possible to men under the influence of strong
excitement. They had just got behind a projection of the house when they
heard a shot fired, and saw with horror the young Pole fall backward
bleeding, and heard his last cry, "The _canaille_!"

"To the wagons!" said the merchant, dashing down a narrow cross-street.
They still heard in the distance shots and cries of discord; and
breaking through bands of curious and terrified inhabitants, who
hindered their progress, they arrived breathless, and fearing the worst,
at the door of the inn.

Here, too, there was mutiny. The soldiers left in charge of the house
had loosed the landlord, and speedily made their retreat as soon as news
of the tumult reached them. The court-yard was now a scene of wrangling
and confusion. The landlord, supported by a number of idlers collected
from the street, was disputing violently with the wagoners. Some of the
wagons were harnessed and ready for departure, but from others the
canvas covering had been again dragged off. The case was a desperate
one. The merchant tore away from Anton, who tried to detain him, and,
rushing into the midst of the disputants, called out in Polish as loudly
as he could, while holding the passport above his head, "Stop, I say;
here is the order of the commander-in-chief authorizing the departure of
our wagons. Whoever resists it will be punished. We are under the
protection of the government."

"What government, you rogue of a German?" screamed the landlord, with
ominous face; "the old government is done away with; the traitors have
had their reward, and their spies shall be hanged as well;" and, rushing
at the merchant, he brandished an old sword at his head.

Our Anton shuddered; but man being in the most critical moments liable
to strange associations of idea, which play like meteors across the
anguish of his spirit, it chanced that the broad back of the landlord
suddenly reminded him of the back of a squat schoolfellow of his at
Ostrau, a good-natured baker's son, upon whom, in many a scuffle, he had
often practiced the boyish trick of tripping an adversary from behind.
Quick as lightning he sprang upon the landlord, and most skillfully
threw him. The falling sword swerved from its fatal aim, only striking
the arm of the merchant, cutting through the coat and into the flesh. As
the fat fellow lay struggling on his back like a beetle, Anton drew out
his trusty pistols, and cried, with the inspiration of despair, "Back,
you rascals, or I shoot him dead!"

This rapid diversion had more effect than could reasonably have been
hoped; the people that the landlord had collected around him, and who,
after all, were only working for his interest, fell back, while half a
dozen wagoners, with bars of iron and other implements of the kind,
crowded round the merchant, and now screamed as loudly as the other
party had done a short time before, declaring that no harm should happen
to the gentleman and his wagons. The merchant cried, "Drive these
strangers out!" and, taking up the sword that the landlord had dropped,
at the head of his adherents stormed the latter's abettors, and drove
them through the house. The most stiff-necked of them tried to intrench
themselves in the bar, but one after the other was cast out, roaring and
cursing the while. The door was then locked, and the merchant hastened
back to the court-yard, and found Anton still kneeling by the
incorrigible landlord to prevent him from rising. The rest of the
wagoners having timidly got out of the way, the merchant now summoned
them all, and ordered them to put the horses to, saying to Anton, "We
must leave this place. Better the street pavement than this den of
thieves."

"You bleed!" cried Anton, in great distress, his eye falling on the
merchant's arm.

"It must be a mere scratch; I can move the arm," was the prompt reply.
"Open the gate; out with the wagons. Forward, my men! Anton, one of the
wagoners will help you to bind the landlord."

"And where shall we go?" inquired Anton, in English. "Are we to take
these wagons into the bloodshed of the streets?"

"We have a passport, and will leave the town," answered the merchant,
doggedly.

"They will not respect our passport," cried Anton in return, while he
held a pistol at the head of the obstreperous landlord.

"If the worst come to the worst, there are other inns in this part of
the town; any of them will be a better refuge."

"But we have not the full complement of drivers, and some of our number
are disaffected."

"I will manage the disaffected," answered the merchant, sternly; "we
have the full number of horses, we only want the men. Those to whom the
horses belong will remain with them. The gate is open--out with the
wagons!"

The gate led to an open space covered with building-stones and _débris_,
and surrounded by a few poor houses. The merchant hastened thither to
superintend the departure. A stout youth came to Anton's assistance.
They were anxious moments these. Near the house, he and his helper were
struggling with the prostrate man, whose ugly wife and her two
maid-servants were howling at the house door. As the first wagon rolled
away, their screams became louder: the landlady called out "help" and
"murder!" and the maids wailed all the louder the more fervently the
young wagoner assured them that no harm would befall his worship, the
landlord, if he would only lie still, and that, moreover, they would all
pay their bills besides.

Just then loud knocks were heard at the house door; the women rushed in
and unlocked it at once; and so great had been the hopeless excitement
of the last few minutes, that it was almost with a sense of relief that
Anton saw a strong body of soldiery defile into the court. He rose from
the ground, and left the landlord free. But the merchant walked slowly,
and with uncertain steps, like a broken-down man, to meet the enemies
who, at this decisive moment, frustrated his will.

The leader of the band, one of those whom the young Pole had in the
morning summoned to the inn, said to the merchant, "You are prisoners;
neither you nor your wagons can leave the town."

"I have a passport," eagerly replied Mr. Schröter, feeling for his
pocket-book.

"The new government forbids your journey," was the curt rejoinder.

"I must submit," said the merchant, mechanically sitting down on a
wagon-pole, and clinging to the body of the vehicle.

Anton held the half-unconscious man in his arms, and said, in utmost
indignation, "We have been twice robbed in this inn; we were in danger
of being killed; my companion is wounded, as you see; if your government
is determined to detain us and our wagons, at least protect our lives
and our property. The wagons can not remain here, and if we are
separated from them, it will be still more difficult to prevent their
being plundered."

The soldiers now held a consultation, and at length their leader called
Anton to share in it. After much discussion, it was finally arranged
that the wagons should be moved to a neighboring establishment, equal to
this in accommodation, but superior in character. Anton obtained leave
to move to it with his companion, and there remain under surveillance
till something further should be decided. Meanwhile the merchant sat
leaning against the canvas covering, and taking, apparently, no interest
in what was going on. Anton now rapidly told him the decision arrived
at.

"We must bear it," said the principal, rising slowly and with
difficulty. "Ask the landlord for our bill."

"We will pay the landlord," said the soldier in command, roughly pushing
the functionary aside. "Think of yourself," added he, kindly catching
hold of the wounded man's arm to support him.

"Pay for us and for the horses," repeated Mr. Schröter to Anton; "we can
not remain in these people's debt."

Anton accordingly took out his pocket-book, called the drivers together,
and, in their presence, made over a banknote to the landlord, saying to
him, "I now pay you this sum provisionally, until you shall have made
out your account. You men are witnesses." The drivers respectfully
bowed, and hurried back to their wagons.

The procession now set forth. First a portion of the armed escort, then
the heavy wagons, which slowly and helplessly rumbled along over the
stones; some of them without drivers, but kept in line by their
well-trained horses.

Mr. Schröter stood at the gate, leaning upon Anton, and counted each
wagon as it passed; and as the last rolled off, he said, "Done at last,"
and consented to be led away.

In the very next cross-street the procession turned into the great
court-yard of another inn. When the last of the wagons had at length had
its horses unharnessed, and the soldiers had barred the gate from
within, the merchant fell down in a swoon, and was carried into the
house.

He was placed in a small room, a guard stationed at his door, and
another in the court. Anton remained alone with the sufferer. Full of
anxiety, he knelt by his bed, unfastened his clothes, and bathed his
face with cold water. After a time Mr. Schröter revived, opened his
eyes, looked gratefully at Anton, and pointed to the window.

Anton looked out, and said, joyously, "It opens upon the court-yard. I
can overlook and count the wagons. I really think that here, although
prisoners, we are tolerably safe. But, first of all, allow me to look to
your wound: your clothes are much stained with blood."

"My weakness proceeds more from over-excitement than loss of blood,"
replied the merchant, raising himself up.

Anton opened the door, and begged for a surgeon. Their guard was
prepared to go for one, and after an anxious hour had passed, he
introduced a shabby-looking individual, who hurriedly produced a razor
and a dirty pocket-handkerchief, wiping the razor on his sleeve, and
bringing the handkerchief into alarming proximity with Anton's chin. It
was with some difficulty that the reason of his being sent for was
conveyed to him.

Anton cut away the sleeve of the coat and shirt, and himself examined
the wound. It was a cut in the upper arm; not a deep one, indeed, but
the arm was stiff, and Mr. Schröter suffered severely. The barber
attempted to bandage it, and went off, promising to return on the
morrow. The merchant fell back, exhausted with the pain of the
bandaging, and Anton sat by him the remainder of the day, laying wet
cloths around the arm, and watching the feverish slumber of the patient.

Soon he sank himself into a sort of half sleep, a dull apathy, which
made him indifferent to all that was going on without. Thus evening wore
away, and night came on. Anton occasionally dipped his fingers in cold
water, and crept from the bed to the window to watch the wagons, or to
the door to exchange a whisper with the guard, who showed a friendly
interest in the case.

Meanwhile the fire continued its ravages, and the sound of musketry
thundered at the gates. Anton looked carelessly at the burning fragments
which the wind drove over the unhappy town, and heard, with a faint
degree of surprise, that the noise of the firing grew louder and louder,
and at last became a deafening crash; all the sounds that struck his ear
from the street appearing to him as unimportant as the ringing of a
little early church-bell which he had often heard from his own room in
the principal's house, and which never disturbed any one out of his
morning repose. The whole night through he kept mechanically wetting and
applying cold-water poultices to the patient's arm, and rising whenever
the latter groaned or turned; but when, toward morning, the merchant
fell into a sounder sleep, Anton forgot his task, his head fell heavy
upon his hands outstretched on the table, he neither saw nor heard; and
amid the screams of the wounded, and the thundering of cannon which
attended the taking of a stoutly-defended town, amid all the horrors of
a bloody conflict, he slept like a tired boy over his school-task.

When he awoke, after the lapse of a few hours, it had long been morning.
The merchant smiled kindly at him from his bed, and reached out his
hand. Anton pressed it with all his heart, and hurried to the window.
"They are all right," said he. He then opened the door; the guard of the
previous night had vanished; and on the street he heard the beat of
drums, and the regular tramp of regiments marching in.



CHAPTER XXI.


"We gave you up for lost," cried the newly-arrived captain to Mr.
Schröter. "They manage inns wretchedly here, and all my inquiries after
you proved fruitless. It was a fortunate thing that your letter found me
out in this confusion."

"We have accomplished our purpose," said the merchant, "but not, as you
see, without drawbacks;" and he pointed, smiling, to his wounded arm.

"First and foremost, let me hear your adventures," said the captain,
sitting down by the bedside. "You have more tokens of the fight to show
than I."

The merchant told his story. He dwelt warmly upon Anton's courage, to
which he ascribed his safety, and ended by saying, "My wound does not
prevent my traveling, and my return is imperative. I shall go with the
wagons as far as the frontier."

"Early to-morrow morning one of our companies returns to the frontier;
you can send your wagons under its escort; besides which, the high roads
are now safe. To-morrow the mails begin to run again."

"I must still further request your assistance. I am anxious to write
home by a courier this very day."

"I will take care," promised the captain, "that your return to-morrow
shall meet with no impediments."

As soon as the officer had left the room, Mr. Schröter said to Anton, "I
have a surprise for you, dear Wohlfart, which will, I fear, be an
unwelcome one. I wish to leave you here in my place." Anton drew nearer
in amazement. "There is no relying on our agent at a time like this,"
continued the merchant, "and I have, during the last few days, rejoiced
to discover how perfectly I can depend upon you. What you have just done
to save my head-piece will be unforgotten as long as I live. And now
draw a writing-table here beside me; we have still some plans to
arrange."

The next morning a post-chaise stood before the inn door, into which Mr.
Schröter was lifted by Anton. It was then drawn up to the side of the
street till he had seen the wagons pass one by one out of the gateway.
Then pressing Anton's hand once more, he said, "Your stay here may last
weeks, nay, months. Your work will be very disagreeable, and often
fruitless. But I repeat it, do not be too anxious; I trust to your
decision as to my own. And do not be afraid of incurring contingent
loss, if you can only get unsafe debtors to pay up. This place is
devastated and lost to us for the future. Farewell till our happy
meeting at home."

Thus Anton remained alone in the strange town, in a position where great
trust imposed upon him great responsibility. He went back to his room,
called the landlord, and at once made arrangements for his further stay
there. The town was so filled with military that he preferred to remain
in the small quarters that he had already occupied, and to put up with
their inconveniences, having little expectation of changing for the
better.

It was indeed a devastated town which Anton now explored. A few days
back, crowds of passionately-excited men had filled the streets, and
every kind of daring enterprise was to be read on their wild faces.
Where was now the haughty defiance, the thirst of battle, that inspired
all those thousands?

The crowds of peasants, the swarming town populace, the soldiers of the
patriot army, had vanished like ghosts scared by the presence of an
enchanter. The few men to be seen were foreign soldiers. But their gay
uniforms did not improve the aspect of the town. True, the fire was
quenched, whose clouds of smoke had darkened the sky. But there stood
the houses in the pale light, looking as if they had been gutted. The
doors remained closed; many of the window-panes were broken; on the
flags lay heaps of mud, dirty straw, and fragments of furniture. Here, a
car with a broken wheel; there, a uniform, arms, the carcass of a horse.
At the corner of a street stood barrels and pieces of furniture which
had been thrown out of the houses, as a last barricade to impede the
advancing troops; and behind them lay, carelessly strewn over with
straw, the corpses of slaughtered men. Anton turned away in horror when
he saw the pale faces through the straw. Newly-arrived troops were
bivouacking in the square--their horses stood in couples round; in all
the streets the tramp of patrols was heard; while it was only at rare
intervals that a civilian was seen to pass along the flag-stones; with
his hat drawn low over his face, and casting timid sidelong glances at
the foreign troops. Sometimes, too, a pale-looking man was seen, led
along by soldiers, and pushed onward with the bayonet if he went too
slowly. The town had worn an ugly appearance during the insurrection,
but it was still worse now.

When Anton returned from his first walk, with these impressions upon his
mind, he found a hussar walking up and down before his door like a
sentinel.

"Mr. Wohlfart!" shouted the hussar, rushing at him.

"My dear Karl," cried Anton; "this is the first pleasure I have had in
this wretched town. But how came you hither?"

"You know that I am serving my time. We joined our comrades at the
frontier a few hours after you had left. The landlord knew me, and told
me of your departure. You may imagine the fright I was in. To-day I got
leave of absence for the first time, and had the good luck to meet one
of the drivers, else I should not have found you out yet. And now, Mr.
Wohlfart, what of our principal, and what of your goods?"

"Come with me into my room, and you shall hear all," replied Anton.

"Stop a moment," cried Karl; "you speak to me more formally than you
used to do, and I can't stand that. Please to speak just as if I was
Karl in our old place yonder."

"But you are no longer so," said Anton, laughing.

"This is only a masquerade," said Karl, pointing to his uniform; "in my
heart I am still a supernumerary porter of T. O. Schröter's."

"Have it your own way, Karl," replied Anton; "but come in, and hear all
about it."

Karl soon fell, as might have been expected, into a violent rage with
the good-for-nothing landlord. "The thievish dog! he has dared to attack
our firm and our head! To-morrow I'll take a whole troop of our fellows
there. I'll drive him into his own yard, and we'll all play at leap-frog
over him by the hour, and at every leap we'll give a kick to that wicked
head of his."

"Mr. Schröter let him go unpunished," said Anton; "don't be more cruel
than he. I say, Karl, you are become a handsome youth."

"I shall do," returned Karl, much flattered. "I've got reconciled to
agriculture. My uncle is a worthy man. If you picture my father to
yourself about half his own size, thin instead of stout, and with a
small stumpy nose instead of a large one, and a long face instead of a
round, with a gray coat and no leather apron, and with a pair of great
boots up to his knees, why then you have my uncle--a most capital little
fellow. He is very kind to me. At first I found it dull in the country,
but I got used to it in time; one is always going about the farm, and
that's pleasant. It was a blow to my gray-headed uncle when I had to
turn soldier, but I was delighted to get upon a horse in right down
earnest, and to see something of the scuffle here. There are wretched
inns in this country, Mr. Wohlfart, and this place is a horrible scene
of desolation."

Thus Karl rattled on. At last he caught up his cap: "If you remain here,
will you allow me often to spend a quarter of an hour with you?"

"Do as at home," said Anton; "and if I happen to be out, the landlord
will have the key, and here are the cigars."

And so Anton found an old friend; but Karl was not his only military
acquaintance. The captain was delighted with a countryman who had played
so bold a part against the insurgents. He introduced him to the colonel
who commanded the division. To him Anton had to tell his adventures, and
to receive high commendation from a large circle of epaulets; and the
following day the captain invited him to dinner, and introduced him to
the officers of his own squadron. Anton's modest composure made a
favorable impression upon them all. At home they would probably have
been restricted by their views of human greatness from becoming intimate
with a young merchant, but here in the camp they were themselves wiser
men than in the idle days of peace, their social prejudices were fewer,
and their recognition of others' deserts less impeded. Consequently,
they soon came to consider the young clerk as a "deuced good fellow,"
fell into the habit of calling him by his Christian name, and whenever
they were going to drink their coffee or to play a game of dominoes,
they invariably invited him to join them. An obscure tradition of large
means and mysterious relationship once more emerged from the abyss of
past years, but, to do the squadron justice, it was not this which
prompted their kind attentions to their countryman. Anton himself was
more exalted by this good fellowship with these noble lads than he would
have chosen to confess to himself or to Mr. Pix. He now enjoyed a free
intercourse with men of mark, and felt as if born to many enjoyments
which heretofore he had only contemplated with silent reverence from
afar. Old recollections began to reassert their sway, and he felt once
more drawn into the magic circle, where every thing appeared to him
free, bright, and beautiful. Lieutenant von Rothsattel belonged to the
number of Anton's friendly acquaintance. Our hero treated him with the
tenderest consideration, and the lieutenant, who was at bottom a
reckless, light-hearted, good-natured fellow, was readily pleased by
Anton's cordial admiration, and repaid him with peculiar confidence.

Fortunately, however, for our hero, his business prevented him losing
his independence among his new allies. The town was indeed devastated;
the wild uproar was over; but all peaceful activity seemed exhausted
too. The necessaries of life were dear, and work scarce. Many who once
wore boots went barefoot now. He who could formerly have bought a new
coat, now contented himself with having the old one mended; the
shoemaker and tailor breakfasted on water-gruel instead of coffee; the
shopkeeper was unable to pay his debts to the merchant, and the merchant
unable to discharge his obligations to other firms. He who had to
recover money from men thus depressed had a hard task indeed, as Anton
soon found out. On every side he heard lamentations which were but too
well founded; and frequently every species of artifice was employed to
evade his claims. Every day he had to go through painful scenes, often
to listen to long legal proceedings carried on in Polish, out of which
he generally came with an impression of having been "_done_," though the
agent played the part of interpreter. It was a strange commercial drama
in which Anton had now to take a share. Men from every portion of Europe
were here, and trade had many peculiarities, which to German eyes seemed
irregular and insecure. Nevertheless, habits of duty exercise so great
an influence even over weaker natures, that Anton's perseverance more
than once won the day.

The greatest claim that his house had was upon a Mr. Wendel, a dry
little man, who had done a great deal of business on every side. People
said that he had become rich by smuggling, and was now in great danger
of failing. He had received the principal himself with something of
contumely, and had at first comported himself toward his young deputy
like a man distracted. Anton had again spent an hour in reasoning with
him, and, in spite of all the latter's twistings and turnings, had
remained firm to his point. At length Wendel broke out, "Enough; I am a
ruined man, but you deserve to get your money. Your house has always
dealt generously by me. You shall be reimbursed. Send your agent to me
again in the course of the day, and come to me early to-morrow morning."

On the morrow, when Anton, accompanied by the agent, appeared before
their debtor, Wendel, after a gloomy salutation, seized hold of a great
rusty key, slowly put on a faded cloak on which countless darns showed
like cobwebs on an old wall, and led his creditors to a remote part of
the town, stopping before a ruined monastery. They went through a long
cloister. Anton looked admiringly at the exquisite moulding of the
arches, from which, however, time had worn off many a fragment that
encumbered the pavement. Monuments of the old inhabitants of the place
were ranged along the walls, and weather-stained inscriptions announced
to the inattentive living that pious Slavonic monks had once sought
peace within this shelter. Here in this cloister they had paced up and
down; here they had prayed and dreamed till they had to make over their
poor souls to the intercession of their saints. In the centre of this
building Wendel now opened a secret door, and led his companions down a
winding staircase into a large vault. This had once been used as the
cellar of the rich cloister, and down that same staircase the cellarer
had gone--ah! how often--wandering between the casks, tasting here and
tasting there; and at the ringing of the little bell above him, bowing
his head and saying a short prayer, and then returning to taste again,
or in comfortable mood to walk up and down. The prayer-bell of the
cloister had been melted down long ago; the empty cells were in ruins,
the cattle fed where once the prior sat at the head of his brethren at
their stately meal. All had vanished; the cellar only remained, and the
casks of fiery Hungarian wine stood as they did five hundred years
before. Still the rays of light converged into a star on the beautiful
arch of the roof; still the vault was kept stainlessly whitewashed, and
the floor strewn with finest sand; and still it was the cellarer's
custom only to approach the noble wine with a waxlight. True, they were
not the identical casks out of which the old monks drew their potions,
but they were now, as then, filled with the produce of the vine-clad
hills of Hegyalla, with the rosy wine of Menes, with the pride of
OEdenburg, and the mild juice of the careful vintage of Rust.

"A hundred and fifty casks at eighteen, four-and-twenty, and thirty
ducats the cask," said the agent, beginning the inventory.

Meanwhile Wendel went from one cask to another, the waxlight in his
hand. He stood a little time before each, carefully wiping off with a
clean linen cloth the very slightest trace of mould. "This was my
favorite walk," said he to Anton. "For twenty years I have attended
every vintage as a purchaser. Those were happy days, Mr. Wohlfart, and
now they are gone forever. I have often walked up and down here, looking
at the sunlight that shone down upon the barrels, and thinking of those
that walked here before me. To-day I am here for the last time. And what
will become of the wine? It will all be exported; they will drink it in
foreign parts, without knowing its merits; and some brandy distiller
will take possession of this cellar, or some new brewer will keep his
Bavarian beer in it. The old times are over for me too. This is the
noblest wine of all," said he, going up to a particular cask. "I might
have excepted it from my surrender. But what should I do with this
barrel only? Drink it? I shall never drink wine more. It shall go with
the rest, only I must take leave of it." He filled his glass. "Did you
ever drink wine like that before?" asked he, mournfully, holding out the
glass to Anton, who willingly owned he never had.

They slowly reascended the steps. Arrived at the top, the wine-merchant
cast one last long look into the cellar, then turned round like one
fully resolved, locked the secret door, took out the key, and laid it
solemnly in Anton's hand. "There is the key of your property. Our
accounts are settled. Fare you well, gentlemen." Slowly and with bent
head he went through the ruined cloister, looking, in the gray light of
the early morning, like the ghost of some ancient cellarer still
haunting the relics of his past glory.

The agent called after him, "But our breakfast, Mr. Wendel!" The old man
shook his head, and made a gesture of refusal.

Yes, indeed, the breakfast. Every transaction was drowned in wine in
this town. The long sittings in drinking-houses, which even the bad
times did not prevent, were no small sorrow to Anton. He saw that men
worked much less, and talked and drank much more in this country than in
his. Whenever he had succeeded in getting a matter arranged, he could
not dispense with the succeeding breakfast. Then buyers, sellers,
assistants, and hangers-on of every kind sat at a round table together
in one of the taverns; began with porter, ate Caviare by the pound, and
washed it down with red Bordeaux wine. Hospitality was dispensed on all
sides; every familiar face must come and take a share in the banquet;
and so the company went on increasing till evening closed. Meanwhile the
wives, accustomed to such proceedings, would have dinner brought up and
removed three successive times, and at last adjourned till the next day.
At times like these Anton often thought of Fink, who, despite his
reluctance, had at least taught him to get through such ordeals as these
respectably.

One afternoon, while Anton was sitting watching a game at dominoes, an
old lieutenant, looking off his newspaper, called to the players,
"Yesterday evening one of our hussars had two fingers of his right hand
smashed. The ass who was quartered with him had been playing with his
carabine, which was loaded. The doctor thinks amputation unavoidable. I
am sorry for the fine fellow: he was one of the most efficient of our
squadron. These misfortunes always happen to the best."

"What is the man's name?" asked Herr von Bolling, going on with his
game.

"It is Corporal Sturm."

Anton sprang up, making all the pieces on the table dance again, and
asked where he was to be found.

The lieutenant described the situation of the Lazaretto. In a dark room,
full of beds and invalid soldiers, Karl lay pale and suffering, and
reached out his left hand to Anton. "It is over," he said; "it hurt me
most confoundedly, but I shall be able to use the hand again. I can
still guide a pen, and shall try to do every thing else, if not with the
right hand, why, with the left. Only I shall never again cut a figure in
gold rings."

"My poor, poor Karl," cried Anton; "it's all over with your soldiering."

"Do you know," said Karl, "I can stand that misfortune pretty well.
After all, it was not a regular war; and when spring and sowing-time
comes, I shall be all right again. I could get up now if the doctor were
not so strict. It is not pleasant here," added he, apologetically;
"many of our people are sick, and one must shift for one's self in a
strange town."

"You shall not remain in this room," said Anton, "if I can help it.
There is such an atmosphere of disease here that a man in health becomes
quite faint; I shall ask permission to have you moved into my lodging."

"Dear Mr. Anton!" cried Karl, overjoyed.

"Hush!" said the other; "I do not yet know whether we shall get leave."

"I have one other request to make," said the soldier, at parting, "and
that is, that you will write the circumstance off to Goliath, so as not
to make him too uneasy. If he first heard of it from a stranger, he
would go on like a madman, I know."

Anton promised to do this, and then hurried to the surgeon of the
regiment, and next to his kind friend the captain.

"I will answer for his getting leave," said the latter. "And as, from
the account of his wound, his dismissal from the service seems to me
unavoidable, he may as well stay with you till he receives it."

Three days later, Karl, with his arm in a sling, entered Anton's room.
"Here I am," said he. "Adieu my gay uniform! adieu Selim, my gallant
bay! You must have patience with me, Mr. Anton, for one other week, then
I shall be able to use my arm again."

"Here is an answer from your father," said Anton, "directed to me."

"To you?" inquired Karl, in amazement. "Why to you? why has he not
written to me?"

"Listen." Anton took up a great sheet of folio paper, which was covered
over with letters half an inch long, and read as follows: "Worshipful
Mr. Wohlfart, this is a great misfortune for my poor son. Two fingers
from ten--eight remain. Even though they were but small fingers, the
pain was all the same. It is a great misfortune for both of us that we
can no longer write to each other. Therefore I beg of you to have the
goodness to tell him what follows: 'He is not to grieve overmuch. Boring
can still perhaps be done, and a good deal with the hammer. And even if
it be Heaven's will that this too should be impossible, still he is not
to grieve overmuch. He is provided for by an iron chest. When I am dead,
he will find the key in my waistcoat pocket. And so I greet him with my
whole heart. As soon as he can travel, he must come to me; all the more,
as I can no longer tell him in writing that I am his true and loving
father, Johann Sturm.'" Anton gave the letter to the invalid.

"It is just like him," said Karl, between smiles and tears; "in his
first sorrow he has imagined that he can no longer write to me, because
I have hurt my hand. How he will stare when he receives my letter!"

Karl spent the next few weeks with Anton. As soon as he could move his
hand, he took possession of the wardrobe of his friend, and began to
render him the little services that he had undertaken long ago in the
principal's house. Anton had some difficulty to prevent him from playing
the superfluous part of valet.

"There you are brushing my coat again," said he one day, going into
Karl's room. "You know I will not stand it."

"It was only to keep mine in countenance," said Karl, by way of excuse;
"two look so much better hanging together than one. Your coffee is
ready, but the coffee-pot is good for nothing, and always tastes of the
spirit of wine."

When he found that, as he said, he could be of no use to Anton, he began
to work on his own account. Owing to his old love of mechanics, he had
collected a quantity of tools of all sorts, and whenever Anton left the
house, he began such a sawing, boring, planing, and rasping, that even
the deaf old artillery officer, who was quartered in the neighboring
house, was under the impression that a carpenter had settled near him,
and sent a broken bedstead to be repaired. As Karl was still obliged to
spare his right hand, he used one tool after the other with the left,
and was as pleased as a child with the progress he made. And when the
surgeon forbade such exertions for a week to come, Karl began to write
with his left hand, and daily exhibited to Anton samples of his skill.
"Practice is all that is wanted," said he; "man has to discover what he
can do. As for that, writing with the hands at all is merely a habit; if
one had no hands, one would write with one's feet; and I even believe
that they are not essential, and that it could be managed with the
head."

"You are a foolish fellow," laughed Anton.

"I do assure you," continued Karl, "that with a long reed held in the
mouth, with two threads fastened to the ears to lessen the shaking, one
might get on very tolerably. There is the setting of your keyhole come
off; we'll glue that on in no time."

"I wonder that it does not stick of itself," said Anton, "for a most
horrible smell of glue comes from your room. The whole atmosphere is
impregnated with glue."

"God forbid!" said Karl; "what I have is perfectly scentless glue--a new
invention."

When this true-hearted man set out homeward, with his dismission in his
pocket, Anton felt as if he himself then first exchanged the
counting-house for the foreign city.

One day our Anton passed the inn where his principal had been wounded.
He stood still a moment, and looked with some curiosity at the old house
and at the court-yard, where white-coated soldiers were now occupied in
blacking and polishing their belts. At that moment he perceived a form
in a black caftan glide away like a shadow out of the bar across the
entrance. It had the black curls, the small cap, the figure and bearing
of his old acquaintance, Schmeie Tinkeles. Alas! but it was his face no
longer. The former Tinkeles had been rather a smart fellow of his kind.
He had always worn his long locks shining and curled; he had had red
lips, and a slight tinge of color on his yellow cheeks. The present
Schmeie was but a shadow of him of yore: he looked pale as a ghost, his
nose had become pointed and prominent, and his head drooped down like
the cup of a fading flower.

Anton cried out in amazement, "Tinkeles, is it really you?" and went up
to him. Tinkeles collapsed as if struck by a thunderbolt, and stared
with wide-opened eyes at Anton, an image of horror and alarm.

"God of justice!" were the only words that escaped his white lips.

"What is the matter with you, Tinkeles? you look a most miserable
sinner. What are you doing in this place, and what in the world leads
you to this house, of all others?"

"I can not help being here," answered the trader, still half
unconscious. "I can not help our principal being so unfortunate. His
blood has flowed on account of the goods which Mausche Fischel sent off,
having been paid for them. I am innocent, Mr. Wohlfart, on my eternal
salvation. I did not know that the landlord was such a worthless being,
and that he would lift his hand against the gentleman who stood before
him there without hat, without cap on--without cap on," he whined out
still more loudly; "bareheaded. You may believe that it was with me as
though a sword had fallen upon my own body when I saw the landlord use
such violence to a man who stood before him like a nobleman as he is,
and has been all his life long."

"Hear me, Schmeie," said Anton, looking wondering at the Galician, who
still harped upon the same string, trying to regain his composure by
dint of speaking. "Hear me, my lad; you were in this town when our
wagons were plundered--you saw from some hiding-place or other our
quarrel with the landlord--you know this man's character, and yet you
remain here; and now I will just tell you, in so many words, what you
have half confessed to me--you knew of the unloading of the wagons, and,
more, you had an interest in the carriers remaining behind; and in
short, you and the landlord are in the same boat. After what you have
now said, I shall not let you go till I know all. You shall either come
with me to my room, and there freely confess, or I will take you to the
soldiers, and have you examined by them."

Tinkeles was annihilated. "God of my fathers, it is fearful--it is
fearful!" whined he, and his teeth chattered.

Anton felt compassion for his great terror, and said, "Come with me,
Tinkeles, and I promise you that if you make a candid confession nothing
shall be done to you."

"What shall I confess to the gentleman?" groaned Tinkeles; "I, who have
nothing to confess."

"If you will not come at once, I call the soldiers," said Anton,
roughly.

"No soldiers," implored Tinkeles, shuddering again. "I will come with
you, and will tell you what I know, if you will promise to betray me to
no one, not to your principal, not to Mausche Fischel, and not either to
the wicked man, the landlord, and not to any soldiers."

"Come," said Anton, pointing down the street. And so he led away the
reluctant Tinkeles like a prisoner, and never took his eyes off him,
fearing that he would follow the suggestions of his evil conscience, and
run off down some side street. The Galician, however, had not courage to
do this, but crept along by Anton, looked toward him every now and then,
sighing deeply, and gurgled out unintelligible words. Arrived at Anton's
lodging, he began of his own accord: "It has been a weight on my
heart--I have not been able to sleep--I have not been able to eat or
drink; and whenever I ran here or there on business, it has lain on my
soul just as a stone does in a glass--when one tries to drink, the stone
falls against the teeth, and the water spills. Alas! what have I not
spilled!"

"Go on," said Anton, again mollified by the candid confession.

"I came here on account of the wagons," continued Tinkeles, looking
timidly at Anton. "Mausche has dealt with your firm for ten years, and
always uprightly, and you have made a good sum of money out of him, and
so he thought that the time was come when he might do a business of his
own, and settle his account with you. And when the uproar began, he came
to me and said, 'Schmeie,' said he, 'you are not afraid,' said he. 'Let
them shoot away, and go you among them and see that you keep the wagons
for me. Perhaps you can sell them, perhaps you can bring them back; at
all events, it is better that we should have them than any one else.'
And so I came and waited till the wagons arrived, and I spoke with the
landlord, saying that, since the goods could not reach you, it was
better they should fall into our hands. But that the landlord should
prove such a man of blood, that I did not wish, and did not know; and
since I saw how he cut your master's arm, I have had no peace, and I
have ever seen before me the bloody shirt, and the fine cloth of his
great-coat, which was cut in two."

Anton listened to this confession with an interest that outweighed the
aversion he felt for these--not uncommon--manoeuvres of Galician
traders. He contented himself with saying to the delinquent, "Your
rascality has cost Mr. Schröter a wounded arm; and, had we not appeared
upon the scene, you would have stolen from us twenty thousand dollars."

"Not twenty thousand," cried Schmeie; "wool is very low, and there's
nothing to be made of tallow. Less than twenty thousand."

"Indeed!" said Anton, disdainfully; "and now, what am I to do with you?"

"Do nothing with me," implored Schmeie, laying his hand on Anton's coat.
"Let the whole matter go to sleep. You have the goods, be satisfied with
that. It was a good business that which Mausche Fischel was not able to
undertake because you hindered him."

"You still regret it," said Anton, indignantly.

"I am glad that you have the property," replied the Jew, "because you
shed your blood about it; and therefore do nothing with me; I will see
whether I can't please you in other matters. If you have any thing for
me to do in this place, it will be a satisfaction to me to help you."

Anton coldly replied, "Although I have promised not to bring your
thievishness to judgment, yet we can never deal with you again. You are
a worthless man, Tinkeles, and have dealt unfairly with our house.
Henceforth we are strangers."

"Why do you call me worthless?" complained Tinkeles. "You have known me
as an upright man for years past; how can you call me worthless because
I wanted to do a little stroke of business, and was unfortunate and
could not do it? Is that worthless?"

"Enough," said Anton; "you may go." Tinkeles remained standing, and
asked whether Anton required any new imperial ducats. "I want nothing
from you," was the reply. "Go."

The Jew went slowly to the door, and then turning round, observed,
"There is an excellent bargain to be made with oats; if you will
undertake it with me, I will go shares with you; there is much money to
be made by it."

"I have no dealings with you, Tinkeles. In Heaven's name, go away."

The Jew crept out, once more scratching at the door, but not venturing
in. A few minutes later, Anton saw him cross the street, looking much
dejected.

From that time Anton was regularly besieged by the repentant Tinkeles.
Not a day passed without the Galician forcing an entrance, and seeking a
reconciliation after his fashion. Sometimes they met in the streets,
sometimes Anton was disturbed when writing by his unsteady knock; he had
always something to offer, or some tidings to impart, through which he
hoped to find favor. His power of invention was quite touching. He
offered to buy or sell any thing or every thing, to transact any kind of
business, to spy or carry messages; and when he found out that Anton was
a good deal with the military, and that a certain young lieutenant, in
particular, went often with him to the "Restauration," Tinkeles began to
offer whatever he conceived might prove attractive to an officer. True,
Anton remained firm in his resolve of not dealing with him, but at last
he had no longer the heart to treat the poor devil roughly; and Tinkeles
found out from many a suppressed smile, or short question put, that
Anton's intercession for him with the principal was not quite hopeless.
And for this he served with the perseverance of his ancestor Jacob.

One morning young Rothsattel came clattering into Anton's room. "I have
been on the sick-list. I had a bad catarrh, and was obliged to remain in
my comfortless quarters," said he, throwing himself on the sofa. "Can
you help me to while away time this evening? We are to have a game at
whist. I have invited our doctor and a few of our men. Will you come?"
Pleased and a little flattered, Anton accepted. "Very well," continued
the young gentleman; "then you must give me the power of losing my money
to you. That wretched _vingt-et-un_ has emptied my pockets. Lend me
twenty ducats for eight days."

"With pleasure," said Anton; and he eagerly produced his purse.

Just as the lieutenant carelessly pocketed it, a horse's hoofs were
heard in the street, and he rushed to the window. "By Jove, that is a
lovely thing--pure Polish blood--the horse-dealer has stolen it from one
of the rebels, and now wants to tempt an honest soldier with it."

"How do you know that the horse is to be sold?" asked Anton, sealing a
letter at the writing-table.

"Don't you see that the creature is led about by a rogue to attract
notice?"

At that moment there was a light knock at the door, and Schmeie Tinkeles
first inserted his curly head, and then his black caftan, and gurgled
submissively, "I wished to ask their honors whether they would look at a
horse that is worth as many louis-d'or as it cost dollars. If you would
just step to the window, Mr. Wohlfart, you would see it--seeing is not
buying."

"Is this one of your mercantile friends, Wohlfart?" asked the
lieutenant, laughing.

"He is so no longer; he is fallen into disgrace," replied Anton, in the
same tone. "This time his visit is intended for you, Herr von
Rothsattel. Take care, or he will tempt you to buy the horse."

The dealer listened attentively to the dialogue, and looked with much
curiosity at the lieutenant.

"If the gracious baron will buy the horse," said he, coming forward, and
staring at the young officer, "it will be a beautiful saddle-horse for
him on his estate."

"What the deuce do you know about my estate?" said the lieutenant; "I
have none."

"Do you know this gentleman?" asked Anton.

"How should I not know him, if it be he who has the great estate in your
country, in which he has built a factory, where he makes sugar out of
fodder."

"He means your father," explained Anton. "Tinkeles has connections in
our province, and often stays months there."

"What do I hear?" cried the Galician; "the father of this worshipful
officer! Your pardon, Mr. Wohlfart; so you are acquainted with the
baron, who is the father of this gentleman!" A smile hovered over the
lieutenant's mustache.

"I have, at all events, seen this gentleman's father," replied Anton,
annoyed with the pertinacious questioning of the trader, and with
himself for blushing.

"And forgive me if I ask whether you know this gentleman intimately, and
whether he is what one calls your good friend?"

"What are you driving at, Tinkeles?" said Anton, sharply, and blushed
still deeper, not knowing exactly how to answer the question.

"Yes, Jew, he is my good friend," said the lieutenant, clapping Anton on
the shoulder. "He is my cashier; he has just lent me twenty ducats, and
he won't give me any money to buy your horse. So go to the devil."

The trader listened attentively to every word spoken, and looked at the
young men with curiosity, but, as Anton remarked, with a degree of
sympathy foreign to his nature. "So," he repeated, mechanically, "he has
lent you twenty ducats; he would lend you more if you asked him; I
know--I know. So you do not want the horse, Mr. Wohlfart? My services to
you, Mr. Wohlfart;" and, so saying, he vanished, and soon the quick trot
of a horse was heard.

"What a fellow that is!" cried the lieutenant, looking out after him.

"He is not generally so easy to get rid of," said Anton, perplexed at
the strange conduct of the Jew. "Perhaps your uniform expedited his
departure."

"I hope it was of some use to you, then. Good-by till the evening," said
the lieutenant, taking his leave.

That afternoon the light knocking was heard again, and Tinkeles
reappeared. He looked cautiously around the room, and approached Anton.
"Allow me to ask," said he, with a confidential wink, "is it really true
that you lent him twenty ducats, and would lend him more if he wished?"

Anton assented to both these propositions. "And now," said he, "tell me
plainly what is running in your head, for I see you have something to
disclose."

Tinkeles made a sly face, and winked harder. "Even though he be your
good friend, beware of lending him money. If you know what you are
about, you will lend him no more money."

"And why not?" inquired Anton. "Your good advice is useless, unless I
know on what it is founded."

"And if I tell you what I know, will you intercede for me with Mr.
Schröter, so that he may not think about the wagons when he sees me in
his counting-house?"

"I will tell him that you have behaved well in other respects. It will
be for him to decide what he will do."

"You will intercede for me," said Tinkeles; "that's enough. Things are
going ill with Von Rothsattel, the father of this young man--very ill.
Misfortune's black hand is raised over him. He is a lost man. There is
no saving him."

"How do you know this?" cried Anton, horrified. "But it is impossible,"
he added, more calmly; "it is a lie, a mere idle rumor."

"Believe my words," said the Jew, impressively. "His father is in the
hands of one who walks about in secret, like the angel of destruction.
He goes and lays his noose around the necks of the men he has singled
out without any one seeing him. He tightens the noose, and they fall
around like ninepins. Why should you lend your money to those who have
the noose around their neck?"

"Who is this demon who has the baron in his power?" cried Anton, in
uncontrollable excitement.

"What signifies the name?" coolly replied the Galician. "Even if I knew
it I would not tell it, and if I told it it could do you no good, nor
the baron either, for you know him not, and he knows him not."

"Is it Ehrenthal?" inquired Anton.

"I can not tell the name," rejoined the trader, shrugging his shoulders;
"but it is not Hirsch Ehrenthal."

"If I am to believe your words, and if you wish to do me a service,"
continued Anton, more composedly, "you must give me exact information. I
must know this man's name--must know all that you have heard of him and
of the baron."

"I have heard nothing," replied the trader, doggedly, "if you wish to
examine me as they do in the courts of law. A word that is spoken flies
through the air like a scent; one perceives it, another does not. I can
not tell you the words I have heard, and I will not tell them for much
money. What I say is meant for your ear alone. To you I say that two men
have sat together, not one, but many evenings--not one, but many years;
and they have whispered in the balcony of our inn, under which the water
runs; and the water whispered below them, and they whispered above the
water. I lay in the room on my bed of straw, so that they believed I was
asleep; and I have often heard the name of Rothsattel from the lips of
both, and the name of his estate too; and I know that misfortune hovers
over him, but further I know not; and now I have said all, and will go.
The good advice I have this day given you will make up for the day when
you fought for the wool and the hides; and you will remember the promise
you have made me."

Anton was lost in thought. He knew from Bernhard that Ehrenthal was in
many ways intimately connected with the baron, and this link between the
landed proprietor and the ill-spoken-of speculator had often seemed to
him unaccountable. But Tinkeles' story was too incredible, for he had
never himself heard any unfavorable account of the baron's
circumstances. "I can not," said he, after a long pause, "be satisfied
with what you have told me. You will think the matter over, and perhaps
you will remember the name, and some of the words you heard."

"Perhaps I may," said the Galician, with a peculiar expression, which
Anton in his perplexity quite lost. "And now we have squared our
accounts. I have occasioned you anxiety and danger, but, on the other
hand, I have done you a service--a great service," he repeated,
complacently. "Would you take louis-d'or instead of bank-notes?" asked
he, suddenly falling into a business tone; "if so, I can let you have
them."

"You know that I have no money transactions," replied Anton, absently.

"Perhaps you can give Vienna bills drawn upon safe houses."

"I have no bills to give," said Anton, with some irritation.

"Very well," said the Jew; "a question does no harm;" and he turned to
go, stopping, however, when he reached the door. "I was obliged to give
two florins to Seligmann, who led the horse, and waited half a day upon
the gentleman's pleasure. It was a mere advance that I made for you;
will you not give me my two florins back?"

"Heavens be praised!" cried Anton, laughing in spite of himself; "now we
have the old Tinkeles once more. No, Schmeie, you won't get your two
florins."

"And you will not take louis-d'or in exchange for Vienna notes?"

"I will not."

"Adieu!" said Tinkeles; "and now, when we meet again, we are good
friends." He lifted the latch. "If you want to know the name of the man
who can make Von Rothsattel as small as the grass in the streets which
every one treads upon, inquire for Hirsch Ehrenthal's book-keeper, of
the name of Itzig. Veitel Itzig is the name." With these words he made
his exit so rapidly that, although Anton tried, he could not overtake
him.

He determined at once to inform the baron's son of what he had heard,
though he feared that it would occasion his tender nature great
distress. "But it must be done this very evening," thought he. "I will
go early, or remain till the others have left."

Fate, however, did not favor this intention. Early as Anton went, he
found five or six young cavalry officers already arrived at young
Rothsattel's rooms before him. Eugene lay in his dressing-gown on the
sofa, the squadron encamping round him. The doctor succeeded Anton. "How
are you?" said he to the patient.

"Well enough," replied Eugene. "I don't want your powders."

"A little fever," continued the doctor. "Pulse full, and so on. It is
too hot here. I propose that we open the window."

"By Jove, doctor, you shall do no such thing," cried a young gentleman,
who had made himself a sort of couch of two chairs; "you know that I
can't stand a draught except when on duty."

"Leave it alone," cried Eugene; "we are homoeopathists here; we will
drive out heat by heat. What shall we drink?"

"A mild punch would be best for the patient," said the doctor.

"Bring the pine-apple, my good Anton; it is somewhere there, with the
rest of the apparatus."

"Ha!" cried the doctor, as Anton produced the fruit, and the servant
came in with a basket of wine; "a sweet Colossus, a remarkable specimen
indeed! With your leave, I'll make the punch. The proportions must have
some reference to the state of the patient."

So saying, the doctor put his hand into his pocket, and brought out a
black case, in which he looked for a knife to cut the fruit.

The young hussars broke out at once into a volley of oaths.

"My good sirs," cried the doctor, little moved by the storm he had
raised, "has any one of you got a knife? Not one, I know. There is
nothing to be found in your pockets but looking-glasses and brushes; and
which of you understands the making of a bowl that a man of the world
can drink? You can, indeed, empty one, but make it you can not."

"I will try what I can do, doctor," said Bolling, from a corner.

"Ah! Herr von Bolling, are you here too?" replied the doctor, with a
bow.

Bolling took the pine-apple, and carefully held it out of reach of the
medical arm. "Come here, Anton," said he, "and take care that that
monster of a doctor does not approach our punch with his
dissecting-knife."

While these two were brewing, the doctor took out two packs of cards,
and solemnly laid them on the table.

"None of your cards!" cried Eugene; "to-day, at least, let us be
together without sinning."

"You can't," said the doctor, mockingly; "you'll be the first to touch
them. I thought of nothing but a quiet game at whist, a game for pious
hermits. Time, however, will show what you will make of these packs;
there they lie by the candlesticks."

"Don't listen to the tempter," cried one of the lieutenants, laughing.

"Whoever touches the cards first shall forfeit a breakfast to the
party," said another.

"Here is the punch," said Bolling, setting down the bowl. "Taste it, oh
man of blood!"

"Raw!" pronounced the oracle; "it would be drinkable to-morrow evening."

While these gentlemen were disputing about the merits of the beverage,
Eugene took up one of the packs of cards, and mechanically cut them. The
doctor exclaimed, "Caught, I declare! He himself is the one to pay the
forfeit." All laughed, and crowded round the table. "The bank, doctor,"
cried the officers, throwing him the cards. Soon other packs came out
of other pockets; and the doctor laying a little heap of paper and
silver on the table, the game began. The stakes were not high, and light
jests accompanied the loss and gain of the players. Even Anton took a
card and staked away without much thought. He found it difficult,
though, to take any cordial part in the entertainment, and looked with
sincere sympathy at young Rothsattel bending, in his ignorance, over the
cards. He himself won a few dollars, but remarked with pain that Eugene
was invariably unlucky. As, however, he was a party concerned in this,
he made no remark; but the doctor himself said to his patient, after
having again swept away the ducats the former had put down, "You are
getting hot; you are feverish; if you are prudent, you will play no
more. I have never yet had a fever-patient who did not lose at Pharao."

"That won't do, doctor," replied Eugene, sharply, and staked again.

"You are unlucky, Eugene," cried the good-humored Bolling. "You go on
too fast."

His deal over, the doctor took up the cards and placed them in his
pocket. "The bank has won immensely," said he; "but I leave off; I have
made enough."

Again a storm arose among the officers. "I will hold the bank," cried
Eugene; "give me your cash, Wohlfart."

The doctor protested, but at length gave in, thinking, "Perhaps he'll
have a run of luck as banker; one must not refuse a man a chance of
compensation."

Anton took some bank-notes out of his pocket, and laid them down before
Eugene, but he himself played no more. He sat there sadly, and looked at
his friend, who, heated by wine and fever, stared fixedly at the cards
of the players. Deal succeeded deal, and Eugene lost all he had before
him. The officers glanced at each other in amazement.

"I too propose that we leave off," said Bolling; "we will give you your
revenge another time."

"I will have it to-day," cried Eugene, springing up and shutting the
door. "Not one of you shall stir. Keep your places and play; here is
money." He threw a bundle of matches on the table. "Every match stands
for a dollar; no stake under. I will pay to-morrow." The game went on;
Eugene continued to lose; the matches were scattered in all directions,
as by some secret spell. Eugene got another bundle, exclaiming wildly,
"We'll reckon when we separate."

Bolling rose and stamped with his chair.

"Whoever leaves the room is a scoundrel!" cried Eugene.

"You are a fool!" said the other, angrily. "It is a shame to take all a
comrade's money as we are doing to-day. I have never seen such a thing.
If it be Satan's contriving, I will not help him further." He rose and
sat apart. Anton joined him. Both looked on in silence at the desperate
way in which gold was flung about.

"I too have had enough of it," said the doctor, showing a thick bundle
of matches in his hand. "This is a singular evening; since I have known
cards, such a case as this has never come within my experience."

Once more Eugene sprang to the side-table where the matches lay, but
Bolling seized the whole box and flung them into the street. "Better
that they burn our boots than your purse," cried he. Then throwing the
cards on the floor, "The game shall cease, I say."

"I will not be dictated to thus," retorted Eugene, in a rage.

Bolling buckled on his sword and laid his hand on the belt. "I will talk
to you to-morrow. And now make your reckoning, gentlemen," said he; "we
are going to break up."

The counters were thrown on the table, the doctor counting. Eugene
gloomily took out his pocket-book, and entered into it the amount of his
debt to each. The company retired without any courteous greetings.

On the way the doctor said, "He owes eight hundred dollars."

Bolling shrugged his shoulders. "I hope he can raise the money; but I do
wish you had kept your cards in your pocket. If the story gets about,
Rothsattel will have cause to regret it. We shall all do our best to
hush it up, and I request you, Mr. Wohlfart, to do the same."

Anton returned to his lodgings in the utmost excitement. The whole
evening he had sat upon thorns, and silently reproached the spendthrift.
He regretted having lent him money, and yet felt it would have been
impossible to refuse.

The following morning, just as he was setting out to pay Eugene a visit,
the door opened, and Eugene himself entered, out of tune, dejected,
unsteady.

"A horrid piece of ill luck yesterday," cried he. "I am in great
straits; I must get hold of eight hundred dollars, and have not in all
this luckless town a friend to whom I can turn except you. Exert your
faculties, Anton, and contrive to get me the money."

"It is no easy matter for me to do so," replied Anton, gravely. "The sum
is no inconsiderable one, and the money which I have here at my disposal
is not my own."

"You will contrive it, though," continued Eugene, persevering; "if you
do not help me out of this scrape, I know not where to turn. Our colonel
is not to be trifled with. I risk the loss of all if the matter be not
soon settled and hushed up." And in his distress he took Anton's hand
and pressed it.

Anton looked at the troubled face of Lenore's brother, and replied with
an inward struggle: "I have a little sum belonging to me invested in the
funds of our house, and have now got money to transmit thither; it would
be possible to tell the cashier to take my money and to keep back the
sum you require."

"You are my deliverer," cried Eugene, suddenly relieved; "in a month, at
latest, I will repay you the eight hundred dollars," added he, inclined
at the speedy prospect of money to hope the best.

Anton went to his desk and counted out the sum. It was the larger part
of what still remained of his inheritance.

When Eugene had with warmest thanks pocketed the money, Anton began:
"And now, Herr von Rothsattel, I wish to communicate something which
weighed upon my heart all yesterday evening. I beg that you will not
consider me intrusive if I tell you what you ought to know, and yet what
a stranger has hardly a right to say."

"If you are going to sermonize me, the moment is ill chosen," replied
the lieutenant, sulkily. "I know perfectly that I have done a stupid
thing, and am in for a lecture from my papa. I do not wish to hear from
another what I must listen to from him."

"You trust very little to my good feeling," cried Anton, indignantly; "I
yesterday heard from a very singular source that your father has got
into difficulties through the intrigues of an unprincipled speculator. I
even heard the name of the man who is plotting his ruin."

The lieutenant looked in amazement at Anton's earnest face, and at last
said, "The devil! you frighten me. But no, it is impossible. Papa has
never told me any thing about his affairs being out of order."

"Perhaps he himself does not know the schemes, or the worthlessness of
the men who mean to use his credit for their own ends."

"The Baron of Rothsattel is not the man to be made a tool of by any
one."

"That I agree to," said Anton, readily; "and yet I must beg you to
reflect that his late extensive undertakings may have brought him into
contact with cunning and unprincipled traders. He who gave me this
information evidently did it with a good purpose. He announced his
belief, which is, I fear, widely shared by a number of inferior men of
business, that your father is in grave danger of losing severely. I now
request that you will go with me to the man; perhaps we shall succeed in
eliciting more from him. He is the very Jew you saw with me yesterday."

The lieutenant looked down in deep dejection, and, without saying a
word, took up his cap and accompanied Anton to the inn at which Tinkeles
was staying.

"It will be better that you should ask for him," said Anton on the way.
So the officer entered and asked every servant that he met, and then the
landlord. Schmeie had left in the middle of the previous day. They
hurried from the inn to the government offices, and there found that
Tinkeles had taken out his passport for the Turkish frontier. His
departure made his warning appear the more important. The longer they
discussed the matter, the more excited the lieutenant became, and the
less he knew what to do. At last he broke out: "My father is perhaps now
distressed for money, and how am I to tell him of my debt? It is a
dreadful case. Wohlfart, you are a good fellow for lending me the money,
though this wandering Jew's report was in your head. You must be still
more accommodating, and lend me the sum for a longer time."

"Until you yourself express a wish to repay it."

"That is kind," cried the lieutenant; "and now do one thing more: write
to my father. You know best what this confounded man has told you, and
it would be a great bore to me to have to tell a thing of the kind to
papa."

"But your father may well consider the interference of a stranger
unwarrantable impertinence," rejoined Anton, oppressed by the idea of
having to write to Lenore's father.

"My father already knows you," said Eugene, persuasively; "I remember my
sister talking to me about you. Just say that I entreated you to write.
It would really be better that you should do so."

Anton consented. He sat down at once, and informed the baron of the
warning given by the wool-dealer. And thus he, while far away, came
into new relations with the family of the baron, which were destined to
have important consequences for him and them alike.



CHAPTER XXII.


Happy the foot that can roam over a wide expanse of property--happy the
head which knows how to subject the forces of ever-fresh nature to an
intelligent human will. All that makes man strong, healthy, worthy, is
given in portion to the agriculturist: his life is a ceaseless battle
and a ceaseless victory. The pure air of heaven steels the muscles of
his body, and the primeval order of nature forces his thoughts too into
a regular orbit. Other species of industry may become obsolete; his is
enduring as the earth: other tastes may prison men in narrow walls, in
the depths of the earth, or between the planks of a ship; his glance has
only two boundaries--the blue sky above, the firm earth below. His is
almost the rapture of creation; for whatever his edict demands from
organic or inorganic nature, springs up beneath his hand. Even the
townsman's heart is refreshed by the green blade and the golden ear, the
quietly pasturing cow and the frisking colt, the shade of the woods and
the perfume of the fields; but far stronger, higher, nobler is the
enjoyment of the man who, walking over his own land, can say, "All this
is mine; all this is a blessing upon my energy and insight." For he does
not merely supinely enjoy the picture before him: some definite wish
accompanies every glance, some resolve every impression. Every thing has
a meaning for him, and he a purpose regarding it. Daily labor is his
delight, and it is a delight that quickens each faculty. So lives the
man who is himself the industrious cultivator of his own soil.

And three times happy the proprietor of land where a battle with nature
has been carried on for long years. The plowshare sinks deep into the
well-cleaned ground, the ears hang heavy on the well-grown corn, and the
turnip swells to colossal size. Then comes the time when a new form of
industry is added to the old. Strange shapes of machinery are seen near
the farm-buildings, giant caldrons, mighty wheels, and huge pipes, while
the grinding and turning of the engines goes on ceaselessly by day and
night. A noble industry, this! It springs from the energies of the
soil, and increases them a hundred-fold. When the fruits of his own
ground are devoted to the factory, the ancient plow without, the new
steam-engine within, unite in perfect harmony to make their owner
richer, stronger, and wiser. His life is linked by many ties to men of
other callings, and strangers rejoice to hold out their hands to him,
and unite their efforts with his. The circle of his interests goes on
widening, and his influence over others increasing.

Near to the dwelling of a man like this a new race of laborers build
cottages of every degree, all comes right to him, and can be turned to
profit. The value of the land rises yearly, and the tempting prospect of
great returns impels even the obstinate peasantry out of the old
accustomed track. The wretched path becomes a good road, the marshy
ditch a canal. Wagons pass along from field to field, red-tiled roofs
rise in once desolate stations; the postman, who formerly came in twice
a week, appears daily now, his bag heavy with letters and newspapers,
and as he stops at some new house to bring the young wife, lately
settled there, a letter from her home, he gratefully accepts the glass
of milk she offers him in her delight, and tells her how long the way
used to be from village to village in the summer heat. Soon new wants
arise--the childish hangers on to all progress. The needle of the tailor
has many a new stuff to pierce, the small shopkeeper sets up his store
between the cottages, the village schoolmaster complains of the
multitude of his scholars; a second school is built, an adult class
established; the teacher keeps the first germ of the lending library in
a cupboard in his own room, and the bookseller in the next town sends
him books for sale; and thus the life of the prosperous agriculturist is
a blessing to the district, nay, to the whole country.

But woe to the landed proprietor when the ground he treads has fallen
into the power of strangers. He is lost if his crops fail to satisfy
their claims, and the genii of nature give their smiles to him only who
confronts them freely and securely--they revolt when they discern
weakness, precipitation, and half measures. No undertaking any longer
prospers. The yellow blossoms of the turnip and the blue flowers of the
flax wither without fruit. Rust and gangrene appear among the cattle,
the shriveled potato sickens and dies; all these, long accustomed to
obey skill, now cruelly avenge neglect. Then the daily walk through the
fields becomes a daily curse; the very lark that springs from the corn
reminds him that it is all sold as it stands; the yoke of oxen carrying
the clover to the barn suggests that the whole yield of the dairy
belongs to a creditor. Gloomy, morose, despairing, the man returns home.
It is natural that he should become a stranger to his farm, should seek
to escape from painful thoughts in change of scene, and his absence
precipitates his downfall. The one thing that might yet save him, a
complete surrender of himself to his avocations, is become intolerable.

Woe, threefold woe, to the landed proprietor who has precipitately
invoked the black art of steam to settle on his land, in order to educe
from it energies which it does not possess! The heaviest curse that
mortal man can know has fallen upon him. He not only becomes weaker
himself, but he deteriorates all those whom he takes into his service.
All that still remains to him is torn to fragments by the rotation of
the wheels he has madly introduced; his oxen and his horses are worn out
by the heavy demands the factory makes upon them; his worthy
farm-servants are transformed into a dirty, hungry proletariat. Where
once the necessary work at least was obediently performed, contention,
cheating, and opposition prevail. He himself is swept away in a vortex
of complicated business, claims surge in upon him wave upon wave, and
he, in his desperate struggle, drowning man that he is, has no choice
but to cling to whatever comes within his grasp, and then, wearied by
his fruitless efforts, to sink into the abyss.

Once the baron's lands had borne better crops than those of his
neighbors, his herds were acknowledged to be thoroughly healthy, bad
years, which crushed others, had passed comparatively lightly over him.
Now, all this was reversed as by some evil spell. A contagious disease
broke out among the cattle; the wheat grew tall indeed, but when it came
to be threshed the grain was light. Every where the outgoings exceeded
the incomings. Once upon a time he could have borne this calmly, now it
made him positively ill. He began to hate the sight of his farm, and
left it entirely to the bailiff. All his hopes centred in the factory,
and if he ever visited his fields, it was only to look after the
beet-root.

The new buildings rose behind the trees of the park. The voices of many
busy laborers sounded shrill around it. The first crop of beet was
brought in and heaped up ready for the mill. On the following day the
regular factory was to begin, and yet the coppersmith was still
hammering there, mechanics were working away at the great engine, and
busy women carrying off chips and fragments of mortar, and scouring the
scenes of their future labor. The baron stood before the building,
listening impatiently to the beating of the hammer which had been so
dilatory in completing its task. The morrow was to be to him the
beginning of a new era. He stood now at the door of his treasure-house.
He might now cast all his old cares away. During the next year he should
be able to pay off what he owed, and then he would begin to put by. But,
while he thus speculated, his eye fell upon his over-worked horses, and
the anxious face of his old bailiff, and a vague fear crept, like a
loathly insect, over the fluttering leaves of his hopes; for he had
staked all on this cast; he had so mortgaged his land that at this
moment he hardly knew how much of it was his own; and all this to raise
still higher the social dignity of his family tree!

The baron himself was much altered during the last few years. A wrinkled
brow, two fretful lines around the mouth, and gray hair on the temples:
these were the results of his eternal thought about capital, his family,
and the future aggrandizement of the property. His voice, which once
sounded strong and full, had become sharp and thin, and every gesture
betrayed irritation and impatience.

The baron had, indeed, had heavy cares of late. He had thoroughly
learned the misery of extensive building operations combined with a
scarcity of money. Ehrenthal was now become a regular visitor at the
castle. Every week his horses consumed the baron's good hay; every week
he brought out his pocket-book, and reckoned up the account or paid off
bills. His hand, which at first so readily and reverentially sought his
purse, did so now tardily and reluctantly; his bent neck had become
stiff, his submissive smile had changed into a dry greeting; he walked
with a scrutinizing air through the farm, and, instead of fervent
praises, found many a fault. The humble agent had grown into the
creditor, and the baron had to bear, with still increasing aversion, the
pretensions of a man with whom he could no longer dispense. And not
Ehrenthal alone, but many a strange figure besides knocked at the
baron's study, and had private dealings with him there. The broad shape
of the uncouth Pinkus appeared every quarter, and each time that his
heavy foot ascended the castle stairs discord and dissatisfaction
followed.

Every week, as we said, Ehrenthal had visited the estate: now came the
most anxious time of all, and no eye beheld him. They said in the town
that he was gone off upon a journey, and the baron was listening
restlessly to the noise of every carriage that passed, wondering whether
it brought the tardy, the hated, yet the indispensable visitor.

Lenore now joined her father, a radiant beauty, full in form and tall in
stature, but somewhat shadowed by life's cares, as her thoughtful eyes
and the anxious glance she cast at the baron plainly proved. "The post
is come in," said she, reaching him a packet of letters and newspapers;
"I dare say there is no letter from Eugene again."

"He has many other things to do," replied her father; but he himself
looked eagerly for the handwriting of his son. Then he saw a direction
in a strange hand, and on the letter the postmark of the very town in
which Eugene was quartered. It was Anton's letter. The baron tore it
open. When he had seen from its respectful tenor how well it was meant,
and had read the name of Itzig in it, he put it up in his pocket. The
secret terror which had so often shot through his heart fell upon him
again, and then followed the unwelcome thought that his embarrassments
were the subject of conversation even in foreign towns. Ill-timed
warnings were the last thing that he wanted; they only humbled. He stood
long in gloomy silence by his daughter. But, as the letter contained
tidings of Eugene, he forced himself at length to speak. "A Mr. Wohlfart
has written to me. He is now traveling in his mercantile capacity on the
other side of the frontier, and has made Eugene's acquaintance."

"He!" cried Lenore.

"He seems to be an estimable kind of man," said the baron, with an
effort. "He speaks affectionately of Eugene."

"Yes," cried Lenore, in delight; "one learns to know what
conscientiousness and stability mean when one associates with him. What
a strange coincidence! The sister and the brother. What has he written
to you about, father!"

"Matters of business, kindly meant, no doubt, but not of any present use
to me. The foolish boys have heard some idle rumor, and have
unnecessarily troubled themselves about my affairs." And, so saying, he
gloomily walked toward his factory.

Much perturbed, Lenore followed him. At length he opened the newspaper,
and carelessly turned it over till his eye fell upon a certain
advertisement. His face flushed deeply, the paper fell out of his hand,
and, catching hold of one of the wagons, he leaned his head upon it.
Lenore, much shocked, took up the paper, and saw the name of the Polish
estate on which she knew that her father had a large mortgage. A day was
specified for the sale of that estate by auction on behalf of a
concourse of creditors.

The intelligence fell like a thunderbolt upon the baron. Since he had
burdened his own property, the sum that he had invested in Poland was
his last hope of well-doing. He had often doubted whether he was not
foolish to leave his money in the hands of strangers abroad, and to pay
so high an interest to strangers at home; but he had always had a horror
of being led to invest this round sum in his undertakings, considering
it in the light of his wife's jointure and his daughter's portion. Now
it, too, was endangered, the last security had vanished. Every thing
around him reeled. Ehrenthal had deceived him. It was he who had carried
on the correspondence with the lawyer of the Polish count. He had
punctually paid him the interest when it was last due. There was no
doubt that he had known the precarious nature of this foreign
investment, and had kept back the knowledge from his client.

"Father," cried Lenore, raising him as she spoke, "speak with Ehrenthal;
go to your solicitor; he may be able to suggest some remedy."

"You are right, my child," said the baron, with a toneless voice; "it is
possible that the danger may not yet be imminent. Tell them to put the
horses to; I will go to town at once. Conceal what you have read from
your mother, and you, dear Lenore, come with me."

When the carriage drove up, the baron was still in the very same place
where he had first read the fatal tidings. During the journey he sat
silently in a corner of the carriage. Arrived in town, he took his
daughter to his lodgings, which he had not yet given up, for fear of
leading his wife or his acquaintance to suspect that his means were
impaired. He himself drove to Ehrenthal's. He entered the office in
angry mood, and, after a dry salutation, held out the newspaper to the
trader. Ehrenthal rose slowly, and said, nodding his head, "I know it;
Löwenberg has written to me about it."

"You have deceived me, Mr. Ehrenthal," cried the baron, striving hard
for composure.

"To what purpose?" replied Ehrenthal. "Why should I hide from you what
the newspapers must needs reveal? This may happen in the case of any
estate, any mortgage; what great misfortune is there in this?"

"The property is deeply involved, it seems: you must long have known
this; you have deceived me."

"What are you saying there about deceit?" cried Ehrenthal, indignantly;
"have a care that no stranger hear your words. I have left my money
standing with you; what interest can I have in lowering you and
increasing your difficulties? I myself am only too deeply involved in
them," and he pointed to the place occupied in most men by a heart. "Had
I known that your factory would devour my good money, one thousand after
another, even as the lean kine of Egypt devoured the fat, I should have
taken more time to consider, and would not have paid you a single
dollar. A herd of elephants will I feed with my substance, but never
more a factory. How then can you say that I have deceived you?"
continued he, in increasing dudgeon.

"You have known the state of matters," cried the baron, "and have
disguised the count's position from me."

"Was it I who sold you the mortgage?" inquired the offended Ehrenthal.
"I have paid you the interest half-yearly--that is my offense; I have
paid you much money besides--that is my deceit." He then continued more
conciliatingly: "Look at the matter calmly, baron: another creditor has
offered to purchase the estate; the lawyers have not apprised us of it,
or they have sent the advertisement to a wrong address. What of that?
You will now be paid your capital, and then you can pay off the
mortgages on your own land. I hear that this estate in Poland is a very
valuable one, so you have nothing to fear for your capital."

The baron had only to depart with this uncertain hope. As he dejectedly
entered his carriage, he called out to the coachman, "To the Councilor
Horn;" but on the way thither he gave counter orders, and returned to
his lodgings. A coolness had sprung up between him and his former legal
adviser; he shrunk from disclosing to him his never-ceasing
embarrassments, and had been offended by Horn's well-meant warnings. He
had often, therefore, applied for advice to other lawyers.

Itzig, in the tenderness of his heart, had rushed out of the office as
soon as he beheld the baron's horses, but now he put in his head again.

"How was he?" he inquired from Ehrenthal.

"How should he be?" answered Ehrenthal, ungraciously; "he was in a
great taking, and I had good cause to be angry. I have buried my gold in
his property, and I have as many cares about that property as I have
hairs on my head--all because I followed your advice."

"If you think that the ancestral inheritance of the baron is to come
swimming toward you like a fish with the stream, and that you have only
to reach out your hand and take it, I am sorry for you," replied Itzig,
spitefully.

"What am I doing with the factory?" cried Ehrenthal. "The land would
have been worth twice as much to me without the chimney."

"When once you have got the chimney you can sell the bricks," was
Itzig's ironical rejoinder. "I wanted to tell you that I expect a visit
to-morrow from an acquaintance out of my own district; I can not,
therefore, come to the office."

"You have this last year gone after your own affairs so often," rudely
replied Ehrenthal, "that I don't care how long you remain away."

"Do you know what you have just said?" Veitel broke out. "You have said,
'Itzig, I need you no longer; you may go;' but I shall go when it suits
me, not when it suits you."

"You are a bold man," cried Ehrenthal. "I forbid you to speak thus to
me. Who are you, young Itzig?"

"I am one who knows your whole business, who can ruin you if he will,
and one who means kindly toward you, better than you do toward yourself;
and, therefore, when I come to the office the day after to-morrow, you
will say, 'Good morning, Itzig.' Do you understand me now, Mr.
Ehrenthal?" and, seizing his cap, he hurried into the street, where his
suppressed wrath broke out into a flame, and, gesticulating wildly, he
muttered threatening words. And so did Ehrenthal alone in the office.

The baron returned to his daughter, threw himself heavily down on the
sofa, and scarcely heard her loving words. There was nothing to detain
him in town but the dread of communicating this intelligence to his
wife. He alternately brooded over plans for getting over the possible
loss, and painted its consequences in the blackest colors.

Meanwhile Lenore sat silent at the window, looking down upon the noisy
streets, with their rolling carriages and the stream of passers-by; and
while she wondered if any of these had ever felt the secret anxiety,
fear, and dejection which the last few years had brought her young
heart, one of the throng would now and then look up to the plate-glass
windows of the stately dwelling, and, his eye resting admiringly on the
beautiful girl, he perhaps envied the happy destiny of the nobly born,
who could thus look calmly down on those whose lot it was to toil for
daily bread.

The streets grew dim, the lamps threw their dull rays into the room,
Lenore watched the play of light and shade on the wall, and her sadness
increased as the darkness deepened. Meanwhile two men were standing in
eager conversation at the house door; the bell sounded, a heavy step was
heard in the ante-room, and the servants announced Mr. Pinkus. At that
name the baron rose, called for candles, and went to the next room.

The innkeeper entered, bobbing his great head, but seemed in no hurry to
speak.

"What brings you here so late?" asked the baron, leaning on the table
like one prepared for every thing.

"Your honor knows that the bill of exchange for the ten thousand dollars
falls due to me to-morrow."

"Could you not wait till I paid you your full ten per cent. for an
extension of the loan?" asked the baron, contemptuously.

"I am come," said Pinkus, "to explain that I am suddenly in want of
money, and must request you to let me have the principal."

The baron retreated a step. This was the second blow, and it was mortal.
His face turned pale yellow, but he began with a hoarse voice to say,
"How can you make such a demand, after all that has passed between us?
how often have you assured me that this bill of exchange was a mere
form!"

"It has been so hitherto," said Pinkus; "now it comes into force. I have
ten thousand dollars to pay to-morrow to a creditor of mine."

"Make arrangements with him, then," returned the baron; "I am prepared
for a higher rate of interest, but not to pay off the principal."

"Then, baron, I am sorry to tell you that you will be proceeded
against."

The baron silently turned away.

"At what hour may I return to-morrow for my money?" inquired Pinkus.

"At about this hour," replied a voice, weak and hollow as that of an old
man. Pinkus bobbed again and went away.

The baron tottered back to his sitting-room, where he sank down on the
sofa as if paralyzed. Lenore knelt by him, calling him by every tender
name, and imploring him to speak. But he neither saw nor heard, and his
heart and head beat violently. The fair, many-colored bubble that he had
blown had burst now; he knew the fearful truth--he was a ruined man.

They sat till late in the evening, when his daughter persuaded him to
take a glass of wine and to return home. They drove away rapidly. As the
trees along the road-side flew past him, and the fresh air blew in his
face, the baron's spirit revived.

A night and day were still his, and during their course he must needs
find help. This was not his first difficulty, and he hoped it would not
be his last. He had incurred this debt of, originally, seven thousand
dollars odd, because the fellow who now dunned him had brought him the
money some years ago, and entreated, almost forced him to take it at
first at a very low rate of interest. For a few weeks he had let it lie
idle; then he had appropriated it, and step by step his creditor had
increased his demands up to a bill of exchange and a usurious rate of
interest. And now the vagabond grew insolent. Was he like the rat who
foresees the sinking of the ship, and tries to escape from it? The baron
laughed so as to make Lenore shudder; why, he was not the man to fall
resistless into the hands of his adversary; the next day would bring
help. Ehrenthal could never leave him in the lurch.

It was night when they reached home, and the baron hurried to his own
room and went to bed, knowing well, however, that sleep would not visit
him that night. He heard every hour strike, and every hour his pulse
beat more stormily and his anguish increased. He saw no hope of
deliverance but in Ehrenthal; yet his horror of appearing before that
man as a suppliant forced drops of sweat from his brow. It was morning
before he lost the consciousness of his misery.

Shrill sounds awoke him. The factory laborers, with the village band,
had prepared him a serenade.

At another time he would have been pleased with this mark of good
feeling; now, he only heard the discord it produced, and it annoyed him.

He hastily dressed himself and hurried into the court. The house was
hung with garlands, the laborers were all ranged in order before the
door, and received him with loud acclamations. He had to tell them in
return how much he rejoiced to see this day, and that he expected great
results, and while he spoke he felt his words a lie, and his spirit
broken. He drove off without seeing his wife or daughter, and knocked at
the door of Ehrenthal's office before it was open. The usurer was
summoned down from his breakfast.

Anxious to know the reason of so unusual an occurrence as this early
visit, Ehrenthal did not give himself time to change his dressing-gown.
The baron stated the case as coolly as he could.

Ehrenthal fell into the greatest passion. "This Pinkus," he went on
repeating, "he has presumed to lend you money on a bill of exchange. How
could he have so large a sum? The man has not got ten thousand dollars;
he is an insignificant man, without capital."

The baron confessed that the sum was not so large originally, but this
only increased Ehrenthal's excitement.

"From seven to ten," he cried, running wildly up and down till his
dressing-gown flapped round him like the wings of an owl. "So he has
made nearly three thousand dollars! I have always had a bad opinion of
that man; now I know what he is. He is a rascal--a double dealer. He
never advanced the seven thousand either; his whole shop is not worth so
much."

This strong moral indignation on the part of Ehrenthal threw a ray of
joy into the baron's soul. "I, too, have reason to consider Pinkus a
dangerous man," said he.

But this agreement in opinion proved unlucky, diverting, as it did,
Ehrenthal's anger against the baron instead. "Why do I speak of Pinkus?"
he screamed; "he has acted as a man of his stamp will act. But you--you,
who are a nobleman, how could you deal so with me? You have carried on
money transactions with another man behind my back, and you have, in a
short time, let him win three thousand dollars on a bill of exchange--a
bill of exchange," continued he; "do you know what that means?"

"I wish that the debt had not been necessary," said the baron; "but as
it falls due to-day, and the man will not wait, the question is how we
are to pay him."

"What do you mean by _we_?" cried Ehrenthal, hastily. "You must contrive
to pay; you must see where you can get money for the man you have helped
to pocket three thousand dollars; you did not consult me when you gave
the bill; you need not consult me as to how you are to pay it."

In the baron's soul a contest between wrath and wretchedness was going
on. "Moderate your language, Mr. Ehrenthal," cried he.

"Why should I be moderate?" screamed he. "You have not been moderate,
nor Pinkus either, and neither will I."

"I will call again," said the baron, "when you have regained that degree
of decorum which, under all circumstances, I must beg you to observe
toward me."

"If you want money from me, don't call again, baron," cried Ehrenthal.
"I have no money for you; I would rather throw my dollars in the street
than pay you one other."

The baron silently retired. His wretchedness was great; he had to bear
the insults of the plebeian. Next, he went round to all his
acquaintances, and endured the torment of asking on all sides for money,
and on all sides having it refused. He returned to his lodgings, and was
considering whether it were best to try Ehrenthal again, or to attempt
to postpone the payment of the bill by offering usurious interest, when,
to his surprise, a strange figure, that he had only seen once or twice
before, entered his apartments, with a haggard face, surrounded by red
hair, two sly eyes, and a grotesque expression about the mouth, such as
one sees on laughing-masks at Carnival time.

Veitel bowed low, and began: "Most gracious baron, have the
condescension to forgive my coming to you on matters of business. I have
a commission from Mr. Pinkus, empowering me to receive the money for the
bill of exchange. I would most humbly inquire whether you will be so
gracious as to pay it me?"

The sad seriousness of the hour was for a moment lost upon the baron
when he saw the lank figure twisting and turning before him, making
faces and attempting to be polite. "Who are you?" inquired he, with all
the dignity of his race.

"Veitel Itzig is my name, gracious sir, if you will permit me to
announce it to you."

The baron started on hearing the name of Itzig. That was the man of whom
he had been warned--the invisible, the merciless.

"I was till now book-keeper at Ehrenthal's," modestly continued Itzig;
"but Ehrenthal was too haughty for me. I have come into a small sum of
money, and I have invested it in Mr. Pinkus's business. I am on the
point of establishing myself."

"You can not have the money at present," said the baron, more
composedly. This helpless creature could hardly be a dangerous enemy.

"It is an honor to me," said Veitel, "to be told by the gracious baron
that he will pay me later in the afternoon; I have plenty of time." He
drew out a silver watch. "I can wait till evening; and that I may not
inconvenience the baron by coming at an hour that might not suit him, or
when he chanced to be out, I will take the liberty to place myself on
his steps. I will stand there," said he, as if deprecating the baron's
refusal to let him sit. "I will wait till five o'clock. The baron need
not inconvenience himself on my account." And Veitel bowed himself out,
and retired from the room backward like a crab. The baron recalled him,
and he stood still in that bent and ridiculous attitude. At that moment
he looked the weakest and oddest of men. The warning letter must have
confounded the poor book-keeper with his master. At all events, it was
easier to deal with this man than with any other.

"Can you tell me of any way in which I may satisfy your claim without
paying down the sum this day?"

Veitel's eyes flashed like those of a bird of prey, but he shook his
head and shrugged his shoulders long in pretended reflection. "Gracious
baron," said he, at length, "there is one way--only one way. You have a
mortgage of twenty thousand on your property, which mortgage belongs to
yourself, and is kept in Ehrenthal's office. I will persuade Pinkus to
leave you the ten thousand, and will add another ten if you make over
that mortgage to my friend."

The baron listened. "Perhaps you do not know," rejoined he, with much
severity, "that I have already made over that deed of mortgage to
Ehrenthal."

"Forgive me, gracious sir, you have not; there has been no legal
surrender of it made."

"But my written promise has been given," said the baron.

Veitel shrugged again. "If you promised Ehrenthal a mortgage, why should
it be this very one of all others? But what need of a mortgage to
Ehrenthal at all? This year you will receive your capital from the
Polish estate, and then you can pay him off in hard cash. Till then,
just leave the mortgage quietly in his hands; no one need know that you
have surrendered it to us. If you will have the kindness to come with me
to a lawyer, and assign the deed to my friend, I will give you two
thousand dollars for it at once, and on the day that you place the deed
in our hands I will pay down the rest of the money."

The baron had forced himself to listen to this proposal with a smile. At
last he replied briefly, "Devise some other plan; I can not consent to
this."

"There is no other," said Itzig; "but it is only midday, and I can wait
till five."

He again began a series of low bows, and moved to the door.

"Reflect, gracious sir," said he, earnestly, "that you do not merely
want the ten thousand dollars. You will, in the course of the next few
months, require as much more for your factory and the getting your money
out of the Polish investment. If you surrender the mortgage to us, you
will have the whole sum you need; but pray do not mention the matter to
Ehrenthal: he is a hard man, and would injure me throughout life."

"Have no fear," said the baron, with a gesture of dismissal.

Veitel withdrew.

The baron paced up and down. The proposal just made revolted him. True,
it would rescue him from this and other impending difficulties, but, of
course, it was out of the question. The man who proposed it was so
absurd a being, that it was of no use even to be angry with him. But the
baron's word was pledged, and the matter could not be thought of
further.

And yet how trifling the risk! The documents would remain at Ehrenthal's
till the Polish count had paid him, then he would clear his own debts to
Ehrenthal, and release his documents. No one need ever know of it; and
if the worst should befall, he had but to give Ehrenthal another
mortgage on his property, and the money-broker would be equally
satisfied. The baron kept banishing the thought, and yet it ceaselessly
returned. It struck one, it struck two: he rang for his servant, and
ordered the carriage round, carelessly asking if the stranger were still
there. The coachman drove up; the stranger was on the steps; the baron
went down without looking at him, got into the carriage, and when he was
asked by the footman, hat off, whither the coachman was to drive, it
first occurred to him that he did not know. At length he said, "To
Ehrenthal's."

Meanwhile Ehrenthal had been spending a troubled morning. He began to
suspect that some other, too, was speculating against the baron. He sent
for Pinkus, overwhelmed him with reproaches, and tried in every sort of
way to discover whence he had got his capital; but Pinkus had been well
schooled: he was bold, rude, and silent. Then Ehrenthal sent for Itzig.
Itzig was nowhere to be found.

Consequently, Ehrenthal was in a very bad temper when the baron
returned, and he told him dryly that the day had come when his payments
must cease. A painful scene ensued; the baron left the office in bitter
mood, and determined to pay a last visit to an early comrade, who was
known to be a rich man.

It was past four when he returned hopeless to his lodgings. A thin
figure was leaning against the steps, and bowed low to the baron as he
hurried past. His strength was exhausted; he sat on the sofa as he had
done the day before, and blindly stared before him. He knew there was no
rescue but that which waited on the steps below. Prostrate, powerless,
he heard the clock strike the quarter to five; his pulses beat like
hammers, and each throb brought the moment nearer that was to decide his
fate. The last stroke of the hour was over. The ante-room bell rang; the
baron rose. Itzig opened the door, holding the two papers in his hand.

"I can not pay," the baron cried, in a hoarse voice.

Itzig bowed again and offered him the other paper: "Here is the sketch
of a contract."

The baron took up his hat, and said, without looking at him, "Come to an
attorney."

It was evening when the baron returned to the castle of his forefathers.
The pale moonlight shone on the turrets, the lake was black as ink, and
colorless as they was the face of the man who leaned back in the
carriage, with close compressed lips, like one who, after a long
struggle, had come to an irrevocable decision. He looked apathetically
on the water and on the cool moonshine on the roof, and yet he was glad
that the sun did not shine, and that he did not see his father's house
in its golden light. He tried to think of the future he had insured; he
pondered over all the advantages to accrue from his factory; he looked
forward to the time when his son would dwell here, rich, secure, free
from the cares that had involved his father with vulgar traders, and
prematurely blanched his hair. He thought of all this, but his favorite
thoughts had become indifferent to him. He entered the house, felt for
his full pocket-book before he gave his hand to his wife, and nodded
significantly to Lenore. He spoke cheerfully to the ladies, and even
contrived to joke about his busy day; but he felt that something had
come between him and his dearest ones--even they seemed estranged. If
they leaned over him or took his hand, his impulse was to withdraw from
the caress. And when his wife looked lovingly at him, there was a
something in her eyes, where once he was wont to turn for comfort in
every extremity, that he could no longer bear to meet.

He went to his factory, where he was again received with huzza after
huzza by the workmen, and with merry tunes by the village band. They
played the very air to which he had often marched with his regiment by
the side of his old general, whom he loved as a father. He thought of
the scarred face of the old warrior, and thought too of a court of honor
that he and his brother officers had once held upon an unhappy youth who
had lightly given and broken his word of honor. He went into his
bed-room, and rejoiced that it had become dark, and that he could no
longer see his castle, his factory, or his wife's searching glance. And
again he heard hour after hour strike, and at the stroke of each the
thought was forced in upon him, "There is now another of that regiment
who has, when gray-haired, done the very deed that led a youth to blow
out his brains: here lies the man, and can not sleep because he has
broken his word of honor."



CHAPTER XXIII.


The spring storms were sweeping over the plains when Anton was recalled.
The winter had been a laborious and anxious season. He had often
traveled in frost and snow through devastated districts far into the
east and south. Every where he had seen mournful sights, burnt castles,
disturbed trade, insecurity, famine, brutality, and burning party hate.

"When will he come?" asked Sabine.

"In a few hours, by the next train," replied her brother.

Sabine sprang up and seized her bunch of keys. "And the maids are not
yet ready; I must look after things myself. Let him spend the evening
with us, Traugott; we women must see something of him."

Her brother laughed. "Take care that you do not spoil him."

"No fear of that," said the cousin; "when he once gets back into the
office, there he will remain, and we shall never see him except at
dinner."

Meanwhile Sabine was searching among the treasures, loading the servants
with packets of every kind, and impatiently watching till the clerks
left their apartments for the counting-house. At last she herself crept
into Anton's room. She gave one more searching glance at the
sofa-cushion she had worked, and arranged in an alabaster vase all the
flowers that the gardener had succeeded in forcing. While so engaged,
her eye fell upon the drawing that Anton had done on his first arrival,
and on the rich carpet which Fink had had laid down. Where was Fink now?
She felt on this day as if she had been parted from him many, many
years, and the recollection of him resembled the sad, perplexed feeling
that succeeds an unhappy dream. But she could openly tell the
noble-hearted man to whom this room now belonged how much she had
learned to value him, and she rejoiced that the hour was at hand when
she could thank him for all that he had done for her brother.

"But Sabine!" cried the cousin, in amazement, for she too had found her
way into the room.

"What is the matter?" said Sabine, looking up.

"Why, these are the embroidered curtains which you have had put up. They
do not belong to this part of the house."

"Let them be," returned Sabine, with a smile.

"And the coverlet, and these towels--why, they are your best set. Good
heavens! The coverlet with lace, and the rose-colored lining!"

"Never mind, cousin," said Sabine, blushing. "He whom we expect deserves
the best that our old chests contain."

But the cousin went on shaking her head. "If I had not seen this, I
should never have believed it. To give these for daily use! I can not
make you out, Sabine. My only comfort is that he will never remark it.
That I should live to see this day!" And, clasping her hands, she left
the room in much excitement.

Sabine hurried after her. "She will go and tease Traugott about it,"
said she; "I must persuade her that things could not have been otherwise
arranged."

Meanwhile the traveler felt like a son returning to his home after a
long absence. At the nearest station to the capital his heart began to
beat with delight; the old house, his colleagues, the business, his
desk, his principal, and Sabine, all floated pleasantly before his
mind's eye. At last the drosky stopped before the open door, and Father
Sturm, calling out his name with a voice that sounded all over the
street, ran and lifted him out of the carriage like a child. Then up
came Mr. Pix, and shook his hand long, not remarking that his black
brush, during the up-and-down movement, was making all sorts of
hieroglyphics on his young friend's coat. Next Anton went into the
counting-house, where the lights were already burning, and heartily
cried out "Good-evening." His colleagues rose like one man, and with
loud expressions of pleasure crowded about him. Mr. Schröter hurried out
of his own room, and his grave face beamed with satisfaction. These were
happy moments, indeed, and Anton was more moved than became such a
traveled man. And on his way from the counting-house to his room, old
Pluto sprang out impetuously, immoderately wagging his matted tail, so
that Anton could hardly escape from his caresses. Arrived at his own
door, a servant met him with a smile, and respectfully opened it. Anton
gazed in wonder at the way in which it was decorated.

"Our young lady herself arranged it as you see," imparted the servant.
Anton bent over the alabaster vase, and closely examined every flower as
though he had never seen such before. Then he took up the cushion, felt
it, stroked it, and, full of admiration, put it back in its place. He
now returned to the office, to give Mr. Schröter the latest intelligence
as to his proceedings. The merchant took him into his own little room,
and they talked long and confidentially.

It was a serious conversation. Much was lost, much still endangered, and
it would require years of industry to make good what was forfeited, and
replace old connections by new. "To your judgment and energy," said Mr.
Schröter, "I already owe much. I hope you will continue to assist me in
regaining lost ground. And now there is still some one else who wants to
thank you. I hope you will be my guest this evening."

Anton next went to his long-closed desk, and took out pens and paper.
But much could not be made of writing to-day. One of his colleagues
after the other left his own place and came to Anton's stool. Mr.
Baumann often walked across, just to clap him on the back, and then
cheerfully returned to his own corner; Mr. Specht kept knocking away at
the railings which divided him from Anton, and showered down questions
upon him. Mr. Liebold left the blotting-paper several moments on the
last page of the great ledger, and came over for a chat. Even Mr. Purzel
moved, with the sacred chalk in his hand, out of his partition; and,
finally, Mr. Pix came into the room to confide to Anton that, for some
months back, he had played no _solo partie_, and that Specht, meanwhile,
had fallen into a state closely resembling insanity.

Later in the evening Anton entered the principal's apartments. Sabine
stood before him. Her mouth smiled, but her eyes were moist as she bent
down over the hand that had saved her brother's life.

"Lady!" cried Anton, shocked, and drew his hand away.

"I thank you, oh! I thank you, Wohlfart," cried Sabine, holding his
hands in both hers. And so she stood silent, transfigured by an emotion
she knew not how to repress. While Anton contemplated the fair girl,
who, with blushing cheeks, looked so gratefully at him, he realized the
change that Polish sword-cut had made in his position. The partition
wall had fallen which, till now, had divided the clerk from the
principal's family. And he also felt his heart swelling with honest
pride the while, that he was not all unworthy of a woman's trust.

He now told her, in reply to her questions, the particulars of their
struggle for the wagons, and the other incidents of that adventurous
time. Sabine hung upon his words; and when her eyes met the full, clear
light of his, they involuntarily drooped beneath it. She had never
before remarked how singularly handsome he was. Now it burst upon her. A
manly, open face, curling chestnut hair, beautiful dark blue eyes, a
mouth that told of energy and decision, and a color that went and came
with every change of feeling. He seemed to be, at the same time, a
stranger, and yet a dear and trusted friend.

The cousin entered next, the embroidered curtains having caused an
excitement in her mind, which now displayed itself in a silk gown and
new cap. Her greetings were loud and fluent; and when she remarked that
Mr. Wohlfart's whiskers were very becoming to him, Sabine looked assent.

"There you have the hero of the counting-house," cried the merchant,
joining them. "Now show that you know how to reward knightly valor
better than with fair words. Let him have the best that cellar and
kitchen afford. Come along, my faithful fellow-traveler. The Rhine wine
expects that, after all your heavy Polish potations, you will do it
honor."

The lamp-lighted room looked the picture of comfort as the four sat down
to dinner. The merchant raised his glass. "Welcome to your country!
Welcome home!" cried Sabine. Anton replied, in a low tone, "I have a
country, I have a home in which I am happy; I owe both to your kindness.
Many an evening, when sitting in some wretched inn, far away among
savage strangers, whose language I imperfectly understood, I have
thought of this table, and of the delight it would be to me to see this
room and your face once more; for it is the bitterest thing on earth to
be alone in hours of relaxation and repose without a friend, without any
thing that one loves."

As he bade them good-night, the principal said, "Wohlfart, I wish to
bind you still more closely to this firm. Jordan is leaving us next
quarter to become a partner in his uncle's business; I can not appoint a
better man than you to fill his place."

When Anton returned to his room, he felt what mortal man is seldom
allowed to feel here below, unpunished by a reverse--that he was
perfectly happy, without a regret and without a wish. He sat on the
sofa, looked at the flowers and at the cushion, and again saw in fancy
Sabine bending over his hand. He had sat there long enjoying this
vision, when his eye fell upon a letter on the table, the postmark "New
York," the direction in Fink's hand.

Fink, when he first left, had written more than once to Anton, but only
a few lines at a time, telling nothing of his occupation, nor his plans
for the future. Then a long interval passed away, during which Anton had
had no tidings from his friend, and only knew that he spent a good deal
of his time in traveling in the Western States of the Union as manager
of the business of which his uncle had been the head, and in the
interest of several other companies in which the deceased had had
shares. But it was with horror that he now read the following letter:

"It must out at last, though I would gladly have kept it from you, poor
boy! I have joined thieves and murderers. If you want any thing of the
kind done, apply to me. I envy a fellow who becomes a villain by choice;
he has at least the pleasure of driving a good bargain with Satan, and
can select the particular sort of good-for-nothingness which suits his
tastes; but my lot is less satisfactory. I have been, through the
pressure of rascalities invented by others, driven into a way of life
which is as much like highway robbery as one hair is to another.

"Like a rock in an avalanche, I, pressed on all sides, have got frozen
into the midst of the most frightful speculations ever devised by a
usurer's brain. My departed uncle was good enough to make me heir to his
favorite branch of business--land speculations.

"I put off involving myself with its details as long as I could, and
left the charge of that part of my inheritance to Westlock. As this was
cowardly, I found an excuse for it in the quantity of work the
money-matters of the deceased afforded me. At last there was no help for
it; I had to undertake the responsibility. And if before I had had a
pretty good guess at the elasticity of whatever it was that served my
uncle instead of a conscience, it now became beyond a doubt that the
purpose of his will and testament was to punish my juvenile offenses
against him by making me a companion of old weather-beaten villains,
whose cunning was such that Satan himself would have had to put his tail
into his pocket, and become chimney-sweep in order to escape them.

"This letter is written from a new town in Tennessee, a cheerful
place--no better, though, for being built on speculation with my money:
a few wooden cottages, half of them taverns, filled to the roof with a
dirty and outcast emigrant rabble, half of whom are lying ill with
putrid fever.

"Those who are still moving about are a hollow-eyed, anxious-looking
set, all candidates for death. Daily, when the poor wretches look at the
rising sun, or are unreasonable enough to feel a want of something to
eat and drink--daily, from morn to eve, their favorite occupation is to
curse the land-shark who took their money from them for transport, land,
and improvements, and brought them into this district, which is under
water two months in the year, and for the ten others more like a tough
kind of pap than any thing else. Now the men who have pointed out to
them this dirty way into heaven are no other than my agents and
colleagues, so that I, Fritz Fink, am the lucky man upon whom every
imprecation there is in German and Irish falls all the day long. I send
off all who are able to walk about, and have to feed the inhabitants of
my hospital with Indian corn and Peruvian bark. As I write this, three
naked little Paddies are creeping about my floor, their mother having so
far forgotten her duty as to leave them behind her, and I enjoy the
privilege of washing and combing the frog-like little abominations. A
pleasant occupation for my father's son! I don't know how long I shall
have to stick here; probably till the very last of the set is dead.

"Meanwhile I have fallen out with my partners in New York. I have had
the privilege of rousing universal dissatisfaction; the shareholders of
the Great Western Landed Company Association have met, made speeches,
and passed resolutions against me. I should not much care for that if I
saw a way of getting clear of the whole affair. But the deceased has
managed so cleverly that I am tied down like a nigger in a slave-ship.
Immense sums have been embarked in this atrocious speculation. If I make
known its nature, I am sure that they will find a way of making me pay
the whole sum at which my late uncle put down his name; and how to do
that without ruining not myself alone, but probably also the firm of
Fink and Becker, I can't yet see.

"Meantime I don't want to hear your opinion as to what I ought to do. It
can be of no use to me, for I know it already. Indeed, I wish for no
letter at all from you, you simple old-fashioned Tony, who believe that
to act uprightly is as easy a thing as to eat a slice of bread and
butter; for, as soon as I have done all I can, buried some, fed others,
and offended my colleagues as much as possible, I shall go for a few
months to the far southwest, to some noble prairie, where one may find
alligators, and horned owls, and something more aristocratic than there
is here. If the prairie afford pen and ink, I shall write to you again.
If this letter be the last you ever get from me, devote a tear to my
memory, and say, in your benevolent way, 'I am sorry for him: he was not
without his good points.'"

Then came a precise description of Fink's affairs, and of the statutes
of the association.

Having read this unsatisfactory letter, Anton sat down at once and spent
the night in writing to his friend.

Even in the common light of the next day our hero retained his feelings
of the night before. Whether he worked at his desk or jested with his
friends, he felt conscious how deeply his life was footed in the walls
of the old house. The rest saw it too. Besides other marks of favor,
Anton often spent the evenings with the principal and the ladies. These
were happy hours to Sabine. She rejoiced to find, as they discussed the
events of the day, a book read, or some matter of feeling and
experience, how much agreement there was between her views and Anton's.
His culture, his judgment surprised her; she suddenly saw him invested
with glowing colors, just as the traveler gazes in amazement at some
fair landscape, which heavy clouds have long hidden from his view.

His colleagues, too, took his peculiar position very pleasantly. They
had heard from the principal's own lips that Anton had saved his life,
and that enabled even Mr. Pix to look upon the frequent invitations he
received without note or comment. Anton, too, did his part toward
keeping up the good feeling of the counting-house. He often asked them
all to his room, and Jordan complained, with a smile, that his parties
were now quite forgotten. His favorite companion was Baumann, who had
had an increase of missionary zeal during the last half year, and only
been kept back by finding that an experienced calculator could ill be
spared at the present crisis. Specht, too, was a special candidate for
his favor, Anton's travels and adventures having invested him with a
romantic halo in the former's fantastic mind.

Unfortunately, Specht's own position in the good-will of his colleagues
had been materially shaken during Anton's absence. He had long been the
butt of all their witticisms, but now Anton was very sorry to see that
he was universally disliked. Even the quartette had given him up--at
least there was decided enmity between him and both basses. Whenever
Specht ventured upon an assertion that was not quite incontrovertible,
Pix would shrug his shoulders and ejaculate "Pumpkins." Indeed, almost
all that Specht said was met by a whisper of "pumpkins" from one or
other; and whenever he caught the word, he fell into a towering passion,
broke off the discourse, and withdrew.

One evening Anton visited the tabooed clerk in his own room. Before he
reached the door, he heard Specht's shrill voice singing the celebrated
song, "Here I sit on the green grass, with violets around;" and looking
in, he saw the minstrel, in poetical attitude, so enjoying his own
melody, that he stood without for a few moments, not to disturb the
inspiration. Specht's room was by no means large, and his invention had
been exercised for years in giving it a special and distinguished
character. Indeed, he had succeeded by means of pictures, plaster of
Paris casts, small ornaments of different kinds, useless pieces of
furniture, and a great coat of arms over the bed, in making it unlike
any other apartment ever seen. But the most remarkable thing about it
was in the very centre of the room. There hung an immense ring suspended
to a beam in the ceiling. On each side were large flower-pots filled
with earth, and from these countless threads were fastened to the ring.
Under the ring was a garden-table made of twisted boughs, and a few
chairs of the same nature.

Anton stood still in amazement, and at last called out, "What the deuce
have you such a network as this in your room for?"

Specht sprang up and said, "It is an arbor."

"An arbor! I see nothing green about it."

"That will come," said Specht, pointing out his great flower-pots.

On a closer inspection, Anton detected a few weak shoots of ivy, which
looked dusty and faded, like the twilighted dream-visions which the
waking man allows to cling round his spirit for a few moments before he
sweeps them away forever.

"But, Specht, this ivy will never grow," said Anton.

"There are other things," importantly announced Specht, showing Anton a
few wan-looking growths that just peered above the top of the pots, and
resembled nothing so much as the unfortunate attempts to germinate which
the potato will make in a cellar when spring-time comes.

"And what are these shoots?"

"Kidney-beans and pumpkins. The whole will form an arbor. In a few weeks
the tendrils will run up the threads. Only think, Wohlfart, how well it
will look--the green tendrils, the flowers, and the great leaves! I
shall cut off most of the pumpkins, but a few of them shall remain. Just
picture to yourself the fresh green and the yellow blossoms! What a
place it will be to sit with friends over a glass of wine or to sing a
quartette in!"

"But, Specht," inquired Anton, laughing, "can you really suppose that
the plants will grow in your attic?"

"Why not?" cried Specht, much offended. "They will do as well here as
elsewhere. They have sun; I take care that they have air too, and I
water them with bullock's blood. They have all they want."

"But they look desperately sick."

"Just as at first they will, of course; the air is still cold, and we
have had little sun as yet. They will soon shoot up. When we have no
garden, we must do the best we can." He looked complacently around his
room, "As to the decorations of a room, you see I can cope with any
one--of course, in proportion to my means. However, I have spent a good
deal upon it; and so, though not large, it is thoroughly comfortable."

"Yes," rejoined Anton, "except for a certain class of restless men who
like freedom to move about. You can have no visitors here but those who
are content to sit down the moment they enter."

"To sit quiet is one of the first rules of good society," rejoined
Specht. "Unfortunately, men are often heartless and worthless. Do you
not find, Wohlfart, that in our counting-house there are many very
unfeeling?"

"Often a little blunt," replied Anton, "but kind-hearted at bottom."

"That is not my experience," sighed Specht. "I am now quite alone, and
must seek my comfort out of doors. When I can, I go to the theatre, or
to the circus, or to see a dwarf or a giant if they happen to come
round, and of course I go to the concerts."

"But even there you are solitary."

"Yes; and then it is expensive, and I am not, as you know, very well
off, nor shall I, I fear, ever be much better. I ought to have been
rich," said he, importantly, "but a cousin and trustee of mine brought
me to this, else I should have driven my carriage and four. I dare say I
should not have been at all happier. If only Pix were not so rude! It is
dreadful, Anton, to be daily liable to this. When you were away, I
challenged him," said he, pointing to an old rapier on the wall; "but he
behaved very ill. I told him I was sorry to be obliged to do it, and
offered him a choice of arms and place. He rudely wrote back that he
would fight on the ground floor where he was always stationed, and that
as to arms I might use any I liked, but that his weapon would be his
great brush, with which he was ready to sign his name on both my cheeks.
You will allow that I could not consent to that." Anton allowed it.

"And now he sets all the others against me. My position is unbearable. I
can not be with them without getting insulted. But I know how to revenge
myself. When the pumpkins blow, I will invite all the rest and leave out
Pix. I will serve him as he once did you, Wohlfart, and revenge the
wrongs of each."

"Very good," said Anton. "But suppose that, as I owe some civility to
our colleagues, we unite in giving a party in your room?"

"That is indeed kind of you, Wohlfart," cried Specht, joyously.

"And we will not wait till the pumpkins have grown up; we will bring in
a little green in the mean while."

"Very good; fir-trees, perhaps."

"Leave it to me," continued Anton; "and, after all, we won't exclude
Pix, but invite him with the rest. That is a much better revenge, and
worthy of your good heart."

"You think so?" inquired Specht, doubtfully.

"I am sure of it. I propose next Sunday evening; and will send out the
invitations in our joint names."

"In writing," cried Specht, in ecstasy, "on pink paper."

"The very thing."

The clerks were not a little amazed the following morning at receiving
smart-looking notes, laid by Mr. Specht himself, early in the morning,
upon the desk of each, inviting them to see the pumpkins flower in his
apartment. However, as Anton's name was at the bottom of the page, there
was nothing for it but to accept. Meanwhile Anton took Sabine into his
confidence, and begged from her ivy and flowers. Specht himself worked
hard the remainder of the week, and on the day of the festival, with the
help of the servant, he contrived to entwine the threads with green
leaves, to procure a number of colored lamps, and to intermix with the
leaves some triangular inventions of yellow paper, which were
marvelously like the flowers of the pumpkin.

Thus the room really did present the aspect Mr. Specht had long seen in
his day-dreams. The colleagues were exceedingly amazed. Mr. Pix was the
last to enter, and could not suppress an exclamation of surprise when he
saw the unlucky arbor positively overgrown and covered with yellow
flowers, shining in the colored lamp-light. The great flower-pots were
filled with gay nosegays, a red lamp hung down from the centre, and on
the rustic table was placed a large pumpkin. Anton would make the
quartette sit in the arbor, and grouped the others around the room, the
bed having been arranged with bolsters and cushions so as to look like a
second sofa.

When they were all settled, Specht approached the great pumpkin, and
solemnly exclaimed, "You have long plagued me about pumpkins; here is my
revenge." He took hold of the short stalk, and lifted away the other
half. It was hollow. A bowl of punch stood within. The clerks laughed,
and cried "Bravo!" while Specht filled the glasses.

Nevertheless, at first, there was a certain degree of estrangement
visible between the host and his guests. True, the obnoxious word was
never mentioned, but his propositions seldom found favor. When Anton
went round dispensing a bundle of Turkish pipes, which he had bought
while abroad for his colleagues, Specht proposed that they should all
sit cross-legged on the sofas and on the floors, in true Turkish
fashion. This proposal fell through. Also, when he next asserted that,
as our commerce with the East increased, the Circassian maidens sold by
their parents to Turkish families would soon come over and play the part
of waitresses in Bavarian beer-shops, he evidently failed to carry
conviction to any of the party. But the gentle influences of the
pumpkin-bowl gradually told upon the severe intellects of the
counting-house.

First of all, the musical members of the firm were reconciled. Anton
proposed the health of the quartette. The quartette returned thanks in
some embarrassment, having been dissolved for about a month. It came
out, however, from certain dark hints given by the first bass, that
Specht had been unreasonable in his demands upon them. He had wished to
make use of the quartette to serenade the charming Zillibi, the _prima
donna_ of the circus; and when the basses declined, Specht had flown
into a violent passion, and sworn he would never sing with them till
they consented.

"If he had been content to serenade her in the evening," said Balbus,
"we might, perhaps, have given in for the sake of peace, but he
maintained that it must be at four o'clock in the morning, as it was
then that the riding-master rose to feed his horses. That was too much.
Meanwhile the lady ran off with a Bajazzo."

"That is not true," cried Specht; "the Bajazzo carried her off by
force."

"At all events, it has been a fortunate incident for us," said Anton,
"as it releases these gentlemen from the observance of their vows. I see
no reason, therefore, why they should any longer deprive us of the
enjoyment their musical talents are so calculated to afford. From what I
hear, my dear Specht, you were a little hasty; so make such an apology
to these gentlemen as becomes a man of honor, and then I shall propose
the instant re-establishment of the quartette."

Specht rose accordingly, and said, "Adopting the advice of my friend
Wohlfart, I now beg to apologize to you all, and am, moreover, ready to
give you satisfaction in any way that you prefer." Whereupon he tossed
off his glass, and vehemently shook hands with the basses.

After that the music-books were brought out, and the four voices sounded
remarkably well out of the arbor. A reconciliation with Pix still
remained to be effected. Specht looked at him all evening mistrustfully,
as he sat on the sofa-bed, stroking old Pluto, who had come with him to
the party. Specht now poured out another glass for Pix, and laid it down
beside him. Pix quaffed it in silence; Specht refilled it, and began in
a free-and-easy tone--"Now, Pix, what do you think of the pumpkins?"

"It is a crazy idea," said Pix.

Specht turned away much hurt, but he soon returned to the charge. "You
will grant, Pix, that men may hold different opinions on many subjects,
and yet need not be enemies."

"I grant that."

"Why, then, are you my enemy? Why do you think meanly of me? It is hard
to live on bad terms with one's colleagues. I will not conceal that I
esteem you, and that your conduct pains me. You have refused me
satisfaction, and yet you are angry with me."

"Don't heat yourself," said Pix; "I have refused you no satisfaction,
and I am not angry with you."

"Will you prove this to these gentlemen?" cried Specht, much pleased;
"will you hob-nob with me?"

"Come, now," said Pix, good-humoredly, "I have no wish to quarrel; I
only say this pumpkin notion was a crazy one."

"But it is my notion still," cried Specht, withdrawing his glass; "I
water them with bullock's blood, and in a few weeks they will be green."

"No," said Pix; "that is over forever, as you will see yourself
to-morrow morning. And now come here and hob-nob with me, and pumpkins
shall never be spoken of between us any more."

Specht hob-nobbed with all his heart, and became exceedingly cheerful.
The weight that had long oppressed him had fallen off. He sang, he shook
all his colleagues by the hand, and dealt more largely than ever in bold
assertions.

As Anton went down stairs with the others, he remarked that Pluto was
carrying something yellow in his mouth, and gnawing it eagerly.

"It is Specht's pumpkin," said Pix; "the dog has taken it for a piece of
beef, and bitten it to pieces."



CHAPTER XXIV.


Anton stood by the sick-bed of his friend Bernhard, and looked with
sincere sympathy at his wasted form. The young student's face was more
furrowed than ever, his complexion was transparent as wax, his long hair
hung in disorder around his damp brow, and his eyes shone with feverish
excitement.

"All the time you have been away," said he, sadly, "I have been longing
for you; now that you are returned, I shall be better."

"I will often come if our conversation does not excite you too much,"
replied Anton.

"No," said Bernhard, "I will merely listen, and you shall tell me about
your travels."

Anton began his recital: "I have seen of late what we have both of us
often wished to see--foreign scenes and a life of adventures. I have
found pleasant companionship in other countries, but the result of my
experience is that there is no greater happiness than that of living
quietly among one's own people. I have met with much that would have
delighted you, because it was poetical and soul-stirring, but
disappointment was largely mingled with it all."

"It is the same all over the earth," said Bernhard. "When a mighty
feeling shakes the heart, and seeks to impel onward, the world stains
and tarnishes it, and fair things die, and lofty aims become ridiculous.
So it is no better with others than with us."

"That is our old bone of contention," said Anton, cheerily; "are you not
converted, you skeptic?"

Bernhard looked down embarrassed. "Perhaps I am, Wohlfart."

"Oh ho!" cried Anton; "and what has brought this change about? Was it
some experience of your own? It must have been, I am sure."

"Whatever it was," said Bernhard, with a smile that irradiated his face,
"I believe that with us, too, beauty and loveliness are to be found;
that with us, too, life can give birth to great passions, holy joys, and
bitter griefs; and I believe," continued he, mournfully, "that even
with us many sink under the burden of a terrible destiny."

Anton listened anxiously to these words, and remarked that the large
eyes of the invalid shone with a sudden inspiration.

"No doubt," said he, "it is as you say, but the fairest and most
ennobling thing this life can boast is the triumph of the mind over all
external influences. I honor the man who lets neither his passions nor
his destiny overpower him, but who, even if he have erred, can tear
himself away and regain his liberty."

"But how if it be too late, and if the force of circumstances be
stronger than he?"

"I am not willing to believe in such force of circumstances," replied
Anton. "I imagine that, however sore pressed a man may be, if he sets
himself to work in earnest, he may hew his way out. True, he will bear
the scars of such an encounter, but, like a soldier's, there will be
honor in them. Or, even if he does not overcome, he can at least fight
valiantly, and if conquered at last, he deserves the sympathy of all;
but he who yields himself up without resistance, the wind blows such
away from the face of the earth."

"No spell will change down into stone, sings the poet," said Bernhard,
taking a feather from his pillow and brushing it away. "I have a
question to ask you, Wohlfart," said he, after a pause. "Fancy that I am
a Christian, and that you are my father-confessor, from whom no secrets
must be kept back." Then looking anxiously at the door of the next room,
he whispered, "What do you think of my father's business?"

Anton started in amazement, while Bernhard watched him in painful
suspense. "I understand little about these matters," continued he;
"alas! too little, perhaps. I do not want to know whether he passes for
poor or rich; but I ask you, as my friend, what do strangers think of
the way in which he makes his money? It is dreadful, and perhaps sinful,
that I, his son, should put such a question as this, but an irresistible
impulse urges me on. Be honest with me, Wohlfart." He rose in his bed,
and, putting his arm round Anton's neck, said in his ear, "Does my
father rank with men of your class as an upright man?"

Anton was silent. He could not say what he really thought, and he could
not tell a lie. Meanwhile the invalid sank back upon his pillows, and a
low groan quivered through the room.

"My dear Bernhard," replied Anton, at length, "before I answer to a son
such a question as this, I must know his motive for asking it."

"I ask," said Bernhard, solemnly, "because I am exceedingly uneasy about
the good of others, and your answers may spare much misery to many."

"Then," said Anton, "I will answer you. I know of no particular dealing
of your father's which is dishonorable in the mercantile sense of the
word. I only know that he is numbered among that large class of business
men who are not particular in inquiring whether their own profit is
purchased at the price of another's loss. Mr. Ehrenthal passes for a
clear, keen-sighted man, to whom the good opinion of solid merchants is
more indifferent than to a hundred others. He would probably do much
that men of higher principle would avoid, but I do not doubt that he
would also shrink from what certain other speculators around venture
upon."

Again there came a trembling sigh from the invalid, and a painful
silence ensued. At last he lifted himself up again, and, placing his
lips so near Anton's ear that his burning breath played upon his
friend's cheek, he said, "I know that you are acquainted with the Baron
Rothsattel. The young lady herself told me so."

"It is as she has said," replied Anton, with difficulty concealing his
excitement.

"Do you know any thing of the connection between my father and the
baron?"

"But little; only what you have yourself occasionally told me, that your
father had money on the baron's estate. But when I was abroad, I heard
that a great danger threatened the baron, and I was even authorized to
warn him against an intriguer." Bernhard watched Anton's lips in agony.
Anton shook his head. "And yet," said he, "it was one who is no stranger
in your house. It was your book-keeper Itzig."

"He is a villain," cried Bernhard, eagerly, clenching his thin hand. "He
is a man of low nature. From the first day that he entered our house, I
felt a loathing of him as of an unclean beast."

"It appears to me," continued Anton, "that Itzig, of whom I knew
something in earlier years, is plotting against the baron behind your
father's back. The warning I received was so obscure, I hardly knew what
to make of it; however, I could but inform the baron of what had been
told me."

"That Itzig rules my father," whispered Bernhard. "He is a demon in our
family. If my father acts selfishly toward the baron, that man is
answerable for it."

Anton soothingly assented. "I must know how matters stand between the
baron and my father," continued the invalid. "I must know what is to be
done to help that family out of their difficulties. I can help," he went
on to say, and again a ray of joy lit up his pale face. "My father loves
me. He loves me much. In my present weak state, I have found out how his
heart clings to me--when he comes in the evening to my bed, and strokes
my forehead; when he sits where you do, Wohlfart, and mournfully looks
at me for hours together! Wohlfart, after all, he is my father!" He
clasped his hands, and hid his face in the pillows. "You must help me,
my friend; you must tell me how to save the baron. I charge you to do
this. I myself will speak to my father. I dreaded the hour before, but,
after what you have told me, I fear now either that he does not know
all, or," added he, in a low murmur, "that he will not tell me all. You
yourself must go to the baron."

"You must not forget, Bernhard," replied Anton, "that, even with the
best will in the world, it is not permitted us to force ourselves thus
into the affairs of others. However good our intentions may be, still I
am a stranger to the baron. My interference may seem, both to him and to
your father, sheer presumption. I do not say that the step is a useless,
but it is a most uncertain one. It would be better that you should first
find out the nature of your father's proceedings."

"Go, though, to the baron," implored Bernhard, "and if he remain silent,
ask the young lady. I have seen her," continued he; "I have kept it back
from you as men will keep their dearest secret; now you shall hear it. I
have been more than once on the Rothsattel estate. I know how fair she
is, how proud her bearing, how noble her every gesture. When she walks
over the grass, she seems the queen of nature; an azure glory shines
around her head; wherever she looks, all things bow down before her; her
teeth like pearls, her bosom a bed of lilies," whispered he, and sank
down on his pillows with folded hands and flashing eyes.

"He too!" cried Anton to himself. "My poor Bernhard, you are delirious!"

Bernhard shook his head. "Since that day," said he, "I know that life is
not commonplace, but it is terrible! Will you now consent to speak to
the baron and his daughter?"

"I will," said Anton, rising to go. "But I repeat to you that, in doing
this, I am taking an important step, which may easily lead to fresh
involvements for us both."

"One in my state fears no involvements," said Bernhard; "and as for
you," and he cast a searching glance at Anton, "you will be what you
have spoken of to me this day, a man who can cut his way through
difficulties, and whose business it is, even though wounded, to fight
with fate. Me, Anton Wohlfart, me the whirlwind will sweep away."

"Faint-heart," cried Anton, tenderly, "it is your disease that speaks
thus. Courage will return with health."

"You hope so?" inquired the invalid, doubtingly. "I do so too, at times;
but often I grow faint-hearted, as you say. Yes, I will live, and I will
live no longer as of yore. I will try hard to grow stronger. I will not
dream so much as I do now, will not fret and excite myself in solitude.
I will make trial of the life of a brave and wise man, who gives back
every blow that he receives," cried he, with flushed cheeks, and holding
out his hand to his friend. Anton bent over him, and left the room.

That evening Ehrenthal went to his son's bedside, as he always did,
after having closed the office door and hidden the key in his own room.

"What did the doctor say to you to-day, my Bernhard?"

Bernhard had turned his face to the wall, but he now suddenly flung
himself round, and said impetuously, "Father, I have something to speak
to you about. Lock the door, that no one may disturb us."

Ehrenthal, in amazement, ran to both doors, locked and bolted them
obediently, and then hurried back to his son's bedside.

"What is it that vexes you, my Bernhard?" inquired he, stretching out
his hand to feel his son's brow.

Bernhard drew back his head, and his father's hand sank on the
bedclothes.

"Sit down there," said the invalid, darkly, "and answer my questions as
sincerely as if you were speaking to yourself."

The old man sat down. "Ask, my son, and I will answer you."

"You have told me that you have lent much money to Baron Rothsattel;
that you will lend him no more, and that the nobleman will not be able
to retain his estate."

"It is as I have said," replied his father, as cautiously as if
undergoing a legal examination.

"And what is to become of the baron and of his family?"

Ehrenthal shrugged his shoulders. "He will forfeit his property; and
when the day comes that the estate has to be sold, I shall, on account
of my money invested therein, bid for it, and I hope I shall be the
purchaser. I have a large mortgage on it, which is safe, and a small
mortgage besides, which is not worth much."

"Father," cried Bernhard, with a piercing voice, which made Ehrenthal
start, "you wish to turn this man's misfortunes to your own profit; you
wish to seat yourself in his place. Yes, you drove to the baron's
estate, and took me with you, and perhaps you were then planning how to
turn his embarrassment to advantage. It is horrible! horrible!" He threw
himself back on the pillows and wrung his hands.

Ehrenthal moved restlessly on his seat: "Speak not of matters that you
do not understand. Business is for the day; when I come to you in the
evenings, then you are not to trouble yourself about my occupations. I
will not have you lift up your hands, and cry 'Horrible!'"

"Father!" exclaimed Bernhard, "if you would not see me die with shame
and sorrow, you will give up your plan."

"Give up!" cried Ehrenthal, indignantly. "How can I give up my gold? How
can I give up the estate about which I have taken thought night and day?
How can I give up the greatest stroke of business I have yet carried on?
You are a disobedient child, and do grieve me for nothing. What fault of
mine was it that I gave the baron my money? He would have it so. What
fault is it of mine that I buy the property? I but redeem my money."

"Cursed be every dollar that you have laid out thus! Cursed be the day
that this unblessed purpose entered your mind!" continued Bernhard, and
he raised his hand threateningly against his father.

"What is this!" cried Ehrenthal, springing up; "what evil thoughts have
taken hold of my son's heart, that he should thus speak to his father?
What I have done, have I not done it for thee, not for myself--not for
my old days? I always thought of thee, and of how thou shouldst be a
different man to thy father. I should have the labor and the anxiety,
and thou shouldst go from the castle to the garden, book in hand, and
back to the castle again, and move to and fro as thou wouldst. The
bailiff should take off his cap, and the servants their hats, and they
should all say, 'That is our young master, he who walks yonder.'"

"Yes," cried Bernhard, "this is your love: you want to make me partaker
in an unrighteous deed. You are mistaken, father. Never will I go out of
the castle into the garden, book in hand; rather will I, a poor beggar,
beg my bread on the public road, than set my foot on an estate that has
been gained by sin."

"Bernhard," cried the old man, wringing his hands in his turn, "thou
castest a stone on thy father's heart, and its weight sinks him to the
earth."

"And you ruin your son," cried Bernhard, in uncontrolled passion. "See
to it for whom you are lying and cheating; for, as sure as there is a
heaven above us, it shall never be said that you have done it for your
unhappy son."

"My son," wailed the father, "do not smite my heart with your curses.
Ever since you were a little lad, carrying your satchel to school, you
have been all my pride. I have always allowed you to do your own
pleasure. I have bought you books. I have given you more money than you
required. I have watched your eyes to read your wishes there. While I
was toiling hard all day below, I used to think, 'Because of my pains,
my son will rejoice.'" He took the corner of his dressing-gown to wipe
his eyes, and tried to recover his composure. And so he sat, a
broken-down man, face to face with his son.

Bernhard looked silently at his father's bent head. At last he reached
out his hand. "My father!" he gently said.

Ehrenthal instantly seized the proffered hand between his, and holding
it fast for fear it should be again withdrawn, he came nearer, kissed
and stroked it. "Now thou art my own kind son once more," said he, with
emotion; "now thou wilt not speak such wicked words again, or quarrel
with me about this baron."

Bernhard snatched his hand away.

"I will not press him; I will have patience about the interest," said
Ehrenthal, beseechingly, trying to recover his son's hand.

"Ah! it is useless to speak to him!" cried Bernhard, in deepest
distress; "he does not even understand my words."

"I will understand every thing," gasped out Ehrenthal, "if you will only
give me back your hand."

"Will you relinquish your plan about the estate?" asked Bernhard.

"Speak not of the estate," besought the old man.

"In vain!" murmured Bernhard, turning away and hiding his face in his
hands.

Ehrenthal sat by him annihilated and sighing deeply. "Hear me, my son,"
said he, at length; "I will see if I can not get him another estate that
he can buy with his remaining means. Do you hear me, my son Bernhard?"

"Go!" cried Bernhard, without anger, but with the energy of intense
grief. "Go, and leave me alone!"

Ehrenthal rose and left the room, walking up and down vehemently in the
next, wringing his hands, and talking to himself. Then he opened the
door, approaching Bernhard's bed, and asked, in a piteous voice, "Wilt
thou not give me thy hand, my son?" But Bernhard lay silent, with
averted face.

It was with a beating heart that Anton, two days later, gave his name to
the baron's servant.

"Wohlfart!" cried the baron, and the recollection of the letter returned
disagreeably to him; "bring him in." He met Anton's low bow rather
coolly. "I am obliged to you," said he, "for a letter lately received,
and you must excuse my having, on account of much business on hand, left
it unanswered."

"If," began Anton, "I now take the liberty of calling with reference to
the same subject, I implore you not to look upon it as intrusive. I come
here charged with a message from a friend of mine who feels the most
devoted respect for you and your family. He is the son of Ehrenthal the
merchant. He himself is prevented from waiting upon you by illness, and
therefore implores you, through me, to make use of the influence he
possesses with his father. In the event of your thinking it probable
that he may be of use, may I request you to communicate your wishes to
him?"

The baron listened eagerly. Now, when every thing forsook him upon which
he had himself relied, strangers began to interfere with his fate--this
Itzig, for instance, and Wohlfart, and now Ehrenthal's son. "I know but
little of the young man," said he, with reserve; "I must request you,
first of all, to explain to me how I happen to have the honor of
exciting such an unusual amount of interest in his mind."

Anton replied with some warmth "Bernhard Ehrenthal has a noble heart,
and his life is stainless. Having grown up among his books, he
understands little or nothing of his father's business matters, but he
is under the impression that the latter is led on by wicked advisers to
act the part of an enemy toward you. He has influence over his
father--his fine sense of rectitude is much disturbed--and he ardently
wishes to hold back a parent from proceedings which he himself considers
dishonorable."

Here was help. It was a breath of fresh air piercing through the choking
atmosphere of a sick-room; but the fresh air made the patient
uncomfortable. These honorable men, so ready to condemn all that did not
approve itself to their own sense of honor, had become distressing to
the baron. At all events, he would not expose himself to this
Wohlfart--the very essence, no doubt, of scrupulous conscientiousness.
And, accordingly, he replied with affected cordiality, "My relations to
the father of your friend are precisely such as might be facilitated by
the kindly intervention of one mutually interested in us both. Whether
young Ehrenthal, however, be the proper person, I can not decide.
Meanwhile, tell him that I am grateful for his sympathy, and that I
purpose calling upon him at his own time to consult him on the subject."
Upon which announcement Anton rose, the baron accompanying him to the
door, and, wonderful to say, making him a low bow.

It was the result of no accident that, as Anton passed through the
ante-chamber, Lenore should enter it. "Mr. Wohlfart!" she cried, with
delight, and hurried to him. "Dear young lady!" cried he; and they met
as old friends.

They forgot their interval of separation; they were as of old, partners
in the dance. Both said how much they had altered since then, and while
they said so, all the intervening years dropped off unperceived from
each.

"You wear upright collars again," cried Lenore, with a slightly
reproachful voice. Anton instantly turned them down.

"Have you got the hood you then wore? It was lined with red silk, and it
became you exquisitely."

"My present hood is lined with blue," said Lenore, laughing. "And only
think, the little Countess Lara is to be married next week! She and I
were talking of you not long ago; and Eugene, too, has written to us
about you. How enchanting, that you should have become acquainted with
my brother! Come this way, Mr. Wohlfart; I must hear how the time has
passed with you." She led him into the drawing-room, and made him sit by
her on the sofa, looking at him with those smiling eyes, whose light
used formerly to make him so happy. Much in him had changed since then;
perhaps another maiden occupied his imagination now; but when he looked
upon the mistress of his early youth, the wild, high-spirited girl
matured into the noble and graceful woman, all the feelings of the past
revived, and he breathed with rapture the perfumed air of the elegant
saloon.

"Now that I see you," said Lenore, "it seems to me as if our
dancing-lessons had only been yesterday. That was a pleasant time for me
too. Since then I have had much sorrow," added she, drooping her head.

Anton lamented this with a fervor which made her look up brightly again.

"What has brought you to my father?" inquired she, at length, in an
altered tone.

Anton spoke of Bernhard, of his long sickness, and deep regard for her
family, not concealing that she herself was the chief cause of it, which
made her look down, and fold the corners of her handkerchief together.
"If you can find a way of recommending your father to use Bernhard's
influence, do so. I can not get rid of a fear that there is a conspiracy
carrying on against him in Ehrenthal's office. Perhaps you will find
means of letting Bernhard or me know how we can best be useful."

Lenore looked mournfully in Anton's face, and moved nearer to him. "You
are to me like an old friend, and I can trust my sorrows to you. My
father conceals the cause of his anxiety from my mother and me, but he
is sadly changed the last few years. This factory requires much money,
and he is often without any, I am sure. My mother and I pray daily that
peace may be restored to us--a happy time like that when I first became
acquainted with you. As soon as I can discover any thing, I will write
to you," said she, with firm resolve; "and when Eugene comes home on
leave, he will seek you out."

Thus Anton left the baron's house, excited by his meeting with his fair
friend, and full of anxiety to serve the whole family. At the house door
he stumbled upon Ehrenthal, who, in return for his distant bow, called
after him to come very soon again to see his son Bernhard.

Ehrenthal had spent a miserable day. He had never, in the whole course
of his life, sighed or shaken his head so much before. It was in vain
that his wife, Sidonia, asked her daughter, "What ails the man, that he
sighs so deeply?" It was in vain that Itzig sought to cheer his master's
spirits by drawing glowing pictures of the future. All the
dissatisfaction in Ehrenthal's breast exploded against his book-keeper.
"It was you who advised me to take these steps against the baron," he
screamed at him on the morning after his scene with Bernhard. "Do you
know what you are? You are a good for nothing fellow." Itzig shrugged
his shoulders, and returned an ironical reply, which made Ehrenthal glad
to bury his head in the newspaper. Longer than two days he could not
endure the sight of the sorrow of his son, who got visibly worse, and
only answered his father in monosyllables. "I must make a sacrifice,"
said Ehrenthal to himself. "I must give back sleep to his eyes, and put
an end to his groaning. I will remember my son; and I will get the baron
the Rosmin property, or I will save the money that he has invested in
it, without any profit for myself. I shall lose in that way, for I might
have arranged with Löwenberg so as to gain more than a thousand dollars.
I think this will please my Bernhard." And putting his hat firmly on his
head, as if to crush down all rebellious thoughts, he entered the
dwelling of his debtor.

The baron received his unexpected visitor with breathless terror. "The
warner is scarcely gone when the enemy arrives," thought he. "He is come
to require the legal surrender of the mortgage."

But what was his relief when Ehrenthal of his own accord politely
requested that he might go to Rosmin on the baron's behalf, and take the
necessary steps. "I will employ as my coadjutor a safe man--the
Commissary Walter--so that you may see that all is done legally. You
will give me authority to bid for the property, and to raise it thus to
such a sum as shall insure your mortgage being covered by the
purchase-money that some other will pay."

"I know that this will be necessary," said the baron; "but, for God's
sake, Ehrenthal, what will be done if the property remains upon our
hands!"

Ehrenthal shrugged his shoulders. "You know that I did not persuade you
into the mortgage; indeed, I may say, if I remember aright, that I even
dissuaded you from it. If you had taken my advice then, you would
probably never have bought that mortgage."

"The thing is done, however," returned the baron, irascibly.

"First of all, baron, I must beg you to admit that I am innocent of this
matter."

"That is immaterial now."

"It is immaterial to you," said Ehrenthal, "but not to me, and to my
honor as a man of business."

"What do you mean by that?" cried the baron, in a tone that made
Ehrenthal start. "Do you dare to insinuate that any thing can be
immaterial to me about which even your honor is sensitive?"

"Why are you so irritable, baron? I say nothing against your honor God
forbid that I should."

"You spoke of it, though," said the unhappy man.

"How can you thus misunderstand an old acquaintance? I only wish for
your declaration that I am innocent of the purchase of this mortgage."

"Be it so," cried the baron, stamping.

"Then it is all right. And should a misfortune befall us, and you be
obliged to purchase the property, we will see what can be done. It is a
bad time to lend money; but still I will advance you a sum in return for
a mortgage on the property."

He then proceeded to make arrangements for his departure as the baron's
representative, and left him a prey to conflicting emotions.

Was he saved? was he lost? A fear came over him that this mortgage would
decide his fate. He resolved to go to Rosmin himself, and not leave
matters to Ehrenthal. But then came the painful thought that he must
needs repose unlimited trust in this man, lest the man learn to mistrust
him, and so he drifted here and there in a sea of dangers. The waves
rose and threatened his very life.

That evening Ehrenthal entered his son's sick-room, and placed the
newly-executed document on his bed. "Canst thou give me thy hand now?"
said he to his son, who looked gloomily before him. "I am to travel for
the baron. I am to buy him a new estate. We have settled it all
together. Here is his signature authorizing me to act for him. I am to
advance him capital; if he is wise, he may again become a man of
substance."

Bernhard looked sorrowfully at his father, and shook his head. "That is
not enough, my poor father," said he.

"But I am reconciled to the baron, and he has himself confessed that I
am not to blame for his misfortunes. Is not that enough, my son?"

"No," said the invalid; "so long as you keep that wicked man Itzig in
your office, no joy can shine in on my life."

"He shall go," said Ehrenthal, readily; "he shall go this next quarter,
if my son Bernhard wishes it."

"And will you give up the idea of buying the baron's estate for
yourself?"

"When it comes to be sold, I will think of what you have said," replied
his father. "And now speak no more about the estate; when you are my
strong, healthy son again, we will return to the subject."

So saying, he seized the hand which Bernhard delayed giving, held it
fast in both his, and sat silently beside him.

If ever in the course of his life Ehrenthal had known satisfaction, it
was now, in having brought about this reconciliation with his son.



CHAPTER XXV.


Wave after wave broke over the head of the drowning man.

The factory had now been in operation for some months. The beet-root
crop on the estate itself had been deficient, and the cultivation of it
in the country round had proved unsuccessful. Many of the small farmers
had failed to fulfill their contracts, and others had brought in
inferior produce. There was a scarcity of beet-root as well as a
scarcity of capital; the works stopped, the workmen dispersed.

Ehrenthal was gone off to the Polish property, and the baron was
consumed by the fever of suspense. At last came the dark day when
Ehrenthal appeared before him, a letter from Commissary Walter in his
hand. The baron's capital had only been saved by his buying the estate.

The owners of the first mortgage of a hundred thousand dollars had
raised the property, by bidding, up to a hundred and four thousand; they
had then left off, and no other purchaser had come forward.

"The estate is now yours, baron," said Ehrenthal. "In order that you may
be able to maintain it, I have negotiated with the owners of the first
mortgage, and they will leave the hundred thousand upon the estate. I
have advanced for you four thousand dollars and the legal expenses."

The baron said not a word; his head fell heavily on his writing-table.
As Ehrenthal left the room, he muttered, "It is all over with him. And
the next quarter he will lose his old estate, and he has not energy to
undertake the new. I shall have to buy the Polish property too, in the
end."

And now term-time drew near, and the baron had the interest of all his
borrowed money to pay. Once more he looked round for help. In vain!
Last of all he came to his neighbor, George Werner, who had for some
years paid homage to Lenore, and then prudently drawn back, the baron's
embarrassments being no longer a secret. The young man showed all the
sympathy conventional in such a case. He was very sorry, indeed, to hear
that there was so large a mortgage upon the recently-purchased property.
"Whom did you send to the auction?" asked he.

"Hirsch Ehrenthal," was the reply.

George Werner waxed eloquent. "I fear," cried he, "that that fellow has
played you false. I know the usurer well: years ago we lost a large sum
by his villainy. My father had cut down a wood in the next province, and
sold it to a timber-merchant. Ehrenthal made a cheating bargain with
this man, got the timber from him at a nominal price, while the other
fellow ran off to America. The two rogues shared my father's money."

The baron's face grew livid; he rose, said not another word about his
concerns, and slunk out of his neighbor's house like a felon.

From that day he brooded darkly in his arm-chair, was harsh to his wife,
unapproachable by his daughter. The two poor women suffered
inexpressibly.

One ray of hope still remained to him--Bernhard's influence with his
father. But he would not take the hand unselfishly offered him. He did
not send for Anton, but for another, of whom the idea was repulsive to
him, yet whose grotesque presence seemed to cheer him whenever they met.
Once more, at the last hour, a gracious destiny left his choice free.
But alas! he was himself free no longer. It was the curse of an evil
deed that now confused his judgment.

Again Itzig stood before him, and the baron, looking askance at the bent
figure, said, "Young Ehrenthal has offered to make up my difference with
his father."

Veitel leaped up suddenly as if he had been shot. "Bernhard!" said he.

"That is his name, I dare say; he is an invalid."

"He will die," replied Veitel.

"When?" asked the baron, occupied with his own thoughts; but, recovering
himself, he added, "What is the matter with him?"

"It is here," said Itzig, laying his hand on his chest; "it labors like
a pair of bellows: when a hole is once torn, the breath ceases."

The baron put on an expression of sympathy, but, in reality, his only
thought was that he had no time to lose. "The invalid," said he, "has
sufficient influence over his father to give me hopes of Ehrenthal's
consent to my wishes."

"What does Bernhard know of business? He is a fool," cried Veitel,
unable to conceal his annoyance. "If you were to put an old parchment
covered with manuscript before him, he would give you any mortgage you
liked for it; he is half-witted."

"I see that you do not approve this plan," said the baron, again
drifting hopelessly.

Before Itzig replied, he stood for a long time reflecting, and
restlessly looking away from the baron into every corner of the room. At
last he said, in a more self-possessed tone, "The baron is right. It
will be best, after all, that you and Ehrenthal should go together to
Bernhard's sick-bed, and there finally settle your affairs." Again he
was silent, and his face grew red with stormy thoughts. "Will the baron
be graciously pleased to leave me to fix the day and the hour when he
can best speak to Bernhard Ehrenthal? As soon as you enter the office, I
will go up and tell him that you are there. Meanwhile you will have the
goodness to wait in the office, even if I should be half an hour away.
You will wait, whatever Ehrenthal may say. And when I take you up
stairs, all will be right, for Bernhard can do what he likes with his
father."

"I shall wait till I hear from you," decided the baron, distressed at
the thought of the painful day.

Itzig then took his leave, and rushed in frantic excitement to his lair
in the house of Pinkus. Arrived there, he ran wildly up and down,
clenching his fist at the thought of Bernhard. He opened his old desk,
and took out of a secret drawer two keys, which he laid on the table,
and stood looking at them steadfastly and long. At length he pushed them
into his pocket, and ran down to the caravanserai. There, cowering in a
corner of the gallery, he found his sagacious friend Mr. Hippus, whose
aspect had certainly not improved during the last few days. He was now
sitting squeezed into a corner where the sunlight fell, and was reading
a dirty romance. When Veitel hurriedly entered, he only buried his head
deeper in his book, for which he appeared to care far more than for the
young man of business before him.

"Shut up your book, and listen to me," cried Itzig, impatiently.
"Rothsattel will get his notes of hand back from Ehrenthal; he will give
in the mortgage, and I shall have to pay him the remaining eight
thousand dollars."

"Only think--only think," replied the old man, wagging his ugly head,
"what things one lives to see! If Ehrenthal gives his money away to a
vagabond who has broken his word, it will be time for us all to mend our
ways and turn honest. Before, however, we speak further, you may just
bring me up something to eat and drink. I am thirsty, and have not
another word to say at present."

Veitel hurried down stairs, and the old man, looking after him,
muttered, "Now for it! now for it!"

When Veitel had placed his meal before him, Hippus briefly inquired,
"How much?"

"Three hundred," said the old man; "and even then I must have time to
consider. It is not in my line, most worthy Itzig. I am willing to labor
in my vocation for less, as you have experienced ere now, but for a
noble exploit in the style of Cartouche and others of your friends, I
require better compensation. I am only a volunteer, and I can't say that
my preferences lie in this direction."

"Do mine?" cried Itzig. "If there be any other means to take, tell me
them. If you know how the baron and Ehrenthal can be kept asunder, say
so. Ehrenthal's only son will make peace between them; he will stand
between them like the winged cupid on a valentine between two lovers,
and we shall be done."

"_We_?" chuckled the old man. "_You_ will be done, you jackdaw. What are
your affairs to me?"

"Two hundred," cried Veitel, drawing nearer.

"Three," replied the old man, tossing off his glass; "but even then I
will not do it alone; you must be there."

"If I am to be there," said Veitel, "I can do it alone, and shall not
require your help. Listen to me. I will contrive that the office shall
be empty; that Ehrenthal and the baron shall leave the house at the same
moment. I will give you a sign, to say whether the papers are on the
table or in the press. It will be dark. You will have about half an
hour's time. I will fasten the house door, and unbolt the back door,
which is generally closed. It will all be so safe that a child of two
years might do it easily."

"Safe enough for you," said the old man, dryly, "but not for me."

"We have tried what could be done with the law, and it has not
answered," cried Veitel; "now we must defy it." He struck the balustrade
with his clenched fist, and ground his teeth fiercely. "And if you don't
choose to do it, still it shall be done, though I know that all the
suspicion will fall upon me, unless I am in Bernhard's room at the
time."

"Very fine indeed, gallant Itzig," said the man, adjusting his
spectacles, so as to observe more closely the expression of the other's
countenance. "Since you are so brave, I will not leave you in the lurch.
But three hundred."

The bargaining then began. The pair squeezed themselves into the
farthest corner of the gallery, and whispered together till dark.

A few days later, at twilight, Anton entered his friend's sick-room. "I
am come to pay you a flying visit, just to see how you are."

"Weak," replied Bernhard; "still very weak, and breathing becomes very
difficult. If I could only get out, only once out of this gloomy room."

"Does your doctor allow you to drive out? If the sun be bright and warm,
I will bring a carriage to-morrow and take you a drive."

"Yes," cried Bernhard, "you shall come. I shall have something to tell
you then." He looked cautiously around. "I have this day received by the
townpost a note without a signature." He drew it out from under his
pillow, and gave it with a mysterious look to his friend. "Take it:
perhaps you know the hand."

Anton went to the window and read, "The Baron Rothsattel wishes to speak
to you this evening. Contrive, therefore, to be alone with your father."

When Anton gave back the note, Bernhard received it reverentially, and
replaced it under his pillow. "Do you know the hand?" said he.

"No," replied Anton; "the hand seems a feigned one; it is not the young
lady's."

"Whoever the writer may be," continued Bernhard, dejectedly, "I hope for
a good result from this evening's interview. Wohlfart, this dispute lies
like a hundred weight on my breast; it takes my breath away. This
evening I shall be better; I shall be free."

Speaking had tired him. "Farewell, then, till morning," said Anton. As
he rose he heard the rustle of ladies' dresses, and Bernhard's mother
and sister approached the bed and greeted the visitor. "How are you,
Bernhard?" asked his mother; "you will be all alone with your father
this evening. There is a great musical meeting, and Rosalie is to play.
We have moved the piano into the back room, Mr. Wohlfart, that Bernhard
may not be disturbed by Rosalie's practicing."

"Sit down for a moment beside me, mother," said Bernhard; "it is long
since I have seen you handsomely dressed. You look beautiful to-day; you
had just such a gown as this when I, as a boy, took scarlet fever. When
I dream of you I always see you in a scarlet dress. Give me your hand,
mother; and while you listen to the music this evening, think, too, of
your Bernhard, who will be making silent melody here."

His mother sat down beside him. "He is feverish again," said she to
Anton, who silently assented.

"To-morrow I shall go out into the sunshine," cried Bernhard, in an
excited tone; "that will be my enjoyment."

"The carriage waits," said Rosalie, remindingly; "and we have to go out
the back way, which is dirty. Itzig has persuaded my father that the
carriage must not drive round to the front for fear of disturbing
Bernhard."

"Good-night, Bernhard," said his mother, once more reaching out her
plump hand. The ladies hurried away. Anton followed them.

"What do you think of Bernhard?" asked the mother, as they went down
stairs.

"I consider him very ill," Anton replied.

"I have already told my husband that, when summer comes, and I go with
Rosalie to the Baths, we will take Bernhard with us."

Anton went home with a heavy heart.

The house grew silent; nothing was to be heard in the sick-room but the
labored breathing of the sufferer. But there was a stir on the floor
below him--doubtless a mouse gnawing the wainscot. Bernhard listened
uneasily. "How long will it go on gnawing? till it makes a hole at last,
and comes into the room." A shudder came over him--he tossed about on
his bed--the darkness seemed to press him in--the air grew thick. He
rang till the maid came and set down the lamp. Then he gazed languidly
round. The room looked old and prison-like to-day; it appeared
unfamiliar to him, like some room in a strange house, where he was only
a visitor. He looked with indifference at his library, and the drawer
where lay his beloved manuscripts. That spot upon the floor--that chink
through which the light from the next room shone in every evening,
to-morrow he would leave them all to drive with Anton. He wondered
whether they would take the road the young lady took when going to and
fro between town and her father's estate. Perhaps they might meet her.
His eye beamed; he confidently believed that they should meet her. She
would sit queen-like in her carriage, her veil flying round her blooming
face; she would raise her white hand and wave it to him--nay, she would
recognize him; she would know that he had rendered her father a service;
she would stop and inquire how he was. He should speak to her--should
hear the noble tones of her voice; she would bow once more; then the
carriages would separate, one here, the other there. And whither would
he go? "Into the sunshine," whispered he. And again he listened
anxiously to the gnawing of the mouse.

A hurried step came through the room beyond. Bernhard sat up--the blood
mounted to his face. It was the father of Lenore who was coming to him.
The door opened softly; an ugly face peeped in, and glanced stealthily
around the room. Bernhard cried in dismay, "What do you want here?"

Itzig went up to the bed in haste, and breathing hard, said, in a voice
that sounded as choked as that of the invalid, "The baron has just gone
into the office. He has told me to come to you, and to persuade you to
support the proposal that he is about to make to your father."

"He has said that to you?" cried Bernhard. "How can the baron give a
message to a man like you?"

"Hold your peace," rejoined Veitel, rudely; "there is no time for your
speeches. Listen to what I have to say. The baron promised your father,
on his word of honor, security for twenty thousand dollars, and now he
can not give him that security, because he has sold the deed to another.
He has broken his word, and now demands that your father should renounce
his security. If you can advise your father to lose twenty thousand
dollars, why, do so."

Bernhard trembled all over. "You are a liar!" cried he. "Every word that
proceeds from your mouth is hypocrisy, double-dealing, and deceit."

"Hold your peace," replied Veitel, in feverish anxiety. "You are not to
persuade your father to his harm. There is no helping this baron; he is
a fly who has burned his wings in the candle; he can only crawl. And
even if Ehrenthal be fool enough to follow your evil counsel, he can not
maintain for the baron possession of his estate. If he does not eject
him, another will. I have no interest in saying this to you," continued
he, uneasily listening to a sound in front of the house; "I do so merely
out of attachment to your family."

Bernhard struggled for breath. "Get out of my sight!" said he, at
length; "there is nothing but deceit and falsehood on earth."

"I will bring up the baron and your father," said Veitel, and rushed out
of the room.

Meanwhile Ehrenthal's angry voice sounded loudly on the ground floor. "I
will go to the lawyer; I will expose you and your intrigues."

Veitel burst open the door. The baron sat on the stool, and hid his face
with his hands. Ehrenthal stood before him trembling with rage. On the
desk stood the baron's casket, containing the fatal notes of hand and
the mortgage. Veitel cried out, "Have done, Ehrenthal; your Bernhard is
very ill; he is all alone up stairs, and calls for you and for the
baron; he wants you both beside him."

"What means this?" screamed Ehrenthal. "Are you intriguing with my son
too, behind my back?"

"Have you shown him the new mortgage that you have had drawn up for
him?" asked Veitel, hurriedly.

"He will not even look at it," returned the baron, gloomily.

"Give it to me," said Veitel; and he laid a new deed before Ehrenthal.

"You want me to take a bit of paper instead of my good money--mere
trash, that is not worth my burning."

"Will you not give over?" cried Veitel, in greatest distress. "No one is
up stairs with Bernhard, and he is calling out for you and the baron; he
will do himself a mischief. Do go up stairs; he has groaned out that I
am to bring you both to him immediately."

"Just God!" cried Ehrenthal, "what is to be done! I can not come to my
son; I am in terror about my money."

"He will cry himself to death," said Veitel; "you can speak about the
money long enough afterward. Do make haste."

The baron and Ehrenthal both left the office. Itzig followed. Ehrenthal
locked the door, laid the iron bar across it, and fastened the bolts. As
they went up stairs a piece of money rang upon the step. Ehrenthal
looked round. "It dropped out of my pocket," said Veitel.

The baron and Ehrenthal entered the sick-chamber, and Itzig pushed
himself in after them, creeping along the wall to the window behind
Bernhard, so that the latter should not see him. The baron sat down at
the head of the bed, the father at the foot, and the lamp threw a pale
light on the parties who came to wrangle about capital and security in
the presence of the dying. The nobleman began by a courteous speech,
referring to Bernhard's visit to his estate, hoping soon to welcome him
there again; but his eyes rested with terror on the sunken face, and an
inner voice told him the last hour was near. Bernhard sat up in his bed,
his head resting on his breast, and, raising his hand, he interrupted
the baron, saying, "I pray you, baron, to tell me what you require from
my father, and, while doing so, to recollect that I am no man of
business."

The baron proceeded to state his case. Ehrenthal was often about to
interrupt him, but each time Bernhard waved his hand, and then the old
man stopped, and contented himself with vehemently shaking his head and
mumbling to himself.

When the baron's statement was over, Bernhard beckoned to his father.
"Come nearer me, and listen quietly to my words."

The father stooped down with his ear close to his son's mouth. "What I
am about to say," continued Bernhard, in a low voice, "is my firm
resolve, and it is not one taken this day. If you have made money, it
was with the hope that I should outlive you and be your heir. Was it not
so?"

Ehrenthal vehemently nodded assent. "If, then, you behold your heir in
me, listen to my words. If you love me, act in accordance with them. I
renounce my inheritance so long as we both live. What you have laid up
for me has been laid up in vain. I require nothing for my future. If it
be appointed me to recover, I will learn to support myself by my own
labor. Beside your love and your blessing, father, I want nothing. Think
upon this."

Ehrenthal raised his arms and cried, "What words are these, my Bernhard,
my poor son! Thou art ill; thou art very ill."

"Hear me further," besought Bernhard. "Whatever your claims may be on
this gentleman's estate, they must be given up. You have been connected
with him in business for long years; you must not be the means of
making his family unhappy. I do not ask you to give away the large sum
in question. That would pain you too much, and would be humiliating to
him; all I require is, that you should accept the security he offers
you. If he ever promised you any other, forget it; if you have papers in
your possession which compromise him, give them back."

"He is ill," groaned his father; "he is very ill."

"I know that this will pain you, my father. Ever since you left your
grandfather's house, a poor barefooted Jew-boy, with one dollar in your
pocket, you have thought of nothing but money-making. No one ever taught
you any thing else, and your creed excluded you from the society of
those who better understood what gave value to life. I know it goes to
your heart to risk a large sum, but yet, father, you will do it--you
will do it because you love me."

Ehrenthal wrung his hands, and said, with floods of tears, "You know not
what you ask, my son. You plead for a robbery--a robbery from your
father."

The son took his father's hand. "You have always loved me. You have
wished that I should be different from yourself. You have always given
heed to my words, and before I could express a wish you have fulfilled
it. But this is the first great request that I have ever made. And this
request I will whisper in your ear as long as I live; it is the first,
father, and it will be my last."

"Thou art a foolish child," cried the father, beside himself; "thou
askest my life--my whole substance."

"Fetch the papers," replied Bernhard. "I must, with my own eyes, see you
give back to the baron what he wishes to retract, and receive from him
what he can still give."

Ehrenthal took out his handkerchief and wept aloud: "He is ill. I shall
lose him, and I shall lose my money too." Meanwhile the baron sat silent
and looked down. As for Itzig, he was clenching his fist convulsively,
and unconsciously tearing the curtain down from the pole.

Bernhard looked at his father's emotion unmoved, and repeated with an
effort, "I will have it so; bring the papers, father," Then he sank back
on his pillow. His father bent over him, but with a silent gesture of
aversion Bernhard waved him off, saying, "Enough! you hurt me."

Then Ehrenthal rose, took up his office-candle, and tottered out of the
room.

The baron sat still as before, but in the midst of his suspense he was
conscious of flashes that resembled joy. He saw a spot of blue in his
clouded sky. His promise given back to him, eight thousand dollars to
receive from the man in the window, he might look up once more. He took
Bernhard's hand, and, pressing it, said, "I thank you, sir--oh how I
thank you! You are my deliverer; you save my family from despair, and me
from disgrace."

Bernhard held the baron's hand firmly in his, and a blissful smile
passed over his face. Meanwhile the one in the window was grinding his
teeth in his phrensy of anxiety, and pressing himself against the wall
to control the fever-fit which shook him.

Thus they remained a long while. No one spoke. Ehrenthal did not return.
Suddenly the room door was burst open, and a man rushed in furious, with
distorted face and streaming hair. It was Ehrenthal, holding in his hand
the flaring candle, but nothing else.

"Gone!" said he, clasping his hands, and letting the candle fall; "all
gone! all is stolen!" He fell on his son's bed, and stretched out his
arms, as if to implore help from him.

The baron sprang up, not less horrified than Ehrenthal. "What is
stolen?" cried he.

"Every thing!" groaned Ehrenthal, looking only at his son. "The notes of
hand, are gone, the mortgages are gone. I am robbed!" screamed he,
springing up. "Robbery! burglary! Send for the police!" And again he
rushed out, the baron following him.

Half fainting and bewildered, Bernhard looked after them. Itzig now
stepped out from the window and came to the bed. The sufferer threw his
head on one side, and gazed at him as the bird does at the snake. It was
the face of a devil into which he gazed; the red hair stood up
bristling; hellish dread and hate were in every ugly feature. Bernhard
closed his eyes, and covered them with his hand. But the face came
nearer still, and a hoarse voice whispered in his ear.

Meanwhile two men stood in the office below, and looked at each other in
stupid amazement. The casket and its contents were gone. The deeds that
the baron had laid on the desk were gone too. Ehrenthal had unlocked the
door as usual. There was nothing wrong with the bolts. Every thing stood
in its right place. If any money had been taken out of the drawer, it
could be but very little. There was not a sign of the well-secured
shutters having been touched; it was inexplicable how the documents
could have been taken away.

Then they searched the whole ground floor: nothing to be seen--even the
house door was locked. They recollected that the cautious book-keeper
had done that as they went up stairs. Again they went back to the office
and searched every corner, but more rapidly and more hopelessly than
before. Then they sat over against each other, watching for some token
of treachery; and again they sprang up, and mutually poured out such
reproaches as only despair can invent.

The papers had vanished from Ehrenthal's office just as he had
unwillingly yielded to his son's entreaties for a reconciliation with
the baron. He had not, indeed, made up his mind to it--he had only gone
to fetch the papers. Would any one believe that those papers were
stolen? Would his own son believe him?

And as for the baron, his loss was greater still. He had just had a hope
of rescue, now he fell again into an abyss beyond his fathoming. His
notes of hand were in some stranger's possession. If the thief
understood how to make use of them--nay, if the thief were only
apprehended, he was lost; and if they were never found again, still he
was equally lost. He was not in a condition to make any arrangement with
Ehrenthal; he was not in a condition to pay any of his creditors; he was
lost beyond possibility of deliverance. Before him lay poverty, failure,
disgrace. Again there recurred to his mind that court of honor, his
fellow-officers, and the unfortunate young man who had destroyed
himself. He had been obliged to view the body; he knew how one looks who
has died thus; he knew too, now, how a man comes to die. Once he had
shuddered at the image of the corpse, now he shuddered at it no longer.
His lips moved, and as in a dream he said to himself, "That is the last
resource." The door was now torn open, a hideous head appeared, and a
wild cry was heard, "Come up, Hirsch Ehrenthal; your son is dying." Then
the apparition vanished, Ehrenthal rushed off with a shriek, and the
baron tottered out of the house.

When the father fell down beside his son's bed, a white hand was lifted
up once more, then a corpse fell back. Bernhard was gone out into the
sunshine.

The evening was warm. A light mist hid the stars, but there was still a
pleasant twilight. The balmy breath of the flowering shrubs in the
public gardens was wafted into the streets. The passers-by returned
slowly home, sorry to leave the sweet south breeze, and shut themselves
up in-doors. The beggar stretched himself comfortably out on the
threshold of the stately house; every young fellow who had a sweetheart
led her out with him through the streets. He who was weary forgot his
past day's work; he who was sad felt his sadness less on such an evening
as this; he who was alone the whole year felt impelled to seek
companionship to-day. Groups stood laughing and chattering at the doors;
children were playing; the caged nightingale sang her sweetest
song--sang of the early summer--that happy time when life is sweet and
fond hopes blossom.

Through these swarms of people a tall man walked slowly; his head had
sunk on his breast. He did not hear the nightingale's note, and passed
through the circle of dancing children without one sound of their happy
voices falling upon his ear. He passed into the suburbs, slowly ascended
a flower-crowned hill, and sat down on a bench. Beneath him the dark
river rolled onward to the sea, and opposite him rose the mighty mass of
the old cathedral. The river was covered with timber-rafts brought down
from the mountains. On these rafts stood the little huts of their
rowers, with small fires in them, at which the men were now preparing
their suppers. He too had had to do with timber-rafts like these, and
the money he had thus won had been spoken of as a theft. He got up
hastily and hurried down the hill.

His way lay through an alley of tall sycamores, and again he stopped,
and wearily leaned against the trunk of a tree. Before him rose the
chimneys of the manufacturing part of the town. He too knew what it was
to build a tall pile like that. He had laid all he had at its base--his
strength, his money, his honor. He had paid for it with sleepless nights
and whitened hair; it was the tomb-stone of his race which he had raised
on his estate, and what he now saw before him in the uncertain light was
a monster church-yard, full of shadowy monuments, beneath which lay
coffined the peace of mind of many wretched men; and nodding, he said,
and started to hear his own words, "It is the last." He rose and went to
his house.

On his way thither he felt how comforting it was to think of that which
would free him from such hideous pictures. He went in and smiled when
the lamp shone on his face. As he stood in the hall he could hear voices
in his wife's room. Lenore was reading aloud. He listened and heard
that she was reading a novel. He would not frighten those poor women;
but there was a back room apart from all the rest--he would go there.
While he was still standing in the hall, the room door opened, and the
baroness looked out. She gave an involuntary start when she saw him. He
smiled and cheerfully entered the room, gave his hand to his wife,
stroked Lenore's head, and bent down to see what she was reading. The
baroness regretted that she had had her tea without him, and he joked
her about her impatience for her favorite beverage. He went to the cage
in which two foreign birds were sitting on the same perch, their small
heads resting against each other, and putting his fingers to the wires
as if to stroke them, he said absently, "They are gone to rest." Then
taking the waxlight from the servant's hand, he moved toward his own
room. As he took hold of the door-handle, he remarked that his wife's
eyes followed him anxiously, and, turning toward her, he nodded
cheerfully. Then he closed the door, took a polished case out of his
writing-table, and carried it and the candle to the small back room.
Here he was sure he should disturb no one.

Slowly he loaded. In loading he looked at the inlaid work on the
barrels. It had been the toilsome task of some poor devil of a
gunmaker--it had often been admired by his acquaintance. The pistols
themselves had been a wedding-present from the general, who had on one
occasion acted the part of father to his orphan bride. He hurriedly
rammed down the charge, then looked behind him. When he fell it should
not be on the floor; he would not make on those who should come in the
same painful impression that his outstretched comrade had made on him.

He placed the barrel to his temple. At that moment a woman's shriek was
heard, his wife rushed in, his arm was seized with the strength of
despair; he started, and his finger touched the trigger--a flash, a
report, and he sank back on the sofa, and groaning, raised both his
hands to his eyes.

In the merchant's house the bereaved father came, candle in hand, out of
the room of the dead to the office below. He looked anxiously about on
the desk, in the cupboard, in every corner of the room; then sat down,
shook his head, and marveled. Then he locked up the office, went up
stairs again, and fell groaning and crying on the bed. So he spent the
whole night, seeking and wailing, wailing and seeking--a distracted,
desolate, broken-down man.



CHAPTER XXVI.


In the merchant's house domestic life flowed smoothly on again. The
small disturbance made by the return of Anton had gradually settled
down. Those first-class treasures of Sabine's had made way for other
specimens of damask, still of a superior kind, it is true, but which
came within the compass of the elderly cousin's comprehension. She had
been quite right in prophesying that Anton would never remark those
signs of exuberant gratitude or their withdrawal. However, one change
had been permanently made--the greatest, the best of all changes--the
clerk retained a privileged place in the heart of the young mistress of
the firm, and his tall figure often appeared as one of the circle that
Sabine's fancy loved to gather round her when at her work-table or in
her treasure-chamber.

To-day she was walking restlessly up and down before dinner. The cousin,
who heard every thing, had just told her that a maid from Ehrenthal's
had run into the office to announce Bernhard's death to his friend. "How
will he bear it?" thought she. And the name of Ehrenthal forced her
thoughts back to the past, to one now far away, and to that painful hour
when the struggle going on in her own mind had been suddenly brought to
a close by a letter from the house of the departed. And Anton had known
of that conquered feeling of hers. How considerate he had always been,
how chivalrous, how helpful! She wondered if he had any idea of the
completeness of her triumph over a girlish illusion. She shook her head.
"No, he has not. It was here, at this very table, that an accident first
betrayed me to him. That past time still rises like a cloud between us.
Whenever I sit near Wohlfart of an evening, I am conscious of another's
shadow at my side; and when he speaks to me, his tone, his manner always
seem to say, 'You are not alone; he is with you.'" Sabine started, and
lovingly passed her hand over the beautiful flowers on the table before
her, as if to dispel a painful thought. She could not tell him that she
was free from that long-felt sorrow. Now, however, when he had lost a
friend whom he so much loved, she must show him that there were other
hearts that clung to him still. And again she walked up and down, trying
to devise a way of speaking to him alone.

Dinner was announced. Anton came with the rest, and took his place at
once. There was no opportunity of exchanging a word during the meal, but
he often met her sad and sympathizing eye. "He eats nothing at all
to-day," whispered her cousin; "not even any of the roast," she added,
reproachfully. Sabine was much perturbed. Mr. Jordan had already risen;
Anton would leave the room with the rest, and she should not see him
again the whole day through. So she called out, "The great Calla is
fully blown now. You were admiring the buds the other day; will you
remain a moment; I should like to show it you?" Anton bowed and staid
behind. A few more awkward moments, then her brother rose too; and,
hurrying to Anton, she took him to the room where the flowers were.

"You have had sorrowful tidings to-day," she began.

"The tidings themselves did not surprise me," replied Anton. "The doctor
gave no hope. But I lose much in him."

"I never saw him," said Sabine; "but I know from you that his life was
lonely--poor in affection and in enjoyment."

She moved an arm-chair toward Anton, and led him on to talk about his
friend. She listened to every word with warm sympathy, and well knew
what to ask and how to comfort. It was a relief to Anton to speak of the
departed one, to describe his quiet way of life, his erudition, his
poetical enthusiasm. After a pause, Sabine looked up frankly into his
face, and asked, "Have you any tidings of Herr von Fink?"

It was the first time since his departure that she had ever breathed his
name. Anton felt how touching her confidence was, given in this hour of
his sadness. In his emotion, he seized her hand, which she was slow in
withdrawing.

"He is not happy in his new life," he gravely replied. "There was a
savage humor in his last letter, from which I gather, even more than
from his actual words, that the business into which his uncle's death
has thrown him does not suit him."

"It is unworthy," cried Sabine.

"At all events, it is not what would be recognized as honorable in this
house," replied Anton. "Fink is upright, and has lived too long with
your brother to take pleasure in the wild speculations so common on the
other side the Atlantic. His partners and colleagues are for the most
part men without a conscience, and his feelings revolt against their
companionship."

"And can Herr von Fink tolerate such relations as these for a day?"

"It is a remarkable thing that he whose own will was ever so arbitrarily
exercised, should now be obliged against that will to obey a pressure
from without, and every where to work with his hands tied. The
organization of such speculations in America is so complicated that one
shareholder can do little to alter it; and, now that Fink has attained
what used to be the goal of his wishes--a large capital, and the
management of immense districts--his condition appears more uncertain
than it ever was before. He was always in danger of thinking slightingly
of others, now I am distressed at the bitter contempt he expresses for
his own life. His last letter paints an intolerable state of things, and
seems to point to some decisive resolve."

"There is only one resolve for him," cried Sabine. "May I ask what you
said to him in reply?"

"I entreated him instantly, come what would, to free himself from the
business in which he was entangled. I said that his own strong will
might find a way of extrication, even if that which I pointed out proved
impracticable. Then I begged of him either to carry out his old plan of
becoming a landed proprietor in America, or to return to us."

"I knew that you would write thus," said Sabine, drawing a long breath.
"Yes, Wohlfart, he shall return," said she, gently, "but he shall not
return to us."

Anton was silent.

"And do you think that Herr von Fink will follow your advice?"

"I do not know. My advice was not very American."

"But it was worthy of you," cried Sabine, with proud delight.

"An officer wishes to speak to Mr. Wohlfart," said a servant at the
door.

Anton sprang up. Sabine went to her flowers and bent mournfully over
them. The shadows of others hovered still between her friend and her.

The few words spoken by the servant filled Anton with a vague terror. He
hurried into the ante-room: there stood Eugene von Rothsattel. Anton was
gladly rushing forward to greet him, but the young soldier's face of
agony made him start back. He whispered, "My mother wishes to speak to
you; something dreadful has occurred." Anton caught up his hat, ran into
the office, hurriedly asked Baumann to excuse him to the principal, and
then accompanied the lieutenant to the baron's house.

On the way, Eugene, who had lost all self-command, said unconnectedly to
Anton, "My father last night accidentally wounded himself by a
pistol-shot--a messenger was sent to summon me--when I came, I found my
mother in a swoon--my sister and I do not know what to do--Lenore
implored my mother on her knees to send for you--you are the only one in
whom we have any confidence in our distress--I understand nothing about
business, but my father's affairs must be in a dreadful state--my mother
is beside herself--the whole house is in the greatest disorder."

From what Eugene said and what he did not say; from his broken sentences
and his look of agony, Anton guessed at the horrors of the previous
evening. In the boudoir of the baroness he found Lenore, weeping and
exhausted.

"Dear Wohlfart!" cried she, taking his hand and beginning again to sob,
while her head sank powerless on his shoulder.

Meanwhile Eugene walked up and down, wringing his hands, and at length
throwing himself on the sofa, he gave himself up to silent tears.

"It is horrible, Mr. Wohlfart," said Lenore, lifting up her head. "No
one may approach my father--Eugene may not, nor I--only my mother and
old John are with him; and early this morning the merchant Ehrenthal was
here, insisting that he must see my father. He screamed at my mother,
and called my father a deceiver, till she fainted away. When I rushed
into the room, the dreadful man went off threatening her with his
clenched fist."

Anton led Lenore to a chair and waited till she had told him all. There
was no possibility of comforting in this case, and his own heart was
wrung to the utmost by the misery he witnessed.

"Call my mother, Eugene," said Lenore, at length.

Her brother left the room.

"Do not forsake us," implored Lenore, clasping her hands; "we are at the
last gasp; even your help can not save us."

"He is dead who might perhaps have done so," mournfully replied Anton.
"Whether I can be of any use I know not, but you can not doubt my
willingness to be so."

"No," cried Lenore. "And Eugene, too, thought of you at once."

The baroness now entered. She walked wearily; but, steadying herself by
a chair, she saluted Anton with dignity. "In our position," said she,
"we need a friend who knows more of business than we three do. An
unfortunate accident prevents the baron--possibly for a long time to
come--from managing his own affairs, and, little as I understand them, I
can see that our interests require prompt measures. My children have
mentioned you to me, but I fear I am unreasonable in asking you to
devote your time to our service."

She sat down, beckoned Anton to take a chair, and said to her children,
"Leave us; I shall be better able to tell Mr. Wohlfart the little that I
know when I do not see your grief."

When they were alone, she motioned him nearer and tried to speak, but
her lips quivered, and she hid her face in her handkerchief.

"Before I can consent, gracious lady," said he, "to your reposing in me
such confidence as this, I must first inquire whether the baron has no
relative or intimate friend to whom you could with less pain make such a
communication. I pray you to remember that my own knowledge of business
is but small, and my position not one to constitute me a proper
counselor to the baron."

"I know no one," said the baroness, hopelessly. "It is less painful to
me to tell you what I can not conceal, than to one of our own circle.
Consider yourself a physician sent for to visit a patient. The baron has
this morning told me some particulars of his present circumstances." And
then she proceeded to relate what she had gathered as to the nature of
his embarrassments, the danger in which the family property was placed,
and the capital needed to take possession of the Polish estate.

"My husband," continued she, "has given me the key of his desk, and he
wishes Eugene, with the help of a man of business, to go over his
papers. I now request of you to make this examination together with my
son. When you need explanations, I will try to obtain them from the
baron. The question is now, whether you are inclined to undertake this
trouble for us, who are only strangers."

"I am most willing to do so," earnestly replied Anton; "and I hope that
the kindness of my principal will allow me the time needful for the
purpose, if you do not consider it more advisable to depute the baron's
experienced legal adviser to the task."

"There will be an opportunity of asking that gentleman's advice later,"
said the baroness.

Anton rose. "When do you wish to begin?"

"Immediately. I fear there is not a day to lose. I shall do all I can to
help you look the papers over." She led Anton into the next room, called
in Eugene, and unlocked the baron's desk. As she opened it she lost her
self-command for a moment, and moving to the window, the quivering of
the curtains betrayed the anguish that shook her fragile frame.

The mournful task began. Hour after hour passed. Eugene was in no
condition to peruse any thing, but his mother reached letters and
documents to Anton, and, though often obliged to desist a while, she
bravely returned to the task. Anton placed the papers in order, and
sought, by glancing over each, to arrive at least at a superficial view
of the facts of the case.

It was evening, when the old servant opened the door in dismay, and
called out, "He is there again." The baroness could not repress a slight
scream, and made a gesture of aversion.

"I have told him that no one is at home, but he will not be dismissed;
he makes such a noise on the steps. I can not get rid of him."

"It will kill me if I hear his voice again," murmured the baroness.

"If the man be Ehrenthal," said Anton, rising, "I will try to get him
away. We have now done what was most necessary; have the goodness to
lock up these papers, and to allow me to return to-morrow." The baroness
silently assented, and sank back in her chair. Anton hurried off to the
ante-room, whence he could hear Ehrenthal's loudly-raised voice.

The appearance of the usurer shocked him. His hat pushed half off his
head, his pale face swelled as if by drinking, his glazed eyes red with
tears, Ehrenthal stood before him, calling in broken sentences for the
baron, wailing and cursing alternately. "He must come! he must come at
once!" cried he; "the wicked man! A nobleman, indeed! he is a vagabond,
after whom I will send the police. Where is my money? Where is my
security? I want my mortgage from this man who is not at home."

Anton went straight up to him, and asked, "Do you know me, Mr.
Ehrenthal?" Ehrenthal turned his glazed eyes upon him, and gradually
recognized the friend of his dead son.

"He loved you!" he cried, in a lamentable voice. "He spoke to you more
than to his father. You were the only friend that he had on earth. Have
you heard what has happened in the house of Ehrenthal?" continued he, in
a whisper. "Just as they stole the papers he died. He died with a hand
like this," and clenching his fist he struck his forehead. "Oh my son!
my son! why didst not thou forgive thy father!"

"We will go to your son," said Anton, taking the arm of the old man, who
unresistingly allowed himself to be led back to his own house.

From thence Anton hurried to Councilor Horn, with whom he had a long
conversation.

It was late before he returned home. In the midst of his anxiety about
those whose prosperity had filled his imagination years before, the
confidence that they, in their adversity, reposed in him, dilated his
breast with a feeling of pride. He burned with desire to help them, and
hoped that his zealous devotion might yet find some way of rescue. As
yet he saw none. Looking up at the great building before him, so firm
and secure, in the moonlight, a thought flashed into his mind. If any
man could help them, it was his principal. His keen eye would be able to
unravel all the dark secrets in which the baron was entangled, and his
iron strength of will would crush the villains who held the unfortunate
nobleman in their power. And then he had a noble nature; he always
decided on the right, without an effort or a struggle. Anton looked at
the first floor. The whole house-front was dark, but in a corner room a
light still burned. It was the private office of his chief.

With sudden resolve, Anton begged the servant to take him to Mr.
Schröter, who looked with amazement at the unexpected visitor, and asked
what brought him, and whether any thing had happened.

"I implore your counsel--I implore your help," cried Anton.

"For yourself or for others?" inquired the merchant.

"For a family with whom I have accidentally become connected. They are
lost if a strong hand does not ward off the impending catastrophe."
Anton then rapidly related the occurrences of the afternoon, and,
seizing his principal's hand in his emotion, cried, "Have pity upon the
unhappy ladies, and help them."

"Help them!" replied the merchant; "how can I? Have you been
commissioned to apply to me, or are you only following the impulse of
your own feelings?"

"I am not commissioned; it is only the interest that I take in the
baron's fate which leads me to you."

"And what right have you to inform me of facts communicated in strict
confidence to yourself by the baron's lady?" asked the merchant, dryly.

"I am committing no indiscretion in telling you what will, in a few
days, be no secret, even to strangers."

"You are unusually excited, otherwise you would not forget that, under
no circumstances whatever, does a man of business venture to make such a
communication without the special permission of the parties concerned.
Of course, I shall make no wrong use of what you have said, but it was
by no means business-like, Wohlfart, to be so open toward me."

Anton was silent, feeling, indeed, that his principal was right, but yet
it seemed hard to be blamed for reposing confidence at such a time as
this. The merchant walked silently up and down; at length, stopping
before Anton, he said, "I do not now inquire how you come to take so
warm an interest in this family. I fear it is an acquaintance you owe to
Fink."

"You shall hear all," said Anton.

"Not at present. I will now content myself with repeating that it is
impossible for me to interfere in these affairs without being specially
applied to by the parties themselves. I may add that I by no means wish
for such an application, and do not disguise from you that, were it
made, I should probably decline to do any thing for the Baron
Rothsattel."

Anton's feelings were roused to the utmost. "The question is the rescue
of an honorable man, and of lovely and amiable women from the toils of
rogues and impostors. To me, this seems the duty of every one; I, at
least, consider it a sacred obligation which I dare not shrink from. But
without your support I can do nothing."

"And how do you think this embarrassed man can be helped?" inquired the
merchant, seating himself.

With somewhat more composure, Anton replied: "In the first instance, by
an experienced man of business making himself master of the case. There
must be some way of circumventing these villains. Your penetration would
discover it."

"Any attorney would be far more likely to do so, and the baron might
readily engage the services of experienced and upright legal advisers.
If his enemies have done any thing illegal, the quick eye of a lawyer is
the most likely to detect it."

"Alas! the baron's own lawyer gives but little hope," replied Anton.

"Then, my dear Wohlfart, no other is likely to do much good. Show me an
embarrassed man who has strength to grasp an offered hand, and bid me
help him, and for the sake of all I owe you, I will not refuse to do so.
I think you are convinced of this."

"I am," said Anton, dejectedly.

"From all I hear, however," the merchant went on, "this is not the case
with the baron. From what I gather from general report, as well as from
you, his embarrassments arise from his having fallen into the hands of
usurers, which proves him deficient in what alone ennobles the life of
any man--good sense, and the power of steady exertion."

Anton could only sigh his assent.

"To help such a man," inexorably continued the merchant, "is a futile
attempt, against which reason may well protest. We are not to despair of
any, but want of strength is the most hopeless case of all. Our power of
laboring for others being limited, it becomes our duty to inquire,
before we devote our time to the weak, whether we are not thus
diminishing our chances of helping better men."

Anton interrupted him. "Does he not deserve every allowance to be made
for him? He was brought up to exact much; he has not learned, as we
have, to make his way by his own labor."

The merchant laid his hand on the young man's shoulder. "The very
reason. Believe me, a large number of these landed gentry, who pay the
penalty of their old family memories, are beyond help. I am the last to
deny that many worthy and admirable men belong to this class. Indeed,
wherever remarkable talent or nobility of character shoots up among
them, no doubt their position offers peculiar scope for its development,
but for average men it is not a favorable one. He who considers it his
hereditary privilege to enjoy life, and who assumes a distinguished
position in virtue of his family, will very often fail to put forth his
whole strength in order to deserve that position. Accordingly, numbers
of our oldest families are declining, and their fall will be no loss to
the state. Their family associations make them haughty without any
right to be so--limit their perceptions and confuse their judgment."

"Even if all this be true," cried Anton, "it does not absolve us from
helping individuals of the class who have excited our sympathy."

"No," said the principal, "if it be excited. But it does not glow so
rapidly in advancing years as in youth. The baron has endeavored to
isolate his property from the current of circumstances, in order to
leave it forever to his family. Forever! You, as a merchant, know how to
estimate the attempt. True, every rational man must allow it to be
desirable that the culture of the same soil should be handed down from
father to son. We all prize what our forefathers have possessed before
us, and Sabine would unlock every room in this house with pride, because
her great-great-grandmother turned the same keys before her. It is
therefore natural that the landed proprietor should desire to preserve
those familiar scenes, which are the source of his own prosperity, to
those nearest and dearest to him. But there must be means to this end,
and these means are the making his own existence available for the
maintenance and increase of his patrimony. Where energy dies in families
or individuals, then it is well that their means die too, that their
money should circulate through other hands, and their plowshare pass to
those who can guide it better. A family that has become effete through
luxury ought to sink down into common life, to make room for the
uprising of fresh energies and faculties. Every one who seeks, at the
cost of free activity for others, to preserve permanent possessions and
privileges for himself or his family, I must look upon as an enemy to
the healthy development of our social state. And if such a man ruin
himself in his endeavors, I should feel no malicious pleasure in his
downfall, but I should say that he is rightly served, because he has
sinned against a fundamental law of our social being; consequently, I
should consider it doubly wrong to support this man, because I could but
fear that I should thus be supporting an unsound condition of the body
politic."

Anton looked down mournfully. He had expected sympathy and warm
concurrence, and he met with disaffection and coldness that he despaired
of conquering. "I can not gainsay you," he at length replied; "but in
this case I can not feel as you do. I have been witness to the
unspeakable distress in the baron's family, and my whole soul is full
of sadness and sympathy, and of the wish to do something for those who
have opened their heart to me. After what you have said, I dare no
longer ask you to trouble yourself with their affairs, but I have
promised the baroness to assist her as far as my small powers permit,
and your kindness allows. I implore you to grant me permission to do
this. I shall endeavor to be regular in my attendance at the office, but
if during the next few weeks I am occasionally absent, I must ask you to
excuse me."

Once more the merchant walked up and down the room, and then, looking at
Anton's excited face, with deep seriousness and something of regret, he
replied, "Remember, Wohlfart, that every occupation which excites the
mind soon obtains a hold over a man, which may retard as well as advance
his success in life. It is this which makes it difficult to me to agree
to your wishes."

"I know it," said Anton, in a low voice; "but I have now no choice
left."

"Well, then, do what you must," said the merchant, gloomily; "I will lay
no hinderance in your way; and I hope that after a few weeks you will be
able to consider the whole circumstances more calmly." Anton left the
room, and the merchant stood looking long with frowning brow at the
place his clerk had occupied.

Nor was Anton in a more congenial mood. "So cold, so inexorable!"
exclaimed he, as he reached his own room. He began to suspect that his
principal was more selfish and less kindly than he had hitherto
supposed. Many an expression of Fink's recurred to his mind, as well as
that evening when young Rothsattel, in his boyish conceit, had spoken
impertinently to the merchant. "Is it possible," thought he, "that that
rude speech should be unforgotten?" And his chief's keen, deep-furrowed
face lost inexpressibly by contrast with the fair forms of the noble
ladies. "I am not wrong," he cried to himself; "let him say what he
will, my views are more just than his, and henceforth my destiny shall
be to choose for myself the way in which I shall walk." He sat long in
the darkness, and his thoughts were gloomy as it; then he went to the
window to look down into the dark court below. A great white blossom
rose before him like a phantom. Striking a light, he saw that it was the
beautiful Calla out of Sabine's room. It hung down mournfully on its
broken stem. Sabine had had it placed there. This little circumstance
struck him as a mournful omen.

Meanwhile Sabine, taper in hand, entered her brother's room.
"Good-night, Traugott," nodded she. "Wohlfart has been with you this
evening; how long he staid!"

"He will leave us," replied the merchant, gloomily.

Sabine started and dropped her taper on the table. "For God's sake, what
has happened? Has Wohlfart said that he was going away?"

"I do not yet know it, but I see it coming step by step; and I can not,
and still less can you, do any thing to retain him. When he stood before
me here with glowing cheeks and trembling voice, pleading for a ruined
man, I found out what it was that lured him away."

"I do not understand you," said Sabine, looking full at her brother.

"He chooses to become the confidential friend of a decayed noble. A pair
of bright eyes draws him away from us: it seems to him a worthy object
of ambition to become Rothsattel's man of business. This intimacy with
nobility is the legacy bequeathed to him by Fink."

"And you have refused to help him?" inquired Sabine, in a low voice.

"Let the dead bury their dead," said the merchant, harshly; and he
turned to his writing-table.

Sabine slowly withdrew. The taper trembled in her hand as she passed
through the long suite of rooms listening to her own footfall, and
shuddering as the feeling came over her that an invisible companion
glided by her side. This was the revenge of that other. The shadow that
once fell on her innocent life now drove her friend away from their
circle. Anton's affections clung to another. She had but been in his
eyes a mere stranger, who had once loved and languished for one now far
away, and who now, in widow's weeds, looked back regretfully to the
feelings of her youth.

The few next weeks were spent by Anton in over-hard work. He had great
difficulty in keeping up his counting-house duties, while he spent every
spare hour in conference with the baroness and the lawyer.

In the mean time, the misfortunes of the baron ran their course. He had
not been able to pay the interest of the sums with which his estate was
burdened. When last they were due, a whole series of claims was brought
against him, and the estate fell under the administration of the
district authorities. Complicated lawsuits arose. Ehrenthal complained
loudly, claiming the first mortgage of twenty thousand dollars--nay, he
was inclined to advance claims on the last mortgage offered by the baron
in the recent fatal hour. Löbel Pinkus also appeared as claimant of the
first mortgage, and asserted that he had paid the whole sum of twenty
thousand dollars. Ehrenthal had no proof to bring forward, and had been
for some weeks past quite unable to manage his own affairs, while
Pinkus, on the contrary, fought with every weapon a hardened sinner can
devise or employ, and the deeds which the baron had executed at Veitel's
suggestion proved to be so capital a master-stroke of the cunning
advocate, that the baron's man of business had, from the first, little
hope of the case. We may here observe that Pinkus did eventually win it,
and that the mortgage was made over to him.

Anton was now gradually gaining some insight into the baron's
circumstances. But the double sale of the first mortgage was still kept
a secret by the latter, even from his wife. He declared Ehrenthal's
claim unfounded, and even expressed a suspicion that he had himself had
something to do with the robbery in his office. Indeed, he really
believed this. Then the name of Itzig was never broached, and the
suspicion against Ehrenthal, which the baron's lawyer shared, prevented
Anton seeking any explanation from him.

Meanwhile, an estrangement had sprung up between our hero and his
principal, which the whole counting-house remarked with surprise. The
merchant scowled at Anton's vacant seat when the latter chanced to be
absent during office-hours, or looked coldly at his clerk's face, made
pale as it was with excitement of mind and night-work. He took no notice
of his new occupation, and never seemed to remark him. Even to his
sister he maintained a stiff-necked silence; nor could all her attempts
lead him to speak of Anton, who, on his side, felt his heart revolt
against this coldness. After his return, to be treated like a child of
the house, praised, promoted, petted, and now to be treated like a mere
hireling, who is not worth the bread thrown to him; to be a toy of an
incomprehensible caprice--this, at least, he had not deserved; so he
became reserved toward the whole family, and sat silent at his desk; but
he felt the contrast between the now and the then so keenly, that often,
when alone, he would spring up and stamp on the ground in the bitter
indignation of his heart.

One comfort remained. Sabine was not estranged. True, he saw little of
her, and at dinner she seemed to avoid speaking to him, but he knew that
she was on his side.

A few days after his first conversation with the merchant, she came down
stairs as he stood in the hall, and had to pass him by so closely that
her dress touched him. He had retreated, and made a formal bow, but she
looked at him imploringly, and whispered, "You must not be estranged
from me." It was an affair of a moment, but the faces of both were
radiant with a happy understanding.

The time had now arrived when Mr. Jordan was to quit the firm. The
principal again called Anton into his little office, and without any
severity, but also without a trace of his former cordiality, began: "I
have already mentioned to you my intention of appointing you Jordan's
successor; but, during the last few weeks, your time has been more taken
up with other business than would be compatible with such a post, I
therefore ask you whether you are now at liberty to undertake Jordan's
duties?"

"I am not," replied Anton.

"Can you name any--not very distant--time when you will be free from
your present occupation? In that case I will endeavor to find a
substitute until then."

Anton sorrowfully replied, "I can not at present say when I shall again
be master of my whole time; and, besides, I feel that, even as it is, I
tax your indulgence by many irregularities. Therefore, Mr. Schröter, I
beg that you will fill up this post without any reference to me."

The merchant's brow grew furrowed and dark, and he silently bowed
assent. Anton felt as he closed the door that the estrangement between
them was now complete, and, resuming his place, he leaned his throbbing
head on his hand. A moment later Baumann was summoned to the principal,
and Jordan's situation conferred upon him. On returning to the office,
he went up to Anton and whispered, "I refused at first, but Mr. Schröter
insisted. I am doing you an injustice." And that evening Mr. Baumann, in
his own room, read in the first book of Samuel the chapters treating of
the unjust Saul (the principal), and of the friendship between Jonathan
and the persecuted David, and strengthened his heart thereby.

The next day Anton was summoned to the baroness. Lenore and her mother
sat before a large table covered with jewel-boxes and toilette elegances
of every description, while a heavy iron chest stood at their feet. The
curtains were drawn, and the subdued light shone softly into the richly
furnished room. On the carpet glowed wreaths of unfading flowers, and
the clock ticked cheerfully in its alabaster case. Under the shade of
flowering plants sat the two love-birds in their silvered cage, hopping
from perch to perch, screaming ceaselessly, or sitting up quietly close
to each other. The whole room was beauty and perfume. "For how long?"
thought Anton. The baroness rose. "We are already obliged to trouble you
again," said she; "we are engaged in a very painful occupation." On the
table were all manner of ornaments, gold chains, brilliants, rings,
necklaces, gathered into a heap.

"We have been looking out all that we can dispense with," said the
baroness, "and now pray you to undertake to sell these things for us. I
have been told that some of them are of value, and as we are now in much
need of money, we turn here for help."

Anton looked in perplexity at the glittering heap.

"Tell us, Wohlfart," cried Lenore, anxiously, "is this necessary? can it
be of any use? Mamma has insisted upon setting apart for sale all our
ornaments, and whatever plate is not in daily use. What I can give is
not worth talking of, but my mother's jewels are costly; many of them
were presents made to her in youth, which she shall not part with unless
you say that it is necessary."

"I fear," said Anton, gravely, "that it will prove so."

"Take them," said the baroness to Anton; "I shall be calmer when I know
that we have at least done what we could."

"But do you wish to part with all?" inquired Anton, anxiously. "Much
that is dear to you may have but little value in a jeweler's eyes."

"I shall never wear an ornament again," quietly replied the baroness.
"Take them all;" and, holding her hands before her eyes, she turned
away.

"We are torturing my mother," cried Lenore, hastily; "will you lock up
all that is on the table, and get them out of the house as soon as you
can?"

"I can not undertake the charge of these valuables," said Anton,
"without taking some measures to decrease my own responsibility. First
of all, I will in your presence make a short note of all you intrust to
me."

"What useless cruelty!" exclaimed Lenore.

"It will not take long."

Anton took out a few sheets from his pocket-book, and began to note down
the different articles.

"You shall not see it done, mother," said Lenore, drawing her mother
away, and then returning to watch Anton at his task.

"These preparations for the market are horrible," said she. "My mother's
whole life will be sold; some memory of hers is linked with every single
thing. Look, Wohlfart, the princess gave her this diamond ornament when
she married my father."

"They are magnificent brilliants," cried Anton, admiringly.

"This ring was my grandfather's, and these are presents of poor papa's.
Alas! no man can know how we love all these things. It was always a
festival to me when mamma put on her diamonds. Now we come to my
possessions. They are not worth much. Do you think this bracelet good
gold?" She held out her hand as she spoke.

"I do not know."

"It shall go with the rest," said Lenore, taking it off. "Yes, you are a
kind, good man, Wohlfart," continued she, looking trustfully into his
tearful eyes; "do not forsake us. My brother has no experience, and is
more helpless than we are. It is a frightful position for me. Before
mamma I do all I can to be composed, else I could scream and weep the
whole day through." She sank in a chair, still holding his hand. "Dear
Wohlfart, do not forsake us."

Anton bent over her, and looked with passionate emotion at the lovely
face that turned so trustfully to him in the midst of its tears.

"I will be helpful to you when I can," said he, in the fullness of his
heart. "I will be at hand whenever you need me. You have too good an
opinion of my information and my faculties; I can be of less assistance
to you than you suppose, but what I can, that I will do in any and every
possible way."

Their hands parted with a warm pressure; the affair was settled.

The baroness now returned. "Our lawyer was with me this morning," said
she; "and now I must ask for your opinion on another subject. He tells
me that there is no prospect of preserving the baron's family estate."

"At this time, when interest is high, and money difficult to get, none,"
replied Anton.

"And you, too, think that we must turn all our efforts toward preserving
the Polish property?"

"I do," was the answer.

"For that, also, money will be necessary. Perhaps I may be able through
my relatives to intrust you with a small sum, which, with the help of
that"--she pointed to the iron chest--"may suffice to cover the first
necessary expenses. I do not, however, wish to sell the jewels here, and
a journey to the residence would be necessary in order to procure the
sum to which I have just alluded. The baron's lawyer has spoken most
highly of your capacity for business. It is his wish which now decides
me to make a proposal to you. Will you for the next few years, or, at
all events, until our greatest difficulties are over, devote your whole
time to our affairs? I have consulted my children, and they agree with
me in believing that in your assistance lies our only hope of rescue.
The baron, too, has come in to the plan. The question now is whether
your circumstances allow you to give your support to our unfortunate
family. We shall be grateful to you, whatever conditions you affix; and
if you can find any way of making our great obligations to you apparent
in the position you hold, pray impart it to me."

Anton stood petrified. What the baroness required of him was separation
from the firm, separation from his principal, and from Sabine! Had this
thought occurred to him before, when standing in Lenore's presence or
bending over the baron's papers? At all events, now that the words were
spoken, they shocked him. He looked at Lenore, who stood behind her
mother with hands clasped in supplication. At length he replied, "I
stand in a position which I can not leave without the consent of others.
I was not prepared for this proposal, and beg to have time allowed me
for consideration. It is a step which will decide my whole future life."

"I do not press you," said the baroness; "I only request your
consideration. Whatever your decision be, our warmest gratitude will
still be yours; if you are unable to uphold our feeble strength, I fear
that we shall find no one to do so. You will think of that," she added,
beseechingly.

Anton hurried through the street with throbbing pulse. The noble lady's
glance of entreaty, Lenore's folded hands, beckoned him out of the
gloomy counting-house into a sphere of greater liberty, into a new
future, from whose depths bright images flashed out upon his fancy. A
request had been frankly made, and he was strongly inclined to justify
the confidence that prompted it. Those ladies required an unwearied,
self-sacrificing helper to save them from utter ruin, and if he
followed his impulse he should be doing a good work--fulfilling a duty.

In this mood he entered the merchant's dwelling. Alas! all that he saw
around him seemed to stretch out a hand to detain him. As he looked at
the warehouse, the good-humored faces of the porters, the chains of the
great scales, the hieroglyphics of the worthy Pix, again he felt that
this was the place that he belonged to. Sabine's dog kissed his hand,
and ran before him to his room--his and Fink's room. Here the childish
heart of the orphan boy had found a friend, kind companions, a home, a
definite and honorable life-purpose. Looking down through his window on
all the long-familiar objects, he saw a light in Sabine's store-chamber.
How often he had sought for that light, which brightened the whole great
building, and brought a sense of comfort and cheerfulness even into his
room. He now sprang up suddenly, and said to himself, "She shall
decide."

Sabine started in amazement when Anton appeared before her. "I am
irresistibly impelled to seek you," cried he. "I have to decide upon my
future life, and I feel undetermined, and unable to trust to my own
judgment. You have always been a kind friend to me since the day of my
arrival. I am accustomed to look up to you, and to think of you in
connection with all that interests me here. Let me hear your opinion
from your own lips. The Baroness Rothsattel has to-day proposed to me
permanently to undertake the situation of confidential adviser and
manager of the baron's affairs. Shall I accept; or shall I remain here?
I know not--tell me what is right both for myself and others."

"Not I," said Sabine, drawing back and growing very pale. "I can not
venture to decide in the matter. Nor do you wish me to do so, Wohlfart,
for you have already decided."

Anton looked straight before him and was silent.

"You have thought of leaving this house, and a wish to do so has sprung
out of the thought. And I am to justify you, and approve your resolve!
This is what you require of me," continued she, bitterly. "But this,
Wohlfart, I can not do, for I am sorry that you go away from us."

She turned away from him and leaned on the back of a chair.

"Oh, be not angry with me too!" said Anton; "that I can not bear. I have
suffered much of late. Mr. Schröter has suddenly withdrawn from me the
friendly regard that I long held my life's greatest treasure. I have not
deserved his coldness. What I have been doing has not been wrong, and
it was done with his knowledge. I had been spoiled by his kindness; I
have the more deeply felt his displeasure. My only comfort has been that
you did not condemn me. And now, do not you be cold toward me, else I
shall be wretched forever. There is not a soul on earth to whom I can
turn for affectionate comprehension of my difficulties. Had I a sister,
I should seek her heart to-day. You do not know what to me, lonely as I
am, your smile, your kindly shake of the hand has been till now. Do not
turn coldly from me, I beseech you."

Sabine was silent. At length she inquired, still with averted face,
"What draws you to those strangers; is it a joyful hope, is it sympathy
alone? Give this question close consideration before you answer it to
yourself at least."

"What it is that makes it possible for me to leave this house," said
Anton, "I do not myself know. If I can give a name to my motives, it is
gratitude felt toward one. She was the first to speak kindly to the
wandering boy on his way out into the world. I have admired her in the
peaceful brightness of her former life. I have often dreamed childish
dreams about her. There was a time when a tender feeling for her filled
my whole heart, and I then believed myself forever the slave of her
image. But years bring changes, and I learned to look on men and on life
with other eyes. Then I met her again, distressed, unhappy, despairing,
and my compassion became overmastering. When I am away from her, I know
that she is nothing to me; when I am with her, I feel only the spell of
her sorrow. Once, when I had to depart out of her circle like a culprit,
she came to me, and before the whole scornful assembly she gave me her
hand and acknowledged me her friend; and now she comes and asks for my
hand to help her father. Can I refuse it? Is it wrong to feel as I do? I
know not, and no one can tell me--no one but you alone."

Sabine's head had sunk down to the back of the chair on which she bent.
She now suddenly raised it, and with tearful eyes, and a voice full of
love and sorrow, cried, "Follow the voice that calls you. Go, Wohlfart,
go."



CHAPTER XXVII.


On a cold October day, two men were seen driving through the latticed
gate of the town of Rosmin on toward the plain, which stretched out
before them monotonous and boundless. Anton sat wrapped in his fur coat,
his hat low on his forehead, and at his side was young Sturm, in an old
cavalry cloak, with his soldier's cap cocked cheerily on one side. In
front of them a farm-servant, squatted on a heap of straw, flogged on
the small horses. The wind swept the sand and straw from the
stubble-fields, the road was a broad causeway without ditches or hedges,
the horses had to wade alternately through puddles and deep sand. Yellow
sand gleamed through the scanty herbage in all directions wherever a
field-mouse had made her way to her nest or an active mole had done what
he could to diversify the unbroken plain. Wherever the ground sank,
stagnant water lodged, and there hollow willow-trees stretched their
crippled arms in the air, their boughs flapping in the wind, and their
faded leaves fluttering down into the muddy pool below. Here and there
stood a small dwarf pine, a resting-place for the crows, who, scared by
the passing carriage, flew loudly croaking over the travelers' heads.
There was no house to be seen on the road, no pedestrian, and no
conveyance of any kind.

Karl looked every now and then at his silent companion, and said at
last, pointing to the horses, "How rough their coats are, and how pretty
their gray mouse skins! I wonder how many of these beasties would go to
make up my sergeant's horse! When I took leave of my father, the old man
said, 'Perhaps I shall pay you a visit, little one, when they light the
Christmas-tree.' 'You'll never be able,' said I. 'Why not?' asked he.
'You'll never trust yourself in any post-chaise.' Then the old boy
cried, 'Oho! post-chaises are always of a stout build; I shall be sure
to trust myself in one.' But now, Mr. Anton, I see that my father never
can pay us a visit."

"Why not?"

"It is possible that he may reach Rosmin; but, as soon as he sees these
horses and this road, he will instantly turn back. 'Shall I trust
myself,' he'll say, 'in a district where sand runs between one's legs
like water, and where mice are put into harness? The ground is not firm
enough for me.'"

"The horses are not the worst things here," said Anton, absently. "Look!
these go fast enough."

"Yes," replied Karl, "but they don't go like regular horses; they
entangle their legs like two cats playing in a parsley-bed. And what
things they have for shoes--regular webbed hoofs, I declare, which no
blacksmith can ever fit."

"If we could only get on!" returned Anton; "the wind blows cold, and I
am shivering in spite of my fur."

"You have slept but little the last few nights, sir," said Karl. "The
wind blows here as if over a threshing-floor. The earth is not round
hereabouts as elsewhere, but flat as a cake. This is a complete desert;
we have been driving for more than an hour, and there is not a village
to be seen."

"A desert indeed," sighed Anton; "let us hope it may improve." They
relapsed into profound silence. At length the driver stopped near a
pool, unharnessed the horses, and led them to the water's edge, without
noticing the travelers.

"What the deuce does this mean?" cried Karl, jumping down from the
carriage.

"I am going to feed," replied the servant, sulkily, in a foreign accent.

"I am anxious to know how that will be done," said Karl. "There is not
the shadow of a bag of provender."

The horses, however, soon proved that they could live without corn; they
stretched down their shaggy heads, and began to pull the grass and weeds
at the edge of the pool, sometimes taking a draught of the dirty water.
Meanwhile the servant drew a bundle from under his seat, settled himself
under the lee of an alder-bush, and, taking his knife, cut his bread and
cheese without even glancing at the travelers.

"I say, Ignatius or Jacob," cried Karl, sharply, "how long will this
breakfast of yours last?"

"An hour," replied the man, munching away.

"And how far is it from here to the estate?"

"Six miles, or maybe more."

"You can make nothing of him," said Anton; "we must put up with the
customs of the country;" and, leaving the carriage, they went to look on
at the horses feeding.

Anton is on his way to the Polish property. He is now the baron's agent.
Anxious months have the last proved to him. The parting from his
principal and the firm had been painful in the extreme. For some time
before it, indeed, Anton had found himself alone in the midst of his
colleagues. The quiet Baumann still remained his friend, but the others
considered him a castaway. The merchant received his resignation with
icy coldness; and even in the hour of parting, his hand lay impassive as
metal in Anton's grasp. Since then, our hero had undertaken several
journeys to the capital and to creditors in the family's behalf, and now
he was on his way to set the new estate in order, accompanied by Karl,
whom he had induced to become the baron's bailiff.

Ehrenthal had, by the authority conferred on him, taken possession of
the property from the time of the sale by auction, and hired the Polish
bailiff for the baron. There had been unfair dealings between them at
the time, and it was well known in Rosmin that the bailiff had sold off
a good deal, and been guilty of all sorts of frauds since, so that Anton
had even now no prospect of a quiet life.

"The hour is come when I may execute my commission," cried Karl, groping
in the straw under the seat. He drew out a large japanned tin case, and
carried it to Anton. "Miss Sabine gave me this in charge for you." He
then joyously opened the lid, produced the materials for an excellent
breakfast, a bottle of wine, and a silver goblet. Anton took hold of the
case.

"It has a very knowing look," said Karl. "Miss Sabine planned it
herself."

Anton examined it on all sides, and placed it carefully on a tuft of
grass; then he took up the goblet, and saw his initials engraved on it,
and underneath the words, "To thy welfare." Whereupon he forgot the
breakfast and all around him, and stood gazing at the goblet, lost in
thought.

"Do not forget the breakfast, sir," suggested Karl, respectfully.

"Sit down by me, my faithful friend; eat and drink with me. Leave off
your absurd politeness. We shall have but little, either of us, but what
we have we will share like brothers. Take the bottle if you have no
glass."

"There's nothing like leather," said Karl, taking a small leathern
drinking-cup out of his pocket. "As for what you have just said, it was
kindly meant, and I thank you; but there must be subordination, if it
were but for the sake of the others; and so, sir, be kind enough to let
me shake hands with you now, and then let things be as they were before.
Only look at the horses, Mr. Anton. My faith! the creatures devour
thistles."

Again the horses were harnessed, again they threw out their short legs
in the sand, and again the carriage rolled through the barren
district--first through an empty plain, next through a wretched
fir-wood, then past a row of low sand-hills, then over a tumble-down
bridge crossing a small stream.

"This is the property," said the driver, turning round, and pointing
with his whip to a row of dirty thatched roofs that had just come into
sight.

Anton stood up to look for the group of trees in which the Hall might be
supposed to stand. Nothing of the sort to be seen. The village was
deficient in all that adorns the home of the poorest German peasant--no
orchard, no hedged-in gardens, no lime-trees in the market-place.

"This is wretched," said he, sitting down again; "much worse than they
told us in Rosmin."

"The village looks as if under a curse," cried Karl; "no teams working
in the fields--not a cow or a sheep to be seen."

The farm-servant flogged his horses into an irregular gallop, and so
they passed through the rows of mud huts which constituted the village,
and arrived at the public house. Karl sprang from the carriage, opened
the tavern door, and called for the landlord. A Jew slowly rose from his
seat by the stove and came to the threshold. "Is the gendarme from
Rosmin come?" He is gone into the village. "Which is the way to the
farm-yard?"

The landlord, an elderly man with an intelligent countenance, described
the way in German and Polish, and remained standing at the
door--bewildered, Karl declared, by the sight of two human beings. The
carriage turned into a cross-road, planted on both sides with thick
bushes, the remains of a fallen avenue. Over holes, stones, and puddles,
it rattled on to a group of mud huts, which still had a remnant of
whitewash upon them. "The barns and stables are empty," cried Karl, "for
I see gaps in the roofs large enough to drive our carriage through."

Anton said no more; he was prepared for every thing. They drove through
a break between the stables into the farm-yard, a large irregular space,
surrounded on three sides by tumble-down buildings, and open to the
fields on the fourth. A heap of _débris_ lay there--lime and rotten
timber, the remains of a ruined barn. The yard was empty; no trace of
farm implements or human labor to be seen. "Which is the inspector's
house," inquired Anton, in dismay. The driver looked round, and at last
made up his mind that it was a small one-storied building, with straw
thatch and dirty windows.

At the noise of the wheels a man appeared on the threshold, and waited
phlegmatically till the travelers had dismounted, and were standing
close before him. He was a broad-shouldered fellow, with a bloated,
brandy-drinking face, dressed in a jacket of shaggy cloth, while behind
him peered the muzzle of an equally shaggy dog, who snarled at the
strangers. "Are you the steward of this property?"

"I am," replied the man, in broken German, without stirring from where
he was.

"And I am the agent of the new proprietor," said Anton.

"That does not concern me," growled the shaggy man, turning sharp round,
entering the house, and bolting the door within.

Anton was thoroughly roused. "Break the window in, and help me to catch
the rascal," cried he to Karl, who coolly seized a piece of wood, struck
the panes so as to make the rotten framework give way, and cleared the
opening at one leap. Anton followed him. The room was empty, so was the
next, and in it an open window--the man was gone.

"After him!" cried Karl, and dashed on in pursuit, while Anton looked
about the house and out-buildings. He soon heard the barking of a dog,
and saw Karl capture the fugitive. Hurrying to his help, he held the man
fast, while, with a kick, Karl sent the dog flying. They then contrived
to force the steward back to the house, though he kept striking out
violently all the way.

"Go to the tavern, and bring the gendarme and the landlord," cried Anton
to the driver, who, undisturbed by all that had been going on, had
meanwhile unpacked the carriage. The man accordingly drove leisurely
off, and the fugitive being got into the room, Karl found an old cloth,
and with it bound his hands behind his back. "I beg your pardon, sir,"
said he; "it is only for an hour or so, till the arrival of the Rosmin
gendarme, whom we have appointed to meet us."

Anton then proceeded to examine the house, but there was nothing to be
found but the merest necessaries; no books nor papers of any kind. It
had doubtless been emptied already. A bundle projected from the
coat-pocket of the prisoner, which turned out to be receipts and legal
documents in Polish. In time, the driver returned with the landlord and
the armed policeman. The landlord stood at the door in some perplexity,
and the policeman explained in a few moments what remained to be done.
"You must make a statement to the local judge, and give the man up to
me. He shall go back in your carriage to Rosmin. You will do well to get
rid of him, for this is a wild country, and it will be safer for you to
have him at Rosmin than here, where he has friends and accomplices."

After a long search, a sheet of paper was found in a cupboard, the
statement made and submitted to the policeman, who shook his head a
little over the Polish composition, and the prisoner lifted into the
carriage, the gendarme taking his seat beside him, and saying to Anton,
"I have long expected something of the kind. You may have often occasion
to want me again." The carriage then drove away, and thus the property
came under Anton's administration. He felt as if cast on a desert
island.

His portmanteau and traveling effects were leaning against a mud wall,
and the Polish landlord was the only man who could give him and Karl any
information or advice in their forlorn condition.

Now that the steward was fairly gone, the landlord grew more
communicative, and showed himself serviceable and obliging. A long
conversation ensued, and its purport was what Anton had apprehended from
the warning given by the Commissary Walter and other Rosmin officials.
The inspector had, during the last few weeks, done all he could in the
way of spoliation, rendered daring by a report which had found its way
from the town to the village, that the present proprietor would never be
able to take possession of the estate. At last Anton said, "What that
wretched man has done away with he will have to account for; our first
care must be to preserve what is still to be found on the property. You
must be our guide to-day."

They then examined the empty buildings. Four horses and two
servants--they were gone into the wood--a few old plows, a pair of
harrows, two wagons, a britzska, a cellar full of potatoes, a few
bundles of hay, a little straw--the inventory did not take much time in
drawing up. The buildings were all out of repair, not through age, but
neglect.

"Where is the dwelling-house?" inquired Anton. The landlord led the way
out of the yard to the meadow--a broad plain, gradually sloping down to
the level of the brook. It had been a great pasture. The cattle had
trodden it down into holes; the snouts of greedy swine had rooted it up;
gray molehills and rank tufts of grass rose on all sides.

The landlord stretched out his hand. "There is the castle. This castle
is famous throughout the whole country," he added, reverentially; "no
nobleman in the district has a stone house like that. All the gentry
here live in wood and mud buildings. Herr von Tarow, the richest of
them, has but a poor dwelling."

About three hundred yards from the last out-building rose a great brick
edifice, with a black slate roof and a thick round tower. Its gloomy
walls on this treeless pasture-land, without one trace of life around,
rose beneath the cloudy sky like a phantom fortress which some evil
spirit had evoked from the abyss--a station from which to blight all the
surrounding landscape.

The strangers approached it. The castle had fallen into ruins before the
builders had finished their task. The tower had stood there for ages. It
was built of unhewn stone, and had small windows and loop-holes. The
former lords of the land had looked down from its summit on the tops of
the trees, which then stretched far into the plain. They had then ruled
with a rod of iron the serfs who cultivated their land, and toiled and
died for them. Many an arrow had sped through those loop-holes at the
enemy storming below, and many a Tartar horse had been overthrown before
those massive walls. Years ago, a despot of the district had, in
expiation of former sins, begun to add to the gray tower the walls of a
holy monastery; but the monastery never got finished, and the useless
walls had already stood there long, when the late count took it into his
head to convert them into a lordly dwelling for his race, and to raise a
house unparalleled for magnificence in the whole country.

The front of the house was added on to both sides of the tower, which
projected in the middle. The intention had been to have a high
terrace-road up to the castle, and the principal entrance had been made
in the tower, and arched over; but the terrace never having been formed,
the stone threshold of the main door was quite inaccessible without the
help of ladders, and the wide opening was left. The window-spaces of
the lower floor were merely closed up with boards, while on the second
story were some window-frames of beautifully carved wood, in which large
panes had once been placed, but they had got broken. In other windows
were temporary frames of rough deal, with small panes of muddy glass let
into them. A company of jackdaws sat on the top of the tower, looking
down in amazement on the strangers, and every now and then one flew off,
screaming loudly, to contemplate the intruders from a new point of view.

"A house for crows and bats, not for human beings," said Anton. "At
least, I see no way of getting into it."

The landlord now took them round the building. Behind, where the two
wings made a sort of horse-shoe, there were low entrances to the cellars
and offices; beneath which, again, were stables, great arched kitchens,
and small cells for the serfs. A wooden staircase led to the upper
story. The door turned creaking on its hinges, and a narrow passage took
them through a side wing to the front part of the house. There all was
at least magnificently planned. The circular entrance-hall--an arched
room of the old tower--was painted in mosaic, and through the great
doorway-opening was seen a wide expanse of country. A broad staircase,
worthy of a palace, led up to another round hall, with narrow windows,
the second story of the tower. On each side lay suites of apartments:
large, lofty, desolate rooms, with heavy oak folding-doors, and dirty
plastered walls, the ceiling made of fir branches arranged in squares;
in some rooms colossal green tile stoves, in other rooms no stoves at
all; in some, beautiful inlaid floors, in others rude deal boards. An
immense saloon, with two gigantic chimney-pieces, had merely a
provisional ceiling of old laths. The castle was fitted for a wild
Asiatic household, for hangings of leather and of silk from France, for
costly woodwork from England, for massive silver services from German
mines, for a proud master, numerous guests, and a troop of retainers to
fill the halls and ante-rooms. The builder of the castle had looked back
to the wealth of his wild ancestors when he devised the plan; he had had
hundreds of trees cut down in the woods, and his hereditary bondsmen had
kneaded many thousand bricks with their own hands and feet; but Time,
the inexorable, had raised his finger against him, and none of his hopes
had been realized. His ruin first, and then his death, occurred during
the progress of the building; and his son, brought up among strangers,
had, as fast as one fool could, hurried on the ruin of his house. Now
the walls of the Slavonic castle stood with doors and windows gaping
wide, but no guest spoke his good wishes as he entered; only wild birds
flew in and out, and the marten crept over the floors. Useless and
unsightly the walls stood there, threatening to crumble and fall, like
the race that had raised them up.

Anton passed with rapid step from room to room, vainly hoping to find
one in which he could even imagine the two ladies, who were looking
forward to this house as their asylum. He opened door after door, went
up and down creaking steps, disturbed the birds who had flown in through
the open archway, and still clung to their last summer's nest; but he
found nothing save uninhabitable rooms, with dirty plastered walls, or
without any plaster at all. Every where draughts, gaping doors, and
windows boarded up. Some oats had been shaken out in the large saloon;
and a few rooms looked as if they might have been temporarily made use
of, but a few old chairs and a rude table were all the furniture they
contained.

At length Anton ascended the decayed staircase in the tower, and found
himself on its summit. Thence he saw the whole pile of building below
him, and looked far into the plain. To his left the sun sank down behind
gray masses of cloud into the depths of the forest; to his right lay the
irregular square of the farm-yard, and beyond it the untidy village;
behind him ran the brook, with a strip of meadow-land on either side.
Wild pear-trees, the delight of the Polish farmer, rose here and there
in the fields, with their thick and branching crowns; and under each was
an oasis of grass and bushes, gayly colored by the fallen leaves. These
trees, the dwelling-places of countless birds, alone broke the
monotonous surface of the plain--these, and at the verge of the horizon,
on all sides, the dark forest mentioned above. The sky was gray, the
ground colorless, the trees and bushes that bordered the brook were
bare, and the forest, with its promontories and bays, looked like a wall
that separated this spot of earth from the rest of humanity, from
civilization, from every joy and charm of life.

Anton's heart sank. "Poor Lenore! poor family!" he groaned aloud;
"things look terrible, but they could be improved. With money and taste
every thing is possible. This house might, without prodigious expense,
be metamorphosed by the upholsterer into a gorgeous residence. It would
be easy to level the pasture-land around--to sow it with fine grass--to
intersperse it with a few gayly-colored flower-beds--and to plant out
the village. Nothing is wanting to change the whole face of the district
but capital, industry, and judgment. But how is the baron to procure
these? To make any thing of this place should be the task of some fresh
and active life, and the baron is broken down; and thousands of dollars
would be needed, and years would pass away before the soil would do more
than pay the expenses of its culture, or yield any interest whatever on
the capital sunk in it."

Meanwhile Karl was contemplating two particular rooms in the upper story
with a knowing eye. "These take my fancy more than any of the others,"
said he to the landlord; "they have plastered walls, floors,
stoves--nay, even windows. To be sure, the panes are a good deal broken,
but, till we can get better glass, paper is not to be despised. We will
settle ourselves here. Could you get me somebody who knows how to handle
a broom and scrubbing-cloth? Good, you can; and now listen: try to bring
me a few sheets of paper; I have got glue with me; we will first get
some wood, then I will heat the stove, melt my glue, and paper up broken
panes. But, above all, help me to carry up our luggage from the
yard--and let us be quick about it."

His zeal communicated itself to the landlord; the luggage was got up
stairs; Karl unpacked a case full of tools of every kind, and the host
ran to call his maid from the public house.

Meanwhile horses' hoofs rang on the court-yard, and some well-dressed
men stopped before the late steward's dwelling, and knocked loudly at
the closed door. At a call from Anton, Karl hurried up to them.

"Good-morning," said one, in rather labored German; "is the steward at
home?"

"Where is the steward? where is Bratzky?" cried the others, impatient as
their prancing horses.

"If you mean the former steward," replied Karl, dryly, "he will not run
away from you though you do not find him here."

"What do you mean?" inquired the nearest horseman; "I beg that you will
explain yourself."

"If you wish to speak to Mr. Bratzky, you must take the trouble of
riding to the town. He is in custody."

The horses reared, and their riders closed round Karl, while Polish
ejaculations were heard on all sides. "In custody! On what account?"

"Ask my master," replied Karl, pointing to the doorway in the tower,
where Anton stood.

"Have I the pleasure of speaking to the new proprietor?" inquired one of
the party, taking off his hat. Anton looked down in amazement. The voice
and face reminded him of a white-gloved gentleman whom he had met once
before in a critical hour.

"I am the Baron Rothsattel's agent," replied he. The horse was pulled
back, and the rider spoke a few words to his companions, upon which an
older man with a fox-like face cried, "We are anxious to speak on
private business with the late steward. We hear that he is in custody,
and beg you will tell us why."

"He tried to evade by flight the surrender of the property to me, and he
is suspected of dishonest dealings."

"Are his effects confiscated?" inquired one of the riders.

"Why do you inquire?" returned Anton.

"I beg your pardon," said the other, "but the man happens accidentally
to have some papers that belong to me in his house, and it might
embarrass me if I could not get possession of them."

"His effects are gone with him to town," replied Anton. Once more there
was a consultation, and then the riders, bowing slightly, galloped off
to the village, halted a few minutes at the public house, and
disappeared where the high road turned into the wood.

"What can they want, Mr. Wohlfart?" inquired Karl. "That was a strange
flying visit."

"Yes, indeed," replied Anton; "I have reason to think it remarkable. If
I am not much mistaken, I have met one of the gentlemen before in very
different circumstances. Perhaps that fellow Bratzky knew how to make
himself friends through the mammon of unrighteousness."

The evening now wrapped castle and forest in its dark mantle. The
servants returned with the horses from the wood. Karl led them into
Anton's presence, made them a short Polish oration, and received them
into the service of the new proprietor. Next came the landlord to look
after them, bringing oats and a bundle of wood, and saying to Anton, "I
recommend you, sir, to be watchful during the night; the peasants sit
yonder in the bar, and discuss your arrival; there are bad men about,
and I would not be sure that one of them might not stick a match into
the straw yonder, and burn down the farm-buildings for you."

"I am sure enough that they will do nothing of the kind," said Karl,
throwing another log into the stove. "A fresh breeze is blowing right on
to the village. No one would be such a fool as to set his own barns on
fire. We shall take care to keep the wind in this point as long as we
are here. Tell your people that. Have you brought me the potatoes I
asked for?"

Anton appointed the landlord to return the next morning, and the
travelers were left alone in the desolate house.

"You need not heed that hint, Mr. Anton," continued Karl. "All over the
world drunken rascals have a trick of threatening fire; and, after all,
with reverence be it said, it would be no great harm. And now, Mr.
Anton, that we are by ourselves, let us think as little as possible
about this Polish affair--let us set to and be comfortable."

"I'm all right," said Anton, drawing a chair to the stove. The wood
crackled in the green tiles, and the red glare threw a warm light over
the floor, and flickered pleasantly on the walls.

"The warmth does one good," said Anton; "but do you not perceive smoke?"

"Of course," replied Karl, who was boring round holes in the potatoes by
the firelight. "Even the best stoves will smoke at the beginning of
winter, till they get accustomed to their work, and this great green
fellow has probably not seen fire for a generation, so it is not to be
expected that he should draw kindly at once. Be so good as to cut a bit
of bread and hold it to the fire. I am getting our candles ready." He
took out a great packet of candles, stuck one into each potato, cut off
the lower half, and placed them on the table, and then produced the
japanned case. "This is inexhaustible," said he; "it will last till the
day after to-morrow."

"That it will," said Anton, cheerily. "I am wonderfully hungry. And now
let us consider how we shall manage our housekeeping. What we absolutely
want we must get from the town; I will make a list at once. We will put
out one candle, though--we must be economical."

The evening was spent in plans. Karl discovered that he could make part
of the necessary furniture out of the boxes and boards about, and the
laughter of the two companions sounded cheerfully through the rooms of
the starost's dwelling. At last Anton proposed that they should go to
bed. They shook down straw and hay, unbuckled their portmanteaus, and
produced some blankets and coverlets. Karl fastened a lock that he had
brought with him into the room door, examined the loading of his
carbine, took up his potato, and said, with a military salute, "At what
time does major general the agent wish to be called to-morrow?"

"You good fellow!" cried Anton, reaching out his hand from his straw
bed.

Karl went into the next room, which he had chosen for himself. Soon both
candles were extinguished--the first signs of life which had shone for
years in the forsaken dwelling. But in the stove the little Kobolds of
the castle lingered long over the newly-kindled fire; they hovered in
the smoke wreaths, they knocked at doors and windows in amazement at the
proceedings of the strangers. At length they assembled in a corner of
the old tower, and began to dispute as to whether or not the flames
lighted this evening would continue to burn, and to cast henceforth
their cheerful glow on meadow, fields, and woods; and as they doubted
whether the new order of things had strength enough to endure, the smoke
drove the bats from their home in the chimney, and they came flapping
down stupefied on the summit of the tower, while the owls in its
crevices shook their round heads and hooted in the new era.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


He who has always trodden life's macadamized ways, hedged in by law,
moulded by order, custom, form, handed down from generation to
generation habits a thousand years old, and who finds himself suddenly
thrown among strangers, where law can but imperfectly protect him, and
where he must assert by daily struggles his right to exist--such a one
realizes for the first time the full blessing of the holy circle woven
round each individual by his fellow-men, his family, his companions in
labor, his race, his country. Whether he lose or gain in foreign parts,
he must needs change. If he is a weakling, he will sacrifice his own
_manière d'être_ to the external influences around him; if he has the
making of a man in him, he will become one now. The possessions, perhaps
the prejudices, that he has grown up with, will wax dearer to him than
ever; and much that once he looked upon as things of course, like air
and sunshine, will become his most prized treasures. It is in foreign
countries that we first enjoy the dialect of home, and in absence that
we learn how dear to us is our fatherland.

Our Anton had now to find out what he possessed and what he wanted.

The following morning they proceeded to view the entire property. It
consisted of the mansion-house, with the lands and buildings adjacent,
and of three farms. About half the land was arable, a small part laid
down in meadow; about half was wood, bordered with barren sand. The
castle and the village lay about the middle of the great clearing; two
of the farms were at opposite points of the compass, east and west, and
both were hid by projections of the forest. The third farm lay toward
the south, and was entirely divided by a wood from the rest of the
estate. It joined on to another Polish village, had its own
farm-buildings, and had always been separately cultivated. It occupied
about a quarter of the plain, had a distillery on it, and had been
rented for many years by a brandy-merchant, well to do. His lease had
been extended by Ehrenthal, but the sum he paid was low. However, his
occupancy was at present a good thing for the property, as it insured
some return for one portion of it, at least. The devastated wood was
under the care of a forester.

The first walk through the portion adjacent to the castle was as little
cheering as possible: the fields were, generally speaking, not prepared
for winter-sowing; and wherever the marks of the plow appeared, the land
had been taken possession of by the villagers, who regarded the
neglected property as their perquisite, and looked morosely at the
foreign settlers.

For years they had done none of the work that their feudal tenure
required of them, and the village bailiff plainly told Anton that the
community would resent any return to old customs. He pretended he did
not understand a word of German, and even Karl's eloquence failed to
conciliate him. The soil itself, neglected and weedy as it was, turned
out generally better than Anton had expected, and the landlord boasted
of his crops; but in the vicinity of the wood it was very poor, and in
many places quite unfit for culture.

"This is a serious sort of day," said Anton, putting up his pocket-book.
"Harness the britzska; we will drive to see the cattle."

The farm where the cattle were quartered lay to the west, about a mile
and a half from the castle. A miserable stable and the cottage of a
farm-servant was all they found there. The cows and a pair of draught
oxen were under his charge, and he lived there with his wife and a
half-witted herdsman. None of these people understood much German, or
inspired any confidence: the wife was a dirty woman, without shoes and
stockings, whose milk-pails looked as if long unwashed. The
farm-servant, and sometimes the herdsman, plowed with the yoke of oxen
wherever they chose; the cattle fed on the meadow land.

"Here is work for you," said Anton; "examine the cattle, and see what
you can find of winter provender. I will make an inventory of the
building and implements."

Karl soon came to report. "Four-and-twenty milch cows, twelve heifers,
and an old bull; about a dozen cows, at most, are in profit, the rest
mere grass-devourers: the whole of them are a poor set. Some foreign
cows, probably Swiss ones, have been brought over and crossed with a
much larger breed, and the result is ugly enough. The best cows have
evidently been exchanged; for some wretched creatures are running about,
the rest keeping aloof from them: they can't have been here long. As to
fodder, there is hay enough for winter, and a few bundles of oat straw;
no wheat straw at all."

"The buildings are out of order too," cried Anton, in return. "Drive now
to the distillery. I have carefully examined the conditions of the
lease, and am better up in it than in most things."

The carriage rolled over a shaky bridge that spanned the brook, then
through fields and an expanse of sand scantily covered with arenaceous
plants, in whose roots a pine-seed had nestled here and there,
stretching dwarf branches over the waste; then came the woods, with many
a gap, where lay nothing but yellow sand, and on all sides stumps
overgrown with heath and brambles. Slowly the horses waded on. Neither
of the strangers spoke, as both were engaged in observing every tree
that a fortunate chance had allowed to grow and spread better than the
rest.

At length the prospect widened, and another plain lay before them,
monotonous and forest-bounded like the rest. Before them rose a church.
They drove past a wooden crucifix, and stopped at the court-yard of the
farm. The tenant had already heard of their arrival; and perhaps he was
better acquainted with the baron's circumstances than Anton could have
wished, for he received them in a patronizing and self-sufficient
manner, hardly taking the trouble to lead them into an unoccupied room.
His first question, was, "Do you really believe that Rothsattel will be
able to take possession of the estate? There is much to be done on it,
and, from all I hear, the poor man has not got the capital required."

This cool demeanor exasperated Anton not a little; but he answered, with
the composure that habits of business give, "If you wish to ask me
whether the Baron Rothsattel will undertake the management of the
estate, I have to say in reply that he will be all the better able to do
so the more conscientiously his tenants and dependents perform their
duties. I am here at present to ascertain how far you have done this. I
have authority given me, by the terms of your lease, to examine your
inventory. And if you value the baron's good-will, I recommend you to
treat his representative more civilly."

"The baron's good-will is perfectly immaterial to me," said the inflated
tenant. "But, since you speak of authority, perhaps you will show me
your credentials."

"Here they are," said Anton, quietly drawing the document in question
from his pocket.

The tenant read it carefully through, or at least pretended to do so,
and rudely replied, "I am not very sure, after all, whether you have a
right to look over my premises, but I have no objection to it; so go and
inspect as much as you like." And, putting on his cap, he turned to
leave the room, but Anton at once barred the way, and said, in his
quiet, business voice, "I give you the choice of conducting me over your
premises at once, or having an inventory drawn out by a lawyer. This
last measure will occasion you unnecessary expense. I would besides
remind you that the good-will of the proprietor is necessary to every
tenant who wishes for an extension of his lease, and that yours will be
out in two years' time. It is no pleasure to me to spend two hours in
your society; but if you do not fulfill your contract, the baron will of
course take advantage of it to break your lease. I give you your
choice."

The tenant looked for a few minutes with a stupefied expression at
Anton's resolute countenance, and at last said, "If you insist upon it,
of course. I did not mean to offend." He then reluctantly touched his
hat, and led the way into the court-yard.

Anton took out his tablets once more, and the survey began. 1.
Dwelling-house: the roof out of order. 2. Cow-house: one side of the
lower wall fallen; and so on. The survey was, on the whole,
unsatisfactory; but Anton's business-like demeanor and Karl's martial
aspect were not without their influence over the tenant, who gradually
relaxed, and muttered out a few excuses.

When Anton got into the carriage again, he said to him, "I give you four
weeks to rectify what we have found amiss, and at the end of that time I
shall call again."

To which Karl added, "Will you have the kindness to raise your hat as
you now see me do? This is the right moment for the ceremony. That's it!
You will learn the proper thing in time. Drive on, coachman."

"When you return," continued Karl to Anton, "this man will be as
obsequious as possible. He has grown bumptious on the farm."

"And the estate has grown the poorer because of him," said Anton. "Now,
then, for the new farm!"

A poor dwelling-house on one side, a long row of sheep-pens on the
other, a stable, and a barn.

"It is remarkable," said Karl, looking at the buildings from a distance,
"the thatch has no holes, and in the corner there is a stack of new
straw. By Jove! they have mended the roof."

"Here is our last hope," replied Anton.

As the carriage drew up, the heads of a young woman and a flaxen-haired
child appeared for a moment at the window, then rapidly retreated.

"This farm is the jewel of the estate," cried Karl, jumping over the
side of the carriage. "There are actually signs of a dunghill here; and
there go a cock and hens--something like a cock too, with a tail like a
sickle! And there is a myrtle in the window. Hurra! here is a housewife!
here is the fatherland! here are Germans!"

The woman came out--a neat figure--followed by the curly pate, who, at
the sight of strangers, put his fingers in his mouth, and crept behind
his mother's apron.

Anton inquired for her husband.

"He can see your carriage from the field; he will be here immediately,"
said the wife, blushing. She invited them in, and hastily rubbed two
chairs bright with her apron.

The room was small, but whitewashed; the furniture painted red, but kept
very clean; the coffee-pot was simmering on the stove; a Black-forest
clock ticked in the corner; on some hanging shelves stood two painted
China figures, a few cups, and about a dozen books; and behind the
little looking-glass on the wall there was a fly-flap, and a birch rod
carefully bound round with red ribbon. It was the first comfortable room
that they had seen on the estate.

"A song-book and a rod," said Anton, good-naturedly. "I do believe you
are a good woman. Come here, flaxen-hair." He took the scared, stolid
child on his knee, and made him ride there--walk--trot--gallop--till the
little fellow at last got courage to take his fingers out of his mouth.

"He is used to that," said his mother, much pleased. "It is just what
his father does when he is a good boy."

"You have had a hard time of it here," suggested Anton.

"Ah! sir," cried she, "when we heard that a German family had bought the
estate, and that we had to keep things together for them, and thought
they would soon come and perhaps drive over here, we were as glad as
children. My husband was all day just like one who has been in the
public house, and I wept for joy. We thought that at last there would be
some order, and we should know what we were working for. My husband
spoke seriously to the shepherd--he is from our part of the country--and
they both resolved that they would not allow the steward to sell any
more away. And so my husband told him. But weeks passed, and no one
came. We sent every day to the village to inquire, and my husband went
to Rosmin and saw the lawyer. But it seemed they were not coming after
all, and that the estate would be sold again. Then, a fortnight ago, the
steward came over with a strange butcher, and wanted my husband to give
him the wethers; but he refused. At that they threatened him, and wanted
to force their way into the sheep-pens; but the shepherd and my husband
were too much for them; so off they went cursing, and declaring they
would have the sheep yet. Since then a man has watched every night;
there hangs a loaded gun which we have borrowed; and when the shepherd's
dog barks, I get up, and am dreadfully frightened about my husband and
child. There are dangerous men about here, sir, and that you will find."

"I hope things will improve," said Anton; "you lead a solitary life
here."

"It is solitary indeed," said the woman, "for we hardly ever go to the
village, and only sometimes on Sunday to the German village, where we go
to church. But there is always something to be done about the house;
and," continued she, somewhat embarrassed, "I will just tell you all,
and if you don't approve, we can give it up. I have dug a little space
behind the barn, we have hedged it in, and made a garden of it, where I
grow what I want for cooking; and then," with increased embarrassment,
"there are the poultry and a dozen ducks; and if you won't be angry, the
geese on the stubble-fields, and," wiping her eyes with her apron,
"there is the cow and the calf."

"Our calf!" cried the child, in ecstasy, slapping Anton's knees with his
fat hands.

"If you do not approve of my having kept the cow for myself," continued
the weeping woman, "we will give it up. My husband and the shepherd have
had no wages since the last wool-shearing, and we have been obliged to
buy necessaries; but my husband has kept an account of every thing, and
he will show it you, that you may see that we are not dishonest people."

"I hope it will so appear," replied Anton, soothingly; "and now let us
have a look at your garden; you shall keep it, if possible."

"There is not much in it," said the woman, leading them to the inclosed
space where the beds were all prepared for their winter's rest. She
stooped down, and gathered the few flowers remaining, some asters, and
her especial pride, some autumn violets. Tying them together, she gave
the nosegay to Anton, "because," said she with a pleasant smile, "you
are a German."

A quick step was now heard in the yard, and in came the tenant with
reddened cheeks, and made his bow to them.

He was a fine young man, with a sensible countenance and a trustworthy
manner. Anton spoke encouragingly, and he readily produced his accounts.

"We will look over the stock now," replied Anton; "the books I will take
with me. Come to me to-morrow at the castle, and we can arrange the
rest."

"The horses are in the fields," said the tenant; "I drive one plow
myself, and the shepherd's lad helps with the other. We have only four
horses here; once there were twelve in the stable. We have of late
cultivated little more than was necessary for ourselves and the cattle.
There is a want of every thing."

However, the survey turned out cheering on the whole; the buildings
were in tolerable repair, and the crops lately got in promised to keep
the flocks through the winter. Last of all, the farmer, with a pleased
smile, opened a door in his dwelling-house, and pointed out a heap of
pease. "You have seen the straw and hay already," he said, "but here are
the pease which I hid from the steward, thinking they belonged to you.
Indeed, there was some selfishness in it," continued he, candidly, "for
we were so placed that we got nothing, and I was obliged to think of
some way of keeping the farm going in case the winter brought no help."

"Very good," said Anton, smiling; "I hope we shall understand each other
well. And now to the sheep. Come with us, farmer."

The carriage rolled slowly along the fields, the tenant eagerly pointing
out their condition. Not the fourth part of the land belonging to the
farm was plowed; the rest had been in pasture for many years past.

As they approached the flocks, the only living creatures of any worth on
the estate, Karl impatiently jumped out.

The shepherd slowly came to meet the strangers, accompanied by his two
dogs, one an old experienced character, who walked at the same pace as
his master, and looked with as much intelligence and discrimination at
the new authorities; the other a young fellow, a pupil, who vainly
attempted to maintain the aspect of calm dignity becoming his
responsible calling, but kept running with youthful eagerness ahead of
his master, and barking at the strangers, till a growl of rebuke from
his wiser companion brought him back to propriety. The shepherd took off
his broad-brimmed hat with all civility, and waited to be addressed. As
a man of intuition and reflection, he perfectly knew who he saw before
him, but it would have ill become one whose whole life had been spent in
restraining precipitation on the part of sheep and dogs to have evinced
undue curiosity.

The farmer introduced the strangers to him with a circular movement of
his hand, and the shepherd made several bows in succession, to show that
he perfectly understood who they were. "A fine flock, shepherd," said
Anton.

"Five hundred and five-and-twenty head," replied the shepherd.
"Eighty-six of them lambs, forty fat wethers." He looked round the flock
for a sheep, who deserved to be presented as a specimen, and suddenly
stooping, caught up one by the hind legs, and exhibited the wool. Karl
was intent in the examination. They were great strong sheep, well
fitted for the country, and far exceeded, both in condition and wool,
what might have been looked for. "If they get plenty of food, they give
wool," said the shepherd, proudly. "It is first-rate wool."

A yearling was at that moment thoughtless enough to cough. The shepherd
looked disapprovingly at it, and said, "The whole flock is perfectly
healthy."

"How long have you been in service here?" inquired Anton.

"Nine years," was the reply. "When I came, the creatures were like the
poodles in town, all bare behind. It has taken trouble to bring them
round. No one else has ever seen after them, but they have not fared the
worse for that. If I could only always have had pea-straw for them, and
this winter, common pease for the mothers."

"We must see what can be done," said Anton; "but we shall have to be
sparing in our management this winter."

"True," said the shepherd; "but, however, this is good pasture."

"I can well believe," said Anton, smiling, "that your sheep have nothing
to complain of. There are few fields here which your dog has not barked
over for years. I have been delighted to hear how bravely you have
defended the property of your new master. Have the people about often
behaved ill to you?"

"I can hardly say, sir," replied the shepherd; "men are every where
alike--they are not to be depended on. I would rather bring up a colly
than a man." He leaned upon his staff, and looked with satisfaction upon
his dog, who, true to his post, had been barking round the flock, and
now came back to give his master's legs a confidential flap with his
tail. "Look at this dog! When I have had a dog in training for two
years, he is either good or not. If not, I send him away, and have done
with him; if good, I can trust him as I do myself, so long as he lives.
That boy yonder with the wethers I have had three years with me, and I
can never tell the hour that some confounded freak or other may not come
into his head, or that, instead of driving my sheep to the right, he may
not run off to the left. That's why I say there's not much reliance to
be placed upon men."

"And on whom do you rely in this world?" asked Anton.

"First of all on myself, for I know myself; then on my dog Crambo, for I
know him too, and, besides, I trust as I ought." He looked up for a
moment, then gave a low whistle, and Crambo again set out on his rounds.
"And you, sir," continued the shepherd, "shall you remain with the
baron?"

"I think so."

"May I ask as what? You are neither steward nor bailiff, for you have
not yet looked at the wethers. The wethers should be sold; it's high
time for it. So may I ask what you are to the new landlord?"

"If you want a name, you may call me his accountant."

"Accountant," said the shepherd, thoughtfully; "then I am to discuss my
allowance with you."

"You shall do so the next time we meet."

"There is no hurry," said the shepherd; "but one likes to know how one
stands. There is a pane broken in my room; the glazier will be coming to
the castle, and I hope, Mr. Accountant, you will remember me."

Karl and the farmer now joined them. "To the forester's!" cried Anton to
the driver.

"You mean to go to the forester's?" inquired the farmer.

"To the forester's!" repeated the shepherd, drawing nearer.

"Why does that surprise you?" inquired Anton from the carriage.

"Only," stammered out the farmer, "because the forester is a strange
man. If the baron himself were to come, he would not surrender."

"Does he live in a fortress, then?" inquired Anton, laughing.

"He locks himself up," said the tenant, "and lets no one enter; he has a
way of his own."

"He is a wild man of the woods," said the shepherd, shaking his head.

"The Poles say that he is a magician," continued the farmer.

"He can make himself invisible," cried the shepherd.

"Do you believe that?" asked Karl, much amazed.

"Not I, but there are plenty in the village who do."

"He is a good sort of man at the bottom, but he has his oddities,"
affirmed the farmer.

"I hope he will respect my position," rejoined Anton; "it will be worse
for him if he does not."

"It would be better that I should speak to the forester first,"
suggested the tenant. "Will you allow me to drive thither with you? He
is on friendly terms with me."

"With all my heart; take the reins, and we will leave the servant to
manage the plow till we set you down again on our way-back. And now then
for this dangerous character."

The carriage turned into a road bordered with young firs, and leading
into the wood. The ground was again sandy, and the trees poor. They went
on over stories and stumps till at length the wood stopped altogether at
a plantation apparently about fifteen years old: here the tenant
fastened the reins round the trunk of a tree, and begged the gentlemen
to dismount. They walked on through a thicket of young trees, whose long
spikes brushed their clothes as they passed, and filled the air with a
strong resinous perfume. Beyond this the ground sank, green moss spread
a soft carpet round, and a group of giant pines reared their dark crowns
high in the air: there stood the forester's house, a low wooden building
surrounded by a strong wooden fence, and further guarded by a triple
hedge of young fir-trees. A little spring trickled under the fence, and
gurgled among a few large stones, overshadowed by giant ferns.

Altogether it was a picture that could not fail to please in this
district of sand and heath. No one was to be seen about, and there was
not a trace of a footstep on the moss: it was only the barking of a dog
from within that announced the dwelling to be inhabited. They went round
the hedge till they came to a narrow door, which was firmly bolted.

"His bull-finch sits above the window," said the tenant; "he is at
home."

"Call him, then," desired Anton.

"He knows already that we are here," replied the man, pointing to a row
of small openings in the hedge; "look at his peep-holes. He is watching
us; but this is always his way. I must give him a signal, or he will
never open." Accordingly, he put two fingers in his mouth, and whistled
three times, but there was no reply. "He is a cunning fellow," said the
tenant, perplexed, whistling again so shrilly that the dog's bark
changed into a howl, and the bull-finch began to flap his wings.

At last a rough voice sounded on the other side of the fence. "Who the
deuce are you bringing with you?"

"Open, forester," cried the tenant; "the new gentry are come."

"Go to the devil with your gentry; I am sick of the whole race."

The tenant looked in perplexity toward Anton. "Open the door," said the
latter, authoritatively; "it will be better for you to do of your own
accord what I can force you to do."

"Force!" said the voice. "How will you manage that, pray?" The double
barrel of a gun now made its appearance through a hole in the door,
turning conveniently to one side, then the other.

"Your gun will not help you," was the reply; "we have that on our side
which will henceforth be stronger in this forest than brute force, and
that is law and our right."

"Indeed!" asked the voice. "And who, then, are you?"

"I am the agent of the new proprietor, and command you to open the
door."

"Is your name Moses or Levi?" inquired the voice. "I will have nothing
to do with an agent. Whoever comes to me as an agent, I set down for a
rogue."

"A plague upon your hard head," cried Karl, in a towering passion. "How
dare you speak so disrespectfully of my master, you crazy Jackboots
you!"

"Jackboots!" said the voice. "I like that; that sounds more like fair
dealing than any thing I have heard for a long time." The bolts were
shot back, and the forester appeared at the door, which he shut behind
him. He was a short, broad-set man, with grizzled hair, and a long gray
beard, which hung down on his breast; a pair of keen eyes shone out of
his furrowed face; he wore a thick shaggy coat, out of which sun and
rain had expelled every trace of color, carried his double-barreled gun
in his hand, and looked defiance at the strangers. "Who is bullying
here?" said he.

"I am," answered Karl, stepping forward; "and you shall get something
besides hard words if you continue in your insubordination."

"What sort of a cap is that you wear?" asked the old man, looking hard
at him.

"Have you grown into a mere fungus here in your wood that you do not
know it?" replied Karl, settling his soldier's cap more firmly on his
head.

"Hussar?" asked the forester.

"Invalid," was the reply.

The old man pointed to a small strip of ribbon on his coat. "Militia,"
said he; "1813 and 1814."

Karl made a military salute. "All honor to you, old boy; but you are a
rough one, notwithstanding."

"Well, you are not much like an invalid," said the forester; "you look
wild enough, and know how to rap out an oath. So you are neither
tradesman nor steward?" said he, turning to Anton.

"Now do behave like a sensible man," said the farmer. "This gentleman
has been empowered to take possession of the estate, and to manage every
thing till the family come. You will get yourself into sad trouble with
your obstinate ways."

"Indeed!" said the forester. "Don't be anxious about me; I shall manage
well enough. So you are an agent, are you?" said he, turning to Anton.
"Of late years I have had enough of agents; and I'll tell you what," he
went on, coming a few steps nearer, "you'll find neither books nor
accounts with me. This is the state of things: For five years I, as the
forester in charge of this wood, have been quarreling with agents. Each
agent has put ever so much timber into his pocket, and at last the
villagers have come from all the country round and carried off whatever
they liked, and when I held my gun under their nose, they thrust a
rascally bit of paper under mine, in which, forsooth, they had got leave
from the agent. I had nothing more to say, and so I have just taken care
of myself. There is but little game, but what I have shot I have eaten,
and have sold the skins--for one must live. It's five years since I have
touched a farthing of salary--I have paid myself. Every year I have
taken fifteen of these trees. As far as to the clearing yonder, the wood
is ninety years old. I reckon that they will last me about three winters
longer. When the last is felled, I will shoot my dog, and choose out a
quiet spot in the forest for myself." He looked down darkly at his gun.
"I have lived here thirty years; I have buried my wife and my children
in the German church-yard, and I don't trouble myself about what is to
befall me now. So far as my dog's bark can be heard and my gun reach,
the wood is in order; the rest belonged to the agent. That is my
reckoning, and now you may do what you like with me;" and, much excited,
he stamped the butt-end of his gun on the ground.

"I shall reply to what I have just heard," said Anton, "in the house and
room which henceforth belongs to your master, the Baron Rothsattel." He
stepped up to the door and laid his hands on its wooden bolt. "I take
possession of this in the name of the new proprietor." Then opening it,
he beckoned to the forester: "Keep back your dogs, and lead us in as you
ought."

The old man made no opposition, but slowly preceded them, called down
his dogs, and opened the house door.

Anton entered with his companions. "And now, forester, that you have
opened the house," said he, "we will proceed to an arrangement at once.
What has hitherto been done here by you can not be altered, and shall
not be discussed; but from this day forth you will receive your regular
allowance, and matters must be put on a different footing. I now place
the forest, and all that belongs to the forest department, under your
charge. Your duty now is to stand up for your master's rights, and from
this time forward I make you responsible for them. I shall protect you
as far as I can, and shall claim for you the protection of the law. We
shall be severe in prosecuting all who damage this wood any further.
This estate shall be better managed henceforth, and your new master
expects that you will help him to do so, as a faithful and obedient man
should. And there must be an end of this wild life of yours in the bush;
we are fellow-countrymen, you know. You will come regularly to the
castle and report the state of things, and we will take care that you
shall not feel desolate in your old days. If you purpose honestly to
fulfill the requirements I have just been making, give me your hand on
it."

The forester had stood abashed, listening, cap off, to Anton's address,
and he now took the hand offered to him, and said, "I do."

"With this shake of the hand, then," continued Anton, "I take you into
the service of the present proprietor."

The forester held Anton's hand in both his, and at length exclaimed, "If
I live to see things improve on the estate, I shall rejoice. I will do
all I can, but I tell you beforehand we shall have a hard fight for it.
Owing to the agents and the rascally management, the people on the
estate are become a pack of robbers, and I am afraid that my old gun
will often be obliged to have the last word of the argument."

"We will neither do wrong nor suffer wrong, and we must take the
consequences," was the earnest reply. "And now, forester, show us your
house, and then accompany us into the wood."

Anton then went over the little building: it was entirely of rough wood.
The light fell dimly through the small windows, and the brown walls and
blackened beams increased the darkness, and gave the room a mysterious
aspect. It was difficult at first to distinguish the objects on the
walls: antlers, dogs' collars, huntsmen's horns, whips, and stuffed
birds. On the stove stood a small press with cooking apparatus.

"I cook for myself," said the forester, "and get what I want from the
public house."

There were several birdcages in the windows, and a constant trilling and
chirping going on within them. Near the stove sat a raven, whose rough
plumage, and the white feathers about his beak and wings, proved his
great age. He had drawn his head in between his shoulders, and seemed
self-absorbed, but in reality his bright eye was observing every
movement of the strangers.

Next came the bed-room, where several guns were hanging. A grating
before the window proved that this was the citadel of the house.

"Where does that door lead to?" asked Anton, pointing to a trap-door in
the floor.

"To a cellar," replied the forester, with some embarrassment.

"Is it arched?"

"I will take you down, if you will come alone."

"Wait for us," cried Anton to his companions in the room.

The forester lit a lantern, carefully bolted the door, and went first
with the light.

"I had not thought," said he, "that any eyes but mine would see my
secret in my lifetime."

A few steps led them into a narrow vault, one side of which had been
broken through, and a low subterranean passage made, supported by stems
of trees triangularly placed.

"That is my run," said the forester, holding the candle down, "and it
leads into the young wood. It is more than forty yards long, and I was a
great while excavating it. This is the way I creep in and out
unobserved; and I may thank it that I am here still, for this is why the
stupid villagers believe me a sorcerer. When they have watched me go
into the house, and think they may steal in safely, I suddenly appear
among them. Two years ago a band of them broke into my house, and it
would have been all up with me but that I slunk out here like a badger.
Do not betray to any one what I have just shown you."

Anton promised that he would not, and they went back into the little
inclosure, where they found Karl occupied in fastening, between four
blocks that he had driven into the ground, the wooden trough of a young
fox. The fox, insensible to this delicate attention on the part of the
hussar, snarled at him, rattled his chain, and tried all it could, under
the board that Karl had placed across its kennel, to get at his hands.

"Do you want to kiss my hands, little red-head?" cried Karl, hammering
away. "You are a pretty fellow! What a pair of soft truthful eyes you
have, to be sure! Now, there, it's done; jump backward and forward as
much as you like. He does what's told him, forester; a good-natured
beast--something of your own character, comrade."

The forester laughed. "Do you know how to set about trapping a fox?"

"I should think so," said Karl.

"There are plenty more such fellows here," continued the old man; "if
you like, we will go after them next Sunday."

And so they went together through the wood, all on the best terms
possible. Anton called the forester to his side, and got much
information from him. Certainly, he had nothing very cheering to tell.
Of wood fit for cutting there was hardly enough for the use of the
family and tenants. The old system of plunder had done its worst here.
As they reached the carriage, the forester respectfully touched his hat,
and asked at what hour in the morning he should come to the castle.

Anton rejoiced to have succeeded so well in concealing the feeling of
insecurity which made his present position an irksome one to him.

"You see," said he to his faithful ally, as they both sat over the green
tile stove at evening, "what disturbs me most is that I feel more
ignorant and helpless than any of the servants about, and yet I have got
to maintain their respect. These two last days have taught me how little
mere good-will can do. Now, then, give me some sensible advice. What
shall be our next step?"

"First sell off all the cattle that are out of profit, and instantly
dismiss the good for nothing people who have them in charge. Bring
cattle and horses to the farm-yard, that we may have them under our own
eyes. What can be done in farming with our small means shall be done
regularly, not hurried over. We must buy straw and oats for the present.
Till next year, when a regular bailiff will be wanted, give me the
charge of things; I shall not do much, to be sure, but more than any of
your other people."

It was already late, when a quick step was heard on the stairs. With a
great stable-lantern in his hand, and a face full of bad news, the
landlord made his appearance in Anton's room. "I wished to tell you,
sir, what I have heard. A German from Kunau, who has just passed
through, has brought word that Bratzky never got to Rosmin yesterday."

"Never got there!" cried Anton, springing up.

"About two miles from Rosmin, in the wood, four riders fell upon the
carriage. It was dark; the riders overpowered the gendarme and bound
him, took off Bratzky and all his things, mounted him on one of the
horses, and off with him into the bush. Two of them remained with the
carriage, and obliged the driver to turn out of the road into a thicket,
and there they staid two whole hours, holding their loaded pistols at
the gendarme and the driver all the time. The driver said the horses
were gentlemen's horses, and that the riders spoke like gentry. The
gendarme was bruised, but otherwise unhurt, and they took your paper
away from him."

Anton and Karl looked at each other significantly, and thought of the
party of the day before.

"Where is the man who has brought the news?" asked Anton, snatching up
his hat.

"He was in a hurry to get on before dark. To-morrow we shall hear more.
Such a thing has not happened for years as mounted men falling upon a
carriage with a gendarme in it. When a robbery has been committed, it
has always been on foot."

"Did you know the riders who were in the village yesterday afternoon,
and who were calling for the steward?" inquired Anton.

The host cast a sly glance at him, and seemed reluctant to answer.

"Nay," continued Anton, "you must have known them all; they belonged to
this part of the country."

"Why should not I know them?" replied the landlord, in some
perturbation. "It was the rich Herr von Tarow himself with his guests. A
powerful man, Mr. Wohlfart, who has the command of the police on your
property too. And as to what he wanted with Bratzky? Bratzky, as
inspector, has had to do with the police, and has often been employed by
the gentry in buying and selling horses, and in other ways too. If the
head of the police wanted to speak to the inspector, why should not he?
The Von Tarows are a clever set, who know what they are about in
speaking and acting." So far the landlord, with much fluency, but his
eyes and the expression of his countenance told a very different tale.

"You have a suspicion," cried Anton, looking fixedly at him.

"God preserve me from all suspicion!" continued the landlord, horrified
at the idea. "And Mr. Wohlfart, if you will allow me to tell you my
opinion, why should you go and suspect any one either? You will have
enough to do on the property here, and will need the gentry round in
many ways. Why should you make enemies for no purpose? This is a country
where the gentlemen ride in parties, and then divide, put their heads
together, and then start off in different directions. He is wisest who
does not trouble himself about them."

When the landlord was gone, Anton said gloomily to Karl, "I am afraid
that, besides our trouble with the property, much of a different nature
is going on around us, which all our skill will not be able to set
right."

This singular circumstance set the whole country in a ferment. Anton was
often summoned to Rosmin in the course of the next few weeks, but his
depositions led to no result, the authorities not succeeding in
discovering the offenders, or in getting hold of the abducted steward.



CHAPTER XXIX.


Our two colonists spent the next few weeks in such active pursuits, that
every night, when they threw themselves upon their beds, they were quite
exhausted.

Karl had been duly installed as bailiff, and held the reins of
management with a firm hand, and Anton had committed the care of the
house and kitchen to a hard-working woman, whom he found in one of the
German settlements around. The most difficult matter had been to
establish tolerably satisfactory relations with the adjacent village;
but Anton's calm decision had at all events prevented any outbreak of
opposition. One of his first measures had been to appeal, in all cases
of breach of trust or dereliction of duty, to the proper authorities.
Karl's cavalry cloak attracted a few men who had served; and through
these, the most civilized part of the community, the settlers gained
some influence over others. At length, several voluntarily offered to
become servants at the castle, or day-laborers on the estate.

Anton had written to the baroness, not disguising from her the state of
the property, nor the unfriendly feeling of the district, and his own
anxiety about the family moving thither in the course of the next
winter. He had asked whether she would not prefer to remain till spring
in the capital. In reply, he received a letter from Lenore, in which she
told him, on the part of her parents, that they abode by their former
resolve to leave the town, which had now become a painful residence to
them all. She therefore begged him to have the castle put into a
habitable condition as soon as possible.

Anton called out to his ally, "They are actually coming."

"They are, are they?" said Karl. "It is fortunate that we have heard of
workmen--masons, joiners, locksmiths, glaziers, potters, and so on. If
you will allow me, I will at once send a messenger off to Rosmin. If I
could only get off this ugly brown paint from the door--it hides the
beautiful oak carving. But lye won't stir it. And then how many stoves
shall we want?"

An important conversation now began. "We must leave the whole lower
floor unoccupied," Anton said, "closing up the windows with thick
boards; but we shall have to put up a strong door in the hall, because
one is constantly passing through it. These walls, too, can not remain
as they are, and we have no one to trust to but the Rosmin mason."

"Since that is the case," said Karl, "I propose that we paint the walls
ourselves. I am a dab-hand at marbling."

"You are?" replied Anton, looking at him with some anxiety. "No; I think
we had better make all the rooms one color. What do you think of brown?"

"Hum--not bad," said Karl.

"I know it is a favorite color of Fräulein Lenore's. It must not be too
dark, though, but a bright mixture of yellow, gray, red, and green,
with, perhaps, a little black in it."

"Aha!" said Karl, disconcerted; "a peculiar sort of brown, I suppose."

"Of course," continued Anton, eagerly drawing his chair nearer; "we will
mix it ourselves."

"That's my way," said Karl; "but I tell you beforehand, these chalk
colors are the very deuce! You paint a blue, the next day you have
white; you have the most beautiful orange in your brush, and when it has
dried on the wall it is a dirty yellow."

"Between ourselves," replied Anton, "we shall not succeed very
perfectly, but I think we shall manage to make things look tolerably
comfortable."

The following day the hammering and painting began. The joiner and his
men set up a workshop on the lower floor; above, the great brush of the
painter kept unwearyingly passing and repassing over the walls, and
white figures, with great aprons, carried buckets now up, now down. As
for Karl, he seemed to have a dozen hands. Whenever he could get away
from the farm, he painted woodwork and walls with all sorts of brushes.
He ran round with a foot-measure, drove in nails and hooks for curtains,
and the very next moment there he was again in the field or the stable,
but every where whistling his soldier's songs and urging on the
laborers. As the arrangements of the house progressed, his love of
beautifying became more and more developed. He bought a quantity of
oil-paint, which he found excellent, and displayed a decided talent for
the art. He now ventured to give to several objects, which seemed to him
qualified to receive it, the appearance of finely-polished wood, and,
with the aid of a soft brush and a bunch of feathers, succeeded in
producing wonderful effects. He even carried his brush and his
beautifying into the farm-yard, and teased Anton into consenting to a
general whitewashing of the mud walls. "They will dry in this weather
just as well as in summer," said he. "My only regret is, that I can't
wash the straw thatch." To make up for that, however, he was determined
to give the two new potato-carts and the best plow a coating of
beautiful blue oil-paint. "One must have something pleasant for the eye
to rest on here," said he, by way of apology. "And it will pay for
itself, for these Poles get on better with gayly-colored things."

The castle was temporarily arranged, and the arrival of the family
expected on a cold December day. The sky had carried out Karl's wishes,
most effectually covering the earth with a pure white mantle, and hiding
many an eyesore from the expected party. The snow lay thick on pasture
and sands, the summits of the pines wore white crowns, and the leafless
shrubs glittered with frost-crystals. The ugly straw thatches were
whitewashed to some purpose, the broken parapets of the bridge filled
up. Each projection of the castle walls, the top of the tower, the whole
roof, was capped with dazzling white, while the red-brown walls stood
out in bold relief below. Within, it was a busy and exciting day. Wagons
of furniture and stores were unpacked, and all arranged as well as the
haste allowed. The farmer's wife and the housekeeper wove great garlands
of fir-branches, and decorated the hall and the room doors. The sun set,
and the silver landscape turned to gold, till the rising moon suffused
it with a mysterious blue light. Several lamps were lit in the house, as
many candles as possible placed in the apartments, the stoves all burned
cheerily, and the fir-twigs filled the air with their fragrance. The gay
curtains were drawn, and the open suite of rooms looked so habitable,
that Anton asked himself in amazement how the labors of a few weeks
could have wrought such a change as this. Karl had placed pitch-pans on
both sides of the castle, and they shed a cheerful glow around.

Meanwhile all the dependents assembled in the hall--the forester in a
new green coat, the memorial of his battles on his breast, a deer-hound
at his side, stood in military attitude next to the German farmer and
the shepherd. The housekeeper and the farmer's wife had put their best
ribbons on their caps, and tripped to and fro in restless expectation.
Karl, too, appeared in his hussar's frock.

Meanwhile Anton went once more through the rooms, and listened for the
crack of the whip that should announce the baron's arrival. His own
heart beat: for him, too, a new era was about to begin. After all, his
life here had been a pleasant one enough hitherto: he and his trusty
ally had felt themselves the masters of the castle, and had got through
their anxieties cheerfully together. Now, however, Karl must take up his
quarters in the farm-yard, while Anton, according to the wish of the
baroness, was to occupy a room in the castle, so that he must come into
daily relations with the family, and he now asked himself of what nature
these would be. The baron was almost a stranger to him: how would he
suit this baron? And he was blind too--yes, blind. Lenore had written
him word that the surgeon gave no hope of the injured optic nerve ever
recovering. This had been kept back from the sufferer, who comforted
himself with the hope that time and skill might yet remove the dark
cloud from his eyes. But Anton confided the truth to Karl, and was
obliged to tell all the dependents that the baron was at present
suffering from his eyes, and obliged to wear a bandage over them; and he
read upon the faces of all that they felt this was a misfortune for the
property. And his heart beat unquietly, too, when he thought of Lenore,
with whom he should now be brought into constant contact. How would she
and her mother treat him? He determined carefully to suppress what he
now felt to have been idle claims, and so to behave from the first as to
afford them no cause for mortifying his self-respect. And yet he could
not help wondering whether they would treat him as a friend and an
equal, or make him feel that he was a hired dependent. It was in vain
that he said to himself that his own feelings made the latter
arrangement desirable; he could not check the delightful visions that
would arise of life led with Lenore on equal terms.

The crack of the whip was now heard in the village, and soon the family
and establishment arrived. The farm-servants, the landlord, and a few of
the villagers were grouped around the pitch-pans. The farmers rushed
forward to open the carriage-door, and as Lenore jumped out, and her
face was seen, the women pressed nearer, and the men broke out into loud
acclamations. All looked in eager expectation at the carriage. But the
welcome met with no return. The baron was got out with some difficulty,
and with sunken head, supported by his wife and daughter, he toiled up
the steps. The pale face of the baroness from behind him had only a mute
glance for the tenants and servants--only a short nod of recognition for
Anton, who proceeded to lead them to their suite of rooms.

"All very nice, Mr. Wohlfart," said she, with quivering lips; and as he
remained standing and waiting for his first orders, she dismissed him
with a wave of the hand, and the words, "I thank you." When the door had
closed upon Anton, the baron stood helpless in the strange room, and the
baroness broke out into loud weeping. Lenore leaned against the window,
looking out into the snow-covered plain, with its black wall at the
horizon, and great tears rolled silently down her cheeks. It was with a
heavy heart that Anton returned to tell the people assembled that the
family were fatigued and overcome, and would not be seen by them till
the morning. Karl had the carriage unpacked, and led the old cook, who
wept like her mistress, into the underground kitchen. None of the family
reappeared that evening, and the light was soon put out in their rooms;
but the pitch still glowed and flickered in the wind, and a black cloud
rose above the window where the baron sat hiding his face in his hands.

Such was the entrance of this family upon their new estate.

"How beautifully Wohlfart has arranged every thing!" said Lenore to her
mother the following day.

"These high rooms are dreadful," replied the baroness, wrapping her
shawl around her; "and the monotonous brown of the walls makes them
still more desolate!"

"It is surely time to send and ask him to come here and speak to us?"
suggested Lenore, timidly.

"Your father is not yet in a mood to speak to him."

"Do not leave my father alone with Wohlfart," implored Lenore. "It would
be horrible if he were to treat him rudely."

The baroness sighed. "We must accustom ourselves to pay to a stranger in
our house a degree of attention and observance which will be irksome
both to your father and to us."

"How will you arrange about the housekeeping?" asked Lenore, again.
"Wohlfart will, of course, have his meals with us?"

"Impossible!" said the baroness, firmly. "You know what a melancholy
thing our dinner is. Your father is not yet calm enough to be able to
bear the daily presence of a stranger."

"Is he to eat with the servants, then?" asked Lenore, bitterly.

"He will have his table laid in his own room, and on Sundays we shall
always invite him, and, if he is not disagreeable to your father, often
in the evenings also. More would be troublesome to all parties. It is
desirable to reserve at first a comfortable amount of freedom. Your
father's state will be sufficient excuse."

She rang, and Anton was summoned. Lenore went to meet him, and with
tearful eyes silently held out her hand. Anton was moved when he saw the
traces of suffering in her mother's face. The baroness prayed him to be
seated, and in well-chosen words expressed her gratitude for all he had
done, and asked him both for information and advice. Then she went on to
say, "My husband wishes to speak to you. I earnestly beg you to remember
that the baron is an invalid. He has suffered fearfully in mind and
body. He is never free from pain, and his helplessness distresses him
inexpressibly. We are careful to avoid whatever may excite him, and yet
we can not avert dark hours, nay, days. You, sir, will be considerate if
his gloomy mood should affect you disagreeably. Time, they say, heals
all. I hope it will restore him to peace."

Anton promised all possible consideration.

"My husband will naturally wish to be placed in possession of all the
facts connected with this property, and yet I dread any painful
impressions for him. Therefore, whenever you have any thing important to
communicate, try to make the matter intelligible to me in the first
instance. I may thus spare you much that is disagreeable. I shall have
my writing-table carried into one of the rooms near yours, and I shall
daily spend part of my mornings there. Lenore is her father's private
secretary. And now, be kind enough to wait till I have announced your
visit to the baron."

The baroness left the room. Anton looked down gravely. Lenore went up to
him and said, as cheerfully as she could, "Brown walls, Wohlfart! my
favorite color. You are not glad we are come, you ungallant man!"

"Only on your own account," replied Anton, pointing to the snowy plain.
"Whenever I walked through the fields, I have always thought how lonely
you would be here, and when I paced these great rooms of an evening, I
have feared that your time would hang very heavily. The town is more
than six miles distant, and even there you will find but little; the
wretched lending-library will hardly satisfy you."

"I will draw," said Lenore; "I will do fancy work. Alas! I shall find it
difficult, Mr. Wohlfart, for I am not skillful. I do not care for lace
on either cuff or collar; but mamma, who is accustomed to have every
thing so beautiful, and in such order--oh, how sorry I am for mamma!"

Anton tried to comfort her.

"We were obliged to leave the capital," cried Lenore; "we should all
have perished if we had remained in that dreadful _entourage_. Our own
property in other hands, cold, distant faces on all sides, every where
false friends, smooth words, and a pity which maddened. I am delighted
that we are alone here. And even were we to suffer cold and hunger, I
could bear it better far than the shrugging of Madame Werner's
shoulders. I have learned to hate my fellow-creatures," said she,
vehemently. "When you have been with papa, I will come down, and then
you must show me the house, the farm, and the village. I want to see
where my poor pony is, and what the people about look like."

The baroness now returned, and led Anton into her husband's room.
Helpless and confused, the baron rose from his chair. Anton felt the
deepest compassion for him. He looked at his sunken face, bent figure,
and the black bandage over his eyes. He warmly declared his ardent wish
to be of use to him, and begged his indulgence if he had in any way
erred in judgment hitherto. Then he proceeded to tell him how he found
the estate, and what had been done up to the present time.

The baron heard the report almost in silence, only making a few short
observations in return. But when Anton proceeded, with the utmost
delicacy indeed, but still with the precision of a man of business, to
state the obligations under which the baron at present lay, and his
inadequate means of fulfilling them, the nobleman writhed in his chair
like a victim on the rack. And Anton keenly felt how painful it must
needs be to him to have a stranger thus introduced into his most secret
affairs--a stranger anxious to spare his feelings, it is true, but at
every moment betraying that anxiety, and so giving fresh offense. The
baroness, who stood behind her husband, looked on nervously at the
attempts he made to control his irritation, but at length she waved her
hand so significantly that Anton had abruptly to break off his report.

When he had left the room, the baron flung himself back in the utmost
excitement, and exclaimed, "You have set a trustee over me." He was
perfectly beside himself, and the baroness vainly attempted to compose
him.

Such was Anton's entrance into the family.

He too returned sadly to his room. From that moment he felt convinced
that it would hardly be possible to establish a good understanding
between himself and the baron. He was accustomed, in matters of
business, to express himself curtly, and to be promptly understood, and
he now foresaw long disquisitions on the part of the ladies, succeeded
probably by no decision at all. Even his position with regard to them
appeared uncertain. True, the baroness had treated him with the utmost
graciousness, but still as a stranger. He feared that she would continue
the great lady, giving just as much of her confidence as might be useful
to herself, but warding off all intimacy by a cold politeness. Even
Lenore's friendly voice could not restore his equanimity. They went over
the premises silently and thoughtfully, like two men of business engaged
in making an estimate.

Such as these first days promised was Anton's life for the next few
months, anxious, monotonous, formal. He wrote, kept accounts, and ate
alone in his room, and when invited to join the family circle the party
was far from a cheerful one. The baron sat there like a lump of ice, a
check upon all free and animated conversation.

Formerly Anton used to admire all the accessories of the family, the
arrangement of their _salons_, and the elegant trifles around. Now, the
self-same furniture stood in the drawing-room suite--even the little
foreign birds had survived their winter journey--the same carpets, the
same worsted-work, even the same perfume was there; but now the very
birds seemed to him rather bores than otherwise, and soon nothing about
the room interested him but the share he had himself had in putting it
in order.

Anton had brought with him a profound respect for the polished tone, the
easy conversation, and the graceful forms of social intercourse that
prevailed in the family circle.

But, crushed and downcast as the Von Rothsattels now were, he could not
expect the same light-hearted grace that had captivated him at Frau von
Baldereck's parties. They had been torn away from their accustomed
circle; all the external influences, and the excitement which keep the
spirits elastic, and help us to vanquish sorrow, were wanting now, and
he modestly confessed that he could afford no substitute for them. But
there was more than this to disenchant him. When, after a silent
evening, he returned to his own room, he often regretted that they took
no part in much that interested him; that their culture, in short, was
of a perfectly different order; and, before long, he took the liberty of
doubting whether their culture was the better of the two. Almost all his
reading was new to them, and when they discussed the newspapers, he
marveled at their ignorance of foreign politics. History was by no means
a favorite study with the baron, and if, for example, he condemned the
English Constitution, he showed himself, at the same time, very little
acquainted with it. On another evening, it came out, to Anton's
distress, that the family's views of the position of the island of
Ceylon widely differed from those established by geographers. The
baroness, who was fond of reading aloud, revered Chateaubriand, and read
fashionable novels by lady writers. Anton found Atala unnatural, and the
novels insipid. In short, he soon discovered that those with whom he
lived contemplated the universe from a very different point of view to
his own. Unconsciously they measured all things by the scale of their
own class-interests. Whatever ministered to these found favor, however
unbearable to mankind at large; whatever militated against them was
rejected, or at least pushed out of sight. Their opinions were often
mild, sometimes even liberal, but they always seemed to wear an
invisible helmet, visor up, and to look through the narrow space on the
doings of common mortals; and whenever they saw any thing in these that
was displeasing, but unalterable, they silently shut down the visor,
and isolated themselves. The baron sometimes did this awkwardly, but his
wife understood to perfection how, by a bewitching turn of the hand, to
shut out whatever was unwelcome.

The family belonged to the German church in Neudorf; but there was no
choir there, and no pew near the altar. They would have had to sit in
the body of the church among the rustics: that was out of the question.
So the baron set up a chapel in the castle, and sent every now and then
for a minister. Anton seldom made his appearance at this domestic
worship, preferring to ride to Neudorf, where he sat by the side of the
bailiff among the country people.

He had other vexations too. A wine-merchant's traveler forced his way on
one occasion through sand and forest into the very study of the baron.
He was an audacious fellow, with a great gift of the gab, and a devoted
lover of races and steeple-chases. He brought with him a whole budget of
the latest sporting intelligence, and bamboozled the baron into ordering
a pipe of port wine. Anton looked at the empty purse, cursed the pipe,
and hurried into the audience-chamber of the baroness. It required a
long feminine intrigue to effect the retraction of the order given.

The baron was displeased with his carriage-horses, which were no longer
young, and, besides, of a chestnut color. This last peculiarity might,
indeed, have been supposed immaterial to him now, but it had been an
annoyance for years, his family having always had a preference for
roans; nay, was there not an old distich to the following effect:

"Who rides thus through the fray alone?
  I ween a noble knight,
The red drops fall from his gallant roan,
  With red is the saddle dight."

This was supposed to allude to some remote ancestor, and on this account
the Rothsattels (red-saddles) prized roans above all other horseflesh;
but, as the color is rare in handsome horses, the baron had never had
the good luck to meet with them. Now, however, Fate willed that a
horse-dealer in the district should just bring round a pair. The blind
man evinced a delight which much affected the ladies. He had them
ridden, and driven backward and forward, carefully felt them all over,
took Karl's opinion as to their merits, and revolved a plan of
pleasantly surprising the baroness by their purchase. Karl ran to
advertise Anton of the impending danger, and he again entered the
audience-chamber, but on this occasion he met with no favorable hearing.
The baroness, indeed, allowed that he was not wrong in theory, but still
she implored him to let the baron have his own way. At length the new
horses were in all secrecy led to their stalls, and the purchaser gave,
besides the chestnuts and all the money he had in his private purse, a
promise of letting the horse-dealer have, after the next harvest, two
hundred bushels of oats at an unreasonably low price. Anton and Karl, in
their zeal for the estate, were highly indignant at this when it first
came to their knowledge months later.

The forester had the misfortune not to be an especial favorite. The
baroness disliked the abrupt manner of the old man, who, in his
solitude, had entirely lost the obsequiousness to which she was
accustomed. One evening a plan was disclosed of giving him notice, and
replacing him by a younger man, who might be dressed in livery, and
serve as a representative huntsman, the family having been used to a
functionary of this kind on their late estate. Anton had some difficulty
in concealing his annoyance while stating that, in the disturbed state
of the district, the experienced man, who was feared by every scapegrace
around, was of more use than a stranger. Lenore was on his side, and the
plan was given up, with a look of resignation on the part of the
baroness, and an icy silence on that of her husband. Both henceforth
endured the uncouth old man with outward composure, but with visors
down.

These were slight discords, indeed, such as must necessarily occur when
we live with people whose habits of thought and action differ from our
own; but it was no sign of contentment that Anton kept constantly
repeating this to himself. Not only did Karl suit him in many ways
better than the family, but so did the forester, and the shepherd too;
and he sometimes felt with pride that he was other than they were--that
he was one of the people. Lenore, too, was not what he had imagined her.
He had always honored in her the lady of rank, and felt her cordial
friendship a favor; but now she ceased to impress him as a distinguished
person. He intimately knew the pattern of all her cuffs and collars, and
very plainly saw a small rent in her dress which the careless girl
herself was long in observing. He had read through the few books that
she had brought with her, and had often, in conversation, overstepped
the limits of her information. Her way of expressing herself no longer
excited his admiration, and he would have been less indignant than of
yore if his friend Fink had made inquiry as to her sense. She had less
information than another girl of his acquaintance, and her tastes were
not half so cultivated; but hers was a healthy, upright nature; she had
quick feelings and noble instincts, and oh! she was beautiful. That he
had always thought her, but his tender reverence long wrapped her image
round with a sacred halo. It was now, however, when he saw her daily in
her simple morning dress, in the every-day moods of this working world,
that he first felt the full spell of her blooming youth. Yet he was
often dissatisfied with her too. One of the first days after her arrival
she had anxiously inquired how she could make herself useful in the
house, and he told her that her superintendence in the kitchen, and
exact keeping of accounts, might be of very great use indeed. He had
ruled an account-book for her, and had had the pleasure of teaching her
how to make entries in it. She threw herself warmly into the new
pursuit, and ran into the kitchen ten times a day to see how Balbette
was getting on; but her calculations were not much to be depended upon,
and after having for a week conscientiously labored at the task, some
days of sunshine came, and then she could not resist accompanying the
forester on his rounds after game, or riding far beyond the boundary of
the estate on her little pony, forgetting alike the cook and her
book-keeping.

Again she purposed studying history and learning a little English under
was getting on; but her calculations were not much to be depended upon,
and after having for a week conscientiously labored at the task, some
days of sunshine came, and then she could not resist accompanying the
forester on his rounds after game, or riding far beyond the boundary of
the estate on her little pony, forgetting alike the cook and her
book-keeping.

Again she purposed studying history and learning a little English under
Anton's superintendence. Anton was delighted. But she could not
recollect dates, found the pronunciation of English impossible, and
sauntered off into the stable, or went into the room of the bailiff,
whose mechanical achievements she could watch with the utmost interest
for hours at a time. One day, when Anton came to call her to her English
lesson, he found her in Karl's room, a plane in her hand, working hard
at the seat of a new sledge, and good-naturedly saying, "Don't take so
much trouble with me, Wohlfart; I can learn nothing: I have always been
a dunce."

The snow again lay thick on the ground, and millions of ice-crystals
glittered in the sunshine on bush and tree. Karl had two sledges in
order, one a double-seated one, the other a running sledge for the young
lady, which, with her assistance, he had painted beautifully.

At the next morning conference Anton had to announce to the baroness
that he must go in the afternoon to Tarow on some police business.

"We know the Tarowskis from having met them at the Baths," said the
baroness. "We were quite intimate while there with Frau von Tarowska and
her daughter. I earnestly wish that the baron should have some
acquaintance in the neighborhood. Perhaps I may be able to prevail upon
him to pay a visit with us to-day. At all events, we ladies will avail
ourselves of your escort, and make an excursion thither."

Anton gently reminded her of the vanished Bratzky and his own
suspicions.

"They are only suspicions," said the baron, soothingly, "and there can
be no doubt that it is our duty to call. Indeed, I can not believe that
Herr von Tarowski had any thing to do with the man's disappearance."

In the afternoon the two sledges were brought round. The baroness seated
herself with her husband in the larger one, and Lenore insisted upon
driving her own. "Wohlfart shall sit behind me on the seat," decided
she.

The baron whispered to his wife, "Wohlfart!"

"I can not allow you to drive alone," calmly replied she. "Have no
anxiety. He is in your service, besides; there is no great impropriety;
and you and I shall be together."

The little bells sounded merrily across the plain. Lenore sat in the
highest spirits in her little nutshell of a seat, and loudly urged on
her horse. She often turned round, and her laughing face looked so
lovely under her dark cap that Anton's whole heart went out toward her.
Her green veil fluttered in the wind, and brushed across his cheeks,
hung over his face, and concealed the view. The next moment his breath
moved the ribbon round her neck, and he saw that only that slight silken
covering lay between his hand and her white throat and golden hair.
Absorbed in this contemplation, he could hardly resist the delight of
gently passing his fur glove over her hood, when a hare jumped from its
form close to him, shaking its ears threateningly, and significantly
flinging its legs in the air. Anton understood the friendly hint, and
drew back the fur glove; and the hare, pleased to have done a good turn,
galloped off over the plain.

Our hero turned his thoughts into another direction. "This white road
bears no trace of man's presence, no slides, no footprints; there is no
life around to disturb the silent sleep of nature. We are travelers
penetrating into regions hitherto untrodden. One tree is like another,
the snow expanse is boundless, the silence of the grave around, and the
laughing sunshine above. I wish we were going on thus the whole day
through."

"I am so glad to drive you for once," said Lenore, bending back, and
giving him her hand.

Anton so far forgot the hare as to imprint a kiss upon her glove.

"It is Danish leather," laughed Lenore; "do not give yourself the
trouble."

"Here is a hole," said Anton, prepared to renew the attempt.

"You are very attentive to-day," cried Lenore, slowly withdrawing her
hand. "The mood suits you charmingly, Wohlfart."

The fur glove was again stretched out to detain the hand withdrawn. At
that moment two crows on the nearest tree began a violent dispute,
screamed, croaked, and flew about Anton's head.

"Begone, you wretched creatures!" thought Anton, in his excitement; "you
shall not disturb me any more."

But Lenore looked full and frankly at him. "I am not sure, either, that
you ought to be so attentive," said she, gravely. "You should not kiss
my hand, for I have no wish to return the compliment, and what is right
for the one must be right for the other. Huzza! my horse, forward!"

"I am curious to know how these Poles will receive us," said Anton,
resuming their former conversation.

"They can not be otherwise than friendly," returned Lenore. "We lived
for weeks with Frau von Tarowska, and took every excursion together. She
was the most elegant of all the ladies at the Baths, and her daughters,
too, made a great impression by their distinguished bearing. They are
very lovely and refined."

"He has eyes, though, exactly like those of the forester's fox. I would
not trust him a yard out of my sight."

"I have made myself very smart to-day," laughed Lenore, again turning
round; "for the girls are, as I said, lovely, and the Poles shall not
say that we Germans look ill beside them. How do you like my dress,
Wohlfart?" She turned back the flap of her pelisse.

"I shall admire no other half so much," Anton replied.

"You true-hearted Mr. Wohlfart!" cried Lenore, again reaching out her
hand. Alas! the warning hare, the crows, would have been powerless to
break the spell which attracted the fur glove to the Danish leather;
something stronger must interfere.

When Anton stretched out his hand for the third time, he marveled to see
it rise against his will, and describe a circle in the air, while he
found himself outstretched in the snow. Looking round in amazement, he
saw Lenore sitting by the overturned sledge, while the horse stood
still, and laughed after his fashion. The lady had looked too much at
her companion and too little at the way, and so they had been upset.
Both jumped up lightly. Anton raised the sledge, and they were soon
galloping onward once more. But the sledge-idyl was ended. Lenore looked
steadily before her, and Anton occupied himself in shaking the snow out
of his sleeves.

The sledges turned into a spacious court. A long, one-storied
farm-house, whitewashed, and roofed with shingles, looked upon the
wooden stables. Anton sprang out, and asked a servant in livery for the
dwelling of Herr von Tarowski.

"This is the palace," replied the Pole, with a low obeisance, and
proceeded to help the ladies out of the sledges. Lenore and the baroness
exchanged looks of amazement. They entered a dirty hall; several bearded
domestics rushed up to them, eagerly tore off their wraps, and threw a
low door open. A numerous party was assembled in the large sitting-room.
A tall figure in black silk came forward to meet them, and received them
with the best grace in the world. So did the daughters--slender girls,
with their mother's eyes and manners. Several of the gentlemen were
introduced--Herr von this, Herr von that, all elegant-looking men in
evening dress. At last the master of the house came in, his cunning face
beaming with cordial hospitality, and his pair of fox's eyes looking
perfectly harmless. The reception was faultless--on all sides the
pleasant ease of perfect self-possession. The baron and the ladies were
treated as welcome additions, and Anton too had his share of attention.
His business was soon transacted, and Herr von Tarow smilingly reminded
him that they had met before.

"That rogue of an inspector got off, after all," said he; "but do not be
uneasy, he will not escape his fate."

"I hope not," replied Anton; "nor yet his abettors."

Herr von Tarow's eyes tried hard to look dove-like as he went on to say,
"The fellow must be concealed somewhere about."

"Possibly somewhere very near," said Anton, casting a significant glance
at the mean-looking buildings around.

Our hero looked in vain among the gentlemen present for the stranger he
had previously seen, and charitably attributed to him good reasons for
wishing to remain unseen by German eyes. However, to make up for him,
there was another gentleman of a striking aspect, who seemed to be
treated with especial respect. "They come and go, assemble and
disperse," thought Anton, "just as the landlord said; there is a whole
band of them to feel anxious about, not merely a few individuals." At
that moment the stranger came up and began a courteous conversation.
However unstudied the speaker's manner might appear, yet Anton remarked
that he led the conversation, with the view of extracting his opinions
and feelings as a German. This made him reserved; and the Pole, finding
him so, soon lost his interest in him, and turned to the ladies.

Anton had now time to look about him. A Vienna piano-forte stood amid
furniture evidently made by the village carpenter, and near the sofa a
tattered carpet was spread over the black boards. The ladies sat on
velvet seats around a worn-out table. The mistress of the house and her
grown-up daughters had elegant Parisian toilettes; but a side door being
casually opened, Anton caught a sight of some children running about in
the next room so scantily clothed that he heartily pitied them. They,
however, did not seem to feel the cold, and were screaming and fighting
like little demons.

A fine damask table-cloth was now laid on the unsteady table, and a
silver tea-kettle put down. The conversation went on most pleasantly.
Graceful French bon mots and animated exclamations in melodious Polish
blended occasionally with an admixture of quiet German. The sudden
bursts of laughter, the gestures and the eagerness, all showed Anton
that he was among foreigners. They spoke rapidly, and excitement shone
in their eyes and reddened their cheeks.

They were a more excitable people, more elastic, and more impressionable
than his countrymen. Anton remarked with amazement how perfectly Lenore
seemed in her element among them. Her face, too, grew flushed; she
laughed and gesticulated like the rest; and her eyes looked, he thought,
boldly into the courteous faces of the gentlemen present. The same
smile, the same hearty, natural manner that she had enchanted him with,
when alone, she now lavished upon strangers, who had acted as highwaymen
against her father's interests. This displeased him to the utmost. Then
the saloon, so incongruous in its arrangements, the carpet dirty and
torn, the children in the next room barefooted, and the master of the
house the secret patron of a dishonest rogue, and perhaps worse still!
Anton contented himself with coldly looking on, and said as little as he
possibly could.

At last a young gentleman struck a few chords on the piano, and all
sprang up and voted for a dance. The lady of the house rang, four
wild-looking men rushed into the room, snatched up the grand piano, and
carried it off. The whole party swept through the hall to an apartment
opposite. Anton was tempted to rub his eyes as he entered it. It was an
empty room, with rough-cast walls, benches around them, and a frightful
old stove in a corner. In the middle, linen was hung on lines to dry.
Anton could hardly suppose they meant to dance here; but the linen was
torn down by one servant in the twinkling of an eye, while another ran
to the stove, and was equally expeditious in blowing up the fire, and in
a very few moments six couples stood up for a quadrille. As there was a
lady wanting, a young count, with a black beard like velvet, and a
wondrously beautiful pair of blue eyes, bound his cambric handkerchief
round his arm, and with a graceful courtesy announced himself a lady. He
was immediately led out by another gentleman. Their dancing, in spite of
its fashionable character, betrayed at times the fire and impetuosity of
their race. Lenore threw herself into it heart and soul.

Meanwhile the baroness was conversing with great animation with her
host, and Frau von Tarow made it her occupation to amuse the baron.
Here, then, were all the social forms, the keen enjoyment of the
present, which Anton had so often admired, but now they only excited a
cold smile. It did not seem to him creditable that a German family
should be on terms of such intimacy with recent enemies--people who were
probably at this very time plotting against them and their country.
Accordingly, when the first dance was over, and Lenore, passing him,
asked why he did not dance with her, he replied, "I am every moment
expecting to see Bratzky's face appear in some corner of the room."

"We will not think of him at present," returned Lenore, turning away
offended.

Dance followed dance, the heads of the young people swam, their curls
hung down damp, and relaxed with their exertions. Another rush of
bearded domestics, and iced Champagne was brought in. The dancers tossed
it off standing, and immediately a cry rose on all sides for a Polish
mazurka--the national dance. Now, then, the dresses fluttered wide and
high; the dancers positively flew along; the ladies were tossed like
balls from one partner's arm to another; and Lenore, alas! in the midst
of it all.

Anton stood near the distinguished Pole, carrying on a spiritless
conversation, and coldly listened to the praises the former liberally
bestowed on the German dancer. The rapid movements and strong excitement
that were natural to the Polish girls made Lenore wild, and, Anton
regretted to see, unfeminine; and his glance wandered away from her to
the rough walls, the dusty stove, in which an immense fagot was burning,
and the ceiling, from which long gray cobwebs hung down.

It was late before the baroness broke up the party. The furs were
brought in, the guests were wrapped therein, and the little bells
sounded again cheerily over the snowy scene. But Anton was glad that
Lenore now drove her father, and that he had to take care of the
baroness. Silently he guided the sledge, thinking all the while that
another whom he knew would never have swung to and fro in the mazes of
the mazurka beneath the fluttering cobwebs, and in the house of her
country's foes.



CHAPTER XXX.


Mr. Itzig was now regularly established in business. Whoever visited him
passed through a much-frequented hall, and went up a not entirely clean
staircase, at the head of which was a white door, on which a great plate
revealed the name of "V. Itzig." This door was closed. It had a very
massive China handle, and was altogether much more suggestive and
imposing than Ehrenthal's had been. Passing through this door, the
visitor entered an empty lobby, in which a shrewd youth spent the day as
half porter, half errand-boy, and a spy besides. This youth differed
from the original Itzig only by a species of shabby gentility in his
appearance. He wore his master's old clothes--shining silk waistcoats,
and a coat a little too large for him. He showed, in short, that the new
firm was more advanced in matters of taste and toilette than the in many
respects commonplace establishment of Ehrenthal. The visitor, advancing
through the lobby, was received by Mr. Itzig in one of two small rooms,
of which the first contained little furniture, but two strikingly
handsome lamps--a temporary security for the unpaid interest of a note
of hand. The second was his sleeping apartment; in it were a simple bed,
a long sofa, and a large round mirror, with a broad gilt frame, an
acquisition from the secret stores of the worthy Pinkus. Itzig himself
was marvelously changed, and on dark days, in his dimly-lighted office,
he might really--looked at from a little distance--have almost passed
for a gentleman. His haggard face had filled out, his great freckles had
faded away, and his red hair, through much pomade and skillful brushing,
had grown darker and more manageable. He had still a preference for
black; but his clothes were new now, and fitted him better; for Mr.
Itzig had acquired a taste for externals. He no longer grudged himself
good food--nay, he even allowed himself wine. Yet, insignificant as his
new establishment was, Itzig only used it at night and during
office-hours. His inclinations still led him to his old haunts at Löbel
Pinkus's. Thus he led a double life--that of a respectable man of
business in his newly-painted office, beneath the glare of his solar
lamps; and when in the caravanserai, which fitted his taste far better,
a modest sort of life, with red woolen curtains, and a four-cornered
chest for a sofa. Perhaps this shelter suited him so exactly, because of
his uncontested influence over the master of the house. Pinkus, to his
shame be it spoken, had sunk into a mere tool of Veitel's, and his wife,
too, was devoted in her allegiance to the rising man.

On the present occasion Itzig sat carelessly on his sofa, and smoked a
pipe with an amber mouth-piece. He was completely the gentleman, and
expected a visitor of distinction. The bell rang, the servant flew to
the door, and a sharp voice was heard. Next there arose a dispute in the
lobby, which moved Veitel to shut up his writing-table in all haste, and
to put the key into his pocket.

"Not at home, indeed! He is at home, you wretched greenhorn you!" cried
the sharp voice to the guardian of the door. Next some resisting body
was heard to be thrust on one side. Veitel buried himself in an old
mortgage. The door opened, and Hippus appeared, red-faced and much
ruffled. He had never looked more like an old raven.

"So you deny yourself, do you? You tell that grub yonder to send away
old friends! Of course, you are become quite genteel, you fool! Did one
ever meet with such barefaced ingratitude? Because the fellow has
swindled himself into two fine rooms, his former associates are no
longer good enough for him! But you have reckoned without your host, my
boy, as far as I am concerned; I am not to be got rid of so easily."

Veitel looked at the angry little man before him with an expression of
countenance by no means friendly.

"Why did you make a scene with the young man?" he said, coldly; "he has
done nothing wrong. I was expecting a visitor on business, and I gave
orders to exclude all strangers. How could I know that you would be
coming? Have we not settled that you should only visit me in the
evening? Why do you disturb me during my business hours?"

"Your business hours, you young gosling, with your shell still hanging
about you!" cried Hippus, still more irate, and threw himself on the
sofa. "Your business hours!" he continued, with infinite contempt; "any
hours are good enough for your business."

"You are drunk again, Hippus," answered Veitel, thoroughly roused. "How
often have I told you that I will have nothing to do with you when you
come out of the spirit-shop?"

"Indeed!" cried Hippus; "you son of a witch, my visit is at all times an
honor to you. I drunk!" he hiccoughed out; "and with what, you
jack-pudding you? How is a man to get drunk," he screamed out, "when he
has not wherewithal to pay for a glass?"

"I knew that he was without money again," said Veitel, in exasperation.
"I gave you a dollar quite lately, but you are a perfect sponge. It is a
pity to waste a farthing upon you."

"You will prove, though, that it is not at all a pity," answered the old
man, tauntingly; "you will give me ten dollars here on the spot."

"That I will not," cried Veitel. "I am sick of supplying you. You know
our agreement; you are only to have money given you when you do
something for me in return. And now you are not in a condition either to
read or write."

"I am always good enough for you and such as you, even if I had had a
ten times better breakfast," said the old man, more calmly. "Give me
what you have got for me to do. You are become a covetous rascal, but
I'll put up with you. I will forgive your having denied yourself; I will
forgive your having become a presumptuous ass--making a show with lamps
that were meant for your betters; and I will not deprive you of my
advice, provided, be it understood, I duly get my honorarium. And so we
will make peace, my son. Now tell me what deviltry you have in hand."

Veitel pushed a thick parchment toward him, and said, "First of all, you
must look over that, write me out an abstract of it, and tell me what
you think of it. It has been offered me for sale. Now, however, I am
expecting some one, so you must go into the other room, sit down at the
table, and get through your task. When it is done we will talk about the
money."

Mr. Hippus took the heavy deed under his arm and steered toward the
door.

"To-day I am going to oblige you again, because you are a good boy,"
said he, affectionately, lifting his hand to pat Veitel on the cheek.

Veitel tolerated the caress, and was going to shut the door, when the
drunken old man turned round once more, and inquired with a cunning
leer, "So you expect some one, my child? Whom do you expect, little
Itzig? Is it a lad or a lady?"

"It is a money-matter," said Veitel, shrugging his shoulders.

"A money-matter!" repeated Hippus, with tender approbation of his
associate. "Ay, you are great in them--an accomplished swindler. Truly
he who gets money from you is lost; it were better for him to jump into
the water at once, though water is a despicable element, you confounded
little swindler you!" And, raising his head, he fixed his swimming eyes
affectionately on Veitel.

"And yet you yourself are come to get money from me," replied Veitel,
with a forced smile.

"Yes, I am determined," said Hippus, stammering. "I am not flesh and
blood! I am Hippus! I am Death!" and he tried to laugh intelligently.

The door-bell rang. Veitel desired him to keep quiet, shut the door upon
him, took up his amber pipe, and awaited his visitor.

A sword was heard to clatter in the lobby--a hussar officer came in.
Eugene Rothsattel had become a little older since the last winter, his
fine face was more haggard, and he had a blue ring round his eyes. He
put on an appearance of indifference, which did not deceive Mr. Itzig
for a single second, for behind that mask his experienced glance
detected the fever peculiar to hard-pressed debtors.

"Mr. Itzig?" inquired the officer de haut en bas.

"Such is my name," said Veitel, rising carelessly from the sofa. Eugene
looked at him uneasily. This was the very man against whom his father
had been warned, and now fate had driven him into the same snare. "I
have to pay a debt in the course of the next few days to certain
agents," began the lieutenant, "gentlemen of your acquaintance. When I
proposed to hold a consultation with them, I was informed by both that
they had sold their claims to you."

"I bought them unwillingly," replied Itzig. "I am not fond of having any
thing to do with military men. Here are two notes of hand, one for
eleven hundred, and the other for eight hundred, making a total of
nineteen hundred dollars. Do you recognize these signatures as yours?"
he coldly inquired, producing the documents; "and do you acknowledge
nineteen hundred to be the sum borrowed by you?"

"I suppose it must be about that," said the lieutenant, reluctantly.

"I ask whether you acknowledge that to be the sum that you have to pay
me on these notes of hand?"

"In the devil's name, yes," cried the lieutenant. "I own the debt,
though I did not receive the half of it in cash."

Veitel locked up the papers in his desk, and, with a shrug of his
shoulders, said ironically, "At all events, I have paid the whole sum to
the parties herein named. Accordingly, I shall summon you to pay me
to-morrow and the next day."

The officer was silent for a while, and a flush slowly overspread his
sunken cheeks. At last, after a hard struggle, he began: "I beg of you,
Mr. Itzig, to give me a little more time."

Veitel took up his amber pipe and leisurely turned it round. "I can give
you no further credit," said he.

"Come, Itzig, be reasonable," said the officer, with forced familiarity.
"I shall very probably soon be able to pay you."

"You will have as little money in a few weeks' time as you have now,"
replied Veitel, rudely.

"I am ready to write an I.O.U. for a larger sum, if you will have
patience."

"I never enter into any transactions of the kind," lied Veitel.

"I will procure you an acknowledgment of the debt from my father."

"The Baron Rothsattel would obtain as little credit with me as
yourself."

The lieutenant angrily struck the floor with his sword: "And supposing I
do not pay?" he broke out; "you know that I am not legally compelled to
do so."

"I know," quietly replied Veitel. "Will you pay to-morrow and the next
day?"

"I can not!" exclaimed Eugene, in despair.

"Then take care of the coat on your back," said Veitel, turning away.

"Wohlfart was right to warn me against you," cried Eugene, beside
himself. "You are an obdurate--" he suppressed the last word.

"Speak your mind freely," said Itzig; "no one hears you. Your words are
like the fire in my stove; it crackles now, in an hour it will be burned
to ashes. What you say to me in private, the people in the street will
say to you in three days' time if you do not pay."

Eugene turned away with a curse. On reaching the door he stood still for
a moment, then rushed down stairs.

Veitel looked round triumphantly. "The son as well as the father! He,
too, is safely noosed," said he to himself; "he can never procure the
money. There is an end of the Rothsattels, and their Wohlfart will not
be able to sustain them. When I am married to Rosalie, Ehrenthal's
mortgages will be mine. That will be the time, too, for finding the
vanished notes of hand among my father-in-law's papers. Then I shall
have the baron completely in my power, and the estate will be mine."

After this soliloquy he opened the door that had shut out Mr. Hippus
from the distinguished visitor--the sunken from the sinking--and he
found the little advocate fast asleep over the deed. Itzig looked at him
with hearty contempt, and said, "He grows burdensome. He said he was
death; I wish he were dead, and I freed from him." Then roughly shaking
up the old man, he screamed out to him, "You are fit for nothing but to
sleep; why must you come here to snore? Go home; I will give you the
deed when you are sober."

The advocate accordingly reeled away, promising to return the following
afternoon. Itzig proceeded to brush his silk hat with enviable
dexterity; he then put on his best coat, gave his hair its most
graceful curve, and went to the house of his antagonist Ehrenthal. As he
entered the hall he cast a shy glance at the office door, and hurried on
to the staircase. But he stopped on the lowest step. "There he is,
sitting again in the office," said he, listening. "I hear him mutter; he
often mutters so when he is alone. I will venture in; perhaps I can make
something of him." So he stepped slowly to the door and listened again;
then taking heart, he opened it suddenly. In the dimly-lighted room sat
a stooping figure in a leathern chair, a shapeless hat on its head. The
figure kept constantly nodding, and muttering unintelligible words. How
changed was Hirsch Ehrenthal in the course of the past year! When he
last drove over the baron's estate, he was a stout, respectable-looking
man, a fresh, well-preserved man, who knew how to stick in his
breast-pin to the best advantage, and cut a figure in ladies' eyes. Now
the head that was constantly nodding in nervous debility was that of an
old man, and the beard that hung down from his furrowed face had been
untrimmed for weeks. He was a picture of that most lamentable decay,
when the mind precedes the body on the way to second childhood.

The agent stood at the door and looked in dismay at his former master.
Then, advancing nearer, he said, "I wish to speak to you, Mr.
Ehrenthal."

The old man continued to nod his head, and answered in a trembling
voice, "Hirsch Ehrenthal is my name; what have you to say to me?"

"I wish to speak to you on important business," continued Itzig.

"I hear," returned Ehrenthal, without looking up; "if the business be
important, why do you not speak?"

"Do you know me, Hirsch Ehrenthal?" said Itzig, bending down and raising
his voice.

The man in the leathern chair looked at him with languid eyes, and at
length recognized him. He got up in all haste, and stood, his head still
nodding, with a glance full of hatred and terror in his eyes. "What do
you want here in my office?" cried he, with a quivering voice. "How can
you come before me? Get out, man! get out!"

Itzig remained stationary. "Don't scream so; I am not doing any thing to
you; I only want to speak to you on important subjects, if you will be
calm as a man of your years should be."

"It is Itzig," murmured the old man; "he wants to speak on important
subjects, and I am to be calm. How can I be calm," screamed he again,
"when I see you before me? You are my enemy; you have ruined me here and
ruined me there; you have been to me like the evil spirit with the
sword, on which hangs the drop of gall. I opened my mouth, you pierced
me with your sword, the gall has reached my heart; I needs must tremble
when I see you."

"Be quiet," said Itzig; "and when you are so, listen to me."

"Is his name Itzig?" mumbled the old man to himself. "His name is Itzig,
but the dogs bark at him as he walks through the streets. I will not see
you," he again exclaimed. "Get out! I loathe the sight of you: I would
rather have to do with a spider than with you."

To this Veitel replied in a resigned voice, "What has happened,
Ehrenthal, has happened, and it's no use talking of it. You behaved
unkindly to me, and I acted against you; both are true."

"He ate every Sabbath at my table," growled the old man.

"If you remember that," continued Itzig, "why, so will I. True, I have
eaten at your table, and on that account I am sorry to be on bad terms
with you. I have always felt a great attachment to your family."

"You have shown your attachment, young Itzig," continued the old man.
"You are he who came into my house, and killed me before I am laid in my
grave."

"What nonsense are you talking?" continued Veitel, impatiently. "Why do
you always speak as if you were dead, and I the evil spirit with the
sword? I am here, and I wish your prosperous life, and not your death. I
will so contrive that you shall yet occupy a good position among our
people, and that they who pass you in the street shall again take off
their hats to you, as they did before Hirsch Ehrenthal became childish."

Ehrenthal mechanically took off his hat and sat down again. His hair had
grown white.

"There ought to be friendship between you and me," continued Veitel,
persuasively, "and your business ought to be as mine. I have sent to you
more than one man of our connection, and have told you my wishes through
him, and Mrs. Ehrenthal, your wife, has told you them too. I am become a
man who can rank with the best men of business; I can show you a safe
capital larger than you imagine. Why should we not put our money
together? If you will give me your daughter Rosalie to wife, I shall be
able to act for you as your son-in-law."

Old Ehrenthal looked at the suitor with a glance in which something of
his old cunning shone through his half-wittedness. "If you want my
daughter Rosalie," replied he, "hear the only question I have to put:
What will you give me if I give you Rosalie?"

"I will reckon it up to you at once," cried Veitel.

"You can reckon up a good deal, I dare say," said Ehrenthal, declining
the statement, "but I will only require one thing: if you can give me
back my son Bernhard, you may have my daughter. If you can not bring
Bernhard out of the grave, so long as I have any voice left I shall say,
'Get out with you! get out of my office!' Get out!" screamed he, in a
sudden transport of rage, clenching both fists against the suitor.
Veitel quietly retreated into the shadow cast by the door, the old man
sunk down again on his chair, and threatened and muttered to himself.
Itzig watched him till his words again became unintelligible, when he
shrugged his shoulders and left the room.

As he went up stairs to pay his visit to the ladies, he repeated the
movement occasionally, to express his utter contempt of the poor
imbecile below. He rang the bell, and was admitted by the untidy cook
with a familiar smile.

Meanwhile Eugene drifted helplessly from one officer's room to another.
He went to Feroni's; the oysters were flavorless, the Burgundy tasted
like ink. Again he paced up and down the streets, the sweat of anguish
on his brow. At last he sat down in a confectioner's shop, tired to
death, and revolved every possible contingency. If Wohlfart were only
here! But there was no time to write to him. These agents had put him
off from day to day; it was only last night that they had both finally
referred him to Mr. Itzig. But, though it was too late to write to
Anton, might not this obliging friend have some acquaintance in the
town? In recommending young Sturm, Anton had told him that the future
bailiff's father was a safe man, not without substance. Perhaps he could
get money from the father of a hussar now in the service of his family,
if, indeed, the old man had any money. That was the question.

He turned to the Directory, and found John Sturm, porter, Island
Street, No. 17. He drove thither in a drosky. A loud "Come in" was the
reply to his hurried knock. The sore-pressed officer crossed the
threshold of the porter. Father Sturm sat alone with his can of beer, a
small daily paper in his hand. "A hussar!" cried he, remaining seated
through very astonishment. The officer, on his part, was astonished at
the colossal form now contemplating him, and both were silent.

"To be sure!" said the giant. "A hussar of my Karl's regiment--the coat
is the same, the epaulettes the same; you are welcome, comrade!" and he
rose. Then for the first time perceiving the metal of the epaulettes, he
exclaimed, "As I live, an officer!"

"My name is Eugene von Rothsattel," began the lieutenant. "I am an
acquaintance of Mr. Wohlfart."

"Of Mr. Wohlfart and of my son Karl," said Sturm, eagerly; "sit down,
sir; it is an exceeding pleasure and honor to me to see you." He brought
out a chair, and thumped it down in his zeal so as to make the door
shake again.

Eugene was going to sit down. "Not yet," said Sturm; "I will first wipe
it, that the uniform take no harm. Since my Karl went away, things are a
little dusty here."

He wiped and polished up the chair for his visitor. "Now, sir, allow me
to sit opposite you. You bring me tidings of my little fellow?"

"Only," replied Eugene, "that he is well in health, and that my father
much values his services."

"Indeed!" cried Sturm, smiling all over, and rapping on the table so as
to create a small earthquake in the room. "I knew, sir, that your father
the baron would be satisfied with him; I would have given him a bond for
that on stamped paper. He was a clever lad, even when he was that high,"
indicating with his hand a degree of smallness that belongs to no human
being, even in the earliest days of its visible life.

"But can he do any thing?" he anxiously inquired, "in spite of--you know
what." He held out his great fingers, and made confidential signs with
them. "First and middle finger--it was a great misfortune, sir."

Eugene now called to mind the unlucky accident. "He has got over it,"
said he, rather embarrassed at the part the paternal affections of the
giant made him play. "I came here to ask a favor."

"A favor?" laughed Sturm; "ask away, young baron; that is a simple
matter. Any one from the house where my Karl is bailiff has a right to
ask a favor from old Sturm. That is my view of the case."

"Well, then, Mr. Sturm, to make a long story short, I am called upon to
make a heavy payment to-morrow, and I want the money for it. The debt
has come upon me suddenly, and I have no time to communicate with my
father. I know no one in this town to whom I can turn with so much
confidence as to the father of our bailiff."

Sturm bent forward, and in his delight clapped the officer on the knee.
"That was nobly said. You are a gentleman, who keeps to his own house,
and does not go to strangers for what he can have from his own people.
You want money? My Karl is bailiff at your father the baron's; my Karl
has some money, so it is all right. How much do you want? A hundred
dollars? Two hundred dollars? The money is there."

"I can hardly take courage, Mr. Sturm, to tell you the amount of the
sum," said Eugene, embarrassed; "it is nineteen hundred dollars."

"Nineteen hundred dollars!" repeated the giant, in amazement; "that's a
capital; that's a firm; that's what people call a fortune."

"So it is, Mr. Sturm," said Eugene, sadly. "And since you are so
friendly toward me, I must own to you that I am heartily grieved that it
should be so much. I am ready to give you a note of hand for it, and to
pay any interest you may like."

"Do you know what," said Sturm, after some cogitation, "we will say
nothing about the interest; you can settle that with my Karl; but as to
the note of hand, that was a good thought of yours. A note of hand is
pleasant, on account of the chances of life and death. You and I would
have no need of such a thing; but I may die before my time. That would
not matter, for you, who know of the transaction, would still be there.
But then you might die, which, however, I have no fear of--quite the
contrary; but still such a thing might be, and then my Karl ought to
have your signature, so that he might come forward and say, 'My poor
young master has written this, therefore pay.'"

"You will then have the kindness to lend me the money?"

"There is no kindness in it," said Sturm; "it is but my duty, as the
thing is done regularly, and my dwarf is your bailiff."

Eugene was moved as he looked at the giant's laughing face. "But, Mr.
Sturm, I want the money to-morrow."

"Of course," replied Sturm, "that is just what suits me. Come, baron,
this way." He took up the candle, and led him into his bed-room. "Excuse
things being so disorderly; but I am a lone man, and at my work all day
long. Look here, this is my money-box." He drew out the iron chest. "It
is safe from thieves," said he, with self-complacency, "for no one in
the town can stir it but I, and no one can open it, for the lock is the
masterpiece of the father of my dear departed wife. Few besides me can
lift the lid, and even if many of them came, they would find it too
tough a job for them; so you may believe that the money is safe here
from rogues, and swindlers, and the like," said he, triumphantly. He was
about to put the key into the lock. "Stop," he suddenly cried; "one word
more. I trust you, baron, as I do my Karl--that of course; but just
answer me this question: You really are the young baron?"

Now it was Eugene's turn to smile, and, putting his hand into his
pocket, he said, "Here is my patent."

"Ah! many thanks," cried Sturm, carefully looking through the paper, and
reverentially reading the names, then bowing, and giving it back with
two fingers in the most respectful manner possible.

"And here," continued Eugene, "I happen to have a letter of Wohlfart's
in my pocket."

"Of course," cried Sturm, looking at the address, "that is his living
hand."

"And here is his signature."

"Your devoted Wohlfart," read the giant; "and if he writes that, you may
be sure that it is true. So now the business is settled," said he,
opening the box. "Here is the money. So, then, nineteen hundred
dollars!" He took five great rolls out of the chest, held them
comfortably in one hand, and gave them to Eugene. "Here are a thousand."

Eugene tried in vain to hold them.

"Just so," said the porter; "I will bring them down to the carriage. The
rest I must give you in promissory notes. These are worth a little less
than a hundred dollars, as of course you know."

"It does not signify," said Eugene.

"No," said the giant. "It can be mentioned in the note of hand. And now
the matter is all settled." He closed the chest, and pushed it under the
bed.

Eugene re-entered the little parlor with a lightened heart.

"Now, then, I will carry the money to the carriage," cried Sturm.

"The note of hand has yet to be written."

"True," nodded the giant; "we must do things in order. Just see, sir,
whether you can write with my coarse pen. If I had known that I should
have such a visitor, I would have brought a better one with me from Mr.
Schröter's."

Eugene wrote out an acknowledgment, while Sturm sat by his can of beer,
and looked at him in admiration. Then he accompanied him to the
carriage, and said at leave-taking, "Greet my little lad heartily, and
Mr. Wohlfart too. I have promised Karl to come to him at Christmas, on
account of the Christmas-tree; but my health is no longer as good as it
should be. I am forty-nine past."

A short time afterward, Eugene, writing to Anton, casually mentioned
that he had borrowed nineteen hundred dollars from father Sturm on a
note of hand. "Try to arrange the matter for me," said the letter; "of
course my father must know nothing of it. A good-hearted, foolish
fellow, that old Sturm. Think of something nice for his son the
hussar--something that I can bring him when I pay you a visit."

Anton flung down the letter indignantly. "There is no helping them; the
principal was right," said he. "He has squandered the money in golden
bracelets for a mercenary danseuse, or at dice with his lawless
comrades, and he now pays his usurer's bills with the hard earnings of
an honest working-man."

He called Karl into his room. "I have often been sorry to have brought
you into this confusion, but to-day I deeply feel how wrong it was. I am
ashamed to tell you what has happened. Young Rothsattel has taken
advantage of your father's good-heartedness to borrow from him nineteen
hundred dollars!"

"Nineteen hundred dollars from my governor!" cried Karl. "Had my Goliath
so much money to lend! He always pretended that he did not know how to
economize."

"Part of your inheritance is given away in return for a worthless note
of hand, and what makes it still more aggravating is the coolness of the
thoughtless borrower. Have you, then, not heard of it from your father?"

"From him!" cried Karl; "I should think not. I am only sorry that you
should be so vexed. I implore you not to make any disturbance about it.
You best know how many clouds hang over this house; do not increase the
anxiety of these parents on my account."

"To be silent in a case like this," replied Anton, "would be to make
one's self an accomplice in an unfair transaction. You must immediately
write and tell your father not to be so obliging in future; the young
gentleman is capable of going to him again."

Anton's next step was to write Eugene a letter of serious remonstrance,
in which he pointed out to him that the only way of giving Sturm
tolerably good security would be the procuring the baron's
acknowledgment of his son's debt, and begged that he would lose no time
in doing this.

This letter written, Anton said to Karl, "If he does not confess to his
parents, I shall state the whole affair to the baron in his presence the
very next day after his arrival. Don't try to dissuade me; you are just
like your father."

The consequence of this communication was, that Eugene left off writing
to Anton, and that his next letter to his father contained a rather
unintelligible clause: "Wohlfart," he said, "was a man to whom he
certainly had obligations; only the worst of that kind of people was,
that they took advantage of these to adopt a dictatorial tone that was
unbearable; therefore it was best civilly to shake them off."

This opinion was quite after the baron's own heart, and he warmly
applauded it. "Eugene always takes the right view of the case," said he;
"and I too earnestly long for the day when I shall be able to
superintend the property, and to dismiss our Mr. Wohlfart."

The baroness, who had read the letter out to her husband, merely
replied, "You would miss Wohlfart very much if he were to leave you."

Lenore, however, was unable to suppress her displeasure; and, leaving
the room in silence, she went to look for Anton out of doors.

"What are you and Eugene differing about?" she cried, as soon as she saw
him.

"Has he been complaining of me to you?" inquired Anton, in return.

"Not to me; but in his letter to my father he does not speak as he ought
of one who has been so kind to him."

"Perhaps this is accidental--a fit of ill-humor that will pass off."

"No, it is more, and I will know about it."

"If it be more, you can only hear it from himself."

"Then, Wohlfart," cried Lenore, "Eugene has been doing something wrong,
and you know of it."

"Be that as it may," returned Anton, gravely, "it is not my secret, else
I should not withhold it from you. I pray you to believe that I have
acted uprightly toward your brother."

"What I believe little signifies," cried Lenore. "I am to know nothing;
I understand nothing; I can do nothing in this wretched world but grieve
and fret when others are unjust to you."

"I very often," continued Anton, "feel the responsibility laid upon me
by your father's indisposition a grievous burden. It is natural that he
should be annoyed with me when I have to communicate unwelcome facts.
This can not be avoided. I have strength, however, to brave much that is
painful, so long as you and the baroness are unshaken in your conviction
that I always act in your interest so far as I understand it."

"My mother knows what you are to us," said Lenore. "She never, indeed,
speaks of you to me, but I can read her glance when she looks at you
across the table. She has always known how to conceal her thoughts; how
she does so more than ever--yes, even to me. I seem to see her pure
image behind a white veil; and she is become so fragile, that often the
tears rush to my eyes merely in looking at her. She always says what is
kind and judicious, but she seems to have lost interest in most things;
and though she smiles at what I say, I fancy that the effort gives her
pain."

"Yes, just so," cried Anton mournfully.

"She only lives to take care of my father. No one, not even her
daughter, knows what she inwardly suffers. She is like an angel,
Wohlfart, who lingers on our earth reluctantly. I can be but little to
her, that I feel. I am not helpful, and want all that makes my mother so
lovely--- the self-control, the calm bearing, the enchanting manner. My
father is sick--my brother thoughtless--my mother, spite of all her
love, reserved toward me. Wohlfart, I am indeed alone."

She leaned on the side of the well and wept.

"Perhaps it will all be for your good," said Anton, soothingly, from the
other side the well. "Yours is an energetic nature, and I believe you
can feel very strongly."

"I can be very angry," chimed in Lenore through her tears, "and then
very careless again."

"You grew up without a care in prosperous circumstances, and your life
was easy as a game."

"My lessons were difficult enough, I am sure," remonstrated Lenore.

"I think that you were in danger of becoming a little wild and haughty
in character."

"I am afraid I was so," cried Lenore.

"Now, you have had to bear heavy trials, and the present looks serious
too; and if I may venture to say so, dear lady, I think you will find
here just what the baroness has acquired in the great world--dignity and
self-control. I often think that you are changed already."

"Was I, then, an unbearable little savage formerly?" asked Lenore,
laughing in the midst of her tears, and looking at Anton with girlish
archness.

He had hard work not to tell her how lovely she was at that moment; but
he valiantly conquered the inclination, and said, as coolly as he could,
"Not so bad as that, dear lady."

"And do you know what you are?" asked Lenore, playfully. "You are, as
Eugene writes, a little schoolmaster."

"So that is what he has written!" cried Anton, enlightened.

Lenore grew grave at once. "Do not let us speak of him. As soon as I
heard his letter, I came here to tell you that I trust you as I do no
one on earth, if it be not my mother; that I shall always trust you as
long as I live; that nothing could shake my faith in you; that you are
the only friend that we have in our adversity; and that I could ask your
pardon on my knees when any one offends you in word or even thought."

"Lenore, dear lady," cried Anton, joyously, "say no more."

"I will say," continued Lenore, "how I admire the self-possession with
which you follow your own way and manage the people, and that it is you
alone who keep any order on the estate, or can bring it into a better
condition. This has been upon my mind to say; and now, Wohlfart, you
know it."

"I thank you, lady," cried Anton; "such words make this a happy day. But
I am not so self-possessed and efficient as you think, and every day I
feel more and more that I am not the person to be really of service
here. If I ever wish that you were not the baron's daughter, but his
son, it is when I go over this property."

"Yes," said Lenore, "that is just the old regret. Our former bailiff
used often to say the same. When I sit over my work, and see you and Mr.
Sturm go out together, I get so hot, and I throw my useless frame
aside. I can only spend, and understand nothing but buying lace; and
even that I don't understand well, according to mamma. However, you must
put up with the stupid Lenore as your good friend;" and she gave him her
own true-hearted smile.

"It is now many years since I have, in my inmost soul, felt your
friendship to be a great blessing," cried Anton, much moved. "It has
always, up to this very hour, been one of my heart's best joys secretly
to feel myself your faithful friend."

"And so it shall ever be between us," said Lenore. "Now I am comfortable
again. And do not plague yourself any more about Eugene's foolish ways.
Even I am not going to do so."

Thus they parted like innocent children who find a pleasure in saying to
each other all that the passion of love would teach to conceal.



CHAPTER XXXI.


The enmity between Pix and Specht raged fiercely as ever. Now, however,
Specht stood no longer alone; the quartette was on his side; for Specht
was wounded in feelings that the quartette respected, and often
celebrated in song. Mr. Specht was in love. Certainly this was nothing
new to his excitable nature; on the contrary, his love was eternal,
though its object often changed. Every lady of his acquaintance had, in
her turn, been worshiped by him. Even the elderly cousin had been for a
time the subject of his dreams.

On this occasion, however, Mr. Specht's love had some solid foundation.
He had discovered a young woman, a well-to-do householder, the widow of
a fur-merchant, with a round face and a pleasant pair of nut-brown eyes.
He followed her to the theatre and in the public gardens, walked past
her windows as often as he could, and did all that in him lay to win her
heart.

He disturbed the quiet of her bereaved life by showers of anonymous
notes, in which he threatened to quit this sublunary scene if she
despised him. In the list of advertisements, among fresh caviare,
shell-fish, and servants wanting places, there appeared, to the
astonishment of the public, numerous poetical effusions, where Adèle,
the name of the widow, was made prominent either in an acrostic, or else
by its component letters being printed in large capitals. At length
Specht had not been able to resist taking the quartette into his
confidence on the subject. The two basses were amazed at such poetical
efforts having proceeded from their office. True, they had often
ridiculed them with others, while Specht inwardly groaned over
counting-house criticism; but now that they knew one of themselves to
have been the perpetrator, the esprit de corps awoke, and they not
only received his confessions kindly, but lent him their assistance in
bribing the watchman in the widow's street, and serenading her, on which
occasion a window had been seen to open, and something white to appear
for a few minutes. Specht was now at the summit of earthly felicity, and
as that condition is not a reticent one, he imprudently extended his
confidence to others of his colleagues, and so it was that the matter
came to the ears of Pix.

And now there began in the local advertiser a most extraordinary game of
hide-and-seek. There were numerous insertions appointing a Mr. S. to a
rendezvous with one dear to him in every possible part of the town.
Wherever the place, Specht regularly repaired to it, and never found her
whom he sought, but suffered from every variety of weather, was repulsed
by stranger ladies, and had the end of a cigar thrown into his face by a
shoemaker's apprentice, whom he mistook for his fair one in disguise. Of
course he, on his side, gave vent, through the same medium, to his
complaints and reproaches, which led to excuses and new appointments.
But he never met the long-sought-for one.

This went on for some weeks, and Specht fell into a state of excitement
which even the basses found reprehensible.

One morning Pix was standing as usual on the ground floor, when a plump,
pretty lady, with nut-brown eyes, and enveloped in beautiful furs,
entered the house, and in an irate tone of voice inquired for Mr.
Schröter.

Pix informed her that he was not then at home, adding, with the air and
tone of a field-marshal, that he was his representative.

After some reluctance to tell her tale to any other than Mr. Schröter
had been overcome by the polite decision of Mr. Pix, the lady preferred
her complaint against one of the clerks in that office who persecuted
her with letters and poems, and unworthily made her name public in the
daily papers.

The whole thing flashed upon Pix at once. "Can you give me the
gentleman's name?"

"I do not know his name," said the widow; "he is tall and has curly
hair."

"Gaunt in figure and a large nose, eh?" inquired Pix. "Very well, madam;
from this day forth you shall have no further annoyance. I will be
answerable for that."

"Still," recommenced the lady in the furs, "I should wish Mr. Schröter
himself--"

"Better not, madam. The young man has behaved toward you in a manner for
which I can find no adequate terms. Yet your kind heart will remember
that he did not mean to offend. He wanted sense and tact, that was his
offense. But he was really in earnest; and since I have had the honor to
know you, I find it natural." He bowed. "I condemn him, as I said
before, but I find it natural."

The pretty widow stood there embarrassed, and Pix proceeded to say that
her forgiveness would be a source of happiness to the whole
establishment.

"I never meant to make the establishment responsible for the
ungentlemanlike behavior of one of its members."

"I thank you with my whole heart for your gracious conduct," said Pix,
triumphantly, and then skillfully proceeded to lead the conversation to
the goods with which they were surrounded, pointing out the
peculiarities of different coffees, and stating that, although the firm
had left off retail dealings, yet that in her case they would, at any
time, be much flattered to receive an order, however small, and to
furnish her with the articles required at wholesale prices.

The lady expressed her gratitude, and went away reconciled to the firm.

Pix went into the office, and calling Specht aside, severely
remonstrated with him. Specht was at first speechless with terror. "She
began in the daily papers," cried he, at length; "she first appointed
the theatre, then the promenade, then the tower to see the view, then--"

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Pix, with virtuous indignation; "don't you see
that some scapegrace or other has been making a fool of you? The lady
has been rendered very unhappy by your conduct."

Specht wrung his hands.

"I have done all I could to set her mind at rest, and have promised that
you shall never again intrude upon her in any one way; so mind what you
are about, or Mr. Schröter shall hear the whole story."

While Specht, suffering inexpressibly, took counsel with his musical
friends, Pix acted. A porter carried an immense packet to the widow's
house that very evening, which Pix scrupulously charged to his own
account. That same evening he called to announce Specht's penitence, and
promises of never offending again. The following Sunday he took coffee
at the lady's house, and four weeks after he made her a proposal. This
was accepted, and Mr. Pix determined, in spite of moths and other
hinderances, to give a fresh impulse to the fur-trade, and to become its
centre.

To his honor be it said, he felt bound to communicate the fact to Specht
before any one else, and to vouchsafe him a few words of consolation.
"Fate has so willed it; be rational, Specht, and make up your mind.
After all, it is one of your colleagues who is getting married; take my
advice, and fall in love as fast as you can with some one else. It will
give you no trouble at all."

"So you think," cried Specht, in despair.

"I assure you it will not, if you set about it in earnest. We will
remain good friends; you shall be my groom's-man, and you will soon find
another whose name will rhyme quite as well as Adèle."

This consolation, however, proved unavailing at the time, and Specht,
indignant at the treachery of his opponent, enjoyed at least the
mournful satisfaction of having the whole counting-house on his side,
and hearing Pix universally condemned as a hard-hearted, selfish fellow.
But time gradually poured its balsam into his heart; and the widow
happening to have a niece whose eyes were blue and whose hair was
golden, Specht began by finding her youth interesting, then her manners
attractive, till one day he returned to his own room fully resolved to
be the nephew-in-law of Mr. Pix.

The merchant sat one evening in his arm-chair, and seemed absorbed in
his own thoughts. At last, turning to his sister, he said, "Fink has
disappeared again."

Sabine let her work fall. "Disappeared! In America!"

"An agent of his father's was in our counting-house to-day. According to
what he told me, there has been a fresh difference between Fink and his
father, and this time I fear Fink is more in the right of it than the
firm. He has suddenly given up the management of its affairs, has broken
up by his strong measures a great company founded by his uncle, has
renounced his claim upon his inheritance, and has disappeared. The
uncertain reports that have come from New York say that he has gone to
the prairies of the interior."

Sabine listened with intense interest, but she said not a word. Her
brother, too, was silent a while. "After all, there were noble elements
in his character," said he, at length. "The present time requires energy
and strength like his. Pix, too, is leaving us. He is to marry a widow
with means, and to set up for himself. I shall give his post to Balbus,
but he will not replace him."

"No," said Sabine, anxiously.

"This house is growing empty," continued her brother, "and I feel that
my strength is failing. These last years have been heavy ones. We get
accustomed to the faces, even to the weaknesses of our fellow-men. No
one thinks how bitter it often is to the head of a firm to sever the tie
that binds him to his coadjutors; and I was more used to Pix than to
most men: it is a great blow to me to lose him. And I am growing old. I
am growing old, and our house empty. You alone are left to me at this
gloomy time; and when I am called upon to leave you, you will remain
behind me desolate. My wife and my child are gone; I have been setting
my whole hopes upon your blooming youth; I have thought of your husband
and your children, my poor darling; but meanwhile I have grown old, and
I see you at my side with a cheerful smile and a wounded heart--active,
sympathizing, but alone; without great joys and without happy hopes."

Sabine laid her head on her brother's shoulder, and wept silently. "One
of those whom you have lost was dear to you," said she, gently.

"Do not speak or think of him," replied her brother, darkly. "Even if he
returned from thence he would be lost to us." He passed his hand over
her head, took up his hat, and left the room.

"Yet he himself is always thinking of Wohlfart," cried the cousin from
her window-niche. "This very day he was cross-examining old Sturm about
Karl and the property. I declare I don't understand the man."

"I understand him," sighed Sabine, and sat down again to her work. The
cousin pouted: "You and he are just alike; there is no speaking to you
on certain subjects." And she left the room.

Sabine left the room. The fire crackled in the stove, the pendulum of
the clock swung backward and forward monotonously. "Ever so! ever so!"
it seemed to say. Those pictures of her parents had been looking calmly
down upon her, their last child, for many years. Her youth was passing
away silent, serious, still as those painted forms. Sabine bowed her
head and listened. Hush! little fairy steps in the corner of the room.
Hark again! a merry laugh from a child's lip, and the steps tripped
nearer, and a curly head was laid on her knee, and two little arms
stretched out lovingly to clasp her neck. She bent down and kissed the
air, and listened again to those blessed sounds which swelled her heart
with rapture, and brought tears of joy to her eyes. Alas! she but
grasped at empty air, and nothing was real but the tears that fell into
her lap.

So sat she long till twilight closed in. The vibrations of the pendulum
seemed to fail, the fire grew low in the stove, the pictures dim on the
walls, the room dark and lonely.

At that moment old Sturm's hammer was heard outside. Every stroke fell
strong, vigorous, decided. It sounded through court-yard and house.
Sabine rose: "So it shall be," cried she. "I have twice hoped and
feared, twice it has been an illusion, now it is over. My life is to be
devoted to him to whom I am all. I can not bring to him the husband he
hoped for, and no band of children will twine their arms about his neck.
Yes, things will go on with us as they have done hitherto, always more
silent, always more empty. But me shall he have, and my whole life. My
brother, thou shalt never again feel with regret that thy life and mine
are wanting in joyousness!"

She caught up her little key-basket, and hurried into her brother's
room. Meanwhile the cousin was making up her mind to pay Mr. Baumann a
visit.

Between the cousin and Mr. Baumann there had long been a silent
understanding, and fate now willed that he should be her neighbor at the
dinner-table. When the cousin glanced back over her succession of
neighbors, she came to the conclusion that they had lost in
sprightliness what they had gained in moral worth. Fink was rather
profane, but very amusing; Anton had a certain equipoise of goodness and
pleasantness; Baumann was the best of them all, but also the most
silent. Her conversation with him, though edifying enough, was never
exciting. On Mondays, indeed, they had a mutual interest in discussing
the Sunday's sermon, but there was another tie between them, and that
was Anton.

The good lady could not account for what she called his unnatural
departure. Whether the fault was that of the principal or the clerk, she
could not take upon herself to decide, but she was firmly convinced that
the step was unnecessary, unwise, and injurious to all parties; and she
had done all toward bringing the wanderer back into the firm that tender
hints and feminine persuasions can do to counteract manly perversity.
When first Anton left, she had taken every opportunity of mentioning and
praising him, both to the merchant and to Sabine; but she met with no
encouragement. The merchant always answered dryly, sometimes rudely, and
Sabine invariably turned the subject or was silent. The cousin was not,
however, to be taken in by that. Those embroidered curtains had let in a
flood of light upon her mind, in which Sabine stood plainly revealed to
her gaze. She knew that Mr. Baumann was the only one of his colleagues
with whom Anton kept up a correspondence, and to-day she resolved to
call him to her aid; therefore she took up the report of a benevolent
society lent her by the future missionary, and, knocking at Mr.
Baumann's door, handed it in to him. "Very good," said she, on the
threshold; "Heaven will bless such a cause. Pray set me down as a
subscriber for the future." Mr. Baumann thanked her in the name of the
poor. The cousin went on. "What do you hear of late from your friend
Wohlfart? He seems to have vanished from the face of the earth; even old
Sturm has nothing to say about him."

"He has a great deal to do," said the reticent Baumann.

"Nay, I should think not more than here. If occupation was all he
wanted, he might have remained where he was."

"He has a difficult task to perform, and is doing a good work where he
is," cautiously continued Mr. Baumann.

"Don't talk to me of your good work," cried the cousin, entering, in her
excitement, and closing the door behind her. "He had a good work to do
here too. I beg your pardon, but really I never knew such a thing in all
my life. He runs away just when he was most wanted. And no excuse for it
either. If he had married or set up for himself, that would have been a
different thing, for a man likes a business and a household of his own.
That would have been God's will, and I should not have said a word
against it. But to run off from the counting-house after sheep and cows,
and noblemen's families and Poles, when he was made so much of, and was
such a favorite here! Do you know what I call that, Mr. Baumann?" said
she, the bows on her cap shaking with her eagerness; "I call that
ungrateful. And what are we to do here? This house is getting quite
desolate. Fink gone, Jordan gone, Wohlfart gone, Pix gone--you are
almost the only one remaining of the old set, and you can't do every
thing."

"No," said Baumann, embarrassed; "and I, too, am very awkwardly placed.
I had fixed last autumn as the term of my stay here, and now spring is
coming on, and I have not followed the voice that calls me."

"Stuff and nonsense!" cried the cousin, in horror, "you are not going
away too?"

"I must," said Baumann, looking down; "I have had letters from my
English brethren; they blame my lukewarmness. I fear I have done very
wrong in not leaving you before; but when I looked at the heaps of
letters, and Mr. Schröter's anxious face, and thought what hard times
these were, and that the house had lost most of its best hands, I was
withheld. I too wish that Wohlfart would return; he is wanted here."

"He must return," cried the cousin; "it is his Christian duty. Write and
tell him so. Certainly we are not very cheerful here," said she,
confidentially; "he may have a pleasanter time of it yonder. The Poles
are a merry, riotous set."

"Alas!" replied Mr. Baumann, in the same confidential tone, "he does not
lead a merry life. I am afraid he has a hard time of it there; his
letters are by no means cheerful."

"You don't say so!" said the cousin, taking a chair.

Baumann drew his near her and went on.

"He writes anxiously; he takes a gloomy view of the times, and fears
fresh disturbances."

"God forbid!" cried the good woman; "we have had enough of them."

"He lives in an unsettled district, with bad men around, and the police
regulations seem to be quite inadequate."

"There are fearful dens of robbers there," chimed in the excited cousin.

"And I fear, too, that his earnings are but small. At first I sent him a
few trifles to which he is accustomed, such as tea and cigars, but in
his last letter he told me he was going to be economical, and to leave
them off. He must have very little money," continued Baumann, shaking
his head; "not more than two hundred dollars."

"He is in want," cried the cousin; "actually he is. Poor Wohlfart! When
you next write, we will send him a chest of the Pekoe tea, and a couple
of our hams."

"Hams to the country! I fancy there are more swine there than any thing
else."

"But they don't belong to him," cried she. "Listen to me, Mr. Baumann;
it is your Christian duty to write to him at once, and tell him to
return. The business wants him. I have the best reasons to know how much
my cousin Schröter is silently feeling the loss of his best coadjutors,
and how much he would rejoice to see Wohlfart back again."

This was a pious fraud of the good lady's.

"It does not appear so to me," interpolated Baumann.

"It was only to-day that my cousin Sabine said to her brother how dear
Wohlfart had been to us all, and how great a loss he was. If he has
duties yonder, he has duties here too, and these are the oldest."

"I will write to him," said Mr. Baumann; "but I fear, honored lady, that
it will be to no purpose, for, now that he himself is a loser by it, he
will never look back from the plow to which, for the sake of others, he
has put his hand."

"He does not belong to the plow, but to the pen," cried the cousin,
irritably, "and his place lies here. And because he gets a good name
here, and drinks his tea comfortably, he does his duty none the less.
And I tell you, too, Mr. Baumann, that I beg never to hear again of your
African notions."

Baumann smiled proudly. However, as soon as the cousin had left the
room, he obediently sat down and wrote off the whole conversation to
Anton.

The snow had melted away from the Polish estate; the brook had swollen
to a flood, the landscape still lay silent and colorless, but the sap
began to circulate in the branches, and the buds on the bushes to
appear. The ruinous bridge had been carried away by the winter torrents,
and Anton was now superintending the building of a new one. Lenore sat
opposite him, and watched his measurements. "The winter is over," cried
she; "spring is coming. I can already picture to myself green grass and
trees, and even the gloomy castle will look more cheerful in the bright
spring sunshine than it does now. But I will sketch it for you just as
it is, and it shall remind you of the first winter that we spent here
under your protection."

And Anton looked with shining eyes at the beautiful girl before him,
and, with the pencil in his hand, sketched her profile on a new board.
"You won't succeed," said Lenore; "you always make my mouth too large
and my eyes too small. Give me the pencil; I can do better. Stand
still. Look! that is your face--your good, true face; I know it by
heart. Hurrah! the postman!" cried she, throwing away the pencil and
hurrying to the castle. Anton followed her; for the postman and his
heavy bag were to the castle as a ship steering through the sandy deep,
and bringing the world's good things to the dwellers on a lonely island.
The man was soon relieved from his burden. Lenore gladly caught up the
drawing-paper that she had ordered from Rosmin. "Come, Wohlfart, we will
look out the best place for sketching the castle, and you shall hang up
the picture in your room instead of the old one, which saddens me
whenever I see it. Once you sketched our home, now I will sketch it for
you. I will take great pains, and you shall see what I can do."

She had spoken joyously, but Anton had not heard a word she said. He had
torn open Baumann's letter, and as he read it his face reddened with
emotion. Slowly, thoughtfully, he turned away, went up to his room, and
came down no more. Lenore snatched up the envelope, which he had
dropped. "Another letter from his friend in the firm!" said she, sadly;
"whenever he hears from him, he becomes gloomy and cold toward me." She
threw away the envelope, and hurried to the stable to saddle her trusty
friend the pony.



CHAPTER XXXII.


It was the weekly market in the little town of Rosmin. From time
immemorial this had been an important festival to the country people
around.

For five days of the week the peasant had to cultivate his plot, of
ground, or to render feudal service to his landlord, and on Sunday his
heart was divided between the worship of the Virgin, his family, and the
public house; but the market-day led him beyond the narrow confines of
his fields into the busy world. There, amid strangers, he could feel and
show himself a shrewd man in buying and selling; he greeted
acquaintances whom else he would never have met; saw new things and
strange people, and heard the news of other towns and districts. So it
had been even when the Slavonic race alone possessed the soil. Then the
site where Rosmin now stands was an open field, with perhaps a chapel or
a few old trees, and the house of some sagacious landed proprietor, who
saw farther than the rest of his long-bearded countrymen. At that time
the German peddler used to cross the border with his wagon and his
attendants, and to display his stores under the protection of a crucifix
or of a drawn Slavonic sword. These stores consisted of gay
handkerchiefs, stockings, necklaces of glass and coral, pictures of
saints and ecclesiastical decorations, which were given in exchange for
the produce of the district--wolf-skins, honey, cattle, and corn. In
course of time the handicraftsman followed the peddler, the German
shoemaker, the tinsmith, and the saddler established themselves; the
tents changed into strongly-built houses that stood around the
market-place. The foreign settlers bought land, bought privileges from
the original lords of the soil, and copied in their statutes those of
German towns in general. In the woods and on the commons round, it was
told with wonder how rapidly those men of a foreign tongue had grown up
into a large community, and how every peasant who passed through their
gate must pay toll; nay, that even the nobleman, all-powerful as he was,
must pay it as well. Several of the Poles around joined lots with the
citizens, and settled among them as mechanics or shopkeepers. This had
been the origin of Rosmin, as of many other German towns on foreign
soil, and these have remained what at first they were, the markets of
the great plains, where Polish produce is still exchanged for the
inventions of German industry, and the poor field-laborer brought into
contact with other men, with culture, liberty, and a civilized state.

As we have before said, the market-day at Rosmin is a great day still.
From early dawn hundreds of basket-carriages, filled with field-produce,
move on toward the town, but the serf no longer whips on the used-up
chargers of his master, but his own sturdy horse of German breed. And
when the light carriage of a nobleman rolls by, the peasant urges his
horse to a sharper trot, and only slightly touches his hat. Every where
they are moving on toward the town: the children are driving their geese
thither, and the women carrying their butter, fruit, and mushrooms, and,
carefully concealed, a hare or two that has fallen a victim to their
husbands' guns. Numbers of carts stand at the door of every inn, and
crowds are pushing in and out of every drinking-shop. In the
market-place the corn-wagons are closely ranged, and the whole wide
space covered with well-filled sacks, and horses of every size and
color; and a few brokers are winding their way, like so many eels, among
the crowd, with samples of grain in each pocket, asking and answering in
two languages at once. Amid the white smock frocks of the Poles, and
their hats adorned with a peacock's feather, the dark blue of the German
colonists appears, together with soldiers from the next garrison,
townspeople, agriculturists, and fine youths, sons of the nobility. You
may see the gendarme yonder at the corner of the square, towering high
on his tall horse; he, too, is excited to-day, and his voice sounds
authoritatively above all the confusion of the carts that have stopped
up the way. Every where the shops are opened wide, and small dealers
spread out their wares on tables and barrels in front of the houses;
there the bargains are deliberately made, and the enjoyment of shopping
is keenly felt. The last purchase over, the next move is into the
tavern. There, cheeks get redder, gestures more animated, voices louder,
friends embrace, or old foes try hard to pick a quarrel. Meanwhile men
of business have to make the most of this day, when actions are brought
and taxes paid. Now it is that Mr. Löwenberg drives his best bargains,
not only in swine, but in cows and wool; besides which, he lends money,
and is the trusted agent of many a landed proprietor. So passes the
market-day, in ceaseless talking and enjoyment, earning and spending,
rolling of carts and galloping of horses, till evening closes in, and
the housewife pulls her husband by the coat, remembering that the
earthen mugs he carries are easily broken, and that the little children
at home are beginning to cry out for their mother. Such has ever been
the weekly market in the town of Rosmin.

During the last winter the numbers attending it had not decreased, but
there was a degree of restlessness to be observed in many, particularly
in the gentry of the district. Strangers of military appearance often
entered the principal wine-shop, and went into the back room, of which
the door was at once shut. Youths wearing square red caps, and
peculiarly attired, walked in and out among the crowd, tapping one
peasant on the shoulder, calling another by name, and taking them into a
corner apart.

Wherever a soldier appeared, he was looked at as a character in a
masquerade; many avoided him; many, Germans and Poles alike, made more
of him than ever. In the taverns, the people from the German villages
sat apart, and the Poles on Herr von Tarow's estate drank and bought
more than they were wont to do. The tenant of the new farm had been
unable, last market-day, to find a new scythe any where in the town, and
the forester had complained to Anton that he could not in any shop get
powder enough to last him more than a week. Something was in the wind,
but no one would say what it was.

It was market-day again at Rosmin, and Anton drove thither, accompanied
by a servant. It was one of the first spring days, and the sun shone
brightly, reminding him how gay the gardens must now be with early
flowers, and that he and the ladies in the castle would see none this
year, save a few, perhaps, from the little farm garden behind the barn.
But, indeed, it was no time to care much for flowers; everywhere men's
hearts were restless and excited, and much that had stood firm for years
now seemed to totter. A political hurricane was blowing over wide
districts; every day the newspapers related something unexpected and
alarming; a time of commotion and universal insecurity seemed impending.
Anton thought of the baron's circumstances, and what a misfortune it
would be to him should land fall in value, and money rise. He thought of
the firm, of the place in the office which he secretly still considered
his own, and of the letter written by Mr. Baumann, telling him how
gloomy the principal looked, and how quarrelsome the clerks had become.

He was roused out of his sorrowful reverie by a noise on the road. A
number of gentlemen's carriages drove past him, Herr von Tarowski
occupying the first, and politely bowing as he passed. Anton was
surprised to see that his huntsman sat on the box as if they were going
to the chase. Three other carriages followed, heavily laden with
gentlemen; and behind came a whole troop of mounted men, Von Tarow's
German steward among them.

"Jasch," cried Anton to the servant who drove him, "what was it that the
gentlemen in the second carriage were so careful to hide as they drove
by?"

"Guns," said Jasch, shaking his head.

This sunny day, after so long a period of snow and rain, naturally
attracted people from all sides of the town. Parties of them hurried
forward, but few women were among them, and there was a degree of
excitement and animation prevailing that was in general only displayed
when returning in the evening. Anton halted at the first public house on
the way, and told the driver to remain there with the horses.

He himself walked rapidly on through the gate. The town was so crowded
that the carts of grain could hardly make their way along. When Anton
reached the market-place he was struck with the scene before him. On all
sides heated faces, eager gestures, not a few in hunting costume, and a
strange cockade on numerous caps. The crowd was densest before the
wine-merchant's store; there the people trode on one another, staring up
at the windows, from whence hung gayly-colored flags, the Polish colors
above the rest. While Anton was looking with disquietude at the front of
the house, the door was opened, and Herr von Tarow came out upon the
stone steps, accompanied by a stranger with a scarf bound round him, in
whom Anton recognized the same Pole who had once threatened him with a
court-martial, and who had been inquiring for the steward a few months
ago. A young man sprang out of the crowd on to the lowest step, saying
something in Polish, and waving his hat. A loud shout rose in return,
and then came a profound silence, during which Von Tarow spoke a few
words, the import of which Anton could not catch, owing to the noise of
carts and the pushing of the crowd. Next, the gentleman with the scarf
made a long oration, during which he was often interrupted by loud
applause. At the end of it, a deafening tumult arose. The house door was
thrown wide open, and the crowd swayed to and fro like the waves of the
sea, some rushing off in another direction, and others running into the
house, whence they hurried back with cockades on their caps and scythes
in their hands. The number of the armed went on rapidly increasing, and
small detachments of scythe-bearers, headed by men with guns, proceeded
to invest the market-place.

Hearing the word of command given behind him, Anton turned, and saw a
few men mounted and armed, who were ordering all the wagons to be
removed from the market-place. The noise and confusion increased, the
peasants dragging off their horses in all haste, the traders flying into
the houses with their stores, the shops being gradually closed. The
market-place soon presented an ominous appearance. Anton was now swept
off by the crowd to its opposite side, where the custom-house stood,
made conspicuous from afar by the national escutcheon suspended near the
windows. That was now the point of attraction, and Anton saw from a
distance a man plant a ladder against the wall, and hack away at the
escutcheon till, amid profound silence, it fell to the ground. Soon,
however a drunken rabble fell upon it with wild yells, and, tying a rope
about it, ignominiously dragged it through the gutter and over the
stones.

Anton was beside himself. "Wretches!" cried he, running toward the
offenders. But a strong arm was thrown around him, and a broken voice
said, "Stop, Mr. Wohlfart, this is their day; to-morrow will be ours."
Dashing away the unwelcome restraint, Anton saw the portly form of the
Neudorf bailiff, and found himself surrounded by a number of
dark-looking figures. These were the blue-coated German farmers, their
faces full of grief and anger. "Let me go!" cried Anton, in a phrensy.
But again the heavy hand of the bailiff was laid on his shoulder, and
tears were in the man's eyes as he said, "Spare your life, Mr. Wohlfart;
it is all in vain; we have nothing but our fists, and we are the
minority." And, on the other side, his hand was grasped as if in a vice
by the old forester, who stood there groaning and sobbing: "That ever I
should live to see this day! Oh, the shame, the shame!" Again there rose
a yell nearer them, and a voice cried, "Search the Germans; take their
arms from them; let no one leave the market-place!" Anton looked round
him hastily. "This we will not stand, friends, to be trapped here in a
German town, and to have our escutcheon outraged by those miscreants."

A drum was heard at a distance. "It is the drum of the guard," cried the
bailiff; "the town militia are assembling: they have arms."

"Perhaps all may not be lost yet," cried Anton; "I know a few men who
are to be relied upon. Compose yourself, old friend," said he to the
forester. "The Germans from the country must be enlisted; no one knows
yet what we can do. We will, at all events, disperse in different
directions, and reassemble at the fountain here. Let each go and call
his acquaintances together. No time is to be lost. You go in that
direction, bailiff; you, smith of Kunau, come with me." They divided;
and Anton, followed by the forester and the smith, went once more round
the market-place. Wherever they met a German there was a glance, a
hurried hand-clasp, a whispered word--"The Germans assemble at the
fountain;" and these spirited up the irresolute to join their
countrymen.

Anton and his companions paused for a moment in the midst of the dense
crowd around the wine-merchant's. About fifty men with scythes stood
before the house, near them a dozen more with guns; the doors were
still open, and people were still going in to get arms. Some young
gentlemen were addressing the crowd, but Anton remarked that the Polish
peasants did not keep their ranks, and looked doubtfully at each other.
While the forester and the smith were giving the sign to the Germans, of
whom many were assembled, Anton rushed up to a little man in working
garments, and, seizing him by the arm, said, "Locksmith Grobesch, you
standing here? Why do you not hasten to our meeting-place? You a citizen
and one of the militia, will you put up with this insult?"

"Alas! Mr. Agent," said the locksmith, taking Anton apart, "what a
misfortune! Only think, I was hammering away in my workshop, and heard
nothing of what was going on. One can't hear much at our work. Then my
wife ran in--"

"Are you going to put up with this insult?" cried Anton, shaking him
violently.

"God forbid, Mr. Wohlfart; I head a band of militia. While my wife
looked out my coat, I just ran over the way to see how many of them
there were. You are taller than I; how many are there carrying arms?"

"I count fifty scythes," replied Anton, hurriedly.

"It is not the scythes; they are a cowardly set; how many guns are
there?"

"A dozen before the door, and perhaps as many more in the house."

"We have about thirty rifles," said the little man, anxiously, "but we
can't count upon them all to-day."

"Can you get us arms?" asked Anton.

"But few," said the locksmith, shaking his head.

"There is a band of us Germans from the country," said Anton, rapidly;
"we will fight our way into the suburb as far as the Red Deer Inn, and
there I will keep the people together, and, for God's sake, send us a
patrol to report the state of things, and the number of arms you can
procure. If we can eject the nobles, the others will run away at once."

"But then the revenge these Poles will take!" said the locksmith. "The
town will have to pay for it."

"No such thing, my man. The military can be sent for to-morrow, if you
but help to eject these madmen to-day. Off with you; each moment
increases the danger."

He drove the little man away, and hurried back to the fountain. There
the Germans were assembled in small groups, and the Neudorf bailiff
came to meet him, crying, "There's no time to lose; the others are
beginning to notice us; there is a party of scythes forming yonder
against us."

"Follow me!" cried Anton, in a loud voice; "draw close; forward! let's
leave the town."

The forester sprang from side to side, marshaling the men; Anton and the
bailiff led the way. As they reached the corner of the market-place,
scythes were crossed; and the leader of the party cocked his gun, and
said theatrically, "Why do you wish to leave, my fine sir? Take arms, ye
people; to-day is the day of liberty!"

He said no more, for the forester, springing forward, gave him such an
astounding box on the ear that he reeled and fell, his gun dropping from
his hand. A loud cry arose; the forester caught up the gun, and the
scythe-bearers, taken by surprise, were dashed aside, their scythes
taken from them, and broken on the pavement. Thus the German band
reached the gates, and there, too, the enemy yielded, and the dense mass
passed on unmolested till they reached the inn appointed. There the
bailiff, urged on by Anton, addressed the people:

"There is a plot against the government. There is a plot against us
Germans. Our armed enemies are few, and we have just seen that we can
manage them. Let every orderly man remain here, and help the citizens to
drive out the strangers. The town militia will send us word how we can
best do this, therefore remain together, countrymen!"

At these words, many cried "We will! we will!" but many, too, grew
fearful, and stole away home. Those who remained looked out for arms as
best they could, taking up pitchforks, bars of iron, wooden cudgels, or
whatever else lay ready to hand.

"I came here to buy powder and shot," said the forester to Anton. "Now I
have a gun, and I will fire my very last charge, if we can only revenge
the insult they have offered to our eagle."

Meanwhile the hours passed as usual at the castle, and it was now about
noon. The baron, accompanied by his wife, walked in the sunshine,
grumbling because the molehills against which his foot tripped were not
yet leveled. This led him to the conclusion that there was no reliance
to be placed upon hired dependents of any kind; and that Wohlfart was
the most forgetful of his class. On this theme he enlarged with a kind
of gloomy satisfaction, the baroness only contradicting him as far as
she could without putting him out of temper. At last he sat down on a
chair that one of the servants carried after him, and quietly listened
to his daughter, who was discussing with Karl the best site for a small
plantation. No one thought of mischief, and each one was occupied with
things immediately around him.

Then came the rumor of some great disaster, flying on wings of evil omen
over the wide plain. It swooped down on the baron's oasis, heavily
fluttered over pines and wild pear-trees, corn-fields and meadows, till
it reached the castle. At first it was indistinct, like a little cloud
on a sunny sky; but soon it grew, it darkened the air, it brooded with
its black pinions over all hearts--it made the blood stand still in the
veins, and filled the eyes with burning tears.

In the middle of his work, Karl suddenly looked up, and said in dismay,
"That was a shot."

Lenore started, then laughed at her own terror. "I did not hear it,"
said she; "perhaps it was the forester."

"The forester is gone to town," replied Karl, gravely.

"Then it is some confounded poacher in the wood," cried the baron,
angrily.

"It was a cannon shot," maintained the positive Karl.

"That is impossible," said the baron; but he himself listened with
intense attention; "there are no cannon for many miles round."

The next moment a voice sounded out from the farm-yard, "There is a fire
in Rosmin."

Karl looked at his young lady, threw down his spade, and ran toward the
farm-yard. Lenore followed him.

"Who said that there was a fire in Rosmin?" he inquired. Not one would
own that he had, but all ran in dismay to the high road, though the town
was six miles off, and no view of it was to be had from thence.

"Many scared women have been running along toward Neudorf," said one
servant; and another added, "There must be mischief going on in Rosmin,
for we can see the smoke rise above the wood." All thought, indeed, that
they did perceive a dark cloud in that direction, Karl as well as the
rest.

"The nobles are all there to-day," cried one. "They have set the town on
fire." Another professed to have heard from a man in the fields that
this was to be a serious day for landed proprietors; then, looking
askance at Karl, he added, "Many things may yet happen before evening."
Next came the landlord, exclaiming, "If this day were but over!" and
Karl returned, "Would that it were!" yet no one knew exactly why.

From that hour, fresh messengers of ill succeeded each other. "The
soldiers and the Poles are fighting," said one. "Kunau is on fire too,"
cried some women who had been working in the fields. At last came the
farmer's wife, running up to Lenore. "My husband sends me because he
won't leave the farm on a day like this. He wishes to know whether you
have any tidings of the forester; there is murder going on in the town,
and people say the forester is shooting away in the midst of it all."

"Who says so?" asked the baron.

"One who came running across the fields told it to my husband; and it
must be true that there is an uproar in the town, for when the forester
went thither he had no gun."

Thus the dark rumor spread. Karl had much difficulty in getting the men
out again to their plowing. Lenore meantime went up to the tower with
him, but they could not be positive whether or not there was smoke in
the direction of Rosmin. They had scarcely got down, when one of the
farmer's servants came back with his horses to say that a man from the
next district had told him, as he galloped past, that Rosmin was filled
with men bearing red flags, and armed with scythes; and that all the
Germans in the country were to be shot. The baroness wrung her hands and
began to weep, and her husband lost all the self-command he had sought
to exercise. He burst out into loud complaints against Wohlfart for not
being on the spot on a day like this, and gave Karl a dozen
contradictory orders in quick succession. Lenore could not endure her
suspense within the castle walls, but kept as much as she could with
Karl, in whose trusty face she found more comfort than in any thing
else. Both looked constantly along the high road to see if a carriage or
a messenger were coming.

"He is peaceable," said she to Karl, hoping for confirmation from him.
"Surely he would never expose himself to such fearful risk."

But Karl shook his head. "There is no trusting to that. If things in the
town are as people say, Mr. Anton will not be the last to take a hand in
them. He will not think of himself."

"No, that he will not," cried Lenore, wringing her hands.

So the day passed. Karl sternly insisted upon keeping all the servants
together, he himself shouldering his carbine, not knowing why, and
saddling a horse to tie it up again in the stable. At evening the
landlord came running to the castle, accompanied by a servant from the
distillery. As soon as he saw the young lady, the good-natured man
called out, "Here are tidings, dreadful tidings, of Mr. Wohlfart."

Lenore ran forward, and the servant began to give a confused report of
the horrors of the day in Rosmin. He had seen the Poles and Germans
about to fire at each other in the market-place, and Anton was marching
at the head of the latter.

"I knew that," cried Karl, proudly.

The servant went on to say that he had run off just as all the Poles had
taken aim at the gentleman. Whether he were alive or dead, he could not
exactly say, owing to his terror at the time, but he fully believed that
the gentleman must be dead.

Lenore leaned against the wall, Karl tore his hair in distraction.
"Saddle the pony," said Lenore, in a smothered voice.

"You are not thinking of going yourself at night through the wood all
the way to the town?" cried Karl.

The brave girl hurried toward the stable without answering him; Karl
barred the way. "You must not. The baroness would die with anxiety about
you, and what could you do among those raging men yonder?"

Lenore stood still. "Then go for him," said she, half unconscious;
"bring him to us, alive or dead."

"Can I leave you alone on a day like this?" cried Karl, beside himself.

Lenore snatched his carbine from him. "Go, if you love him. I will mount
guard in your stead."

Karl rushed to the farm-yard, got out his horse, and galloped off along
the Rosmin road. The sound of the horse's hoofs soon died away, and all
was still. Lenore paced up and down before the castle walls; her friend
was in mortal peril, perhaps lost; and the fault was hers, for she had
brought him hither. She called to mind in her despair all that he had
been to her and to her parents. To live on in this solitude without him
seemed impossible. Her mother sent for her, her father called to her out
of the window, but she paid no attention. Every other feeling was merged
in the realization of the pure and sincere attachment that had existed
between her and him she had lost.

To return to Rosmin, Anton and his party had remained for about half an
hour in expectation before the Red Deer. The frightened market-people
kept pouring by, on their way to their village homes; many of them,
indeed, passed on, but many, too, remained with their countrymen, and
even several Poles went up to Anton and asked whether they could be of
use to him. At length came the locksmith, by a back way, in his green
uniform and epaulette, followed by some of the town militia.

Anton rushed up to see how things were going on.

"There are eighteen of us," said the locksmith, "all safe men. The
people in the market-place are dispersing, and those in the wine-store
are not much stronger than before. Our captain is as brave as a lion. If
you will help him, he is prepared to try a bold stroke. We can get into
Löwenberg's house from behind. I made the lock on the back door myself.
If we manage cleverly, we can surprise the leaders of the insurrection,
and take them and their arms."

"We must attack them both in front and in the rear," replied Anton.
"Then we shall be sure of them."

"Yes," said the locksmith, a little crestfallen, "if you and your party
will attack them in front."

"We have no arms," cried Anton. "I will go with you, and so will the
forester and a few more, perhaps; but an unarmed band against scythes
and a dozen guns is out of the question."

"Look you, now," said the worthy locksmith; "it comes hard to us, too.
Those who have just left wives and children in their first alarm are not
much inclined to make targets of themselves. Our people are full of
good-will, but those men yonder are desperate, and therefore let us get
in quietly from behind. If we can surprise them, there will be the less
bloodshed, and that's the chief thing. I have got no arms, only a sword
for you."

The party accordingly set off in silence, the locksmith leading the way.
"Our men are assembled in the captain's house," said he; "we can enter
it through the garden without being seen."

At length, having got over hedges and ditches, they found themselves in
the court-yard of a dyer.

"Wait here," said the locksmith, with some disquietude. "The dyer is one
of us militiamen. His house door opens upon the back street, which takes
into Löwenberg's court-yard: I am going to the captain."

The party had only a few minutes to wait before they were joined by the
militia. The captain, a portly butcher, requested Anton to join forces
and walk by his side. They moved on to the back entrance of Löwenberg's
house, saw that the gate was neither locked nor guarded, and the court
empty. They halted for a moment, and the forester proposed his plan.

"We are more than are wanted in the house," said he. "Hard by there is a
broad cross-street leading to the market. Let me have the drummer, a few
of the militia, and half of the country people. We will run to the
market-place and invest the opening of the cross-street, shouting
loudly. Those in front of the house will be diverted thither: meanwhile,
you can force an entrance and take them prisoners. As soon as you hear
the drum, let the captain rush through the court into the house and make
fast the door."

"I approve the plan," said the burly captain, his blood thoroughly up;
"only be quick about it."

The forester took six of the militia, beckoned to the bailiff and to
some of the country people, and went quietly down the side street. Soon
the beating of a drum was heard, and loud hurrahs. At that signal all
rushed through the court, the captain and Anton waving their swords, and
found themselves inside the house before any one was aware of them, for
all were looking out at door and window on the other side.

"Hurrah!" cried the captain; "we have them," catching hold of one of the
gentlemen. "Not one shall escape. Close the door!" he cried, and he held
his victim fast by the collar like a cow by its horns. Ten strong men
closed and locked the house door, so that all the more zealous of the
enemy who were standing on the steps found themselves shut out. Next
some of the band rushed up stairs, and the others spread themselves over
the ground floor. All the conspirators on that floor, however, jumped
out through the window, so that the Germans took nothing but a list of
names, a quantity of scythes, and half a dozen guns belonging to the
nobles. These the locksmith caught up, and ran, together with Anton and
a few others, to join the forester's detachment, which they found in a
critical position.

The beat of the drums and the shouting, together with the attack made
simultaneously upon the house, had thrown the enemy into confusion. The
men with scythes were standing about in disorder, while the bearer of
the scarf, himself unarmed, was busy trying to rally them. On the other
hand, all such as had guns--stewards, huntsmen, and a few young men of
rank, had marched against the forester's party. Both bands halted with
weapons raised, kept back for a moment by the thought of the fearful
consequences that must follow the word of command. At that moment, Anton
and the valiant locksmith joined them, and the guns they brought were
dispensed quick as lightning. A bloody conflict on the pavement now
seemed unavoidable.

Just then a loud voice sounded from the window of the wine-store.
"Brothers, we have them. Here is the prisoner. It is Herr von Tarow
himself." All lowered their guns and listened. The captain showed his
prisoner, who made no fruitless struggles to escape from his awkward
situation, "And now," went on the orator, "listen to my words: all the
windows of this house are invested; all the streets are invested; and as
soon as I lift my finger you'll all be shot down dead."

"Hurrah, captain!" cried a voice from a house in the middle of the
market-place, while the shopkeeper dwelling there projected his duck-gun
from one of the windows of the first floor, the apothecary and
post-master soon doing the same.

"Good-morning, gentlemen," cried the butcher, pleasantly, to these
unexpected recruits. "You see, good people, that your resistance is
vain, so throw away your scythes, or you are all dead men." A number of
scythes clattered on the pavement.

"And as for you, gentlemen," continued the captain, "you shall be
allowed to depart unmolested, if you give up your arms; but if any of
you make any resistance, this man's blood be upon your heads." So
saying, he caught hold of Tarowski by the head, and, holding it out of
the window, drew a great knife. Throwing down its sheath into the
street, he waved it so ferociously round the prisoner's head that the
worthy butcher seemed for the moment transformed into a very cannibal.

Then the forester cried, "Hurrah! we have them! March, my friends." The
drummer thundered away, and the Germans charged. The Poles fell into
disorder, some random shots were fired on both sides, then the rebels
took to flight, pursued by their enemies. Many sought refuge in the
houses, others ran out of the town; while, on the other hand, armed
citizens began to present themselves, and the dilatory members of the
militia corps now joined the rest. The captain made over his prisoner to
a few trusty men, and, waving off the congratulations that poured in
upon him, cried, "Duty before all. We have now to lock and invest the
gates. Where is the captain of our allies?"

Anton stepped forward. "Comrade," said the butcher, with a military
salute, "I propose that we muster our men and appoint the watches."

This was done, and those belonging to Rosmin were proud of their
numbers. The national arms, washed clean and decorated by many busy
feminine hands with the first flowers of the town gardens, were solemnly
raised to their former place, all the men marching by them and
presenting arms, while patriotic acclamations were raised by hundreds of
throats.

Anton stood on one side, and when he saw the spring flowers on the
escutcheon, he remembered having doubted in the morning whether he
should see any flowers that year. Now their colors were gleaming out
brightly on the shield of his fatherland. But what a day this had been
to him!

Much against his will, he was summoned to the council convened to take
measures for the public safety. Ere long he had a pen in his hand, and
was writing, at the long green table, a report of the events of the day
to the authorities. Prompt steps were taken: messengers were sent off to
the next military station; the houses of the suspected searched; such of
the country people as were willing to remain till the evening billeted
in different houses. Patrols were sent out in all directions, a few
prisoners examined, and information as to the state of the surrounding
district collected. Discouraging tidings poured in on all sides. Bands
of Poles from several villages round were said to be marching on the
town. An insurrection had been successful in the next circle, and the
town was in the hands of a set of Polish youths. There were tales of
plunder, and of incendiarism too, and fearful rumors of an intended
general massacre of the Germans. The faces of the men of Rosmin grew
long again; their present triumph gave way to fears for the future. Some
timid souls were for making a compromise with Herr von Tarow, but the
warlike spirit of the majority prevailed, and it was determined to pass
the night under arms, and hold the town against all invaders till the
military should arrive.

By this time it was evening. Anton, alarmed at the numerous reports of
plundering going on in the open country, left the town council, and sent
the bailiff to collect all the Germans of their immediate district to
march home together. When they reached the wooden bridge at the
extremity of the suburb, the townsmen who had accompanied them thither
with beat of drum and loud hurrahs took a brotherly leave of their
country allies.

"Your carriage is the last that shall pass to-day," said the locksmith;
"we will break up the pavement of the bridge, and station a sentinel
here. I thank you in the name of the town and of the militia. If bad
times come, as we have reason to fear, we Germans will ever hold
together."

"That shall be our rallying cry," called out the bailiff; and all the
country people shouted their assent.

On their homeward way Anton and his associates fell into earnest
conversation. All felt elated at the part they had that day played, but
no one attempted to disguise from himself that this was but a beginning
of evils. "What is to become of us in the country?" said the bailiff.
"The men in the town have their stout walls, and live close together;
but we are exposed to the revenge of every rascal; and if half a dozen
vagabonds with guns come into the village, it is all over with us."

"True," said Anton, "we can not guard ourselves against large troops,
and each individual must just take the chances of war; but large troops,
under regular command, are not what we have most to fear. The worst are
bands of rabble, who get together to burn and plunder, and henceforth we
must take measures to defend ourselves against these. Stay at home
to-morrow, bailiff, and you, smith of Kunau, and send for the other
Germans round, on whom we can depend. I will ride over to-morrow morning
early, and we will hold a consultation."

By this time they had reached the cross-way, and there the two divisions
parted, and hurried home in different directions.

Anton got into the carriage, and took the forester with him, to help
watch the castle through the night. In the middle of the wood they were
stopped by a loud cry of "Halt! who goes there?"

"Karl!" exclaimed Anton, joyfully.

"Hurrah! hurrah! he is alive," cried Karl, in ecstasy. "Are you unhurt
too?"

"That I am; what news from the castle?"

Now began a rapid interchange of question and answer. "To think that I
was not with you!" cried Karl, again and again.

Arrived at the castle, a bright form flew up to the carriage. "You,
lady!" cried Anton, springing out.

"Dear Wohlfart!" cried Lenore, seizing both his hands.

For a moment she hid her face on his shoulder, and her tears fell fast.
Anton grasped her hand firmly, while he said, "A fearful time is coming.
I have thought of you all day."

"Now that we have you again," said Lenore, "I can bear it all; but come
at once to my father; he is dying with impatience." She drew him up the
stairs.

The baron opened the door, and cried out, "What news do you bring?"

"News of war, baron," replied Anton, gravely; "the most hideous of all
wars--war between neighbor and neighbor. The country is in open revolt."



CHAPTER XXXIII.


The baron's estate lay in a corner of the Rosmin circle. Behind the
forest, to the north, was the German village of Neudorf, and farther
off, to the east, that of Kunau.

Both these spots were separated by a wide expanse of sand and heath from
any Polish proprietors, Herr von Tarow being the nearest. To the west
and south of the estate the country was inhabited by a mixed population;
but the Germans there were strong, rich freeholders and large farmers
having settled among the Slavonic race. Beyond Kunau and Neudorf, to the
north, there was a Polish district peopled by small freeholders, for the
most part in very reduced circumstances, and over head and ears in debt.

"It is on that side that our greatest danger lies," said the baron to
Anton on the morning after the memorable market-day. "The villagers are
our natural outposts. If you can induce the people to establish a
systematic watch, let it be on the north; we will then try to maintain a
regular communication with them. Do not forget the beacons and places of
rendezvous. As you are already on such friendly terms with the rustics,
you will be able to manage that part of the business best. Meanwhile, I
shall drive, accompanied by young Sturm, to the next circle, and try to
come to the same understanding with the landed gentry there."

Accordingly, Anton rode off to Neudorf. There he found that fresh evil
tidings had arrived in the night; some German villages had been
surprised by armed bands, the houses searched for arms, and many young
people dragged away. No one was working in the fields at Neudorf. The
men sat in the bar of the public house, or stood about without any
purpose, every hour expecting an attack.

Anton's horse was immediately surrounded by a dense crowd, and in a few
minutes the bailiff had gathered the whole population together. Anton
proceeded to state what might be done to guard the village against the
danger of a sudden surprise; for instance, he advised the calling out of
a regular peasant militia, sentinels on the road along the border,
patrols, a rallying-place in the village, and other precautions which
the baron had pointed out. "In this way," said he, "you will be able to
procure our help in a short time, to defend yourselves against a weak
foe, or to summon the military to your aid against a strong. In this way
you will save your wives and children, your household goods, and,
perhaps, your cattle from plunder and ill treatment. It will be no small
labor, indeed, to keep watch thus night and day, but your village is a
large one. Perhaps these measures will soon be enjoined by the
government, but it is safer for all not to wait for that."

His pressing representations and the authority of the intelligent
bailiff brought the community to a unanimous resolve. The young men of
the village took up the matter eagerly, many professing themselves ready
to buy a gun; and the women began to pack up their most valuable effects
in chests and bundles.

From Neudorf, Anton went on to Kunau, where similar regulations were
made; and finally it was arranged that the young men of both villages
should come every Sunday afternoon to the baron's estate to be drilled.

When Anton returned to the castle, the existing means of defense on the
estate itself had to be taken into consideration. A martial fever
prevailed in the German colony: all were affected by it, even the most
peaceful: the shepherd and his dog Crambo, who had, by night patrols,
sentinels, and other disturbances, been worked up to such a state of
excitement that he took to flying at the legs of all strangers--an act
he had often rebuked in his young associate. All thoughts turned on
weapons of warfare and means of defense. Alas! the mood of mind was all
that could be desired, but the forces were very small. To make up for
that, the staff was a distinguished one. First of all, there was the
baron--an invalid, it is true, but great in theory; then Karl and the
forester, as respective leaders of the cavalry and infantry; while Anton
was not to be despised in the commissariat and fortification department.

The baron now left his room each day to hold a council of war. He
superintended the drill, heard reports from surrounding districts, and
sent off messengers to the German circles. A remnant of military ardor
lit up his face. He good-humoredly rallied the baroness about her fears,
spoke words of encouragement to his German tenantry, and threatened to
have all the evil-disposed in the village locked up at once, and kept on
bread and water. It was touching to all to see how the blind man stood
erect, musket in hand, to show certain niceties of manipulation to the
forester, and then bent his ear down to ascertain whether the latter had
thoroughly acquired them. Even Anton put on something of a martial
panoply. He stuck a cockade in his cap; his voice assumed a tone of
military severity, and ever since the Rosmin day he took to wearing an
immense pair of water-proof boots, and his step fell heavy on the stair.
He would have laughed at himself if any one had asked for what purpose
he gave this particular outward expression to his state of mind; but no
one did ask. It seemed natural and congruous to all, and especially to
Karl, who never himself appeared but in such remnants of his dress
uniform as he had carefully preserved, and who curled his mustache, and
sang military songs all day long. As the greatest danger was to be
apprehended from the lawless in their own village, he summoned all the
men who had once served, and, with the aid of the forester, who was
respected as a magician, made an impressive speech, addressed them as
comrades, drew his sword, and cried, "We military men will keep order
among the boors here." Then ordering a few quarts of brandy, he sang
wild martial songs in chorus with them, gave them new cockades, and
constituted them a species of militia. Thus, for a time at least, he
gained a hold over the better part of the population, and heard through
them of any conspiracy that was carried on in the tavern.

When the whole force of the estate was mustered before the castle walls,
the men stared in amazement at each other. They had all been
metamorphosed by the last few days. The agent looked like a wild man
from some outlandish swamp, where he daily stood up to the hips in
water. Those from the new farm resembled forms of a vanished era. The
forester, with his close-cut hair, long beard, and weather-beaten coat,
looked an old mercenary of Wallenstein's army, who had been asleep in
the forest depths for two hundred years, and now reappeared on the
stage, violence and cruelty being again in the ascendant. The shepherd
marched next to him, resembling a pious Hussite, with the broad brim of
his round hat hanging low on his shoulders, a stout leathern girdle
round his loins, and in his hand a long crook, to which he had fastened
a bright steel point. His phlegmatic face and thoughtful eyes made him
as strong a contrast as possible to the forester. All in all, the armed
force of the estate did not amount to more than twenty men;
consequently, it was very difficult to maintain any regular system of
watching, either in the castle or the village. Each individual, it was
plain, would have to make the greatest efforts, but none of them
complained.

The next step was to see to the securing of the castle--to protect it
from any nocturnal assault in the rear. Anton had a strong wooden fence
run up from one wing to another. Thus a tolerably large court-yard was
inclosed, and an open shed was roughly built on to the walls, to shelter
fugitives and horses, if need were. The windows of the lower story were
also strongly boarded; and as all the entrances were on this side of the
house, strangers were allowed as little ingress as possible. The well
that supplied the castle lay outside the fence, between the farm-yard
and the castle: on which account, a large water-butt was made and filled
each morning.

Next came tidings from Rosmin. The locksmith appeared, after being
repeatedly sent for, to strengthen bolts and bars. He brought with him
military greetings from the militia, and the fact that a company of
infantry had entered the town. "But there are but few of them," said he,
"and we militiamen have severe duty."

"And what have you done with your prisoners?" inquired Anton.

The locksmith scratched his ear and twitched his cap as he answered in a
crestfallen tone: "So you have not yet heard? The very first night came
a message from the enemy to the effect that if we did not give up the
nobleman at once, they would march upon us with their whole force and
set fire to our barns. I opposed the measure, and so did our captain;
but every one who had a barn raised an outcry, and the end of it was
that the town had to come to terms with Von Tarow. He gave his word that
he and his would undertake nothing further against us, and then we took
him over the bridge and let him go."

"So he is free, false man that he is!" cried Anton, in indignation.

"Yes, indeed," said the locksmith; "he is on his estate again, and has a
number of young gentlemen about him. They ride with their cockades over
the fields just as they did before. Tarowski is a cunning man, who can
open every castle door with a stroke of a pen, and get on with every
one. There's no reaching him."

Of course, farming suffered from these warlike preparations. Anton
insisted, indeed, upon what was absolutely necessary being done, but he
felt that a time was come when anxiety about individual profit and loss
vanished before graver terrors. The rumors, which grew daily more
threatening, kept him, and those around him, in ever-increasing
excitement; and at last they fell into a habitual state of feverish
suspense, in which the future was looked forward to with reckless
indifference, and the discomforts of the present endured as matter of
course.

But more strongly than on any of the men around did this general fever
seize upon Lenore. Since the day that she had waited for the absent
Anton, she had seemed to begin a new life. Her mother mourned and
despaired, but the daughter's young heart beat high against the storm,
and the excitement was to her a wild enjoyment, to which she gave
herself up, heart and soul. She was out of doors the whole day long,
whatever the weather, and at the tavern door as often as the worst
drunkard in the village, for each day the landlord and his wife had
something new to tell her. Ever since Karl had mounted his hussar coat,
she treated him with the familiarity of a comrade, and when he held a
consultation with the forester, her fair head was put together with
theirs. The three spent many an hour in council of war in Karl's room or
in the farm-yard, the men listening with reverence to her courageous
suggestions, and requesting her opinion as to whether Ignatz, Gottlieb,
or Blasius from the village deserved to be trusted with a gun. It was in
vain that the baroness remonstrated with her martial daughter; in vain
that Anton tried to check her ardor; for, the greater his own, the more
the mood displeased him in the young lady. Again, she struck him as too
vehement and bold; nor did he disguise his views. Upon that she subsided
a little, and tried to conceal her warlike tendencies from him, but they
did not really abate. She would have dearly liked to go with him to
Neudorf and Kunau, to play at soldiers there, but Anton, once made so
happy by her company, protested so strongly against the step that the
young lady had to turn back at the end of the village.

However, on the day when the first drill of the men belonging to the
estate was to take place, Lenore came out with a soldier's cap and a
light sword, took her pony out of the stable, and said to Anton, "I
shall exercise with you."

"Pray do nothing of the kind," replied he.

"Indeed I will," replied Lenore, saucily. "You want men, and I can do as
good service as if I were one."

"But, dear young lady, it is so singular!"

"It is indifferent to me whether people think it singular or not. I am
strong; I can go through a good deal; I shall not be tired."

"But before the servants," remonstrated Anton. "You are letting yourself
down before the servants and the country people."

"That is my own concern," replied Lenore, doggedly; "do not oppose me; I
am determined, and that is enough."

Anton shrugged his shoulders, and was obliged to acquiesce. Lenore rode
next to Karl, and went through all the exercises as well as a lady's
saddle allowed; but Anton, who was one of the infantry, looked over from
his post at the bright face with dissatisfaction. She had never pleased
him so little. Yet, as she sprang forward with the rest, wheeled her
horse round, waved her sword, her bright hair floating in the wind, her
eyes beaming with courage, she was enchantingly beautiful. But what
would have charmed him in mere play seemed unfeminine now that this
drilling had become a matter of life and death; and as soon as it was
over, and Lenore came up to him with glowing cheeks, waiting that he
should address her, he was silent, and she had to laugh and say to him,
"You look so morose, sir; do you know that the expression is very
unbecoming?"

"I am not pleased at your being so willful," replied Anton. Lenore
turned away without a word, gave her horse to a servant, and walked back
in dudgeon to the castle.

Since that time she took no share in the drilling, indeed, but she was
always present when the men assembled, and looked on longingly from a
little distance; and when Anton was away, she would ride off in secret
with Karl to the other villages, or walk alone through woods and fields,
armed with a pocket pistol, and delighted if she could stop and
cross-question any wayfarer.

Anton remonstrated with her on that subject too.

"The district is disturbed," he said. "How easily some rascal or other
might do you an injury! If not a stranger, it might be some one from our
own village."

"I am not afraid," Lenore would reply, "and the men of our village will
do me no harm." And, in fact, she knew how to manage them better than
Anton or any one else. She alone was always reverentially saluted, even
by the rudest among them; and whenever her tall figure was seen in the
village street, the men bowed down to the ground, and the women ran to
the windows and looked admiringly after her. And she had the pleasure,
too, of hearing them tell her so in Anton's hearing. One Sunday evening,
Karl, the forester, and the shepherd sat watching in the farm-yard while
the peasants were assembled drinking in the tavern, Sunday being the
most dangerous day for those in the castle. Karl had furnished a room
for military purposes in the late bailiff's house. Thither Lenore
herself now carried a bottle of rum and some lemons, that the sentinels
might brew themselves some punch. The shepherd and the forester grinned
from ear to ear at the attention. Karl placed a chair for the young
lady, the forester began to tell a tale of terror from the neighboring
district, and in a few minutes Lenore was sitting with them, exchanging
views on the course of events. Just as the punch was ready, and she
poured it into two glasses and a mug, in came Anton. She did not exactly
want him just then, but, however, he found no fault, and merely turned
and beckoned to a stranger to come in. A slender youth in a blue coat,
with bright woolen epaulettes, a soldier's cap in his hand, and wide
linen trowsers pushed into his boots, proudly entered the room. As soon
as he saw the lady, he was at her knees, and then he stood before her
with downcast eyes, cap in hand. Karl went up to him: "Now then,
Blasius, what news from the tavern?"

"Oh, nothing," replied the youth, in the melodious cadence with which
the Pole speaks broken German. "Peasant sits, and drinks, and is merry."

"Are there strangers there? Has any one come from Tarow?"

"No one," said Blasius. "No one is there; but the host's niece is come
to him, Rebecca, the Jewish maiden." Meanwhile he looked steadfastly at
Lenore, as though it were to her that he had to deliver his report.

Lenore stepped to the table, poured out a glass of punch, and gave it to
the youth, who received it with delight, quaffed it, set down the glass,
and bent again at the lady's knee with a grace that a prince might have
envied.

"You need never fear," cried he. "No one in the village will harm you;
if any one offended you, we would kill him at once."

Lenore blushed and said, looking at Anton the while, "You know I have no
fear, at all events of you;" and Karl dismissed the messenger with
orders to return in an hour. As he left the room, Lenore said to Anton,
"How graceful his bearing is!"

"He was in the Guards," replied Anton, "and is not the worst lad in the
village; but I pray you not to rely too much upon the chivalry of the
worthy Blasius and his friends. I was uneasy about you again all the
afternoon, and sent your maid to meet you on the Rosmin road; for a
traveling apprentice came running to the castle, frightened out of his
senses, saying that he had been detained by an armed lady, and obliged
to produce his passport. According to his story, the lady had a
monstrous dog, as large as a cow, with her, and he complained that her
aspect was awful. The poor man was positively beside himself."

"He was a craven," said Lenore, contemptuously. "As soon as he saw me
with the pony he ran off, scared by his own bad conscience. Then I
called after him, and threatened him with my pocket pistol."

In this manner the dwellers on the baron's estate daily awaited the
outbreak of the insurrection on their own oasis. Meanwhile it spread
like a conflagration over the whole province. Wherever the Poles were
thickly congregated, the flames leaped up fiercely. On the borders, they
flared unsteadily here and there, like fire in green wood. In many
places they seemed quenched for a long time, then suddenly broke out
again.

One Sunday afternoon there was to be a great drill of the united forces.
The men of Neudorf and Kunau came with their flags--the foot-soldiers
first, the mounted behind--the small band of cavalry from the castle
riding to meet them, led by Karl, together with some men on foot, at
whose head marched the forester, the generalissimo of all the troops.
Even Anton was under his command. When Lenore saw them set out, she
ordered her pony to be saddled.

"I will look on," said she to Anton.

"But only look on, dear lady!" said the latter, imploringly.

"Don't tutor me," cried Lenore.

The drilling-ground was at the edge of the wood. The forester had
contrived, through ancient recollections, and after manifold
consultations with the baron, to bring his men into good order; and Karl
led his squadron with an ardor that might well make amends for lack of
skill. For a long time they had marched, countermarched, performed
various evolutions, and fired at a mark. The mock artillery echoed
cheerfully through the forest. Lenore had looked on from a distance, but
at last she could not resist the pleasure of taking part in the cavalry
exercise, and, trotting on to their head, she whispered to Karl, "Just
for a minute or two."

"What if Mr. Wohlfart see you?" whispered Karl, in reply.

"He will not see," was Lenore's laughing answer, as she took her place
in the ranks.

The youths looked in amazement at the slender figure which trotted at
their side. Owing to the admiration she excited, many performed their
parts ill, and Karl had much fault to find.

"The young lady does it best," cried a Neudorf man during a pause, and
all took off their hats and cheered her loudly.

Lenore bowed low, and made her pony curvet gayly. But her amusement was
soon interrupted, for up came Anton. "It is really too bad," whispered
he, angry in good earnest. "You expose yourself to familiar
observations, which are not ill meant, but which would still offend you.
This is no place for the display of your horsemanship."

"You grudge me every pleasure," replied Lenore, much aggrieved, and rode
away.

When she found herself alone, she let her pony prance and caracole under
a great pear-tree, and inwardly chafed against Anton. "How rudely he
spoke to me!" thought she. "My father is right; he is very prosaic. When
I saw him first, I was on this pony too, but then I pleased him better;
we were both children then, but his manner was more respectful than
now." The thought flashed across her mind how bright, fair, and pleasant
her life was then, and how bitter now; and while she dreamed over the
contrast, she let the pony cut caper after caper.

"Not bad, but a little more of the curb, Fräulein Lenore," cried a
sonorous voice near her. Lenore looked round in amazement. A tall
slight figure leaned against the tree, arms crossed, and a satirical
smile playing over the fine features. The stranger advanced and took off
his hat. "Hard work for the old gentleman," said he, pointing to the
pony. "I hope you remember me."

Lenore looked at him as at an apparition, and at last, in her confusion,
slipped down from her saddle. A vision out of the past had risen
palpably before her; the cool smile, the aristocratic figure, the easy
self-possession of this man, belonged to the old days she had just been
thinking of.

"Herr von Fink!" she cried, in some embarrassment. "How delighted
Wohlfart will be to see you again!"

"I have already been contemplating him from afar," replied Fink, "and
did I not know by certain infallible tokens that he it is whom I behold
wading in uniform through the sand, I should not have believed it
possible."

"Come to him at once," cried Lenore. "Your arrival is the greatest
pleasure that he could have."

Accordingly, Fink went with her to the place where the men were engaged
in shooting at a mark. Fink stepped behind Anton, and laid his hand on
his shoulder. "Good-day, Anton," said he.

Turning round in amazement, Anton threw himself on his friend's breast.
There was a rapid interchange of hasty questions and short answers.

"Where do you come from, welcome wanderer?" cried Anton, at length.

"From over there," replied Fink, pointing to the horizon. "I have only
been a few weeks in the country. The last letter I got from you was
dated last autumn. Thanks to it, I knew pretty well where to look for
you. In the prevailing confusion, I consider it a remarkable piece of
luck to have found you. There's Master Karl, too," cried he, as Karl
sprang forward with a shout of delight. "Now we have half the firm
assembled, and we might begin offhand to play at counting-house work;
but you seem to have a different way of amusing yourselves here." Then
turning to Lenore, he continued, "I have already presented myself to the
baron, and heard from your lady mother where to find the martial young
spirits. And now I have to implore your intercession. I have some
acquaintance with this man, and would willingly spend a few days with
him, but I am well aware how inconsiderate it would be to tax your
hospitable home at a time like this with the reception of a stranger.
But yet, for his sake--he is a good fellow, on the whole--allow me to
remain long enough clearly to understand the façon of the prodigious
boots which the boy has drawn over his knees."

Lenore replied in the same strain: "My father will look upon your visit
as a great pleasure; a kind friend is doubly valuable at a time like
this. I go at once to desire a servant to place all Mr. Wohlfart's boots
in your apartment, that you may be able to study their façon at your
leisure." She bowed, and went off in the direction of the castle,
leading her pony by the bridle.

Fink looked after her and cried, "By Jove! she is become a beauty; her
bearing is faultless--nay, she even knows how to walk. I have no longer
a shadow of doubt as to her having plenty of sense." Then, putting his
arm into Anton's, he led him off to the shade of the wild pear-tree, and
then, shaking him heartily by the hand, exclaimed, "I say again, well
met, my trusty friend. Understand that I have not yet got over my
astonishment. If any one had told me that I should find you painted red
and black like a wild Indian, a battle-axe in your hand, and a fringe of
scalp-locks round your loins, I should naturally have declared him mad.
But you--born, as it would seem, to tread in the footsteps of your
forefathers--to find you on this desolate heath, with thoughts of murder
in your breast, and, as I live, without a neckcloth! If we two are
changed, you, at all events, are not the least so. Perhaps, however, you
are pleased with your change."

"You know how I came here?" replied Anton.

"I should think so," said Fink. "I have not forgotten the
dancing-lessons."

Anton's brow grew clouded.

"Forgive me," continued Fink, laughing, "and allow something to an old
friend."

"You are mistaken," replied Anton, earnestly, "if you believe that any
thing of passion has brought me here. I have become connected with the
baron's family through a series of accidents." Fink smiled. "I confess
that these would not have affected me had I not been susceptible of
certain influences. But I may venture to say that I am accidentally in
my present responsible situation. At a time when the baron was very
painfully circumstanced, I was fixed upon by his family as one who at
all events had the will to be of use to them. They expressed a wish to
engage my services for a time. When I accepted their proposal, I did so
after an inward conflict that I have no right to disclose to you."

"All that is very good," replied Fink; "but when the merchant buys a gun
and a sword, he must at least know why he makes those purchases; and
therefore forgive me the point-blank question, What do you mean to do
here?"

"To remain as long as I feel myself essential, and then to look out a
place in a merchant's office," said Anton.

"At our old principal's?" asked Fink, hastily.

"There or elsewhere."

"The deuce!" cried Fink. "That does not seem a very direct course, nor
an open confession either; but one must not ask too much from you in the
first hour of meeting. I will be more unreserved and candid to you. I
have worked myself free over there; and thank you for your letter, and
the advice your wisdom gave. I did as you suggested, made use of the
newspapers to explode my Western Land Association. Of course, I flew
with it into the air. I bought half a dozen pens with a thousand
dollars, and had the New York gazettes and others continually filled
with the most appalling reports of the good for nothingness of the
company. I had myself and my partners cursed in every possible key. This
made a sensation. Brother Jonathan's attention was caught; all our
rivals fell upon us at once. I had the pleasure of seeing myself and my
associates portrayed in a dozen newspapers as bloodthirsty swindlers and
scoundrels--all for my good money too. It was a wild game. In a month
the Western Land Company was so down that no dog would have taken a
crust of bread from it. Then came my co-directors and offered to buy me
out, that they might be rid of me. You may fancy how glad I was. For the
rest, I bought my freedom dear, and have left the reputation behind me
of being the devil himself. Never mind, I am free at all events. And now
I have sought you out for two reasons; first, to see and chat with you;
next, seriously to discuss my future life; and I may as well say at once
that I wish you to share it. I have missed you sadly every day. I do not
know what I find in you, for, in point of fact, you are but a dry
fellow, and more contradictious than often suits me. But, in spite of
all, I felt a certain longing for you all the time I was away. I have
come to an understanding with my father, not without hot discussion and
subsequent coolness. And now I repeat my former offer--come with me.
Over the waters to England, across the seas, any where and every where.
We will together ponder and decide upon what to undertake. We are both
free now, and the world is open to us."

Anton threw his arm round his friend's neck. "My dear Fritz," cried he,
"we will suppose that I have expressed all that your noble proposal
causes me to feel. But you see, for the present, I have duties here."

"According to your own most official statement, I presume that they will
not last forever," rejoined Fink.

"That is true; but still we are not on equal terms. See," said Anton,
stretching out his hand, "barren as this landscape is, and disagreeable
the majority of its inhabitants, yet I look upon them with different
eyes to yours. You are much more a citizen of the world than I, and
would feel no great interest in the life of the state of which this
plain and your friend are component parts, however small."

"No, indeed," said Fink, looking in amazement at Anton. "I have no great
interest in it, and all that I now see and hear makes the state, a
fragment of which you so complacently style yourself, appear to me any
thing but respectable."

"I, however, am of a different opinion," broke in Anton. "No one who is
not compelled to do so should leave this country at the present time."

"What do I hear?" cried Fink, in amazement.

"Look you," continued Anton; "in one wild hour I discovered how my heart
clung to this country. Since then, I know why I am here. For the time
being, all law and order is dissolved; I carry arms in self-defense, and
so do hundreds like me in the midst of a foreign race. Whatever may have
led me individually here, I stand here now as one of the conquerors who,
in the behalf of free labor and civilization, have usurped the dominion
of the country from a weaker race. There is an old warfare between us
and the Slavonic tribes; and we feel with pride that culture, industry,
and credit are on our side. Whatever the Polish proprietors around us
may now be--and there are many rich and intelligent men among
them--every dollar that they can spend, they have made, directly or
indirectly, by German intelligence. Their wild flocks are improved by
our breeds; we erect the machinery that fills their spirit-casks; the
acceptance their promissory notes and lands have hitherto obtained rests
upon German credit and German confidence. The very arms they use against
us are made in our factories or sold by our firms. It is not by a
cunning policy, but peacefully through our own industry, that we have
won our real empire over this country, and, therefore, he who stands
here as one of the conquering nation, plays a coward's part if he
forsakes his post at the present time."

"You take a very high tone on foreign ground," replied Fink; "and your
own soil is trembling under your feet."

"Who has joined this province to Germany?" asked Anton, with
outstretched hand.

"The princes of your race, I admit," said Fink.

"And who has conquered the great district in which I was born?" inquired
Anton, farther.

"One who was a man indeed."

"It was a bold agriculturist," cried Anton; "he and others of his race.
By force or cunning, by treaty or invasion, in one way or other, they
got possession of the land at a time when, in the rest of Germany,
almost every thing was effete and dead. They managed their land like
bold men and good farmers, as they were. They have combined decayed or
dispersed races into a state; they have made their home the central
point for millions, and, out of the raw material of countless
insignificant sovereignties, have created a living power."

"All that has been," said Fink; "that was the work of a past
generation."

"They labored for themselves, indeed, while creating us," agreed Anton,
"but now we have come into being, and a new German nation has arisen.
Now we demand of them that they acknowledge our young life. It will be
difficult to them to do this, just because they are accustomed to
consider their collective lands as the domain of their sword. Who can
say when the conflict between us and them will be ended? Perhaps we may
long have to curse the ugly apparitions it will evoke. But, end as it
will, I am convinced, as I am of the light of day, that the state which
they have constructed will not fall back again into its original chaos.
If you had lived much among the lower classes, as I have done of late
years, you would believe me. We are still poor as a nation--our strength
is still small; but every year we are working our way upward, every year
our intelligence, well-being, and fellow-feeling increases. At this
moment we here, on the border, feel like brothers. Those in the interior
may quarrel, but we are one, and our cause is pure."

"Well done," said Fink, nodding approval; "that was spoken like a
thorough German. The wintrier the time, the greener the hope. From all
this, Master Wohlfart, I perceive that you have no inclination at
present to go with me."

"I can not," answered Anton, with emotion; "do not be angry with me
because of it."

"Hear me," laughed Fink; "we have changed parts since our separation.
When I left you a few years ago, I was like the wild ass in the desert,
who scents a far-off fountain. I hoped to emerge out my prosy life with
you into green pastures, and all I found was a nasty swamp. And now I
come back to you wearied out, and find you playing a bold game with
fate. You have more life about you than you had. I can't say that of
myself. Perhaps the reason may be that you have had a home; I never had.
However, we have had enough of wisdom; come and instruct me in your mode
of warfare. Let me have a look at your squatters, and show me, if you
can, a square foot of ground on this charming property in which one does
not sink up to one's knees in sand."

Meanwhile preparations were going on at the castle for the stranger. The
baron made one servant ascertain that there was a sufficiency of red and
white wine in the cellar, and scolded another for not having had the
broken harness repaired. The baroness ordered a dress to be taken out
which she had not worn since her arrival; and Lenore thought with secret
anxiety about the haughty aristocrat, who had struck her as so imposing
at the time of the dancing-lessons, and whose image had often risen
before her since then.

Below stairs the excitement was no less, for, excepting a few passing
callers on business, this was the first visitor. The faithful cook
determined to venture upon an artistic dish, but in this wretched
country the materials were not to be had. She thought of killing a few
fowls out of the farm-yard; but that measure was violently opposed by
Suska, a little Pole, Lenore's confidential maid, who wept over the
determined character of the cook, and threatened to call the young lady,
till the former came to her senses, and sent off a barefooted boy to the
forester's in all haste to ask for something out of the common way. A
sudden onslaught was made upon spiders and dust; and a room got ready
near Anton's, into which Lenore's little sofa, her mother's arm-chair,
and carpet, were carried, to keep up the family dignity.

Fink, little guessing the disturbance his arrival occasioned, sauntered
over the fields with Anton in a more cheerful mood than he had known for
long. He spoke of his experiences, of the refinements in money-making,
and the giant growth of the New World; and Anton heard with delight a
deep abhorrence of the iniquities in which he had been involved break
out in the midst of his jokes.

"Life is on an immense scale over there, it is true," said he, "but it
was in its whirl that I first learned to appreciate the blessings of the
fatherland."

While thus talking, they returned to the castle to change their dress.
Anton had merely time to glance in amazement at the arrangements of
Fink's bed-room before they were summoned to the baroness. Now that the
anxieties about domestic arrangements were over, and the lamps shed
their mild radiance through the room, the family felt themselves
cheerfully excited by the visit of this man of fashion. Once more, as of
yore, there was the easy tone of light surface-talk, the delicate
attention which gives to each the sense of contributing to another's
enjoyment, the old forms, perhaps the old subjects of conversation. And
Fink solved the problem ever offered by a new circle to a guest with the
readiness which the rogue had always at his command when he chose. He
gave to each and all the impression that he thoroughly enjoyed their
society. He treated the baron with respectful familiarity, the baroness
with deference, Lenore with straightforward openness. He seemed to take
pleasure in addressing her, and soon overcame her embarrassment. The
family felt that he was one of themselves; there was a freemasonry
between them. Even Anton wondered how it came about that Fink, the
newly-arrived guest, appeared the old friend of the house, and he the
stranger; and again something of the reverence arose within him which,
as a youth, he had always felt for the elegant, distinguished, and
exclusive. But this was a mere shadow passing over his better judgment.

When Fink rose to retire, the baron declared with genuine cordiality how
gladly he would have him remain their guest; and when he was gone, the
baroness remarked how well the English style of dress became him, and
what a distinguished-looking man he was. Lenore made no remark upon him,
but she was more talkative than she had been for a long time past. She
accompanied her mother to her bed-room, sat down by the bedside of the
weary one, and began merrily to chat away, not, indeed, about their
guest, but about many subjects of former interest, till her mother
kissed her brow, and said, "That will do, my child; go to bed, and do
not dream."

Fink stretched himself comfortably on the sofa. "This Lenore is a
glorious woman," cried he, in ecstasy; "simple, open--none of the silly
enthusiasm of your German girls about her. Sit an hour with me, as of
old, Anton Wohlfart, baronial rent-receiver in a Slavonic Sahara! I say,
you are in such a romantic position, that my hair still bristles with
amazement. You have often stood by me in my scrapes of former days as my
rational guardian angel; now you are yourself in the midst of madness;
and, as I at present enjoy the advantage of being in my right mind, my
conscience forbids me to leave you in such confusion."

"Fritz, dear friend!" cried Anton, joyfully.

"Well, then," said Fink, "you see that I wish to remain with you for a
while. Now I want you to consider how this is to be done. You can easily
manage it with the ladies; but the baron?"

"You have heard," replied Anton, "that he esteems it a fortunate chance
which brings a knight like you to this lonely castle; only"--he looked
doubtfully around the room--"you must learn to put up with many things."

"Hmm--I understand," said Fink; "you are become economical."

"Just so," said Anton. "If I could fill sacks with the yellow sand of
the forest, and sell it as wheat, I should have to sell many and many
sacks before I could put even a small capital into our purse."

"Where you have pushed yourself in as purse-bearer, I could well suppose
the purse an empty one," said Fink, dryly.

"Yes," replied Anton, "my strong-box is an old dressing-case, and, I
assure you, it could hold more than it does. I often feel an
unconquerable envy of Mr. Purzel and his chalk in the counting-house.
Could I but once have the good fortune to behold a row of gray linen
bags! As to bank-notes and a portfolio of stocks, I dare not even think
of them."

Fink whistled a march. "Poor lad," said he. "Yet there is a large estate
and a regular farm-establishment, which must either bring in or take
out. What do you live upon, then?"

"That is one of the mysteries of the ladies, which I hardly dare to
disclose. Our horses munch diamonds."

Fink shrugged his shoulders. "But is it possible that Rothsattel can
have come to this?"

Anton then sketched, with some reserve, the baron's circumstances,
speaking enthusiastically, at the same time, of the noble resignation
of the baroness, and the healthy energy of Lenore.

"I see," said Fink, "that things are still worse than I supposed. How is
it possible that you can carry on such a farm? The birds of the air are
rich compared to you."

"As things are," continued Anton, "we may contrive to struggle on till
quieter times--till the judicial sale of the family estate. The
creditors will not press now, and lawyers are almost without work. The
baron can not manage this estate without a large capital, but neither
can he give it up at present without forfeiting the little that its sale
may hereafter bring; and, besides, the family have no other roof over
their heads. All my endeavors, during the last week, to persuade them to
leave this province, have been in vain. They are desperately resolved to
await their fate here. The baron's pride objects to a return to his
former neighborhood, and the ladies will not leave him."

"Then at least send them to the neighboring town, and do not expose them
to the assault of every drunken band of boors."

"I have done what I could; I am powerless in this respect," replied
Anton, gloomily.

"Then, my son, allow me to tell you that your warlike apparatus is not
very encouraging. With the dozen or two that you can collect, you will
hardly keep off an invasion of rascals. You can not even defend the
premises with that handful, to say nothing of covering the ladies'
escape. Have you no prospect of procuring any soldiers?"

"None," replied Anton.

"A thoroughly comfortable, cheerful prospect!" cried Fink. "And, in
spite of it, you have sown your fields, and the little farm works on. I
have heard from Karl how it looked when you came, and what improvements
you have made; you have managed capitally. No American, no man of any
other country, would have done the same; in a desperate case, commend me
to the German. But the ladies and your infant establishment must be
better protected. Hire twenty able-bodied men; they will guard the
house."

"You forget that we are as little able to feed twenty idle mouths as is
the owl on the tower."

"Let them work!" cried Fink; "you have here land enough to employ a
hundred hands. Have you no swamps to drain, or ditches to dig? There is
a row of wretched puddles yonder."

"That is work for another season," replied Anton, "the ground is too wet
now."

"Have a hundred acres of forest sown or planted. Does the brook hold out
in the summer?"

"I hear that it does," replied Anton.

"Then turn it to some account."

"Do not forget," said Anton, smiling, "how difficult it would be to get
good workmen with military abilities to come just now into our
ill-renowned district."

"To the devil with your objections!" cried Fink; "send Karl into a
German district, and he will hire you plenty of people."

"You have already heard that we have no money. The baron is not in a
position to carry on greater improvements, with increased expenditure."

"Let me do it, then," replied Fink; "you can repay me when you are
able."

"It is doubtful whether we should ever be able."

"Well, then, he need never know what the men cost."

"He is blind," replied Anton, with a slight tone of reproach; "and I am
in his service, and bound to lay all my accounts before him. Certainly,
he might accept a loan from you after a few scruples, for his views of
his circumstances vary with his moods. But the ladies have no such
illusions. Your presence would be an hourly humiliation to them, if they
were conscious of owing additional comforts to your means."

"And yet they have accepted the greater sacrifice that you have made for
them," said Fink, gravely.

"Perhaps they consider that my humble services entail on me no
sacrifice," replied Anton, blushing. "They are accustomed to me as the
baron's agent. But you are their guest, and their self-respect will
endeavor to conceal from you, as much as possible, the difficulties of
their position. To make your apartment habitable, they have plundered
their own; the very sofa on which you lie is from the young lady's
bed-room."

Fink looked eagerly at the sofa, and settled himself on it again. "As it
does not suit me," said he, "to travel off immediately, you will have
the goodness to point out to me some way of living here with propriety.
Tell me, offhand, something about the mortgages, and the prospects of
the estate; assume for the moment that I am to be the unfortunate
purchaser of this Paradise."

Anton made the statement required.

"That, at all events, is not so desperate," said Fink. "Now hear my
proposal; you can not go on as at present; this restricted establishment
is too undesirable for all parties, most of all for you. The property
may be fearfully devastated, but still it seems to me possible to make
something of it. Whether you are the people to do so or not, I will not
decide; though if you, Anton, are willing to devote some years of your
life to it, and to sacrifice yourself still further to the interests of
others, it is not impossible that, in more tranquil times, you may
succeed in procuring the necessary capital. Meantime I will advance--say
fifteen thousand dollars, and the baron will give me a mortgage for that
sum. This loan will not much diminish your income, and it will make it
easier for you to get over this bad year."

Anton rose and paced up and down uneasily.

"It won't do," cried he, at length; "we can not accept your generous
proposal. Look you, Fritz: a year ago, before I knew the man as well as
I do now, I was intensely anxious to lead our principal to take an
interest in the baron's affairs, and if you had made me this offer then,
I should have been delighted; but now I should consider it unjust to you
and to the ladies to accept your proposal."

"Shall the sofa out of Lenore's bed-room be defiled by the tobacco-ashes
of your guests? I do it now; later it will be done by the Polish
scythe-bearers."

"We must go through with it," replied Anton, mournfully.

"Headstrong boy!" cried Fink; "you shall not get rid of me thus. And now
off with you, stiff-necked Tony!"

After this conversation, Fink did not allude further to his projected
loan, but he had several confidential conversations in the course of the
following day with Karl, and when evening came, he said to the baron,
"May I request you to lend me your horse to-morrow? He is an old
acquaintance of mine. I should like to ride over your property. Do not
be angry with me, dear lady, if I fail to make my appearance at dinner."

"He is rich; he is come here to buy," said the baron to himself. "This
Wohlfart has told his friend that there is a bargain to be made in this
quarter. The speculation is beginning; I must be cautious."



CHAPTER XXXIV.


It was a sunny morning in April--one of those genial growing days that
expand the leaf-bud on the trees, and quicken the throbs of the human
heart. Lenore went with hat and parasol out into the farm-yard, and
walked through the cow-houses. The horned creatures looked full at her
with their large eyes, and raised their broad damp noses, some of them
lowing in expectation of receiving something good at her hands.

"Is Mr. Wohlfart here?" asked Lenore of the bailiff, who was hurrying by
to the stable.

"He is in the castle, my lady."

"His guest is with him, I suppose?" she further inquired.

"Herr von Fink rode off this morning early to Neudorf. He can't rest in
the house, and is always happiest on horseback. He should have been a
hussar."

When Lenore heard in which direction Herr von Fink had ridden, she
walked slowly in a different one to avoid meeting him, and crossed the
brook and the fields to the wood. She gazed at the blue sky and reviving
earth. The winter wheat and the green grass looked so cheerful that her
heart laughed within her. The spring had breathed on the willows along
the brook; the yellow branches were full of sap, and the first leaves
bursting out. Even the sand did not annoy her to-day. She stepped
rapidly through the expanse of it that girdled the forest, and hurried
on through the firs to the cottage. The whole wood was alive with hum
and cry. Wherever a group of other trees rose amid the firs, the loud
chirp of the chaffinch was heard, or the eager twitter of some little
newly-wedded birds, disputing about the position of their nest. The
beetle in his black cuirass droned around the buds of the chestnut; at
times a wild bee, newly wakened from its winter sleep, came humming by;
even brown butterflies fluttered over the bushes, and, wherever the
ground sunk into hollows, these were gay with the white and yellow stars
of the anemone and the primrose. Lenore took off her straw hat, and let
the mild breeze play about her temples, while she drew in long draughts
of forest fragrance. She often stopped and listened to the sounds
around her--contemplated the tender leaves of the trees, stroked the
white bark of the birch, stood by the rippling fountain before the
forester's house, and caressed the little firs in the hedge, which stood
as close and regular as the bristles in a brush. She thought she had
never seen the forest so cheerful before. The dogs barked furiously; she
heard the fox rattle his chain, and looked up at the bull-finch, who
jumped to and fro in his cage, and tried to bark like his superiors.

"Hush, Hector! hush Bergmann!" cried Lenore, knocking at the door. The
loud barking changed into a friendly welcome. As she opened the door,
Bergmann, the otter-hound, came straddling toward her, wagging his tail
immoderately, and Hector made a succession of audacious leaps, while
even the fox crept back into its kennel, laid its nose on its trough,
and looked slyly at her. But she saw a horse's head on the other side of
the hedge; he that she had meant to avoid was actually here. For a
moment she remained irresolute, and was going to turn away, when the
forester came out. Now, then, retreat was impossible, and she followed
him in. Fink stood in the middle of the room, in the full light of the
rays which fell through the small panes. He advanced politely. "I came
to make acquaintance," said he, pointing to the forester; "and here I am
admiring your stout-hearted vassal and his comfortable home." The
forester placed a chair; Lenore could but take it. Fink leaned against
the brown wall, and looked at her with undisguised admiration. "You are
a wonderful contrast to this old boy and to the whole room," said he,
glancing round. "Pray make no sign with your parasol; all these stuffed
creatures only wait your command to come to life again, and lay
themselves at your feet. Look at the heron yonder, raising its head
already."

"It is only the effect of the sunshine," said the forester,
comfortingly.

Lenore laughed. "We know what that means," cried Fink; "you are in the
plot; you are the gnome of this queen. If there be no magic here, let me
sleep out the rest of my days. One wave of that wand, and the beams of
this great bird-cage will open, and you fly with your whole suite out
into the sunshine. Doubtless your palace is on the summit of the
fir-trees without; there are the pleasant halls in which your throne
stands, mighty mistress of this place, fair-haired goddess of Spring!"

"My comfort is," said Lenore, somewhat confused, "that it is not I who
occasion these ideas, but the pleasure you take in the ideas themselves.
I only chance to be the unworthy subject of your fancy. You are a poet."

"Fie!" cried Fink; "how can you detract from me so much! I a poet!
Except a few merry sailors' songs, I do not know a single piece of
poetry by heart. The only lines I care for are some fragments of the old
school; for example, 'Hurrah! Hurrah! hop, hop, hop,' in a poem which,
if I am not mistaken, bears your name. And even to these classic lines I
have to object that they rather represent the material trot of a
cart-horse than the course of a phantom steed. But we must not be too
exact with these pen-and-ink gentry. Well, then, with this single
exception, you will find no poetry in me, except a few of the great
Schiller's striking lines: Potz Blitz, das ist ja die Gustel von
Blasewitz. There's much truth in that passage."

"You are making fun of me," said Lenore, somewhat offended.

"Indeed I am not," asseverated Fink. "How can any one make or read poems
in these days of ours, when we are constantly living them? Since I have
been back in the old country, scarce an hour passes without my seeing or
hearing something that will be celebrated by knights of the pen a
hundred years hence. Glorious material here for art of every kind! If I
had the misfortune to be a poet, I should now be obliged to rush out in
a fit of inspiration, hide myself in the kennel, and, at a safe distance
from all exciting causes, write a passionate sonnet, while the fox kept
biting my heels. But, as I am no poet, I prefer to enjoy the beautiful
when it is before me, to putting it into rhyme." And again he looked
admiringly at the lady.

"Lenore!" cried a harsh voice from a corner of the room. Lenore and Fink
looked in amazement at each other.

"He has learned it," said the forester, pointing to the raven; "in a
general way he has left off learning, and sits there sulking with every
one, but still he has learned that."

The raven sitting on the stove bent down his head, cast a shrewd glance
at both the guests, kept moving his beak as though speaking to himself,
and alternately nodding and shaking his head.

"The birds already begin to speak," cried Fink, going up to the raven;
"the ceiling will soon fly off, and I shall be left alone with Hector
and Bergmann. Now, sorcerer, does the water boil?"

The forester looked into the stove. "It boils famously," he said; "but
what is to be done next?"

"We will ask the lady to help us," replied Fink. "I have," said he,
turning to Lenore, "already been with your family trapper as far as the
distillery and back, and I have brought what always serves me on my
travels for breakfast and dinner." He took out a few tablets of
chocolate. "We will concoct something like a beverage with this, if you
do not disdain to lend us your aid. I propose that we try to mix this
with water as well as we can. It would be charming of you to vouchsafe
an opinion as to how we ought to set about it."

"Have you a grater or a mortar?" inquired Lenore, laughing.

"I have neither of those machines," replied the forester.

"A hammer, then," suggested Fink, "and a clean sheet of paper."

The hammer was soon brought, but the paper was only found after a long
search. Fink undertook to pound the chocolate, the forester brought
fresh water from the spring, Lenore washed out some cups, and Fink
hammered away with all his heart. "This is antediluvian paper," said he,
"thick as parchment; it must have lain for some centuries in this magic
hut." Lenore shook the chocolate powder into the saucepan, and stirred
it. Then they all three sat down, and much enjoyed the result of their
handiwork.

The golden sunbeams shone fuller into the room, lighting up the bright
form of the beautiful girl, and the fine face of the man opposite her;
then they fell upon the wall, and decked the head of the heron and the
wings of the hawk. The raven came to the end of his soliloquy, and
fluttered from his seat, hopping about the lady's feet, and croaking out
again, "Lenore! Lenore!"

Lenore now conversed at her ease with the stranger, and the forester
every now and then threw in a suitable remark. They spoke of the
district and its inhabitants.

"Wherever I have met Poles in foreign lands, I have got on very well
with them," said Fink. "I am sorry that these disturbances prevent one
visiting them in their own homes; for, certainly, one best learns to
know men from seeing them there."

"It must be delightful to see so many different scenes and people,"
cried Lenore.

"It is only at first that the difference strikes you. When one has
observed them a while, one comes to the conclusion that they are every
where much alike: a little diversity in the color of the skin and other
details; but love and hate, laughter and tears, these the traveler finds
every where, and every where these are the same. About twenty weeks ago
I was half a hemisphere off, in the log hut of an American, on a barren
prairie. It was just the same as here. We sat at a stout rustic table
like this, and my host was as like this old gentleman as one egg is to
another, and the light of the winter sun fell in just the same way
through the small window. But if men have so little to distinguish them,
women are still more alike in essentials. They only differ in one
trifling particular."

"And what is that?" asked the forester.

"They are rather more or less neat," said Fink, carelessly; "that is the
whole difference."

Lenore rose, offended at his tone more than at his words.

"It is time that I should return," said she, coldly, tying on her straw
hat.

"When you rose, all the brightness left the room," cried Fink.

"It is only a cloud passing over the sun," said the forester, going to
the window; "that causes the shadow."

"Nonsense," replied Fink; "it is the straw hat hiding the lady's hair
that does it; the light comes from those golden locks."

They left the house, the forester locked the door, and each went off in
different directions.

Lenore hurried home; the linnet sang, the thrush whistled, but she did
not heed them. She blamed herself for having crossed the threshold of
the forester's house, and yet she could not turn away her thoughts from
it. The stranger made her feel uneasy and insecure. Was he thus daring
because nothing was sacred to him, or was it only through his extreme
self-possession and self-dependence? Ought she to be angry with him, or
did her sense of awkwardness only arise from the folly of an
inexperienced girl? These questions she kept constantly asking herself,
but, alas! she found no answer.

When Anton wanted to send a message that evening to the shepherd,
neither Karl nor any other messenger was to be found, so he went
himself. He was not a little surprised to see in one of the farthest
fields through which he had to go his friend Fink on horseback, and the
German farmer and Karl busily occupied near him. Fink was galloping
along short distances, the others placing black and white pegs in the
ground, and taking them out again. And then Karl looked through a small
telescope that he rested on his peg. "Five-and-twenty paces," cried
Fink.

"Two inches fall," screamed back Karl.

"Five-and-twenty, two," said the farmer, making an entry in his
pocket-book.

"So you have come, have you?" cried Fink, laughing, to his friend. "Wait
a moment; we shall soon have done." Again a certain number of leaps,
observations through the telescope, and entries in the pocket-book; then
the men collected their pegs, and Fink rapidly cast up the figures in
the farmer's book. Then giving it back with a smile, he said, "Come on
with me, Anton, I have something to show you. Place yourself by the
brook, with your face to the north. There the brook forms a straight
line from west to east, the border of the wood a semicircle. Wood and
brook together define the segment of a circle."

"That is evident," said Anton.

"In olden times the brook ran differently," continued Fink. "It swept
along the curve of the wood, and its old bed is still visible. If you
walk along the ancient water-course toward the west, you come to the
point where the old channel diverges from the new. It is the point where
a wretched bridge crosses the brook, and the water in its present bed
has a fall of more than a foot, strong enough to turn the best mill
going. The ruins of some buildings stand near it."

"I know the place well enough," said Anton.

"Below the village, the old channel bends down to the new. It
encompasses a wide plain, more than five hundred acres, if I can trust
the paces of this horse. The whole of this ground slopes down from the
old channel to the new. There are a few acres of meadow, and some
tolerable arable land. The most part is sand and rough pasture, the
worst part of the estate, as I hear."

"I allow all that," said Anton, with some curiosity.

"Now mark me. If you lead back the brook to its old channel, and force
it to run along the bow instead of forming the arc of that bow, the
water that now runs to waste will irrigate the whole plain of five
hundred acres, and change the barren sand into green meadows."

"You are a sharp fellow," cried Anton, excited at the discovery.

"These acres, well irrigated, would yield a ton of hay an acre;
consequently, each acre would bring in a clear profit of five dollars,
or, in other words, the five hundred acres would give a yearly income of
two thousand five hundred, and to bring this about would require an
outlay of fifteen thousand dollars at the very outside. This, Anton, was
what I had to say to you."

Anton stood there amazed. There was no doubt that Fink's calculations
were not made at random either as to outlay or return, and the
advantageous prospect which such a measure opened out occupied him so
much that he walked on for some time in silence. "You show me water and
pastures in the desert," said he, at length. "This is cruel of you, for
the baron is not in a condition to carry out this improvement. Fifteen
thousand dollars!"

"Perhaps ten might do," said Fink, sarcastically. "I have drawn this
castle in the air for you, to punish you for your stiff-neckedness the
other evening. Now let us speak of something else."

At night the baron, with an important air, summoned his wife and Lenore
to a conference in his room. He sat up in his arm-chair, and said, with
a greater degree of satisfaction than he had for a long time evinced,
"It was easy to discover that this visit of Fink's was not exactly
accidental, nor occasioned by his friendship for Mr. Wohlfart, as the
young men both made it appear: you two pretended to be wiser than I; but
I was right after all, and the visit concerns us more nearly than our
agent."

The baroness cast a terrified glance at her daughter, but Lenore's eyes
were so fully fixed on her father that her mother was comforted.

"And what do you suppose has brought this gentleman here?" continued the
baron.

Lenore shook her head, and said at last, "Father, Herr von Fink has long
been most intimate with Wohlfart, and they have not seen each other for
some years. How natural that Fink should take advantage of his slight
acquaintance with us to spend a few weeks with his dearest friend! Why
should we seek any other reason for his presence?"

"You speak as young people always do. Men are less influenced by ideal
impressions, and more ruled by their own interest, than your juvenile
wisdom apprehends."

"Interest!" said the baroness.

"What is there surprising in it?" continued the baron. "Both are
tradespeople. Fink knows enough of the charms of business to lose no
opportunity of making a good bargain. I will tell you why he is come
here. Our excellent Wohlfart has written to him stating, 'Here is an
estate, and this estate has an owner who is at present unable to
overlook its management himself. There is something to be made here. You
have money, therefore come; I am your friend; some of the profits will
naturally fall to my share.'"

The baroness gazed steadfastly at her husband, but Lenore sprang up and
cried, with all the energy of a deeply-wounded heart, "Father, I will
not hear you speak thus of a man who has never shown us any thing but
the most unselfish devotion. His friendship for us is such as to enable
him to bear with boundless patience the privations of this lonely place,
and the disagreeables of his present position."

"His friendship?" said the baron; "I never laid claim to so great a
distinction."

"We have done so, though," cried Lenore, impetuously. "At a time when my
mother found no one else to stand by us, Wohlfart faithfully clung to us
still. From the day that my brother brought him to us till this very
hour, he has acted for you and cared for us."

"Very well," admitted the baron; "I find no fault with his activity. I
willingly allow that he keeps the accounts in good order, and is very
industrious in return for a small salary. If you understood men's
motives better, you would hear me more patiently. After all, there is no
harm in what he has done. I want capital, and am, as you know, a good
deal embarrassed besides. What should prevent proposals being made to me
which would advantage others and do me no injury?"

"For God's sake, father, what proposals do you mean? It is false that
Wohlfart has any other interest at heart but yours."

The baroness beckoned to her daughter to be silent. "If Fink wishes to
purchase the estate," said she, "I shall hail his resolve as a
blessing--the greatest blessing, beloved Oscar, that could happen to you
now."

"We are not talking of buying," replied the baron. "I shall think twice
before I give away the estate in such a hurry under the present
circumstances. Fink's proposal is of a different kind; he wishes to
become my tenant."

Lenore sank down speechless in her chair.

"He wishes to rent from me five hundred acres of level ground, in order
to convert them into profitable meadows. I do not deny that he has
spoken openly and fairly on the subject. He has proved to me in figures
how great his gains would be, and offered to pay the first year's rent
at once--nay, more, he has offered to give up his tenancy in five years,
and make over the meadows to me, provided I repay him the expenses
incurred."

"Gracious Heaven!" cried Lenore; "you have surely refused this generous
proposal."

"I have required time for deliberation," replied the baron,
complacently. "The offer is, as I have already said, not exactly
disadvantageous to myself; at the same time, it might be imprudent to
concede such advantages to a stranger, when, in a year or so, I might be
able to carry out this improvement on my own account."

"You will never be able to do so, my poor, my beloved husband," cried
the baroness, weeping, and throwing her arms about the baron's neck,
while he sank down annihilated, and laid his head on her breast like a
little child.

"I must know whether Wohlfart knows of this proposal, and what he says
to it," cried Lenore, decidedly; "and, if you allow me, father, I will
at once send for him." As the baron did not reply, she rang the bell for
the servant, and left the room to meet him at the door.

Fink sat, meanwhile, in Anton's room, amusing himself with rallying his
friend. "Since you have given up smoking, your good angel has deserted
you, after having so torn his hair at your stiff-neckedness that there
he is now sitting bewigged among the angel choir. As for you, your
punishment is to be the having your soul sewed up in a turnip-leaf, and
daily smoked by the smallest imps in the pit."

"Have you been a member of some pious fraternity in America, that you
are so well acquainted with the proceedings of the spiritual world?"
inquired Anton, looking up from his account-book.

"Silence!" said Fink; "formerly there were, at least, occasional hours
when you could trifle too, but now you are always carrying on your
everlasting book-keeping, and, by Tantalus, all for nothing--for nothing
at all!"

The servant entered, and summoned Anton to the baron.

As the latter left the room, Fink called out, "Apropos; I have offered
to rent the five hundred acres from the baron at two dollars and half
the acre--the land to be made over in five years' time on repayment of
the capital expended, either in money or by a mortgage. Off with you, my
boy!"

When Anton entered the baron's apartment, he found the baroness at her
husband's side, his hand in hers, while Lenore walked restlessly up and
down the room. "Have you heard of the offer that Herr von Fink has made
to my father?" asked she.

"He has this moment told me of it," replied Anton. The baron made a
face.

"And is it your opinion that my father ought to accept the offer?"

Anton was silent. "It is an advantageous one for the estate," said he,
at length, with considerable effort. "The outlay of capital is essential
to its improvement."

"I don't want to be told that," replied Lenore, impatiently, "but to
know whether you, as our friend, advise us to accept this offer?"

"I do not," said Anton.

"I knew that you would say so," cried Lenore, stepping behind her
father's chair.

"You do not; and wherefore, if you please?" inquired the baron.

"The present time, which makes all things uncertain, seems to me little
fitted for so bold a speculation; besides which, I believe Fink to be
influenced by motives which do him honor, but which would render it
painful to the baron to accept his offer."

"You will allow me to be the judge of what I ought or ought not to
accept," said the baron. "As a mere question of business, this measure
would be advantageous to both parties."

"That I must allow," said Anton.

"And as to the views that people may take of political prospects, that
is merely a personal matter. He who does not allow his undertakings to
be interfered with is more praise-worthy than he who, through a vague
fear, postpones advantageous measures."

"That, too, I allow."

"Would this undertaking lead to Herr von Fink permanently taking up his
abode in our neighborhood?" asked the baroness.

"I do not think so; he would make over the task to a farmer, and his
temperament is sure to send him wandering off again. As to his motives,
I can but surmise. I believe them to be mainly the respect and regard he
feels for your family, and possibly the wish to have some right to
remain with you in these unquiet times. The very danger that would make
this country undesirable to others has a charm for him."

"And would you not be glad to retain your friend with you?" inquired the
baroness further.

"Till to-day I had no hope of it," answered Anton. "Formerly, my task
used to be that of holding him back from precipitate resolves, and from
staking much upon a sudden fancy."

"You consider, then," said the baron, "that your friend has been
precipitate in his proposal to me?"

"His proposal is a bold one, so far as he himself is concerned,"
returned Anton, significantly; "and there is something in it, baron,
which does not satisfy me on your account, though I should find a
difficulty in defining it."

"Thank you," said the baron; "we will discuss the subject no further;
there is no hurry about it." Anton bowed and left the room.

Lenore stood silently at the window, repeating to herself his last
words, "I should find a difficulty in defining it," while a crowd of
painful thoughts and forebodings rushed through her mind. She was angry
with her father's weakness, and indignant with Fink for presuming to
offer them assistance. Whether his offer were accepted or not, their
relations to their guest were changed by it. They were indebted to him.
He was no longer a stranger. He had intruded into their private griefs.
She thought of the curl of his lip, of the contraction of his eyebrows;
she fancied she heard him laughing at her father and at her. He had
entered their house in his offhand way, and now carelessly seized the
reins, and meant to direct their fortunes as he liked. Perhaps her
parents might owe their deliverance to one of his arbitrary caprices.
This morning she could feel at her ease with him, brilliant man of the
world as he was; they were on equal terms, but how should they meet
henceforth? Her pride rebelled against one whose influence she so
sensibly felt. She determined to treat him coldly; she made castles in
the air as to how he would speak, and how she would reply, and her fancy
kept flying round the image of the stranger as the scared mother-bird
does around the enemy of her nest.

"And what will you do, Oscar?" inquired the baroness.

"My father can not accept," cried Lenore, energetically.

"What is your opinion?" said the baron, turning to his wife.

"Choose what will soonest set you free from this estate--from the care,
the gloom, the insecurity which are secretly preying on you. Let us go
to some distant land, where men's passions are less hideously developed.
Let us go far away; we shall be more peaceful in the narrowest
circumstances than we are here."

"Thus, then, you advise the acceptance of his offer," said the baron.
"He who rents a part will soon undertake the whole."

"And pay us a pension!" cried Lenore.

"You are a foolish girl," said her father. "You both excite yourselves,
which is unnecessary. The offer is too important to be refused or
accepted offhand. I will weigh the matter more narrowly. Your Wohlfart
will have plenty of time to examine the conditions," added he, more
good-humoredly.

"Listen, dear father, to what Wohlfart has already spoken, and respect
what he keeps back."

"Yes, yes, he shall be listened to," said the baron. "And now
good-night, both of you. I will reconsider the matter."

"He will accept," said Lenore to her mother; "he will accept, because
Wohlfart has dissuaded him, and because the other offers him ready
money. Mother, why did you not say that we could never look the stranger
in the face if he gave us alms in our very house?"

"I have no longer any pride or any hope," replied her mother, in a low
voice.

As Anton slowly re-entered his room, Fink called out cheerfully, "How
goes it, man of business? Am I to be tenant, or will the baron himself
undertake the matter? He would like it dearly. In that case, I lay claim
to compensation--free room for myself and my horse as long as they play
at war hereabouts."

"He will accept your offer," replied Anton, "though I advised him not."

"You did!" cried Fink. "Yes, indeed, it's just like you. When a drowning
mouse clings to a raft, you make it a long speech on the imperative
nature of moral obligations, and hurl it back into the water."

"You are not so innocent as a raft," said Anton, laughing.

"Hear me," continued Fink; "I have no superfluous sentimentality; but in
this particular case I should not consider it friendly in you to wish to
edify me by a lecture. Is it then so unpleasant to have me to help you
through these confounded times?"

"I have known you long enough, you rogue," said Anton, "to feel sure
that your friendship for me has had a good deal to do with your offer."

"Indeed!" said Fink, sarcastically; "and how much, pray? It is a good
for nothing age: however virtuously one may act, one is so dissected
that virtue turns to egotism under the knife of malice."

Anton stroked his cheek. "I do not dissect," said he. "You have made a
generous offer, and I am not discontented with you, but with myself. In
my first delight at your arrival, I disclosed more about the baron's
circumstances and the ladies' anxieties than was right. I myself
introduced you into the mysteries of the family, and you have used the
knowledge you acquired from me in your own dexterous way. It is I who
have entangled you with the affairs of this family, and your capital
with this disturbed country. That all this should have happened so
suddenly is against my every feeling, and I am amazed at my own
incaution in having brought it about."

"Of course," laughed Fink, "it is your sweetest enjoyment to be anxious
about those around you."

"It has twice happened to me," continued Anton, "whose caution you so
often laugh at, to speak unguardedly to strangers about the
circumstances of this family. The first time that I asked help for the
Rothsattels it was refused me, and this, more than any thing else, led
me out of the counting-house hither; and now that my second indiscretion
has procured the help I did not ask, what will the consequences be?"

"To lead you hence back into the counting-house," laughed Fink. "Did one
ever see such a subtle Hamlet in jack-boots? If I could only find out
whether you secretly desire or fear such a logical conclusion!" Then
drawing a piece of money from his pocket, he said, "Heads or tails,
Anton? Blonde or brunette? Let us throw."

"You are no longer in Tennessee, you soul-seller!" laughed Anton against
his will.

"It should have been an honorable game," said Fink, coolly. "I meant to
give you the choice. Remember that hereafter."



CHAPTER XXXV.


The baron accepted. Indeed, it was difficult to resist Fink's offer:
even Anton acknowledged that. But the baron did not come to this resolve
in a straightforward way. His mind underwent many oscillations. It was
disagreeable to him to let a stranger make so considerable a profit out
of lands of his; and when he had confessed with a sigh that it was
impossible to prevent this, it was further disagreeable to him that Fink
should have ventured upon such a proposition as this the third day after
his arrival; and he felt that Lenore's continued opposition was
well-grounded. At these times he saw himself poor, dependent, under
Anton's management, and was imbittered almost to the point of giving up
the plan. But, after such divergences, he always came back to the main
point--his own interest. He knew well how great a help the rent paid
beforehand would be during the current year, and he foresaw that the
outlay of capital would, in the course of a few years, double the value
of the estate. Then he could not but admit to himself that, at the
present disturbed time, Fink would be a desirable associate. However, he
preserved a rigid silence toward his wife and daughter; good-naturedly
threw back Lenore's attempts to bring him to a decision; and was more
dignified than usual in bearing during this period of deliberation.

After a few days he called his old servant, and said, in strict
confidence, "Find out, John, when Mr. Wohlfart goes out, and Herr von
Fink remains alone in his room, and then go to the latter and announce
me to him."

The baron being accordingly privately introduced into Fink's apartment,
told him in a friendly way that he accepted his offer, and left it to
him to get the contract drawn up by the Rosmin attorney.

"All right," said Fink, shaking hands with him; "but have you reflected,
baron, that your kind consent obliges me to claim your hospitality for
weeks, if not months? for I consider my presence desirable, at all
events till the farming operations are fairly set going."

"I shall be delighted," replied the baron, "if you will put up with our
unsettled establishment. I shall take the liberty of setting apart some
rooms for you. If you have a servant to whom you are accustomed, pray
send for him."

"I want no servant," said Fink, "if you will desire your John to keep my
room in order; but I have something better from which I don't like to be
long parted--a fine half-blood, which is at present standing in my
father's stable."

"Would it not be possible to have the horse sent over here?"

"If you would allow it," said Fink, "I shall be very grateful to you."

Thus the two concluded their treaty in perfect amity, and the baron left
the room with the comfortable impression of having made a clever
bargain.

"The matter is settled," said Fink to Anton, on the return of the
latter. "Make no lamentations, for the mischief is done. I shall settle
myself in two rooms in a corner of this wing, and see to the furnishing
of them myself. To-morrow I am off to Rosmin, and farther still. I am on
the scent of an experienced man who can overlook the undertaking, and I
shall bring him and a few laborers back with me. Can you spare me our
Karl for a week or so?"

"He is not easily spared; but, since it must be so, I will do what I can
to replace him. You must leave me abundant instructions."

The next morning Fink rode away, accompanied by the hussar, and things
returned to their old course. The drill went on regularly; patrols were
sent around as before; frightful reports were greedily listened to and
repeated. Sometimes small detachments of military appeared, and the
officers were welcome guests at the castle, telling as they did of the
strife going on beyond the forest, and comforting the ladies by bold
assurances that the insurrection would soon be put down. Anton was the
only one who felt the heavy burden on the family funds that their
entertainment involved.

Nearly a fortnight had passed away, and Fink and Karl were still absent.
One sunny day, Lenore was busy enlarging her plantation, where about
fifty young firs and birches already made some show. In her straw hat, a
small spade in her hand, she seemed so lovely to Anton as he was
hurrying by that he could not resist standing still to look at her.

"I have you, then, at last, faithless sir," cried Lenore; "for a whole
week you have never given my trees a thought; I have been obliged to
water them all alone. There is your spade, so come at once and help me
to dig."

Anton obediently took the spade and valiantly began to turn up the sods.

"I have seen some young junipers in the wood; perhaps you can make use
of them," said he.

"Yes; on the edge of the plantation," answered Lenore, appeased.

"I have had more to do these last days than usual," continued he. "We
miss Karl every where."

Lenore struck her spade deep in the ground, and bent down to examine the
upturned earth. "Has not your friend written to you yet?" inquired she,
in a tone of indifference.

"I hardly know what to think of his silence," said Anton; "the mails are
not interrupted, and other letters come. I almost fear that some
misfortune may have happened to the travelers."

Lenore shook her head. "Can you imagine any misfortune happening to Herr
von Fink?" inquired she, digging away.

"It is, indeed, difficult to imagine," said Anton, laughing; "he does
not look as if he would easily allow any ill luck to settle down upon
him."

"I should think not," replied Lenore, curtly.

Anton was silent for a while. "It is singular that we should not yet
have talked over the change that Fink's remaining here will occasion,"
said he, at length, not without some constraint, for he had a vague
consciousness that a certain degree of embarrassment had risen up on
Lenore's side as well as his own--a light shadow on the bright grass,
cast no one knows from whence. "Are you, too, satisfied with his sojourn
here?"

Lenore turned away and twisted a twig in her fingers. "Are you
satisfied?" asked she, in return.

"For my part," said Anton, "I may well be pleased with the presence of
my friend."

"Then I am so too," replied Lenore, looking up; "but it really is
strange that Mr. Sturm should not have written either. Perhaps,"
exclaimed she, "they will never return."

"I can answer for Karl," said Anton.

"But the other? He looks as changeable as a cloud."

"He is not that," replied Anton; "if he has difficulties to contend
with, all the energy of his nature awakes; he is only bored by what
gives him no trouble."

Lenore was silent, and dug on more zealously than ever. Just then a hum
of cheerful voices sounded from the farm-yard, and the laborers ran from
their dinner to the road. "Mr. Sturm is coming," cried one of them to
the diggers. A stately procession was seen moving through the village
toward the castle. First of all came half a dozen men all dressed alike,
in gray jackets, wearing broad-brimmed felt hats set on one side, and
decorated with a green sprig, a light gun on their shoulder, and a
sailor's cutlass at their sides. Behind them came a series of loaded
wagons: the first full of shovels, spades, rakes, and wheelbarrows
symmetrically arranged; the latter laden with sacks of meal, chests,
bundles of clothes, and household furniture. The procession was closed
by a number of men dressed like those above described. As they neared
the castle, Karl and a stranger sprang down from the last wagon; the
former placed himself at the head of the procession, had the wagons
driven to the front of the castle, arranged the men in two rows, and
made them present arms. Last of all came Fink galloping up.

"Welcome!" cried Anton to his friend.

"You are bringing an army and ammunition," laughed Lenore, greeting him.
"Do you always march with such heavy baggage?"

"I bring a corps that will henceforth be in your service," replied Fink,
jumping down. "They seem decent folk," said he, turning to Anton; "but I
had some trouble to collect them. Hands are scarce just now, and yet
nothing gets done. We have been drumming and bribing in your country
like recruiting sergeants. These fellows would hardly have been got here
merely to work; the gray jackets and the chasseurs' caps settled the
matter. Some of them have served already, and your hussar knows how to
keep them together as well as any born general."

The baron and his lady now entered the court. The laborers, at Karl's
bidding, raised a loud hurrah, and then strolled off to the side of the
castle and lay down in the sunshine.

"Here are your pioneers, my chief," said Fink to the baron; "since your
kindness allows me to be your inmate for some time to come, I have now a
right to do something toward the security of your castle. The condition
of this province is serious. Even in Rosmin they do not feel safe for a
single day; and your imbodying a militia has not escaped the enemy, and
called attention to your house."

"It is an honor to me," interposed the baron, "to be obnoxious to the
rebels."

"No doubt," politely chimed in Fink. "But this is only an additional
motive to your friends to watch over your and your family's personal
safety. As yet you are hardly strong enough to defend the castle from an
assault of the rascals immediately around. The dozen laborers that I
bring will form a guard for your house; they have arms, and partly know
how to use them. I have bound them to the performance of certain
military functions which will help to keep them in order. They can work
a few hours less daily, and exercise during the interval, patrol, and,
in so far as you, baron, may think it desirable, keep up a regular
correspondence with the neighboring districts. Of course their support
and payment is my affair, and I have accordingly provided for it. I wish
to run up a slight building for them on the land they are to cultivate,
but just now it will be well to keep them as near the castle as
possible, and therefore I have to ask you for temporary quarters for all
these as well as for myself."

"Just as you like, dear Fink," cried the baron, carried away by the
young man's enterprising spirit; "all the room we have is at your
disposal."

"Then allow me to suggest," said Anton, "that a room in the lower story
should be fitted up as a guard-room. There arms and implements can be
safely kept, and some of the men might nightly take up their quarters
there. The rest must be billeted in the farm-yard. In this way they will
get accustomed to consider the castle their place of rendezvous."

"Capital," said Fink, "so that the disturbance thus caused does not
prove an annoyance to the ladies."

"The wife and daughter of an old soldier will gratefully submit to any
measures taken for their safety," replied the baron, with dignity.

Accordingly, the new colony began to settle by universal consent. The
wagons were unloaded, the manager and his men accommodated for the
moment in the farm buildings.

The first thing they did was to free the furniture from its wrappings of
straw and canvas, and to carry it into the apartments of their new
master.

The castle servants stood round and looked with curiosity at its simple
style. One article, however, excited such loud admiration, that Lenore
joined the group of gazers. It was a small sofa of singular aspect. The
legs and arms were made of the feet of some great beast of prey, and
the cushions were covered with the bright yellow skin, all dotted over
with regular black spots. At the back and on the bolsters were three
large jaguars' heads, and the framework, instead of wood, was of
beautifully carved ivory.

"How exquisite!" exclaimed Lenore.

"If the thing does not displease you," said Fink, coolly, "I propose an
exchange. There is a small sofa in my room, on which I rest so
comfortably that I should like to keep it there. Will you allow your
people to carry off this monster to some other room in the castle, and
to leave me that sofa instead?"

Lenore could find no reply, and bowed a silent consent; and yet she was
dissatisfied with herself for not having at once declined such an
exchange. When she returned to her room, she found the jaguar-sofa
already there. That vexed her still further. She called Suska and the
man-servant, and desired them to move it elsewhere; but they so loudly
protested that the beautiful creature was nowhere more in keeping than
in their young lady's chamber, that Lenore, to avoid observation, sent
them away and put up with the exchange. Thus it came to pass that her
fair form rested on the jaguar-skins that Fink had shot in the far
forests of the West.

The next day the new undertaking began. The manager went with his
apparatus to the land in question, and the men had their work portioned
out to them. Karl hunted out day-laborers from the German and Polish
districts around, and even found a few in the village ready to help, so
that in a few days there were fifty hands employed. It must be owned
that things did not go on altogether undisturbed; the laborers came less
regularly than might have been wished, but still the work progressed,
for Fink as well as Karl well understood keeping men in order--the one
by his haughty energy, the other by the invariable good-humor with which
he praised or blamed. The forester came assiduously from his forest to
conduct the military exercises, the castle was nightly watched, and
patrols regularly sent to the villages around. A warlike spirit spread
from the castle over the whole district. A strong esprit de corps soon
sprang up among the broadbrims, which made discipline easy, and after a
few days Fink was besieged with petitioners for a like uniform, and a
gun, and the privilege of being taken into his service.

"The guard-room is ready," said Fink to Anton; "but you must have holes
for muskets cut in the shutters of the lower story windows." Thus the
troublous time was endured with fresh spirit. The stranger-guest gave a
new impulse to each individual life; the very farm-servants felt his
influence, and the forester was proud to do the honors of his wood to
such a gentleman. Fink was a good deal in the woods with Anton, who, as
well as Karl, soon fell into the habit of asking his advice. He bought
two strong cart-horses--for his own use, he said--but he cleverly
contrived that they should work on the baron's farm, and laughed at
Anton's scruples. The latter was happy to have his friend near him.
Somewhat of their former pleasant life had returned--of those evenings
when the two youths had chatted, as only youths can, sometimes in mere
childish folly, sometimes gravely on the highest subjects. Fink had
changed in many respects. He had become more quiet, or, as Anton
expressed it in counting-house phrase, more solid; but he was more
inclined than ever to make use of men for his own varying interests, and
to look down upon them as mere instruments. His physical strength was
unabated. After having stood all morning superintending his
workmen--after having wandered all through the wood with the forester,
ridden, spite of Anton's remonstrances, far into the disturbed districts
to seek information or establish relations there, and inspected on his
return all the sentry-posts on the estate, there he was at the tea-table
of the baroness, a lively companion, with such inexhaustible funds of
conversation that Anton had often to remind him by signs that the
strength of the lady of the house was not equal to his own. As for the
baron, Fink had completely subjugated him. He never showed the least
deference to the sarcastic humor which had become habitual to the
unfortunate nobleman, never allowed him a bitter observation against
Wohlfart or Lenore, or any one else, without making him at once sensible
of its injustice. Consequently, the baron learned to exercise great
self-control in his presence. On the other hand, Fink took pains to give
him many a pleasure. He helped him to play a rubber of whist, initiated
Lenore in the game, and gradually drew in Wohlfart as the fourth.

This had the effect of pleasantly whiling away many a weary hour for the
baron; of making Wohlfart one of the family circle, and keeping him up,
so that Fink might, if so minded, drink a glass of Cognac punch and
enjoy his last cigar in his company. The ladies of the house alone did
not seem to feel the cheering influence of Fink's presence. The
baroness fell sick; it was no violent ailment, yet it came suddenly.
That very afternoon she had spoken cheerfully to Anton, and taken from
him some letters which the postman had brought for her husband, but in
the evening she did not make her appearance at the tea-table, though the
baron himself treated her indisposition as trifling. She complained of
nothing but weakness, and the doctor, who ventured from Rosmin to the
castle, could not give her malady a name. She smilingly rejected all
medicine, and said it was her firm conviction that the exhaustion would
pass away. That she might not detain her husband and daughter in her
sick-room, she often expressed a wish to join the family circle, but she
was not able to sit up on the sofa, and lay resting her head on the
pillows. Thus she was still the silent companion of the others. Her eyes
would dwell uneasily upon the baron, or searchingly upon Lenore, as they
sat at the whist-table, and then she would close them and seem to rest,
as if from some great exertion.

Anton looked with sincere sympathy at the invalid. Whenever there was a
pause in the game, he took the opportunity of quietly stepping to the
sofa and asking her commands. It was a pleasure to him to hand her even
a glass of water, or take a message for her. He gazed with admiration at
the delicate face, which, pale and thin as it was, retained all its
beauty of outline. There was a silent understanding between the two. She
spoke, indeed, less to him than to the rest; for while she often
addressed her husband in a cheerful tone, or followed Fink's lively
narratives with looks and gestures of interest, she did not take the
trouble of hiding her weakness from Anton. Alone with him, she would
collapse or gaze absently straight before her; but when she did look at
him, it was with the calm confidence with which we are inspired by an
old friend from whom we have no longer any secrets. Perhaps this arose
from the baroness being able fully to appreciate his worth--perhaps,
too, it arose from her never having looked at him in any other light
than that of an obliging domestic since he first promised his services;
but had this view of hers been discernible to our hero, it would in no
way have shaken his allegiance to the noble lady. She seemed to him
perfect, just as she was--a picture that rejoiced the heart of all who
came within its influence. He could not get rid of the impression that
some external cause, perhaps one of those letters he had himself given
her, was answerable for the change in her health; for one of them was
directed in a trembling hand, and had an unpleasant look about it, which
had made Anton instinctively feel that it contained bad news. One
evening, while the others were at the card-table, the invalid's head
sunk down from the silken cushions; Anton having arranged them more
comfortably, she looked at him gratefully, and told him in a whisper how
weak she was. "I wish to speak with you once more alone," continued she,
after a pause; "not now, but the time will come;" and then she looked
upward with an expression of anguish that filled Anton's heart with
painful fears.

Neither the baron nor Lenore, however, shared his anxiety.

"Mamma has often suffered from similar attacks of weakness before," said
the latter. "The summer is her best cure, and I hope every thing from
warmer weather."

But indeed Lenore was too preoccupied to be a good judge of what was
going on around her. She too was changed. Many an evening she would sit
mute at the tea-table, and start if addressed; at other times she would
be immoderately lively. She avoided Fink; she avoided Anton too, and was
reserved in manner to both. Her blooming health appeared disturbed; her
mother would often send her out of doors from her own sick-room; and
then she would have her pony saddled, and ride round and round the wood,
till the indignant pony would take her home without her finding it out.
Anton saw this change with silent sorrow. He was deeply conscious how
different Lenore's relation to him had become, but he did not speak of
this to her, and kept his feelings to himself.

It was a sultry afternoon in May. Dark thunder-clouds hung over the
forest, and the sun threw its burning rays on the parched land, when the
patrol which had been sent to Kunau came hurrying back to the guard-room
to say that there were strange men lurking in the Kunau woods, and that
the villagers wished to know what was to be done. Fink gave the alarm to
his laborers, and sent a message to the forester and to the new farm.
While the men carried the implements into the castle, and the
farm-servants rode home with teams and prepared for a sally, a horseman
came from Kunau to say that a band of Poles had broken into a court-yard
in the village, and that the peasants requested help. All were now in
the cheerful excitement which an alarm occasions when it promises
adventures.

"Keep some of the workmen back," said Fink to Anton, "and guard the
castle and village. I will send the forester with his little militia to
Kunau, and ride over thither myself first of all, with Karl and the
servants."

He sprang to the stable and saddled his own horse, while Karl was
getting ready that of the baron for himself.

"Look at the clouds, Herr von Fink," said Karl. "Take your cloak with
you; we shall have a tremendous shower."

Fink called accordingly for his plaid, and the little band galloped off
toward Kunau. When they entered the forest they remarked how stifling
the atmosphere was. Even the rapid pace of their horses brought with it
no relief.

"Look how restless the beasts are," said Karl. "My horse pricks his
ears. There is something in the wood."

They stopped for a moment. "I hear a horse's tread, and a rustling among
the branches."

The horse that Karl rode stretched out his neck and neighed loudly.

"It is an acquaintance--one of our own number," said Fink, looking at
the animal. The branches of the young trees parted, and Lenore, mounted
on her pony, sprang out and barred the way. "Halt! who goes there?"
cried she, laughing.

"Hurrah! the young lady!" exclaimed Karl.

"The password?" cried Lenore, in true martial style.

Fink rode up, saluted her, and whispered, "Potz Blitz, das ist ja die
Gustel von Blasewitz."

Lenore blushed and laughed. "All right," said she; "I shall ride with
you."

"Of course," cried Fink; "only let's go on."

The pony exerted himself to keep up with the tall horse of the stranger,
and thus they reached Kunau and stopped at the rendezvous, where the
village militia was assembled; and its commander, the smith, met the
riders with an anxious face.

"Those hidden in our wood," cried he, "are an accursed set--armed Poles.
This very day, in broad noonlight, a band of the men, carrying guns,
came to Leonard's farm, which lies out there by the wood, invested the
doors and gate, while their leader and some of the men marched into the
room where the farmer and his family were sitting, and demanded money
and the calf out of the stable. He was a blackguard fellow, with a long
gun, a peacock feather in his cap, and a red scarf around his loins,
like a thorough Klopice. The farmer refused to give up his money, at
which they took aim at him; and his wife, in terror, ran to the closet,
and threw all the money they had at the rascals. Next, they carried away
the geese from the yard, and went off with their booty into the wood,
leaving four rogues armed with guns to mount guard, and prevent any one
getting off the premises till they were far enough. Next, two of the
thieves discharged their guns into the roof, and then all ran away. The
thatch took fire, but fortunately we got it put out."

"Hours have passed since then," cried Fink; "the rogues are over the
mountains by this time."

"I do not think so," replied the smith. "I at once sent off Leonard to
the border with our mounted men, that they might watch whether the
thieves crept out of the wood or not, and a woman who crossed it two
hours ago saw Poles there. They had some beast with them too, but the
woman was too much terrified to know whether it was a calf or a dog; if
it were a calf, the hungry wolves would rather eat it than carry it
farther. I have just come from Neudorf; the men there are assembled like
ourselves. We might make a search through the forest if your people
would help us, and if you would show us the way." "Good," said Fink;
"let us set about it." He then sent a message to the forester to the
effect that those in the castle should set out on the search from their
side, and discussed with the smith the best way of disposing the Kunau
men. He next dispatched Karl and the servants to join the Kunau horsemen
on the opposite side of the wood. "Don't stand upon ceremony with the
rascals," he called out after Karl, with a significant tap on his
pistols. "Now, then," said he to the smith, "I will go to Neudorf. When
you have searched your half of the wood, wait for us; you shall then be
joined by the Neudorf detachment."

The Kunau men set off accordingly to avenge the robbery committed. Fink,
accompanied by Lenore, rode off to the neighboring village. On the way
thither, he said, "At Neudorf we must part, lady." Lenore was silent.

Fink glanced sidelong at her. "I don't think," said he, "that the rogues
will do us the pleasure of awaiting our approach; and if they are minded
to run off, the evening is closing in, and we shall hardly hinder them;
but the chase will be good practice for our people, and therefore we
must make the most of it."

"Then I will go with you to the wood," said Lenore, resolutely.

"That is hardly necessary," replied Fink. "True, I fear no risk for you,
but fatigue, and probably rain."

"Let me go with you!" prayed Lenore, looking up at him. "I have given
you sensible advice; what more can be demanded from any one?"

"Between ourselves, I am rejoiced to find you so spirited. Gallop then,
comrade!"

Arrived at Neudorf, Fink left the horses in the bailiff's stable, and
led the band of villagers to the borders of the wood. There they
deployed into a cordon, and the march now began; Fink walked with
Lenore at the head of the right wing, which, according to the plan laid
down, would be the first to join the Kunau detachment. All went silently
onward, and looked with keen glance from tree to tree. As they got
farther into the wood, there was a rustling in the tops of the trees,
and looking through them, a leaden-colored sky was seen; but below, the
sultriness was undisturbed, the birds sat supinely on the branches, and
the beetles had crept into the heather.

"The very sky is on the side of these rogues," said Fink, pointing out
the clouds to his companion; "it is getting so dark up there that in
half an hour's time we shall not be able to see ten yards before us."

The forest now thickened and the light decreased. Lenore had some
difficulty in discerning the men before her. The ground grew swampy, and
she sank up to her ankles. "If only no cold be caught," laughed Fink.
"None will," replied she, cheerfully; but the forest expedition no
longer appeared to her the easy matter it had done an hour before.

The man nearest to Fink stood still, his whispered word of command ran
along the whole chain, and all stopped to wait for the Kunau men. The
sky grew still blacker, the wood still darker. The thunder began to roll
in the distance, hollow and muffled, beneath the fir-wood arches. At
first the rain sounded only on the tree-tops, but soon large, heavy
drops came down, till at length all view was shut out by the sheets of
water that fell. Each individual was isolated by darkness and rain, and
when the men called to each other, they were hardly audible.

At that moment Lenore, as she looked at Fink, caught her foot in the
root of a tree, and suppressing a cry of anguish, sank on one knee. Fink
hastened to her.

"I can go no farther," said she, conquering her pain; "leave me here, I
beseech you, and call for me on your return."

"To leave you in this condition," cried Fink, "would be barbarity,
compared to which cannibalism is a harmless recreation. You will be good
enough to put up with my proximity. But first of all allow me to lead
you out of this shower-bath to some spot where the rain is less
audacious; and, besides, I have, already lost sight of our men; not one
of the worthy fellows' broad shoulders can I now discern." He raised
Lenore, who tried to use the injured foot, but the pain extorted another
cry of agony. She tottered, and leaned against Fink's shoulder. Winding
his plaid about her, he lifted her from the ground, and carried her, as
one carries a child, underneath some fir-trees, whose thick branches
spread over a small dry space. Any one stooping might find tolerable
shelter there.

"I must set you down here, dear lady," said Fink, carefully placing
Lenore on the ground. "I will keep watch before your green tent, and
turn my back to you, that you may bind your wet handkerchief round the
naughty ankle."

Lenore squeezed herself in under the fir canopy. Fink stood leaning
against the trunk of a tree.

"Is nothing broken?" said he; "can you move the foot?"

"It hurts me," said Lenore, "but I can move it."

"That is well," said Fink, looking straight before him; "now bind the
handkerchief round it; I hope that in ten minutes you will be able to
stand. Wrap yourself up well in the large plaid; it will keep you warm;
else my comrade will catch a fever, and that would be paying too dear
for the chase after the stolen calf. Have you arranged the bandage?"

"Yes," said Lenore.

"Then allow me to wrap you up." It was in vain that she protested; Fink
wound the large shawl round and round her, and tied it behind in a firm
knot. "Now you may sit in the wood like the gray manikin."

"Leave me a little breathing space," implored Lenore.

"There, then," said Fink; "now you will be comfortable."

Indeed, Lenore soon began to feel a genial warmth, and sat silent in her
shady nook, distressed at the singular position in which she found
herself. Meanwhile Fink had again taken up his post against the
tree-trunk, and chivalrously kept aloof. After a time Lenore called out
of her hiding-place, "Are you there still, comrade mine?"

"Do you take me for a traitor who forsakes his tent-companion?" returned
Fink.

"It is quite dry here," continued Lenore, "only that a drop falls now
and then upon my nose; but you, poor you, will be wet through out there.
What fearful rain!"

"Does this rain terrify you?" inquired Fink, shrugging his shoulders.
"It is but a weak infant, this. If it can break off a twig from a tree,
it thinks it has done wonders. Commend me to the rain of warmer
climates. Drops like apples--nay, not drops at all, streams as thick as
my arm! The water rushes down from the clouds like a cataract. No
standing, for the ground swims away beneath one's feet: no taking
shelter under a tree, for the wind breaks the thickest trunks like
straw. One runs to his house, which is not farther off, perhaps, than
from here to that good for nothing stump that hurt your foot, and the
house has vanished, leaving in its place a hole, a stream, and a heap of
well-washed stones. Perhaps, too, the earth may begin to shake a little,
and to raise waves like those of the sea in a storm. That is a rain
which is worth seeing. Clothes that have been wet through by it never
recover; what was once a great-coat is, after a whole week's drying,
nothing more than a black and shapeless mass--in aspect and texture like
to a morel. If one chances to be wearing such a coat, it sticks on fast
enough indeed, but it never can be got off except by the help of a
penknife, and in narrow strips, peeled away as one peels an apple!"

Lenore could not help laughing in spite of pain. "I should much like to
have experience of such a rain as that," said she.

"I am unselfish in not wishing to see you in such a plight," replied
Fink. "Ladies fare worst of all. All that constitutes their toilette
vanishes entirely in torrents such as these. Do you know the costume of
the Venus of Milo?"

"No," said Lenore, distressed.

"All women caught in a tropical rain look exactly like that lady, and
the men like scarecrows. Nay, sometimes it happens that human beings are
beaten down flat as penny-pieces, with a knob in the middle, which, on
closer examination, proves to be a human head, and mournfully calls out
to passers-by, 'Oh, my fellow-beings, this is what comes of going out
without an umbrella!'"

Again Lenore could not help laughing. "My foot no longer hurts me so
much; I believe that I could walk."

"That you shall not do," replied Fink. "The rain has not abated, and it
is so dark that one can hardly see one's outstretched hand."

"Then do me the kindness of going to look for the others. I am better
now, and I crouch here like a roe, hidden alike from rain and robbers."

"It won't do," rejoined Fink from his tree.

"I implore you to do so," cried Lenore, anxiously, stretching out her
hands from the plaid. "Leave me now alone." Fink turned round, seized
her hand, pressed it to his lips, and silently hurried off in the
direction the men had taken.

Lenore now sat alone beneath the fir-tree. The rain still rushed down,
and the thunder rolled above her, and at times a sudden flash showed her
the two long rows of trunks, looking like the yellow pillars of an
unfinished building, a black roof over them. At such moments the forest
seemed like an enchanted castle, rising out of the earth and sinking
into nothingness again. Mysterious tones, such as fill the woods by
night, sounded through the rain. Over her head there was a knocking at
regular intervals, as if some wicked wood-sprite were seeking admittance
to her shelter, which made her start, and ask herself whether it
proceeded from a spectre or the branch of a tree. Farther off was heard
the vehement croaking of some crow whose nest had been flooded, and
whose first sleep was disturbed. Close to her there was ghastly
laughter. "Hee, hee! hoo, hoo!" and again Lenore started. Was it a
malicious forest kobold, or only a night-owl? Nature spoke around her in
a hundred melancholy tones. Lenore sometimes enjoyed, and sometimes
trembled at the wild charm of this solitude. Other thoughts, too, passed
through her mind: she blamed herself for having foolishly stolen out to
join an undertaking that made such a result as this possible; she
pictured to herself how they were seeking for her at home; and, above
all, wondered what he who had just left her, at her earnest request, was
thinking of her in his inmost heart. Pushing back the plaid, she
listened, but there was not a human voice to be heard; nothing but the
fall of the rain and the sighing of the wood. But near her something
moved. At first she heard it indistinctly, then plainly as in leaps it
came closer, and presently she felt something press against her plaid.
Terrified, she cautiously reached out her hand, and touched the wet skin
of a hare, who, scared from its form by the incessant rain, now sought
shelter like herself. She held her breath not to disturb her little
companion, and for a while the two cowered side by side.

Then shots sounded afar off through the rain and thunder. Lenore
started, and the hare bounded away. Yonder there were men fighting;
yonder, blood was being poured out on the dark ground. A scream was
heard--a fierce, ominous scream, then all was still. "Was he in danger?"
she asked herself; yet she felt no fear, and shook her head under her
plaid, sure that, even if he were, no danger would reach him: the gun
aimed at him would strike some broken branch, the knife drawn against
him would break like a splinter before it struck him, the man who rushed
on him would stumble and fall before he could touch that haughty head.
He was above all danger, above all fear; he knew neither care nor grief;
alas! he did not feel like other men. His head was lifted freely, his
eyes were clear and bright when all others were cast in terror down to
earth. No difficulty affrighted, no hinderance stopped him. With a mere
wave of his hand he could remove what crushed other men. Such was he.
And this man had seen her weak, precipitate, and helpless; it was her
own fault that he had now a right to assume a transient intimacy. She
trembled lest he should presume upon this right by a glance, a
presumptuous smile, a passing word. In this way her heart kept beating
and her thoughts fluttering for long hours.

The storm passed off. Instead of torrents there was small rain, and a
dull gray succeeded to the black darkness and the fiery flashes. Lenore
could now trace the trunk of the nearest trees. The feeling of
solitariness oppressed her more and more. Just then she heard again the
distant sound of human voices, call and counter-call grew louder, and
the bailiff's voice cried, "They went beyond the quarry; look yonder,
you Neudorf men." The steps of the speakers drew near, and Karl, making
a speaking trumpet of his hands, shouted with all his might, "Halloa,
hillo hoa, Fräulein Lenore!"

"Here I am," cried a female voice at his very feet.

Karl started back in amazement, and joyfully called out, "Found!" The
peasants surrounded Lenore's shelter.

"Our young lady is here!" cried a youth of Neudorf, and hurraed in his
delight as though he were at a wedding.

Lenore rose; her foot still pained her; but, leaning on Karl's arm, she
exerted herself bravely to walk. Meanwhile the young men broke down a
few poles, and laid fir branches across them. In spite of her
resistance, Lenore was constrained to seat herself upon the rude litter,
while some ran on to the bailiff's stable to get her horse ready for
her.

"Have you found the thieves?" inquired Lenore from Karl, who walked at
her side.

"Two of them," replied he. "The calf had been killed; we have got its
skin and part of its flesh. The geese were hanging up on a bough, with
their necks wrung, but the rascals had divided the money. We found very
little of it on our prisoners."

"Those we have caught are Tarow men," said the bailiff, anxiously; "the
worst in the village. And yet I wish they were any where but here, for
there are some desperately revengeful fellows yonder."

"I heard shots," inquired Lenore, further; "was any harm done?"

"Not to us," answered Karl. "In their foolhardiness they made a fire,
not much beyond the border where our riders formed a cordon. The
embers were glimmering in spite of the rain, and thus they betrayed
themselves. We dismounted, crept near, and surprised them. They fired
their guns and ran into the bush. There the darkness swallowed them up.
It was a long time before the party on foot could join us, and but for
the shots and the noise they would never have found us out. Herr von
Fink described to us the place where we should meet with you. He is
taking the prisoners with him to the estate, and to-morrow we will send
them farther."

"But to think that Herr von Fink should have left you thus alone in the
wood!" said the worthy bailiff: "that was a bold stroke indeed."

"I begged him not to remain behind," cried Lenore, casting down her eyes
in spite of the darkness.

Half way to the village Lenore's pony was brought to meet them. At
Neudorf, Karl got back the baron's horse and accompanied his young lady
to the castle. It was very late before they arrived. Lenore's long
absence had excited her mother's alarm, and put the baron fearfully out
of temper. She escaped from his cross-questioning as fast as she could,
and hurried to her room. An hour later, Fink, with the forester, came
back from Kunau, bringing both the prisoners, who walked haughtily, with
their hands bound, and carried their peacock's feathers as high as
though they were leading the dance in a tavern.

"You shall pay for this," said one of them in Polish to his escort, and
clenched his fettered fists.



CHAPTER XXXVI.


The rain still continued. It had ceased indeed in the morning, but only
to begin again with double energy. The laborers had gone early to the
field, but they soon returned. They were now sitting silently in the
guard-room of the castle, drying their wet garments at the stove.

The baron sat in the arm-chair, listening to old John, who read him the
newspaper that had reached the castle on the previous day. The
monotonous voice of the domestic announced nothing but unwelcome news;
the rain-drops rattled on the panes, and the wind rushed howling round
the corner of the house in discordant accompaniment.

Anton was busy at his desk. Before him lay a letter from Commissary
Horn, announcing that the judicial sale of the family estate was fixed
for the middle of next winter; and that, since the advertisement of this
definite period, several mortgages on the property had passed from one
hand to another, bought up, as he feared, by one speculator, who
disguised himself under different names. Accordingly, Anton reflected in
gloomy mood upon the hazardous position of the baron.

In the neighboring room Fink was keeping the ladies company, the
baroness lying back on the sofa cushions, covered by a shawl of
Lenore's. She gazed in silence straight before her, but when her
daughter came up with some tender inquiry, she nodded smilingly at her,
and spoke a few cheering words. Lenore was sitting in the window
occupied with some light work, and listening with rapture to the jests
by which Fink brightened the otherwise mournful room. To-day, in spite
of the rain, he was in the wildest spirits. From time to time Lenore's
ringing laugh reached Anton through the massive door, and then he forgot
sale and mortgage, looked with clouded brow at the door, and felt, not
without bitterness, that a new struggle was approaching both for the
family and for himself.

Without, as we have already said, the rain poured and the storm raged.
The wind from the forest wailed to the castle. The old firs creaked, and
ceaselessly bent down their branches toward the building. Around the
pear-trees in the meadows leaves and white blossoms fluttered timidly to
earth. The storm angrily stripped them off, and crushed them, low with
his rain, howling the while. "Down with your smiling pomp! to-day all
belonging to the castle shall wear mourning." Then the fierce spirit
flew from the trees to the castle walls; it shook the flag-staff on the
tower; it hurled the rain in slanting torrents against the windows; it
groaned in the chimneys and thundered at the doors. It took advantage of
every opening to cry, "Guard your house!" And this it did for hours
together, but those within understood not its speech.

Neither did any one heed the horseman who was urging his weary horse
through the village to the castle. At last the knocker outside the gate
was heard, the strokes sounded impatient, and loud voices resounded in
the court-yard and on the stairs. Anton opened the door; an armed man,
dripping with wet and stained with mud, entered the room.

"It is you!" cried Anton, in amazement.

"They are coming," said Karl, looking cautiously round; "prepare for it;
this time it is our turn."

"The enemy?" rapidly asked Anton. "How strong is the band?"

"It was not a band that I saw," replied Karl, seriously; "it was an army
of about a thousand scythe-bearers, and at least a hundred horsemen at
their head. I hear that they have orders to enlist all Poles and disarm
all Germans."

Anton opened the door of the next room and made a sign to Fink.

"Ah!" cried Fink, as he cast a look on Karl, "he who brings half the
highway into the room with him has no good tidings to tell. From which
side comes the enemy, sergeant?"

"From the Neudorf birch wood straight down upon us. Our villagers are
assembled in the tavern drinking and quarreling."

"No beacon-fires have been seen--no tidings have come from the
neighboring villages," cried Anton at the window. "Have the Germans at
Neudorf and Kunau been fast asleep, then?"

"They were taken by surprise," continued the messenger of ill. "Their
watch saw the enemy yesterday evening half a mile beyond Neudorf, going
down the high road toward Rosmin. When they had passed the turning to
Neudorf, the villagers took heart again, but their horsemen followed the
enemy till the last scythe-bearers were out of sight. In the night,
however, the whole troop turned back; this morning they fell upon the
village, and wrought sad havoc there. The bailiff is lying on the straw,
covered with wounds, and a prisoner; the guard-house is burned down; but
for this heavy rain we should see the smoke. At this present moment the
enemy has divided. They are making the round of all the German villages:
one party has gone off to Kunau, one to our new farm, the largest is on
its way hither."

"How much time have we to prepare for these gentry?" asked Fink.

"In weather like this, the infantry will take an hour to get here."

"Is the forester warned?" asked Anton; "and do those at the new farm
know?"

"There was no time to apprise them. The farm is farther from Neudorf
than the estate, and I might have been too late getting here. I lit our
beacon, but in rain like this, neither fire nor smoke is visible, and
all signals are useless."

"If they have not looked out for themselves," said Fink, decidedly, "we
can do no more for them."

"The forester is a fox," replied Karl; "no one will catch him; but as to
the farmer and his young wife, Heaven have mercy on them!"

"Save our people!" cried a supplicating voice close to Fink. Lenore
stood in the room, pale, with folded hands.

Anton hurried to the door through which she had silently entered. "The
baroness!" cried he, anxiously.

"She has heard nothing as yet," hurriedly replied Lenore. "Send to the
farm; help our people!"

Fink caught up his cap. "Bring out my horse," said he to Karl.

"You can't be spared now," said Anton, barring the way. "I will take
your horse."

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Wohlfart," interpolated Karl; "if I may ride
Herr von Fink's horse, I shall be quite able to make it out."

"So be it, then," decided Fink; "send hither the forester and any man
you can beat up; the women, horses, and children you can dispatch to the
forest. Let the farmer go with all his cattle into the thicket as far as
he can, and keep a look-out on the castle from the old firs near the
sand-pit. As for you, keep on my horse, which I shall, alas! have to
make over to you for some days to come; ride off to Rosmin, and seek
out the nearest detachment of our soldiers; tell them we implore them to
come to our aid, and, if possible, to bring cavalry with them."

"Our red-caps are about three miles beyond Rosmin," said Karl, turning
to go. "The Kunau smith called that out to me as I rode by."

"Bring any military you can. I'll write a line to the commanding officer
while you are saddling the horse."

Karl made a military salute, and hurried down stairs, Anton with him.
While he was fastening the girths, Anton said, "As you pass by, call out
to the men in the farm-yard that I will be with them at once. Poor
fellow, you have hardly had any breakfast to-day, and there is little
prospect of your getting any thing for some hours to come." He ran back
to the house, got a bottle of wine, some bread, and the remnant of a
ham, stuffed them into a bag, and, together with Fink's letter, gave
them to the hussar just as he was setting off.

"Thanks," said Karl, seizing Anton's hand; "you think of every one. But
I've one thing to ask: think of yourself too, Mr. Wohlfart; this Polish
set, here and yonder, are not worth your risking your life; there are
some at home with whom it would go hard if any thing happened to you."

Anton shook his hand heartily. "Good-by, Karl. I'll do my duty. Don't
forget to send us the forester, and, above all, rescue the farmer's
wife. Lead the military hither through the wood."

"No fear," said Karl, cheerily; "this gallant bay shall find out how
much a stout-hearted trooper can get through."

With these words he waved his cap, and vanished behind the
farm-buildings.

Anton bolted the gate, then hurried to the guard-room, and rang the
alarm-bell, giving orders to the superintendent to let in the men, to
invest the back door, and not to admit any one without questioning them,
not even fugitives.

"Eat heartily and drink moderately; we shall have enough to do to-day,"
he cried.

Meanwhile Fink stood at the table in Anton's room, loading the guns,
while Lenore reached him whatever he needed. She was pale, but her eyes
glowed with an excitement which did not escape Anton as he entered.
"Leave this serious game to us alone," said he, beseechingly.

"It is the home of my parents that you defend," cried she. "My father is
unable to act at your head. You shall not expose your lives for our
sakes without my sharing your danger."

"Forgive me," replied Anton; "your first duty most undoubtedly is to
prepare the baroness, and not to leave her during the next few hours."

"My mother! my poor mother!" cried Lenore, clasping her hands, laying
down the powder-flask, and hurrying to the neighboring room.

"I have set all the men eating," said Anton to Fink. "From this moment
you must take the command."

"Good," replied Fink. "Here are your arms; this double-barrel is light;
one barrel loaded with ball, the other with slugs. The bag of bullets is
under your bed."

"You think of standing a siege, then?" inquired Anton.

"We must either not seek to defend ourselves at all, but surrender at
the friendly discretion of the approaching band, or we must hold out to
our last bullet. We are all prepared for the latter course; perhaps
surrender would be the wiser, but I own it does not suit my taste. As
there is a master of the house, however, still extant, he may decide; go
to the baron."

Anton hurried through the passage to the other wing. Even when at a
distance he could hear the chairs knocked about in the baron's room.
There was an angry "Come in," and he entered. The baron was standing in
the middle of the room, highly excited. "I hear," said he, "that there
is something going on. I must consider it an unpardonable want of
attention that I have not been apprised of it."

"Your pardon, baron," replied Anton; "we only heard a few minutes ago
that a band of the enemy's cavalry and scythe-bearers was moving on
toward your property. We sent off a messenger in all speed to the
nearest military station, then bolted the door, and now we wait your
orders."

"Send me Herr von Fink," replied the baron, authoritatively.

"He is at this moment in the guard-room."

"I beg that he will take the trouble of coming to me at once," cried the
angry nobleman. "I can not discuss military matters with you. Fink is a
gentleman, and half a soldier; I will give all necessary instructions to
him. What are you waiting for?" rudely continued he. "Do you young
people suppose that you are to trifle with me because I have the
misfortune to be blind? He at least whom I feed and pay shall respect my
commands."

"Father!" cried Lenore, on the threshold, looking imploringly at Anton.

"You are right, baron," replied Anton; "I crave your forgiveness for
having in the hurry of the moment forgotten my first duty. I will send
Herr von Fink here at once." Then hastening off, he made his friend
acquainted with the baron's angry mood.

"He is a fool," said Fink.

"Go up at once," urged Anton; "the ladies must not suffer from his
temper." Then throwing on a laborer's jacket, he sprang out through the
door into the rain and to the back farm-yard.

There he found a dreary scene of confusion. German families from the
neighboring villages had taken refuge in the guard-house, and sat there
with their children, and some of their goods and chattels round them.
There were about twenty persons lying on the floor--men, women, and
children, the women lamenting, the children weeping, the men looking
gloomily down. Several of them belonged to the village militia, and some
had their guns with them. Their little carts stood in the yard.
Servants, horses, cows, were all running against each other. Anton
called the superintendent to his assistance.

He next made over the farm-horses and the cattle to the most trustworthy
of the servants, and to the German dairy-maid. Calling aside the head
servant, a resolute kind of man, he described to him a place in the
thicket, not far from the sand-pit, where man and beast might lie
concealed, and be in some degree protected from the weather. Thither the
man was to drive the cattle, and to keep a sharp look-out for the
bailiff, who was to have the management of the wood-party. Next he
desired the maid to leave a cow behind, opened the gate himself, and saw
them all set out toward the forest.

"What are we to do with the horses of the baron and of Herr von Fink?"
hurriedly asked the superintendent.

"They must be brought, together with some of the vehicles, into the
court-yard, come what will. Who knows whether we shall not have to fly,
after all?"

Accordingly, Anton had Karl's newly-painted carts laden with sacks of
potatoes, meal