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Title: The Children of the World
Author: Heyse, Paul, 1830-1914
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Children of the World" ***

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gutcheck/gutspell/jeebes/ and spell check run



Transcriber's Note:
   1. Page scan source:
      http://www.archive.org/details/childrenworld00heysgoog

   2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].



[Illustration: Portrait of Paul Heyse.]



                            THE CHILDREN OF

                               THE WORLD



                                   BY

                               PAUL HEYSE



   "The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the
                          children of light."



                                NEW YORK
                     WORTHINGTON CO., 747 BROADWAY
                                  1890



                          Copyright, 1889, By
                            WORTHINGTON CO.



                             Barr-Dinwiddie
                     Printing and Book-Binding Co.,
                           Jersey City, N. J.



                       THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD.



                                 BOOK I.



                               CHAPTER I.


A few years ago, in the Dorotheen-strasse, in the midst of the Latin
Quarter of Berlin, whose quiet, student-like appearance threatens to
become effaced by the growing elegance of the capital, a small, narrow,
unpretending two-story house, stood humbly, as if intimidated, between
its broad-shouldered neighbors, though every year it received a washing
of a delicate pink hue, and recently had even had a new lightning-rod
affixed to its ancient gable roof. The owner, an honest master
shoemaker, had in the course of time accumulated money enough to have
comfortably established himself in a new and far more elegant dwelling,
but he had experienced beneath this sharply sloping roof, all the
blessings of his life and though a man by no means given to sentimental
weaknesses, he would have thought it base ingratitude to turn his back,
without good reason, upon the old witnesses and protectors of his
happiness. He had, at one time or another, laid his head in almost
every corner, from the little attic chamber, where, as a poor dunce of
an apprentice, he had, many a night, been unable to close his eyes on
account of the pattering raindrops, to the best room on the first
story, where stood his nuptial couch, when, after a long and faithful
apprenticeship, he brought home, as head journeyman, the daughter of
his dead master. But he was far too economical to permit himself to
occupy these aristocratic quarters longer than six months, preferring
to live in the second story, unassuming as it was--the little house
having a front of but three windows--and there, two children had grown
up about him. These first-floor apartments were rented to a childless
old couple, to whom the owner would not have given notice to quit on
any account; for in the white-haired old man he honored a once famous
tenor, whom in his youth, he had heard and admired; while the little
withered old woman, his wife, had, in her time, been a no less
celebrated actress. They had already been pensioned twelve years, and,
without song or noise of any kind, spent their quiet days in their tiny
rooms, adorned with faded laurel-wreaths and pictures of their famous
colleagues. These celebrities, according to the ideas of the
proprietor, gave to his little house a certain artistic reputation, and
if there were customers in the shop at noon when the old couple
returned from their walk, he never failed to direct attention to them
and with boastful assurance to revive the fame of the two forgotten and
very shrivelled great personages.

On the ground floor was the shop, over which a black sign bore the
inscription in gilt letters: "Boot & Shoe Making Done by Gottfried
Feyertag." The shoemaker had ordered the large brown boot and red
slipper, which had originally been painted on the right and left side,
to be effaced, because it annoyed him to see them, when they no longer
represented the fashion. He kept up with the times in his trade, and
could not possibly alter his sign at every change of style. The shop,
he generally left to the management of his wife he himself spending
most of the day in the workroom, where he kept a sharp eye on his four
or five journeymen. A narrow entry led past the shop into a small,
well-kept courtyard, in whose centre stood a tall acacia-tree, three
quarters of which had died for want of air and sunlight, so that only
its topmost branches were still adorned with a few pale green,
consumptive-looking leaves, which every autumn turned yellow some weeks
before any other foliage. Here, in one corner, beside the pump, an
arbor had been erected by the head journeyman, for the daughter of the
house, when a school-girl; it consisted of a few small poles roughly
nailed together, and now overgrown with bean-vines, which bloomed most
dutifully every summer, but in the best years never produced more than
a handful of stunted pods. A little bed along the so-called sunny side
of the house contained all sorts of plants that seek the shade, and
thrive luxuriantly around cisterns and cellars; and in midsummer, when
the sun actually sent a few rays into the courtyard at noonday, the
little spot really looked quite gay, especially if the fair-haired
Reginchen, now a young girl of seventeen, were seated there reading--if
it chanced to be a Sunday--some tale of robbers from a book obtained at
a circulating library.

A grey, neglected back building, only united to the front house by the
bare adjoining walls, had also two stories, with three windows looking
out upon this courtyard; and a steep, ruinous staircase, which creaked
and groaned at every step, led past the ground floor, where the
workshop and journeymen's sleeping-rooms were situated, to the rooms
above. On the night when our story begins, this place was suffocatingly
hot. It was one of those evenings late in summer, when not a breath of
air was stirring no dew was falling, and when only the dust, which had
risen during the day, floated down in light invisible clouds,
oppressing with mountainous weight every breathing creature. A slender
young man, in a straw hat and grey summer clothes, softly opened the
door of the house, walked along the narrow entry on tip-toe, and then
crossed the stones with which the courtyard was paved. He could not
help seizing the pump-handle and cooling his burning face and hands
with the water, which to be sure was none of the freshest. But the
noise did not disturb any one; at least nothing stirred below or above.
He stood still a few moments and allowed the air to dry the moisture,
gazing meantime at the windows of the upper story, which reflected the
bright moonlight. Only one was open, and a large white cat lay on the
sill, apparently asleep. The windows in the first story were all open,
and a faint light stole out and illumined part of the trunk of the
acacia with a pale red glow.

There was nothing remarkable in all this. Moreover, the thoughts of the
lonely watcher beside the pump seemed to be far away from the narrow,
oppressive courtyard, in some fairy garden, for, with a happy smile he
sat down on a little stool in the bean arbor, and pulled to pieces a
withered leaf, upon which he had first pressed his lips. From the open
windows of the workshop in front of him he heard the loud snoring of
one of the journeymen, who had found the room in the rear too close,
and another seemed to be talking in his sleep. A smell of fresh
leather, cobbler's thread, and varnish, penetrated to his retreat, and
these odors, in connection with those coarse natural sounds, would have
disgusted any one else with this Midsummer Night's Dream. But the youth
in the straw hat could not seem to make up his mind to exchange the
hard seat under the scanty foliage for his usual bed. He had removed
his hat and leaned back against the wall, whose damp surface was
pleasant to his burning head. He gazed through the roof of poles at the
small patch of sky visible between the walls, and began to count the
stars. The topmost branches of the acacia gleamed in the moonlight, as
if coated with silver, and the opposite wall, as far as it was touched
by the pale light, glittered as if covered with thin ice or hoarfrost.
"Ah!" said the lonely man in the arbor, "life is still worth the
trouble! True, its brightest gift, fair as yonder stars, is as
unattainable as they--but what does that matter? Does not what we are
permitted to admire, what we can not forget, belong to us as much,
nay more, than if we had it in a chest and had lost the key?"  The
striking of a clock in a neighboring steeple roused him from this
half-conscious, dreamy soliloquy. "One!" he said to himself. "It is
time to think of going to sleep. If Balder should have kept awake to
watch for me, though I expressly forbade it--"

He rose hastily and entered the house. When he had groped his way
cautiously up the rickety stairs and reached the landing on the first
story, he perceived to his astonishment that the door which led into
the rooms stood half open. A small dark ante-chamber led into a larger
apartment, lighted by a sleepy little lamp. On the sofa behind the
table lay a female figure, still completely dressed, absorbed in a
book. The light fell upon a sharply cut, sullen face, past its first
youth, with very dark hair and heavy brows, to which an expression of
power and defiance lent a certain charm. The reader's thick locks had
become unbound, and she wore a plain summer dress of calico, which left
her shoulders and arms bare. Not the slightest change of countenance
betrayed that she had heard the sound of the loiterer's footsteps, and
when he paused a moment in the entry and looked through the door, she
did not even raise her eyes from her book, or push back the hair which
had fallen over her forehead.

"Are you still up, Fräulein Christiane?" he said at last, advancing to
the threshold of the ante-room.

"As you see, Herr Doctor," she replied in a deep voice, without being
in the least disturbed. "The heat--and perhaps also this book--will not
permit me to sleep. I was so absorbed that I did not even hear you come
in. Besides, it is quite time to go to sleep. Good night."

"May I be permitted to ask, Fräulein, what book it is that will not let
you sleep?"  he said, still in the dark entry.

"Why not?" was the reply, after some little hesitation. "Besides, you
have a special right to do so, for it is your book. The proprietor of
the house, Meister Feyertag, borrowed it of you several weeks ago, and
yesterday told me so much about it, that I begged it of him for a day.
Now I can not leave it."

He laughed, and stepped within the room. "So the wicked rat-catcher, to
whose pipe all the men and women now dance, even though they often
declare his tunes horrible, has seized upon you also. You have
certainly just read the chapter on women, whose most striking portions
our worthy host daily quotes to his wife; and though it makes you
angry, you can not drive it out of your mind. The old sinner knows how
to begin: he hasn't read Göthe for nothing.

          "'Doch wem gar nichts dran gelegen
            Scheinet ob er reizt und rührt,
            Der beleidigt, der verführt!"

"You are mistaken," she replied, now sitting erect, so that her face
was shaded by the green screen on the lamp. "True, I have read the
chapter, but it made no _special_ impression upon me, either favorable
or otherwise It is a caricature, very like, and yet utterly false. He
seems to have known only the portion of our sex called 'females': 'tell
me with whom you associate,' etc. Well, we are used to that. But where
I have become inspired with a great respect for him, is from the
chapter entitled 'The Sorrows of the World.' I could, at almost every
sentence, make a note or quote an example from what I have myself
experienced or witnessed in others. And I also know why,
notwithstanding this, we like to read it; because he relates it without
a murmur, so calmly and in such a matter-of-course manner, that we see
it would be foolish to complain of it, or to hope for anything better
for our poor miserable selves, than is bestowed upon a whole world. You
must lend me his other books."

"My dear Fräulein," he replied, "we will discuss the question further
some other time. You must not suppose that I am one of the professors
of philosophy who wish to silence this singular man. It is a pity that
he is not still alive to be asked the various and numerous questions,
from which he carefully retired to his sybarite seclusion in the Swan,
at Frankfort-on-the-Main. But be that as it may, it is too warm
to-night to philosophize. Throw Schopenhauer aside, Fräulein, and play
something for me,--the Moonlight Sonata, or any sweet, pensive harmony.
I should like to cleanse my ears from the ballet-music to which I have
been compelled to listen."

"You! listen to ballet-music?"

"Yes; it sounds ridiculous, but nevertheless it is true. How did it
come about? You know, at least by sight, our tyrant, the so-called
medical counsellor, my university friend and physician in ordinary. He
comes up to our hen-roost every day. Well, I have overworked myself a
little this summer, finishing a prize essay,--a haste that was most
unnecessary, since with my heresies I am safe from academical honors.
However, I gained the _second_ premium,--a heavy head, with such
rebellious nerves that my state almost borders on a disordered brain,
or one of the mild forms of lunacy. A journey, or a few weeks on the
Rhigi, would be the best cure. But our physician in ordinary, for
excellent reasons, prescribed no such luxurious remedy. It would be
much cheaper, he thought, to let the manufactory of thought rest for a
while. He proposed to me to play cards, make a collection of beetles,
train a poodle, or fall in love. Unfortunately I had neither
inclination nor talent for any of these very simple and undoubtedly
efficacious remedies. So, early this morning, he brought me a ticket to
the opera-house: he always has acquaintances before and behind the
scenes. A new ballet was to be performed, to hear and see which would
repay even an old habitué, let alone a whimsical fellow like myself,
who had not entered a theatre for ten years. Well, I could not escape
the experiment. He who has a doctor for a friend must occasionally
submit to try new remedies, and a ballet is better than a silver tube
in one's stomach."

He smiled,--a half-satisfied, half-mysterious smile.

"Play me the Moonlight Sonata," he asked again. "Life is beautiful,
Fräulein Christiane, in spite of all the sorrows of the world. What
lovely roses you have in that vase! Permit me--"

He took a small bouquet, which was standing on the table, and pressed
it against his face. The full-blown flowers suddenly fell apart, and
the leaves covered the book.

"Oh! dear," said he, coloring with embarrassment, "I have done a fine
thing now. Will you forgive me, dear Fräulein?"

"Certainly, Herr Doctor, if you will be reasonable now, and go up
stairs to sleep off your intoxication. For you are in a condition--You
must know how it happened."

"I? I did not know--"

"Any better than to ask me to play for you at half-past two o'clock in
the morning! We shall wake the people in the house, and others can see
us,--me from the opposite windows. And besides--"

She had risen, and now repressed the rest of the words that were on her
lips. After pacing several times up and down the heated room, which
contained little furniture except her bed, her piano, and a bookcase,
she pushed back her hair from her brow and shoulders, and folding her
bare arms across her chest, stood quietly at the window. A sigh heaved
the breast which had learned to keep a strict guard over its thoughts
and feelings. In this attitude she waited, with apparent calmness, for
him to take his leave.

"I must really seem a very singular person," he said, in a frank,
honest tone. "We have lived in the same house for months, and the only
use I have made of this vicinity, was by my first and only visit, when
I begged you not to play during certain hours, which I had selected for
study. Now I enter your room in the middle of the night, and take the
liberties of an old acquaintance. Forgive me, on account of my
disordered brain, dear Fräulein, and--may you have a good night's
rest."

He bent his head slightly, and left the room.

As soon as she heard him go up stairs, she hurried into the little
ante-chamber, closed the outer door, bolted it, and then stood still a
short time, listening, with her trembling body pressed close against
the door, and her hands clenched on the latch. He walked slowly up a
few steps, and then paused again, as if he had suddenly become absorbed
in some dreamy thought. She shuddered, sighed heavily, and tottered
back into the sitting-room. Her dress seemed too tight for her, for she
slipped out of it like a butterfly from its chrysalis, and then in the
airiest night costume, sat down at the open piano. It was an old,
much-worn instrument, of very poor tone, and as she ran her slender
fingers lightly over the keys, it sounded in the entry outside like the
distant music of a harp.

The young man had just reached the topmost stair when he heard it.

"There! she is playing the sonata, after all," he said to himself. "A
strange, obstinate person. What can she have suffered from fate?
To-morrow I will take more notice of her. It's a pity she is so ugly,
and yet--what does it matter? There is a charm in her finger-tips. What
wonderful music!"

He stood still a moment listening to the familiar tones, which seemed
to express all the familiar thoughts that had been wandering in a
confused chaos through his mind. Suddenly he heard a voice from within.

"Is that you, Edwin?"

"Of course it is I," he replied.

The next instant he had opened the door and entered the room which was
brightly lighted by the moonbeams.



                              CHAPTER II.


This room, termed by its occupants' friends "the tun," was a large
three-windowed apartment, with walls painted light grey, a floor
scoured snow white, and over the windows instead of curtains, three
narrow green calico lambrequins of the simplest pattern. A desk stood
at the right-hand window, a small turning-lathe at the left, and in the
spaces between the casements two tall bookcases; there were two beds
placed against the wall, several cane chairs and small chests made of
white wood, and finally, a low, smoky ceiling, which here and there
showed large cracks, and threatened to fall. But the room, spite of
its simplicity, had an aristocratic air from the presence of two
copperplate engravings of Raphael's paintings, framed in plain
brown wood, that hung over the beds, and two antique busts on the
bookcases,--one a head of Aristotle, the other the gloomy-eyed,
stern-browed Demosthenes. Even the low stove was adorned with a piece
of sculpture at which no one is ever weary of gazing--the mask of
Michael Angelo's young prisoner, who, with closed lids, lets his
beautiful head sink on his shoulder as if weary of torture and longing
for sleep. Here, however, the moonlight did not reach: it merely fell
obliquely across the bed placed against the wall.

On this bed, with his eyes fixed upon the door, lay a young man, whose
pale features, almost feminine in their delicacy, were framed in a
wreath of thick, fair locks. It was difficult to guess his age from his
countenance, since the boyish expression of mirth that dwelt about his
mouth contrasted strangely with the mature beauties of the finely cut
features. He was wrapped in a light quilt, and a book lay open on the
chair beside him. When Edwin entered, he slowly rose and held out a
white delicately formed hand.

"Well," said he, "was it very fine? Has it done you good?"

"Good evening, Balder," replied Edwin, "or rather, good morning! You
see I do everything thoroughly, even rioting at night. But I see I must
not leave you alone again, child. I really believe you have been
reading by moonlight."

A deep flush crimsoned the face of the recumbent youth. "Don't be
angry," said he in a clear, musical voice. "I could not sleep; and, as
the lamp had burned out and the room was so bright,--but now tell me
About it. Has the remedy already produced an effect?"

"To-morrow you shall hear as much as you wish, but not a syllable now,
to punish you for your carelessness in spoiling your eyes and heating
your head. Do you know that your forehead is burning again?" And he
passed his hand tenderly over the soft hair. "I will complain of you to
the physician in ordinary. And you don't seem to have touched your
supper; there is the plate with your bread and butter."

"I wasn't hungry," replied the youth, letting his head fall gently back
on the pillow. "Besides, I thought if you came home late, and, after
the unusual excitement, might perhaps feel inclined to eat something."

Edwin brought the plate to the bed. "If you don't want me to be
seriously angry, you artful fellow," said he, "you will have the
goodness to repair the omission at once. But to make it easier for you,
I'll take half myself. Heavens! what is to be done with such a
disobedient child? So divide fairly, or I'll complain of you to-morrow
to Jungfrau Reginchen, who will soon bring you to reason."

Again a vivid blush crimsoned the young man's face, but Edwin pretended
not to notice it. He had sat down on the bed, and was beginning to eat,
from time to time pushing a piece into his brother's mouth, who
submitted with a half smile. "The bread is good," said Edwin; "the
butter might be better. But that is Reginchen's weak point. Now a drink
as fresh as our cellar affords."

He poured out a class of water, and swallowed it at a single gulp.
"Balder," said he, "I am returning to truth and nature, after having
incurred the danger of being enervated by luxury. Just think, I had
some ice-cream at the theatre. It could not be helped; others eat it,
and a philosopher must become familiar with everything. Besides, it
wasn't worth the five groschen, for I learned nothing new, and only
regretted that _you_ could not have it. Once, and no more, good night."

While undressing, he said to himself, "This shameless moon! As soon as
we have any extra money, we must get curtains, so that we can be able
to close our eyes on such nights. However, the illumination is very
moderate, compared to that of an opera-house. It took me so by surprise
as I entered the box, that I would gladly have retreated and seen the
whole spectacle from the corridor outside. Believe me, child, the
doorkeepers have the real and best enjoyment. To walk up and down in
the cooler passages over soft carpets, with the faint buzzing and
sighing of the orchestra in one's ears, interrupted at times by a
louder passage with the drums and trumpets, which, smothered by the
walls, sounds like a melodious thunder-storm, and often, when some
belated great lady rustles in, to obtain a glimpse through the door of
the Paradise of painted houris in tights, and the wonderful sunrises
and sunsets,--it is really an enviable situation, compared with that of
the poor mortals in the purgatory within, who, in return for their
money, are cooped up in plush, and must atone for the sins of the
Messrs. Taglioni, while feeling as if all their fine senses were being
hammered upon at once. A time will come when people will read of these
barbarities with a shudder, and envy us because we have nerves to
endure them."

"And yet you remained to the end."

"I? Why yes; in the first place I had a very comfortable seat; the box
to which my ticket admitted me is like a little parlor, and happened to
be almost empty. And then--but I will close the window. The air is
beginning to grow cool,--don't you feel it? Besides, your friend
Friezica has crept away."

Balder made no reply; but though his eyes were apparently closed,
steadily watched Edwin, who, in a fit of absence of mind had thrown
himself upon the bed only half undressed, and turned his face toward
the wall. A half hour elapsed without any movement from either.
Suddenly Edwin turned, and his eyes met his brother's quiet, anxious
gaze.

"I see it won't do, child," said he. "For the first time in our lives,
we are playing a farce with each other; at least I am, in trying to
keep something from you. It is very foolish. What is the use of a man
having a brother, especially one to whom he might be called married,
except to share everything with him, not only the bread and butter, and
whatever else he eats, but also what is gnawing at _him_. I will
confess what has happened, though it is really nothing remarkable; a
great many people have already experienced it; but when we feel it for
the first time in our own persons, all our 'philosophy, Horatio,' will
not permit us to dream what a singularly delightful, uncomfortable,
troublesome, melancholy,--in a word, insane condition it is."

He had sprung from his bed and was now crouching on the foot of
Balder's, half sitting, half leaning back, so that he was in shadow,
and looked past his brother at the opposite wall.

"Prepare yourself to hear something very unexpected," he said, still in
a tone which showed that he was making an effort to speak at all. "Or
do you already know all I wish to tell you, young clairvoyant? So much
the better. Then my confession will weary you, and at least one of us
will be able to sleep. In short, my dear fellow, it is very ridiculous
to say, but I believe it is only too true: I am in the condition which
our physician in ordinary desired, in order to cast out the devil by
Beelzebub; that is, I am in love, and as hopelessly, absurdly, and
senselessly, as any young moth that ever flew into a candle. Pray,
child," he continued, starting to his feet again and beginning to pace
up and down the room, "first hear how it came about, that you may
realize the full extent of my madness. You know that I am twenty-nine
years old, and hitherto have been spared this childish disease. It is
not necessary for everybody to catch the scarlet fever. As for the
natural and healthy attractions of the 'fair sex,' I was old enough
when our dear mother died, to feel that a woman like her would hardly
appear on earth a second time. For the daily necessities of living and
loving--which every human heart needs to retain its requisite warmth--I
was abundantly supplied in our brotherly affection, to say nothing of
the miserable, unamiable, and yet love-needing human race. And then,
ought a man to have for his profession the science of pure reason, and,
like any other thoughtless mortal, make a fool of himself over the
first woman's face he sees, without any cause except that the lightning
has struck him. Heaven knows why? It seems incredible, but I fear I
have accomplished the impossible."

He sat down on the bed again, but this time so that his face was turned
toward Balder. "I will allow you to study me thoroughly, without any
mercy," he said, smiling. "This is the way a man looks, who suddenly
becomes the sport of the elements,--whose reflection, wisdom, pride,
and whatever else the trash may be called, are of no avail. I always
shuddered when I read the story of the magnetic mountain. When I was a
boy, I thought, defiantly, if I had only been on the ship, I would have
set so many sails, sent so many men to work the oars, and steered in
such a way, that the spell would not have reached me. And so I thought
this evening, daring the whole of the first hour. But--

                'Tales of magic e'er so strange,
                 Woman's wiles to truth can change.'

The helm is broken, the oars refuse their service, and the very portion
of my nature that was steel and iron, most resistlessly obeys the
attraction of the magnet, and really assists in making keel and deck
spring asunder."

He leaned back again, and passed his hand over his brow. The hand
trembled, and a cold perspiration stood on his forehead.

"There is only one thing I don't understand," said Balder, moving aside
to make room for his brother; "why must all this be hopeless?"

"Just listen, my boy, and you will understand all, even the
incomprehensible part, over which I am still puzzling my brains. For I
am no artist, and can only give you a poor, shadowy outline of a
certain face. I entered the box, which was perfectly empty, and I hoped
it would remain so. Clad in my fourteen-thaler summer-suit and without
gloves, I did not seem to myself exactly fit for society, and the
person who opened the box looked at me as if he wanted to say, 'You
ought to be up in the gallery, my friend, instead of in this holy of
holies, to which I usually admit only people belonging to the great or
_demi monde_.' I also did not like to sit down, simple as the matter
might seem to be, on a chair that was better dressed than I. However,
the mischief was done; I determined to assume a very elegant
deportment, such as I had noticed at private colleges in young
diplomatists, and hitherto had always considered mere buffoonery. So I
leaned back in my chair like an Englishman, and glanced now at the
stage, now at the parquet. As I have already said, there was such a
buzzing and fluttering down below, the poor creatures in white gauze
glittering with gold and huge wreaths of flowers tossed their arms and
legs about so wildly, and the violins quavered so madly, that I already
began to think: 'if this goes on long, _you_ will go too.' Suddenly the
door of the box was thrown wide open; while I had squeezed through a
narrow chink, a young lady rustled in, a diminutive servant in livery
and high shirt-collar, which almost sawed off the youngster's huge red
ears, removed a blue silk cloak, the doorkeeper casting a contemptuous
glance at me, rushed forward, drew up a chair, and officiously put a
play-bill on the balustrade. The lady said a few words to the boy in an
undertone, then chose the corner seat nearest the stage, raised a tiny
opera-glass, and, without taking the slightest notice of me, instantly
became absorbed in her enjoyment of art.

"I ought now to describe her to you; but description has its
difficulties. Do you remember the pastille picture from the Dresden
gallery, painted by a Frenchman,--I have forgotten his name,--stay, I
think it was Liotard; we saw a photograph of it in the medical
counsellor's book of beauty?--_la belle Chocoladière_ was written
underneath. Well, the profile before me was something like that, and
yet very very different, far more delicate, pure, and childlike,
without any of the pretentious, cold-hearted expression of the
shop-girl, whose numerous admirers and constant practice in breaking
hearts had gradually transformed her face into a mere alabaster
mask. But the shape of the nose, the long lashes, the proud little
mouth,--enough, your imagination will supply the rest.

"Well, the first quarter of an hour passed very tolerably. From the
first moment I saw no one except my neighbor, who showed me only a
quarter of her face, charming as the tiny sickle of the moon; but to
make amends for that, I studied her dark brown hair, which without any
special ornament, was drawn in smooth bands over her white forehead,
and simply fastened at the back with two coral pins of Italian form. A
few short curls fell on the white neck, and seemed to me to have a very
enviable position, though they remained in the shade. As to her dress,
I am unable to say whether it was in the latest fashion, and according
to French taste, for I have not the necessary technical knowledge; but
a certain instinct told me that nothing could be more elegant, more
aristocratic in its simplicity; there was not the smallest article of
jewelry about her person, she did not even wear ear-rings; her
high-necked dress was fastened at the throat with a little velvet bow,
without a brooch. The hands which held the opera-glass--tiny little
hands--were cased in light grey gloves, so I could not see whether she
wore rings.

"I had noticed that there was a universal movement when she entered the
box. Hundreds of lorgnettes were instantly directed toward her, and
even the _première danseuse_, who was just making her highest leap,
momentarily lost her exclusive dominion over her admirers. But my
beauty seemed to be very indifferent to this homage. She did not turn
her eyes from the stage, at which she gazed with an earnestness, a
devotion, that was both touching and ludicrous. When the first act was
over, and a storm of applause burst forth, it was charming to see how
she hastily laid aside the opera-glass to clap her hands too, more like
a child when it wants another biscuit and says 'please, please,' than
an aristocratic patroness of the fine arts, who occasionally
condescends to join in the applause of the populace.

"She had dropped her handkerchief, a snowy, lace-trimmed bit of cobweb,
which could easily have been put away in a nutshell. I hastily raised
and handed it to her, muttering a few not particularly brilliant words.
She looked at me without the slightest change of expression, and
graciously bowed her thanks like a princess. Not a word was vouchsafed
me. Then she again raised her lorgnette, and, during the entire
intermission, apparently devoted herself to an eager study of the
various toilettes; at least her glass remained a long time turned
toward the opposite box, which was full of ladies.

"I would have given much to have heard her voice, in order to discover
whether she was a foreigner; but no matter how I racked my brain, I
could think of nothing to say. Besides, she looked as if at the first
liberty I might take, she would rise with an annihilating glance, and
leave me alone.

"I was just working hard to concoct some polite remark about ballets in
general and this one in particular, when the intermission ended and she
was again entirely absorbed in the spectacle below.

"A thought flashed through my mind, which, as you will acknowledge, did
me great credit, but unfortunately met with no success. I left the box,
ate the ice-cream already mentioned, and while wiping my beard,
strolled up and down the corridor several times as if weary of the
performance, and carelessly asked the doorkeeper if he knew the lady
who was sitting in the stranger's box. But he replied that this was the
first time he had ever seen her; the opera-house had been reopened
to-night with the new ballet. So, with my purpose unaccomplished, I
retired, and went back to my post.

[Illustration: "As she glided past me, I felt an electric shock to the
very tips of my toes."]

"Meantime my seat had been occupied; a very much over-dressed foreign
couple, American or English nabobs blazing with jewels, had planted
themselves in the best seats beside the beauty. At first I was inclined
to assert my rights, but I really liked to stand in the dark corner and
seeing and hearing nothing of the elegant tastelessness around, gaze
only at the charming shape of the head, the fair neck with its floating
curls, slender shoulders, and a small portion of the sweet face. I
heard the gentleman address her in broken French. She replied without
embarrassment, in the best Parisian accent. Now I knew what I wanted to
learn. She was a natural enemy, in every sense of the word!

"If I tell you, brother, that during the next two hours I stood like a
statue, thinking of nothing except how one can live to be twenty-nine
years old, before understanding the meaning of the old legend of the
serpent in Paradise,--you will fancy me half mad. You wrong me, my dear
fellow, I was _wholly_ mad--a frightful example of the perishableness
of all manly virtues. I beg Father Wieland's pardon a hundred times,
for having reviled him as a pitiful coxcomb, because he allows his
Greek sages, with all their strength of mind and stoical dignity, to
come to disgrace for the smile of a Lais or Musarion. Here there was
not even a smile, no seductive arts were used, and yet a poor private
tutor of philosophy lays down his arms and surrenders at discretion,
because a saucy little nose, some black eyelashes, and ditto curls, did
not take the slightest notice of him.

"But you ought to go to sleep, child; I'll cut my story short. Besides,
it must be tiresome enough to a third person. Five minutes before the
curtain fell for the last time she rose; some one had knocked softly at
the door of the box. As she glided past me, I felt an electric shock to
the very tips of my toes. This was a great piece of good luck, or I
should hardly have been able to shake off my stupor quickly enough to
follow her. Outside stood the gnome with the high shirt-collar and
tow-colored head, gazing at her respectfully with wide open eyes. The
little blue cloak was on his arm. She hastily threw on the light wrap,
almost without his assistance, though he stood on tip-toe, drew the
hood over her head, and hurried toward the stairs, the lad and my
insignificant self following her. Every one she passed started and
looked after her in astonishment.

"At the entrance below stood an elegant carriage. The dwarf opened the
door, made an unsuccessful attempt to lift his mistress in, then swung
himself up behind, and away dashed the equipage before I had sense
enough to jump into a droschky and follow it.

"'Perhaps it is better so,' I thought, when I was once more left alone.
Of what use would it be to follow her? And now I endeavored to become a
philosopher again in the most audacious sense of the word, namely, a
private tutor of logic and metaphysics, an individual most graciously
endowed by the government with permission to starve, _sub specie
acterni_,--from whom if he becomes infatuated with princesses, the
_veina legendi_ ought to be withdrawn, since it is a proof that he has
not understood even the first elements of worldly wisdom.

"There! you have now the whole story. I hoped to have been able to
spare you the recital, trusting that the vision would vanish at
last, if I could cool my excited blood by rambling about a few
hours in the night air. But unfortunately I did not succeed. The
Lindens were swarming with lovers, the music still sounded in my ears,
shooting stars darted across the sky, and, above all, the sentimental
witching light of the moon, altering the aspect of everything which it
touched,--yes, my last hope is sleep, which has often heretofore cooled
the fever of my nerves. Look, the moon is just sinking behind yonder
roof; our night-lamp has gone out; let us try whether we can at last
obtain some rest."

He rose slowly from his brother's bed, like a person who finds it
difficult to move his limbs, passed his hand caressingly over the cheek
of the silent youth, and said: "I can't help it, child; I really ought
to have kept it to myself, for I know you always take my troubles to
heart far more than I do. It is this confounded habit of sharing
everything with you! Well, it is no great misfortune after all. We
shall be perfectly sensible--entirely cured of our folly--to-morrow,
and if anything should still be out of order, for what purpose has
Father Kant written the admirable treatise on 'the power the mind
possesses to rule the sickly emotions of the heart by the mere exercise
of will'?"

He stooped, pressed his lips lightly upon the pale forehead of the
youth, and then threw himself upon his bed. A few notes of the piano
still echoed on the air, but these too now died away, and in fifteen
minutes Balder perceived by Edwin's calm, regular breathing, that he
had really fallen asleep. He himself still lay with his eyes wide open,
gazing quietly at the mask of the prisoner on the stove, absorbed in
thoughts, which, for the present, may remain his secret.



                              CHAPTER III.


We have now to relate the little that is to be told of the two
brothers' former life.

About thirty years before, their father, during a holiday excursion,
had made their mother's acquaintance; he was then a young law-student
from Silesia, and she the beautiful daughter of the owner of a small
estate in Holstein, who had other views for his favorite child than to
give her to the first embryo Prussian lawyer, who had enjoyed a few
days' hospitality at his house. And yet no objections were made. All,
who knew the young girl, declared that it had always been impossible to
oppose her quietly expressed wishes; she had possessed so much power
over all minds, both by her great beauty and the gentle nobleness of
her nature, which in everything she did and said always seemed to hit
the right mark, with that almost prophetic insight into the confused
affairs of the world, which is said to have been peculiar to German
seeresses. What particular attractions she found in the unassuming
stranger, that she wanted him and no one else for her husband, was not
easy to discover. Yet to her last hour she had no occasion to repent,
that, with firm resolution, beneath which perhaps passionate emotions
were concealed, she had aided in removing all the obstacles that stood
in the way of a speedy marriage. As she herself brought little dowry,
except her wealth of golden hair, which when unbound must have reached
nearly to her knees, and as the young lawyer had still a long time of
probation before him ere he could establish a home of his own, they
would have had little happiness if both or either had considered
themselves too good for a subordinate position. The post of bookkeeper
in one of the largest institutions in Berlin had just become vacant.
When the young jurist applied for it, he was forced to hear from all
quarters that he was doing far from wisely in resigning his profession
and giving up all chance of rising to higher offices and dignities,
merely for the sake of an early and certain maintenance. He declared
that he knew what he was doing, and, as he had the best testimonials,
drove his competitors from the field, and, after a betrothal of a few
months, installed his beautiful young wife in the comfortable lodgings
assigned to the accountant.

Ambition is only one phase of the universal human longing for
happiness. He who has his life's happiness embodied in a beloved form
at his side, can easily forget the formless dreams of his aspiring
youth, especially if, as was the case here, the joy which appears so
trifling to the eyes of the proud world nevertheless excites the envy
of those close at hand, and the narrow limits of the household horizon
do not bind down the soul. This, however, was chiefly owing to the
fair-haired wife. She had what is called a tinge of romance, a
dissatisfaction with the dry, bare reality of things around her, a
longing to gild the grey light of every-day existence with the
treasures of her own heart and a lively imagination, and amid the
oppressive uniformity of her household cares, retained a play of fancy,
that with all her toil and weariness kept her young and gay. She
herself said people ought to follow the example of the birds, who,
while building their nests, did not sweat as if working for daily
wages, but as they flew to and fro sang, eat a berry, or perhaps soared
so high into the air, that one might suppose they would never return to
their lowly bush. As this arose from a necessity of her nature, and she
never boasted of it, though she never denied it, her poetic taste built
a brighter world above this dreary, prosaic one, and was a source of
constant rejuvenation to her more practical husband. He never emerged
from the state of transfiguration that surrounds the honeymoon, and
even after he had been married many years, felt when sitting in his
office over his account-books, as much impatience to rejoin his beloved
wife, as he had ever experienced as an enthusiastic young lawyer, in
the earliest days of his love.

In his circumstances there was no outward improvement; his sons grew
up, and no promotion or increase of salary could be thought of. But
nevertheless their happiness increased, and their stock of youth, love,
and romance seemed to grow greater as the children grew. The mother,
who bore the beautiful name of Nanna, would not hear of calling her
first-born Fritz or Carl, but gave him the name of Edwin. But the boy
himself made no preparations to accommodate himself to the lyrically
adorned idyl of his parents. His outward appearance was insignificant
and remained so; a tall lad with awkward limbs, which were all the more
unmanageable because their master in the upper story was thinking of
very different matters than how he ought to move his arms and legs;
besides, the boy's mind was fixed upon other things than the fairy
tales his mother told him, or any of the elegancies with which she
surrounded her child. A thoughtful, analytic mind developed in him at
an early age; his mother, for the first time in her life was seriously
angry with her dear husband, declaring that the father's horrible
calculating of figures had gone to the child's head and entered his
blood. She tormented herself a long time in trying to efface this
instinctive taste, but was at last forced to relinquish her efforts
when the boy went to school and brought home the most brilliant
testimonials of his progress; yet a secret vexation still gnawed at her
heart, all the more unbanishable as for nine years he remained the only
child. At last she gave birth to a second, a boy, who promised to make
ample amends for the disappointment caused by the apparently sober,
prosaic nature of her oldest son. This child was in every respect the
exact image of his mother; beautiful as the day, with rich golden
curls; he liked nothing better than to be lulled to sleep with fairy
tales, cultivate flowers, and learn little stories by heart. The mother
seemed to grow young again in her radiant delight in the possession of
this innocent creature, to whom the name of Balder, the God of Spring,
appeared to her exactly suited. Any one who had seen her at that time,
would scarcely have believed her to be the mother of her older son,
the long-legged schoolboy with the grave, prematurely old face; so
young and smiling, so untried by life, did she look, that her fair
head seemed bathed in perpetual sunlight. But it was only a short
spring-time of joy. Balder had not yet commenced to distinguish between
poetry and reality, when his mother was suddenly attacked by a violent
nervous fever, and after a few days' illness, during which she
recognized neither husband nor children, she left them forever.

It was a blow which brought her husband to a state of despair which
bordered upon madness. But upon the older boy the event had a strange
effect. There was, at first, an outburst of wild, passionate grief,
such as, from his steady, quiet temperament, no one would have
expected. Now it was evident how passionately he had loved his mother,
with a fervor for which he had never found words. Up to the time of the
funeral it was impossible to induce him to eat; he pushed away his
favorite dishes with loathing, and only a little milk crossed his lips
just before he went to bed. When he returned with his father from the
churchyard, and, himself like a corpse, saw in his father's face every
sign of breaking down under the misery of a happiness so cruelly
destroyed, while little Balder gazed in perplexity at him with his dead
mother's eyes, a great transformation seemed to take place in the older
brother's soul. His convulsed face grew suddenly calm, he pushed from
his forehead his thin straight hair, and, going up to his father, said:
"We must now see how we can get along without mother. You shall never
be dissatisfied with me again." Then he sat down on the floor beside
the child, and began to play with him as his mother used to do; a thing
to which, hitherto, with all his love for the little one, he had never
condescended. Balder stretched out his hands to him, and laughingly
prattled on in his merry way. The father seemed to take no notice of
anything that was passing around him. Weeks and months elapsed before
he even outwardly returned to his old habits.

But even then there was not much gained. The portion of him which had
been a calculating-machine faultlessly continued its work, but the
human affections were totally destroyed. Had not Edwin, with a prudence
wonderful in one so young, managed the affairs of the little household
when the old maid servant could not get along alone, everything would
have been in confusion. When, during the year after his mother's death,
the child had a fall which injured his knee so severely that he
remained delicate ever after, the last hope which Edwin had of seeing
the father take a firm hold of life vanished. He now showed that he had
only existed in the reflected lustre left behind by his beautiful wife
in the bright-eyed boy. When those eyes grew dim, he could no longer
bear the light of day. Without any special illness, he took to his bed
and never rose from it again.

The orphaned children were received by one of their father's relatives,
a well-to-do official in Breslau, who had a number of children of his
own, and could therefore only give his foster sons a moderate share of
care and support. They were sent to board in a teacher's family, and
fared no worse than hundreds of other parentless boys. Balder felt the
disaster least. He had a charm that everywhere won hearts, and his
delicate helplessness did the rest. People did not find it so easy to
get along with Edwin. A taciturnity and cool reserve, together with the
early superiority of his judgment, made him uncomfortable, and, as it
always gave him the appearance of not desiring love, people did not see
why they should force it upon him. Besides, among all to whom he owed
gratitude, there was not a single person to whom he desired to be bound
by any closer ties. Thus his little brother remained the sole object of
his affectionate anxiety, and it was touching to see how closely,
during his play hours, he kept him by his side, spending his scanty
stock of pocket-money solely for his pleasure, and shortening his hours
of sleep that he might devote his entire afternoon to the sickly child.

Years elapsed. When Edwin went to the university, for despite his
poverty and the burning desire for independence, he could not make up
his mind to begin any practical business, Balder was about eight years
old. He had been unable to go to school on account of his feeble
health, as his knee required constant care, and he could not have borne
to sit on the school-room benches. But notwithstanding this, he was far
in advance of most boys of his age, for he had had Edwin for a teacher,
who, by a far more rapid method than that of the schools, had always
pointed out the essential part of every lesson, and encouraged him
above all to develope his own powers. He succeeded in doing so most
wonderfully, without brushing from the boy's soul the bloom of the
enthusiasm inherited from their mother. His nature was utterly unlike
his brother's; instead of the keen dialectics with which Edwin broke a
path into the world of ideas, as a colonist uproots the primeval forest
with his axe, Balder's spirit rose aloft as if on wings, and soaring
above all intervening tree-tops, he found himself unwearied on the very
spot his brother had pointed out in the distance. It was the same in
everything connected with school wisdom, as in the mysteries life gave
him to solve in regard to men and circumstances. The sure,
instantaneous perception, the prophetic power we have described in his
mother, seemed born anew in him, and gave the beautiful face, framed in
his thick fair hair, and showing few traces of pain, a peculiar and
irresistibly winning expression. Besides, he was so kind-hearted, so
self-sacrificing, traits doubly rare in chronic invalids, in whom
anxiety about themselves becomes at last the sole interest, and almost
a sort of sacred duty. He was never heard to complain, and it really
did not seem to be a victory of resignation or heroism which he
obtained over himself, but rather a natural faculty of his soul to look
upon his sufferings and deprivations as a possession from which the
greatest gain must be derived, the only innocent speculation, and one
for which he had cultivated a masterly aptitude.

At the time we have made the brothers' acquaintance, they had lived
together in the shoemaker's back building, the so-called "tun," about
five years. Edwin had first gone to Berlin alone, in order to devote
himself exclusively to the study of philosophy and physical science,
for which he had little opportunity in Breslau. He had been unable to
resolve to enter into any money-making business, and his study of law
was a mere pretence. So when he found himself acting in direct
opposition to his benefactor's wishes, he thought it dishonorable to
continue to eat the bread of one with whose opinions he could not
coincide. Balder meantime remained in his old home, but as soon as
Edwin could support both, was to follow him to Berlin.

This was not accomplished as speedily as the latter had at first hoped.
Months elapsed before he could fit himself for a tutor, as the private
lessons he had undertaken robbed him of both time and patience. Then
followed anxieties about his first lectures, which, with great
difficulty, he obtained an opportunity to deliver, and which brought in
nothing. During all this time, his only intercourse with his brother
was by means of frequent letters, until at last he could bear the
separation no longer, and one Whitsuntide went to Breslau, to ask the
beloved youth if he felt strong enough to share his poverty. Balder
flushed to the roots of his hair with joyful agitation at this
question, which fulfilled the most secret wish of his heart. He had
only been withheld from making the proposal long before, by the fear of
becoming a burden to his brother. Now he confessed that he had quietly
made arrangements not to be entirely dependent on Edwin, though he
would have submitted to be supported by him more willingly than by any
one else. He had found an opportunity to learn turning, from a
neighbor, and in the space of a year the young apprentice had made so
much progress, that any master workman would gladly have engaged him
for a journeyman. With shamefaced consciousness, he showed Edwin
a number of pretty household utensils which he had made for his
foster-mother and the family of the teacher with whom he boarded. "I
see," said Edwin, smiling, "that I probably pursue the least lucrative
of all professions, and shall be doing a very good thing in forming a
partnership with my skillful brother. But wait, my lad, I won't fail to
add my contribution to the capital with which we begin. The next fee I
receive--I am coaching the weak-minded son of a count for his
examination--we will devote to the purchase of the best turning-lathe
that is to be found in all Berlin."



                              CHAPTER IV.


Day had long since dawned over the great city, and the little house in
the Dorotheen-strasse prided itself upon remaining no whit behind its
more aristocratic neighbors in this respect. The occupants of the "tun"
were usually no late sleepers, and Balder in particular never failed to
hear the general alarm-clock of the house, the old pump-handle, which
sang a well-meant but monotonous morning song, when at six o'clock in
summer and seven in winter, Reginchen set it in motion to get her
father his glass of water for breakfast. At the same time the windows
in the workshop were opened, and the grumbling of the head journeyman,
who took advantage of the half hour before the master appeared, to make
the apprentices feel his importance, became audible. But as soon as the
master of the house, in his loose jacket and slippers, crossed the
courtyard, everything below was perfectly still. Indeed, though the
brothers had been unable to procure a watch, they had no occasion to be
at a loss to know the time, even during the day. Exactly one hour after
the first music of the pump, Reginchen appeared in the "tun" with the
well-beaten clothes and the breakfast. Punctually at nine o'clock a
window was opened in the second story, a yellow old face in a
night-cap, the once famous actress, stretched out a wrinkled little
nose to find out which way the wind was blowing, as her husband, the
tenor, though he no longer had occasion to spare his high C, could not
give up the habit of staying in the house when there was an East wind.
Precisely one hour after, the little man himself appeared at another
window which opened upon the courtyard, not lighted by the sun, to
shave with great deliberation and apply before the little mirror the
necessary cosmetics, which an old celebrity of the stage considers an
indispensable, nay, an incontestable proof of the dignity of his
calling. When eleven o'clock struck, the piano in the room below,
occupied by Fräulein Christiane, with whom we formed a passing
acquaintance in the first chapter, was opened, and a practised hand
struck a few notes by way of prelude to a singing-lesson, which, from
consideration for Edwin had been deferred to this time, when he usually
went to his lecture. Various pupils came to take lessons; of late,
twice a week a merry soubrette, belonging to one of the theatres in the
suburbs, appeared, who desired to practise her little parts in new
operettas, and drove her grave teacher to despair by a number of
blunders, musical and otherwise. As a loud conversation could be
heard through the open windows, almost word for word, Balder often
became an ear-witness to the most singular scenes, which afforded him a
glimpse of an utterly unknown world. Punctually at twelve o'clock the
dinner-bell rang, and was usually hailed by the pupil with a merrily
whistled street song, as the grateful feeling of release could be
expressed in no better way.

The household clock performed its duty to-day as well as ever, but the
occupants of the upper story in the back building seemed deaf to its
sounds. The pump's morning song died away unheard. No "come in"
answered the low knock an hour later, and, after a short delay and a
shake, of the head, the slender household sprite, hanging the clothes
on the banister of the stairs, glided down again with the breakfast.
Miezica, the white cat, which at the same time appeared at the window
to be fed by Balder, remained on the broad sill that ran from gutter to
gutter, staring into the room, where no living creature was yet
stirring. Not until the yellow top of the acacia-tree was gilded by the
rising sun--it must have been ten minutes past ten for the old tenor
was just beginning to powder himself--did Balder open his eyes,
astonished at the bright light that filled the room. He looked toward
Edwin; the latter gave no sign that the sunlight was too dazzling for
him to continue his dreams.

Softly the youth rose and limped to the turning-lathe in the corner,
where he noiselessly arranged a variety of tools, bits of wood, and
little bottles. He did not, however, begin to work, but taking a book,
became for a time absorbed in its contents. Suddenly the thoughts which
had kept him awake so long during the night, seemed to return. He laid
the book aside, opened a window, and leaned out into the already heated
air.

Ere long a low knock at the door roused him from his reverie. He glided
on tip-toe past the sleeper, and slipped through the half-opened door
into the dusky entry.

Reginchen stood without; her round face, whose eyes and mouth were ever
ready to bubble over with mirth, was turned toward him with a sort of
curious anxiety.

"Good morning, Reginchen," he whispered. "I can't let you in, he is
still asleep. He did not go to rest until long after midnight; I am
glad the sun does not wake him. You have already been to the door
once--I overslept myself too, contrary to my custom--we talked so long
last night. I am sorry we have made you so much trouble, Reginchen.
Give me the waiter, I will carry the breakfast in."

"It is no trouble," replied the young girl, who when talking to the
brothers always tried to correct her Berlin dialect as much as
possible, but without precisely solving the mystery of the dative and
accusative. "But you will be completely starved. Sha'n't I get you some
coffee? Cold milk on an empty stomach--"

"Thank you, Reginchen. I am used to it. You are always so kind. Why
have you dressed so early to-day, Reginchen?"

The young girl blushed as she smoothed her little black silk apron and
the folds of a light muslin that had been freshly washed and ironed.

"This is my birthday, Herr Walter," (she could not accustom herself to
the name of "Balder.") "My mother gave me the apron, and the old
gentleman on the second floor, the garnet breastpin. I am going to
visit my aunt at Schöneberg after dinner, and so I wanted to ask if I
might bring your dinner up very early to-day. My brother will come for
me punctually at one o'clock."

"Your birthday, Reginchen! And I have forgotten it! Are you angry with
me? My brother's sickness has given me so much to think of lately. You
know, Reginchen, I wish you all possible good fortune and happiness,
though my congratulations are late; but you are used to seeing me
limp."

"How can you talk so. Herr Walter?"  she replied, quietly allowing the
firm little hand he had so cordially grasped to rest in his. "It makes
no difference whether a stupid thing like me, without education or
culture, is seventeen or eighteen. Father says women remain great
children all their lives; so whether they become older or not can be of
little consequence."

"He is only joking, Reginchen. What would your father do without you,
to say nothing of the rest of us in the house? So you are really
eighteen years old to-day? I wish I knew of something that would give
you pleasure; I should like to make you a birthday present."

"I don't want any present," she replied, hastily turning away and
putting her foot on the upper stair. "I have already had so many gifts
from you at Christmas and such times, and my mother always scolds and
says I am too large to receive presents from strange gentlemen. Hark!
she is calling me; I must go, Herr Walter."

She darted down the steep staircase, like an arrow, and Balder, who
remained at the top, heard her singing a song in a clear, childish
voice, as she skipped across the pavement of the courtyard in her
little slippers. As he took the waiter from the low attic stairs where
she had placed it, and limped softly back into the room, he
involuntarily sighed.

Going up to his sleeping brother he gazed at him with affectionate
anxiety. Edwin seemed to be slumbering quietly. His high, beautifully
arched brow was unwrinkled, a smile played around his lips, and his
delicate nostrils quivered slightly, as they always did when he made a
witty speech. His shirt was open at the throat, and a small gold locket
attached to a silk cord and containing a tress of his mother's golden
hair, was plainly visible. Balder wore one like it.

He was about to retire to the window corner again, when a hasty step
was heard on the stairs, and ere Balder could reach the door to stop
the new comer, an eager knock announced a visitor who knew himself to
be welcome at any hour.

"Come in!" said Edwin, as he slowly rose from his pillow, still half
asleep. "That must be Marquard. Good heavens, it is broad daylight!"

"To be sure!" laughed the new arrival. "It requires the presence of a
despicable empiric like myself, to make the Herr Philosopher aware that
the sun is several hours high in the heavens. Well, how are you,
patient? Has the prescription wrought its work? I am almost inclined to
believe that the dose was too strong."

Nodding kindly to Balder, he hastily approached the bed and touched
Edwin's brow and temples before feeling his pulse. The keen, light gray
eyes gazed through a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles at a heavy gold
watch, and the youthfully round and regular, though somewhat pale face,
which on entering the door had worn an expression of the gayest
unconcern, now assumed a quiet, watchful air, while the elegant figure,
which was of about the medium height, leaned lightly on a chair beside
the bed.

"My dear Herr Medicinalrath," said Edwin, "your master work has been
performed on me. Mother Nature, who may well fear you since you
irreverently pry into her most sacred secrets and scan all her little
weaknesses as through a microscope, seems, at your command, to have
once more taken pity upon me, and granted me sleep. All else will
follow as a matter of course; at least I already feel a truly wolfish
appetite. If you'll allow me. Doctor, I'll only put on the most
necessary articles of clothing, and go to breakfast at once, to relieve
Balder, who I see has again waited for me."

"_Probatum est_," laughed the doctor, pocketing his watch. "I was
perfectly well aware, that for brains like yours, there is no better
narcotic than the mixture of folly, noise, and tights, we men of the
world swallow to excite us. I find your symptoms to-day far more
encouraging than yesterday, and, within a few days, I think I shall
repeat the dose. Hunger is a good symptom. But I don't see the
breakfast."

"It is standing on the table yonder," said Balder, quietly.

The doctor stepped to the little table, which, covered with a green
cloth, stood in the middle of the room, and gazed, with an
indescribable look of pity and horror, at the white pitcher, which
stood between two stoneware cups, while a tin plate beside it contained
two small rolls.

"Pardon me," said he, "my science does not extend so far as to enable
me to determine, by its mere appearance, the name of the strong broth
which awaits you here as your first meal."

"It is pure, unadulterated milk, in which we dip the flower of wheat,"
said Edwin, who, having in the meantime hastily clothed himself, now
approached the table and filled both cups. "You are doubtless aware,
my dear fellow, that milk contains all the elements of nourishment
which--"

"Which a child in swaddling clothes needs till it cuts its teeth!
Sacred Reason, what is the world coming to, when your ablest votaries,
the philosophers, confess themselves addicted to the most preposterous
habits and customs. Are you not startled, my lad, by the frightful
contradiction involved by your endeavor, amidst our exhaustive,
enervating civilization, which constitutes such a drain upon the blood
and marrow, to sustain yourself on the nourishment of stupid pastoral
tribes? In Berlin, too, where as you know, all the cows are infected
with the pallor of the Hegel philosophy, and where the watery fluid
they give is still further diluted at every pump. No, my dear fellow,
either I give you up as incurable, or you must decide at once upon a
radical change of habit, wash your face with this innocent fluid--an
admirable preventive of premature wrinkles--and moisten your inner man
at this time with a glass of port wine, to be followed by the
consumption of half a pound of roast meat. I'll wager that in a short
time there will be a change in your organism which will make itself
perceptibly felt if you visit the Berlin ballet too frequently. What
are you laughing at? I am perfectly serious."

"That is just why I laughed," said Edwin, as, standing by the table, he
quietly broke his roll into the thin blue milk. "You forget, my dear
fellow, that I can only make use of prescriptions which are put up at
the pharmacy 'for lucky beggars.' Or do you happen to have it in your
pocket?"

"What?"

"My professorship, or Balder's diploma as turner to the court. With
your practice in such circles, you can not fail, if you are in earnest,
to help us to a brilliant career. But until then I deeply regret that I
can give you no prospect of a change of diet."

Marquard looked around the room, and shook his head angrily, as he
said: "But it is suicidal folly, absurd nonsense, to live as you do!
Balder, too, will never fare any better, so long as you squat here like
two old women, and fast till you are livid for lack of blood.
Professorship? Nonsense! With your views, you'll never get one to the
end of your days in our Christian German government. If you had only
learned some commonplace thing, so that you might be made useful
somewhere. However, you know something of arithmetic, don't you?"

"The first four formulæ, and the rule of three."

"No joking. You are a thorough mathematician. I will get you a position
in a life insurance company, where they need some one for their
estimates of probabilities. Five hundred thalers at first. You need say
but one word."

"Rather _three_, my faithful Eckhart: Thank you, kindly. I can not
endure the atmosphere of an office. But seriously, my dear preserver of
mankind, don't give yourself any trouble about me. I am incorrigible.
Every German must have a whim. Mine is to belong exclusively to myself,
shake as many nuts from the tree of life as I like, and waste as much
time as I can spare in cracking them and getting at the kernels. To
make a career is an occupation that robs one of a great deal of time,
and it is the same with the effort to become a millionaire in a
respectable way. Both, therefore, I must renounce, and since I have for
either as little talent as inclination, and can get along for a time in
this way, why should I fly into a passion because the Berlin cows have
deteriorated as much in the fabrication of milk as Prussian political
philosophy has deteriorated since the days of Father Kant? Except on
occasions when, by an Epicurean like yourself, unnatural desires are
created in us, we want for nothing in our 'tun,' and, moreover, have
something put aside for a rainy day; have we not, Balder?"

The doctor was about to make some reply, but controlled himself, and
seized his hat. "Adieu!" he growled, and went toward the door, but
paused on the threshold.

"You will allow me," he said harshly, "as I still have charge of you,
to send you some medicine from my own pharmacy. I received a gift of
some excellent Bordeaux from a wine-dealer, on whom I performed a very
surprising cure, I will send you some on trial, and if you don't drink
half a bottle every noon--Balder may content himself with a glass--I--"

"Will show me no farther friendship? Better not say that. It would be a
pity: for your sake, because without our society you would sink
completely into empiricism and gluttony; and for ours, because we
should be compelled to deny ourselves the luxury of consulting a
physician. No, old fellow, I thank you very kindly for your
philanthropic design, but it is wiser for us to continue to cut our
coats according to our cloth."

"And these people wish to be elevated above ordinary prejudices!"
exclaimed the doctor fiercely, putting on his hat. "If you really were
so elevated, you would not be too proud to accept a few pitiful drops
of wine from an old college friend! Go, you are perfect fools with your
idealism!"

"And you are on the way to become as famous a doctor as old Heim. At
least you already have the needful roughness!" laughed Edwin.

The doctor heard him no longer; he had slammed the door and was noisily
descending the stairs. Balder looked at his brother.

"You ought not to have refused," said he. "He means kindly, and he is
undoubtedly right: our diet is not fit for you."

"So you, too, are beginning to scold," said Edwin, drinking the
remainder of his milk as if it were the most exquisite nectar. "But the
trump of doom would not disturb the serenity of my soul to-day. I am in
exactly the phlegmatic, abstract frame of mind, to which the most
difficult problems seem like child's play. It is a pity I have nothing
harder to elucidate than how it comes to pass that a crazy man can say
such clever things in his dreams, and yet on awaking be just as mad as
before."

"What do you mean?"

"I have been most dutifully dreaming of the acquaintance I made
yesterday; you remember, child, _la belle Chocoladière_. I discovered,
God knows how, that she was the daughter of a Polish countess and a
French _valet de chambre_; a thoroughly ignorant, vain, and not
over-virtuous creature. As she made merry over my defective French, I
quietly began to explain how grateful she ought to be that a sensible
man conversed with her at all. Then I talked long and very impressively
about the dignity of man in general and philosophers in particular;
something after the style of Wieland's sages, and she, after at first
looking as if she were grieving over her weaknesses and sins, suddenly
began to laugh loudly, danced around the room--in the style of the
rope-dancers we saw yesterday--hummed French songs of by no means the
most decorous nature, and altogether conducted herself in such a manner
that I grew more and more angry, and at last told her to her face that
I should consider myself the most contemptible fool and weakling on
earth, if I allowed her little nose and black eyelashes to turn my head
an instant longer. She now became very haughty, I still colder and more
bitter, she more bacchanalian, and I was just in the act of jumping out
of a low window into a beautiful and spacious garden, when she
coaxingly passed her hands over my face, and tried to smooth the angry
frown from my brow; then I awoke, and quickly perceived that
notwithstanding all the wisdom I had possessed in my dream, I had not
become one whit the wiser than I was when I went to bed.

"But don't take the matter so much to heart, child," he continued, as
Balder remained silent. "I can assure you that a hopeless passion
is no such terrible misfortune. I am perfectly positive that I shall
never see her again, but how long it will be before I think of
something else, I can't say. Yet it is one of the most delightful
experiences--this gentle consuming fire, this sacred defencelessness,
this introspection, joined to the consciousness of external
impressions; it is the true, immanent, and transcendent contradiction,
which is the veritable secret of all life, and of which man, with his
accustomed eminently respectable but imperfect knowledge of our being,
is seldom so keenly conscious. Some day, child, you too will experience
it, and then for the first time you will fully understand what I mean.
The head does not appear to work at all; the mill of ideas is stopped;
it has no more grist to grind. Very different nerve-centres appear to
have assumed control, and when I have overcome the first sense of
strangeness, it will be a very interesting psychological task--"

Here the door was thrown open, and a new visitor interrupted our
philosopher's attempt to make a virtue of necessity, and at least to
render useful to the cause of science, the sorrows of his heart.



                               CHAPTER V.


The new comer was a tall and very broad-shouldered young man, who
carried a travelling-satchel and a shawl thrown over his shoulder;
unceremoniously tossing a faded brown felt hat on Balder's bed, he
nodded, and smiling called out a "good morning" to the brothers. The
first impression made by the ash-colored face, furrowed by several
scars, and the somewhat crooked mouth, was not particularly favorable.
An expression of bitterness or malice dwelt about the strongly cut
lips, and the teeth, which, in speaking, were fully revealed, increased
the fierce, unamiable look. But when the countenance was in repose, the
melancholy expression of the eyes predominated over the more ignoble
features, and the brow beneath the short bristling hair seemed to have
been developed by grave mental labor. His movements were restless and
impetuous, and his whole attire was that of a man who thought little of
his personal appearance, though his stately figure was well worthy to
command attention, had but a little care been bestowed upon it.

"Why, Mohr! Heinrich Mohr! What wind has blown you to us again?"  cried
Edwin, advancing to meet him and cordially shaking hands.

"The same thoughtless whirlwind, I suppose, that tosses all the
sweepings of humanity into confusion," replied the other. "It is only
those individuals, who possess a certain specific weight, that do not
change their places without special cause. You, for instance, I find in
the same old house where I left you three years ago. And, if I must be
honest, the only sensible reason I can give for venturing out of my
dull little birthplace back to this huge, clever, mad Berlin, was the
desire to see you again. After all, you have the most friendly faces,
and that you really seem to feel a sort of pleasure in being troubled
with me again, proves that you are still the same as of old."

"And you, too, seem to have altered little; less, perhaps, than would
have been advisable," said Edwin, laughing.

Mohr's only answer was a shrug of the shoulders. He threw down his
satchel and went to the turning-lathe, beside which Balder was leaning.

"Still as conscientious as ever; trying to kill himself," he muttered,
taking up some of the little articles which were waiting for the last
touches. "But I can't blame you, Balder. You at least accomplish
something every day, and only hurt your chest by bending and stooping.
Other people would be fairly beside themselves with impatience, if they
had to sit doubled up all day long turning their stock in trade.
Besides, it seems to me you have made considerable progress. You are an
enviable fellow, Balder."

The youth looked at him with a smile.

"Would that you could only convince Edwin of it!" he said; "he is
always trying to persuade me to give up my trade. He won't believe that
to sit perfectly idle, and see everybody else work would kill me much
sooner."

"Idle! As if you ever could be idle!" cried Edwin indignantly. "As if
it were not the most insane obstinacy to refuse to accept from his own
and only brother, that which even he has means sufficient to procure--a
pitiful mouthful of bread! But we will let it pass, though it is the
only real annoyance of my life, and this hard heart might so easily
spare it me,--Basta! I will _not_ be vexed to-day. So begin your
confession, my friend! To-day, at least, you are secure from any
moralizing on my part."

Mohr having seated himself in a chair beside the open window, had begun
to twist a cigarette, the materials for which he took from a tin box.

"There is absolutely nothing new to tell," he replied with great
apparent indifference. "The old apothegm that no one can add one inch
to his stature, has been once more ratified, that's all. I left Berlin,
as you will remember, because I thought that the noise and bustle alone
prevented me from becoming a great man. 'Talent developes in a quiet
life.' Well, I've lived quietly enough with my old mother, but nothing
has developed. So, thinks I to myself, as no talent developes let us
try character--'character is formed in the current of the world'--and
so back I have come again, and have already selected a character to
which I intend to adapt myself. A match, Edwin!"

He puffed huge clouds of very strong Turkish tobacco out of the window.

"So nothing came of the editing of the newspaper, from which you
expected so much?"

"It was a miserable sheet, children, a commonplace, provincial,
gossiping little paper, in which appeared, twice a week, bad novels,
stolen from various quarters, or 'original contributions' by the
bürgermeister's daughter or chief customhouse officer's son, and lastly
charades and rebuses. However, all the citizens swore by it, and not a
syllable was lost. The right kind of fellow might have made something
of it, or at least in time have smuggled in something better, and, in
so doing, might himself have found room to grow. But there is the
point. After first turning up my nose at this narrowmindedness, I at
last discovered that I really could not do much better myself. You know
I always believed that if I could once form a correct appreciation of
my own powers, a thing not to be accomplished in the intellectual
ant-hill of Berlin, the world would be astonished. Well, I have really
arrived at this just appreciation, and for a long time have been unable
to endure myself! God be thanked, that my good taste yet remains to
save me from that."

"Still the same old Mohr, whose favorite pastime it is to blacken his
character instead of washing himself white."

"Let me go on, and don't suppose that I am making myself out bad in
order that you may praise me the more. Besides, I don't _wish_ to make
myself out 'bad'; I am really quite a passable fellow, neither stupid
nor tedious, with fair acquirements, and powers of judgment by no means
ordinary, _nota bene_, for what _others_ do. If I were a rascal, I
might by means of them, accomplish something, open a booth for
criticism, for instance, and sell myself as dearly as possible. But the
misfortune is that I have, or at least had, the ambition to accomplish
something myself, and what is worse, desired to possess all sorts of
talents. I have a most decided capacity for becoming a mediocre poet or
musician, and in political articles, which appear to mean something and
really say nothing, I have yet to find my superior. You will say there
are many such wights. Certainly. But not many who have in addition such
an honest, devout envy of the real men who can accomplish something
genuine, such a loathing of all botching, such disgust when they have
caught themselves at it. It was this that drove me away from you. I
could not endure to see you all, each in his own field of labor, busy
tilling and planting and at last reaping,--real grain, whether much or
little--and stand by with my cockle-weed. I felt like spitting in my
own face from chagrin at my mediocrity in everything that is worthy to
be called work, achievement, getting on in the world, while in talking
I was a very hero. Now, however, I have discovered _that that is my
destiny_. A sorry creature, created by Nature through some malicious
whim, and condemned always to stick halfway at everything. But I will
spoil her jest; I will at least do something completely and well, and
in one point, at all events, I will reach virtuosoship."

"I don't understand why this idea did not occur to you long ago,"
replied Edwin. "You were born for a critic, and as such can have as
much influence on the world and society, as if you were a poet."

"I should be a fool!" exclaimed the other, tossing his cigarette into
the courtyard, as he started up and clasped his hands behind his head.
"Attempt to improve the world, tell it plain truths in black and white,
which of course every one will apply to his worthy neighbor, try to
educate artists who fancy that thinking paralyses the imagination, or
tell truths to authors, who upon perusing them fail more signally to
comprehend themselves than when they penned their thoughts,--no, my
dear fellow, _vestigia terrent_. A certain Lessing tried all that a
hundred years ago, and broke his teeth on the hard wood. All these
philanthropic sacrifices make the world no happier, and only render the
individual wretched. The only pure and noble calling left for such a
superfluous mortal as myself to choose, is _pure envy_. In that I have
hitherto made considerable progress, and, as I said before, I expect to
attain in it a tolerable degree of eminence."

"Upon my word," laughed Edwin, "this is a novel way of attaining
happiness."

"Don't laugh, wiseacre," sighed Mohr, impressively. "You see, my child,
everybody in this miserable world, which all about us is so unfinished
and incomplete, is endeavoring to the best of his ability, at least to
perfect his own perishable self. The really gifted individuals have a
surplus, from which they impart a portion to others, and thereby help
them to patch up their poverty, and perhaps even scantily to complete
themselves. I, for my part, can only obtain repose when I fervently
envy every thing that is great, entire, exuberant. Through this envy I
shall become, in a certain sense, allied to it; for if I appreciated,
tasted, felt, and deserved to possess no portion, how could I envy it?
Only those things that are somewhat homogenous attract each other. And
when I have sat during an entire morning, thoroughly permeated with the
sense of my own insignificance, sincerely envying a Shakespeare, a
Goethe, or a Mozart, have I not fulfilled the purpose of my life better
than if I had spent the same time in composing a poor tragedy, some
wretched love-songs, or a mediocre sonata?"

He went to the window and gazed at the top of the acacia-tree.

"You are right," said Balder's clear voice. "Only you ought not to give
the name of envy to what is really love, reverence, and the most
beautiful and unselfish enthusiasm."

"Balder has hit the nail on the head, as usual," said Edwin.

Mohr turned. The brothers noticed that he was winking rapidly, as if
desiring to make way with a suspicious moisture.

"It would be beautiful, if it were true," said he. "But this is only
the bright side of my virtuosoship; it has its shadows too, and they
grow broader than I like. I can see nothing that is complete and in
harmony with itself, without envy; no self-satisfied stupidity, no
broad-mouthed falsehood, no snobbish faces. And as if these worthies
had really no right to be happy, the demon of envy induces me to say
something cutting, merely to show them their own pitifulness. Thus in a
short time I had all my worthy fellow-citizens about my ears, and
wherever I went was decried, avoided, and warned off like a mad dog. It
makes all the blood in my body boil, when I see how everywhere the
scamps get on in the world, and how the honest fellows, who don't use
their elbows, remain behind. You, for instance, if I had my way, should
be driving in a handsome coach with servants at your command, as
beseems the aristocracy of the human race. Instead of that, that
insignificant fellow, Marquard, whom I met below, has his equipage, and
graciously nods as he drives by, after reconnoitering me from top to
toe through his gold spectacles. Death and perdition, who can see such
things and not go wild--"

"Don't abuse our medical counsellor," said Edwin. "In spite of all you
have said he is a good fellow, and his carriage would suit my trade and
Balder's as little as my slow-stepping scientific methods would suit
his empirical gallop. Besides--"

At this moment they heard from the windows below, the first bars of the
overture to Glück's "Orpheus."

Mohr approached the window again, and listened attentively.

"Who is playing?" he asked after a time, in an undertone.

"One of the inmates of the house, a young lady of whom we know little
more than that she gives music-lessons. Last night--I have not yet told
you of it, Balder--I found her absorbed in Schopenhauer's Parerga. She
spoke enthusiastically about the chapter on 'the sorrows of the world.'

"Her music bears witness that in those sorrows she had had experience,"
said Mohr. "Women only play as she does when their hearts have been
once broken and then pieced together again. It is with them as it is
with old violins, which must be shattered several times before they
have the right resonance. But hush, it is growing still more
beautiful."

He sat down on the window-sill, and, gazing without, became completely
absorbed in listening. Balder worked noiselessly at his little boxes,
while Edwin had taken a book though his gaze became fixed upon one
page. It was so quiet in the room, that during the pauses in the music,
they could hear the stealthy footsteps of the cat, which had just
previously leaped into the chamber, and eaten the remnants of the
breakfast.



                              CHAPTER VI.


About the same time that these things were occurring in the back
building, the master of the house was in the shop talking with a
customer, who had just brought to be mended a pair of embroidered
slippers, carefully wrapped in an old newspaper.

It was somewhat unusual for the shoemaker to be absent from the
workroom at this time of day. But it was also, as the reader will
remember, an unusual occasion, Reginchin's birthday, and her mother,
who generally attended to the management of everything in the shop, was
obliged to give up the charge to her husband, in order to go into the
kitchen and mix the dough herself, for the usual birthday cake. She
would not relinquish this task, though there was a confectioner's shop
at the very next corner. For ever since Reginchin was four years old,
she had been very fond of a certain kind of home-made plumb-cake, and,
though she could rarely do anything exactly to her mother's mind, and
was continually subject to her criticism, the young girl was, as she
very well knew, the apple of her mother's eye, and, for her the good
woman would have gone through fire. So, hot as the day was, Madame
Feyertag stood without a murmur beside the servant at the fire,
allowing herself to be troubled but little by the principal anxiety
which usually rendered her unwilling to have her husband in the shop:
the jealous fear that some female customers might come in, and that the
shoemaker might find other feet, whose measure he would be obliged to
take, prettier than those adorned with the legitimate slippers of his
wife.

To be sure the worthy man, though he might have been a sly fellow in
his bachelor days, had given very little cause for such a suspicion
during twenty-three years of extremely peaceful married life. But
within a few months a change had taken place which attracted the
attention of his clever wife; a change not much apparent in his actions
and conduct, since he quietly continued his regular mode of life and
did not even oppose the before-mentioned slippers, but noticeable in
his language. She was already accustomed to hear him talk much of
progress, and inveigh against all tyranny, especially domestic slavery,
giving utterance to very forcible expressions, and this harmless
amusement she willingly countenanced, since all affairs of state and
family pursued, as before, their even course. But during the last three
months his revolutionary table-talk had changed its tone, and had been
steadily pointed against "women," of whom he repeated the most
malicious things, usually in strange, outlandish words. Perhaps he
had merely picked up these contemptuous epithets at the liberal
trades-union, to which he owed all his progressive ideas; and if so, it
was something to be thankful for. But except on certain festive
occasions, women were excluded from these meetings, and at the
entertainments a very decorous tone always prevailed, to say nothing of
the obligatory toast to the fair sex. So, when all at once in speaking
of "women," he used the word "females," and talked of the "sex" with a
shade of contempt, for which Madame Feyertag's person and conduct did
not give the slightest cause, nothing was more probable than that the
shoemaker had obtained his new knowledge of feminine nature in other
circles, and, perhaps led astray by some acquaintances formed in the
shop, had approached nearer to the light-minded portion of the sex than
could be at all desirable for the peace of the household. Since that
time, Madame Feyertag had kept a sharp eye on the secret sinner, no
longer permitting his presence in the shop, and had emphatically
forbidden the utterance of his offensive remarks, at least in
Reginchen's presence. For this restraint the worthy man indemnified
himself by talking all the more freely to others, and on this very
morning, when, contrary to his usual custom, we find him in the shop,
he was in the act of giving vent to the pent-up emotions of his heart.
Compelled to keep silence, his companion with some little surprise,
patiently submitted to the torrent of his eloquence. He was a little
old-fashioned gentleman, with a timid but lively manner, whose delicate
regular features bore an expression of such winning kindness that the
most casual observer could not fail to notice it; his was one of those
faces, which, in consequence of the delicacy of the skin, become
prematurely withered, and yet never grow old. A small grey moustache
endeavored in vain to give a martial air to the innocent childish face,
and the forehead, which, through baldness, seemed to reach to the crown
of his head, failed just as signally to cast upon its owner the air of
a deep thinker. Yet when any important subject was under discussion,
the mild eyes could sparkle with a strange fire, and the whole face
become transfigured with interest and excitement.

This little man wore a neatly brushed but rather threadbare coat, cut
in a fashion that had prevailed ten years before, and a large white
cravat, fastened with a pin containing a woman's picture. He had placed
upon the counter an old-fashioned grey hat, with a piece of crape
twisted around it, and, with both hands resting on his cane, he sat
opposite the shoemaker, who had just examined the slippers, and said
that they could be mended so as to look very well, only that a part of
the embroidery would be lost.

"Spare as much of it as you can," pleaded the little gentleman. "They
were my dead wife's last birthday gift; she worked them herself. I have
worn them constantly for five years; but I step so lightly that I don't
wear out many shoes. I suppose I am your worst customer," he added,
with an apologetic smile.

"That is of no consequence, Herr König," replied the shoemaker; "it is
always an honor as well as a pleasure to work for you and your family,
not only on account of the high instep which you all have, but because
you are an artist and have an eye for shape. As for the durableness of
the shoes, that is not your fault, but the fault of the leather. But
wait till your daughter goes to balls. Good work is of no avail then,
Herr König; dancing shoes which are not as delicate and as easily
broken as poppy-leaves, do the shoemaker no credit."

The little gentleman shook his head thoughtfully.

"My daughter, I fear, will give you little opportunity to earn money in
that article," said he, "She has no desire for any of the seemly
amusements which I would willingly grant her; her mind is filled with
her work and her father; she can't be induced to attend to anything
else."

"Well, well," said the shoemaker, drawing from his jacket a little
silver snuff-box, which he offered the artist, "those things will come
as a matter of course. Young ladies always have some peculiarities, you
know; they do not forget the mother; but women are women, Herr König,
and there is no virtue in youth. True, you yourself still wear crape
around your hat; in your case constancy may be in the blood. But wait a
while. The will, Herr König, is master; the perception weak; of how
weak it is, we have sometimes little idea."

"You are mistaken," replied the other, fixing his eyes which wore a
quiet, thoughtful expression upon the floor. "She has become perfectly
cheerful again, and I also, though every day I still miss my dead wife.
God does not like to see discontented faces, He has made the world too
beautiful for that. The crape--yes, I have kept it on my hat. Why
should I take it off, and when? It would seem very strange to me, to
say to myself on a certain day: From this time things shall no longer
be as they were yesterday; I will now remove this token of remembrance.
Should I thereby blot out the memory too? But even if her mother were
still alive, I do not think the child would be any different. She has a
very peculiar character."

"Be kind enough to permit me to differ from you," said the shoemaker
with great positiveness, despite the courteous language he studiously
adopted. "Women--true women--have generally no character of their own,
but one that belongs in common to all the sex. For the sole object for
which they are in the world, is, to use Salvenia's words, only to
continue the species, or, as we term it, for propagation. A woman who
desires anything else, has something wrong about her; I say this
without intending to cast any reflections upon your daughter."

The artist opened his little eyes to their widest extent. "My dear
Feyertag, why do you say such strange things?" he said, naïvely. "Is
not a woman as much a creature of the dear God as we ourselves? formed
in his image, and endowed with soul and mind?"

The shoemaker laughed, as if fully conscious of his own superiority.

"Don't take it amiss, Herr König," he said, "but that is an exploded
opinion. Have you never heard of the great philosopher, Schopenhauer?
He will make you understand it thoroughly; he will prove as plainly as
that twice two make four, of what account is the so-called emancipation
of women."

"I don't have much time to read," replied the little artist. "But the
little you have told me does not render me anxious to become familiar
with an author who has thought so slightingly of the noblest and most
lovable portion of humanity. I prefer to say with my beloved Schiller,
'Honor to women'!"

"'They spin and weave,'" replied, the shoemaker. "Yes, and they
can do it very skillfully, and it is an extremely useful occupation.
But in other things, in the employments of men--this low-statured,
narrow-shouldered, broad-hipped, and short-legged sex, as Herr
Schopenhauer expresses it,--no, Herr König, men must not allow them to
become too strong. Propagation, nothing more. But _propaganda_, you
see, for the liberal and progressive, is our affair. For instance,
there is my wife; the best woman in the world! But if I did not now and
then show her that I am master, where should I be? I admit that during
the last few years, out of pure indolence, I have allowed her to do and
say more than was well. But Schopenhauer has brought me to myself. Now,
when she mistakes her social position, and wants to emancipate herself
too much, I say: 'Hush, Guste. You, too, were once an explosive effect
of Nature; but now the noise has died away, and the effect remains.'
Then she scolds about my worthless way of talking, as she calls it, but
no longer ventures to say anything, because she has not the least
suspicion what I really mean by it, and that it is in Schopenhauer. Ha!
ha! ha!"

He chuckled with delight, and rubbed his broad hands.

"How did you chance upon this mischievous book?"  asked the artist.

"Very naturally. In my back building lives a very learned gentleman, a
philosopher by profession, and soon to become professor of philosophy.
One day, when he was not at home, the bookbinder's boy came and left in
my shop a whole package of freshly bound books, which I was to keep for
the Herr Doctor. It was after dinner, when I usually take a little nap.
So, half asleep, I aimlessly took the uppermost book in my hand, and
began to read at the place where it opened. Zounds, how my eyes flew
open! 'Upon females' was the heading of the chapter. I could not stop
till I had read the last lines. I tell you, Herr König, old King
Solomon, much as he knew about women, and propagation, and the
conception of species, might have gone to school to him."

"Is Schopenhauer the author's name? And do you call him a philosopher,
because he revives the old commonplaces about the other sex?"

The little artist's eyes flashed as he uttered these words, and he
seized his hat as if he were in a hurry to leave the shop.

"He is a philosopher, for the Herr Doctor himself says so; but not
merely because of what he has written about women; the Herr Doctor
showed me another thick book. He said it treated of will and
perception; however, it was too heavy for me. If you would like to read
it, he will cheerfully lend it to you."

"Thank you, I have not the slightest desire to make the acquaintance of
a gentleman who holds and desires to spread such opinions."

"The Herr Doctor? There you are very much mistaken, Herr König. He
won't listen to a word about the essay on women, and says there is just
as much falsehood as truth in it. He is a bachelor, Herr König, and
what does a bachelor know about the conception of species? Besides, he
never associates with women, but devotes himself entirely to his
invalid brother. They might as well be in a monastery, Herr König; my
wife often says that if we were to advertise in the newspapers and
offer a reward of a hundred thalers, we could not find such another
couple of well-behaved young men in all Berlin."

"Indeed? And learned too, you say?"

"Only the older one, the Herr Doctor. He has not much money, because he
is at the university, and you are probably aware the minister of public
worship and instruction wants to starve out the whole university, and
then fill all the vacant places with pastors; there is but one opinion
about it in the trades union. But our Herr Doctor gives private
lessons, and his brother sells some of the little articles he turns;
they live on the proceeds always paying punctually the rent, and the
household bills for cooking and washing. Two young men, Herr König, to
whom immorality is something utterly unknown."

The artist had laid down his hat again, and seemed to be struggling
with some resolution.

"My dear Herr Feyertag," he said at last, "Do you know, I think I
should like after all to make the acquaintance of your Herr Doctor. If
what you say is true, he is the very man for whom I have been looking a
long time. My daughter complains that she cannot continue her studies
alone. What she knows she learned from her mother. But since the latter
died, I have found her services indispensable at home, and I thought
her so clever that she could get on by herself if I only bought her
books. But it seems that she cannot dispense with regular instruction,
and now she is too old and too sensible to content herself with the
first instructor that offers, and recently, when she met a certain
young lady, a teacher who has given lessons in very aristocratic
families, she conversed with her so cleverly that the young woman
declared she could teach her nothing. So if your Herr Doctor is really
such a phoenix, and a true man besides--"

"If by 'phoenix' you mean insurance against fire, one can never be
certain of that in young people, but I'll stake my life on his
goodness; everything else you must find out for yourself in case you
are really serious about giving your daughter--but that is none of my
business. My Regine can read and write, and that is enough to enable
her to get along with everything that does not concern propagation.
However, everybody has a right to his own opinion. If that is yours,
Herr König, you will probably find the Herr Doctor at home now. It is
vacation, and most of his private pupils are traveling."

"I suppose," said the artist timidly, as he put on his hat and followed
the shoemaker into the entry, "the price for the lessons will not be
exorbitant."

"You need have no anxiety on that score," replied the shoemaker,
shuttings the door of the shop. "If he were paid as he deserves, he
wouldn't need to climb my old back stairs, but could buy the handsomest
house on Unter der Linden. Turn to the left here, and then cross the
courtyard, Herr König, if you please."



                              CHAPTER VII.

Meantime the brothers had again been left alone.

As soon as the music below ceased, Mohr took his hat. "To envy this
happiness is one of my favorite occupations," he growled, twisting his
under lip awry. "I pity you for being able to listen to such a thing
quietly, without becoming filled with fiendish joy or rage, I tried to
express this mood in a somewhat rattling, but I think not wholly
meritless composition, which I call my _sinfonia ironica_. When I have
a lodging and a tin pan, I'll play it to you, and then read you my new
comedy: 'I am I, and rely on myself.'"

"A great many pleasures at once, Heinz," said Edwin.

"You need not fear the length of this _concert spirituel_. Only two
bars of the symphony and an act and a half of the comedy are finished.
A man who is but half a man, never brings any work to completion."

"Fortunately, as you know, the half is more than the whole,"

"You shall give me a lecture on that subject very shortly, Philosopher.
Adieu."

He went out to search for lodgings in the neighborhood. His mother, a
widow in easy circumstances, seemed to have provided him with
sufficient means to live for some time without work. At the pianist's
door he paused, and read on the little porcelain plate: "Christiane
Falk, music teacher." Within everything was still. He would gladly have
found some pretext to ring and to make her acquaintance; however, none
occurred to him, so he deferred it until a more favorable opportunity.

Balder had returned to his work again. He seemed in great haste to
complete a dainty little box of olive-wood, which contained all sorts
of implements for sewing.

In the meantime Edwin was dressing.

This was usually accomplished in the following manner: first he hung a
small mirror, scarcely the width of his hand, on a nail in one of the
book shelves, just under Kant's critique of pure reason and Fichte's
religion of science, and then while passing a comb minus numerous teeth
through his hair and beard, gazed less into the little glass than
across at Balder. To-day, however, he did something more; he shortened
the hair on his temples and chin with a pair of scissors, and moreover
looked somewhat carefully to see whether it was cut evenly on both
sides. "I find," said he, "that familiarity with the ballet has
demoralized me. I am already beginning to be vain, and have discovered
all sorts of defects in my honest face, with which I have hitherto been
perfectly satisfied. We should have divided our good mother's beauty
between us more equally. But perhaps after all, it is better that the
inheritance has remained intact, rather than squandered upon two. Come,
give your artistic opinion, my boy, has not the plantation been very
much improved by mowing?"

"I should have spared the beard," said Balder. "It was very becoming to
you."

"You don't understand, child. It has been much too long for some time,
even for a philosopher, and although, as in the times of Julius Cæsar,
no one must wander about on working days 'without some sign of his
occupation,' it is now vacation with me and I want to go out to-day as
an ordinary mortal, not as an object to startle women and children.
Come, make up your mind to accompany me. We will take a droschky, stop
at the confectioner's, where you must be treated to ice-cream to-day as
I treated myself yesterday, and afterwards--"

"To-day, Edwin? To-day--excuse me--I don't feel exactly well--it will
be better to choose some other time--"

He bent his glowing face over his work.

Just at this moment some one knocked, and the round, good-natured face
of the owner of the house appeared in the doorway, for the little
artist had insisted upon his going first. In the half jocose, half
respectful manner, which he always adopted toward the brothers, he
introduced Herr König to them as a cultivated artist, and the father of
a daughter already highly educated, but who desired to pursue her
education still further. Immediately upon entering, the little
gentleman had become absorbed in looking at the copperplate engravings
and busts, and, seemingly, had forgotten the cause of his visit. But
when the shoemaker paused, and Edwin glanced smilingly at Balder, he
recollected himself and modestly told his errand.

"My dear sir," replied Edwin, "I really feel very much honored, but I
do not yet know whether I am the man you seek, for I am not a
particularly good teacher, since I have not a particle of ambition to
become a pedagogue. For a thorough teacher is indifferent to the
calibre of his pupil's mind; the more idle, stupid, and destitute of
talent the scholar, the more eager should the teacher be to make
something out of him. I, on the contrary, still have too much to do for
myself, to be able to help others who have not at least the ability to
help themselves. I can indeed show the way, but the scholar must
perform the work. And as for young ladies, with all due respect for
your daughter, Herr König, how are these poor creatures, even if the
roads are smoothed before them and the goal pointed out, to journey
forward on their own feet, when from their earliest childhood, every
natural, firm, and steady step has been prohibited as unwomanly! They
trip and dance and glide and hover and soar, with variegated wings over
the green meadows of youth, but when they at last reach the highway of
sober life, they lean on a husband's arm, and expect to be supported
and carried forward by him. Excuse this uncourteous language, I have
experienced these things, and I do not see why I should not speak
openly. However, as I am now at leisure, if you will venture to try me
upon the recommendation of our landlord and foster father, I will make
an attempt to ascertain whether you are not deceived in me."

He took his straw hat, and said in an undertone to Balder: "Don't wait
meals for me again to-day, my boy, I may wander out somewhere into the
green fields, after I have made the acquaintance of this king's
daughter,[1] who is so eager for education."

He passed his hand gently over the youth's hair by way of parting, and
accompanied the two men down stairs.

When he was alone in the hot street with the little artist, the
latter said: "You have not far to go, Herr Doctor, I live on the
Schiffbauerdamm, and we can walk in the shade all the way. But, that
you may understand my daughter's peculiar course of education, allow me
to tell you something of my domestic affairs. Your landlord has made
you acquainted with my name. You have probably never heard it mentioned
before. My pictures are not remarkable performances, and for several
years past I have turned my attention more to wood engraving. A trade,
Herr Doctor, takes root in a firmer soil than art, though it may not
always be a soil so golden, and it becomes a father of a family, even
if the family consists of but two persons--however, I have never wholly
relinquished painting, adhering always to my own very modest style,
which in art circles, has even earned me a nickname. Just as there is a
cat-Raphael, and a velvet-and-hell Breughel, so I am called, owing to
my predilection for introducing old fences into my landscapes, the
zaun-könig.[2] Predilection?" he smiled as he continued, "that is not
exactly the right word either. God knows I would rather paint beautiful
woodlands, like Ruysdell, or clear, bright atmospheres like Claude
Lorraine, if my talent were but sufficient. But I always succeed best
in small, insignificant objects. So a bit of ground with stones, weeds,
and brambles, a clod of earth on which mother nature has developed her
productive powers as freely as if it were a world in itself, in
short what we call a 'foreground,' has always given me so much to
do--especially as I am somewhat near-sighted--that I have never arrived
at real landscapes. Well, everybody must cut his garment according to
his cloth. And when we reflect aright, do not God's power and glory
make themselves manifest in just as wonderful a guise behind a low
hedge or a garden fence, as in the romance of the primeval forest, or
the surpassing grandeur of the Swiss Alps? So what I do, I do because I
cannot help it; in short I work for my own edification, and try to
represent a small portion, a little corner or bit of creation, with so
much care and love, that in looking upon my work people may see that,
even this despised spot, God's breath has touched."

Edwin had given but partial attention to these remarks, which would
usually have interested him far more deeply. His thoughts were
wandering in vague, distant realms. But in order to say something, he
remarked: "And do you find purchasers for your pictures?"

The little gentleman smiled, in a half-embarrassed, half-conscious
manner.

"Well," said he, "I can't complain. I always dispose of at least every
fourth or fifth picture; for, is it not strange! now-a-days everybody
must have his specialty; a work may be ever so worthless, but it will
possess some value, because its producer has had the courage not to
flinch or retreat from the path he has appointed for himself even if
the critics assail him with their deadly weapons. Yes, yes, it is
indeed surprizing to me, myself, but patrons of the fine arts have come
hither from Holland and from England, who wanted a real zaun-könig and
nothing better. So it is, that in the great economy of our creator,
every creature finds its appointed place, the mite as well as the
elephant.

"But I was going to tell you something about my domestic affairs,"
continued the little man. "You see, Herr Doctor, I have now been a
widower five years and seven months, but I cannot yet speak of my dear
wife without feeling, a perhaps unmanly or unchristian, but
nevertheless unconquerable grief. Therefore I will speak no further of
her, except that during the fifteen years I lived with her, there was
not an hour which I could wish effaced from my memory. She was a
Jewess, and I am a good evangelical Christian, but even that did not
cause a single moment of bitterness, for the God in whom we both
believed, was one and the same. As for our daughter, the mother agreed
that she should be educated as a Christian, and though she herself did
not wish to be baptised, she never tried to perplex the child. She was
buried in the Jewish churchyard, but that has never troubled me. The
spot to which this noble creature was carried for her eternal rest, is
_holy_, no matter whether it was consecrated by Christian minister or
Jewish Rabbi. Since she died, I can see that I have not been so pious
as when she was alive. The memory of her blends with all my thoughts of
heaven; I can no longer, as before, be alone in the presence of my God.
Ah well. He will not impute that to me as a sin."

The artist paused a moment. His voice seemed to fail him, but after a
moment he continued:

"She has left me a daughter, who in many respects is very like her; in
others not at all. She has far more independence, and often we do not
understand each other, and that never happened with her mother. The
child is nineteen years old, and--I will not praise her--but no one
could have a better heart, to say nothing of such a talent for drawing
and painting, that I only wonder how she came by it. In many things,
flower-pieces for instance, I am a bungler to her. I ought, long ago,
to have discountenanced her close application to it, that she might
have had more time for other things, I mean for intellectual culture.
But it gave her pleasure to think that she could earn something while
yet so young, and besides I was vain of her progress. Now, however, the
punishment has come. For some time she has been melancholy, because she
fancied that she was ignorant, or as she expressed it, that she had no
clear ideas. Now to me she seems clever and learned enough, and our old
friend, the widow of Professor Valentin, cannot understand what fault
she can find in herself, except perhaps, her somewhat singular opinions
on religious subjects. But I see that it is secretly destroying her
peace of mind, and, as I cannot help her myself, I have had recourse to
you, Herr Doctor, and, just because you are no pedantic schoolmaster, I
think you will soon discover what is the matter with the dear child."

Meantime they had walked down Friedrichstrasse to the Spree, and now
turned the corner to the right. "My house is only a few hundred paces
farther," said the artist. "It would be very difficult for me to make
up my mind to live in any other part of the city. People are always
speaking so contemptuously of our good Spree, and, to be sure, it is by
no means the proudest of our German rivers, nor the poorest just here,
in the midst of Berlin. But, to an artist's eye--apart from the
impression it makes in the open country, and especially in a romantic
spot like the Spreewald--can there be anything more charming than this
view of the canal, bridges, places of lading, water steps, and the
honest old Spree boats, lying so sleepily in the noonday sun, like
great fat crocodiles on the banks of the Nile? Look; the sailors have
already eaten their dinners; only here and there a thin blue column of
smoke, circles upward from some cabin chimney; the husband is lying on
deck, under a piece of sail near his cargo of coal, and his wife
sits beside him holding the baby in her lap, and brushing away the
water-flies. Notice how the brown wood is relieved against the pale
surface of the water, and behind it all, the bright sunlight effect.
See, too, the white Pomeranian, standing on the cabin stairs barking at
the little grey cat in the other boat? Here, in the midst of our
elegant capital, you have a fragment of Holland, as complete as you
could desire."

"You have been in Holland?"

"No; I have never gone so far. But when one has seen their pictures and
the excellent photographs that we have now--but stop a moment if you
please, I must show you something else."

They had just passed some high houses and reached a place, where a
narrow, ditch-like canal, bridged where the street crossed it, emptied
into the Spree. On one side stood the blank wall of a three-story
factory. Opposite was a low hut, very narrow in front, but extending
along the canal to a considerable depth. It seemed to have formerly
opened upon the quay, by a door beside its single window, but the door
was now walled up, and the window covered on the inner side by a dark
cloth. This decaying little house was connected by means of an iron
railing with its massive neighbor.

The artist leaned over the railing and gazed up the canal, whose dirty
brown water flowed so sluggishly, that it seemed stagnant and gave
forth a mouldering exhalation.

"Of what does this remind you?"  he asked, turning to Edwin.

"What do you mean by 'this'?"

"Why, the canal, and yonder little bridge that connects the two banks,
the post to which the clothes-line is fastened, and the atmospheric
effect and coloring of the stones, which we artists call _tone_."

"It bears a distant, but by no means flattering resemblance, to Venice
and the Bridge of Sighs."

"Right!" cried the little man, who in his earnestness, failed to hear
the tinge of sarcasm in Edwin's remark. "True, I have not been in
Venice myself. But friends of mine, who have visited Italy, have
likewise been compelled to confess that this view was completely
Venetian, at least as the city is represented in Canaletto's pictures,
which, however, are doubtless somewhat cooler in tone, than the
reality. However, we are in Berlin, and it is only a harmless jest when
I talk of my lagune."

"_Your_ lagune?"

"Certainly. I live here."

"In this--"

"Yes, in this hut: you need not swallow the word. To be sure it is not
a doge's palace, this place where I have lived these twenty years, but
I would not exchange it for all the splendor of the old _sposo del
mare_, as the Venetians called their ruler. Besides, it is pleasanter
within than its exterior would lead one to expect. The door which is
now walled up, was formerly the entrance to a sailor's tavern, a
wretched, dirty wine-shop, and behind it were a few miserable rooms,
and a hole of a kitchen. Then came the stable and the wood-dealer's
shed, whose timber-yard, as you see, adjoins our little house. I had
just been married, and with all my treasures of hope and happiness, was
but a poor devil, when the host of this inn was arrested by the police
for concealing stolen goods and for other bad practices. The lumber
merchant would not have another dram-seller on his premises, and the
place was not exactly suitable for any one else. So I got it at a very
low price, had the door walled up to admit the light into my studio
from above, and though it has cost both toil and money to efface the
traces of the dirty inn--you shall judge for yourself if we have not at
last succeeded."

Taking the lead, he conducted Edwin through a large gate across the
spacious timber-yard. A narrow lane led between the huge piles of
odorous pine and beech wood, directly to the "hut," whose side view was
no more aristocratic than the front.

"These six windows belong to me," said the artist with modest pride.
Then he opened the low door and invited Edwin to enter.

The interior of the old barrack, apart from a certain gloom and
dampness, really did look more comfortable than one would have thought
possible from its exterior. An entry, painted in some light color, was
hung with etchings in plain wooden frames. A door, opposite, appeared
to open upon the canal.

"Turn to the right, if you please," said the artist, "the apartments on
the left are our sitting-room, my daughter's little room, a kitchen,
and a bed-chamber. Everything on the right belongs to art--according to
my modest style, for I sleep in my studio, and even in my dreams I
remain only the zaun-könig, and never fancy myself a Canaletto because
I live beside a lagune."

As he concluded he opened the door of his studio.

Certainly the low room no longer showed any trace of having previously
sheltered drunken sailors, but to have painted Claude Lorraine
atmospheres there on gloomy days would have been a difficult matter.
Two windows opened upon the canal and the dark chimney of the next
house interposed itself between them and every ray of sunlight. At one
of these windows stood a low table, covered with the various tools of a
wood-engraver; at the other, a desk-like stand, before which sat a
young girl, absorbed in her work. Just in front of her a bouquet of
fresh flowers stood in a little vase, and she was evidently employed in
copying into the wreath which she was painting on a porcelain plate,
leaves and flowers from nature. On the walls hung all sorts of
sketches, interspersed with finished pictures which, even at a
distance, could not fail to be recognized as "genuine zaun-königs,"
while on an easel not far from the first window, stood a new
half-finished landscape, over which the artist instantly spread a
cloth.

"You must not see me too much in négligé," he said blushing. "I usually
begin very awkwardly, and make a great many strokes on my little piece
of canvas, before any clear outlines appear. But here is my daughter,
Leah. She bears her mother's name. What are you going to say, my child?
You will be pleased with me, for I have brought you something that you
have long been wishing for."

At her father's first words the young girl had arisen, but, on
perceiving the stranger she bowed modestly without moving from her
place.

"I was not conscious, dear father, of having particularly desired
anything," she now said, gazing in surprise at the merry, mysterious
face of the little man, who seemed to be revelling in her perplexity.

"'Not a teacher, child?' this very learned Herr Doctor will not get to
the end of his Latin as quickly as the good young lady. But he wishes
to ascertain how far advanced you are, before saying whether he will
give you lessons. Come, come, you need not be frightened. The
examination won't kill you, even if you should be obliged to rack your
brains a little now and then. Am I not right, Herr Doctor?"

The young girl, whose complexion was usually pale, crimsoned, and
remained silent, as if uncertain whether to take the matter in jest or
earnest. Edwin had time to observe her closely. She was taller than her
father, with a firm, slender figure, and seemed to resemble him in
nothing except the remarkably small size of her hands and feet. In the
beautiful, but perhaps rather high forehead, or in the large, dark eyes
which recalled her mother's race, there was no expression of
cheerfulness; but with the exception of the eyes there was nothing
Jewish in the face; the nose was perfectly straight, and the mouth
possessed a certain sensual fullness, which softened the sternness of
the other features. She had woven her thick black hair in braids, which
she wore in a singular fashion, crossed under her chin, so that the
pale oval face seemed set in a dark frame. A simple brown dress, worn,
despite the prevailing fashion, without crinoline, completed the
unusually grave appearance of the youthful figure.

At the first glance Edwin perceived that he had reason to congratulate
himself on the prospect of having such a scholar.

"Your father was but jesting," he said smiling. "Of course there is no
necessity for a thorough examination. On the contrary, if you can
assure me, Fräulein, that you think yourself very ignorant, you shall
be spared any further questions."

"Well, _I_ will confess that!" laughed her father. "But you won't find
fault with the little knowledge she has acquired from school-books."

"Not at all," replied Edwin, as he approached the young girl and looked
at her work. "You see, Fräulein, I once had to teach a young lady, who,
during the very first lesson, overwhelmed me with such a quantity of
learning, had so much to say about cuneated letters, Egyptian
mythology, besides relating various narratives about art and
literature, that, beside her, I seemed to myself like a child just
beginning its A, B, C. To be sure her wise little head was like a
lumber-room, where articles for the most varied and opposite uses are
stowed side by side without order or connection. But in her innocence
she had no suspicion of the existence of anything like clearness and
coherence, or cause and effect, in subjects and ideas. So I paid her
and her mother the compliment of saying that I found it impossible to
improve the young lady's education, and withdrew as speedily as
possible."

The father and daughter were silent. Edwin, as if thinking of entirely
different matters, walked about the room examining the sketches and
studies.

"Well, my child?"  the little artist spoke inquiringly; he was growing
restless, for he did not exactly understand the state of affairs.

"You will not complain of me for a similar cause," the young girl now
said, her voice trembling with suppressed excitement, while her eyes
sparkled with a strange light. "My case is exactly the reverse of that
young lady's. So long as my mother taught me, all study was a pleasure.
She did not make it easy; I was compelled to study out everything by
myself, and I never dared to repeat anything by rote, for she chided me
when she discovered it. Perhaps I did not learn much, or a great
variety; but everything made a strong impression upon me, and I have
not forgotten a word. But she died when I was yet very young, and
afterwards when I tried to get on by myself with the aid of books
everything seemed uninteresting, and I no longer took any pleasure in
study. And besides all this I must hasten to confess, Herr Doctor,
that, after all, you may not expect too much, that I have an actual
aversion to history and geography, and no ability to remember them. On
the contrary--but you are smiling. I expected as much; you did not
suppose it was so bad."

"And for what have you a taste, Fräulein? What is it you desire to
learn? Do not take offence at my smile. It only meant, that, at your
age, I was not very unlike you."

She made no reply but cast a timid glance at her father. The little man
seemed to understand it. He went to the other window, and busied
himself with his bits of wood.

"I should like," she now said in an undertone, fixing her dark eyes on
the flowers in the vase, "I should like to have a clear idea of many
things which are now dark to my mind. Often when I am sitting quietly
at work, thoughts come that frighten me. Then they vanish again,
because I cannot detain and think them out. It is like being at night
in a strange neighborhood during a thunder-storm; for an instant a
flash of lightning reveals streets and alleys, and then, suddenly, all
is dark again. Or perhaps I read a passage in a book, over which I am
constantly compelled to reflect, longing to ask the author what he
meant, but no answer comes. I feel," she added in a still lower tone,
"that in many things I am unlike my dear father and a friend of ours,
the Fran Professorin Valentin, who is half a theologian, while I--well
it is not for lack of good will if I am not like her. But what I do not
understand has no existence for me, at least to contemplate it makes me
unhappy rather than happy, and yet when they say that the final secrets
of the world, and the divine thoughts, cannot be comprehended by the
human mind, I am obliged to concede the point. Only I can have no rest
until I learn whether we can know _anything_, and if so how much, or if
one, who unfortunately is unable to believe what she cannot understand,
must renounce all truth."

She stopped suddenly, as her father made a movement as if to rejoin
them, and with a hasty beseeching glance at Edwin, seemed to entreat
him not to violate the secret of the confessional.

He smiled again and turned toward the innocent little man, who
approached. "My dear Herr König," said he, "your daughter has passed
the preliminary examination with great credit. I only hope that the
pupil may be as well satisfied with her teacher, as he expects to be
with her. So if it suits your convenience, we will begin to-morrow, and
I will come to you every other day at any hour in the afternoon which
you yourselves may select."

The father looked at his daughter. "I thank you sincerely, dear Herr
Doctor," said he. "See how the child's eyes are sparkling with
pleasure. Now in regard to your other conditions--"

"I shall make but one, my dear sir: that no one shall be present during
the lessons. When I give private instruction, I always insist upon this
point. Either a public class-room, or entire privacy."

"Unless you prefer some other place, Leah, you might receive the Herr
Doctor in your sitting-room on the other side of the entry, where your
writing-table stands; but I think we had better show our friend the
whole house, that he may himself choose the best auditory."

When Edwin took his leave a half hour later, he had seen every nook and
corner in the little house; the niche in the sitting-room where the
bust of Leah's mother stood, the green sofa before it, the ivy at the
window, the steps leading to the lagune, where a pleasant-looking old
maid-servant was busy with her washing; glancing toward her young
mistress, she gazed curiously at the guest, who seemed to be
illustrating Jean Paul's pun about the _Lehrmeister_, who might become
a _Mehrleister_, Edwin himself would never have dreamed of such a
thing. He was very gay, and talked brilliantly as if among old
acquaintances. Later, when he had taken his leave, and found himself in
the street, he again paused a moment by the railing which ran alongside
of the canal; he no longer thought it incomprehensible that the
occupants of this insignificant "hut" would not have exchanged it for a
palace.



                             CHAPTER VIII.


But he had not strolled far from the quay, when these newly made
friends vanished from his memory as suddenly as we blow out a candle,
and in their place appeared in most vivid hues, the vision of the
Unknown he had seen at the opera-house. The change was so sudden, that
he fairly started and stood still a moment to calm the beating of his
heart. If he had met her, bodily, on the lonely street, he could not
have been more astonished.

"A bad prospect for amendment," he said to himself, with a half
compassionate, half satisfied smile. He removed his hat and leaned over
the railing. Beneath him, the river flowed noiselessly on. A dead,
half-plucked bird floated past him, near a half-eaten apple. "Poor
thing," said Edwin, "you have endured to the end, and if not to be is
better than to be, you might be congratulated that never more will
bright-hued dainties tempt you, or hunger gnaw at your vitals when you
have naught else with which to satisfy its claims. Yet the sun is so
beautiful, and apples sweet to the taste, and I doubt not that your
worst nest was more comfortable than the filthy nothingness that bears
you away."

He listened. Few persons and no carriages passed this spot, but in the
distance he heard the hum and roar of the streets, through which rolled
the principal stream of traffic. It was pleasant to lose his own
identity in the vague sense of a manifold life, and yet at the same
time to bask in solitude. But, after a time, his enjoyment began to
pall. He turned back into the shade and walked slowly along the river
toward the neighborhood, where by passing through a few short side
streets, the zoölogical gardens may be reached. Here, too, it was
lonely at this noonday hour, and his old habit of strolling here and
there while thinking out a problem, had taught him all the paths in
which there was the least danger of meeting any one. But to-day he had
no desire to philosophize. On reaching his favorite spot, the
peninsula--not far from the marble statue of the king and the Louise
island, where a few weeks before he had developed his best thoughts for
the prize essay, he threw himself upon the grass in the dense shade of
the huge beeches and closed his eyes, that undisturbed he might devote
himself to his hopeless love dream.

Despite his twenty-nine years, his feelings were precisely similar to
those which fall to the lot of every one when attacked by his first
schoolboy love: the sensation of yielding to violence, of quite
forgetting self, and of being borne away on a flood-tide of passion, is
so strong and so delightful, that it swallows up all other emotions and
impulses, and the thought of possession, or even the desire for a
responsive feeling, can scarcely arise,--or, if at all, not in the
first stages, and in such a virgin soul as that of our philosopher. The
very unexpectedness, aimlessness, and unreasonableness of this event,
was to him, o'erwearied with arduous toil over abstruse thoughts, like
bathing in a shoreless sea, where, floating, he suffered the waves to
buoy him above the fathomless depths.

A hoarse hand-organ close by, which suddenly began to play the "Prince
of Arcadia," roused him rudely from the reverie in which time and place
were both forgotten. He sprang to his feet, and sought some escape from
the intrusive, soulless sounds. In a modest restaurant, where only a
few plain citizens were drinking coffee, he hurriedly ate his dinner,
and then as the seats were beginning to fill with afternoon guests, he
hastily departed, whither he did not himself know; he was only vaguely
conscious of a repugnance to appearing in broad daylight, in so
helpless a condition, before the brother to whom the preceding night he
had frankly confessed his state of mind.

So glancing about him, he walked diagonally through the shrubbery,
without any definite purpose, until he entered a broader avenue, when
he suddenly stood still, and with a cry of joyful astonishment gazed at
some distant object. It was at nothing more remarkable than a red and
white striped summer waistcoat, which, as the sun was shining full upon
it, was plainly visible. But it contained a little figure that he
readily recognized; a boy about fourteen years old, who wore a
high collar, a stiff cravat, a leather-colored livery jacket, and
knee-breeches of the same material. The youngster was sitting on a
bench in a droll old-fashioned attitude; he had placed his shining
oil-skin hat beside him, and was engaged in smoothing his light
hair with a little brush, glancing from time to time into a small
hand-glass.

Edwin would have recognized this boy among a crowd of miniature
lackeys, but he had not time to look at him long. Just as he took a few
paces forward, fully determined to question him concerning his
mistress, a slender figure in a light summer dress and broad Florentine
straw hat rose from the next bench, which was concealed by a drooping
branch, glanced over her shoulder at the boy, and then holding in one
hand the book she had been reading, and carrying a parasol lightly over
her shoulder, she walked rapidly toward the main avenue which runs from
the Brandebourg gate directly through the Zoölogical Garden.

Her motions were so rapid that the little fellow in the large gaiters
found it difficult to overtake her, and even Edwin was compelled to
take long strides. As he passed the bench where she had been sitting,
he saw a ribbon lying on the ground, which, in her hasty departure, she
seemed to have lost. He picked it up; it was a white satin book-mark,
the ends trimmed with gold fringe, and somewhat clumsily embroidered in
blue and black beads with the well-known symbols of faith, hope, and
charity. This discovery detained him a moment. Meantime its owner had
already reached an elegant carriage, which had been waiting for her
outside, the little page had opened the door, the lady entered without
his assistance, the horses started, and the light equipage rolled
toward the city at a rapid pace.

But today Edwin had not only better fortune than on the day previous,
but also the presence of mind necessary to seize his opportunity. An
empty droschky was moving lazily down the road; he threw himself into
it and promised the driver a double fare, if he would overtake the
carriage and not lose sight of it.

They drove through the gate, down Unter den Linden, turned to the right
into Friedrichstrasse, and then to the left into the Jägerstrasse,
where the equipage stopped before a pretty new house. The little
servant climbed down from the box like a monkey, opened the door, and
followed the lady, who had sprung lightly out, into the house, the
carriage driving off at once.

Edwin dismissed his droschky at the corner of the street, and now with
a throbbing heart walked past the house several times on the opposite
side of the street, gazing at the open windows to see whether the
charming face would not appear at one of them. But there was nothing to
be seen, except in one of the rooms on the second story a flower-stand
containing magnificent palms and other broad-leaved plants, and at the
window near by a large bird-cage with glittering gilded wires. Here,
then, was where she lived. He had in his pocket the best possible
excuse for introducing himself, and yet for a long time he could not
summon up courage to enter the house and mount the stairs.

When he at last nerved himself to this, he lingered a few moments at
the door, trying to recall his somewhat rusty French, in case she
really should not understand German. Then he felt ashamed of his boyish
timidity and pulled the bell so vigorously, that it pealed loudly
through the silent house.

The door was instantly opened, the striped waistcoat appeared, and its
owner stared at the noisy visitor, with a disapproving expression in
his round, watery blue eyes.

"Be kind enough, my little fellow," said Edwin, "to inform your
mistress that some one desires to speak to her, and to return something
she has lost."

"Whom have I the honor--?"  asked the well-trained dwarf.

"The name is of no consequence. Do as I have told you."

The boy disappeared, but returned in a short time, during which Edwin
heard no French spoken, and said: "The young lady begs you to walk in
here a moment."

As he spoke he opened the door of a small ante-room, furnished only
with a few elegant cane chairs and a dainty marble table, on which lay
a book and fan.

"What is your name, my boy?" Edwin asked the little fellow, as he
seated himself with much apparent self-possession.

"My real name is Hans Jacob, but my mistress calls me Jean."

"Isn't this your first place, little Jean Jacques? You seem to be a
precocious genius."

"My first service was with a baron; then I learned to ride, and I had
the reins to hold when he got out of the cabriolet, for he drove,
himself. Here there is only a hired coachman."

"And how long have you lived with this young lady?"

"Just a fortnight. It's a very easy place, I have every Sunday to
myself; there is a chambermaid too."

"Can you speak French, Jean Jacques?"

The boy blushed. Edwin seemed to have wounded his pride.

"The young lady speaks German," he replied. "But there is her bell. I
must go."

Edwin mechanically took up the book that lay upon the little table.
"Balzac!" said he. "'Père Goriot.' After all, she is probably a
wandering Pole or Russian; they speak all languages, and drink in
Balzac, with their mother's milk."

He rose and glanced into the adjoining room. The little _salon_, into
which the light struggled, through heavy crimson curtains, was rendered
still darker by the wide spreading leaves of the palms. Before the
mirror a parrot was swinging in a ring, without uttering a sound. The
walls were dark, the ceiling wainscoted with brown wood, and on the
black marble mantlepiece stood a heavy _verde antique_ clock. The
brightness and spaciousness of the next apartment, into which he could
obtain but a partial glimpse through the open door, seemed greatly
enhanced in comparison with this. Tent-like hangings with gilded rods,
a portion of a dainty buffet with glittering silverware, and directly
opposite to the door a little table covered with dishes, but, so far as
he could see, furnished with but one plate. Besides these things, he
noticed the constant chirping and fluttering of the birds in the great
cage.

Edwin had had ample opportunity, while teaching the young members of
noble families, to compare the furnishing of the "tun" with the
luxurious arrangements of city houses. Hitherto the contrast had never
been painful to him. To-day, for the first time, he seemed to himself
as he chanced to glance into the mirror, like the shepherd in the fairy
tale, who wandered into a magic castle. Any attempt to improve his
costume he gave up as hopeless, but he was about to draw from his coat
pocket the gloves which he usually carried there, when the opposite
door of the little ante-room unclosed, and the beautiful, bewitching
creature entered, followed by the dwarf.

She paused upon the threshold with an air of indignant surprise, then
turning to the boy she seemed to give utterance to some reproof, from
which he defended himself in a whisper. Thus Edwin had time to look at
her, and to recover from his own embarrassment.

Her beauty was really so remarkable, that she might have unsettled the
brains of a far more discerning admirer of womankind than our
philosopher. He had described her tolerably well to his brother the
preceding night, but here in the broad light of day, she seemed to him
to have assumed an entirely different appearance; her complexion was
more brilliant, her eyes wore a more dreamy expression, and she seemed
to possess a quiet, careless indifference, such as we see in children
who, loving nothing and hating nothing, are troubled at nought.
Moreover the light dress that enwrapped her like a cloud was
particularly becoming, and her hair, with the familiar little curls on
the neck, seemed darker from the contrast.

She greeted the stranger with a scarcely perceptible bend of the head.
"Herr--?" she began, and looked at him inquiringly.

"Pardon me, Fräulein," he replied in an unconstrained manner, which he
feigned with very tolerable skill, "I have been unable to deny myself
the pleasure of taking advantage of a lucky chance, and of presenting
myself in person as the honest finder of your property. Besides, I
hoped I might not be entirely unknown to you."

"You? To me?"

"I had the pleasure last evening of sitting next you in a box at the
opera-house during the first act of the ballet."

A hasty glance from her wondering eyes scanned his face. "I do not
remember it," she said curtly.

"Well, I must endure the mortification," he replied smiling. He was
really glad that she treated him so coldly. His pride, which had been
intimidated by her beauty, suddenly awoke and aided him to recover his
equanimity.

"You have something to return to me?" she now said in a somewhat
impatient tone. "I have not missed anything, but may I ask you, sir, to
tell me--"

He drew the white satin ribbon from his pocket, and held it out to her.
A sudden change took place in her cold bearing. She approached him, and
her eyes sparkled with childish delight. "Ah! that," she exclaimed,
"yes, indeed, that does belong to me. I must have dropped it scarcely
an hour ago, and so have had no time to miss it. Thanks--a thousand
thanks. It is a keepsake."

She took it from his hand, and in so doing vouchsafed him her first
friendly glance, then with a bow which resembled a sign of dismissal,
she moved a step backward toward the door. But he remained motionless
in the same spot.

"You know, Fräulein," said he, "that an honest finder is entitled to a
suitable reward. Would you think me presumptuous, if I asked you to
answer a question?"

"What is it?"

"Whether you embroidered the bookmark yourself?"

"Why do you wish to know that?"

"From a certainly very indiscreet curiosity; because I should draw from
it all sorts of inferences about the character of the fair owner. You
know, Fräulein, the style reveals the individual, and we must judge
those who do not write books by some piece of handiwork."

She looked at him quietly, as if she considered it beneath her dignity
even to let him perceive that his jesting tone annoyed her.

"This is not my work," she replied; "under other circumstances, I
should have been very indifferent to its loss, for it is not even
pretty. But it is a present from my youngest sister, who put it in my
hymn-book the day I was confirmed."

"Strange!" he said, as if to himself.

"What is strange?"

"That book-marks, as well as books, have their destinies. From a
hymn-book to Balzac!"

"Balzac? How to you know--"

"I beg your pardon, Fräulein; while I was waiting for you, I opened
yonder book. Do you read French works from preference?"

Her eyes again rested on him with an expression of astonishment. This
stranger, who was evidently only seeking some pretext to question or
intrude himself upon her, was making her uncomfortable. But while
meeting his calm gaze, she could find no words to dismiss him abruptly.

"Certainly," she replied. "My father accustomed me to French
literature; he was a German it is true, but he lived a long time in
Paris. His books recalled old memories."

"And do you like them? 'Père Goriot,' for instance?"

"He at least interests me. The French is so pure, and--the style is so
good. To be sure, many things make me angry. Those heartless daughters,
who so quietly permit their old father to ruin himself for them--it is
horrible."

"Thank you, Fräulein," he eagerly replied. "I am glad that is your
opinion. Good style, but bad music. Yet it is strange what a clever
author can do. If we met such people in real life, I think we should
refuse to associate with them. In books we submit to the most
disagreeable society."

She seemed about to make some reply, but at that moment a chambermaid
entered and said a few words in a low tone.

"I will come directly," answered her young mistress, and then turned to
Edwin. "Excuse me, sir, I am called away. Accept my best thanks again.
Jean, show the gentleman to the door."

The lad instantly stepped forward, but Edwin did not seem to notice
him.

"I should like to ask one more question," said he.

"Sir--?"

"I obtained a glimpse of your charming rooms through the open doors.
Everything that the most capricious fancy can desire seems to be
supplied, with the exception of what is to me a necessity of life."

"You mean--?"

"A small library. Even the copy of Balzac, I see you have ordered from
a circulating library. Pardon my frankness, Fräulein, but I do not
understand how such beautiful fingers can touch a book which has
already been on so many tables and passed through so many hands of
doubtful cleanliness."

He saw her blush and cast an almost startled glance at the book on the
little marble table.

"I have not been here long," she replied, "and as yet have given no
thought to procuring books."

"Then permit me to put my little stock at your disposal. True, it is
not very rich in French literature, but if you have no aversion to
German books--"

"I know so little about them," she replied with evident embarrassment,
which lent to her features a still greater charm than their former
aristocratic indifference. "There was not much conversation on
literature in my parents' house. Just think, I have scarcely read
anything by G[oe]the."

"So much the better, for great pleasures are then in store for you. If
you have no objection, I will take the liberty of bringing you a few
volumes to-morrow." She seemed to reflect upon the proposal. "I cannot
possibly permit you to take so much trouble for a total stranger. I
will send to a bookseller."

"Are you afraid that I shall again intrude upon you in person?" he
asked, pausing at the door. "I promise, Fräulein, that I will only
consider myself your messenger, and deliver the books at the outer
door. Or have you no confidence in my discretion, because I honestly
confessed my curiosity?"

She looked at him intently a moment, and then said: "very well, bring
me what you please; I shall be grateful. Adieu!"

With these words, she slightly bent her head and disappeared in the
adjoining room. No choice was left Edwin but to retire also.

When he reached the entrance-hall of the house and the door had closed
behind him, he paused and closed his eyes, as if to collect his
thoughts. Again he saw her standing before him in her beauty and with
her haughty ease of manner, and a great sorrow, he knew not why,
overpowered him. Little as he knew of life in the great world, or the
_demi monde_, he was convinced that all was not right with this
enchanted princess, since she merely dwelt like a rare bird in a gilded
cage, no longer her own mistress. Then again when he thought of her
calm, wondering, childish eyes, and of the little proud mouth and the
full lips, which quivered slightly when she was considering an answer
to one of his questions, it seemed impossible to attach a thought of
guilt or depravity to this mysterious life.

His own passion at the moment was completely forgotten in his unselfish
interest in her fate. And yet he did not know much more about her than
he knew an hour before. Not even her name, for it was not on the door.
And from whom could he inquire about her, even if he had not an
instinctive aversion to all underhanded measures?

Just at that moment fortune again befriended him.

A stout middle-aged woman in a bonnet and shawl, with a little basket
on her arm, slowly descended the stairs; it was with evident surprise
that she saw a stranger lingering in the hall, and, with the air of one
responsible for the order of the house, she asked whom he wished to
see. He replied that he had only brought back an article belonging to
the young lady within, which he had found, and that he was just
leaving; then pausing a few steps before her, as she followed him on
foot, he murmured absently: "What a pity!"

At this the woman stopped also, standing with one arm akimbo. "What is
a pity?" she asked. "What do you know about my lodgers, sir, that you
dare to make use of such a sympathizing expression. I beg, sir, to
inform you that there is no one in my house who stands in need of
pity."

"Well," he said frankly, "I meant no harm. But, judging from her
surroundings, the young lady seems to belong to an aristocratic family,
and yet she lives so secludedly; who knows what sad reasons--"

As he spoke he began to descend the steps; the woman, however, stood
still, leaned against the banister, seemingly unable to resist the
temptation to display her superior knowledge of the world.

"Aristocratic?" she said with a slight shrug of the shoulders.
"Gracious me! It's all in her clothes, and Heaven knows how long the
finery will last. I suppose you think the silk curtains, and the
elegant furniture, and the silver all belong to her! Only hired, my
dear sir! They don't even belong to me, for I have never rented
furnished rooms; one can easily lose one's good name through people who
don't even own their own beds. My name is Sturzmüller, and I've had
this house these ten years; I'm a widow I'd have you know, and no man
can breathe a word against me, and as for the aristocratic young lady
up stairs, if I don't soon find out all about her, I'll ask her a price
that will astonish her. I want no lodgers over whom people shake their
heads and say 'it is a pity'!"

So saying she walked sturdily down stairs past Edwin, and seemed to
have finished all that she had to say.

But now it was his turn to pause.

"So you, too, do not know what to make of this wonderful vision?"  he
asked in feigned surprise, while his heart beat violently from
excitement. "Surely she has not concealed her name!"

The woman turned and looked again at her interrogator, as if to judge
from his appearance if he was really as innocent as his questions would
imply, or some cunning spy who wanted to draw her out. But his honest
face, as well as his plain yet respectable attire, appeared to allay
her suspicions.

"Her name!" she muttered. "What do I care for a name? Toinette
Marchand--can't anybody call herself that and yet in reality bear a
name quite unlike it? Besides, it's none of my business what my lodgers
call themselves, provided I know where they come from and what they
are. But this one, why, would you believe it! during all this fortnight
I am not a whit the wiser as to whether she is really a respectable
person, or a bit of plated ware; you understand? The truth is, I rented
the rooms in the second story to Count ----, --but I must not mention
his name--who had them furnished in this way, for a cousin, he said.
What he meant by a 'cousin' one can easily guess, but we can't reform
the world, sir, and if I were to play conscience-keeper to my lodgers,
I should have enough to do. So at last everything was finished, as
pretty as a doll's house; it must have cost the count a pile of money!
and, after all, the cousin snapped her fingers at him and gave him the
slip. It was some one belonging to the opera-house, the valet
afterwards told me; a light-minded creature, who ran away one fine day
with a Russian. Well, it was all the same to me. I received my rent
regularly every quarter, could walk over the beautiful carpets in the
empty rooms if I chose, and was not even obliged to connive at a breach
of morality. But one fine morning--I was just watering the palms on the
flower-stand--the count came marching in with a beautiful Frenchwoman,
not the cousin, but--who? Ah, that is the question. He treated her very
respectfully, but while she was looking around he told me, in a
whisper, to represent that the furniture would be rented with the
apartments, but to charge no more than twelve thalers a month. Well, I
was ready enough to have my rent increased if she wanted to pay that
amount, and besides that price is very low for five such rooms, with a
kitchen and cellar. The young lady was charmed with them, took
possession at once, and ordered her trunks to be brought from the
railway station, I was to provide a servant to bring her meals from the
restaurant, the maid and the little footman she hired herself. Well,
since then though I've often asked whether I could be of any service, I
have never exchanged twenty words with her. Did you ever hear of such a
thing? So haughty and hardened at her age?"

"And the count?" said Edwin.

"That is the strangest part of all. Since that first day, when he went
away directly, he hasn't set his foot across her threshold. I haven't
even caught a glimpse of the valet, from whom I might have learned
something. Heaven knows what has happened--perhaps they quarreled at
the very beginning. However, it seems to trouble her very little; she
certainly lacks nothing,--horses and carriages, the most elegant
dresses, tickets to the theatre,--well, my good sir, you and I don't
pay for it, so it's no concern of ours. But something's wrong, that's
certain. Nothing times nothing is nothing, and I've never had anything
of the kind happen to me. You won't believe me, but she never permits a
living soul in the shape of man to cross her threshold. Not at any hour
of the day or night, I tell you, for though I live on the third story,
I know every cat that goes in and out, and besides her maid is by no
means close-mouthed. Now I put it to you, would one so young, as
handsome as a picture, and with so much money, be so much alone if
there wasn't something to conceal, something for the new 'Pitaval,' you
understand,--no, no, I won't have such proceedings in my house;
'everything open and above-board,' that's my motto, for what would be
the use of a good character, if some fine day the police should come in
upon me! But you will make no bad use of what I have said; I could not
help speaking out, and my words and acts needn't shun the light. Yes,
yes, dear sir, there is much to be learned from God's word."

While uttering these sentences, broken by numerous pauses, she had
reached the street door; here, taking a friendly farewell of Edwin, she
crossed the street to a shop.

He, too, turned away. He had not the courage to look back at the second
story windows from the other side of the street; the fair occupant
might think it strange that he was still hanging about the house. And
yet how much he would have given, for even a fleeting glance which
might dispel the dense cloud of suspicion and sorrow, which during the
loquacious gossip of the landlady had fallen more and more heavily on
his heart.



                              CHAPTER IX.


Meantime Reginchen's birthday had been celebrated in the
Dorotheen-strasse.

First of all came the dinner in her parents' great sitting-room, at
which, as usual, the journeymen and apprentices were present. Madame
Feyertag insisted that, before coming to the table, each should wash
his hands at the pump, and brush his jacket. To-day this ceremony,
which frequently was somewhat hurried, was performed with a
thoroughness that proved the homage each offered his master's daughter
to be no mere formality, but an offering from the heart. The head
journeyman had even availed himself of his superior social position, so
far as to appear with a bouquet, which, with a few well-chosen words,
he presented to the blushing child. Madame Feyertag pretended not to
notice this. She seemed to have some suspicion that the worthy man
might consider it a standing tradition in the family, that the head
journeyman must marry the master's daughter, and though she herself had
experienced the blessings of such a _mésalliance_, she hoped for a
better match for her only daughter. The shoemaker had no such
aspirations. When he reflected upon the past, he remembered very
different attentions, which even without any festal occasion, he had
paid the female members of his master's family. He was in a very good
humor, eat three large pieces of the famous plum cake, and finally
ordered two bottles of wine to be brought from the cellar, in which he
drank Reginchen's health in a speech, that spite of the strange
admixture of fatherly tenderness and incomprehensible allusions to
Schopenhauer, was admired by all the journeymen as a pattern of
oratorical art.

Yet despite all this, the solemn meal did not last more than half an
hour, and it was exactly half-past twelve when the little heroine of
the day, according to her usual custom, carried the brothers' dinner up
to the "tun." The low price which they paid for their board did not
admit of their being served with food more dainty than that with which
the people in the workroom were forced to content themselves, but
Madame Feyertag, who had a kind heart and felt an almost maternal
solicitude for Balder on account of his beauty and delicate health,
always remembered to keep some of the best pieces for her boarders
before supplying her own people.

When Reginchen entered the second story room, delighted with the
festivities of the day, and proud of the large piece of birthday cake
that fell to the brothers' lot, she was surprised to find no one but
Balder, who was sitting at his turning-lathe, and who, at her
appearance, hastily concealed something in the pocket of his working
blouse. She was afraid that, as had often happened, she would be
obliged to carry the dinner down again to be kept warm, and her
brother, the machinist, was to come for her precisely at one. But when
Balder told her that Edwin would not dine at home to-day, she
brightened up again, laid the table quickly and as daintily as the
simple dishes would permit, and placed in the middle the plate of cake,
which she had adorned with a few flowers from the head journeyman's
bouquet. Then she stood before her work with an expression of
mischievous delight, and called to Balder to sit down and not let the
dinner grow cold.

"Dear Reginchen," said the youth, as he limped forward with an
embarrassed air, "I have no beautiful flowers like George. Nothing
green and blooming grows upon my bench, you know. But, I too, should
like to recognize your eighteenth birthday to the best of my ability,
and that not by merely eating your nice cake. Will you accept as a
keepsake this little box, which I have made myself? I am sorry that you
will have to fill it for yourself, for I have not had time to buy
thimble, silk, needles, and all the other things it should contain."

He drew forth the dainty polished article, and handed it to her,
opening it as he did so, that she might see the inside. A flush of joy
crimsoned her round blooming face. But she thought it due to her good
breeding, not to accept the gift at once.

"Oh! Herr Walter," she said, smoothing her fair hair with both
hands,--it was a habit she had when embarrassed,--"Did I not beg you to
make me no more presents? My mother will scold again, for she thinks
you work too much already, and that you ought to take more care of
yourself. You must have toiled for weeks over such a pretty thing as
this--and I--it is too good for me--it is _too_ lovely--is it really
mine? If I only knew what I could do--"

"Shall I tell you, Reginchen?" he said, and his pale cheeks flushed
also--"sit down opposite me a little while; it is so dismal to eat
alone, and I should like to feel merry on your birthday, else how could
I enjoy the cake your kind mother has sent? If you leave me alone I
dare say I shan't be able to touch a mouthful of it, out of pure sorrow
for my own loneliness on such a holiday."

He had a voice that was hard to resist, and the young girl was so full
of compassion for his situation and so full of childish delight in her
gift, that she instantly pushed a chair up to the little table and sat
down opposite him.

"I really ought not to stay here any longer than is necessary to bring
up the dinner and afterward to carry down the dishes again," she said,
with a roguish affectation of secrecy. "But my mother won't be on the
watch to-day. She doubtless thinks I am making ready for the excursion,
but Fritz won't be here before one. He has only obtained leave to be
away for the afternoon, and has to come all the way from Moabit. Pray
do tell me, Herr Walter, how can you bear to live as you do? But you
are letting the soup get cold."

She eagerly pushed toward him the dish, for which he seemed to have no
special desire, and with the most charmingly officious coquetry she put
the spoon into his hand.

"To live so?" he repeated, smiling, as he ate the soup. "I don't know
how a man could live any better. A dinner before me fit for a prince,
while the sun shines on the green leaves before the open window, and
the little hostess herself condescends to serve me--I should be a
monster of ingratitude if I could desire anything better."

"Oh! nonsense," replied the young girl shaking her head. "You are only
joking, you know very well what I mean. Is it not almost two years
since you have been out of the house? It would kill me to stay in the
same place all the time."

"Because you are a little wagtail, Reginchen. Or must I not call you
that any more, now that you are eighteen years old? But I think you
will retain all your life the same activity that you showed five years
ago when we came here and when you carried my brother's books up-stairs
one by one, to enable you to run up and down more frequently. Now
jumping, you see, is not exactly my forte. But there is one peculiarity
about the pleasures a man enjoys: if he can't pursue them himself, they
are kind enough to come to him, and the happy hours that I have passed
up here during the last five years cannot be counted."

"Because, as mother always says, you are so moderate in your wants, and
so contented with everything."

"Oh! not at all, Reginchen. Your kind mother has a false opinion of me.
On the contrary, I am very much spoiled, I am by no means contented
with everything, and that is the very reason that I have no desire to
go out among the crowd of rude, coarse people, who are nothing to me,
to witness their self-torment in their endeavor to kill time, and to
lose the consciousness of their miserable, paltry, joyless lives; how
by means of bustle and fine dressing they try to appear to be something
which they are not, and standing on a huge pile of thalers which they
have scraped together Heaven knows how, attempt to pass themselves off
as great men. And now compare my life with all that, Reginchen:
constantly in the society of such a brother, possessing a few good
friends, just enough not to forget that even the best of men are not
Edwins, so well taken care of in such a pretty, comfortable house, with
no anxieties, and--besides--"

He hesitated and his color heightened. "Will you pass me the plate of
greens, Reginchen?" he asked, to conceal his embarrassment.

She did not seem to notice it.

"That is all very well," she said. "But, Herr Walter, are you not
always sick, and do you not have to bear a great deal of pain? And
health, it is said, is the greatest blessing."

He pushed back his plate and looked at her with such a light in his
blue eyes, that she grew a little embarrassed in her turn, and secretly
wondered whether she had said anything stupid or childish. To-day, for
the first time, she felt ill at ease in this gentle, cheerful presence,
confessing to herself, however, at the same time, that he was really
very handsome, as her mother had always said, and as, before, she would
never admit, since all sickness and repose was distasteful to her
bright, active temperament.

"Dear Reginchen," he said, "you are eighteen years old to-day, and it
is allowable for me to tell you, that many, nay most things, which
people repeat among themselves, are the very opposite of the truth.
Health, for instance, which is considered a necessary condition to
happiness, affords no more and no less than any of the other gifts so
commonly desired: wealth, talent, beauty, and so forth. Whether or not
these blessings will make a man happy, depends mainly upon whether he
knows how to use them. I was once acquainted with a man who never had
even a finger ache. But he did not value the gift of health,
principally because he had never been sick, regarding it as he regarded
respiration as a matter of course; his health, moreover, gave him an
opportunity to make life a burden to himself and every one about him,
because he had never learned to restrain his rude strength. It was not
until he met with an accident, and was dependent, in his pain and
helplessness, upon others, did he learn anything about human love and
the thousand little joys of life, which he had formerly despised. Yet,
Reginchen, I don't wish to persuade you to exchange with me. It would
be hard for such a wagtail to be compelled to limp about, or to sit
still. But sincerely as I hope that all your life you may keep your
perfect health, yet I am sure that should it be otherwise, you would
learn to understand me, and perceive--"

Here he was interrupted by a knock at the door. A servant entered, and
casting a sly inquisitive glance at the young pair who seemed so
absorbed in each other, dragged a basket into the room: "Dr. Marquard
had sent the medicine he mentioned, and would call in a few days to see
whether it had produced the proper effect."

When he departed with a roguish "Wish you joy!" Balder rose,
exclaiming: "Well, Reginchen, won't you confess now, that I am one of
the luckiest fellows under the sun? If I had two sound legs like Edwin,
who knows where I might be wandering at this moment. But instead of
that, here I am enjoying an enviable hour, celebrating your birthday
with a cosy dinner in the company of the heroine of the occasion, with
flowers and plum cake for dessert, and, just at the right moment, when
the conversation was growing a little serious, some excellent wine
arrives, with which we may drink ourselves merry again. You need not
get a corkscrew. Here is an auger on my bench. Do you know, we two will
do a charity in opening one of these bottles. The wine is really
intended for Edwin; he is to drink it to strengthen him. But this
otherwise perfect mortal is somewhat hard to manage in certain things.
He would be quite capable, from pure obstinacy, of sending back the
whole basket,--though it comes from an old friend,--because our
finances will not usually permit us to indulge in this luxury. So I
must make him believe the wine was prescribed for me as well as
himself, and as we share everything, he will finally drink it with me.
Come, Reginchen. You will have to content yourself with a tumbler, we
have not yet reached the dignity of crystal drinking-cups. Your
_health_, and may that blessing be accompanied by so many others, that
you will never be able to discover how paltry a possession it is in
itself alone."

He handed her a glass, and they clinked them merrily together after a
little hesitation on Reginchen's part; she feared the wine would go to
her head. She only sipped a little, but Balder emptied his glass at a
single draught, and then stepping quickly to the open window, and
before she could understand what he was about to do, he threw the empty
glass down into the courtyard where it was shattered in pieces.

"Good heavens," she exclaimed, "what are you doing?"

"Celebrating your birthday, Reginchen," he answered gaily, approaching
her and taking her hand. "May I not prove not only that I am very well,
but that I am also rich enough to throw something away? He who has
something to spare cannot be in want. And now farewell, dear Reginchen;
I hear your brother's voice down stairs. When wearied with pleasure you
lie down to rest to-night, remember that some one less light-footed
than you, rejoices that you came into the world eighteen years ago
to-day."

In spite of the warning that she must go, he held her hand so firmly
that her blush grew deeper and deeper. Suddenly, with a quick turn of
the wrist she broke away from him, and hastily collecting the dishes,
said: "I will bring you a bouquet of cornflowers, if they are still in
bloom. Good-bye, Herr Walter, and thank you again for your beautiful
present. My mother is right: you are the best man in the whole world."

With these words she ran out of the door.

He listened till the sound of her quick steps died away below, then a
shadow of sorrowful thought flitted over his face. He went to a drawer
that was constructed in the lower part of his turning-lathe, and
unlocking it, took out a portfolio containing scattered leaves which
seemed to be covered with verses. Turning them over he read a little
here and there for a time, then placing Reginchen's almost untasted
glass of wine before him, he sat down, and occasionally taking a sip
from the glass, began to write a poem.

[Illustration: Reginchen and Balder.]

About an hour elapsed in this manner. His delicate, almost girlish
features grew brighter; from time to time, with an eager gesture, he
tossed back his thick fair hair, gazed out at the sun-gilded top of the
acacia-tree and up at the patch of blue sky, that peered in upon him
over the old roof. Happiness, repose, and a divine cheerfulness beamed,
the longer he wrote, on brow and cheeks.

              They say I am ill. And it well may be;
              Yet I feel no sorrow, from pain am free.
            The current of life flowing swiftly on
              In sunlight I see,
            And sit on the shore, where the flowers bloom.

              Oh! murmur of waves, soft breeze that blesses,
              Air, water, light,--how sweet your caresses!
            Do you not beckon to me from the boat,
              Child with gold tresses?
            Ah! yes, she beckons--and onward will float!

                        If ye fade from sight,
                          Oh! star-like eyes,
                        And bereft of light,
                          Vain are my sighs,
                        Joy's radiant glow
                        E'en 'mid my woe
                          Will aye remain.

                        Oh! blessed sun
                      Of love and purity,
                      Glad soul, from guile so free,
                        How bright thy rays!
                      My flower of life unfolds to thee--
                        Thou dost not dream--how short its days!

Again, for a short time, he rested, employing his pen meanwhile by
sketching a framework of flowers and vines for the verses; he had
written the stanzas without a single erasure or the alteration of a
rhyme. This was no art-exercise which he pursued in order to fancy
himself a poet, (on the contrary, he declared that the real poet was
Edwin, only that he was too proud to let his light shine); it was only
a kind of soliloquy, and by writing down these improvisations, instead
of merely murmuring them to himself, he simply increased and prolonged
his solitary pleasure. He always carried in his own pocket the key of
the drawer where he kept the papers, and even Edwin, from whom he
usually had no secrets, was not permitted to touch this hidden
treasure.

He now took another sheet, and wrote the following lines:--

            To _this_ lot assigned,
            This joy once possessed,
            Say, can one so blessed
            On earth be sad?

            To cool my heart's fire,
              By answering love,
            To feel the desire,
              Man's brother to prove;

            Firm in purity,
              By beauty inspired,
            Ere of life weary
              By death required;

            The great mystery
              Vaguely believing,
            Germs of truth in the
              Soul's depths perceiving,

            Truth-germs unfolding
              In the light given,
            Joyfully holding
              The rain from heaven,

            A spark of divine fire
              Into the heart hurled,
            Kindles with pure desire
              A child of the world.

            To _this_ lot assigned,
            _This_ joy once possessed,
            Say, can one so blessed
            On earth be sad?

      Yet hours may come when the spirit will fail,
      Petty cares, like a swarm of flies, assail;
      Midst the current of life, with gasping breath,
      Waiting I stand, for the summons of death.

      Doubting, I question if earth is to me
      So grand, so blissful a reality;
      Outweighing all the burdens of my life,
      My aimless days of fruitless toil and strife.

      Sternly denied the brightest joys of earth,
      My homely toil no laurel-wreath is worth;
      If, wearied of the slowly passing time,
      A child should break the clock, would'st call it crime?

      O death!--but hark! now a bright footstep nears,
      Bright eyes are sparkling, and a glad voice cheers;
      My sinking spirit, roused from inward strife,
      No longer asketh--Shall I live this life?

He sat still for some time with a smile on his lips, then his face grew
graver and he sighed, as if to relieve his oppressed heart and to shake
off some thought that troubled him. On the paper that lay upon his
knees his pencil sketched a profile, which was unmistakably Edwin's.
The thoughts that occupied his mind seemed again to crave utterance in
words, but just at that moment he heard some one come up stairs with a
familiar, heavy tread. A slight shade of annoyance flitted across his
brow, he hastily thrust the portfolio back into the drawer, carefully
locked it, and then resumed his work at the turning-lathe, but the
visitor who now entered with a melancholy "Good evening, Balder,"
beheld a friendly face, in which there was no sign of the youth's
unwillingness to be disturbed in his solitary intercourse with the
muses.



                               CHAPTER X.


The new comer was a singular-looking person of middle height, clad in
coarse but neat clothes, who looked like a workman just returning from
his labor. The insignificant form was surmounted by a compact head,
adorned with thick shining black hair and beard, which seemed to
harmonize with the body as little as the large hands and feet. Yet the
homely pale face was rendered attractive by its expression of innocent,
almost childlike simplicity, and if the melancholy man, which seldom
happened, opened his thick red lips in a smile, fine white teeth
glittered through the coal-black whiskers, and the eyes under the heavy
brows could beam with a glance at once so soft and so fiery that it
might well win a maiden's heart.

Such was the expression with which, when he met Balder and when no
cloud darkened his honest mind, he used to gaze at the youth, for whom
he cherished a really enthusiastic, almost sentimental tenderness. He
never expressed it in words, of which he was usually very sparing, but
even to the most superficial observer it was touching to see what power
the youth's warm, sunny nature exerted over his rough, bushy-haired
companion, so many years his senior. It was a real "secret love," which
year by year had increased in strength and enthusiastic ardor, and
which would have found no test too severe. All the grace and harmonious
charms of life that had been denied to himself, he loved in this
beautiful, noble young friend, and in so doing had almost become a
little faithless to the other brother, who possessed older claims to
his friendship.

As Edwin was carrying his portfolio to school for the first time, a
slender timid little fellow, who was going the same way and belonged to
the same class, joined him. He was the seventh son of a surgeon,
Franzelius by name, who lived in the neighborhood; he could with
difficulty support his family, and yet his principal ambition was to
send them all to college. By means of free instruction, gratuitous
board and stipends, this was at last accomplished, and toward it
Edwin's parents had done their part, by supplying Reinhold, the
youngest, their son's daily companion, with his dinner. But even
Edwin's patient efforts to thaw his shy schoolmate, were not entirely
successful. The wretched life which was lived in his parent's home
seemed to oppress his heart more and more, when he returned from the
table of kind people in easy circumstances, to a house where it was
necessary to count the outgoing of every penny. At a very early age he
began to reflect upon the difference in the division of worldly goods,
though without bitterness, for he neither conceived nor cherished any
unattainable desires. It was rather his parents' anxious fears that
constantly made him ponder over the mystery; how had these great
discrepancies arisen, how they might perhaps be remedied, until
good-natured and unselfish as he was, he would, even as a boy, fly into
the most violent passion at the bare mention of his fixed idea. When,
in studying Roman history, he came upon the Agrarian laws and the times
of the Gracchi, he composed an essay, in which with boyish impetuosity
he defended the most revolutionary opinions, gaining for himself the
nickname of "Franzelius Gracchus," which clung to him as long as he
remained at school.

Then the fate that befell the brothers dissolved the school friendship,
until many years after, Edwin met this half-forgotten comrade in
Berlin. In outward appearance he had changed very much. The thin, shy
boy, had become a sturdy, black-bearded, defiant youth, a person whom
all well-bred and well-dressed people would avoid in the street,
especially in winter, when a coarse red shawl, which he wore twisted
around his neck, contributed not a little to the oddity of his
appearance. In mind and disposition he had remained exactly the same;
awkward, silent, and gentle, but as soon as his fixed idea was touched,
would burst into a flood of stormy eloquence that swept all before it.
Edwin had also had occasion, in student circles, to perceive how the
same man, who in a small company could scarcely finish his sentences
properly, and in individual debate was easily confused and silenced,
would fearlessly address a crowd. He had a vehemently dogmatic mind,
together with the nature of a true agitator, and he liked to utter the
few cardinal principles of his belief in full, ringing tones, but he
required for his encouragement, the echo of listening multitudes. Then
the deeper water, in which he felt at ease, supported and bore him on,
while, when out of the channel, he instantly became uncertain, and from
diffidence, especially in the presence of Edwin's intellect and
knowledge, he easily yielded, and ceased firing his heavy rhetorical
artillery.

But it was not only Edwin's superiority that attracted him. He had
become warmly attached to his old friend for a very different reason.
That he should now find the latter--whom as the petted child of parents
in comfortable circumstances, he had always beheld on the farther side
of a wide social gulf--dependent on his own exertions, and living
almost as plainly as he himself lived, secretly afforded him pleasure,
much as he wished him all possible prosperity. It threw down the
barriers between them and placed him on the same footing as his former
schoolfellow, but he was completely melted when Balder, whom he had
known and petted as a little boy, joined his brother, and with his
turning-lathe took up likewise the character of a "workman" in the true
sense of the word. According to his father's desire he himself had
studied law and had passed his first examination very creditably.
But as soon as old Franzelius closed his eyes, Reinhold with his
Gracchus-like scorn, became faithless to his career, apprenticed
himself to a printer, and regularly served his time. Now for the first
time his heart burst its bonds. He felt himself, in affliction, the
equal of his brothers "the workmen," and resolved to devote all his
energies to the improvement of their lot.

While at the university he had devoted himself to the study of
political economy and various similar subjects, albeit in his somewhat
cursory way; so now, for the furtherance of his object, he embodied in
small pamphlets or sometimes even in single sheets brief discussions on
what he considered the vital questions of the proletarian. These
impetuous essays, written sometimes in a very _dilettante_ style, he
composed and printed himself in his leisure hours and distributed
gratuitously among the working population, over which by degrees he
obtained great influence. He brought the brothers also these little
"fire brands," as he called them, with which he endangered the fields
of the Philistines, and was delighted when Balder, in his gentle way,
examined each one, though often arguing against them, while Edwin
accepted the pamphlets with a good natured jest, but could rarely be
drawn into a discussion.

For Edwin was sincerely attached to the worthy fellow. He could still
see him sitting in the jacket that had been given him, at his beautiful
mother's table, timidly taking the smallest portions from the dishes
offered. But keenly alive to the nature and connection of intellectual
questions, he possessed moreover, a mind as dogmatically intrenched, as
the agitator's was inaccessible, and so willingly avoided useless
discussions. Yet he always felt that something was amiss, if he did not
see at the usual time the honest, somewhat care worn face, that always
incited him to a brilliant display of fireworks in the shape of little
witticisms and old school boy jokes, until the thick lips under the
bushy beard parted, the white teeth glittered, and the lines between
the heavy eye-brows grew smooth. Then the gloomy enthusiast could sit
down at the brother's table and share their frugal supper, with as much
childish pleasure as if no social questions were disturbing his soul.

But to-day an unusually dark shadow rested upon his brow which contrary
to custom even Balder could not succeed in dispelling. He evidently had
some trouble, which, with his usual slowness, he could not instantly
put into words. Blundering around the room and wiping his broad
forehead with a flowered handkerchief, he had at last fallen into a
deep reverie before the table on which the plate of plum cake still
stood. Balder had invited him to eat some, and related what a great
occasion, Reginchen's birthday, had been celebrated by this luxurious
revelry. The singular man had remained perfectly mute, seated himself
at the table with a heavy sigh, and resting his head on his hands
stared as persistently at the nice slices of cake as if they revealed
to him the solution of the social problem, as the arcanum of the world
flashed upon Jacob Böhmen from a tin dish. Balder had given up talking
to him; he was accustomed to such moods and perfectly satisfied to work
at his turning lathe and devote himself to his own thoughts.

Such was the state of affairs in which Edwin found them, when an hour
after he returned home. At first he was vexed not to see Balder alone;
he was very anxious to give vent to the feelings of his oppressed soul.
He greeted his old friend somewhat curtly, then went up to Balder,
passed his hand over his head, and said: "Have I been away long? I want
to read over the dissertation, excuse me, Franzel."

With these words he went to his desk, took out a printed volume, and
the three men in the quiet room remained at silent as the two had been
before.

Who knows whether they would have found their tongues as speedily, if
Mohr had not appeared again. He had found lodgings and came to get his
traveling bag. He entered with a very bright face, but drew down his
under lip when he perceived Franzelius. After a few disagreeable
quarrels they had carefully avoided each other, as their natures
necessarily could not harmonise: Mohr, who with cynical frankness,
confessed that he always thought only of himself, and Reinhold, the
philanthropist, who never considered his own advantage and
unhesitatingly sacrificed to his ideal dreams the small degree of
comfort he might have procured.

"Why," said Mohr, nodding carelessly to the young printer, "is Bruin
here too? Well, how fares the regeneration of mankind? I should think
that since the foundation of the artificial hatching establishments, we
had advanced considerably nearer to the ideal state when every one will
have a chicken in his Sunday pot."

"I--I have no reply to make to such frivolous questions," muttered the
other in his beard.

"Still the same quarrelsome old chanticleers," laughed Edwin, closing
his book. "Do me the favor, children, not to begin to hiss at once, as
fat does when it meets fire. I'll put up with these wordy battles in
winter, when they may at least result in warming us. But in such
beautiful weather as this----"

"Hear, hear the wiseacre!" cried Mohr. "Well, then, to do honor to the
wonder that a philosopher has a clever, practical thought, I'll swear
to keep a truce for this evening. Come, let us smoke a cigar of peace
in one of the public gardens, for I'm worn out with hunting for
lodgings. But I've found what I wanted, a quiet neat little house only
ten doors from your 'tun,' kept by an old maid, who during the first
hour told me the story of her three broken engagements. So the day is
mine, and without neglecting any duty to humanity, I can devote it to
you and my thirst. So where shall we go? After being away three years,
I no longer know where to get good liquor."

"He is not yet familiar with the rules of the household," said Edwin,
glancing at Balder. "You must know, Heinz, that we never go out in the
evening, and remain at home still more regularly in the afternoon. The
stairs leading to our hen-roost are too steep for Balder, and as when
all three windows are open, we have no reason to complain of want of
air----"

"Merciful Gods!" interrupted Mohr in a tone of horror, which warned by
a glance from Edwin, he instantly tried to convert into one of
drollery--"have you shut yourselves up here like oysters? Well, a
sedentary life has its attractions, and the air in the 'tun' does not
seem to be quite so dry as formerly. At any rate the best plum cake
grows here, and I see yonder a dozen red heads, with whose assistance
one can hold out for a while."

"A basket of wine?"  asked Edwin "In spite of my positive refusal----"

"Marquard sent it, he would take no denial," said Balder. "And," he
added blushing, "as I felt a little weak toward noon, I opened a
bottle."

"Weak, child?"  cried Edwin, forgetting everything else, as he hastily
approached him. "Was it your old pain, or some new trouble? And why do
I first hear of it now?"

"It wasn't worth mentioning, Edwin. But Marquard was right, I felt
better at once. The wine seems very pure and good, you ought----"

"So much the better, if it agrees with you. And you're right, I don't
see why we should not drink our old friend's wine. If _we_ had it, and
_he_ needed it, wouldn't it be a matter of course?"

Franzelius looked at him with sparkling eyes. One of his pet theories
was that of possessing all property in common, a theory which he
practised until he had reduced himself to the barest necessaries.
Meantime Mohr had again filled Balder's glass from the already opened
bottle. He emptied it at a single draught, then poured out more wine
and offered it to Franzelius.

"Very fair," said he. "Your health, Franzelius Gracchus. Let's drown all
quarrelsome and murderous inclinations for to-day, and commence the
business of making mankind happy, with ourselves."

"Thank you," replied the printer, "I shall never drink wine, so
long----"

"What? No wine? Then you're no true friend of the people. They're
always thirsty. But no matter! I'll forgive Marquard his carriage and
patronizing bow, for the sake of his cellar. If he himself has but
mediocre ability as a man and a doctor, his wine is excellent, real St.
Julien.

"Where's our other glass?" said Edwin, looking around the room. "We
really have another, Heinrich, and in a carouse of three tipplers----"

The flush on Balder's cheeks deepened, and he stooped as if he were
searching for the missing glass on the floor.

"Of what consequence is the glass?" cried Mohr, who meantime had
attacked the cake and now had his mouth full. "The liquor's the main
thing, whether we drink it from the cask, the bottle, or a broken cup.
My friends, let me tell you that this is the first pleasant hour, that
spiteful quean, Fate, has bestowed upon me for the last three years.
I'm glad to be once more among people who fare worse than they deserve.
I know this is true of you and myself. As for our philanthropist, he at
least shows a face that will dull the sharpest sting of envy. Upon my
word, Franzel, you look as if things were going wrong. Has Delitzsch
passed you to-day without lifting his hat? Did a dozen blood-thirsty
millionaires spring from the earth during the last shower? Or were you
called upon at the last workmen's meeting, instead of making fine
speeches, to tear your breast like the pelican and let a fountain of
real St. Julien gush forth, and did you fail to accomplish the trick?"

"I see I'm only in the way here," replied the printer, glancing at Mohr
with an expression of indescribable contempt. "I'll not intrude any
longer."

He nodded to Balder and walked hastily toward the door, but Edwin
seized his hand and detained him.

"Stop!" said he. "We shall not let you go so, Mohr is incorrigible. But
there's something the matter with you, Franzel, I see it in your face,
and by our old friendship--"

The angry man compressed his lips still more firmly, and said after a
long pause: "Why should I speak of it? Ruin takes its own course."

"Ruin?"

"Why yes, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, what does it matter? And
we can only rejoice that it should proceed from this cause. It shows
in the clearest manner to what our diseased form of government has
come--and where it will arrive, if--supposing that--"

He paused again. The friends looked at each other inquiringly.

"If I'm one too many here," said Mohr phlegmatically, rising and
seizing the bottle--"I've no objection to drinking this paltry heeltap
in your courtyard."

"I have no secrets," muttered the gloomy visitor. "What has happened
took place in public; the consequences which still fear the light will
soon be noised abroad. A cry of indignation will resound through
Germany, when it is known that even now, in the light of the nineteenth
century--"

"But, man," interrupted Edwin, "torture has certainly been discarded in
the nineteenth century, and yet for the last fifteen minutes you have
been applying the thumb-screws of curiosity. Out with it; _what_ has
happened, and _what_ consequences still fear the light?"

"Then, if you must know: I was at the workingmen's educational union
yesterday--" (Mohr coughed, glanced at Edwin, and then comfortably
sipped his wine)--"There was to have been a lecture on the nature and
value of education, but the speaker was taken sick and begged to be
excused. We were just considering what was to be done, when a new-comer
rose, a guest whom no one knew. He had a strange, half humble, half
scornful Jesuit face. 'Would the company permit him to make a short
address?' The request could not be refused, and he instantly began to
speak with a boldness that surpassed everything that could have been
expected from his priestly appearance. 'Education? A dangerous thing,
at least as the children of the world were accustomed to understand it.
The devil, who goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may
devour, is a highly cultivated man, not easily caught by modern
enlightenment. His proverb is: Education gives liberty, and knowledge
rules the world. Yes indeed, the world! So the tempter said to the
Lord: "All these things will I give unto thee, if thou wilt fall down
and worship me!"--But "_my_ kingdom is not of this world"--and so on,
the well known litany--_True_. education desires to know nothing of the
so-called treasures of science, which morth and rust may corrupt. He
who is fitting himself for heaven, provides for the one thing that is
necessary, the'--well, you're doubtless willing to be spared the
sermon. When it was over, the honest fellows sat bewildered and
thunderstruck. The old habit, acquired in childhood, still lingered: no
debate in church!--and even the president seemed to think we ought not
to take issue with a guest. But the man had assailed our society in the
most offensive way, and were we to be silent? So I began to speak. I
was just in the mood, and besides it's a subject to which I've devoted
a great deal of thought, I was glad to give the whole society a full
discourse from the text: Disparage only reason and science! Well I need
not waste any words on the subject among ourselves. But never has it
been so clear to me, as in that hour, what a crime those persons
commit, who seek to disgust men with the earth, in order to prepare
them for what they call heaven. You know I am the last to favor the
current talk about utility. These people make the means the end,
and if they achieved their object and arranged the world according to
their plan--who that did not consider it the highest aim of life
to get his stomach satisfied and know the multiplication table by
heart, would wish to live in it? But just because there are higher
things--transcendent earthly joys, intellectual pleasures, art, poetry,
and all other lofty delights--well, you know what I think, and can
imagine how indignation against the foes of all earthly happiness
loosened my tongue. The assailer of education and heir of heaven grew
red and pale by turns. When I at last paused, and all clapped their
hands and burst into a shout of assent, he attempted to reply. But the
president would not permit him to utter another word, so he soon
slipped quietly away.

"He has enough!" I thought, "but I was not yet satisfied. I meant to go
into the next house and write a pamphlet, in which I intended to prove
by referring to history, what boundless injury the belief in
immortality does the world. And last night I did sit down and write a
few sheets, the first outline of the essay; for I was too excited to
grasp the subject properly, and one must not shake the retort when
anything is going to crystallize. But it seems I'm to have plenty of
leisure; for when I went home to dinner to-day, my landlord, the
cabinet maker, said that some policemen had been there, had inquired
very particularly about me, and had noted down the answer. The man
looked as if he wanted to say 'six weeks _investigation_ and then
exile.' He's quite right. I know them; they've long kept an eye on me,
I made them uneasy, but they could find no cause of arrest. Now the
priests will take up the matter, and then good bye! So, as I have no
inclination to leave my place vacant, I shall for the present not seek
my usual bed, but try once more how it seems to sleep in the open air."

"With your consciousness of being a second Gracchus for a soft pillow!"
exclaimed Mohr, pledging him in the glass of wine. "You must live,
noble mortal, until the last millionaire is hung with the entrails of
the last priest, which will probably occur about the same time as the
death of the Wandering Jew."

"Your jeers do not wound me," replied the printer impetuously. "There
are people who consider all the great questions that affect the welfare
of mankind a mere jest, and never think seriously of anything except
their own dear selves."

"And why not, you preacher in the wilderness? Charity begins at home.
Until I have taken care of my own dear self, where am I to find time
and courage to look after my neighbor, or provide for mankind at large?
These things are too weighty, my noble fellow, to be exhausted by the
first eloquent pen, and and that's why I wish you a long life, so you
can at least be able to study the subject at leisure."

Franzelius cast a compassionate glance at him. "So in all ages
selfishness has intrenched itself behind a hypocritical modesty," he
grumbled. "If no one wished for or did better things, before he knew
the _best_, we should still be in the condition of the lake-dwellers.
And must an idea for which hitherto only our holier instincts speak, I
mean which cannot yet be mathematically proved--and with which the
world after all would be--for when the smallest thought concerns all
mankind--Edwin will know what I mean."

"God understands you, and that's enough; see Sancho Panza at the right
place," jeered Mohr.

"What do you intend to do now, Franzel?" interrupted Edwin, who during
the whole conversation had been sitting on the window sill, stroking
Balder's cat.

"That's a secondary consideration. Tell me instead whether you approve
of what I have done?"

"Will that undo it?"

"As if I would recall it! But you know I value the thought, that we
three at least--even if others have a different opinion--"

He paused and looked at Edwin almost timidly.

"What I _think_," replied the latter, "is no secret to you. But I am
firmly persuaded of many truths, and yet should hesitate a long time
before demonstrating them to a crowd of strangers. However, why should
we discuss the matter? You will do what you cannot leave undone, and as
you have very enthusiastic ideas about the equality of men, even in
their powers of thought--"

"He who does not work for all, works for none, or at least only for
himself."

"Pardon me, my dear fellow. That's a false conclusion. You yourself
will not deny that the division of labor is a useful arrangement. Well
then, one begins from below, another from above. If I convince ten of
the best minds, give them even a little light in regard to the hardest
problems, does not my work in time aid others also? Mens' gifts are as
different as their ambitions."

Franzelius was about to make some reply, but restrained himself with
evident effort, and only said:

"And you, Balder? Are you too of the opinion, that only a mad ambition
urges me to let the little light that is in me shine before the
multitude?"

"You misunderstood Edwin," replied the youth, limping up to him and
gently unclasping his hand from the door latch. "We all know that you
forget yourself in the cause. But he thinks it would be better for the
_cause_, if you were more patient. All fruits do not ripen at the same
time. Come, don't let us part so."

"But you, you--could you have kept silence under such provocation?"

"Hush!" Mohr suddenly exclaimed. "Don't you hear her?"--Then as if
speaking to himself, he added in a scarcely audible tone: "it's enough
to tame wild beasts and socialistic democrats. Eternal Gods! how that
woman plays."

The four men in the upper room actually kept so quiet that not a note
of the improvisation below was lost. Franzelius had thrown himself into
the chair beside the bed, on which Balder sat with his lame leg crossed
over the other. Edwin was still seated on the window sill, and Mohr
leaned over his glass, with his head resting on his hands, and fairly
groaned with delight.

When the music ceased, he rose. "My friends," said he, "I think it is
our duty to offer this lady some attention. I will go down and invite
her to drink a glass of wine with us to her health."

"Are you mad, Mohr?" laughed Edwin. "She's a respectable person, and
will think you have already more glasses of wine in your head than is
good for your senses."

Mohr looked at him with an air of comical dignity, and twisted his
crooked under lip still more awry. "She's an artist," said he, "no
common-place, pedant of a woman. Here are four friends of art--I
generously include you, Franzel, as you at least kept quiet while she
was playing, though you were probably thinking of your social discords.
I'll wager it will be an honor and pleasure to her--give me a decent
hat--or no, I'll go bare-headed, like an inmate of the house. It will
be less formal."

"You've impudence enough for it. Well then, ask her to bring a glass
for the festal banquet."

"She shall drink out of mine," replied Mohr, who was already at the
door. "I'll run the risk of her guessing my thoughts."

They heard him go down stairs and ring the bell.

"He's really going to do it," cried Balder, hastily rising from his
seat. "What will she think of us?"

Franzelius rose too. "I'll go," said he. "I have not sufficient
self-control to endure Mohr's jokes and witticisms in the presence of a
lady. Will he be here often now? In that case, I prefer to take my
leave until--until you too are tired of a man, who never takes anything
seriously."

"You wrong him," replied Edwin. "Fire and water are two equally stern
elements, although one accomplishes by heat what the other does by
cold:--destroys and vivifies like every power."

"Hm! If you don't freeze meantime--Farewell."

"And where are you going to spend the night?" asked Balder.

"There are plenty of benches in the Thiergarten."

"I wouldn't let you go, Franzel," whispered Balder, as he reached the
threshold. "You have already camped here many a night. But--Edwin
sleeps so badly now. The least thing disturbs his nerves."

"Thank you, Balder. Don't be anxious about me. Good night!"

They heard him go down stairs, and directly after Mohr came slowly up.
He entered the room with a face deeply flushed, but apparently calm.

"Our philanthropist has gone," said he. "I believe I drove him away.
I'm sorry; he thinks I don't like him and he's very much mistaken. On
the contrary, I do him the honor to envy him."

"For what?"

"Because he's possessed, not only with his mania about persecution,
which makes a man just as happy as if he believes himself an
unappreciated genius, but because he has a demon that drives him about,
speaks from his lips, hides within him, and keeps him warm--while I, a
mere husk without kernel or substance--foh!"

"And our artist?" asked Edwin after a pause. "Did she not wish to enjoy
either the honor or the pleasure?"

"It's late," replied Mohr, looking at his watch, "too late to open a
second bottle, I'll seek my virgin couch."

"He evades us," laughed Edwin, turning to Balder. "She has disappointed
his expectations. Ah! Heinz, I could have told you that before; this
muse is not a beauty. Her fingers promise more than her features give."

"Talk about what you understand. Philosopher," replied Mohr, seizing
his hat. "Let her be what she likes and look as she chooses: she's a
whole hearted woman."

"Did you receive satisfactory proofs of that in three minutes?"

"Probably. At least it's a fresh proof that I can accomplish nothing
whole, and even in a stupid prank don't go beyond the most pitiful
half-way measures. It's actually crushing. I wish you a good nights'
rest----"

When he had gone and the brothers were at last alone, Edwin confessed
his day's adventures. Balder too might have had many things to tell,
but not a word in relation to the birthday festival crossed his lips.
And yet he was secretly reproaching himself for having a secret from
his brother.

This night they fell asleep earlier, though Balder did not close his
eyes until the shutting of a well known little window in the front
buildings told him that Reginchen had returned from her excursion in
safety.

Several of the verses he had written in the afternoon again passed
through his mind, and softly repeating them he lulled himself to sleep
with his own melodies.



                              CHAPTER XI.


When Marquard paid his usual visit to the "tun" the following morning,
he found everything in the household exactly the same as usual. In
spite of the late hour at which Reginchen returned from the country,
she had been at the pump at six o'clock, and an hour after carried the
brothers their blue milk and cleared up the room, but without talking
much; for kindly as Edwin treated her, she felt a great awe of him and
became terribly embarrassed at his most innocent jest.

The brothers also, according to old habit, had begun their day very
silently. When the doctor entered, Balder was sitting at his turning
lathe, making a set of ivory chess-men. Marquard talked to him for some
time with apparent unconcern, asked about one thing and another and
felt his pulse, but gave no prescription, except that he must drink the
wine regularly.

But on the stairs, when Edwin was accompanying him down, he suddenly
turned and said in a low tone: "You must not let the lad go on so. This
stooping and keeping shut up in the house won't do, he will weaken his
chest over that confounded turning lathe. If I were in your place, I
should assert my authority."

"In my place," sighed Edwin, shrugging his shoulders. "My dear fellow,
if you were in my place, that is, not a physician, but a philosopher,
you would know that there is no authority which can transform a man's
nature. Have I not tried every stratagem to get him out? When I
attacked him on his weakest, or rather his strongest side, his
brotherly love, and represented how dull it was for me to go out
without him, you ought to have seen the efforts he made to be a gay
companion, in order to cheer my walks and rides. But I know him too
well. I saw how he suffered from the noise and bustle of the streets,
and even when we once drove to Tegel, he was only comfortable while we
were alone. When we arrived, we found a crowd of school girls playing
graces, various mothers and aunts knitting, several pairs of lovers, in
short the usual Berlin pleasure seekers. As soon as possible he urged
me to return. You must know that it annoys him when people stare at
him, and he is exposed to this more frequently than any one else; he
attracts attention everywhere by his beauty and his lameness, and
moreover because he has an expression in his eyes unlike any other
mortal."

"I wish he were less peculiar; we should keep him longer."

Edwin stopped, seized Marquard's arm and whispered: "you fear--"

"Nothing--and everything. His texture is so delicate, a fly might tear
it. But possibly it is more tenacious than we think," he added, as he
felt Edwin's hand tremble on his arm.

"The wine you sent did him good," he said. "I thank you; it was a kind,
philanthropic thought. I can not wish him different from what he is
now. He would no longer be the same, if he had the nerves and muscles
of a groom. And would he be happier? You don't know how happy he is,
what a boundless capacity he has for transfiguring all the poverty
around us by the wealth of his own soul, transmuting common dust into
gold. If _I_ gave him no cause for anxiety, he would have scarcely
anything to desire."

"I have a word to say to you about yourself too, Philosopher. I alluded
to it a short time ago in your room, but Balder was present, who is
just like a girl; there are certain things which cannot be mentioned
before him. Listen man, this disorder of your nerves is entirely your
own fault; it's a sin and shame for you to permit that sponge, the
brain, to exhaust the best strength of the rest of your organization.
How can there be any balance of power? I tell you your whole trouble is
to be cured in one way."

"You may be right, Fritz," replied Edwin quietly, as they crossed the
courtyard. "But you see it's the same with this medicine, as with the
one you just prescribed for Balder. We have not the natures to take it,
and if we should force ourselves to do so, the disease would attack a
more vital spot."

"Nature, nature!" burst forth the doctor, looking almost fiercely at
his friend through his gold spectacles. "I'll answer for it, my son,
that your excellent nature, which you have tormented so long with your
cursed abstract idealism, that it no longer ventures to grumble--would
instantly recuperate and grow merry again, if you would only for once
dismount from the high horse of speculation and rely upon your own good
common sense. Deuce take it! A healthy fellow like you living on
locusts and wild honey, like the hermits in the Theban deserts, and if
a woman passes by your cave, exclaiming: _Apage, Satanas!_ I had
trouble with you even at the university. But now you seem to wish to
continue this course, until nature, so shamefully abused for the sake
of mere mind, is overstrained and fairly crazed with impatience."

"A very clever pathological lecture," replied Edwin smiling. "I will
request the continuation in our next; there is always something to be
learned. But for all that, Fritz, you wont get a kuppel'pelz[3] from
me."

"Nonsense! Who's talking about any such thing? But if _I_, with my
constantly increasing practice, can find time for little romances, in
which the mind has employment--"

"And also the heart, my boy."

"Well, the heart too, for aught I care, though that muscle is greatly
overestimated, and with all your sentimentality, only fit for a
dangerous hypertrophy. I'm now on the track of a little witch--"

"A fair Helen or Galatea?"

"Aristocratic, my son, and unfortunately very unapproachable--so far.
But what am I thinking about? You must have already made her
acquaintance."

"I?"

"Didn't you sit beside her in the box, day before yesterday? At least
the doorkeeper told me she always took the same place."

Edwin turned pale.

"I have a faint recollection of it," he replied. "Didn't she sit very
far front, and have brown hair, a very fair complexion, blue eyes--"

"Black or brown, my son. But we must mean the same person--and I,
magnanimous mortal that I am, solemnly renounce all my claims in your
favor."

"Then you must lend me your carriage, to continue this love affair
properly," said Edwin, forcing a smile, "for one can hardly pay
attention to this princess as a private tutor."

"You need have no anxiety on that score. To be sure I don't know the
will-o'-the-wisp very well, she baffled all my conversational powers.
But haughtily as she turns up her little nose--by the way it's a nose
to rave over--there is evidently something wrong about her. Young
ladies who go to the theatre alone, find their company home afterwards.
But I will discover in whose cage this bird of paradise has its
nest--yesterday I unfortunately came across an old Geheimrath, who
wanted to consult me about his liver, just as I was going to follow the
proud little nose. If it is as I suspect, you shall see, my son, what a
base materialist is capable of doing for his friends."

Laughing merrily, he sprang into his light carriage, took the reins
from the coachman and drove rapidly away.

Edwin looked after him. He could not be angry; only yesterday he had
himself weighed possibilities and struggled with impressions, which
placed this mysterious creature in no more favorable light. But to hear
these thoughts expressed by another, as a matter of course, gave him a
feeling akin to physical pain.

He had taken two volumes of Göthe to carry to her. Now he thought it
would be the wisest course to avoid her house, her presence, and any
further intercourse with her. But her face rose before his memory for a
moment, her voice sounded in his ear, and all hesitation was over.
Suppose she was better than she seemed? And what would she think of the
strange man, who had at first forced himself so eagerly upon her, and
then never appeared again?

But at least he would not see her to-day, and therefore merely handed
the books to the striped waistcoat, and in reply to the boy's question
whether he would come in, answered dryly: "It was not necessary, he
would bring the next volumes at the end of the week."

As he went down stairs, he praised himself for his resolution and
determined not even to look up at her windows. But this was beyond his
strength. He even remained standing on the shady side a moment, as if
uncertain which way to go, and allowed his eyes to wander, apparently
by chance, toward the windows with the palms and the bird cage. He
fancied he saw something moving behind the drawn curtains. The
thought that it might be a man's head shot through his heart like a
burning-iron. He closed his eyes and walked on.

He had promised to commence his lessons at the little house in the
lagune to-day. As he mechanically turned his steps in that direction,
it seemed almost impossible to retain any connected thoughts. Besides,
the interview with the little artist and his daughter appeared as far
behind him as if months had intervened, and was a matter of as much
indifference as the people who passed him. He resolved to merely go
there, excuse himself for to-day, and shake off the whole engagement he
had undertaken, as best he could.

But the reception he met with in the little house, baffled his designs.

The artist, clad in his thread-bare velvet coat, with a barette shaped
cap set jauntily over his left ear, was standing in the door-way, and
as soon as he saw Edwin approaching between the wood piles, turned back
into the entry, calling: "He's coming, he's coming!" Then he hastily
advanced to meet him, took his hand in both of his, and said: "So I've
won my wager, and can exult over my wise child, who for once was not so
clever as her old father."

"What was your wager?"  asked Edwin.

"Whether you would come or not. Leah said you had only promised, in
order to avoid telling us to our faces, that you did not wish to teach
such an ignorant pupil. With all your kindness, you glanced around you
in such an indifferent way--looked so absent, and in a certain sense
weary--"

"My dear sir," interrupted Edwin, "your daughter deserved to win the
wager for her penetration. I _am_ somewhat weary and absent-minded, my
head is revenging itself because I have racked my brains too often, and
the injuries it received cannot be quickly healed. In fact, if it were
not for you and your daughter, I should be wiser to defer our lessons
till a more favorable time. But if you prefer--"

"Leah! Leah!" cried the little artist, darting forward into the house.
"Where are you?"

The young girl was just coming out of the studio, in the same plain
brown dress she had worn the day before. Her black eyes greeted Edwin
with a quiet, almost wondering glance.

"I hear, Fräulein," he said in a jesting tone, "that you have lost a
wager on my account. You thought I would not come again, and as people
usually believe what they desire--"

She gazed at him with a look, that entreated him to spare her
embarrassment.

"It's true," she said blushing, "and I'm very much frightened to think
that I must confess to some one _how_ ignorant and bewildered I am. I
was so anxious last night, that I could scarcely sleep."

"Than we must relieve you as quickly as possible," he answered smiling.
"I will make any wager that you will sleep admirably to-night."

"Do you also know what is the forfeit of our bet?" cried the artist
merrily rubbing his hands: "the loser was to paint you something, you
may rejoice that you will have a picture by Leah, instead of one of my
wretched daubs. You see virtue is its own reward."

They had entered the studio, which to-day seemed far more neatly
arranged. Instead of the desk with its painting apparatus, a table
containing only writing materials and a portfolio, stood at Leah's
window. But there was a fresh bouquet of flowers on the sill, tall
dahlias and asters whose bright colors mingled as if they wished to
conceal the dull grey of the bare wall outside.

"We thought you would be more undisturbed here, than in the sitting
room on the other side of the entry. Well; and so the hedge-sparrow is
turned out of his nest by his unfilial off-spring!" said the old man,
gently stroking the young girl's cheek. "My dear Herr Doctor, believe
me: one may fare badly with spoiled children, but the real tyrants are
the good, well behaved ones. It's a worse slavery than that of the most
henpecked husband. Well, adieu, child, and be industrious; meantime I
will make some studies from the back of the house near the stable as I
have long intended. It's just the right light."

He kissed her on the forehead and left the teacher alone with his
pupil.

When at the end of an hour he returned, he heard Edwin's deep, musical
voice, and would gladly have listened a moment to learn the subject
under discussion, but such a course was repugnant to his delicacy, and
besides he hoped to hear how the lesson had passed off from the young
girl herself.

Edwin rose as the little man entered. "Have I remained too long?"  he
asked. "I hope Fräulein Leah will bear witness that I have not tired
her."

Leah said nothing. She was standing before the little table like a
person just roused from a dream. The portfolio was unopened, the pen
had not been dipped into the ink.

Edwin asked whether he could not see the sketches. "No, no," replied
the little artist, "they are only for myself. And to-day in particular
I have worked with my eyes, rather than my hand. I will only tell you,"
he added, smiling mysteriously; "that I am attempting something which
will probably exceed my powers. I have long been anxious to make a
picture of our lagune. You cannot imagine what charms of coloring the
old muddy, dirty canal often displays, of course in a favorable light.
I have also been experimenting with a little foreground I shall need,
nay which will form the principal part of the picture, for I shall not
succeed very well with the water. A week ago one of the wood piles was
removed, which has stood for years directly in my way, since it
obstructed the best view of the wall and quay. And see, that has
revealed a fence, before which the prettiest weeds grow so luxuriantly,
that I shall have scarcely any alteration to make. If I succeed, it
will be my best picture, and may perhaps mark a new era in my
development."

He rubbed his hands contentedly and went up to his daughter. "I hope,
child, you have not become such a learned woman, that you forgot to
offer the Herr Doctor any refreshment. You really have forgotten? Then
I will do so at once--we have a bottle of excellent port wine in the
house--a present from our good friend, the professor's widow. By the
way, dear Doctor, I wanted to ask you something: you must do me the
favor to pay her a visit. We are so much indebted to her for Leah's
education--she was really a little piqued because I engaged a teacher
for the child without first introducing him to her. The best woman in
the world, and in many respects, that is in church history and the
positive divinity, exceptionally well educated. You will not regret
taking the short walk--she lives in Louisenstrasse--if I accompany
you--"

"With pleasure, dear Herr König," replied Edwin. "But let me make the
acquaintance of the giver before I taste her gift. Fräulein Leah has
learned to-day, that a Greek philosopher believed that the earth rose
from the water, so for to-day I will take only a glass of water. Next
time we will see whether there is truth in wine."

Leah brought the glass of water, but was so silent, that her father
before going away, asked anxiously if she were ill. "I never felt
better," she replied with a radiant glance from her beautiful, calm
eyes.

Shaking his head, the little man went out, accompanied by Edwin, who
took leave of his pupil with a cordial pressure of the hand.

"My dear Herr Doctor," said he when they were in the open air, "is it
not strange that a father cannot understand his own child? Certainly
every human being is a fresh marvel from the hand of God. This is not
like our other experiences, which are only a copy of our own natures
and enlighten us in regard to ourselves, our strength or weakness. Only
the great masters can have a similar feeling, when from the breath of
divine art something new appears, which resembles nothing in the world,
and surprises the artist himself. I believe that Raphael, when his
Sistine Madonna was completed, did not understand her much better than
I do my daughter. Yes, yes, my dear friend, these are transcendent
mysteries; we can only pray and thank God that we are considered worthy
to experience them."



                              CHAPTER XII.


The Frau Professorin Valentin lived in a pretty new house, and occupied
large neat rooms, which however, to an artistic eye, with all their
tidiness had a somewhat gloomy, cheerless air. She received Edwin in
the largest and plainest of all; the little artist had not accompanied
him upstairs, he wanted to deliver a few engraved blocks to the person
who had ordered them. The stately, fair-haired woman must have been
remarkably pretty in by-gone years, and even now, though considerably
over forty, her bright eyes and white teeth possessed a youthful charm,
especially when she laughed. She was sitting with five or six
seamtresses among mountains of calico and linen, from which she was
cutting children's dresses and underclothes. She received her visitor
like an expected guest, and ushered him into a smaller apartment, her
real home, as she called it, which was fitted up with a writing table,
book cases, a flower stand, and all sorts of pretty trifles. Over the
sofa hung the portrait of a hypochondriacal rascal looking man with
grey hair, from whose wrinkled brow and compressed lips it was easy to
perceive that the care of his digestion had been the principal
occupation of his life.

"My late husband," said the lady, as if introducing Edwin and the
picture to each other. "I have been a widow ten years, but you will
find everything here just as it was in his life time, this room (she
opened a door to allow Edwin to look in) was his study, and contains
his whole library, though as he was a mathematician, I can read none of
his books. But they were his pets and his pride, and I think that
picture would fall from the wall if one should ever get into a
stranger's hands. If I had my way, the sooner I got the horrible things
out of the house the better I should like it. They cost me tears enough
when he could use them."

"Tears?"

"Yes, Herr Doctor, you're a learned man too, I hope you will do better
some day and not say like my late husband: 'first my books, and then my
wife.' And yet he married me for love and not mathematics. But after
two or three years, although I had not grown exactly ugly, he found
those horrid triangles and hexangles, and the queer plus and minus
signs, far more attractive than the blue eyes and round cheeks of his
young wife. Well, I do not complain, I had foreseen it and knew what I
was doing."

"But aside from this jealousy, which you share with so many women, you
must have enjoyed a great deal of happiness in these rooms, or you
would not have so religiously kept them in the same condition."

The widow looked at him with a searching side glance, as if she wanted
to ascertain whether he was not too young to be trusted with any
confidential disclosures. His honest face, and frank, open bearing,
untinged by any shade of intrusiveness, seemed to please her. He was
quite different from the other young literati, whom she had seen with
her husband. Her quick, womanly penetration enabled her to perceive at
once, that she was in the presence of one of those rare men, who are
really as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.

"You're still a young man, my dear Herr Doctor," she replied without
the least sarcasm in her tone; "I don't know whether you have yet had
the experience that certain natures are exceptions to the general rule,
and do _not_ pursue happiness, but become their own tormentors.
Although very young when my dead husband offered me his hand, I
was wise enough to know that I should not find what is called
happiness with him. He who is to render another happy, must be
capable of happiness himself. My poor Valentin was the most wretched
self-tormentor that can be imagined, and without knowing it or wishing
to do so, he tortured every one around him. I calculated upon this with
mathematical certainty, as I now tell you. And yet I preferred him to
all others, for he gave me a task, a constant, daily and hourly work to
perform in myself, and taxed all my strength, which is very great and
always longs to overcome every obstacle. Now nothing is more difficult
than to conquer one's self; I was then a spoiled, petted creature,
every one loved me, I coquetted with old and young, with my own heart,
nay, God forgive me, with our Lord Himself. How it happened that my
eyes were suddenly opened and I said to myself: 'You're a silly doll,
you will ruin an immortal soul if this continues--' is too long a
story. Enough, that as my heart had remained steadfast and honest, I
resolved to try my fate with a very peevish or unhappy man. It will
probably be no indiscretion, if I tell you that my dear old friend
König was my suitor at the same time; we still joke about the fact that
I was his first love. When you become better acquainted with this man,
you will confess that it would be difficult to find a happier person or
a more loving Christian. If I had become his wife, I should have lived
in Paradise. But this was exactly what I did not desire. I felt that to
be treasured all my life by such an excellent man, would finally have
spoiled me. Well, with Valentin I often had more of the contrary than
was agreeable; but I have never regretted it. And now sit down by me,
Herr Doctor, and tell me a little about my foster child, Leah."

"I tell you, Madame? Nay, it would greatly interest me to learn from
_you_ something about the childhood and early education of my pupil,
who seems to be somewhat reserved."

A sorrowful smile flitted over the lady's pleasant, cheerful face. "If
I could answer that question satisfactorily, you would hardly be
sitting beside me now," she replied. "But excuse me a moment, I'm
wanted in the other room."

One of the seamstresses had appeared in the doorway. Frau Valentin left
Edwin, and he heard her in the next room giving orders and directions
in her clear, positive manner. Then she returned.

"I always have my hands full," she began. "As I unfortunately no longer
have any household cares, I willingly take as much of the work of the
different clubs and societies to which I belong, as others wish to
discard. Ah! Doctor, it affords a great deal of pleasure to have a
crowd of deaf and dumb or neglected or orphaned children thank you for
their warm, new clothes; yet a single child of one's own, who need not
even be deaf and dumb or neglected, or even specially grateful, would
bestow a very different kind of happiness. A substitute is never the
thing itself. And that's the very reason why it makes me so sad, that
the only child I could love almost as my own, avoids me so strangely;
she's not cold or ungrateful, but I learn nothing about the best things
that may be in her nature, and cannot impart the best of mine, since
she does not know how to receive them."

"Are you speaking of my pupil?"

The Frau Professorin did not answer immediately; she sat in silence
gazing into vacancy, with her pretty white hands folded in her lap.

"No one has ever caused me so much trouble," she continued, "and
yet she has so much amiability, goodness, unselfishness, and
independence. But that's just it, the one thing needful, the one thing
lacking--you're a philosopher, my dear Doctor, but I hope not one of
those whose knowledge has deprived them of faith. And this strange
girl--it is not the pride of superior knowledge that makes her
unbelieving; no one has a more modest opinion of her own acquirements.
But it's in the blood. You ought to have known her mother, whose
character she has inherited, trait for trait. Nothing has ever been
more mysterious to me, than how my old friend, the artist, who has such
a living need of God, could be so happy with this woman, who made no
secret of her want of religion, and once when I asked her the direct
question, frankly acknowledged: 'that she really did not know whether
there was any God at all.' She would not have denied it; but I never
disclosed it, I don't know whether she made such confessions to her
husband, but I almost think he would not have been puzzled by them; he
loved her very dearly. And to be sure, no one could help loving her; I
was unable to do so myself, long after I had given up trying to lead
her to the light which has guided me through all the depths and
shallows of this world. To be sure the fact that she was a Jewess,
rendered it difficult for her to obtain a knowledge of the truth. But
if she had only been a devout Jewess! I respect all genuine
convictions. But she, on the contrary, confessed to me with the calmest
possible face, that she knew no more of all the mysteries of life in
her thirtieth year than she did in her tenth; she did not _understand_
either this world or the next, and had no desire to fathom their
secrets; her beautiful, bright, thoughtless present, with her husband
and child, was all sufficient. I fairly started when this was first
uttered so plainly. What is this miserable twilight of our earthly
existence, if no ray from above warms and brightens it until we reach
the full light? And besides, hers was no shallow, sensual nature; or
how would she have been able to value so highly, love so fondly, her
delicate high-minded husband? But perhaps it was precisely because _he_
remained all his life as little understood by her, as she was by him,
that they were so fondly attached to each other. Possibly she felt a
secret longing for the peace of the children of God, and he, that
desire to save which does not renounce the most darkened nature and
ever seeks the lost! Besides, she was far from despising or jeering at
anything others held sacred, and took it as a matter of course that her
child should be educated in the religion of its father. As she herself
had none, and probably sometimes felt a horror of this nothingness, she
did not wish to sin against her daughter. But it was of no avail.
Nature is too powerful. I fear if the daughter were asked to answer a
plain question upon her conscience, she would be found to believe
little more of her catechism than her mother did."

The bell, which rang in the entry outside, interrupted the
conversation. "Unfortunately we shall be interrupted," said the lady,
hastily drying her eyes, which were wet with tears. "I requested you to
call upon me, because as I said before, I love the child almost as
fondly as if she were my own flesh and blood. You must tell me, dear
Herr Doctor, what you are going to do with her, that I may be satisfied
you will not make the evil still worse."

"I shall give her no religious instruction," replied Edwin, rising. "I
am not a theologian. But the philosophy to which I devote myself, has
led as many to a personal God as away from Him. No knowledge can
replace or destroy the needs of the soul, from which all religion
springs. My psychology can quietly let alone what philosophers term
predestination, and I am the last who would wish to divert any human
mind from the path that leads to peace--though it certainly is not my
office to dabble in the business of the missionaries."

Frau Valentin looked at him intently as he uttered these words. "I do
not fully understand you," she said, holding out her hand. "But this I
do know; you are a good, sincere, warm-hearted man. You will do the
child no harm, for that only comes from the wicked."

Just at this moment a maid entered and announced: "Herr Candidat
Lorinser."

"How fortunate!" exclaimed the Fran Professorin, and then turned to
Edwin. "Now you must stay a little longer. You will make an
acquaintance that will interest you more than an old woman who only
hopes to be a good Christian like thousands of others."



                             CHAPTER XIII.


"Don't be repelled by the first impression," she added in an undertone.
"I too was obliged to conquer a slight prejudice, but all trees do not
have the same bark. This man's good qualities lie in the depths of his
nature."

The person thus announced now entered with a hasty bow, cast a quick,
strangely penetrating glance at Edwin, and then with an awkward manner,
like a boy aping a grown man for the first time, kissed Frau Valentin's
hand. When she pronounced Edwin's name, he bowed with studied courtesy,
but instantly threw himself on the sofa as if utterly exhausted, took
no further notice of this new acquaintance, but with the most entire
absence of constraint as if availing himself of his privileges in the
house, tore off a black cravat knotted around his thick neck, and began
to comfortably sip a glass of wine, which Frau Valentin poured out for
him, at the same time relating in a low, harsh voice, the result of
various errands and commissions, which despite the heat, he had
executed for his hostess.

Edwin had plenty of leisure to observe him, and found the warning not
to allow himself to be discouraged by the first impression, very
necessary. If he had followed his own inclinations, he would not have
breathed the same air with this singular saint a moment longer. Now he
remained and determined to make a study of him.

He who looked more closely at the strongly marked forehead, broad nose,
and large, ever moving lips, could not help thinking the face a
striking one, and in its rare moments of repose even attractive. Bushy,
unkempt hair hung over the rounded temples, but the beard was closely
shaven and the cheeks thus acquired a bluish tint. What most repelled
Edwin was that the Herr Candidat either kept his eyes fixed intently on
the floor, or else let them wander aimlessly over the ceiling, without
noticing the persons in the room except by a hasty side glance.
Moreover a bitter smile constantly hovered around his lips, while he
was silent, but instantly disappeared when he began to speak. Then an
almost fanatical sternness lowered on his black brows, a firm decision
and imperious implacability, although he expressed himself in the
mildest and gentlest words.

There was nothing remarkable about his black clothes, which were cut in
the usual style, but he wore shoes that enabled him to move almost
noiselessly, and a brown straw hat with a black ribbon a hand's breadth
wide.

After relating the result of his visits to the sick and poor and
meantime drinking a second and third glass of wine, he looked at an
unshapely silver watch he had drawn from the heart pocket of his black
coat, and hastily rose, saying that his minutes to-day were numbered.
In reply to Frau Valentin's jesting remark, that it was strange a
person who, like him, always lived in eternity, never had any time, he
did not even answer with his usual smile. On reaching the door, after
not having addressed a single word to Edwin, he said suddenly: "I shall
consider it an honor to accompany you, Herr Doctor, if you will wait
until I have said a few words to our excellent friend alone. Business
matters!" he added, looking quietly at his patroness. The latter seemed
to have expected something of the kind, and without any sign of
curiosity led the way into the late mathematician's study, whither
Lorinser followed her.

Edwin's feeling of dislike had grown so strong, that he could scarcely
control it sufficiently to wait for the Herr Candidat. He could not
understand a word of what was being said in the next room, and only
heard enough to gather that Frau Valentin grew angry, but Lorinser
speedily soothed her; then a box was opened and money counted out on a
table. Directly after both re-appeared in the sitting room, the
professor's widow evidently out of humor and with deeply flushed
cheeks, Lorinser following her in the calmest possible mood. He kissed
his hostess' pretty hand and whispered something, that Edwin did not
hear, but would not permit her to accompany him to the door.

The seamstresses were sitting quietly at work in the large room. The
youngest was a slender brunette, with thick, shining hair, and
beautiful black eyes. As Lorinser passed, Edwin thought he saw the girl
blush and bend lower over her work, but the Herr Candidat seemed to
take no more notice of her than the others.

When they had reached the street, and walked on side by side for some
distance in silence, Lorinser suddenly stood still, removed his hat,
and casting an absent glance at the clouds, said: "You must not
misjudge me. This sort of practical religion, this busy attempt to earn
heaven by making ourselves useful to our fellow mortals, is thoroughly
repugnant to me, and if I allow myself to be used as a tool, it is only
to have some kind of method in the madness. This course or conduct may
be everything you please, warm-hearted, useful, a necessity to certain
natures, but it is as different from true _religion_, as all human
worship is unlike the genuine service of God."

"I have only made Frau Valentin's acquaintance to-day," replied Edwin.
"But she did not give me the impression that she was one of those
persons who hope to engage a place in heaven by their good works. She
cannot imagine any worship--and therefore certainly not the service of
God--without active exertion."

"You express her views exactly," said the other, as he withdrew his
eyes from the clouds and fixed them again on the earth. "To act is a
temporal thing; to be, to behold, to commune with ourselves--only thus
can we here, though imperfectly, attain a conception of the Infinite.
It is possible that in a purer and more sensitive husk than the one we
now have, organs may grow, by means of which we can take an active
share in the inexpressible energy of the Deity, become in a certain
sense co-workers with God. Here below the highest point we can reach,
is: an ecstatic realization that we possess God. Everything that
perplexes us, procures our powers room to develop, tempts us, so to
speak, from resting in God to rely on ourselves, no matter how useful
it may be in a _worldly_ point of view, is a sin against the Holy
Ghost, a crime against our own souls. I do not know how far your
philosophy will enable you to follow me."

[Illustration: Lorinser suddenly stood still, removed his hat, and
cast an absent glance at the clouds.]

"To the most extreme consequences of your view of the world, which
extend to the familiar mystical quietism," replied Edwin with a calm
smile. "This is not the first time I have encountered such a mixed
temperament--you are undoubtedly phlegmatic---choleric--and therefore
my philosophy is not perplexed about the formula. The only thing new
and not quite intelligible, is how any one with such views can become a
clergyman, accept an office as the servant of religion, which calls
itself the religion of love."

"You are perfectly right. And I also am too honest a man to consent to
the pitiful compromises and casuistries, which most clergymen drag with
them through life as galley-slaves do the chains which grow into their
flesh. I wish to have nothing to do with the so-called established
church, and abhor or pity the delusion that religion can be managed in
bulk, like a joint stock company, on whose terms a deed of partnership
is drawn up. There has never been a revelation, which has come from
heaven to earth as of universal validity. _At every moment_ the fulness
of God's mercy is revealed anew, the Son of Man dies again, sinful
mortals are saved once more by the Saviour's blood. But no one knows or
perceives anything of this, except those, who have not exchanged the
gold of their love for God, for the base coin of the so-called love for
one's neighbor, only to be beggars when God demands a sacrifice. We
have only one neighbor, God himself. Our lives are nothing but an act
of mercy on the part of the Creator, who by means of a temporary
separation from him, arouses the wish, the desire, the passionate
longing for a re-union, and thereby affords us the first conscious
delight of sinking back into eternity. The souls who never attain to
this, are, as it were, only the dark elements in the nature of God, and
in the great crucible of time will be separated from the purer ore and
cast aside like dross."

"Go on," said Edwin after a pause, as his companion relapsed into
silence. "I make no reply, because I have perceived it is utterly
useless to work against such a fantastic condition of the soul. But I
am always interested in watching this singular state of profound
thought, which does not rest until having reached the highest pitch,
the overstrained powers suddenly relapse into a voluptuous repose."

Lorinser paused again and cast one of those side glances, which so
strangely distorted his features, at his companion.

"I see you have a tolerably good theoretical knowledge of the matter,"
said he. "Perhaps you may also be nearer the experience than you
suppose. The unsatisfactoriness of the usual sensible analysis of the
problem of life, must have long since been evident to you, as well as
every other honest thinker. But most men, when they come to the point
where their world is nailed up with boards, are modest enough to see
the bounds of all human knowledge here, and turn back again like good
sheep, who hit their heads against the sides of their pen. My dear sir,
the fence is not so high, that with proper headway it cannot be
overleaped, and the bound is so far from being a _salto mortale_, that
the true life only begins on the other side. God is transcendent. If we
are to approach him, we must _spring upward_."

"And do you believe that this leap depends solely upon our own
inclinations?"

"Not entirely. Not every one, even if dissatisfaction gnaws at his
soul, has obtained the power to lend his spirit wings. There are
natures, like those of our good Frau Valentin, who lack the necessary
elasticity. But where it does exist, it can, like any other power, be
strengthened and steeled."

"I should be greatly obliged," said Edwin smiling, "if when occasion
offers, you would give me farther instruction in these gymnastics. But
I have now reached my home. I must not ask you to take the trouble to
go in with me. The old staircase is dark and steep, and one is obliged
to grope his way step by step, an easier operation for a dialectician
of my stamp, than for him who without assistance soars through the
seven heavens."

Lorinser did not seem to hear the jest. His eyes were intently fixed
upon a female figure, which had approached the house from the other
side a short time before them, and with a hasty bow to Edwin entered.

"Who is that lady?" he asked.

"One of the lodgers in our house, a very talented musician, who lives
in great seclusion, so great that I can tell you no more about her."

"Will you allow me to look in upon you a moment?" replied Lorinser,
stepping into the entry before Edwin.

Balder looked up from his book in surprise, when his brother entered
with his singular companion. His soft, expressive eyes rested on the
strange face for a short time, but soon seemed to have perceived all he
thought worthy of notice, and remained persistently fixed on the
sunlight that bathed the branches of the acacia tree.

The youth's appearance was evidently more attractive to Lorinser. He
instantly directed the conversation back to his mystical experiences,
revelations, and divine joys, as he termed them, and turning with
unconcealed admiration toward Balder, declared that he seemed specially
fitted by nature to penetrate the depths of these secrets. He would, if
permitted, introduce him to other chosen spirits, by whom disclosures
would be made that would render his present relations to life, shallow
and profitless.

Edwin contented himself with now and then throwing in a sarcastic
question, which Lorinser merely noticed by a shrug of the shoulders,
but Balder, who met all his entreaties with unmoved composure, answered
shortly, that he was not in the habit of going out and felt no longing
for any other wonders than those revealed by his senses and quiet
thoughts.

"You will think differently, when you are farther initiated," replied
Lorinser. "I can boldly assert, that without suspecting it, you are in
an unusual degree a child of God. The hour will come--"

Here he was interrupted by the entrance of Reginchen, who brought the
brothers their dinner. Lorinser only vouchsafed her a passing glance,
and the dishes she carried did not seem to him sufficiently choice to
induce him to remain longer. He begged permission to come again at an
early day, and withdrew smiling at Balder, who did not perceive it, as
he was limping around the room helping Reginchen set the table.

"Dear me," said the fair haired girl, as the retreating footsteps
glided over the stairs, "what a queer gentleman that is! I'd rather
have mother scold me half a day, than listen to his husky voice and
hear him creep about as if he had on felt slippers, for half an hour.
It's fortunate he never looks any one straight in the eye, for if he
did nobody could endure it, at least not I. Did you notice, Herr
Walter: the whites of his eyes are like mother of pearl, or the
quicksilver in our thermometer. He looks very ghostly, not like
anything human."

"You foreboding angel!" cried Edwin laughing. "But don't be afraid of
him, Reginchen. This godly fellow won't come again very soon; he saw
that he had no power over our souls, and our flesh--I mean the
excellent piece of meat your mother has sent up to us to-day--did not
tempt his appetite."

"I hope you may be right," said Balder. "But I'm afraid we shall not
get rid of this gloomy guest so quickly; he's only watching for a more
favorable opportunity to steal in again, though I don't understand what
he hopes to find here."

"We'll wait till he does, and if necessary use our right to close our
doors. He has left us his card: 'Unter den Linden, No. 10.' Of course
in the most fashionable locality. The children of God, who neither sow
nor reap, since their Heavenly Father feeds them, can afford themselves
every luxury, while we children of the world--but you're right,
Reginchen, the dinner will get cold. Come, child, let me pour you out a
glass of wine. I'll take water myself, to cool my indignation over the
false prophet."



                              CHAPTER XIV.


Meantime Lorinser had only crept down one flight of stairs and stopped
before the door on the second story. He read the name on the small
sign, listened a few minutes, and then gently pulled the bell.

Christiane opened the door and gazed in surprise at the stranger, whom
she had just seen with Edwin. His penetrating gaze rested on her a
moment, then he raised his eyes toward the ceiling of the entry, as if
solely interested in the spiders' webs.

"Fräulein Christiane Falk?" said he.

She made an almost imperceptible bow. "What do you want, sir?"

"Will you allow me to come in a moment, the errand that brings me to
you can hardly be discussed here--"

She drew back a step from the threshold to admit him. In an instant he
had crossed the ante-room and entered the half sitting room half
bedroom, to which we were introduced the night that this story opened.
Its appearance in the broad daylight was not much more cheerful, than
by the feeble rays of the little lamp. The walls were hung with faded
tapestry, but destitute of pictures. The floor was uncarpeted, there
were no flowers, none of the hundred trifles with which lonely women
adorn their rooms and endeavor to supply the lack of human
companionship; nothing but a quantity of books on the bureau, the
volume of Schopenhauer on the table before the sofa, and numerous
sheets of music scattered in disorder over the piano. The whole
produced the impression that there were no bright eyes here, to whom
life was pleasant for the sake of its charms.

The face of the occupant only too plainly confirmed the testimony of
the mute objects around her.

The features were unlovely, harsh, and no longer youthful, the brows
almost met over the light grey eyes, the hair, thick but not soft, hung
over the pale brow like a heavy shadow. The only charm in this stern
visage, the full mouth with its dazzlingly white teeth, had a decided
approach to a mustache, and by its habitual expression of gloomy
defiance seemed to contradict the idea that this face could ever wish
to please. The same avoidance of all desire for comeliness was visible
in the dress. But even the most clumsy folds could not wholly conceal
the fact that the masculine head was placed on a most exquisite female
figure.

She stood quietly by the table, opposite to Lorinser, who without
waiting for her invitation, had thrown himself upon the little sofa and
was scanning the apartment with his lightning like side glance. With a
careless gesture of the hand he invited her to sit down beside him, but
she remained standing motionless, with folded arms.

"Honored Fräulein," said he, "I have heard so much of your talent, my
friend Doctor Edwin, your fellow lodger, has just confirmed it so
warmly, that it seems to me like a direct interposition of Providence
that I have now found my way to you. My business can be stated in two
words. Some friends who were not satisfied with the public worship of
the church, have for some time arranged a quiet service of their own,
in which music occupies an important part. The lady who formerly played
the harmonium, has gone away. There is no one among us who could take
her place, so I undertook to provide a substitute. I thought of you,
Fräulein. That you are no virtuoso of the common stamp, but a person to
whom the mysterious nature of true, genuine music is revealed, I see by
a single glance at that book, in which I read the names of Bach and
Glück, and--allow me to speak frankly--one look into your eyes, which
beam with a deeper radiance than those of ordinary women. Those eyes
bear witness that your music is your religion. I will not conceal from
you that this point of view does not yet seem to me the highest one. To
me, music is only a stepping stone to divine happiness, though
certainly one of the nearest to the throne of the Eternal. However, I
am not here to preach to you. Besides, no one in our circle will annoy
you by the supposition that you will share our devotions. But for what
you give us, you will in every sense be richly rewarded. I only beg to
tell you on what conditions--"

"And suppose I could not consent upon any condition?" she quietly
interrupted.

He seized the book that lay on the table before him, turned the leaves
without apparently taking any notice of their contents, and after a
short pause replied:

"You will perhaps think differently, Fräulein, when I tell you that you
need not attend these religious exercises in person. The instrument
stands in a room, which is divided from the hall where we assemble by a
tolerably large apartment. You will play as if to yourself, and not a
whisper of what takes place in the little congregation outside, will
reach your ears. In this way both you and we will be spared any mutual
annoyance, and only share what is alike to all."

He looked at her with a keen, searching glance. She was gazing into
vacancy, and seemed to be considering how far she should reveal her
most secret feelings to this stranger. A bitter expression suddenly
flitted over her lips, and her brows contracted.

"Pardon me," she said hastily, "if I must decline under any
circumstances, to take part in what is called divine service. My
reasons for so doing I may be permitted to keep to myself. I doubt
whether they would be understood, far less appreciated by you, and I am
not accustomed to be faithless to my convictions, even for the large
fee you intimate I should receive."

"Your reasons?" he said smiling, as he rose and approached her. "Will
you permit me to read these reasons, or rather this one motive from
your brow?"

"Sir--"

She looked at him in astonishment and retreated a step, as if to
protect her personal freedom. He stood still and again gazed steadily
at the ceiling.

"The one reason that you will take no part in any religious service,
is: that you have no God whom you desire to serve," he said in the
frankest possible tone, as if he were speaking of something that was
quite a matter of course.

She did not answer immediately. The man's amazing assurance seemed to
intimidate her. She was forced to arm herself with her old defiance ere
she could reply.

"Did you really read it from my brow, or only in the book on the
table?"

"My dear Fräulein," he answered kindly, "if I had had the honor of a
longer acquaintance with you, you would expect me to be able to solve
so easy an enigma without such aid. The author of that book, believe
me, with all his atheism, knew more of God than you do--at least at
this time, for he knew that which alone leads to Him, and which so far
as I see, has hitherto remained unknown to you, and therefore renders
the natural estrangement from God you share with countless others, so
harsh and apparently necessary: _sin_. You need not answer yes or no.
I'm sure of it: whatever errors and weaknesses have entered your life,
you have never known sin, _that_ sin which alone arouses in the wilful
heart the need, the longing for redemption, the burning sense of our
own weakness and baseness, which makes us thirst for God and is at last
stilled by the dew of mercy. Do you smile, Fräulein? This language
seems to exaggerated to express the naked truth. Some day you will
remember it, and no longer smile.

"No," he continued as if in sudden agitation, pacing up and down the
room with hasty strides. "I will not give you up. I have felt too
strongly attracted toward you, from the first words that fell from your
lips, to be able to go away now and say to myself: this strong,
beautiful soul will never find the way to the holy of holies. Even such
a powerful guide as music will only lead you to the threshold. Believe
me, my dear Fräulein, I too have had similar experiences; I too once
said like you: the God who has created heaven and earth and myself, is
too great for my love, too distant for my longing, too silent for my
confidence. And why should I have desired to approach him? What did I
lack, so long as I had _myself_, my virtue, my worldly pleasure, my
good works? Not until the day when I first became familiar with sin,
when I had lost _myself_, did I learn how near this far off being can
come, how eloquently he can console, how lovingly he can draw you to
himself. Since that time all the sorrows of the world, of which that
bewildering book speaks, have seemed to me mere child's play in
comparison to the misfortune of being sufficient to ourselves and
attempting to fight our way through the unconquerable horrors of
existence, by means of common place honesty, courage, and innocence,
the trivial 'always practice truth and justice.'"

He remained standing before her and held out both hands, but she
continued to keep her arms folded over her breast.

"I don't understand you," she replied, "and moreover do not know why I
should take the trouble to understand you--above all, why _you_ should
take the trouble to attempt to aid me in your own way. I do not feel at
all sick, and what I need to make me _happy_ neither man nor God can
give. If the sense of your sinfulness has made you long for a
'Saviour,' I do not envy you this happiness. I am a lonely woman; I
have nothing but myself, my pride, my obstinacy, if you choose to call
it so. If I must lose this, must become a worm and wallow in the
mire--then to be sure I too might probably succeed in crawling to the
cross. But I do not desire a God, who must draw me to himself through
sin and disgrace! If he cannot clasp his honest, upright creatures to
his heart, I prefer to remain a step child."

"You _prefer_." said Lorinser in a low, but very impressive tone. "If
you always _can_ do so."

"Who is to prevent me from being faithful to myself?"

"One who is stronger than our wills: the devil."

"I am too old for nursery tales."

"Oh! my dear child," he replied, "there are nursery tales which we
first experience, when our infant's socks are laid aside and we have
discarded the nurse's milk for sound human reason. Have you never
learned that some power is exerted over our wills by a sudden, as it
were magical influence? Has no eye ever bewitched you, no voice ever
set your blood on fire, no hand ever destroyed your defiant obstinacy
by a single touch?"

A deep flush suddenly suffused Fräulein Falk's dark face.

"How do you presume to play the part of an inquisitor toward a lady
whom you see for the first time?" she vehemently burst forth. "Be kind
enough to leave me, sir, our conversation has taken a turn--"

She drew back as if to leave the way to the door open. He smilingly
took his hat from the table, but remained standing in the middle of the
room, waving it carelessly to and fro, with his eyes fixed upon the
floor.

"You wrong me," said he. "I am not so indiscreet as to seek to force
myself into your confidence. What I said was aimed at people in
general. Inspired poets and sentimental children of the world talk of
the magic of love. As if these things were not perfectly natural, so
natural that the power exercised over the will has been very properly
compared to chemical processes. The word magic can only be used when
unnatural--supernatural things occur. If you follow the promptings of
your inclinations, your blood, your nature, even were it along the
worst paths, to the greatest injury of yourself and others--is there
any witchcraft in it? Error, weakness, perversity--I repeat it--are
very human evils, and do not lead to God. But to be urged on to what is
most foreign, hostile to your nature, to be forced, in dread and
horror, to do what you abhor, to be faithless to what is dearest--you
see, Fräulein, that this only occurs under the influence of a powerful
spell, the only one that still remains in this enlightened world, and
whose consequences God scuds his pardoning mercy to destroy or efface:
_the magic of sin_. I beg your pardon for having troubled you so long.
Perhaps I shall frequently have the pleasure of conversing with you
about these mysteries."

He bowed with the look and smile of a man, who has tamed a fierce
lioness and can now venture to enter her cage alone. She stood
speechless, and made no motion to accompany him to the door. Her arms
hung loosely by her side, her chin drooped on her breast, her eyes were
closed as if she had given herself up to gloomy thoughts.

Mohr and Franzelius were just going up the narrow stairs, as Lorinser
closed Christiane's door behind him.

Coming from different directions, they had met at the outer door, and
unwelcome as the encounter was to both--for Mohr, who had his play in
his pocket, would also have liked to see the brothers alone--each was
too awkward or too proud to avoid the other.

They had bowed in silence, and Mohr had allowed the printer to precede
him. When they now met Lorinser on the stairs, Franzelius stepped aside
like a person who unexpectedly treads upon a toad. The incident even
made him forget his unfriendly relations with the eternal joker, and
pausing on the landing he looked after the rapidly retreating figure,
saying in a tone of the most intense abhorrence:

"Did you see that man, Mohr?"

"He came out of the young lady's room. Who is he? Where did you make
his acquaintance, Gracchus?"

"He's the same malicious hypocrite who made that speech before our
society. It's a pity the thought occurred to me too late, I might have
thanked him for the information he gave the police."

"Or helped him down stairs a little faster; he seems to have scented
this _esprit de l'escalier_!" Mohr replied, essaying to jest, but
instantly added with a gloomy brow, "What did the pale rascal want
there? Couldn't she have shut the door on him, as well as better
people?"

"A bed-bug makes its way everywhere."

"You're right, Franzel!" replied Mohr with an angry laugh. Then
twisting his under lip awry, muttered: "Eternal Gods! I would not have
believed that a man could fall low enough to envy a bed-bug!"



                                BOOK II.



                               CHAPTER I.


He who undertakes to tell a "true story"--and ours is as fully attested
as any a novelist ever gathered from family archives--he who represents
life, as it is experienced, not imagined, must be prepared for all
sorts of objections and contradictions. The most improbable events, as
is well known, are those which most frequently happen, and on the other
hand nothing meets with less credence than that which nobody doubts;
though there are exceptions to the rule. Even on the stage we are not
accustomed to have a lover play a character part, any more than it will
be obvious to the readers of this entirely veracious history, when we
report the authentic fact that Edwin, faithful to his voluntary vow,
actually waited until the end of the week before he again entered the
dangerous house in Jägerstrasse, nay that he even put his resolution to
a still harder test, by waiting until the afternoon and occupying
himself during the morning as usual. Our knowledge of the age he had
attained before being attacked by love, only renders the matter the
more incredible, as childish diseases are always more violent when
contracted in riper years. We have as yet seen too few tests of his
philosophy, of the influence of this stern science upon his character,
to be able to derive any explanation of his stoical abstinence. But
whatever share it may have had in his conduct, when on that Saturday
afternoon, he at last entered the memorable street, he found himself in
anything but a philosophical mood. The hand with which he stroked
Balder's hair trembled perceptibly; instead of the two little volumes
of Wilhelm Meister he intended to put in his pocket, he only took the
second, and the volume which with its mysterious beauties might almost
bear away the palm from her own Balzac. He answered Feyertag, who
endeavored to draw him into a learned conversation as he crossed the
courtyard, so confusedly, that the worthy man was greatly delighted and
told his wife the Herr Doctor, was beginning to feel a proper respect
for his intelligence; he had said things to him to-day so terribly
learned, that they were almost incomprehensible.

On the way, our by no means heroically disposed hero endeavored to be
prepared for an emergency, which he considered almost as a favor of
fortune--that he might not find her at home, or be refused admittance.
He resolved to bear this like a man and make no attempt to bribe or
learn anything from the striped waist-coat. But when the solemn boy
received him with the words: "The young lady is at home and begs the
gentleman to walk in"--it seemed as if it would have been utterly
impossible for him to go away without seeing her.

When he entered the little red parlor, she was standing before the
table at which she appeared to have been writing, and came forward to
receive him with the frankest cordiality, as if he were an old
acquaintance who had been long expected. The repellant coldness had
vanished from her face, only a certain look of abstraction frequently
recalled her former expression. She thanked him for having kept his
promise and even brought her something new again. "But," she added, "I
must not give you any farther trouble, especially if you continue to
act as you did the first time, and leave the books at the outer door.
You can surely make a better use of your time, than in running errands
for a stranger, and I cannot promise you that a closer acquaintance
will repay you for your trouble."

He answered with a few courteous words that betrayed none of the
thoughts passing in his mind. Her presence had again produced so
strange an impression, that he needed a short time to regain his
composure. To-day, in her simple dress of crimson silk, with her hair
wrapped in braids around her head and again utterly devoid of ornament,
she seemed even more bewitching than when he first saw her. Yet there
was a timidity almost bordering upon sadness in her voice and
movements, that was contagious and overawed him more than her former
careless ease.

"You would certainly have gone away to-day too, if I had not expressly
invited you in," said she. "But it would not have required so much
discretion to convince me that you are an exception to the usual rule.
I saw in the first fifteen minutes of our acquaintance, that you were
not like other men, from whose importunity it is difficult for a
solitary girl to protect herself. That is why I am glad to see you
again and thank you in person. I live so entirely alone, and although
it is my own wish, the days are long and the necessity of hearing some
voice except the twittering of the birds and the meaningless remarks of
the servants, soon forces itself upon one. Besides, we like to discuss
what we have read. To be sure--" she added hesitatingly, tapping the
book that lay beside her portfolio with her rosy finger--"to speak of
what you have lately brought me--"

"What have you read?"

"A great many of the poems; I was familiar with almost all from seeing
them in collections, some even when I was at school. But in reading
them together I now realize their beauty, at least so far as I
understand them. But--Werther--you will scarcely believe that although
I am twenty-one this is the first time I have read it."

"What an enviable person!"

"How so?"

"I devoured it at fifteen, when I was far too young and verdant to
enjoy that most beautiful and mature of all the works ever written for
young people."

"Perhaps I'm already too old," she said blushing, "or still too young.
For--it will seem very foolish and perhaps incomprehensible to you: I
had some difficulty in getting through it.

"That is," she hastily corrected herself, "I found certain things
wonderfully beautiful, the spirit, the clearness, the lofty, melancholy
thoughts, and what a living thing nature seems to become--I have copied
many passages to read again. But the whole, the work itself--you will
surely think me childish or heartless, if I confess that I was not in
the least affected when Werther shot himself."

He gazed into her black eyes with a quiet smile.

"Not even as much by Père Goriot" said he.

"No," she answered in an undertone. "I cannot help it, nothing makes
any impression upon me unless I can imagine it might happen to myself.
This good Père Goriot, who is so ill repaid for all he does for his
daughters, the daughters themselves, who have an actual passion for
spending a great deal of money and living in fabulous luxury, I can
understand very well. I too had a father who would have sacrificed
himself for me if necessary, as I would have done for him, and it is by
no means strange to me that people can set their hearts on a thousand
beautiful things which only the rich should possess. But that a man can
no longer live, because he--because he is in love--with somebody's
wife--is a thing of which I have no idea. Why do you look at me so?
Don't you believe me? You can do so safely, I always say what I think."

"I'm only looking at you," he replied, "because I do not know how to
reconcile your words, which I do not doubt, with your face and your
twenty-one years."

"And why not?"

"Do not consider it a tasteless compliment: but with such a face, I
should hardly think a person could live twenty-one years in the world,
without at least perceiving in others, what mad follies a man
desperately in love may commit. And have you never been moved when you
made some one unhappy, even if your own heart remained untouched? You
have probably known nothing of hunger except from hearsay, and yet the
sight of misery touches you."

"Certainly," she answered thoughtfully; "but you're mistaken, if you
suppose I have never suffered want myself. There have been times--but
that's my own affair. On the contrary, the love that has been offered
me has either seemed untrue and ridiculous, or excited actual horror
and loathing, never compassion."

Edwin's surprise increased at every word, whose sincerity he could not
doubt. But if it were as she said and her grave innocent gaze
confirmed--how had she come to these suspicious lodgings in such more
than doubtful company? What, if she had nothing to repent, was the
cause of this avoidance of men, this mysterious love of solitude in one
so young and independent?

He noticed that she looked surprised at his silence, and in order to
make some remark, said:

"If you place so little value on the passion, which since the beginning
of creation has, with hunger, been the motive power of the world, your
purveyor of romances certainly has a difficult task. Or would you
prefer novels of the latest style, which only contain enough love not
to frighten the owners of circulating libraries?"

"No," she replied laughing, "I'm not quite so spoiled. Dear me, what I
read aloud to my dear father was always French literature, which often,
as I noticed by his making me skip a chapter, was by no means fit for a
young girl. But do you know what I don't understand? Why the authors
don't have a better appreciation of their advantages and write only
stories which contain very elegant, rich, brilliant scenes, handsome
parks, castles, numerous servants, and fireworks, concerts, and balls
every night. I should never weary of such books, as when a child I
could always read over and over again the fairy tales, in which a fairy
or magician builds in a single night a splendid palace of gold and
jewels, with the horses' mangers of silver, and their hoofs studded
with diamonds. Ought not poetry to describe a fairer world than this,
which with all its _petites misères_, is only too familiar to us?
Instead of that, village tales have now become fashionable, and all the
fuss, is made about them. Who can be interested in reading how Christen
seeks a wife and obtains now a well-kept farm, and now a neglected one?
And the principal point is always about a few hundred thalers more or
less; when they are obtained, the story ends. That--you must not be
offended by my frankness--is what seemed so strange to me in Werther:
narrow commonplace surroundings, ordinary, provincial people, and the
heroine--I will say nothing about the bread and butter--but has she a
lofty, noble soul? Does she love Werther or not? And if she does--but
you're smiling. I'm probably saying very stupid things. Teach me, if it
seems worth while. It's so tiresome always to think for one's self, in
doing which of course one is always right."

"My dear Fräulein," said he, "I have hitherto had very little
inclination to disturb people who were in perfect harmony with
themselves, even if I felt differently. Why should they not have the
right to devote their attention solely to the beautiful and brilliant?
I only wish you might belong to the favored few, who during their whole
lives never see the wrong side of the world. He who has once become
familiar with it, is certainly interested in finding even amid the
narrow, commonplace limits of this miserable existence treasures and
blessings, which fill his heart and make his life lovely. But you--"

"You are very much mistaken," she gravely interrupted. "I have already
told you that I too know what it is to sit in the shadow and feel no
ray of warmth from the sun that illumines the fairy castles of others.
But it is for that very reason, that I do not wish to be reminded in
books of what I have already had a sufficient experience of in my life,
and found by no means amusing or poetical. And however it maybe with
outward cares, their charms and pleasures; the inward poverty, the
miserable, half developed, embittered, starved feelings, the oppression
beneath which human souls drag out such a painful existence--will you
assert that these also are fitting themes for the poet's art?"

He was just beginning to reply, with a sense of secret surprise at the
gloomy, dismal feeling underlying her words, when the striped waistcoat
appeared at the door of the dining room. The dwarf had evidently just
brushed his tow colored wig, fastened his cravat tighter, and drawn on
a pair of white cotton gloves, which only made his short hands more
clumsy.

"Pardon me for not interrupting the regular routine of my day," said
the beautiful girl, suddenly adopting a gayer tone. "That is my tyrant.
Small as he is, and submissive as he pretends to be--if I'm not
punctual at my meals, I lose his favor. The young man can vie in good
sense and faithfulness with many grown persons, but his stomach is
still a child's and must have its dues every two or three hours, or he
gets very ill-natured. But I may venture to invite you to be my guest.
The restaurant provides me with such an abundant supply of food, that
even Jean sometimes gives up the task of attempting to eat the portion
I leave. You have already dined? But you will at least give me your
society; for my usual company, to which I will introduce you directly,
is only a make-shift."

She preceded him into the little dining room, where the boy nimbly
pushed a second chair up to the daintily spread table. But before the
young girl sat down, she went to the bird cage and opened the gilded
door. "There," said she, clapping her hands three times as if for a
signal, "there they come flying out. Some of them understand the order
of proceedings and will instruct the new comers--those shy ones at the
back that will not venture out. You must not suppose I take pleasure in
shutting up the poor things; I buy new ones almost every day, mere
native birds, as you see, just to feed them here a little while, and
then after they have given me their society at dinner, I let them fly
away again. Many, to be sure, will not go; but I am not to blame for
that. Whoever voluntarily resigns freedom for good food and care, must
accept imprisonment cheerfully. _Tu l'as voulu!_"

He listened to her quietly as a part of the gay feathered flock darted
out of the cage and fluttered around the table and corners of the room,
while the others remained timidly within. The window stood wide open;
some of the most insignificant in appearance, after hesitating a
moment, whetting their beaks on the sill and trying their wings, soared
out into the open air with loud chirps and twitterings. The remainder,
among which a beautiful gold-finch was the most attractive, crowded
about the side-board and covered dishes on the table, in eager
expectation of the good things they were to receive.

"I don't object to being alone all day," said the young mistress,
taking her seat and motioning Edwin, with a gesture of charming
authoritativeness, to sit down in the opposite chair, "but it is
horrible to eat alone. One never feels so inhuman, selfish, and hard
hearted, as when one is putting one piece of food after another into
one's mouth entirely by himself. I always begin to think of the
hundreds of thousands who have nothing to eat, and the thought disgusts
me with my favorite dishes, so that I can scarcely half satisfy my
hunger. But now look at this unruly rabble. How they quarrel and
scuffle over every little crumb, and the greatest eater there, the
little magpie, grudges the black bird every mouthful. Will you be
quiet, you ugly thing?"

She took a silver salt spoon and tapped the bird, that was giving
itself such airs, gently on the back, but without making any special
impression upon him, and then cut some little biscuits which had been
served with the dessert, into pieces, strewed sugared almonds over
them, and divided these dainties between half a dozen little plates,
which she placed in a circle on the table. The greedy birds instantly
assembled around their food; only a few timid ones that remained on the
side board preferred to take the crumbs she threw them, while the
boldest perched on the edge of the dish of fruit, and rioted
undisturbed on the magnificent pears and peaches.

Meantime she herself began to eat, after vainly urging Edwin to do so,
and finally insisted that he must at least try some of the sweet
Spanish wine, of which she only sipped a little from a slender crystal
glass to drink his health. She ate in the same manner, tiny morsels
which she took from her plate with the silver fork, and while busily
talking, partook a little more freely of four or five vegetables and
one sweet dish, but scarcely touched the meats. Edwin jestingly asked
if she were a vegetarian. She requested him to explain the word, which
she did not understand. "That's an excellent system," she said with a
thoughtful nod, "I'm really a born vegetarian, without knowing it until
to-day, and have often been laughed at in consequence. See that
partridge, how sadly it thrusts its roasted beak into its own larded
breast! I cannot look at it without reproaching myself for the happy
creature's early death. And I was not even personally acquainted with
the poor thing. But I could never have the heart to eat the chickens my
mother had fed herself. She called it affectation! Dear me, my appetite
in those days was far too healthy to allow me to be sentimental at the
expense of my stomach. Now I have little enough and believe I could
live upon bread and fruits."

As she said all this with a mixture of innocent gayety and womanly
consciousness, while her manner toward her guest was one of the most
perfect ease--he became more and more doubtful what to think of this
mysterious creature. He had had very little intercourse with ladies who
had seemed particularly worthy of notice. Face to face with this
problem, which even experienced connoisseurs of women had given up, all
his psychological wisdom was of no avail. But some secret feeling,
which would not be stifled, told him that whatever perverted, noxious,
or dangerous things there might be in this girl's character or fate,
the depths of her nature were pure and true, and even the open coquetry
with which she had entered into the rôle of a fairy among her enchanted
princes in the cage, had a tinge of innocent fancy, and suited her as
well as the ribbons and spangles of the child, who in play decks itself
to represent a princess.

"You have grown so quiet," she said, paring a peach and placing half of
it on his plate, "that I see there is something about me of which you
do not approve,--perhaps the frankness with which I treat you like an
old acquaintance. Say so openly; true, I shall not be able to change my
manner, but I don't wish to impose any constraint upon you."

"I am reflecting," said he, "upon the strange chance which has brought
me to this place. Is it not really like a fairy tale, that I am here in
your society, while you do not even know my name, and I nothing more of
you than yours?"

She raised the silver fruit knife she held in her hand, and with a
roguish, mysterious expression, pressed it to her laughing lips. "Let
that pass," said she, "it has all come about by natural means, without
any magic or sorcery. But for that very reason, it is better to enjoy
it so long as it lasts, and not spoil it by reflections and
investigations."

"Will it last?" he asked gravely.

"A little longer, a few weeks perhaps, who knows? Afterwards--what will
come afterwards nobody can tell. But if it seems like a fairy tale, be
kind and wise enough to let it remain so, do not seek to penetrate any
farther into my life, so that I shall be forced to explain the
connection. There's nothing very remarkable concealed in it, at least
nothing particularly pleasant or cheerful. I'm really glad that I have
made your acquaintance; I was too much alone, and in my situation I
must beware of all persons whom I cannot implicitly trust. Why I have
confided in you, I do not know; but so it is, and I should really be
grieved if you did not think well of me, or if you were deterred from
coming again in consequence of my frank expressions of opinion in
regard to the various things I read or experience. And you must not
come too often. I do not wish to cause gossip among the people in the
house; but two or three times a week about this hour, before it is time
to go to the theatre--only you must not first get your dinner at home.
Will you promise me that?"

She rose and held out her hand, which he hastily grasped and pressed
cordially in his own.

"May the meal be blessed to you!" she said smiling. "We always said
that in my parent's house, and I miss it here. Jean has too much
respect for me, and the birds cannot be taught to do it. So I shall see
you again soon, and you will bring Göthe's other works, of which you
have spoken?"

He bowed silently, involuntarily placing his hand on his heart, and in
a very puzzled mood left her.

Just as he emerged from the house, a light carriage drove up; the
gentleman, who had himself held the reins threw them to the servant
sitting behind and sprang out with the laughing exclamation: "Doctor,
are you mad?"

"Marquard! Is it you? Have you a patient in this house?"

"Only one, who as I see, is making my efforts superfluous by taking the
cure into his own hands. Or have you not just come from _her_?"

"From her? I don't understand you."

"Hypocrite! As if I did not see the fire in your heart burning through
your vest" (Marquard was fond of quoting from Heine.) "My dear fellow,
you won't find it so easy to deceive an old diagnostician of my stamp.
But how the deuce did you get on her track again?"

"Let's walk a few steps down the street," said Edwin coloring. "The
windows are open, every word can be heard up stairs."

He seized the doctor by the arm and drew him away, relating in an
undertone the story of the lost book-mark, and leaving it in doubt
whether the accident had brought him here to-day for the first time.
"And you," he hastily concluded. "How did you discover that our
neighbor in the box at the theatre lived here?"

"By means of the vein I laudably struck," declaimed the doctor. "The
renewal of my acquaintance with this fair Sphinx is only two days old,
and I fear it will not long survive the third. Day before yesterday,
while visiting a patient in one of the opposite houses, I was suddenly
summoned from his bedside; a boy was dangerously ill; I must come as
soon as possible to the very house before which we just met. How I
scaled the staircase and entered the second story rooms on the wings of
my professional duty--a doctor is an enviable person, Edwin! All doors
open to him, while to you ordinary mortals they only unclose when you
knock as honest finders of property, or--rascally seekers. Imagine my
joyful surprise, when the fair enigma who had so icily dismissed me in
the box, now hastily approached and in the confusion of terror claimed
my assistance.

"Was she ill?"

"Not she herself But she has a lad in her service, a ridiculous little
fellow, who had already amused me greatly when he summoned me from the
other side of the street. The mysterious stranger--who at any rate
seems to have a kind heart, especially for minors--had allowed her
footman to invite a younger brother to dine with him, and the two
precocious men of the world had consumed a bottle of Cape wine and
smoked some horrible cigars. The striped waistcoat's stomach, already
hardened to such sins, endured the orgy without injury, while the
hopeful Jean junior lay like a broken lily on his brother's bed, and
had frightened the young lady, who had not the least suspicion of the
cause--the young tipplers had carefully put the bottle away--almost to
death. Now I could not possibly do Jean--who was leering significantly
at me, and had taken me into his confidence on the way--the injury of
making light of the case. Besides, successful cures of difficult cases
are a greater recommendation to a young physician, than the treatment
of the sickness that follows a drunken spree. So I took the pallid
scamp to his unsuspicious parents in my own carriage, and yesterday
reported his rapid progress toward convalescence. I'm now just in the
act of giving the second bulletin; but as, when I left him, the patient
was eating pears and dumplings with the best possible appetite, and his
noble patroness intends to visit him herself, you can understand that I
shall not be able to pay many more visits to the fairy castle; for
which I am very sorry--especially on your account, since according to
promise--"

"I have just told you--"

"That you're a Cato or a Plato, whichever you prefer. Meantime--even
without having felt your pulse--I see by your whole appearance, that
you're on the direct road to remain so no longer. My best blessing on
your conversion, old boy, and better luck than has fallen to me."

"To you?"

"Well, you may suppose that during my visit yesterday, I made every
effort to appear not only the experienced physician, but also the
profound connoisseur in female hearts and female beauty. _Oleum et
operam_, my dear fellow! A statue, I tell you, a marble Sphinx would
have been more moved by my engaging manners. This young glacier in
Brussels lace remained as unapproachable as on the first evening, and
will you believe it: even my secret ally, Jean the Little, who ought to
be grateful--is a _rocher de bronze_ in everything that concerns his
mistress. The maid, my last hope, did not appear. So I'm just as wise
to-day as I was before, or rather still more stupid, for all my
experience and psychology have not helped me to understand our solitary
beauty, or make up my mind whether she belongs to the great world, the
_demi monde_, or no world at all."

"There can be no lack of people who will help you on the trail."

"Perhaps others know more," said the doctor, as he paused and cleaned
his spectacles. "Meantime, as I told you just now: I give her up. I
hereby relinquish her to you for the second time and forever, and swear
by yonder turrets, that it does not even cost me an effort. She's an
amphibious creature, a beautiful, faultless young serpent, just fit
to drive men mad. I prefer warm, red blood. I've discovered some
one--curiously enough in your house--a soubrette, who takes lessons
from your piano-playing young lady--not by any means so exquisite or
princess like as our sphinx, but to make amends--you know 'we don't cry
for the moon' unless we are incorrigible idealists and star gazers,
like certain people."

He laughingly shook hands with Edwin and entered the house before which
his carriage was waiting.



                              CHAPTER II.


Ever since the day mentioned in the last chapter, Edwin had become a
regular dinner guest at the house in Jägerstrasse. He came every third
day, but could never be induced to encroach upon little Jean's share of
the remains of the meal any farther than he had done the first time. He
dined as it were symbolically, by dipping a biscuit in the dainty glass
which the young hostess filled with Spanish wine. If she asked him why
he would never gratify her by really eating, he pleaded his old
fashioned custom of dining at noon. In reality, his feelings rebelled
against being so luxuriously entertained in the fairy castle, after
having merely been a spectator at the scanty meal in the "tun."
Besides, he was now separated from Balder so often and so long, that he
wished at any cost to keep their cosy dinner hour, where jesting with
Reginchen roused him a short time from his reveries. Yet it happened
more and more frequently, that his evenings were not spent at home.
True, his fair friend always dismissed him just before she went to the
theatre, and neither invited him to accompany her nor gave him any hope
of seeing her afterwards. But the hour spent in talking with her,
during which he played the part of the calm, clever thinker, her "wise
friend," as she jestingly called him, left his soul in a state of
agitation, a fever of doubt, longing, gloom, and happiness, which he
was forced to calm by long, lonely walks, before he could associate
with others again.

He knew also that Balder was rarely alone at these times, Mohr came
almost every evening to chat, to play chess with him, or to sit at the
open window and listen to Christiane's piano. He declared that this
music and Balder's golden mane were the only domestic medicines that
afforded him any relief, when he had a particularly violent attack of
his chronic self-contempt. He often brought some of his verses with him
or a scene of his famous comedy: "I am I, and rely on myself," to get
the youth's opinion, but could never make up his mind to read them
aloud. Now and then Franzelius also appeared, but soon went away again
if he met Mohr. To be sure the latter, at Balder's request, made the
most earnest efforts to curb his mocking tongue and to spare the fiery
tribune of the people, who was so helpless when in a small company. But
his mere presence annoyed the irritable fellow, especially as he
imagined that since Mohr's return some secret barrier had arisen
between himself and Balder. He loved the youth more than any other
human being, and knew that no one understood him better. Now he was
jealous of every smile that Mohr's quaint manner won from his darling,
and in his stupidity and dullness, felt doubly at a disadvantage in the
presence of the cynical jester, who nevertheless was an object of scorn
to him, as a drone among the working bees.

Balder, with his delicate sensibility, would probably have been even
more careful than usual to soothe his wounded friend; but he was very
anxious, and his thoughts, even while the two young men were with him,
secretly followed his brother along the unknown paths, of which he had
such a superficial knowledge. Not that Edwin would have concealed where
he went, and that he was daily becoming more and more ensnared by the
magic of this singular relation, but he could not reconcile his mind to
confess the full extent of his weakness, for in so doing he would have
been obliged to have acknowledged it to himself, and against such an
acknowledgement all the pride and manliness in his nature struggled.

How contemptible he appeared to himself when at night, after he had
wandered about, long and aimlessly, he again turned his steps toward
the house in Jägerstrasse, instead of going home, to stand on the
opposite side of the street pressed against the wall in some dark
corner, until her carriage brought her back from the theatre, and then
to wait hour after hour at his post, to see whether the door would not
open again and allow some more fortunate person admittance or egress,
until the light behind her curtain vanished, and every thing around him
was hushed to repose in the coolness of the autumnal night, except the
fever in his blood. How he cursed the hour which had first brought him
to her presence, and made the firmest resolutions to put an end to this
madness and never cross that fatal threshold again!

But the next, day would find him once more at the little table, envying
the birds that pecked their food in happy ignorance and in freedom from
suffering like his.

The young girl herself seemed to have no suspicion of how little
prudence her "wise friend" possessed. She treated him on the tenth day
exactly as she had done on the first, with the same frank cordiality,
the same careless confidence; as if it were impossible he could ever
become more distant or approach her nearer. When he came and went, she
gave him her hand like an old friend, scolded him if he kept her
waiting, questioned him, after she had once discovered that his nerves
were disordered, most sympathizingly about his health, and urged him to
use all sorts of remedies and medicines, of which she had read or
heard. More than once she acknowledged that she did not understand how
she had ever got through the long days before making his acquaintance,
and only dreaded the moment when he would grow weary of wasting his
time on such a foolish, ignorant girl, though to be sure the tone in
which she had expressed this fear was not very grave. But though she
must have been perfectly aware of her own powers of attraction, the
idea that any deeper feeling might bind him to her never seemed to
enter her head. The longer he watched her, the more he became convinced
that in speaking of love as she had, she had given utterance to her
real opinions. It actually appeared to her like a sort of madness, by
which weak minds were sometimes attacked. How a sensible man, who came
to see her every third day, brought her solid books and said very
clever things, could be seized by it, would evidently have been
incomprehensible to her.

He perceived all this, recognized the hopelessness of his concealed
longing, the improbability of ever thawing the ice that surrounded her
like a protecting wall. He had once asked what there was about him to
inspire her, usually so reserved to every one, with so much confidence
in him. She laughed, and shaking her head declared that that was a
secret she intended to keep to herself, and when, contrary to his usual
custom, he pressed her for an answer, she confessed that neither his
honest face, nor anything he had said, had given her the assurance that
he would not abuse her confidence, but--and here she looked at him with
a bewitchingly droll, half timid, half doubtful smile on her face, as
if wondering whether he would take it amiss--the fact that he wore no
gloves, and did not pay any more attention to his dress when he made
the second visit, than when he first called to return her the bookmark.

He laughed, but was obliged to exert considerable self control, to
treat as a jest a matter that was far from being one to him.

He distinctly perceived that she only preferred him because, as a being
belonging to a totally different sphere, she thought him perfectly
harmless. In the seclusion of her life, a visitor who, like him,
brought her amusement without making any special claims, was very
welcome, and the fact that he meantime remained as much a stranger to
her, as she to him, only increased the charm of this intercourse.
Besides, a man who always visited her in the same grey summer suit and
without gloves, was safe from the least suspicion of desiring any
closer relation.

There were moments when he could not help being grateful to her
honesty, for not leaving him in doubt about the impassable gulf between
her worldly desires and needs and his own, when he suddenly shrank from
the mere thought that she could ever return his passion, as if such a
return would be a terrible misfortune. Aside from all the mystery that
surrounded her, how could he ever hope to harmonize his fate and
Balder's, their cheerfully endured poverty, his duties to his
profession, with the life she led, and which alone could be
satisfactory to her, since she expressed no wish to change it. He only
needed to imagine her in the place of Reginchen, who brought them their
dinner, and to transport to the "tun" the form of his enchantress, with
the striped waistcoat and his silver dish behind her, to measure the
abyss of impossibility that yearned between them.

Thus weeks elapsed, without any change, either for the better or worse,
having taken place in their intercourse. To be sure he did not always
find her in the same mood; oftentimes he even thought he perceived that
she had been weeping, or she greeted him with a look of surprise, as if
it were difficult for her to recall her thoughts from some distant
scene to him and what he brought. But a few words from Edwin were
sufficient to clear her brow and transform her once more into the
frank, friendly child that, with all her pampering and the strange
independence of her life, she really was. She fairly provoked him to
sometimes catch her in a piece of carelessness or failure in etiquette,
and then he treated her with condescending, sarcastic composure, as if
she were a person not fully accountable for her actions. But he
carefully avoided letting her feel his superiority in any other than a
jesting manner. If, as she was fond of doing, she roved in fancy, with
strange transitions of thought, over the world and mankind, life and
death, time and eternity, he could sit for fifteen minutes, tattooing
an apple in fantastic designs with a silver fruit knife, and listening
in silence. It always vexed her that he did not seem to think it worth
while to contradict her, and declared that even if he laughed aloud and
derided her, it would be less impolite than to sit silently smiling,
while she was talking about the most serious matters. If the wind were
blowing, or a fountain plashing, he could not adopt a more indifferent
air--"Was it his fault?" he answered laughing, "that in her presence he
often felt as strange an emotion as in that of nature, whose manifold
voices frequently rippled over him with similar elementary power,
without his feeling called upon to make any reply? He would seem to
himself a ridiculous pedant if he tried to talk logic to the woodland
birds, and reason to the waterfalls."

And yet, when he came again, it almost always happened that the
conversation went back to the same point at which it had been broken
off the last time. Then they exchanged parts, and it was his turn to
give utterance to his thoughts and rhapsodize undisturbed over the most
important questions. It was the strangest dialogue in monologues that
can be imagined, since twice four and twenty hours usually elapsed
between question and answer.

Was the cause of this, his fear of making the contrast between their
natures too perceptible, the dread that any dispute must instantly part
them forever, while he still considered it almost a duty, when the
matter had once more become indifferent to her, not to withhold his
opposition or deny his opinion. Or did he suspect that he should lose
all mastery over himself, if he obtained more and more control over her
and gradually harmonized and assimulated the heterogenious traits in
her character? And what was the use of this daring venture? What
was to be hoped for, even in the best case? To tame a gazelle, an
antelope--what can it avail in a zone and on a soil that are not
created for tropical animals--

It was on a gloomy afternoon in September, the first autumn rain was
falling, and the wind sweeping chilly through the empty street, the
windows were closed and a little fire was burning on the hearth, though
rather for the pleasure afforded by the sight of the bright flames,
than through any necessity for warmth. The beautiful girl, who had
often boasted that she had never been really sick, complained of a
slight headache, sent away the carriage which was to convey her to the
theatre, and threw herself on the sofa in the little red dining room,
with her feet toward the flames, whose red flickering light lent some
color to her pale cheeks.

"Read something aloud to me, Doctor," she said. "If I fall asleep over
it, so much the better. But don't choose Hermann and Dorothea; I don't
wish to offend you, as we have already quarrelled over it once, and yet
I can't help being lulled to sleep by the wonderful verses, as if I
were in a cradle, gladly as I would keep awake to listen to the
beautiful story. Do you know that I consider this Dorothea a very
enviable person, nay I have really never found the fate of any heroine
in a novel happier than hers? Poor, orphaned, homeless--she suddenly
comes into possession of a farm, and is loved and petted, and it all
comes about as naturally as if such a thing might happen any day! She
must have been very charming," she added after a pause, "I always
imagine her tall and slender, with raven hair and grey eyes, a black
ribbon round her fair neck, and ear rings with a red stone, which is
really only a bit of glass--"

"By the way," he interrupted, "I have long wanted to ask you something:
why do you wear no earrings or jewelry of any kind?"

"Because I am too poor to get large diamonds or real pearls, and I do
not care for any other ornaments."

"Too poor?"

"Yes indeed, much too poor, far poorer than you perhaps suppose, at any
rate poorer than Dorothea, who possessed the greatest treasure,
contentment. I, on the contrary--do you suppose I should have
considered it a happiness to become Frau Hermann?"

"If you had really been in love with him--"

She looked at him quietly, as if trying to discover whether he was in
earnest, and then said:

"You're a singular person. Wisdom does not seem to be any protection
against folly, and you take no notice of the existence of anything that
does not accord with your system. How often must I explain to you, that
I have no idea of what you call being in love. And see, even in your
Dorothea, though created by a poet--and falling in love plays so
prominent a part in all poetry--yet I can discover no trace of this
singular condition. She meets a young man, who leads her from the
street into his house and wishes to make her his wife. As he seems kind
and good, and promises to become one of those persons who are
represented as pattern husbands--why should she say no, especially as
the pastor and doctor and provincial customs are not at all repulsive
to her? And that's just why I envy her. I, on the contrary--but please
throw a few sticks of wood on the fire; it's going out."

He did as she requested, and was kneeling before the hearth kindling
the flames anew with a dainty pair of bellows, when a noise and
altercation arose in the entry, which attracted his attention. The
whinning voice of little Jean, eagerly arguing with a deep bass, was
distinctly audible, then the door of the ante-room was thrown open, and
the disputants approached the little drawing room; the stranger, with a
rude laugh, pushed aside the boy, who endeavored to prevent his
entrance, there was a knock at the door, and without even waiting for a
reply, a tall fellow in a rich huntsman's livery, boldly entered, as if
entirely at home.

The young lady had hastily started up and was gazing at the intruder in
speechless alarm. Edwin had also risen from his knees, with the bellows
still in his hand, and was just in the act of accosting the man, when
the latter, with an elegant bow to Toinette, drew a letter from his
pocket and laid it on the little table before the sofa.

"Beg pardon, Fräulein, if I have disturbed you," he said casting an
insolent glance at Edwin, "but the Herr Count expressly commanded me to
deliver this note into your own hands."

"Did not my servant tell you--?" Toinette interrupted.

"That his young lady was not at home, yes; and also that she wished to
receive no notes, and preferred not to know the Herr Count, as she had
already intimated by not answering the letters His Excellency sent
through the post office--"

"Leave this room at once," fell with great difficulty from the lips of
the pallid girl, "and if you venture to come again and force an
entrance in this way--I shall find some means to protect my rights in
this house."

"Pardon me, Fräulein," said the impudent fellow, with a saucy grin,
"but no one has any rights in a house except the person to whom it
belongs. If it is agreeable to my lord the count, to have his servant
turned out of a house, or the doors shut in his face, when His
Excellency is, so to speak, the tenant--"

"Insolent rascal!" Edwin burst forth. "Did you not hear what the young
lady told you? I've not the honor of your master's acquaintance. But if
he's a gentleman, it cannot be his intention to have a lady insulted by
a boorish lackey!"

The man, with cool impertinence, measured the person who so
unexpectedly addressed him from head to foot.

"And I, sir, have not the honor of your acquaintance," he retorted.
"But as for my conduct, no one but the Herr Count has a right to call
me a boor. There is the letter, and now I can go, as I have done my
errand. I had no idea of insulting the young lady, that would have been
entirely against my orders. But to have the first stranger--"

Edwin involuntarily raised the little weapon he held in his hand, but
the next instant recollected himself. The bellows fell on the floor, he
passed close by the man, opened the drawing room door, and fixing a
firm glance on the suddenly intimidated lackey, exclaimed: "Be off!"

The man lingered an instant longer, then with another bow to Toinette,
slowly retreated.

"I will inform His Excellency," he said on the threshold, "that the
young lady had no time to answer the Herr Count's letters, because she
had gentlemen visitors."

Edwin closed the door behind him. They heard the fellow laugh loudly
and joke with Jean as he went away, as if nothing had happened.

A death-like silence pervaded the little drawing room. The beautiful
girl sat motionless on the sofa, with her eyes fixed upon the fatal
letter, which still lay unopened on the table, and her pale hands
folded in her lap. Edwin stood at the door, his hand still raised in
the threatening gesture with which he had motioned the insolent fellow
to leave the room. Not until he heard the outer door close, did he
suddenly move, as if he had shaken off an incubus, and quietly
approached the silent Toinette.

"Will you have the kindness to explain this scene, Fräulein?"  he asked
in a voice from which every trace of agitation seemed to have vanished.
As she did not immediately reply, he continued:

"May I hope that you will introduce me to this count, who apparently
has some right to compel you to read his letters?"

She was still silent. At last she timidly raised her eyes and gazed at
him beseechingly. The look penetrated to his inmost soul.

"If I beg you to ask me no farther questions, to trust me as before--"

"I should not refuse your request," he answered dejectedly, "but I
should take leave of you at once--never to return."

"And why?"

"Because I do not desire to visit in any house in the capacity of a
guest, without knowing who is the head of it. I do not wish to expose
myself to the possibility of having the master instead of the servant,
appear before me someday, and hearing that it does not suit his
pleasure that you--should receive gentlemen visitors."

She seemed to reflect a moment.

"You're right, my friend," she now answered. "I owe it to you to
explain all this, or rather I owe it to myself. What must you think of
me? But I will not relate this long and sorrowful story to-day, or here
in this place. Besides, your visit has already been greatly prolonged;
it will soon be dark. Come to the gold-fish pond in the Thiergarten,
where the statue stands, at eleven o'clock to-morrow morning. It's very
lonely there then; I've often sat under the trees with a book at that
hour and not see three people pass. In that spot I will tell you all.
If the charm our game of hide and seek has had, vanishes as soon as you
know your friend's very commonplace and prosaic story--you yourself
have willed it to be so. But that you may have a pledge of my sincerity
at once--take this unlucky note away with you and keep it for me until
to-morrow. We will read it together--"

She rose and extended her hand, which, absorbed in gloomy thoughts, he
grasped and held firmly in his own. "I need no pledge," he replied.
"Perhaps it would be best if I--"

"If I should bid you farewell forever," he was going to say. But he had
not the courage to do so. He gazed into her eyes, which were again as
unclouded, nay, which sparkled as brightly as ever, and mechanically he
took the little note she held out to him. Then he bent over her hand
and kissed it--long and passionately; it was the first time he had ever
pressed his lips to her cool, soft fingers.

"To-morrow!" said he. "Keep your promise!"

"And suppose that the skies should fall during the night," she answered
smiling. "But sleep calmly. What I have to say to you, is only worth
knowing because you are still ignorant of it. Oh! my friend, I fear you
will yet regret having destroyed the spell by your question, if from
to-morrow the fairy tale is ended and Cinderella again sits in the
ashes!"



                              CHAPTER III.


When, soon after, Edwin returned home, passed Christiane's door, behind
which he heard loud, eager voices, and climbed the dark stairs, he was
glad that neither Mohr's nor Franzelius' voice could be distinguished
in the "tun." He was longing for an hour alone with his brother, and
therefore the surprise was all the more unwelcome when he found Balder
with his usual companions. Mohr was sitting opposite him before the
chess board, which they had placed on one corner of the turning lathe,
to take advantage of the last fading daylight. He had set a bottle of
Rhine wine--a small stock of which he had stored in the cellar of the
house, that he might not drink at the brothers' expense--on the window
sill, and seemed so absorbed by the wine, the game, and the smoke of
his cigarette, that he scarcely noticed Edwin's entrance. Franzelius
was sitting in the middle of the room astride a chair on whose back he
had clasped his broad hands, and rested his chin, while his gloomy eyes
stared intently at the bust of Demosthenes on the book case. He, too,
scarcely turned his head toward the new comer, and the greeting he
vouchsafed him sounded more like the growl of a watch dog, than any
human tone.

Edwin was no more disposed to talk. He stood behind his brother's chair
a moment, stroked his thick hair several times, and then went to his
desk, where he apparently began to read the newspapers. Once, however,
he turned toward the chess players and said: "It would probably be
better, Heinrich, if you would sacrifice your tobacco, which smells
horribly, on the altar of friendship. The time for open windows is
over, and Balder has already coughed three times."

Mohr instantly opened the window and tossed the cigarette into the
courtyard.

Then all four were silent, until Balder rose saying: "A wooden king
can't be expected to be checkmated more than five times. Besides, it's
a hopeless task to play with you. You're a master of the art."

"Then I _am_ good for something!" laughed Mohr scornfully as he tossed
the little pieces Balder had turned into the box. "Master of an art in
which persons of the least brains are often the greatest virtuosos.
Nay, it is still a question whether a talent for chess is not a sort of
disease, a hypertrophy of the power of conbination. You see, Edwin, I,
for instance--if this organ were in a normal state--should have made
more progress in my play. I plan the finest chess problems through five
acts, and when I afterwards examine them narrowly, they are mere wooden
figures, no living creatures. Basta! I vow not to touch knight or
bishop for a month, until I have arranged my comedy."

He emptied his glass and then slowly poured the remainder of the wine
from the bottle into it. "Good evening, Edwin," said he. "We've not had
the pleasure of seeing you in the 'tun,' for a long time. Even to-day
your thoughts seem to be far away--like our worthy philanthropist's,
who has not spoken ten words since he's been here."

The printer rose from his seat with a violent jerk, passed both hands
through his bushy hair and said: "It's true: I'm perfectly aware that
I've long been a tiresome guest here. Therefore--and for one other
reason--I hope our _feelings_ are still the same--"

"What fancy have you taken into your head now?" said Edwin, still
absorbed in his newspaper.

Balder had limped up to Franzelius and grasped his hand. "I was going
to ask you, Reinhold," he said in an undertone, "to come some day in
the morning; you will then find me alone, and I should like to say
something about your last essay--"

The other turned away. "No," he muttered, "it's better so, wiser to put
an end to this once for all. I'm glad Edwin is here too. I wanted to
say it before, but you were so absorbed in the game: I shall take leave
of you to-day--for an indefinite time--"

"Fools call it forever," quoted Mohr. "What devil has taken possession
of you, Caius Franzelius? Do you want to found a colony of workmen
among the red-skins on the Schultze--Delitz'schen principles? Or are
you going to the Salt Lake of Utah, to disgust the Mormons with their
immortality! Or--stop, now I have it--he can't endure the sight of a
man who drinks Rhine wine, while the camels in the desert of Sahara
often cannot get even muddy water."

The printer seemed about to make some angry reply. Edwin anticipated
him.

"You don't know what you are doing," said he. "If you part from old
friends, you must have some good reasons for doing so, for they are
wares that are not to be bought in every market. It would be kinder,
Franzel, to inform us of these reasons. Who knows whether they're so
well grounded, as you imagine."

"I thank you, Edwin," replied the other in a faltering voice. "I'm glad
it's not a matter of entire indifference to you whether or not our
intercourse is given up, little pleasure as it has afforded during the
last few weeks. As for my reasons--"

"I'm quite ready to forsake this locality, if unrestrained intercourse
is desired," said Mohr quietly, rising.

"There's nothing personal to be said," replied the gloomy visitor. "The
fact that we do not understand each other--unpleasant as it often is to
be the butt of your frivolous jests--could not induce me to remain away
from the 'tun' entirely. The matter is far more serious; to tell the
whole story in a few words: I've decided to publish a newspaper, which
is to acknowledge and defend my principles more plainly and openly than
my fugitive sheets have hitherto done. It is to appear twice a week
under the name of: 'The Tribune of the People.' I thank you for the
nick-name, Mohr, which I have now made a title of honor. The prospectus
will break with the last remnants of superstition and traditional
delusions, and as the rich have good reasons for preserving these
traditions, since they stir up the water in which they want to fish, it
will appeal expressly to the poor and miserable. I have recognized this
as my life task, for which I am ready to make every sacrifice--even the
hardest."

As he uttered these words he looked at Balder, but instantly averted
his eyes and pretended to be searching for his cap.

The brothers were silent, but Mohr went up to him, laid both hands on
his shoulders, and said: "Franzel, although you don't like me, you must
allow me before these witnesses to declare my respect for you. I envy
you such a life task, although I consider it perfect folly. At least
change the title. Your readers will hardly be sufficiently well versed
in Roman history, to distinguish the difference between tribune and
tribunal. Besides, why should we lose the pleasure of your society on
that account? I will even offer to be a coworker: in case you, as I
hope, issue a feuilleton, I should not be disinclined to write a few
brilliant aphorisms--"

"Cease this jesting!" Edwin indignantly interrupted. "Franzel, what
does this mean? Because you're going to establish a newspaper, must we
clasp hands in an eternal farewell? You may do what you cannot leave
undone. Are we our brother's keeper? Or have we hitherto found fault
with all your sayings, to which we could not assent?"

"No," replied the printer, as he thrust his huge hands into his
pockets. "But that's the very reason; you must be as safe in the future
as you have been in the past, so far as it depends upon me.
Unfortunately, I'm only too well aware that we shall no longer agree as
well on many subjects, as we have done hitherto. But I'm determined to
burn my ships; there shall be no more evasions, no half-way measures.
The people at the helm cannot endure them. There will be trouble, they
will use their usual coarse means--arrests, searching of houses,
seizure of papers, watching for conspirators. I do not want to subject
you--for I go nowhere else so often--"

"They can seal up all my papers," said Mohr dryly. "The mediocrity of
talent, to which they all bear culpable witness, is at least not
dangerous to the state. On the contrary, the less genius one possesses,
the more useful he is as a tax-paying individual, a sheep in the
flock."

Franzelius seized his cap.

"You will do us no harm," said Balder. "Let us take the risk. What
could they find here? As I know Edwin--"

"I too would see them enter with the greatest composure," observed
Edwin smiling. "No, Franzel, your fears are visionary so far as we are
concerned. Can you not, in case of necessity, even swear that I have no
tendencies toward socialism, but on the contrary am an incorrigible
aristocrat, for which you have often reproached me?"

"And if they question you about your catechism, will you deny it? Will
you deny that our principles are the same, and that we only differ in
opinion as to whether the times are yet fully ripe for them? You are
silent; now you see--"

"Scientific convictions are somewhat different from public speaking,
and the police, thank God, no longer meddle with the freedom of thought
of a private tutor of philosophy. But since we have come to this
point--once more and, as it seems, for the last time: do you take me
for a coward, Franzel?"

"You! How can you even--"

"Or do you not believe that I would be drawn and quartered, rather than
deny my convictions? Well then, if you think me a man of whose
friendship you have no cause to be ashamed, let me tell you this: what
you are about to do, appears to me little more judicious, than if you
wanted to set before an infant that had not yet cut its teeth, a roast
chicken instead of its mother's milk or some of Liebig's preparations,
with which it had hitherto appeased its hunger. If any one attempted to
do that to my child, I should certainly forbid him the house, or at
least endeavor to make his premature diet harmless."

"You talk so, because you don't know the people," Franzelius burst
forth, "They are no longer children, their teeth are cut, and their
eyes open; where this is not the case, we will help them, offer hard
food that they may cut their teeth on it, instead of cooking the
traditional children's porridge, perpetually lulling them to sleep with
baby talk, when they are grown men, and the leading strings of
guardians--"

"Don't get angry unnecessarily!" Edwin interrupted. "Who of us wishes
to check the natural growth of the mind, instead of aiding it according
to its powers? But what you have in view, is a forced, premature
culture, your demagogical enthusiasm is a hot house, and that is why I
repeat: make no useless sacrifices, which must not only ruin yourself,
but many of your foster children. You cannot carve an Apollo from every
block of wood; not every one who ties on a leather apron and earns his
bread by the sweat of his brow, will be able to grasp the idea of the
fall of man which a follower of Kant or Spinoza can form. Why, when
there are so many crying wants of a coarser nature to be satisfied, do
you desire to create needs for our less gifted brothers? Why show them
what they lack, when, after they have with difficulty learned to feel
their needs, you can only give them such very doubtful assistance? You
aim to produce an artificial thirst, and then all you can offer them to
assuage it, is a pear; for the fountains that flow for us, will, as
matters now appear, long remain sealed to them."

"Edwin is right!" exclaimed Mohr, speaking for the first time without
his sarcastic curl of the lip. "The people are asleep, dreaming all
sorts of things, and Franzelius Gracchus goes about like Macbeth, and
murders sleep. I've never understood how anybody can be so inhuman as
to rouse a person who is slumbering. But that's the preaching of these
humanitarians! You're just as selfish as the priests. For the sake of
making the people see, you drum them out of bed at three o'clock in the
morning."

"And suppose they are grateful to us for it? Suppose a nightmare has
oppressed or bad dreams tormented them?" exclaimed the printer
vehemently. "And that's just the case with the people. Their sleep
under the night cap of superstition is no longer so sound and
refreshing as it was a hundred years ago. All sorts of voices have
startled them, and now they are slumbering in the dusk of morning and
do not know whether it is time to rise. But why do I talk of this to
you? You don't understand the times, you've never felt the pulse throbs
of humanity stir your heart, with all your knowledge and good,
intentions, you're--"

"Say no more, Franzel," whispered Balder. "You're excited; why should
we utter angry words in the parting hour,--if you really intend to take
leave of us? That we shall meet again, and before much time has passed,
I'm perfectly sure."

"You--I will never lose you!" murmured the deeply agitated enthusiast,
in a tone audible only to Balder. "You're right," he added aloud. "It's
sad enough to feel that our paths must diverge. We should not make the
inevitable unnecessarily difficult. Farewell, Edwin. I could almost
envy you the power of keeping to yourself what you consider an
intellectual possession; for to be sure, 'he who is foolish enough not
to guard his own heart'--but--it's useless: _alus inserviendo
consumor_. Adieu, Mohr. With you--"

He was about to add something, but thought better of it and left the
room. On reaching the entry he paused a moment, as if waiting for some
one. He was not disappointed. Balder followed him, on the pretext that
he had something more to say. But he only pressed his hand in silence,
then threw his arms around his neck, hastily released him again, and
Franzelius stumbled down the stairs, like a man whose head is heavy or
whose eyes are closed.

"He's obeying his evil genius!" said Edwin, shaking his head. "I've
seen the fit coming and vainly endeavored to stay it. But water will
flow down hill."

[Illustration: Balder's farewell to Franzelius in the stairwell.]

"It will soon come to a level and remain stagnant for some time,"
muttered Mohr. "I'm sorry for the poor fellow! Believe me, Edwin, it
was always disagreeable to me to be continually compelled to make fun
of him. At heart I not only respected, but liked him. He has exactly
what I lack, and because he is not ambitious of distinction, he is
indifferent to his own worth. He takes himself just as he is--I believe
if he thought he was a superior person liable to be admired in society,
he would indignantly ostracise himself."

Balder re-entered the room and they talked of other things; Mohr
inquired about the private lessons Edwin was giving the young
hedge-princess, as Leah was called in the "tun." But Edwin, whose
thoughts were entirely engrossed with the confession his mysterious
friend had promised to make on the morrow, gave very absent replies: he
was explaining the history of philosophy from his own books. He told
her without any oratorical flourishes, how the secret of the universe
had been differently reflected in various human brains, how thoughtful
minds had endeavored to interpret it and expressed the inexpressible in
formulas more and more profound. "I have now come to ideology," he
concluded, "which to one who possesses so deep an intellect as this
girl, can afford a great deal of pleasure, and be comprehended without
much difficulty. I'm amazed to see what progress she makes in
Aristotle. Yet, after all, it only confirms the proposition that where
a real need exists, the organs for it are formed, as the feeling of
hunger always asserts itself when a creature possesses a stomach. It's
a pleasure to see this girl listen. She has long languished for
knowledge, now she fairly revives like a thirsty plant in the summer
rain."

"Congratulate the Frau Doctorin," laughed Mohr.

The brothers' eyes involuntarily met.

"We're now just coming to Plato," Edwin forced himself to answer in a
jesting tone. "Whether my pupil, in spite of her studies of hedges and
lagunes, has sufficiently elevated thoughts to develop a taste for our
'tun' philosophy, I greatly doubt."

Meantime Franzelius, walking slowly down stairs, as if every step cost
him a fresh resolution, had just reached the front of the house. When
he came to the glass door that led into the shop, he suddenly stopped.

In the chair behind the show window, where Madame Feyertag was usually
enthroned, sat Reginchen. It was already very dark in this corner, for
the gas in the shop was usually not lighted in summer, and September,
according to the Feyertag calendar, belonged to the summer months; yet
notwithstanding this, the printer had perceived at the first glance who
it was that sat in the corner knitting a stocking.

He seemed to struggle with himself a moment, then softly opened the
door and with a: "Good evening, Fräulein Reginchen!" entered the shop.

"Oh! dear, how you frightened me!" cried the young girl, starting from
her seat.

"I beg your pardon," stammered Franzelius, "I ought to have knocked.
But I have so many things to think of--sit still, Fraulein Reginchen,
I--I only wanted--I came--"

He clutched his cap convulsively in one hand, and was brushing the brim
with his elbow.

"My mother has gone out," said Reginchen, to make a little
conversation. "But father is still in the work room. If you want to
speak to him--"

"Oh no--but allow me--" He picked up the knitting she had dropped, but
in so doing let his cap fall, and as she now stooped for it, their
heads came in contact somewhat violently. He blushed crimson, but she
burst into a merry laugh.

"That's owing to the short days," said she. "But father is anxious to
save the gas. I drop so many stitches!"

Then both were silent again.

At last the printer, pausing before the case of ladies' shoes and
gazing into it as intently, as if he were endeavoring to count each
individual pair, said:

"You're fortunate, Fräulein Reginchen. You can stay in this house. I--I
must--from to-day I shall--"

"Are you going away on a journey, Herr Franzelius?"

"No, Fräulein Reginchen, or rather yes!--it amounts to the same thing.
I--I'm glad I've met you--I should like--I didn't want to leave without
a farewell--"

"Are you going away for long?"

"No one can tell--perhaps I shall never return. Fräulein Reginchen, I
cannot hope--you know I--I have always revered you--"

She laughed again in her merry childish way; but if the shop had not
been so dark and he had looked at her, he would probably have noticed
the deep blush that suffused her face. "Oh gracious!" she exclaimed.
"Revered! No one ever did that before. A stupid creature like me, who
can't do anything and doesn't understand anything, as mother tells me
every day--"

"You don't know your own worth, Reginchen, and that's the best proof of
it--I mean that it's no false worth. But excuse me for telling you this
so bluntly: It's the first--and last time. And of course you--if I
don't come back--will never give me another thought."

The prudent child seemed to know that silence is sometimes the best
answer. She coughed several times, and then said: "Where are you
going?"

"Wherever the winds and waves carry me!" he replied with sorrowful
pathos, and then paced heavily up and down the shop.

"So you're going to sea! Dear me, how frightened I should be! Do you
know, Herr Franzelius, I shall tremble every time that the east wind
blows and the window panes rattle and the gas lights flicker--and
you'll be on the angry sea--"

"Will you really do that, Fräulein Reginchen?" he asked hastily,
pausing before her. "If you were in earnest--but no, why should you
give yourself useless anxiety about a man who can never--to be sure,
I--it will be a real cordial on my journey--and I wanted to say
something else: I should like to take a keepsake to remember you and
this hour."

"A keepsake?"--she involuntarily glanced at her knitting work, at which
he too was looking intently. "I'm just at the heel," she said, "and I
suppose you'll not wait till it's done."

"No, Fräulein Reginchen," he replied, "don't think me so presuming as
to ask for such a gift--your own handiwork--so unceremoniously. But--if
I could find any of your father's work--but I've an ugly foot, which is
hard to fit with ready made boots--"

"I could take your measure."

"Yes, you might do that; but no, Reginchen, in the first place I would
not accept such a service from you--"

"I would do it willingly, besides, I'm accustomed to it."

"No, no! A creature like you, and such an unlucky mortal as I--but if I
could find a pair already made--"

He looked around the walls, sighed, passed his hand through his hair,
seemingly endeavoring to avoid her glance.

"You have not the smallest foot in the world," said the girl, looking
at his coarse boots with the eye of an connoisseur. "If it were only as
long in proportion as it's wide. But it's so short beyond the instep,
it would be hard--"

"Won't it? Two elephants' feet!" said the printer laughing bitterly.
"We men of the people, who don't tread as often as we're trodden upon,
didn't need to have such big feet. But it's no matter. Who knows when
our turn will come. Well, Fräulein Reginchen, if you can't--"

"Wait," she exclaimed, starting up and opening the show window, "I
think I can find something for you; that is, if you can use jack-boots.
But as you're going to sea--"

--"At least through fire and water.--Show me the jack-boots, Fraulein
Reginchen."

He sat down on a low stool and watched her, as she nimbly leaned
forward into the show window, dislodged with considerable difficulty
two huge boots paraded there as models, and placed them in the shop.
During this operation he again sighed, as if suffering. While, assisted
by Reginchen, he tried on the boots, which fitted admirably, that is
were much too large, he did not utter a syllable; but when with his
feet cased in the huge polished coverings he stood before her as if
rooted to the floor, he drew out his blue checked pocket handkerchief,
wiped his forehead, and slowly replacing it, said: "Ask your father to
send me the bill with the old boots. And now, Fraulein Reginchen, one
thing more: take care of my friends up stairs as before--especially
Balder. He--perhaps you don't know it--won't live to be very old; at
least while he is here, let him know only love and kindness--"

He turned away because his voice failed, and furtively wiped his eyes
with his cap.

"Good Heavens!" cried the young girl in terror, "what are you saying?
Herr Walter--"

"Hush!" replied Franzelius putting his broad fore-finger on his lip.
"You're a kind hearted, sensible girl--you'll keep it to yourself Oh!
Fraulein Reginchen, if it were not for that, if it were not for many
things--of which you have no suspicion--Heaven knows I--I would make no
secret of my feelings, and tell you--but no! Love him, Reginchen, as
much as you can. Will it be hard for you to love Balder?"

Again she made no reply. The question seemed to her a dangerous one. He
was looking at her with a strange expression of anxiety and love;
suddenly he caught both her hands in his huge palm, clasped them so
closely that she with difficulty restrained a cry of terror, and burst
forth: "If there is such a thing as an angel, you are one. Farewell.
Think--forget--you have never had a better friend than I! I only wanted
to bid you farewell--Fraulein Reginchen!"

He tore himself away and tramped out of the shop in his gigantic boots
as hastily as if he feared to remain longer, lest spite of these firm
pillars, he might lose his centre of gravity and fall at the feet of
the shoemaker's little daughter.

Reginchen looked after him through the show window. Often as she had
laughed at him, she could not do so to-day, she was much more ready to
cry. No one had ever spoken to her so before. She had longed perceived
that he liked her, and even prided herself a little upon that fact,
because she thought he must be unusually learned, as he was always
occupied in printing. But that he "revered" her, that he thought her
almost an angel--! And what did he mean in speaking so about Herr
Walter?

She sat down again in her chair in the corner. "I'll commence to-night
to knit a pair of stockings for him to take on his journey," she
thought. "If only I can get them done! His feet are so awfully big."



                              CHAPTER IV.


About the same hour Lorinser was sitting on the little leather sofa in
Christiane's room, with his knees half drawn up on the seat, and his
long arms stretched along the back, like a person who is making himself
comfortable, because he does not intend to go very soon. Although it
was already so dark that faces could scarcely be distinguished, no lamp
stood on the little table. But from one of the windows in the front of
the house gleamed a faint light, which frequently moved and fell upon
the pale face of the man on the sofa, revealing the expression of eager
expectation stamped upon the strongly marked features. Whenever the
light flitted over Lorinser's countenance, the strange smile appeared
on the mobile lips, and he lowered the eyes, which so long as it
remained dark, followed every movement of the woman who, with her arms
folded across her breast as usual, was pacing up and down the room.

Suddenly she paused at the window, opened it a moment gasping for
breath, and then turned toward the silent man on the sofa.

"How people forget the flight of time when they are talking," she said.
"I see it has grown dark. Excuse me, Herr Candidat, my hours are so
regularly apportioned--"

"You wish to send me away, Fräulein Christiane," he said making no
preparation to move from his comfortable position. "I have really
forgotten the true cause of my visit, in your musical revelations,
which have afforded me a glimpse of depths hitherto unsuspected. So
what answer can I give the baroness?"

"Is any positive answer required?"  she said. "Why should I have told
you how I prize music, except to explain that I will never become a
drawing room teacher, that I would rather starve than share in the
universal sin of the jingling, bungling profanation of what I hold
sacred?"

"And yet you do not disdain to give lessons to a soubrette?"

"How do you know?"

"Because--well, because I've enquired about you. I must be able to
answer for a person whom I recommend to houses like that of the
baroness."

"Very well. I will tell you why I take this frivolous creature; from a
motive which will be perfectly obvious to you, as you too are
interested in home missions:--to save a soul."

"You want to transform this stage princess, who has already passed
through so many hands, into a saint? You're jesting."

Christiane laughed, a short, hollow laugh, utterly destitute of mirth.

"What do you take me for?" she asked. "To make a person something which
I myself neither am nor desire to be! And what has her mode of life to
do with me? I'm willing to allow everybody to be happy in their own
way. What I call saving her soul, is giving her an idea of true music.
The girl has the most enviable talents, voice, ear, passion, the
genuine, the natural musical sympathy, which in all such compositions
instantly opens to her the real meaning of the author or the part, so
that she not only repeats the notes, but reproduces the whole meaning
to the life. This is rare, even among those who consider themselves
great artists, and are paid as such. And that's why this stage princess
as you choose to call her, is too high for Offenbach, and, indeed,
perfectly capable of interpreting Mozart and the other great masters."

"And if you succeed, do you really believe that this rescued soul will
be made any happier?"

"Who can tell? I merely do what lies in my power. Happy! If music alone
could give happiness, few would possess such joy as mine. But it's only
a substitute, perhaps the most powerful and noble, but not the real
thing, not happiness itself. Of that I'm perfectly sure; I've had time
to experience it."

"And what do you consider real happiness?"

She was silent a moment, not as if it were difficult to answer, but as
if considering whether she owed the questioner any reply.

Then in a tone of cold resignation she said suddenly:

"Real happiness? I only know because I have never tasted it. Real
happiness can be nothing but to sacrifice ourselves without losing
ourselves, because we find ourselves again in something better than we
are; to forget self in another, without fear of being ashamed of it,
because that other at the same moment is thinking only of what we
ourselves forget. You'll not understand me, and no matter if you don't.
I'll light the lamp."

"You speak of love," he said quietly. "I understand you, because the
same happiness you hope to find in earthly love, opens before us
children of God in the bliss of eternity. Did I not tell you just now,
that you must forget yourself to find yourself again in God, that there
was no other redemption? Now you come to meet me half way."

"But I shall never be able to traverse the other half," she said
bitterly. "Pray don't let us recur to that conversation. Once
more--it's late. I've work to do."

Still he did not move from his crouching position on the sofa.

"Don't be narrow-minded," he said quietly. "It doesn't suit you. You
have a larger nature than ordinary women; what's the use of these half
allusions, this shame-faced, prudish reserve, where the point in
question is the happiness of your life? If I could only really help
you?"

"You? No one can help me."

"Except God, and he who leads you to Him."

"I do not understand you. Have I not told you plainly enough, that I
feel no longing for your God and his pardoning grace? All I can do for
him, is not to hate him; though he has placed me in this world as I
am."

"As you are? And how are you?"

"You've just said it yourself: I'm no ordinary woman. I don't know what
could be more sad for a girl. And really: ever since the tale of a dear
God became improbable, ever since it dawned upon me that we poor human
animals only move about in the great throng of creation and have no
more claim to any special tenderness, than the thistles in the field,
which the donkey gnaws, or the donkey that the miller's boy cudgels,
I've become somewhat calmer. No one is to blame because I'm a joyless,
ugly, lonely woman, with a man's face, except perhaps my parents, who
died long ago and couldn't atone for it; the good people certainly did
not know what they were doing, when they gave _me_ life."

She poured forth these words in harsh, scornful tones, as one relates
something that has long angered one, busying herself, while so doing,
in lighting the little lamp with the green shade which she now placed
on the table.

"I think you've heard enough," she added dryly. "You're now convinced,
Herr Candidat, that such a mangy sheep would make a poor figure among
the gentle flock you lead to pasture, so I beg you in the future not to
trouble yourself about my temporal and eternal welfare."

"Certainly I have heard enough," answered Lorinser opening his eyes so
suddenly upon her, that the metallic lustre of the whites, subdued by
the green lamp light, seemed ghostly, "though you have really told me
nothing more, than I knew at the first glance. You're mistaken if you
think such confessions are new to me or repel me. They always proceed
from an exceptionally powerful nature, and grace can work only where
there is strength. Gentle, unselfish souls have nothing to oppose and
so nothing to gain. But since I have fully understood your nature, it
would be of great value if you would trust me sufficiently to disclose
the external circumstances among which you have become--no, have
remained, what you were from the beginning; I mean, your history, the
events of your life."

"My history?"--she laughed. "I have none, or what I have has already
been told you. My face is my history, my heavy eye-brows and the
shadow on my upper lip are my destiny. My father happened to look as I
do, and was considered a stately, interesting man. But I should have
been wiser to choose the face of my mother, who was by no means filmed
for her beauty, but must have been exactly what I am not, a thorough
woman. At least she made all sorts of innocent conquests. I, on the
contrary, though I was neither stupid nor had unwomanly manners--I
mean when I was a young girl; for I now go about boldly, like an old
student--although my talents early attracted attention among my
father's colleagues--he was one of the court musicians,--never made a
conquest in all my life. That is, I might have married two or three
times; but it was for very different reasons than love. One wanted to
give concerts with me, another, who was an elderly man and tired of his
bachelor life, needed a housekeeper, and that she should be ill-favored
he rather preferred than otherwise. He thought he would be all the more
sure of her faithfulness and self-sacrificing gratitude, in return for
his making her a married woman. The third--but why should I tell you
these disgusting tales, which at first deeply humiliated me. And though
I might have learned from them what my mirror had not then taught me, I
was mad enough always to select as the objects of my secret adoration,
the handsomest, most agreeable, and most admired men, who never cast a
glance at me. I had artist's blood in my veins, I could not help being
filled with enthusiasm about everything that was lovable, charming, and
distinguished, even if my heart should burst in consequence. But now I
have reached my thirty-fourth year; youth with its foolish desires for
love-sorrows, yearnings, anxieties, and honey that turns to gall, may
well have raved itself calm. Do you wish to know more of my story? I am
very sorry; but unfortunately I have nothing to tell of love
adventures, broken vows, wanderings from the path of virtue.
Unfortunately, I say. They would have made a change in the dreary grey
of my days and years, a few blood red spots, a stain effaced with
thousands of tears. Instead of that, I'm an old maid in the fullest
sense of the word, and your 'magic of sin' has no power over my
beggarly pride. Can you even imagine a bright, interesting, exciting
romance with such a frontispiece?"--She suddenly removed the green
shade and raised the little lamp to her face, which she turned full
upon him in the bright glare.

"That's a matter of taste," he replied without the slightest change of
countenance. "For instance, I for my part have always preferred faces
full of character to smooth, meaningless ones, which might nevertheless
be considered very charming, pretty, and attractive. Superficial
sweetness nauseates me. To feel strength, bitterness, even icy scorn
and hatred melt in the glow of passion, always seemed to me more
desirable than the sentimental fusion of two harmonious souls. The
woman who is to attract me, must have something of the devil in her.
Put down the lamp Fräulein Christiane. It is illuminating charms which
under some circumstances might become dangerous, and as I am at present
entirely indifferent to you--"

At this moment the bell was violently pulled.

"Thanks for the interruption," said Christiane in a subdued tone, that
the person outside might not hear; "I should have given you an answer,
which perhaps would have seemed altogether too unwomanly. Now I shall
dismiss you without ceremony, and indeed--"

The bell rang again. Lorinser had put his feet on the floor, but did
not seem inclined to leave his corner.

She looked at him with a glance of indescribable astonishment and
anger, then took the lamp and went into the ante-room to open the door.

Mohr was standing outside; his face was deeply flushed, and his eyes,
as soon as the door opened, strove with a keen, intent gaze, to pierce
the darkness within; but his manner was perfectly unembarrassed, almost
formal.

"I beg a thousand pardons, Fräulein," he said, "for having knocked at
your door a second time at so unseasonable an hour, but if I violate
ceremony, to an artist my errand will plead my excuse. I only beg
fifteen minutes conversation;--Have you a visitor?" he continued, as he
suddenly perceived the figure of a man in the adjoining room. "So much
the better, that will prevent all thought of indecorum. Will you allow
me to enter? There's a disagreeable draught on these stairs. Or shall I
interrupt you?"

"Not in the least," replied Christiane, with a very gloomy expression,
as she slightly bent her head. "To be sure I've not the honor of your
acquaintance--"

"As a friend of your fellow lodgers up stairs, I thought I had a sort
of right to introduce myself to you. A short time ago, in a merry mood,
I made an unsuccessful attempt to do so, though my friend Edwin tried
to prevent me. You cannot have condemned it so severely as I did
myself, so soon as I came to my senses."

"I have no recollection, sir--"

"So much the better. It was quite dark in the entry. Today, by the lamp
light, permit me to introduce myself to you: plain Heinrich Mohr; I
scorned to buy a doctor's title. A man usually who has nothing to make
him must have some distinction."

"Will you be kind enough to inform me--"

She was still standing in the ante-room with the lamp in her hand, as
if she wished to get rid of him as quickly as possible, while he from
time to time cast eager glances into the sitting room.

"I will come to the point at once," said he leaning against a chest of
drawers which stood near the door. "What I have to propose, is no
secret and requires no privacy. Unfortunately, it is tolerably well
known to all who are aware of my existence--but will you not sit down,
Fraulein? To stand so--" He made a movement toward the door of the
sitting room.

"Thank you. I'm not tired."

"Nor I. So to proceed: I'm unfortunately endowed with all sorts of
mediocre talents. One would be enough to make a man who is no fool, but
possesses a critical judgment, thoroughly unhappy. In the arts bungling
even is worse than in medicine. What does it matter if a few men die
more or less? But to corrupt or lower the standard of art, is a sin
against the divinity of genius. Don't you think so too, Fraulein?"

She looked at him intently, without opening her lips.

"But," he continued, "there's a false modesty too. Many a great man
would never have believed in his own talents, if kind friends had not
discovered them. Other gifts are, as it were, trampled under foot in
the crowd, through malice and envy--men are very envious, Fraulein,
Germans especially. I allude of course to the common envy of trade,
which is no more allied to the ideal, high-souled envy, than a
toad-stool is to a truffle--in short it's not easy for every man to
know what's in him. My eyes have gradually been opened to the fact that
my talent for rhyming amounts to nothing. But music, music! I play the
piano very poorly and my voice is like a raven's; but in regard to the
gift of composition, it always seems to me that I can compare very
favorably with the shallow composers of waltzes, or writers of street
songs. As for yourself, Fräulein--pardon me for having listened to
your playing; you confided your musical confessions to the quiet
courtyard--I--I have the deepest reverence for your talent--for--how
shall I express it?--for the strong nature expressed in your style of
playing. Now you see--I have just finished--for a long time I have been
engaged on a great composition, which I have sometimes called--it's
only a fancy, or rather a bad joke--my _sinfonia ironica_. You
understand: so far, none of it has been written out, but in my head
everything is as good as ready for the press--except the
instrumentation. Musicians to whom I've now and then played parts of
it, have usually been bigoted adherents of some particular school. I
must confess that I gave none of them credit for really entering into
the spirit of the work. With you the case is wholly different. I would
wager, that if you would only give me an hour--"

"Sir," she interrupted, "you over-estimate my knowledge and judgment. I
sincerely regret--"

"Pray do me the favor, Fräulein, not to condemn me unheard. I ask
nothing more than that you will listen to the first few bars, where the
irony is still in the stage of oppression and grief--C. minor, which
afterwards changes into F.--"

"I've never been able to understand the so-called language of music,"
she answered curtly. "So it would be better--"

"Do you dislike the title? Very well! I'll give it up. It shall merely
be absolute music, like any other. I'll submit to hear Wagner all the
days of my life, intensified one day in the week by Offenbach, if the
first bars do not prove that the rest is at least worth hearing. You
_must_ allow me to play the introduction on your piano--"

He did not wait for her permission, but hastily entered the sitting
room, so that there was nothing left her but to follow with the lamp.

Lorinser was still sitting in the sofa corner. His eyes were fixed on
the ceiling and he seemed so lost in thought that he did not notice the
new comers.

Christiane set the lamp heavily on the table, as if she wished to rouse
him by the rattling of the shade.

"Allow me to introduce you to each other, gentlemen," she said coldly.
"Herr--what is your name?"

"Heinrich Mohr, Fräulein. A name hitherto very obscure, but which you
will perhaps help to some moderate distinction. But an introduction is
scarcely necessary. I already have the honor of knowing that
gentleman."

Lorinser fixed his piercing eyes on the other's face and then
carelessly replied: "I didn't know I had the pleasure of your
acquaintance before."

"That's a matter of course," replied Mohr, approaching the little table
and raising the shade from the lamp. "The acquaintance has hitherto
been entirely on my side. Besides, with the exception of a casual
meeting in the entry, it's still very recent; it dates from last
night."

Lorinser rose. He seemed to find the full glare of the lamp
objectionable.

"Last night," said he. "You must be mistaken."

"My dear sir," replied Mohr with eager courtesy, "he who possesses so
marked a face as yours, may be certain that no one will ever mistake
his physiognomy, though to be sure, I only saw it for about five
minutes through a window on the ground floor."

"Sir, allow me--"

"But I'll take my oath before a magistrate, that it was you whom I saw
in very lively society--it was a house in König's stadt--you'll
recollect. You must know, Fraulein, that I'm still poet enough to
prefer night to day. I usually wander aimlessly about the streets till
after midnight; to be sure one doesn't always see the brightest side of
men, but if you wish to know them thoroughly--and they are so
incautious! They fancy if the curtains are down, they can show their
weaknesses great and small in secret. As if there were not chinks and
cracks in blinds and curtains, and one tiny insignificant little hole
was not enough to afford a view of a whole room, as a single word often
gives a glimpse of the inmost depths of hypocritical souls."

"An extremely poetical fancy, to peep through curtains," Lorinser
remarked, seizing his hat. "Unfortunately this time you've made a
mistake in the person, as I could prove, if it were worth while to take
the trouble, or the lady could by any possibility be interested in it.
Meantime, as you are about to occupy yourselves with musical exercises
my presence is superfluous--"

He bowed to Christiane and walked toward the door.

She turned to Mohr, who was watching Lorinser with a mischievous
glance.

"I must request you to excuse me to-day," said she. "If your ironical
symphony is anything more than a jest--you will always find me at home
in the morning, between twelve and one o'clock."

Mohr did not make the slightest attempt to request a short respite for
himself and his composition. The musical object of his visit seemed to
have entirely escaped his attention, for his eyes were sparkling with
delight at the thought of having driven Lorinser from his sofa corner.
He took a cordial but respectful leave of Christiane, and followed the
Herr Candidat, who silently walked out into the entry.

On the stairs they passed; Lorinser seemed to wish to give Mohr the
precedence. "Pray go on," said Mohr in the most cordial tone, "I'm
perfectly at home here. But perhaps you may prefer not to come up these
steep stairs too often. You might get hurt. The house where I saw you
yesterday is better lighted at any rate."

Lorinser half turned and said in a tone of suppressed fury: "You're
very much mistaken, sir, if you expect to intimidate me by such paltry
expedients. I deny having any knowledge of the place where you pretend
to have seen me; but I suspect from the tone you assume, that the
company was by no means the best. Well I confess, that for a man who,
in a lady's presence, denounces another and tries to represent him as a
person who visits bad houses--for such a spiteful and slanderous spy, I
repeat I've no feeling but profound contempt."

"Thank you," replied Mohr dryly. "If you had assured me of your esteem,
I should have taken it more to heart. Besides, my worthy friend in the
dark, I shall throw a little light on your path, should you show any
disposition to continue your visits to this lady, whom you already know
quite too well; I should be forced to speak still more plainly. I don't
see why I am to withhold my information against an individual of your
stamp, who visits workmen's societies for the purpose of denouncing to
the police any speaker that may not happen to suit him. I have the
honor to wish you a good night."

He raised his hat with mock respect and pointed out the path across the
courtyard, but did not follow, until the stealthy steps of Lorinser,
who in helpless rage could only exclaim, "we shall meet again," had
died away in the hall leading through the front of the house. Then he
looked up at Christiane's lighted windows. "This time at least I did no
half way work!" he said in a well satisfied tone. "She will thank me
for it some day. That singular woman is a whole-hearted creature."

If he could only have seen what the object or his adoration was doing
in her lonely room! After the two men went out, she had hastily, as if
to re-consecrate a sanctuary that had been profaned by evil spirits,
taken from her bureau a small carved frame containing a photograph, and
placed it like an altar picture on the table, so that it was brightly
illumined by the lamp. Then she drew up a chair, sat down before it,
and gazed at it in silent devotion. But her stooping posture becoming
uncomfortable at last, she glided down from the chair upon the floor,
and knelt, with her chin resting on the table and her eyes fixed with
enthusiastic fervor on the little card. The pictured face gazed quietly
into vacancy seeming to deprecate homage, and it bore the familiar
features of--our Edwin.



                               CHAPTER V.


The following day was cloudy and dismal. When at the appointed hour
Edwin arrived at the Thiergarten, he found it completely deserted. The
autumn rain was trickling drearily down, the trees, which had hitherto
still retained something of their summer aspect, now hung their heads
and seemed to realize that the sunny illusion could no more be retained
than their yellow leaves which were beaten down by the rain drops. Very
dreary looked the gold-fish pond, its surface bestrewn with withered
foliage, through which here and there a spot of deeper crimson
betokened the presence of some fish that snapped at a water-fly and
then indignantly retreated to the bottom again. Even the statue of
Venus looked as mournful in the falling rain as if she were reflecting
with horror that the time would soon come when a mantle of snow would
rest on her bare shoulders, and a crow, pecking at her diadem, scream
the harsh song of the Northern winter into her ear.

"She will not come," Edwin said to himself, after pacing up and down
once or twice under his umbrella. "The weather is too disagreeable.
Besides, perhaps she knows the contents of the Count's letter only too
well, and it was merely a gentle way of getting rid of me. Then--what
am I to do then. Did she expect me in that case, to open the letter and
read what she could not tell me?"--He drew the note from his pocket and
again glanced at the address: "'Mademoiselle Antoinette Marchand.' No,
if she does not come, has not the courage to come--the fish yonder
shall keep the secret."

At this moment a carriage rolled along the avenue and stopped before
the open space at the end of the pond. The striped waistcoat swung
himself down from the box, and out sprang the beautiful girl, wrapped
in a long black silk cloak, with the hood drawn over her head like a
nun, looking, with her sparkling eyes and slightly flushed cheeks, more
lovely than ever. She nodded to Edwin from the distance and smiled so
frankly that all his doubts suddenly vanished, and he secretly begged
her pardon for them.

"I've kept you waiting," she said, as she hung lightly on his arm. "But
my coachman made _me_ wait. I suppose he did not think the weather
suitable for driving. However, I am here now, and it's all the better
that it rains; no one will disturb us; I shall not be interrupted in my
confession and my 'wise friend's' moralizing and head-shaking will have
no hindrance."

"Have I ever shown a decided inclination that way?"

"No, but I fear when you know me better--! True, it is said: 'that
which can be comprehended can be forgiven.' But how are you to
understand me? Hitherto you have taken me for heaven knows who, at any
rate, for some very peculiar person, with good reasons for keeping her
incognito. Now when you learn how simply everything can be explained,
won't you think it your duty to guide me back to the paths of wisdom
and self-sacrifice, which will lead me straight to an early grave? If I
had not seen this conclusion foreshadowed so plainly, how gladly I'd
have told you long ago what you're now to hear for the first time!"

"Try me and see whether I'm not less stern than my vocation," he forced
himself to reply in a jesting tone. "I, like you, am no adept in
self-denial, where I feel that I have to assert a natural right, and
therefore I lack the first requisites of a moralist. What a foolish awe
you have of a poor private tutor! I know professors of philosophy who
have done the most absurd things."

"No, no, no!" she said earnestly, gazing down at the wet gravel, over
which she was lightly walking. "You don't understand it. You and I are
made of very different material. Can you understand why the little fish
are better off down in that dark water, than if you bade them to the
most luxurious couch of lilies and rose leaves? Every creature lives in
its own element, and perishes in an alien one. Don't you see, that I
too can philosophize?"

She paused, and for some time walked thoughtfully beside him, while the
solemn boy following some twenty paces behind under a large umbrella,
trod carefully in the dainty footprints made by his young mistress. The
carriage waited in the avenue beyond.

At last she paused a moment, looked him full in the face with a
mischievous expression in her large dark eyes, and said: "Before I
betray to whom you have given your arm, Won't you tell me what you have
taken me for?"

"I would not hesitate a moment," he answered smiling, "but indeed you
wrong me. Because I have confessed myself a philosopher, you believe me
foolish enough always to fancy things different from what they appear.
Thank God, I understand my own interests better. I'm glad when I
encounter something which banishes thought, and allows me to dream, as
when I listen to beautiful music, enjoy a spring day, or the fragrance
of clusters of roses. My thoughts--why should I deny it?--have been
very much engrossed by you, perhaps more than was well. But the idea of
imputing any blame to you has never occurred to me."

She laughed. "You're only evading the question. But no matter what good
or evil qualities you have attributed to me: I am neither an
aristocratic lady, nor an adventuress, but the very prosaic child of
'poor but honest parents.' Do you remember, in your boyhood, hearing of
a ballet dancer on the Berlin stage called Marchand? But how should
you? My father--he was a Frenchman--was still in the prime of life,
when he had an unlucky fall from a flying trapeze, which forever shut
him out from the field of his art, with all its joys and honors. He
took this so much to heart, that he never wished to see or hear of the
theatre, and voluntarily retired into exile in a miserable little abode
in the Mark. Here he married my mother, and had three daughters beside
the oldest, myself. One died young, but the two others married worthy
burghers and became happy wives. Things did not prosper so well with me
unfortunately. I never was like the others, and my good mother had a
great deal of trouble with me. Perhaps she'd have been more successful
in teaching me if she'd shown me more love, but though possessing the
kindest heart in the world, she was always cold, stern and formal to
me, and as my father only spoiled me the more, you can imagine what
sort of training I received. I once heard it whispered that I was not
my mother's child. But although in such a small place nothing remains a
secret, and everybody knows his neighbors' business by heart, I never
discovered what was meant by the hasty words, and almost believe it was
only said in explanation of my mother's coldness, which was noticed
even by strangers. Perhaps she was jealous of the love my father
lavished upon me; for her aversion increased with years, in exact
proportion as I grew prettier and my father petted me more. Besides,
none of my sisters were like me. You ought to have known my father, in
order to be able to understand and forgive him for idolizing me. When a
very young man, he had gone through the best dancing school in Paris,
and the impressions made by the last brilliant days of the Empire never
left him. He always wore pumps and a white cravat, and when he felt
particularly happy, told us tales of Paris, the entertainments he had
witnessed at court--of course only from a corner of the gallery--the
duchesses and marquises to whom he had given lessons, their beauty,
grace, and the luxury that surrounded them, concluding usually with a
heavy sigh, as he looked around our miserable room: '_Ils sont passés,
ces jours de fête!_"

"This always affected my mother unpleasantly, and my sisters listened
to these constantly repeated tales without any special pleasure. They
had very little imagination, and were completely absorbed in the petty
cares and joys of the present; but these fairy like descriptions so
filled my mind, that the wretched reality of my life became more and
more distasteful to me. I dreamed of nothing but magnificence and
splendor, a luxurious existence without any cares, and of kings and
princes paying court to me. I gave grand names to my dolls, constantly
practiced speaking French, which my father approved, and when one day
at dinner, the conversation turned upon what each of us wanted to
become. I, precocious little ten-year-older, exclaimed: 'I will be a
duchess!'

"My mother angrily reproved me: 'it was wicked pride, I must try to
become good and pious, modest and industrious'--you can probably
imagine all I heard. My father was perfectly silent. Afterwards when I
was alone with him, he drew me, still violently weeping into his arms,
kissed my wet eyes, and said only: '_Sois tranquille, ma mignonne. Tu
vas gáter tes beaux yeux avec ces larmes._' From that day, at home and
at school, whenever any one wanted to tease me, I was called 'Duchess
Toinette.' But I was not at all annoyed; on the contrary I liked the
nickname far better than the simple 'Toni,' my mother usually called
me. After a time as I became more sensible and perceived that my
father's little pension would not enable us to live in ducal style, I
might have lost this sickly desire for royal luxury, and in time
learned to be satisfied with a modest income, like my sisters. But
unfortunately there was a constant temptation close at hand. For years,
our little city had been under the rule of a petty prince, and the
ancestral castle still stood in all its magnificence on a wooded
height, which could be climbed in ten minutes. The prince himself had
been suddenly killed in the prime of life, while hunting. The solemn
funeral, which all the inhabitants flocked to attend, was the first
memorable spectacle that had left a lasting impression on my childish
brain. Since that time, the princess had lived in the castle with
her children, a pretty little boy some years older than I, and
several daughters. The household was maintained in the same style as
before, and after the year of mourning had expired, new guests and
entertainments brought fresh gayety.

"To be sure, we plebeian children only witnessed these things through
the railing of the park, or if we could slip in, through the lofty
windows that looked out upon the garden. But it was more than enough to
give new food to my ducal dreams. The superb toilettes, the countless
candles, the graceful curtseys, smiles, whispers, and flirtations,
which I witnessed for hours, with my face pressed against a window
pane, fairly intoxicated me. I would gladly have spent my life in the
midst of such surroundings, and something told me I should have
harmonized with them well. At least I did not understand my sisters,
who always grew red and foolish if any of the strangers in their walks
about our little city condescended to exchange a few gracious words
with us children, who were standing curiously outside the gates. I
always had an answer ready and made my little curtsey so easily, that
more than once the ladies noticed me particularly, and exchanged with
each other in French, flattering words about my looks, not a syllable
of which escaped me.

"My father, who went to the castle, as he gave dancing lessons to the
princess' children, often repeated the compliments that had been paid
me there, and held me up as a pattern to my sisters. Of course this was
not agreeable to them or their mother, and often caused unpleasant
scenes. Often he brought home all sorts of dainties, confectionary, and
rare fruits. The butler was his god-father. This again made my mother
angry and with reason; for since I had tasted these delicacies, our
simple fare, of which there was often scarce enough, was far too coarse
for me, and I preferred to push away my plate and fast, rather than to
eat a dish that didn't suit me. At such times I satisfied myself with
the fruits and berries to be found in the garden and woods, and it was
only strange that, in spite of all this, I did not grow thin or weak,
but retained the fair complexion and red cheeks which, as I plainly
perceived, were the envy of the rouged countesses and princesses.

"And some one else there was who admired them; this was no less a
personage than His Highness, the little prince. He was an odd little
mortal then, and I think will always remain so; thin and fragile as if
made of porcelain, and equally stiff and polished, with a doll's face
that would have been very pretty if one could only have believed it
alive. And in an equally lifeless manner, as if he feared he might
break while doing it, he paid court to me. We had met him once in the
park, a horde of children dashing through the shrubbery with loud
hurrahs; catch, and hare and hounds, were our favorite games. He had
come there, Heaven knows how, without his tutor, and we suddenly grew
quiet, more on account of his uncanny stiffness and fashionable dress,
than from respect. But he was inclined to be especially gracious, to me
in particular condescension itself, and I, stupid little monkey, prided
myself upon it not a little. Dear me, I was only ten years old, but the
idea of being a duchess was firmly impressed upon my mind, and I
actually believed that he would marry me and realize all my fairy
visions. So for several years this absurd secret flirtation, which
wearied as much as it flattered me, continued, until at last the
princess discovered it. To be sure, my chivalrous little lover declared
that he had never had any intention of making me his wife, but merely
his mistress. In spite of this precocious discrimination, however, it
was thought better to break off the childish intimacy once for all; so
I again became a duchess in anticipation, and even my father was no
longer permitted to enter the castle.

"I remember, after this time, that is when I was grown up, but one
occasion when I again saw the park and even the interior of the castle.
Some cousin or nephew of my kind father came to visit us, for whom,
during the few days of his stay every effort was made to place our
usual homely mode of living in the most endurable light. As we could
give him no special entertainment at home, we were obliged to make
excursions abroad, and it fortunately happened that the princess and
her children had gone to some springs. So under the care of the butler,
we visited all the rooms, into which hitherto I had only peeped. My
father was delighted to be able to mount his hobby, and constantly
related how this, that, and the other had been handsomer, richer, or
more tasteful in Paris. I could only gaze in silent astonishment, and
yet it seemed to me as if all this were a matter of course, and I, if
only permitted to do so, could use these costly articles as carelessly
as if born in such a sphere. On the following day, the cousin stammered
out a confused proposal of marriage, and, to make his worthy person
more agreeable to me, described the charms of his own home--he had an
oil cloth manufactory in a tolerably large city. I should like now to
recall the expression with which I gave him a positive refusal. It was
certainly one of which no full blooded duchess would have had cause to
be ashamed.

"No! if I could not have my faithless porcelain prince, I would never
take the first plain workman I met. When the cousin departed, my mother
looked at me with sincere sorrow. 'Poor thing,' said she. 'You're not
to blame, because others' (she meant my father) 'have turned your head.
But tell me, for what are you really waiting'--I answered that I was
waiting for nothing and for no one, and only desired to be permitted to
live as I was doing:--this was only half true. You may well suppose
that I was waiting for no lover, for I have frankly told you that up to
this time I have been unable to discover any talent for sentiment in my
nature. But to continue to live as I was--no, I could not have endured
it forever.

"My father grew old and feeble, and many other little perquisites
ceased, besides the dancing lessons at the castle, for which he had
been handsomely paid. As the time hung heavy on his hands and he could
read to himself very little, one of us was obliged to spend half the
day in reading aloud his favorite romances, thereby neglecting her
work, which to be sure brought in a very small income. But why should I
entertain you with the details of these petty household wants? A man
can never imagine all the embarrassments, all the secret tears and
vexations of a young girl who is obliged to deny herself the
necessaries of life to save the money required for the trifles she
deems still more necessary, and especially one who has so much taste
and love for luxury, that when the hard won finery is at last finished,
she would rather tear it all off and go about in her Cinderella garb,
because the articles obtained by so many struggles are still so poor.
That is, the dress was really not so bad, for with a few yards of white
muslin and some bows of ribbon a girl can look very well, especially at
sixteen or eighteen, and with a face like the one God had bestowed upon
me. But unfortunately, I continued to remember the real elegance, the
Parisian toilettes I had seen at the castle, the beautiful fans and
flowers, real laces and rustling satin robes, which my few pennies
could never obtain. You shake your head, my wise friend. But consider,
that a trout obstinately insists upon living in clear, fresh water, and
no philosophy will induce him to be satisfied with a stagnant pond,
where other very estimable fish are perfectly comfortable.

"And then--what had I to lead me out of these weaknesses and follies
and make amends, if the fairy tale of which I dreamed, should never
come true? You, my dear friend, have your thoughts, your ambition, your
pride. But I--knew nothing thoroughly. How should I? Where could I have
learned it? What had I been taught? To speak French, to play the piano
a little--for the young chorister, who gave me lessons, tried to drown
himself in the river on account of a hopeless love for me, and then
married the pastor's daughter, who came up just at the right moment and
shrieked for help, and of course the lessons were not continued. Sewing
I had always hated, for it is absurd to suppose that embroidering,
knitting stockings, and making shirts, can really render any human
being happy, or compensate for unsatisfied desires--"

She paused a moment and gazed sadly into vacancy. A sigh heaved her
bosom and made her nostrils quiver. "How cold it is!" she said, drawing
her cloak closer around her. "Come, we will walk a little faster. Where
was I? Oh yes; I was talking about knitting and sewing and everything
connected with them. How often I've heard and read that a girl will
find her vocation, her life-long happiness in love and marriage. I saw
this confirmed in my sisters, who though younger than I, had their
little love experiences much sooner, and patiently endured the tedium
of knitting and sewing, since their minds were not idle, but wove the
fairest dreams among the meshes and cross-stitches. Then they married
utterly insignificant people, but were perfectly satisfied, and
continued to labor with hands and heads for their husbands and
children. But I--my prince had married, too, in accordance with his
rank, and quite without agitation, as beseems porcelain figures, at
least so I heard, and I still stayed with my old parents, waiting to
ascend my ducal throne.

"I ought to be there now, and after all it would be better for me, than
to wander about here in the rain with you and talk of things that are
hopeless. But these poor, dear parents, to whom I was a source of great
anxiety--even my father shook his head sadly when my birthday came
round--were both taken from me in a single week, and with them the only
visible object in life of which I was conscious.

"Fortunately the butler, whom my father's will named as my guardian,
was a sensible man. He perceived that he could not persuade me to
remain quietly in the little house from which my parents had been borne
to their graves, waiting to see if any one would come and take me away.
He suggested, as I still had an unconcealed desire to know something of
the world, that an advertisement for the situation of governess or
companion should be inserted in several of the Berlin papers. A place
soon offered that seemed very suitable. A baroness wrote to ask if I
would take charge of the education of her two little daughters and
assist her in housekeeping, as she was in delicate health. Nothing more
than I had learned was required; masters and mistresses were engaged
for all the difficult branches of study.

"This was like a deliverance to me. To live in a large, elegant house,
make tea at the evening receptions, show that in spite of my provincial
origin I could vie in elegance and manner with my lady in Berlin--now
that you know me, you can understand what a tempting prospect this
afforded.

"I persuaded my guardian to pay me my share of our little inheritance
and the net proceeds of our furniture at once. I intended to keep the
few hundred thalers for pocket money in the great city, or use it at
once if my outfit should not be presentable. During the year that I
wore mourning for my parents and was alone nearly all day, I had put my
wardrobe in order as well as I could. But who could tell what the
baroness would say to it? Well, I needn't have troubled myself about
her. I liked her very well, and also the house and children---I could
not have desired anything better. But unfortunately I pleased her too
well; for scarcely had we exchanged a few words, during which she
scanned me from head to foot, when she said with the greatest
cordiality: 'My dear Fräulein, I regret having given you unnecessary
trouble. But you're far too pretty, to enter a house where there are
grown up sons and a great many young people going in and out. You would
turn the heads of some or perhaps all of them, and there would be
murders and homicides to pay. Don't take my frankness amiss, but I know
my circle, and moreover am ready to indemnify you for breaking the
engagement.'

"There was nothing to take amiss, and so fifteen minutes after I was
again standing in the street below, entirely alone, and without even
knowing the name of a hotel where it would be proper for me to stay;
for in my bewilderment, I had not thought of asking the baroness, who
seemed very anxious to get rid of me before the aforesaid grown up sons
came home.

"On one course, however, I was positively determined: not to go back to
my former poverty in the little nest of gossips, where on Sundays the
very flies dropped from the walls out of pure weariness, and during the
week nothing was talked about but cooking, washing and saving--I would
rather have drowned myself. And who missed me at home? Who needed me?
Who would have been particularly glad to see me again? I should only
have found malicious faces, taunts, and probably even heard evil
interpretations of my unlucky expedition.

"As for the first time in my life, I walked in perfect freedom through
the streets, and the elegant ladies rustled past me, the carriages
rolled through the Unter den Linden, and the shop windows glittered
with the most beautiful things, like a bazar in the Arabian Nights, or
the enchanted cave of Xaxa, while I moved through the throng on the
loveliest of summer days with a treasure in my pocket such as I had
never before possessed, and for which I was accountable to no one--the
thought suddenly darted through my mind: 'for once in your life see how
rich, aristocratic people feel, whose left hands do not know how much
their right hands throw out of the window. Live for once in plenty,
deny yourself nothing, show the stupid money that has accidentally
wandered into your pocket and for which you care so little, how you
despise it, though you are only a poor girl and must earn your bread!
If you were very avaricious and put your five or six hundred thalers in
a savings bank, the paltry interest you would receive would not make
you happy. When all has gone as lightly as it came, it will still be
possible to creep back into the yoke. Then you will at least have
experienced how happier mortals feel perhaps'--and I spoke as if some
of my mother's nature stirred within me--'perhaps you will fare like
the apprentices in a confectioners shop: become surfeited with luxury,
and afterwards be satisfied to return to narrow, commonplace
surroundings.' Well I had now decided that I would for once be Duchess
Toinette in earnest. But as I was a perfect stranger, and did not know
a single human being:--who knows whether I might not have lost the
courage to execute my plan. A little country girl cannot change herself
into a great lady in the twinkling of an eye, even if she has five
hundred thalers to use for the purpose. But chance came to my
assistance. I had traveled to Berlin in a first-class carriage. I had
long desired to try one, and while making our short excursions about
the neighborhood always felt secretly ashamed and irritated because we
were compelled to use a third-class conveyance. Now I could gratify my
desire, and was very comfortable in my plush armchair, until a
gentleman, who occupied the coupé with me, commenced a conversation
which threatened to become a little dangerous. He was a very elegant,
aristocratic young man, whose servant came to the carriage at every
station to ask his masters' orders.

"I made such short answers to his gallant speeches, that he probably
perceived he must adopt a different tone with me. From that moment he
was courtesy and attention itself, and treated me as a high-born dame,
though I did not conceal the object of my visit to the city. When we
stopped, he took leave expressing the hope of seeing me again in a few
days at the baroness' house, where he was a frequent visitor.

"This was a matter of perfect indifference to me then. His Excellency,
the Count, as his servant called him, did not interest me in the least.
But now suddenly, as I wandered through the streets racking my brains
to decide what I was to do next, I heard a well known voice--it was the
count's. He greeted me very courteously, asked how I had found the
baroness, and when he had been informed of my fate kindly consoled me.
I need feel no anxiety, I could not fail to obtain a similar and even
more desirable position; he would himself make inquiries among all his
acquaintances, and in the first place, as I told him my difficulty
about finding suitable lodgings, he could recommend me to very pleasant
rooms which he had once rented for a relative. She had afterwards
decided not to take possession of them, as she had changed her plans;
but they were still empty, and the landlady was a very worthy woman,
with whom I would be very comfortable.

"Of course this intelligence was very welcome to me. I only insisted
that I would not avail myself of the fact that the lodgings had already
been paid for one quarter in advance, but remain my own mistress and be
indebted to no one.

"He at last assented to this, and treated me in every respect in a
modest and almost deferential manner. Yet I half regretted having
allowed him to accompany me to the house. The landlady seemed
surprised, and then---he would know where I was to be found. Who could
tell whether he might not become annoying? And besides my incognita was
destroyed. But my fear was groundless. On the day after I was settled,
I received a note from him; he was unfortunately obliged to forego the
pleasure of inquiring about my welfare in person, as his father's
sudden illness compelled him to set out for his estates at once. I
acknowledge that I felt very much relieved. I was really entirely free
from control, and could regulate my life as I chose.

"What that would be, if directed by my taste, you have known me long
enough to be aware, although here and there various trifles were
lacking. When I opened my box of ornaments, the contents did not look
exactly like crown jewels. If I heard of a poor family, I could only
show my generosity by the gift of five thalers. And then--I was quite
too lonely. When people wish to live in ducal style, a little court
must not be lacking. After I had lived entirely by myself for two
weeks, I fortunately made your acquaintance. Then I was perfectly
satisfied, and no longer feared the return of the count, although he
wrote me letters, in which he abandoned his formal style of address and
gradually became warmer and warmer. He confessed that even anxiety
about his father's life had been unable to drive my image from his
memory, begged for one line to assure him that his attentions were not
wholly indifferent to me, described his state of mind in more and more
exaggerated colors, and the more resolutely I left these foolish
epistles unanswered, the more passionate they became. This was all that
was wanting to completely disgust me with the acquaintance. I gave my
little Jean orders to receive no more letters, and if a gentleman whose
appearance I described, ever called upon me, not to admit him under any
circumstances.

"And now this scene of yesterday! I could not sleep half the night from
pure indignation. What does he imagine? For what must he take me, if he
expects by this bold intrusion--for the servant had his orders--to
obtain any concessions! Oh! these men, and what they call love! Am I
not right when I fear this mad passion, which makes positively
dangerous, people otherwise well-bred. And you--you have become
perfectly silent and not interrupted me once. Speak at least, or I
shall be forced to believe that you think me not only a poor fool, but
a poor sinner."

She hastily withdrew her hand from his arm and stepped out from under
the umbrella. The rain had nearly ceased, a faint ray of sunlight
pierced the grey autumnal mist, she threw back her hood and revealed
her face, deeply flushed by her eager words and rapid pace.

"My dear Fräulein," he said smiling, "confession for confession: the
fool and sinner stands before you. But he hopes for absolution. It was
beyond human power to solve unaided an enigma so simple and yet so
singular. Besides, I must now confess--that 'worthy woman,' your
landlady--"

"What! Do you know her? What do you know about her? Oh I pray do not
leave me in ignorance any longer!" she exclaimed with anxious haste.

He soothed her for she had suddenly grown very pale. "We must not talk
so loud," said he, "little Jean's great ears have approached nearer to
us--" She again took his arm and turned hurriedly into one of the side
avenues. "Well? Well?" she urged. "Oh my God, I had no suspicion of
it."

He now told her all that he had heard from the woman, the previous
destination of the rooms, the understanding between the landlady and
the count, the dangers to which in her unsuspicious ignorance, she had
exposed herself. "I myself," he concluded, "although often anxious when
I thought of the mystery that surrounded your life--believe me my dear
friend--only needed to see you enter the room, hear your voice, your
laugh, to be perfectly satisfied, fully convinced, that nothing base
could ever have dominion over you. I was much more inclined to believe
you to be in reality what you were only feigning to be: a true princess
in disguise who would again re-ascend her throne some day and then
appoint the faithful servant, who during her exile had often chatted
away her cares and _ennui_, to some position that would require no
gloves, such as court book-inspector, or private secretary, or even
chief bird feeder to Her Highness Duchess Toinette."

She did not seem to hear the jest. The sweet face was bent steadily
toward the ground, the little hands trembled. She suddenly paused
again.

"And the letter?"  she asked, without looking at him, "Did you bring it
with you?"

He drew it out of his pocket. "It did not disturb my slumbers," he
answered smiling. "Shall we destroy it unread and throw it into the
pond among the withered leaves?"

"No. Read it. Read it aloud." He broke the black seal and read the
following lines:


"Honored Fraulein:

"_You persist in refusing me a reply. I see that you put no faith in my
written assurances of devotion, and if it were possible for anything to
increase the strength of my love, it would be this proof of your proud
reserve, I will henceforth spare you my letters, as I shall soon be
able to reaffirm all my professions verbally, and then I hope to remove
all your doubt of the sincerity of my passion. The event I feared has
happened, my father died to-night, That the first lines I write after
this heavy loss, are addressed to you, will prove better than any words
could do, that all my hopes in life are bound up in your image, that my
happiness or misery is in your hands. Whether, in my present condition,
you will deem me worthy of kinder treatment I must humbly wait for you
to decide._

                        "_Ever yours_

                                          "Franz Count R----

"If the man is to be judged from his style, we have been hasty in
making the master responsible for his boorish servant," observed Edwin
in a jesting tone, as he folded the letter and handed it to her. "Will
you not at least condole with your faithful knight?"

Mechanically she took the black-edged sheet, but her face remained
perfectly immovable. "Come," she said after a pause. "It's beginning to
rain again. I don't feel very well. Take me back to the carriage. Oh!
it's horrible! horrible! horrible!"

He consoled her as well as he could.

"Suppose he offers you his hand and a count's coronet," he said, at the
same moment feeling a sharp pang in his heart that almost stopped his
breath.

She did not seem to hear him, but shook her curls back from her face,
so that her hair escaped from its confinement and rolled in luxuriant
masses from beneath her hood. Then she threw back her little cloak as
if suffocating. "Has it grown so hot?" she asked, "or is it only--but
let's walk faster. I can scarcely wait till I'm at rest--and alone! No,
no, you're not in my way, certainly not, I know what I owe you. But
that--that--there are things we can only conquer when we can close our
eyes and cry like little children. Do you know, my dear friend--I
should like--But why speak of it? You can't understand. To-morrow will
be your day, won't it? Yes, it was yesterday that you remained with me
and that insolent man--but we'll say no more about it. I shall expect
you to-morrow. Farewell for to-day. Forgive me for not asking you to
drive home with me. But it's better so--besides, I don't know what I'm
talking about--I--oh God!" She pressed her hand to her brow and paused
a moment, as if her head realed. Edwin ventured to draw her closer to
him, "My dear, dear child, compose yourself," said he. "What has
happened? What is lost?"

She instantly regained her composure, "Nothing," she murmured. "I thank
you very much for all your friendship. So to-morrow--and farewell!"

She held out her hand and looked at him, apparently quite calm again,
and then entered the carriage; the dwarf climbed nimbly up to the box,
and Edwin saw her bend forward and look at him with a long, earnest
gaze as she drove away. Then he remained alone in the grey day with his
gloomy thoughts.



                              CHAPTER VI.


Why was he so much more hopeless after her frank confession, than
before? He now knew that his feelings had not deceived him, that the
equivocal circumstances in her position had nothing to do with her real
nature. Besides, nothing seemed to stand between them, no older rights
and claims of any third person, no contrast of rank or wealth. She was
as poor as he, as dependent, of equally humble origin, and when this
artificially woven fairy dream had passed away, which must soon happen,
she would be helpless in a strange world, where a friend and protector
must be more to her than anything else. True--for the moment he had no
thought of asking any woman to share his life. But hitherto he had
neither desired nor expected such an acquisition to his existence. If
the matter now became serious, why should he not be man enough to work
himself out of the "tun" and provide more spacious quarters for three
persons? If the matter should become serious! But that was what he
could not believe after her confession, as readily as before. He had
never seen more clearly that all his fire was blazing against a rock,
that not even a suspicion of his state of mind had yet dawned upon her.
To have heard the saddest story of sin, despair, and a lost youth,
would have disheartened him less than this cool, unapproachable
innocence.

Sadly he returned home, drenched to the skin, having purposely exposed
himself to the rain to cool the fever raging within. While undressing
he told Balder everything, even his utter hopelessness. "And yet, after
all, it is best as it is," he concluded, "when I've once got over it.
Could we receive a duchess here?"

Balder did not understand all this. To him the very thought that any
one could refuse a kingdom for the sake of loving and being loved by
Edwin would have been incomprehensible to him. He eagerly began to
contradict him and to build castles in the air. "Let her once be poor
again," said he. "Then she'll feel what treasures still remain.
Besides, she's no commonplace person, and still so young; how much she
can learn. And you're a good teacher. What have I not learned from
you!"

"Yes, _you_, child," sighed Edwin smiling and stroking his hair. He was
going to add something, but Mohr came in and told his adventure of the
preceding day with that fine fellow, the mysterious Lorinser, and how
the hope of establishing a musical intercourse with Christiane had
given him so much energy, that he had written out the first bars of his
famous symphony that very morning. He was in excellent spirits and
according to his usual custom let off a shower of fireworks in the
shape of sarcasms and quaint remarks, with which, to be sure, he was
the only person amused, as the brothers only laughed from sympathy.

When they had sat together for some time, Edwin went to his pupil.
Hitherto he had always felt a sense of comfort in the little house on
the lagune. His passionate restlessness passed away, the young girl's
great calm eyes, which rested so eagerly on his lips, had driven away
all melancholy, so that he grew eloquent and cheerful, and unfolded to
her the ancient sages' world of thought until long after the hour
devoted to the lesson had expired. But to-day, for the first time, this
beneficent spell failed. He was forced to plead illness and depart
before the lesson was over, to Leah's evident regret.

The next day was "his day," but his impatience drove him to the house
in Jägerstrasse early in the morning. He started, when he saw the
landlady's broad face look peevishly out of one of the windows in the
second story. He darted breathlessly up stairs and pulled the bell. His
suspicion was confirmed. No striped waistcoat appeared, the shining
glass eyes of the solemn boy did not welcome him. Instead, the landlady
herself, without looking at him, sulkily opened the door.

"Whom do you want?" she grumbled. "Fräulein Toinette Marchand? I'm
sorry. She has moved. Ah! so it's _you_? That alters the case. What do
you say to it? You must know more than any of the rest of us, who were
not thought good enough for the least explanation--Or do you bring some
order? Pray walk in. I can make myself entirely at home here once
more."

She allowed Edwin to enter and then followed him into the familiar red
drawing room. Everything was unchanged: the flowers was there, the
parrot was on the perch, only the bird cage stood open and empty, and
the bronze clock on the marble mantel piece no longer ticked.

"Just think," said the woman, evidently glad to pour out her heart to
some one who was half initiated into the secret, "she came home
yesterday in a droschky--the first time she did not have her hired
carriage, and the boy Jean came directly up to me and asked me to come
down to the young lady. When I entered, I found her maid already
packing. She herself was standing in the middle of the room, staring
straight before her, as if she were troubled about something. When I
spoke, she instantly recollected herself. She was obliged to leave the
city at once, she said, and as she should not return to these rooms,
wanted to pay me the rent. 'Leave the city,' said I. 'Good gracious!
and so suddenly? And where are you going, if I may ask?' For I thought,
after all the police will make a descent upon me, the secret, the crime
she has committed is now discovered, and she wants to get away that she
may not be caught napping. But then--she looked so haughty and
composed, and did not address a single word to me more than was
absolutely necessary, and yet I'm the landlady. As she went away in the
midst of the quarter, it was fair, she said, that she should pay for
the full three months--though she'd not been here quite four weeks--and
counted out thirty-six thalers on the table. I could consider it so
much profit. For everything else--though, dear me, she'd given me no
trouble at all--she laid three louis d'ors on the table, and the maid
too had her full quarter's wages and a handsome present. Then she went
to the birds--the parrot belonged to the count--opened the door of the
cage, fed them, and said: 'You'll let them go free,' and with a
flashing glance and a nod of the head went down stairs to the droschky
Jean had been sent to fetch, and on which her trunk was already
strapped. She took the boy with her, but to what depot she ordered the
man to drive--neither I nor the maid could hear. Mercy, what will the
count say when he comes back, for I promised I would keep her for him,
and he said 'you shall not lose by it, Madame Sturgmüller.' His servant
was here yesterday, 'How had the young lady behaved?' he asked. 'Who
was that gentleman with her'--he meant you. Well, I said no more than I
knew--that you only came to dine and always seemed very quiet and
brought her books. Then he laughed. 'They're probably studying
something very beautiful, Madame, and if I tell my master, the
count--' 'Well,' said I, 'why does he leave her all alone? Such a young
thing--idleness is the beginning of all love affairs.' But he shook his
head and wanted to know nothing about it. Now, tell me, my dear sir,
what does all this mean? Merciful God, if I should be obliged to go
before a jury after all--"

Edwin, in spite of his sadness, could not help smiling. He denied all
knowledge of Toinette's movements, and his evident alarm at not finding
her, proved his sincerity. He had never inquired into her
circumstances, and where she had so suddenly vanished was as
incomprehensible to him as to the landlady. He walked, the woman
constantly talking to him, through all the pleasant rooms that suddenly
seemed so desolate and lifeless, and for the first time entered the
sleeping apartment, where the traces of a hasty departure were still
visible. On the toilette table, among various empty boxes, stood a
small bottle in which there was still a little essence of violet, a
perfume of which she had been particularly fond. He took advantage of a
moment when he was unobserved, to appropriate the useless relic. With
what strange emotions he stood beside the bed and gazed at the snow
white pillows on which her head had rested. "She was a beautiful girl,"
said the woman. "Even the most envious must admit that, and no princess
could be more stately. But mark my words, sir: one of these days her
name will appear in the papers, not on the first page where the
arrivals and departures of the aristocracy are announced, but among the
miscellaneous news, accidents and sentences of imprisonment for ten
years or for life. Why shouldn't she have waited for the count, who's
such a charming gentleman? If a girl has a good conscience, she doesn't
try to be peculiar, but is neither better nor worse than other mortals.
Believe me, I know the world, and haven't rented rooms for ten years to
the very best class of lodgers for nothing."

A feeling of inexpressible loathing overpowered Edwin. He hastily
turned away, promising to call again some other time, and left the
house, in the deepest melancholy.



                              CHAPTER VII.


She had not left a line for him, not even a note to say farewell; it
was too much kindness to say: 'I'm going for such and such reasons, to
such and such a place.' He was of so little importance to her, she was
so utterly indifferent to what he must feel at her sudden
disappearance. No nomad who strikes his tent, leaves his camping ground
without casting a glance toward the fire where he prepared his meals,
the spring that refreshed him, although he knows he shall find
the same friendly elements everywhere. And he, whom she had called
"friend";--what a horribly cold heart, that can prize the best
treasures so lightly, leave the most unselfish devotion in the lurch so
carelessly, like a bottle of perfume, which was pleasant to the senses,
but which can be bought in any shop.

And on a creature of such a shallow mind, such an icy heart, he had for
weeks lavished his thoughts and opinions; nay his very anguish when he
had determined to break loose from her bonds, told him only too
distinctly that it would be long ere the task could be accomplished.
The more violently he strove to accuse her, the more victoriously the
image of his upbraided friend, with her artless expression and the last
earnest gaze the dark eyes had fixed upon him, rose before his fancy,
and he at last perceived that he only reproached her in order to have a
pretext for constantly occupying himself with her. He at last concluded
a sort of truce with his passionate grief. It was still possible that
she might write as soon as she was settled again. Had she not one of
his books, Hafiz, from which he had last read aloud to her at table? To
be sure, she might think he had given it to her, like the little copy
of Hermann and Dorothea. And if not, why should the possession of a
borrowed book disturb her, when she was in the habit of not even
returning hearts into which she had glanced once or twice?

For the first time, he failed to tell Balder all that was occupying his
thoughts, and merely said that she had given up her rooms, but would
probably send him her new address.

This intelligence did not seem to trouble Balder much. He avoided
saying so, but in his heart he almost wished that this might be the end
of the adventure, for from what Edwin had said of the lady, it seemed
more and more doubtful whether this passion, which made the grave,
self-contained man so helpless, would ever compensate for the sacrifice
of his repose. Much as he desired to do so, he could feel no affection
for this singular being. His beau ideal of loveliness was in every
respect the exact opposite of this dazzling vision. But he said
nothing, for he was well aware that words would be spoken in vain.

"A little note from the Frau Professorin Valentin came while you were
away. The zaunkönig left it in the shop himself."

Edwin absently opened and read it. It contained a request to visit the
writer in the course of the day if possible, as she wished to speak to
him about a very important matter.

He threw down the sheet, took up a volume of some work on physical
science, and began to read. Balder, who was working industriously at
his turning lathe--he had reason to be industrious, since of late,
unnoticed by Edwin, the state of their strong box had become very
critical--saw plainly that he did not turn the page, but did not
venture to rouse him from his reverie. What could he have said to
console him?

Evening came. The Frau Professorin's note seemed forgotten. But when
Balder reminded him of it, Edwin started up and said he would attend to
the matter at once; he was curious to know what important news could
come to him from that quarter. So he left the room, with a dry "Adieu!"
Seldom, as we know, did he part from Balder without a jest or a
brotherly caress, but the spell of melancholy was too strong for him.

Since his first visit, he had only seen the estimable lady a few times
in the zaunkönig's studio, from which she instantly retreated when he
came to give his lesson. She seemed very kindly disposed toward him,
with a motherly cheerfulness, which often, on her brightest days,
reminded him of his own mother; so he noticed it the more plainly, when
she now met him with anxious seriousness and a certain degree of
formality.

"Dear Herr Doctor," said she, "I begged you to come to see me because I
wished to discuss a matter which has caused me grave anxiety. Do you
know that you've cost me a sleepless night?"

"You're too kind," he answered smiling.

"I'm entirely in earnest. I should have to like you much less than I do
if my opinion of you could be a matter of indifference to me. Tell me,
is it true? Are you really the author of this essay, or have you a
namesake, for whose opinions you are not responsible?"

She took out a green volume, which she had carefully locked up in her
writing desk. It was a number of a philosophical magazine, to which for
several years Edwin had been a contributor.

"So far as I'm aware," he answered in a jesting tone, "my parents have
had but one son Edwin, who devotes himself to philosophy. Let me see.
'Examination of the proofs of the existence of God.' Certainly that's
mine. It's to be continued. It was left unfinished on account of my
foolish prize essay."

He laid the book on the table, and now looked at his companion, who was
sitting opposite to him with the most heartfelt expression of pitying
surprise.

"So it's really yours!" said she. "And these views, these
principles--you've not yet renounced them?"

"I don't know of what principles you speak, Madame. So far as I can
remember, I refrain from making any hypothesis of my own, and limit
myself entirely to a critical investigation of the opinions that have
been advanced by others."

"Yes. So it appears! But can he who so coolly, in his own opinion,
annihilates the logical proofs of an eternal truth, be expected to
cherish the desire, to say nothing of the conviction, that this truth
will endure, difficult as it might be to find reasons for it, or proofs
which would incontestably establish to the reason its indisputable
existence?"

"I might take that as a compliment to my essay," he answered, "although
coming from a woman's mouth, it cannot of course be understood in that
sense. Among scientific men, an investigation is thought the more
worthy of credence, the fewer traces it bears that its author set about
the task with a desire to find a certain result, or with even a
previously formed conviction. In my department, especially, much
greater progress would have been made, if even in the minds of its
masters passion and prejudice had not dimmed the pure mirror of
experience and clearness of thought."

"Greater progress!" cried the excited lady, letting both hands fall
into her lap in sudden horror. "But for Heaven's sake, what progress
can be made, to what can you wish to turn your attention after you have
so successfully reached absolute nothingness?"

"And suppose I expected to prove," he answered smiling, "that this
nothingness is just as fruitful as the other nothingness, from which,
as pious men tell us, God created the world? But I'll not begin to
philosophize here. Even if I could hope, in a short conversation, to
make you understand that to which I have devoted the labor of a
life, I should still prefer to keep silence. You're in harmony with
yourself--what more can you desire? I, whose wants are so different, am
also at peace with myself. Is it not better to rest satisfied with
that, each respecting the other's mode of thought and feeling?
Wherefore drag to light the differences about which we can never agree,
instead of rejoicing over what we possess in common? It's so easy to
dispute, and so difficult to become reconciled again."

"You think me intolerant," she replied eagerly, while a faint color
tinged her pretty, delicate face. "But my Creator knows I am not. I
confidentially believe that in our heavenly father's house there are
many mansions. I honor every true, genuine conviction, even if ever so
widely different from mine. My best friend, Leah's mother, was a
jewess. My daily visitor, the Herr Candidat--"

"Herr Lorinser?" Edwin dryly interrupted. "Ah! yes, now I understand."

"What?"

"It's a matter of very little consequence; I know the people with whom
I'm dealing. There are persons who take special delight in denouncing
others, of course for the greater honor of God, of Christian love, and
of eternal truth."

"You wrong him; to be sure he brought me your essay, but it was in
consequence of a conversation in which I was compelled to admit that I
was wholly in the dark about your opinions, and had not become much
wiser from Leah's very guarded remarks. Do not suppose I'm blind to the
faults and weaknesses of this singular man. I do not share his
exaggerated mystical views. But even his errors, which arise from an
ardent heart, seem more honorable, or to express myself more plainly,
are more in sympathy with my nature, than--"

"Than a man's honest confession that he knows nothing at all about
certain things."

"If it were only that! But must he, who knows nothing, or desires to
know nothing about that which is revealed to all who thirst for
information, makes a business of shaking the faith, rendering the
ground unsteady beneath the feet of those who do have the knowledge, or
think they have?"

"If he really believes he is serving humanity, why should he not do
what he thinks productive of good? To be sure, I should not undertake
this business. I've not the temperament for it, the friendly
importunity, nor any of the other qualities that are necessary to make
proselytes."

"You have not? And this treatise--"

"Is not written for those who know or think they know, but for persons,
who like me, are still seeking truth, perhaps doubting whether it will
ever be possible certainly to know, and meantime think themselves
justified in using the boundaries between knowledge and faith for a
work which must tend to the advantages of both provinces."

"No," she said, as she suddenly rose, "we shall make no progress in
that way. You're my superior in dialectics, and I see it's only
chivalrous in you to avoid the contest. But answer one question
plainly: is it really true that you not only have no God, but do not
even feel any sorrow for it, any sense of something wanting, of
cheerless desolation and loneliness, when you survey a world, from
which to you the breath of a personal Creator has vanished?"

"And suppose I really did feel neither sorrow nor want, and yet did not
find the world utterly cheerless?"

She gazed at him with a steady look, as if she were obliged to weigh
such an answer before she could fully understand it. Her eyes grew dim,
she retreated a step and sank down on the chair which stood beside the
sofa.

"You poor, poor mortal!"

"We agreed not to philosophize, Madame," he answered smiling. "But,
even in ordinary conversation, I suppose one may be permitted to remind
the other of contradictions in which he has involved himself. Does he
who has just told you that he feels no want, needs no consolation, seem
poor in your eyes? Then see how ill it fares with the toleration of
which you boasted. You allow every form of faith to exist, except that
which acknowledges it has nothing that resembles a creed. The jew, the
mussulman, the fire-worshipper, the idolater, who sees his God in a
stock or stone--all seem respectable to you, and none so poor as an
honest seeker after truth, who studies nature and his own heart, and
cannot think all the signs and wonders he there beholds explained, when
he uses for them a formula which means anything or nothing. Can you
really consider it of any importance, that I should use the same word,
if to me it expresses something totally different? Do you feel allied
to an idolater, because in his language he gives a block of wood the
same name that to you in yours, means the creator of heaven and earth?
Would you not, though you might respect his conviction, have greater
reason to say to him: 'Poor, poor mortal!'--?"

"'Blessed are the poor in spirit!'" she replied. "You certainly will
not question those words, neither will you deny that every religious
feeling springs from the consciousness of our own incompleteness, that
he who lacks nothing, who is sufficient unto himself, cannot know the
loftiest emotion: devotion to something loftier, richer, stronger--the
ideal of what is highest and noblest, which we call God. And therefore
the idolater stands nearer to me than the atheist. He shares with me
the human need of worshipping, of bowing before some powerful,
inscrutable being. Is he to blame if his ideas of this dim power are so
narrow and gloomy, that in order to be able to reverence something, he
forgets that he carved these gods himself?"

"Certainly not," replied Edwin gravely. "As little as you are to blame,
for adoring a God you have carved yourself or rather suffered others to
fashion. Oh! my honored friend, do not be angry with me, but the
difference between the poor doll that the south sea islander believes
to be the creator of the world, and the God of our ordinary
christianity, does not seem to me great enough to create such a stir.
Are not both carved after _our_ pattern, one more rudely, the other
more delicately, the former bedecked with barbaric finery and painted
in gaudy hues, the latter, according to the taste of our times, adorned
with more or less art and fantastic splendor, but always a work of our
own minds? I will not speak of those really poor mortals, whom you also
will hardly call blessed or think specially well fitted for their
heavenly kingdom: of those who, under the forms of the Christian faith,
practise the grossest idolatry, the merest image worship. But how do
even the most enlightened, the most intellectual, who take the
scriptural words 'God is a spirit' in the most solemn sense, imagine
this spirit? In their holy zeal, they ascribe to it every quality that
seems worthy of honor and love in themselves or others. And this ideal
being, which they have created in their own image, and only endowed
with the thoughtlessly collected attributes of omnipotence,
omniscience, and omnipresence, this God-man or man-God, they set on a
throne somewhere in space, give him the world for a globe, and the
lightning for a sceptre, and are perfectly convinced that in the
fullest power and majesty, he will guide the stars on their courses,
and decide the destinies of mortals with mercy and justice. And
meantime the sorrows of the world take their course, evil reigns, the
unequal distribution of blessings still exists, and the all-merciful,
omniscient, all-righteous, and omnipotent God, does not move his little
finger to effect a change; his most eager devotees must seize upon very
common place, earthly means to keep the world in its grooves; but where
these are not enough, where the whole cannot sufficiently protect the
individual, then arises the old sardonic consolation: 'Help yourself,
and God will help you.' So we're again thrown back on ourselves. It is
still our strength, our intellect, our good purposes! And yet earnest
men, who have their doubts about the contradictory stories concerning
the government of the world by a God who is just and good according to
human ideas, are blamed if they seek to help themselves through life by
their own efforts, and at the same time try whether they cannot make
things harmonize without nursery tales." He had risen and was pacing up
and down the room in increasing excitement.

"You reject the good with the bad," she replied shaking her head. "Who
denies the imperfection of our ideas of the supreme being? Who asserts
that our human images and comparisons describe his real nature? They
are all mere make-shifts, a species of flying machine to enable us, who
are denied wings on earth, to approach as near him as possible? Do you
wish to deprive the poor mortals who languish in the dust, of this
solace?"

"I? You're again forgetting that I wish to deprive no one of his
religion, nor arouse in any one who is satisfied higher desires; nor to
seek to guide him to what affords me happiness. Let them soar as high
as they wish and can; but they, too, ought to permit the plain
pedestrian, who climbs the rough path to the summit step by step, to
move quietly on his way, and not throw stones at him from their
balloons."

"Who does so? Who, that has understood the law of love, the most sacred
tenet of our religion?"

He approached her and took her hand, exclaiming eagerly: "Not you, my
honored friend. You will not cease to include in your prayers, the man
who acknowledges that he does not join in the words, 'we all believe in
one God.' Perhaps you will prefer not to associate with him, as with
all our love for our neighbor, we do not choose an outcast for a
companion. But ask yourself, how many of your brothers and sisters in
faith have advanced so far in toleration that they will not only permit
every one to be happy in his own way, but even endure those who feel no
desire for what is called heavenly bliss, who see the circle of their
duties and privileges, toils and joys, coupled here on earth, and do
not wish to be more perfect, wiser, or more immortal than one can
become with human intellect and powers? Yet the word 'godless' is still
the harshest that can be said of a fellow man, and people speak of
envy, hatred, revenge, and malice, as traits natural to humanity. But
all neighborly love is refused the poor fellow creature, who confesses
that he can form no idea of a personal ruler of the world, according to
the human pattern, and the one word 'atheist' is sufficient to forever
brand the most peaceful citizen, the noblest philanthropist, the most
earnest seeker after truth. Yet we talk of an age of enlightenment! We
boast of our freedom of thought, our scientific triumphs, and even men
of science fear to express their deepest thoughts in their works, even
those which are not even intended for the masses, in order to be sure
of their peace, if not of their lives! Their real, inmost conviction,
they whisper like some guilty secret into the ears of those whom they
have recognized as kindred spirits, while childish folly, criminal
stupidity, are permitted to display themselves in every street, and the
holiest things are used by cunning speculators for very worldly
purposes."

"What am I to answer?" said the Frau Professorin, with an expression of
the deepest anxiety. "You yourself are noble and pure enough in your
intentions, to be permitted without danger to your social duties, to
disclaim what we call duties toward God. But what would be the
consequence with the great majority, whose 'sensibilities are not so
delicate, to whom piety, unconscious devotion to an inscrutable being,
nay if you will, the _fear_ of God, is a necessary check to their
sensual natures, if you suddenly left them to themselves, and relieved
them of all responsibility? Or what compensation can you offer nobler
souls, of deeper feelings, that feel a need of sanctification, to make
amends for a destroyed or diminished confidence in the love of God? My
dear friend, if you had ever enjoyed the deep bliss of knowing yourself
a child of God, you would willingly overlook the vagueness, the
childish narrowness, that to pure reason this idea may seem to contain,
and understand that it is natural to consider innovators dangerous, or
even to strive to crush as enemies of mankind, those who threaten to
deprive their brothers of this consolation."

"I understand, I excuse it--and yet I ask that it may cease," replied
Edwin, "for really the danger with which the children of the world
threaten the children of God, is a purely imaginary one. The offence we
give is very harmless. No mind which, in your sense of the word, is
religiously disposed, will endure to think of the world without a
personal Creator. No seduction can take place where the germ of the
fall did not previously exist. And the vacillating or utterly frivolous
cannot be of so much importance to you as peace and tolerance. I cannot
forsee the future, but I have a conviction that the time will never
come, when all men will declare that they are of age and have outgrown
the childhood that renders them happy, any more than that political
freedom will ever become a necessity to all. Only let people cease to
measure differences in viewing the world by moral standards, to
regulate for the individual his capacities and wants, God and the
world, to call him to account for mere opinions which have a very
slight influence upon his actions. To be sure, those ideas of God,
freedom, immortality, which even the free thinkers of the last century
recognized as an inalienable possession of mankind, have at last, in
popular opinion, been called in question by our intrusive, persistent
investigation. But I'm as sure as of my own existence, that a time will
come when honest children of the world will be permitted, without
suspicion, to renounce that trinity also, and is not the hope of
contributing to such a future worth the toil of the noblest? Then for
the first time the word tolerance will have attained its full sense;
then conversations like ours will be conducted without the slightest
tinge of vehemence or bitterness, which have blended here and there
with our words to-day, and for which I in particular, as a philosopher,
who ought to have learned to be patient and trust to time, sincerely
beg my honored friend's pardon."

He bent toward her, took her hand, and raised it to his lips. She
absently permitted him to do so, absorbed in thoughts which she
apparently could not express in words. He had already reached the door,
when she said sudden:

"Does Leah know these opinions of yours?"

He paused. A dull pain, a feeling of regret, overpowered him, which he
did not know how to explain. "We have never discussed these questions,"
he replied, "or as school children say, we've not yet _come_ to them.
We're still at the Greek philosophers."

"But when you progress so far, shall you tell her openly what you
think?"

"Certainly, as openly as I have told you. Surely if I showed no reserve
toward you by your personal request and as a matter of friendship, to
my pupil, I should believe myself to be fulfilling a sacred duty in
speaking plainly. For this knowledge her nature yearns; she will digest
it, it will be transmuted into a part of her blood. Could you be so
intolerant, so envious, as to seek to deprive this excellent girl of
what will be a positive benefit to her?"

For a moment she was silent. "I must be perfectly frank with you," she
said, and the embarrassment which flushed her cheeks gave her a winning
expression. "My old friend, Leah's father, asked me to question you
about your belief. He found one of his daughter's exercise books, in
which were certain expressions and sentences that startled him. He
himself is entirely destitute of dogmatic fanaticism, as I've already
told you, but he is a true child of God, and is now alarmed and grieved
to discover that his only daughter aims to be no different from her
teacher: an upright child of the world. Therefore--"

"I understand," Edwin interrupted with a bitter smile. "You need
proceed no farther with his apology. Give my compliments to the worthy
gentleman, who will not permit his child to eat from the broad dish,
because his own mouth is formed to take nourishment from the narrow
bottle. But from what I know of the girl, she will find proper
sustenance in spite of this guardianship, though with rather more
difficulty. The only loser will be myself. Those grave thoughtful eyes
always had a good influence over me. But I might have known it would
come to this some day, so--without ill-feeling--farewell."

She called to him to detain him. But he had already passed through the
ante-room, without ill-feeling, as he had himself said, but not without
a sense of bitter sorrow. "And these are the best of them!" he
murmured. "If such things happen when the wood is green, what marvel is
it that the dry, dead branches and knots, which can nevermore put forth
leaf or blossom, crackle so merrily when a heretic is to be burned!"

He returned home and spent the remainder of the evening in quiet
conversation with Balder, with whom he soon regained his lost
cheerfulness, though the shadows would not wholly vanish from his
sorely wounded soul. Both slept very little that night. When the pump
handle creaked the next morning, they had been up a long time. Balder
at his turning lathe, and Edwin wandering about the room, now and then
turning the leaves of a book, both silent, as they usually were during
the first part of the day.

Reginchen brought up with the breakfast tray a carefully folded package
and a letter. They had just been left for Edwin.

When he had unfastened the strings and broken the seal, a beautiful
porcelain plate appeared, on which was painted a bouquet of corn
flowers, poppies, and wheat; on the edge, in gold letters, was the
inscription: "A memento from a grateful pupil." There was also a sealed
book, without any address, but the letter was from the old gentleman,
and ran as follows:


"My Deeply Honored Friend:

"_You already know what I have to communicate in these lines, which in
consequence of the great esteem, and love I have always felt for you, I
can hardly force my pen to write, I have never presumed to suppose that
I alone possess the truth; but to secure to my child the happiness that
I have enjoyed in my own life, is a matter that lies very near my
heart. If peace does not come to her when sought in my way, I shall not
forbid her to seek it in another; but I think she's still too young to
clearly perceive the right path, and therefore I would rather leave her
for a time without a guide, than see her moving along a road I think
dangerous. Nevertheless, I shall always be grateful to you for having
so kindly devoted your time to her. My daughter, who desires to be
respectfully remembered to you, begs you to accept the accompanying
specimen of her work--the forfeit of the wager you perhaps still
remember. A book, in which she was in the habit of keeping an account
of her progress with you, I will beg you to take charge of for a time,
as I do not wish her to return to these studies at present, and cannot
expect her to entirely give up the pages which are precious in her
eyes. And now farewell, dear Herr Doctor. May you ever be prosperous
and remember with the old affection,_

                        "_Your sincerely grateful_

                                                  "Philipp König."


Enclosed in another envelope was a sum of money, not very large in
itself, but munificent considering the circumstances of the man who
lived in the little house on the lagune. Edwin instantly sat down at
the table, sealed up the money again and wrote the following lines:


"Honored Friend and Patron:

"_Deeply as I regret that my visits to your house which had become so
pleasant must be so suddenly discontinued, I cannot help respecting the
motive which prompted your letter, and in all friendship bid you and my
dear pupil farewell--until we meet again! Thank your daughter most
warmly for her beautiful work of art, which affords me the greatest
delight. But I do not understand how you imagine yourself to be in my
debt. You cannot expect me to accept a fee for my small beginning at
teaching, any more than you would call upon a customer to pay for a
half finished picture._

                        "_With kindest regards, yours_,

                                                      "E."


"There," said he to Balder, "we've done with that too! I can put the
little bottle of violet perfume on this painted plate--two frail
mementoes of a life and memories quite out of place in our tun. Come,
child! We'll get to work again. Everything flows steadily on; ought not
certain memories to find their way also to the great ocean?"



                               BOOK III.



                               CHAPTER I.


A fortnight had elapsed. The autumnal storms, which had burst over the
country, had stripped the last withered leaf from the top of the acacia
tree, and the little garden with its shade loving plants, as well as
the dry tendrils of the bean vines, were destroyed by the ceaseless
rain.

Even in the "tun," whose inmates usually possessed the art of making
the sunlight within shine all the more brightly in the stormiest
weather, a strangely dull, sorrowful mood had prevailed, like the
autumn mists which float over forest and meadow, and are only now and
then lighted by a noontide sunbeam. A dull oppression weighed upon
Edwin's mind, and with all his manliness he was unable to shake it off.
This mysterious silence and disappearance caused him more pain than the
sharpest break in his life, the most open renunciation on the part of
the beloved being. He hourly felt that all must be past, but he could
not yet realize it to be at an end. It was as if he carried a bullet in
his body very near the vital organs, and until it was extracted, no one
could tell whether he would survive or bleed to death.

Besides, now that he again spent more time in the house, he became very
anxious about Balder. During the time of his futile love-making, when
he had often only seen his brother at dinner or late in the evening,
the latter had succeeded in concealing the fact that his time was
divided between arduous toil and complete exhaustion. Now it could no
longer be hidden. Marquard, whom Edwin instantly called in to prescribe
for a first severe attack of pain in the chest, shook his head very
angrily over the unpardonable carelessness which had permitted matters
to go so far. He forbade Balder to make the slightest exertion, and
during some of the stormiest days kept him in bed. Balder smilingly
protested against his tyranny, and declared that he did not suffer at
all; nay that he could breathe more freely and easily when in his
stooping posture at the turning lathe. He would doubtless have
carefully avoided acknowledging that, when at work, he could more
easily forget the anxiety about his health which daily became more
pressing. But it was useless. Edwin saw through the ambiguous words,
especially as, roused from his long dream, he had now discovered for
the first time that during the last few weeks Balder must have done
double work to defray the current expenses. This was all that was
needed to make the recollection of the time so hopelessly lost, still
more painful and bitter. "Careless children ought never to be left
alone," he said reproachfully, crushing back tears of sorrow for his
brother and rage against himself. "Now you have accomplished a fine
piece of business, worked shamefully hard that I might not only play
the fool the more undisturbed, but become your murderer into the
bargain. Oh! child, all the duchesses in the world, who might want to
make me their court-fool, would not outweigh a single hair from your
thick locks, though they really might lose a few handfuls without
injury. Instead of taking up my station on the nearest street corner,
as was my duty, and waiting to see if some one would give me work, I've
wasted my days in the most worthless way, playing the courtier, while
you--fie! A fine brotherly love on both sides! One idles enough for
two, and thoughtlessly allows himself to be fed at the expense of the
other, who meanwhile works for two so recklessly that he almost
deprives himself of life, and the idler of his only brother."

He would not allow himself to be quieted, until he had carried the
dearest things he possessed, a few dozen of his most valuable books, to
an antiquary, and thus defrayed the most pressing necessities for
several weeks. Besides this, as the lectures had not yet commenced, he
plunged headlong into all kinds of remunerative work, criticisms upon
new books and contributions to scientific journals, and remained
persistently at home all day long, with the exception of a short
afternoon walk, never losing thought of Balder amid all his work. No
one interrupted this strict seclusion except the faithful doctor, Mohr,
who came daily for several hours to play chess, and Reginchen, who
brought up the meals.

Some change seemed to have taken place in the child, which transformed
her whole nature in a mysterious, but very charming manner. She no
longer sang and glided about like a young bird, or even prattled in her
half childish, half motherly way to Balder, whom she now had to nurse;
but the thoughtful, somewhat absent and sorrowful expression her
countenance now wore, undoubtedly suited it better than her former
wholly unshadowed mood. She seemed to have grown an inch taller, her
face was perceptibly narrower, her cheeks less blooming, but suffused
with a delicate glow from within. Moreover she was often found, as if
spell-bound, standing still in the midst of a task gazing steadily into
vacancy. When Balder asked what she was thinking about, she blushed
crimson and laughed in an embarrassed way, but the next instant her
face again wore a strangely quiet expression, such as no one had ever
seen before.

Even Edwin, who usually noticed her but little, remarked her altered
manner. "Our little house swallow is thinking of building a nest," said
he. "You'll see, Balder, before next spring she'll leave us to become
her own mistress. It's a pity! I can't imagine the tun without this
wandering ray of sunlight."

Balder was silent. He had long been uneasy about the matter. Little as
he was in the habit of thinking of himself, this time, with a joyous
terror that for some moments threatened to burst his heart, he could
not help believing that he was the author of this change. On the very
day Franzelius bade them farewell, the young girl had asked him to lend
her Schiller's poems. She had heard so much about them, she wanted to
see if they would please her as well as her cousins and the head
journeyman. The book was in Balder's locked drawer; he had pressed in
it a flower from a small bouquet she had once brought him when she came
home from a walk. The verses he had written on her birthday were also
there, but he did not think of them when he took out the volume.
Afterwards, when it was too late, he had recollected them, and as the
verses expressed somewhat plainly what for years he had carefully
hidden in his heart, he could scarcely doubt that they would now do
their duty and reveal all. Probably it might have been so, but for that
twilight hour in the shop, when the state of another equally reserved
soul had suddenly become clear to her. There was only room for one
thought at a time in her head and heart, and therefore, as her love for
literature was not very great, she had not taken out the borrowed book
she had placed in her work table, and had no suspicion what a secret
she would have learned. Even in her leisure hours, she did not have
much time for reading. Whenever she was left to herself, she eagerly
knitted the before-mentioned stockings, whose unusual size could not
fail to remind her for many days of the lucky fellow destined to own
them.

Balder, however, who knew nothing of all this, could not help
interpreting in his own favor the altered manner of the child he
secretly loved, especially as since he required her care, she had
become at once more devoted and more reserved. His first emotion at
this supposed discovery was, as has been stated, one of joyful alarm.
Having renounced all the happiness of healthy men, he had never thought
such an event possible, nay scarcely desirable. He looked upon himself
as a passing guest at the table of this world, who could only taste the
various dainties, and who after a short enjoyment of the pleasures of
the feast, a modest sip from the beaker of earthly joys, must silently
slip away. That he might take his place there with the others, join in
the festivities till midnight, and drain the last dregs of the wine
cup, was something of which he had not dared to think. He had yielded
the more freely to a feeling of happy hopelessness, because he thought
himself sure, of standing in no one's way by so doing. This fair,
innocent child, in the exuberance of perfect health, possessed exactly
what he lacked; that she had grown up in the insensibility of pure
nature, without intellectual wants, culture, or training, while every
expression, every gesture revealed strength, freshness, and the most
joyous good nature, attracted him to her as one is attracted toward an
object always longed for and always withheld. When she entered his
room, he forgot his sufferings and banished the thought of the future,
since she herself seemed to be satisfied with the present and the
pleasures it contained; therefore the thought that any change could
take place in this familiar, unconstrained intercourse had hitherto
never occurred to him.

Now he was suddenly thrown into a state of bewilderment in which he was
no longer in harmony with his own heart, since that which had hitherto
filled it with such pure and calm emotions, now appeared sinful, and
certainly was the source of many sorrows.

But he had reached his twentieth year and the feeling of delight must
needs outweigh all sadness. Almost insensibly, the hopes he believed
long since buried, again appeared before his eyes. Why should not a
miracle be performed in his case as well as in so many others, and
nature summon her wondrous powers of healing, especially as the soul
was now ready to assist? And if it should really prove that the
strength of manhood was to make amends for the sufferings of his youth,
how beneficent was the star which had enabled him to find in this
little spot, the treasure that would make him rich for all time.

This belief became more and more fixed in his mind, so that he
submitted to all the remedies prescribed without opposition and with
far more patience than usual, and he even, often as a loving word to
Edwin or Reginchen hovered on his lips, strictly observed the
prohibition against speaking. He would lie half the day in a reverie,
his eyes fixed upon the sorrowful plaster mask of the prisoner opposite
him, composing verses which he hastily wrote down as soon as Edwin's
back was turned. Even his old regret that he could not make up his mind
to confess his secret to his brother, who never had one from him, no
longer troubled him. When he had grown strong again and could at last
go out into the world and cast aside all his premature renunciation of
self, he would pour out his happiness, and compensate Edwin tenfold for
what he had lost.

All these thoughts had passed through his mind, while the leaves of the
acacia were falling off, and Edwin wandered about with a wound that
would not heal. The oppressive stillness that pervaded the tun, seemed
to have affected the other lodgers in the house as well; they appeared
to be in that uncomfortable, chilly autumn mood, in which man, like
nature, gradually becomes silent, until the crackling flames in the
stove beget encouragement and the lips of human beings once more
unclose. Christiane's piano emitted no sound. The head journeyman,
whose grumbling and scolding often echoed in the air as long as the
windows of the work shop remained open, was no longer heard. In the
rooms occupied by the old couple no one opened a window to look at the
thermometer, which hung on the shady side of the house. They well knew
it was no weather for a once famous tenor to expose his throat to the
air. Even Herr Feyertag was in a bad humor, although an unusual number
of jack-boots were ordered and business was very prosperous. His son,
who had imbibed from Franzelius all sorts of wild communistic ideas,
caused him a great deal of anxiety, and out ran with seven league boots
that worthy citizen and man of progress, his father. All such cares
seem doubly threatening in the autumn rain, and we are the more
inclined to believe the end of the world is coming, when the summer
sunlight has long lulled us into forgetfulness of all anxiety.

But suddenly this consoler seemed inclined to return for a time to
celebrate another festival. When Edwin opened his eyes one morning, the
brightest blue sky was smiling into the tun, and the atmosphere was as
still and soft as if ashamed of all the stormy misdemeanors of the last
few weeks. As good things, like evil ones, rarely come singly, this
morning also brought all sorts of unexpected pleasures. First came a
letter containing money to discharge a debt long since given up as
hopeless, the fee for a private lecture on Hegel's philosophy, which
Edwin had given a sceptical Russian. The auditor had suddenly
disappeared, and Edwin supposed him to be either in Paris or Siberia.
But he had preferred to make his peace with the Lord, and had now
obtained a position in St. Petersburg, from whence he sent double the
fee. Edwin was just forbidding Balder (who in his delight suddenly
broke his vow of silence and insisted that the money must be devoted to
buying back the books that had been sold) to meddle with the financial
department of the tun, which now, since Balder by his secret earnings
had basely betrayed the confidence reposed in him, was to be
exclusively in Edwin's hands, when Marquard came in, and after
carefully examining the patient, declared him out of danger for this
time. He cautioned him however, against any excitement or bodily
exertion, which would again open the scarcely healed wounds Then he
turned to Edwin: "I wish I could be as well satisfied with you," he
said, looking sharply into his face, "but I must confess that your
appearance, your pulse, your whole condition, don't suit me at all. A
few more days of this stooping, drudging, and brooding, and we shall be
just where we were the evening of the ballet. Deuce take it! I'd rather
prescribe for a whole cholera hospital, than a single thinking patient,
who's always opposing Mother Nature, and by his pondering and
cogitations during the day, tears into lint the repairs she makes in
his nerves at night. Or is--you have no secrets from Balder--your crazy
abstract love affair at the bottom of it? That was all that was
wanting! How far have you progressed with the little princess in
Jägerstrasse? Still the 'fir and the palm' longing and yearning in
anxious pain?"

"If the matter is of scientific interest to you," replied Edwin with a
totally unembarrassed face, "you may as well know that the story ended
before it had fairly begun. I should be strongly inclined to put the
apparition in the category of delusions of the senses, if it were not
for the perplexing circumstance that the phantom which so mysteriously
appeared and vanished, was visible to you also."

Marquard looked at him with a sly twinkle in his bright blue eyes. "May
I feel your pulse again?" he said dryly.

"Why?"

"Because it's a matter of scientific interest to me, to see whether a
philosopher, who makes truth his trade, can tell a lie without any
quickening of his pulse. Besides, I can if you desire, go my way and
pronounce you incurable. I should then come here only as court
physician to the younger branch." He seized his hat and cane as if to
go.

"I really don't understand," replied Edwin, as he quietly continued to
cut the leaves of a book, "why I should take the trouble to lie to such
an infallible diagnostician! In all seriousness, I've not seen the fair
mystery in Jägerstrasse for a fortnight or more."

"For a very natural reason," retorted Marquard laughing: "because for a
fortnight or more the beauty has lived in _Rosenstrasse_. Oh! you
sophist! You strangle the truth and salve your conscience with the
snares of your formal logic."

Balder looked at Edwin, who had turned deadly pale. The book fell from
his hand, his lips moved but no sound came from them.

"There sits the detected sinner," cried the doctor in a jeering tone.
"Ah, my son, lying and deceit are all very well if one is careful not to
be caught in them. Besides, I am the last person to attempt to force a
confidence, which is not voluntarily bestowed. Good morning!" Nodding
to Balder, he left the room and stumbled grumbling down the steep dark
staircase. When he had almost reached the bottom, he heard some one
call him and Edwin came leaping down.

"Marquard, one word more!"

"What is it?"

"I only wanted to tell you--you may think what you please, but it's the
plain truth--I thought she had left the city. What do you know about
her? Is it anything more than a freak of the imagination, that she is
living in Rosenstrasse--"

"In the third house from the corner, on the right hand side as you come
from the long bridge. Of course on the second story. I was driving past
the house yesterday afternoon, when it was still quite light, and
instantly recognized her, as in spite of the infernal weather, she was
standing at an open window. There are not two such faces. So, with a
half sad, half wearied expression--thinking partly of Edwin, and partly
of a velvet cloak--she leaned against the casement, and absently
scattered bread-crumbs to the sparrows in the street. Suddenly she
started back and shut the window. She might have seen me looking up,
perhaps she even recognized me. However, as I had resigned her to you
once for all--"

"Thank you, Marquard. Adieu!"

So saying, Edwin left the doctor standing on the dark stairs and
hastily ran up again, without hearing the expression of astonishment
which the latter sent after him.

When he returned to the tun, he endeavored to assume a cheerful
expression, and even laughed heartily, as if Marquard had told him some
comical story.

"It's all right," he said to Balder. "The tragi-comedy is to have an
after piece. What do you say to that, child? We'll recommend the
subject to Mohr for a fantastic story, the title will be promising:
'The Ghost in Rosenstrasse.'"

"All will yet be well," replied Balder gently, repressing a sigh. "Such
a parting was unnatural, and who knows whether you both would not have
suffered too severely in the trial. Now no harm is done except that she
too must have suffered in having been deprived of you a week."

"Oh! you flatterer!" exclaimed Edwin, who was pacing up and down the
room with his hands in his pockets. "Deprived of me? And what compelled
hex to be deprived of me, except her own free ducal will? Oh! child,
child, don't let us call X, U to each other! The matter stands simply
thus: I knew nothing of her, and she neither wished nor wishes to know
anything of me. And now see, my dear child, what a pitiful weakling
man, and especially your wise brother is! Instead of being satisfied
that this fortnight's silence is meant as a discharge, he will not be
content to rest until he has received his dismissal in due form, if in
any way he can obtain another audience.

"You see," he continued, while Balder was silently trying to calm his
fears at this new turn in the state of affairs, "we have our boasted
free will and the admirable categorical imperative mood, the standard
specifics for all attacks of moral fevers. I can solemnly assure you,
Balder, I'm no coward, no such pitiful weakling, that I would not
swallow the bitterest medicine, if I knew it would cure me. 'You can,
because you ought!' Certainly, I can force myself not to steal, murder,
commit adultery, or break any other of the ten commandments, because I
know they are in themselves half holy, half salutary, and the world
would be out of joint if we did not hold in check certain desires for
our neighbor's purse, life, wife, or anything else that is his. But
_here_, in my case--what do you command, Herr Imperative Mood? What do
you desire, Herr Free Will? That it looks ill for _meum esse
conservare_, if I simply baffle this longing and stay away, I have
sufficiently experienced during the last fortnight. Whether matters
will be worse if I see her again, who can tell? So I think I'll go
there and ask her whether she thinks me a fool or a man over wise, for
again playing with heat and cold which have given me chilblains
already?"

"Fortunately we're rich young men again," he added smiling. "For
although she esteems me very highly because I visit her without gloves,
it might seem quite too magnificent if I should call in a straw hat at
the end of October. I will spend something on myself, child, and even
look around for a respectable winter overcoat. My old one has gone
Heaven knows where with Franzelius, who wore it for a Sunday coat."

He could devote no more attention to his books, but while talking to
Balder in a half earnest, half satirical tone, made as careful a
toilette as is possible when a man possesses but one suit of clothes,
and finally, with his huge paper shears clipped his beard before the
tiny mirror. "I should really like to know," he said, while engaged in
this operation, without looking at Balder, "whether I should be less
indifferent to her, if I were a handsome young fellow like you, so that
she could be vain of me, or rather see her natural love of beauty
satisfied by my insignificant self. That I shall ever be necessary to
her, is not to be hoped. But to be an elegant superfluity, like a
parrot, or a piano on which she doesn't even know how to play--the
prospect wouldn't be very glorious, but for lack of a better. There,
the bushes have been pruned till they're fit to appear at court. I look
quite ghostly; this fortnight has been hard upon me. But perhaps it
will touch her: 'heart-sick, pallid, and true.' Good bye, my boy. I'll
bring back all sorts of things for dinner."

He was so strangely agitated that he embraced Balder, kissed him on the
forehead, and then rushed out of the room, humming in his powerful
"transcendental" voice--as Mohr called it--"_la donna è mobile_."



                              CHAPTER II.


His first errand was to a hatter, his second to a ready made clothing
store. When, though the October sun was shining warmly, he took his way
toward the Rurfürsten Bridge in his new winter overcoat, he could not
help laughing at his shadow, which he could scarcely recognize in its
present stately contour. He crammed the large pockets with oranges, of
which Balder was very fond, bought all sorts of trifles for him, and
seemed to himself very brave and resolute, in using so much self
constraint as to lengthen the long distance to Rosenstrasse by his
numerous delays. He even felt capable of maintaining perfectly his self
control, if it should chance that he never saw her again. When he at
last knocked at her door, he considered it a great proof of his
courage, that he went to meet danger so boldly.

The third house from the corner on the right hand side--now he was
standing before it. The early hour, which was by no means suitable for
visiting, did not trouble him in the least. Yet he willingly allowed
Mohr, who happened to meet him just in front of the house, to drag him
away for some distance, and listened patiently to his contemptuous
criticism of a new tragedy which had created a great _furore_ the
evening before, and which was a wretched abortion, badly pieced out
with stolen fragments. What was at this moment, the "degeneration of
the German stage" to him! what even his friend's hopes that his
"_sinfonia ironica_" would at last obtain recognition, since a very
able musician--he did not say it was no other than Christiane--was
sincerely interested in it. They saw Franzelius on the other side of
the street, engaged in an eager conversation with a dirty fellow in a
blue blouse. He recognized them, but pulled his cap farther over his
face and looked away. Mohr was just beginning to criticize the first
number of the "Tribune of the People," which he had with him and which
he declared to be an infallible remedy for melancholy. But Edwin
suddenly turned away, and under the pretence that he had a lesson to
give in that house, hastily retraced his steps as if to make up for
lost time, and went up the steps without delay.

His heart beat even more violently than at his first visit to her. On
reaching the landing, he tried several times in an undertone, to see if
he had breath enough to say good morning. But not until he had gazed at
the bell handle for at least ten minutes, did he feel sufficiently
composed to ring and ask the old woman who opened the door, if Fräulein
Toinette Marchand was in.

"She lives here," was the reply, "but it is so early that she isn't
dressed yet."

"She will probably see an old friend," replied Edwin quickly, and
without heeding the woman's gesture of denial he crossed the threshold.
At the same moment, one of the doors leading into the corridor opened,
and the beautiful face, looking twice as charming in a lace morning cap
as it had ever seemed before, suddenly appeared.

She recognized him instantly; an involuntary movement of the head told
him that her first thought was to refuse to see him, but the next
instant she changed her mind.

"Is it _you_!" she exclaimed, but without betraying any surprise in the
tone. "I half expected you; I know no one can escape destiny. Come in.
You will doubtless excuse my cap."

He silently followed her into a neatly furnished room. His emotion was
so great, that he vainly strove to utter a few indifferent words, and
as if exhausted by a long walk, he sank down into one of the chairs
beside her sofa. Neither did she seem to know what tone to adopt.
Standing beside a flower stand, which however contained no exotics like
the one in Jägerstrasse, she busied herself in pulling off the yellow
leaves, and in binding up a drooping tendril.

He had time to look at her. She was attired, in a simple morning dress,
which displayed her supple figure to even more advantage than her usual
costume, and the little cap on her wavy brown hair gave her a somewhat
matronly air, which contrasted most charmingly with the pale, childish
face.

"My change is very much for the worse, don't you think so?"  she asked,
still busied with the flowers. "This plush furniture--it's said to be
an elegant apartment, but in comparison to the really stylish
appearance of the old rooms, looks like a mere lumber shop. However, I
can pay this quarter's rent and live among respectable people. But tell
me, how did you discover me? I thought, as I had discharged the
carriage, and no longer allowed the dwarf, who begged most pitifully to
be kept, to wear livery, I could live here in the most complete
incognita--so long as my money lasted. You were angry with me because I
vanished so suddenly, were you not? Look into my face and tell me
frankly, whether you were really angry or not?"

She had turned hastily toward him and was now gazing at him with
beseeching, mischievous eyes, as if she no more doubted the falsity of
her words, than that he would be weak enough to show mercy before
justice.

"My dear Fräulein," said he, trying to smile, "as you have,
unfortunately, never permitted me to show you any kindness, I've not
ventured to take the liberty of being angry with you. I had forced
myself upon you, you took the first opportunity to get rid of
me--that's so natural, that a man needn't be your 'wise friend' to
understand it."

"Oh! no," she answered thoughtfully, "that's not exactly it. Do you
know that I've more than once commenced a note to you, to tell you
where I was to be found. Then I tore it up again. Silence seemed to me
wiser for us both; wiser for me, that I might wean myself in time from
that most dangerous luxury: a friend; and wiser for you, because some
day you might get tired of being my '_wise friend_,' and then the
affair would end in a way I would fain spare you. You smile. So much
the better, if you find no danger in it. Besides, it would now be too
late; you've found me again, probably your friend the doctor, who saw
me at the window yesterday, tattled. I'm very glad you're here. You
can't imagine what tiresome hours I've spent, almost always sad or
listless."

"Where did you wish to go?"

"Yes, where? That was just the question. Back to my commonplace
poverty--ah! at the thought a cold shudder ran over me, as if I were
about to jump into a marsh and sink up to my neck. To stoop to the yoke
of a governess, here in the city, where I've lived as a great lady,
seemed terrible too. So I shall live on in this way a few weeks longer,
and then when the last louis d'or is exhausted, close my eyes, and dare
a plunge--into the great nothing. Or do you believe that there is a
something?"

"No," he answered quietly. "And for that very reason, it seems to me
folly to hastily throw away the something we possess here."

"Hastily? How long is one to wait? When would you permit a person, who
did not find this something worth the trouble it costs, to take refuge
in nothing?"

"When he quite despairs of being anything in the world, of making
himself useful or giving pleasure to himself or anybody else."

"Well then--in that case, you might without hesitation sign my passport
for departure. For that _I_ am an utterly useless creature, and at the
utmost can only afford Jean Jacques a little pleasure when I give him
five groschen to feast at a cake shop--"

The tears that she had vainly endeavored to repress, burst forth, yet
she did not turn away from him, but stood at the little table before
the sofa, resting both slender hands on its polished surface as if to
support herself, while large drops fell from her black lashes.

Edwin watched her with the deepest sympathy. He was obliged to use the
greatest self control, to refrain from standing up and clasping her in
his arms, to console her as one would a child.

"If you did not endure my presence simply for the sake of my wisdom,"
he said as calmly as possible, "I would give you the most absurd
proofs, that your existence was a necessity of life to some one besides
Friend Jean, a blessing, a source of joy, though to be sure not wholly
unclouded. But aside from all nonsense: you must not go on so,
Toinette. You're quite right: one who lives so during the day, at last
passes out of the day into the night that has no morning. I see that
I've come just at the right time. Courage, child, courage! Permit me to
tell you that you don't yet understand the life you wish to cast
away. No indeed," he continued, as she gazed at him through her tears
with a look of surprise, which seemed to say: 'yet I've experienced
enough'--"you know only want and affluence; but there are a thousand
steps between, on which a sensible person can sit down very comfortably
and accommodate himself to the world. To be sure, he must possess one
thing to make life endurable anywhere."

"You mean a contented heart?"

"Heaven forbid, my dear friend! It should be a very much spoiled,
exacting heart; do you suppose, for instance, mine would take a
predilection so easily? But it will not matter if the heart is needy
and rich at the same time--that wonderfully contradictory condition
called love, when we know not which is most blessed, to give or to
receive, where we are never satisfied with giving and receiving, and in
this absurdly delightful and nonsensically clever occupation, have no
time to consider the rest of earthly things, plush furniture or wooden
chairs, because the whole question of wealth or poverty has been
transferred to another province."

He relapsed into silence, and eagerly watched the effect of his words.
Her tears had ceased to flow, and she was gazing absently and dreamily
into vacancy.

"I don't understand you, and you can't understand me," she answered
with a scornful shake of the head. "How often must I tell you, that
I've no talent for what you call 'love!' As in this present world, both
in reality and romance, everything seems to turn upon it as a pivot,
you must easily understand, that I do not suit such a world. No, things
can't go on so, long. And really, if I were not so cowardly, and did
not fear _pain_--but that will, always restrain me until life becomes
still more unendurable, and the feeling of loneliness and desolation at
last increases to a physical anguish keener than all other."

He rose and took her hand. "Dear Toinette, you're in a morbid,
over-excited state, and must allow your friend to cure you. Will you
trust yourself to me? You shall not swallow any bitter draught, or have
your heart cut out, that we may see what this obstinate little muscle
wants ere it can do its duty like a thousand others. I'll show you a
little of the world, teach you how it is constituted on an average and
how men bear with each other and till the void of which you complain,
on week-days and holidays. To-morrow will be Sunday. I should think we
might do like nine-tenths of our fellow citizens, and take advantage of
the fine weather for a little excursion into the country.

"Willingly. But where shall we go?"

"That's my affair. I must beg you to leave the whole arrangement to me.
Fortunately you have dismissed your carriage, so you will leave the
striped waistcoat at home."

"Poor boy! Why don't you give him a share in the pleasure?"

"Because private tutors are not able to go out to amuse themselves with
a train of attendants. I'll persuade my brother to accompany us
instead. I hope you don't object."

"I! Didn't I tell you long ago, how curious I've always been to see
what kind of a brother you have."

"You'll make the acquaintance of a very charming young fellow, and I
warn you in advance, do not allow it to be too evident that you like
him much better than your pedantic friend. With all my brotherly love,
I won't answer for it that I should not feel a certain degree of
jealousy. But many things which you think 'wise' and don't understand
in me, will perhaps become clearer when you've seen a man like Balder.
By the bye, you'll not wear a very magnificent dress? I hope to show
you that the fewer ducal pretensions people make, the more royally they
can amuse themselves."

She smiled. "You're a good man, to take so much trouble about a poor,
incurable creature. Do whatever you choose, you shall have unlimited
authority to improve me as much as you can."

"To-morrow morning at ten, then! Farewell, most august friend."

"You're graciously dismissed, worthy friend and marshal of the royal
household." With a bow of mock condescension, she gave him her hand,
which he raised to his lips with smiling reverence.

"And until to-morrow morning, neither poison nor dagger!" he cried on
reaching the doorway, shaking his finger.

"I'll hold out until then," she answered gaily. "Out of curiosity to
see your brother."



                              CHAPTER III.


"It's true! Rinaldo is in the old chains again!" exclaimed Edwin, as he
entered the room where Balder sat alone, sunning himself in the window.
He was apparently unoccupied, for he had hastily locked up the volume
in which he had been writing verses, when he heard Edwin's step in the
courtyard below, nevertheless the reflection of his poetic dreams still
lingered in his eyes.

"Have you found her?" he asked. "How did she appear?"

"Exactly as usual, neither cordial nor repellant. Oh! child, if you
could but solve this problem! How can one long for grapes, which not
only hang too high, but are after all merely painted. If, in the moon,
there live creatures resembling men, who breath a special atmosphere,
and have in their veins some vital ichor different from our blood, they
may appear like this girl. Something of the true woman is lacking, and
yet she possesses everything that hundreds of others need to attain the
full meaning of womanhood. My brain aches with trying to understand the
mystery."

He threw himself into a chair before the table, now set for dinner, and
drank a glass of water.

"And shall you go to her every day as before?" asked Balder sadly.

"As long as I can hold out. As long as it lasts. For I fear she will
ultimately become such a mystery to herself, that she will commit some
mad act. I proposed to cure her, to make life dear to her, to transform
Mephistopheles, 'first of all I must bring her into better company.'
But I don't imagine I shall succeed in finding a life purpose for her,
a task which will really warm her heart, fill her days, and of which
she can dream at night. Ah! if she only had a brain like that of my
little hedge princess Leah! But that's the strangest thing of all:
she's clever and yet entirely without any craving for knowledge;
without prejudices and perfectly indifferent to the opinions of others,
kind hearted without any interest in mankind; gay without being
contented, bright without being warm--and I, as a punishment for my
sins, am condemned to lavish as much heart's blood upon this strange
specimen of her sex, as if I were attempting a moral transfusion,
instead of the physical one that has long been tried. You'll see,
child: when I've once succeeded in replacing the moon-lymph in her
veins with warm, earthly human blood, the first dandy that comes along
will reap the advantage, and I shall have to pocket the disappointment.
However, perhaps your clairvoyant eyes will solve the enigma more
easily than I."

"I--how should I--?"

"I promised to take her into the country to-morrow and to bring you
with me. She's very anxious to make your acquaintance."

"You're joking, Edwin."

"Not at all. I should like to know what impression she makes upon
perfectly unprejudiced persons. In spite of my own folly, I'm sure that
you're not in love with her. If you become really dangerous to her
peace of mind, so much the better, let her experience for once what the
feeling is and I'll endure the inevitable disappointment with dignity.
Seriously, child, I should like to see what she's worth 'between
brothers.' Besides, you ought not to decline, for Marquard thinks a
drive in this air would do you a great deal of good."

A pause ensued. Balder gazed silently into vacancy and did not seem
disposed to give an immediate answer. At last he said: "You must not
take it amiss, Edwin, but I can't go with you; surely you know it will
be better for me to stay at home."

"Better? For whom?"

"For all. I should only be a burden if I were obliged to limp about
everywhere with you--and then--I've been in ladies' society so little.
I should be either very stupid, or say something awkward which would
embarrass you."

Edwin had risen and now stood directly before him. "Can you look me in
the eyes, you cunning hypocrite?" he exclaimed. "As if you could ever
do or say anything awkward! I know exactly why you don't want to go:
you think I'm only taking you out of brotherly love and courtesy, and
would really much prefer being alone with my cold sweet heart. But this
time, dear searcher of the heart, you're entirely wrong. I assure you,
by all that a private tutor holds sacred: you'll do me a favor by
making one of this party. Besides, I've exhausted my Latin, and fear if
we're alone she'll discover it and give her tutor lover his discharge
in good earnest."

He knew what a trump he was playing, in representing the affair as a
sacrifice Balder was to make for him. But the latter, contrary to his
expectation, remained firm in his refusal, and as he pleaded the
sensitiveness of his chest, Edwin was compelled to desist from urging
him. The real reason: that he was longing for a day when he could give
himself up to his love dream undisturbed and also see Reginchen alone,
he certainly did not confess to Edwin, perhaps not even to himself.

The next morning dawned as clear and bright as could be desired for a
Sunday excursion. Punctually at ten o'clock Edwin entered Toinette's
room. She came toward him with unfeigned cordiality, attired in a more
simple dress than any he had yet seen, and laughed when she noticed his
astonished face. "Is this right?"  she asked. "This is the costume in
which Duchess Toinette walked about her native city, when she had no
court philosopher, court dwarf, or court splendor. I hope you're not
courtier enough or tasteless enough to think this countrified garb
pretty. Even my landlady, who has usually been very well satisfied with
me, was horrified at the idea of my going into the country with my
cousin--that's what you are now--in such a dress. But I've undertaken
to cure you, as well as to be cured by you. You shall confess that
beautiful things are beautiful and ugly ones ugly, and that we may make
necessity a virtue or even a jest, but never a happiness or a
pleasure."

"I'm afraid your cure will fail," he answered laughing. "You might
crawl into a turtle's shell and still please me, if only your head and
hands peeped out."

"So you're an incorrigible courtier!" she replied, shaking her white
finger at him. "But where did you leave your brother?"

He told her that he had vainly endeavored to induce him to come with
them.

"You've probably described me to him as something very horrible," she
answered thoughtfully, "to the life, as I seem to _you_, a heartless,
brainless, finery-loving creature. Well, perhaps he'll form a better
opinion of me when he sees me with his own eyes; for I must make his
acquaintance, that's settled. But now come. I feel a childish delight
in the anticipation of this drive. We won't keep the carriage waiting."

"The carriage? Plebeian country parties set off from the city gate in a
wagon. But you must be contented to walk there on your august little
feet."

"Very well. You shall have no cause to complain of me."

She tied under her chin the strings of an old and somewhat shabby
velvet hat, which however was very becoming to her young face, and
called to Jean to bring her cloak. The boy came and saluted Edwin with
the same solemn stiffness as usual. He was dressed in a common black
suit, and only the high shirt collar recalled the livery. When the
young lady told him that he might have his time until six o'clock in
the evening and go to visit his parents, his thick lips curled for a
moment in a joyful grin, but instantly resumed an expression of solemn
respect. Then they left the house, and Toinette leaned lightly on
Edwin's arm. The streets were full of people in their Sunday attire,
elegant equipages rolled past them, the air was still, and when they
crossed the bridge, all the windows of the old castle glittered in the
autumn sunlight. Toinette paused before a huckster who was selling
fruit.

"It's improper to eat in the street," she whispered to Edwin. "But just
for that very reason you must buy me one of those beautiful apples. I
feel as if I were masquerading. Why shouldn't we take advantage of our
disguise? Or must people stare at plebeian picnics?"

"Heaven forbid!" he answered. "Eating is the main object. And as for
the propriety--you see I wear no gloves today."

"But unfortunately, a terribly respectable hat. If the shops were not
closed, I should make you oblige me by buying a new one at once. I
liked your looks much better before; but it's no use now. We must both
appear like scarecrows among the pretty Sunday toilettes."

"Then the birds will at least keep away from these grapes," he answered
laughing, as he handed her a paper horn full of the fruit. "I'll put
the apples in my pocket. Good Heavens! Here are the oranges I bought
for Balder yesterday. What shall we do with all these blessings? Ah!
here comes a droschky. Now we can eat our breakfast more comfortably."

He signed to the driver and helped his companion in. Just as he was in
the act of entering the vehicle, he saw Leah approaching with her
father. The old gentleman's face was as bright as ever, but his
daughter looked somewhat paler, and for the first time Edwin noticed
with surprise the dark brilliancy of her eyes and the grace of her
walk. They also recognized him, the young girl with a sudden blush, the
father, after a hasty movement as if to rush up to him, restraining
himself. Then they went on in the stream of pedestrians, while Edwin
entered the droschky and called to the driver: "To Charlottenburg!"

"Who was the beautiful girl to whom you just bowed?" said Toinette,
turning to look after her.

"A former pupil. Do you think her beautiful? I confess I was somewhat
struck by her appearance to-day. During the time I taught her, till
within a few weeks ago, I noticed nothing remarkable in her face,
except that she has very wise, earnest eyes."

Toinette made no reply and seemed lost in thought. After a time she
said. "And what did you teach her?"

"If you'll not repeat it, to injure the child's character: in
philosophy. To be sure it didn't last long."

"In philosophy? Is that a suitable study for us women? I thought it was
only fit for men."

"So most men think, and that's why my little philosopher would find it
hard to get a husband, if it should be noised abroad that she had taken
lessons from me."

"That danger, as you know, would not frighten me, if you would take me
for a pupil. But I fear I should disgrace you. I've learned too little
and read too many novels."

"Novels are not the worst introduction to philosophy. Don't you think
that Père Goriot affords more food for the thought, than many a text
book placed in the higher schools for girls and which does not contain
a syllable about what is called life?"

"It depends upon who reads it. I've had a great many thoughts. But they
were so sad that they cannot have been the right philosophy, at least
not yours; for you're always cheerful, so the world must wear quite a
different aspect to you in your wisdom, from what it does to me in my
stupidity."

"Very possibly," he said smiling. "But we must first prove it. You must
tell me your thoughts, and I will tell you mine. Afterwards we'll see
against which there are the fewest objections."

"And is there nothing more in philosophy? Did you make no farther
progress in your lessons to that young lady?"

"Oh! no. I began with her at the A. B. C, told her how, from the most
ancient times, thoughtful men had demonstrated the relations of things
in the world and what singular dreams about origin and decay, soul and
body, gods and spirits they had had. I'll wager that if you had
listened, you would not have been bored; for you have a tendency toward
melancholy, and philosophy is like a magic lantern; the clear outlines
of the pictures of the world it conjures up can only appear on a dark
background, but on that dark background is thrown the real brightness,
the light that brings cheerfulness and peace, while the common every
day sunlight, like ordinary human reason, is only sufficient for the
every day restless flickering dawn."

She made no reply and gazed steadily into vacancy with a charmingly
thoughtful expression.

After a pause she said: "And is any real goal reached? After pondering
over everything, do we know something definite, something that cannot
be called in question?"

"Yes and no. We arrive at what we have longed to know, the fact that
there are secrets of which our narrow minds can never have anything
more than a dim idea, although certain philosophers, who take the
chimeras of their own brains for the revelations of omniscient truth,
venture to give information even in regard to them. But is it not a
gain to learn how much we are capable of knowing, and where the ever
shrouded abysses lie? And the way along these--can you not imagine that
it would be as refreshing and full of enjoyment, as to wander amid
lofty mountains, among glaciers and ice fields, past ravines and
waterfalls that seem completely inaccessible?"

"Yes indeed," she replied, "if one is sure footed and not predisposed
to giddiness."

"The strength will increase on the way, if one is not a cripple when he
leaves home. And then in addition to the pleasure of looking around,
seeing the world, and drawing one's breath freely, do you know what
other benefit will be received?" She looked at him inquiringly.

"In order to climb up, we throw away much of the useless and
troublesome lumber we've dragged about in our shallow, thoughtless
existence, and when we have reached the heights and arrived so much
nearer to heaven and its stars, we learn to dispense with all this
trash and despise it. The atmosphere is rarefied, and earthly things,
viewed from the mountain tops, shrivel so incredibly that on coming
down, we see the dearest objects and most beloved friends with very
different eyes."

"By which they would hardly be the gainers. And then we should be more
unhappy than before."

"No," he answered with an expression of quiet joy, as he thought of
Balder, their boyhood, and all their struggling life in the bare tun.
"What is really good and true, little as it may be prized by fools,
appears for the first time in all its beauty, as allied to all the
noble things we have experienced and learned far above the plane of
every day life. You ought to make the attempt; I don't believe you
would regret it. Besides," he added smiling, "my alpenstock and
mountain shoes will always be at your service."

She looked earnestly into his face. "You think I don't see your aim.
You want to destroy or disgust me with what you call my vanity, but
which is really just as much a part of myself, as my brown hair, my
white teeth, and my dark eyes. Very well, we'll make the trial. Begin
the lesson at once; of course you must first tell me your thoughts,
then you shall hear mine. So: 'in the beginning God created Heaven and
earth'--"

He laughed and took a bunch of grapes from the paper horn that lay on
the opposite seat of the carriage. "What are you thinking of?" he
answered in a jesting tone. "This is Sunday, and we're going on an
excursion into the country. What would you say of a banker who
accompanied a lady to Charlottenburg and talked to her on the way about
stocks and bonds? To-morrow, if you feel inclined to listen, I'll read
you as many lectures as you desire. With you, I shall at least run no
risk, as in the case of my other pupil, of being discharged by an
orthodox father and a theological aunt, on account of dangerous
theories. And I'm not afraid of wearying you! For in the first place I
can't imagine any novel so interesting as the history of truth, and
secondly you know my weakness in being unable to look at you long
without talking stupid nonsense."

She shook her finger at him again. "Don't let me repent that I didn't
take little Jean with me for a chaperon, because I thought you a knight
without fear and without reproach. And now we'll eat our breakfast."

Meantime the droschky was moving on in that contemplative trot which
distinguishes the Berlin droschky horses above all others of their race
and calling, over the broad road on which, during the last few weeks,
the trees in the Thiergarten had strewed all their autumnal foliage. In
spite of the beautiful weather, the foot paths on each side were
entirely deserted, for the real stream of pleasure-seekers does not
pour out of the city gates until the afternoon. They passed only
solitary couples, so absorbed in themselves that they did not notice
the two who drove by them eating grapes. Now and then, a carriage
dashed past their phlegmatic horse. Whenever this occurred, Edwin saw
that Toinette made an impatient movement and wrapped herself more
closely in her cloak. The air was soft, almost still, but her ducal
blood seemed chilled by the slow pace at which they moved. He laughed.

"I see clearly that your habit of being drawn by four horses makes you
impatient of this half way style. Shall we dismiss our carriage and
continue our way on foot?"

She instantly assented, called to the coachman to stop, and without
waiting for Edwin's assistance sprang out as lightly as a feather. She
did not even take his arm, but walked swiftly beside him, still holding
in her hand the horn from which she was eating the last grapes.

"Why mayn't I give you my arm?" he asked.

"Look at those other couples," she answered petulantly. "Is there
anything more out of taste than the sentimental custom of keeping step?
Either the gentleman must take little mincing steps like the lady, or
she must accommodate herself to his pace by making long strides, which
is still more ugly. And all this because they love each other! We have
not even that excuse, so let each walk as is most comfortable. You
can't lose me, for I haven't a groschen in my pocket. If I ran away
from you, I should be obliged to starve."

He laughed and said that was not the mode of death usual among
duchesses, especially when they had such black eyes; to which she
retorted that her duchy was hanging up in the closet at home; if she
sold it she could scarcely live on the proceeds a fortnight, and even
for that length of time not in a style suitable to her rank. Such were
the harmless jests with which they amused each other as they walked on;
he had never seen her in such gay spirits, and it was happiness enough
for him, after his long separation from her, to be permitted to walk
beside her and look at her every movement. It was so charming to see
her eat the grapes, and when the paper was empty bite an apple with her
little white teeth. She had removed her gloves and untied the strings
of her hat and the sunlight falling through the bare branches flickered
over her lovely face.

On reaching the first of the long row of villas, she stopped to
rearrange her dress. It was even more lonely here. Most of the houses,
on account of the early commencement of autumn, had already been
deserted; in the gardens of the pleasure resorts, the Pagoda and
others, tables and benches still stood awry, as they had remained
during the long rains, and the yellow leaves were not even brushed
away. But all this dreariness and inhospitality could not damp the
spirits of our young pair. Toinette--and especially Edwin--were
delighted to have the beautiful castle garden all to themselves.

"It's strange," said the young girl as they walked through the silent
avenues and at last paused beside the famous carp pond, where to-day
the broad heads of the fishes were scarcely visible beneath the thick
covering of yellow leaves--"I always feel happiest and gayest when
everything around is very grey and dreary. When anything was going on
in my little native city, a ball or a shooting match, or any kind of
festivity, I always felt very melancholy among the happy cake-eating
crowd. And in our castle park, which is almost as ancient and venerable
as this, and has a great many places where it's not safe to go, I've
wandered about half a day like a little deer, and been perfectly at
home. Do you see now that I'm nothing out of my fine clothes, that it's
from no coquetry that I prefer to wear velvet rather than calico? Here,
for instance, even beside you, I feel too poor and shabby for these
royal avenues. You smile. Say what you please, it may be vain and
foolish and brainless, but it's natural to me, and I can't help it, I
shall carry it with me to the grave."

Meantime they had reached the mausoleum of Frederick William III. and
his beautiful queen. The invalid soldier who guarded it was asleep on a
bench, and when wakened seemed greatly surprised to see visitors so
early, but Edwin gave him a large fee, and he opened the silent hall of
death without objecting. Edwin did not enter it for the first time; but
the magical solemnity of the dusky room had never moved him so deeply,
as on previous visits he had been admitted with a crowd of strangers.
Now the light fell through the blue dome upon the silent marble figures
and the young fresh girl at his side, who could not resist the spell of
the place, and mutely, with a strangely eager expression, as if
expecting some solemn event to happen, gazed for a long time at the
glorified image of the royal lady. Edwin at last approached her, and in
a whisper asked if she were ready to go. She did not hear him and
remained spell bound by the fascination of the place, until the door
keeper rattled his keys and reminded them it was time to leave. Then,
as if longing for some hand to lead her back to life out of the regions
of the dead, she took Edwin's arm and even in the sunlight that shone
upon the park walked beside him a longtime in silence, absorbed in her
own thoughts. He too kept silence, though his heart was burning. Never
had she seemed so lovable, so far above all other women whom he had
even known, as during her quiet reverie in the blue soft twilight. He
had to use the utmost self control to speak of any thing but his
passion.

"I'm really grateful to you," he began, "for being so deeply affected
by that solemn spot. Scarcely any other place hallowed by art and
association, has ever so moved me. Surely the fate of those two human
beings has its influence too in the silence, the thought of so much
dignity in misfortune, so much unassuming goodness on the throne, so
much affection in the simplest form. Neither was intellectual or highly
cultured. But in the decisive moment their innate nobility put the
right words in their mouths, the right resolution in their hearts, and
their thoroughly plebeian sense of duty always made them appear truly
royal in the high position in which they were placed. And then--isn't
it touching to think how this prosaic, sober, almost awkward monarch,
devoted himself to his beautiful wife with an ideal love which
outlasted death, and while building barracks and living simply and
frugally in the plainest palace in his capital, was constantly thinking
how he could have this house of death still more magnificently adorned
by the greatest masters, because it contained his wife's heart and with
it all the poetry of his life. Then at last he ordered his own effigy
to be placed beside hers, wrapped in the simple soldier's cloak he had
preferred to the purple mantle, that even in death, he might remain
faithful to himself and to her. Isn't there greatness in so much
humility, and more true royalty in this unassuming figure than in all
the boastful imperial pomp of this great conqueror?"

At first she did not answer. Not until they approached the gate of the
park and she drew her hand lightly from his arm to put on her gloves,
did she say: "You're perfectly right; the only true nobility is to
remain faithful to one's self. The common run of mankind concern
themselves much about their neighbors' opinion, imploring their advice
as to the guidance of their lives, but he who has the germ of a noble
nature lives and dies by the light of his own inward grace and is
sovereign of himself. As for these rules of living, they are pitiful
torments which evil unhappy meddlesome people have invented to sour the
life of their fellow mortals. He who thrusts his neck under the yoke
deserves the bondage. One can grow old in such a servitude and yet
never know what it is really to live."



                              CHAPTER IV.


The clock struck two as they entered the square before the castle.
"What shall we do now?"  she asked.

"We have now no more important task than to eat the best dinner we can
get. I hope the table in the Pagoda has made some progress in
civilization since my student days, when I used to revel in the famous
_katteschale_. However, it's Sunday, and Charlottenburg knows the duty
it owes the capital."

When they entered the handsome hotel, in whose lower rooms a somewhat
motley company were already drinking coffee, a waiter came toward them
and after a hasty glance at Toinette, showed the young couple the way
to the second story. If they wished to dine alone, they would find
empty rooms and tables there--

"There's no help for it," said Edwin laughing, "they evidently suspect
you of a desire to enjoy my society alone; you'll have to reconcile
yourself to it. But we'll drink our coffee in the open air, and then
you can make up for the conquests you can't celebrate at dinner."

He went up stairs beside her and opened the first door, which led into
a comfortable room. She sat down without ceremony on the little sofa,
removed her hat and cloak, and assured him that in spite of the second
breakfast of fruit which she had eaten, she was already very hungry.
Edwin seated himself opposite her and took up the bill of fare. Amid
all sorts of jests, they began to select their favorite dishes, and he
could not help remembering their little dinners in Jägerstrasse. He
inquired about her birds. She now had a dozen sparrows for boarders,
she said, and would rather hear nothing about those delights of the
table. She had afterwards learned that even the restaurant had been in
the conspiracy against her, and had only charged her half price. She
would soon be reduced to Lotte's bread and butter. "But we won't talk
about that to-day," she said suddenly, "it'll come soon enough."

She rose, yawned, and began to look at the lithographs that hung on the
walls. "You see," said she, "if we had brought the dwarf with us, we
should have been better served."

"The waiter seems to think we shall be satisfied with our young love.
Wait a moment, I'll go down myself, enter into a tender relation with
the cook, and bribe some ministering spirit to devote himself
exclusively to us." He left the little room and hurried down stairs.
Just as he was turning the corner, he ran against a gentleman who was
rushing up. Their mutual apologies died on their lips.

"You here, Edwin?"

"Marquard!"

"No less a personage," laughed the physician. "And in the best of
company. But you--is Balder here?"

"It was impossible to persuade him, unfortunately. You know him."

"So you're alone? Well, you shall join our party at any rate. It's
entirely composed of your acquaintances, except my little suburban
nightingale. Just think, the dear innocent child wouldn't compromise
herself by taking an excursion with me _tete-a-tete_. She insisted that
her friend Christiane must go too, or she would stay at home. Now the
excellent musician is really very disagreeable to me, for the express
reason that she trains young and lively talent to virtue and Sebastian
Bach. But what was I to do? The little one laconically told me we would
be taken for husband and wife, wedded in true burgher fashion, and I
gave up the point. So I went to Fräulein Christiane to invite her,
wondering in case she accepted, whom I should ask as the fourth man--a
pleasure party of three is absurd of course. I thought of you for a
moment. Would you have come? Well, when I went into her room, I found
Heinrich, the dissatisfied, sitting at her piano, talking his
contradictory little tattle. Do you know I think he has designs in that
quarter despite the ugliness of his sweetheart. What could I do but
offer him the fourth seat in the carriage? I hoped he would say no, for
as you're aware, he can't endure me. But _quod non_! he eagerly
accepted, and so far everything has passed off charmingly. We're in
high spirits, even before the champagne, and what fire-works of wit
will be let off afterwards no one can tell. You'll come in just at the
right moment, and on the way home it'll be so much the better, if we
can't all find seats in one carriage."

"You're very kind," answered Edwin, smilingly releasing himself from
the grasp of his friend who wanted to drag him away at once. "But I've
brought a companion too, and it's doubtful--"

"Whom? Surely not--? Oh! you deepest of all philosophers--'yesterday on
a proud steed, to-day shot through the heart'--the princess?"

Edwin nodded.

"And I let myself be deluded into giving him the address
yesterday--well done! So we won't disturb you, but leave the fir and
palm to themselves."

"You're very much mistaken," said Edwin with a half sigh, "True, as
regards the temperature, tropical vegetation doesn't ill suit me, if
palms only didn't mean victory; for in spite of our apparent intimacy,
her highness is still as much surrounded by ice as ever. I really
believe the best way to prevent the chill from finally producing the
sleep of death, will be to bring her to you--if she's inclined to come,
which I scarcely doubt."

"Bravo! I'll prepare the ladies. A relative of yours? A little cousin
from the country."

"For aught I care. I pass for her cousin in the Rosenstrasse."

"Capital! I'll answer for _our_ cousins. They'll be somewhat jealous,
which will make our attentions rise in value, in other respects we
shall be extremely agreeable. So in five minutes. The last room in the
rear on this corridor. And the dinner's _my_ affair."

He left Edwin at the door of his room and brushing his thin locks with
a small pocket brush and humming a tune, returned to his friends.

"Ladies," said he, as he entered the room where Mohr and the two girls
sat at a neatly laid table, "I must beg your pardon for a somewhat
arbitrary act. A friend of mine with a very charming and highly
respectable cousin are close beside us, under the same roof. I asked
him to join us, he's already acquainted with two of you, as he is no
less a personage than our friend Edwin, the philosopher."

"_Another_ admirer of our musician?" exclaimed Mohr. "I ought to
protest against it; I had subscribed for all the musical enthusiasm
that would be developed to-day, since Maquard adores in artists only
the charms of women. But be it so! This Edwin is an old friend of mine,
and moreover deeply in debt to Fräulein Christiane for her daily free
concerts."

"Isn't he a tall man with light hair, not exactly handsome, but
interesting when he doesn't wear his old straw hat?"  asked the little
singer in a gay, twittering voice, from whose speaking tones one would
never suppose that it could compass two octaves. At the first glance
she looked strikingly pretty, but on a closer inspection one perceived
that the features of the round face were not really harmonious, the
large eyes and turned up nose, the sentimental mouth and sensual chin
formed a strange contrast, and even her toilette was a bold composition
of all sorts of fantastic fragments. She wore a tolerably ancient black
velvet dress, which had once belonged to a much more stately prima
donna, a singular looking scarf of tulle and lace, a breast pin with a
photograph of a little terrier, ear-rings of coarse Roman mosaic, and
in her hair which was cut short and curled in little rings over her
head, a gold circlet. Her movements were sometimes very quick,
sometimes slow and languid. Only when she laughed, in doing which she
was apt to open her mouth a little too far, did the expression appear
to which her more intimate acquaintances alluded, when they called her
a "good follow," with whom "no one could get angry."

Beside this wild singular creature, Christiane's dark face, framed in
its thick black hair, looked more gloomy even than usual, but gained a
certain characteristic nobility, especially as the extreme simplicity
of her dress contrasted advantageously with the theatrical costume of
the singer. She had been sitting in silence when Marquard entered. At
Edwin's name she started, but even then said nothing, merely nodding
when Mohr asked if he should place a chair for the new guest on her
other side; mechanically she smoothed the folds of her dark red woolen
dress and passed her hand over her eyes. Adèle had told her she
sometimes wore an evil, malignant expression, when her thick eye brows
were not perfectly smooth. This was generally a matter of indifference
to her, but to-day she did not want to look still more frightful than
she was by nature.

They listened to the sounds from the entry. At last the opposite door
opened, and Mohr started up to meet the new couple. When Toinette
entered, the singer also rose and approached her, more to show her
dainty figure than from any special cordiality. She saw at the first
glance that she was entirely thrown into the shade by the new face, and
could only console herself with the recollection of her toilette, which
she considered extremely _comme il faut_, while the cousin's looked
very provincial. Christiane greeted Edwin's relative with a silent bow
of the head. She had turned pale when she saw the charming girl. A
sudden weight rested upon her soul and stifled the words in her throat,
she would have liked to rise and turn her back upon these unsuspecting
people. But she must endure it. When Edwin addressed a few friendly
words to her, and without asking any questions, took the chair at her
side, the color returned to her cheeks, and she could say in an
indifferent tone that she was very glad to have the pleasure of meeting
him at last. He reminded her of the night when he had found her
absorbed in Schopenhauer's Parerga, and apologized for not having
continued the moonlight conversation by sunlight, on the plea of having
had a great deal of work to do. But it was one of the "sorrows of the
world," that we can often make the least use of the blessings that lie
so close at hand. Meantime the soup was brought, and Marquard did the
honors. The meeting with Edwin and his beautiful companion had put him
in the gayest spirits, and he treated Toinette with a humorous
formality, the cause of which the others did not suspect. Not a word
betrayed that he had made her acquaintance before. He inquired about
the condition and events of her native city, and asked how she liked
Berlin and its inhabitants. The little farce amused the young girl too,
and she merrily entered into it. Moreover she had the delicate tact to
make herself particularly agreeable to Adèle and Christiane, so that
after the first glass of champagne the singer, like the "good fellow"
she was, touched glasses with her, declared that she had taken a great
fancy to her, would go to see her in the city and in return Toinette
must go to the theatre every evening that she appeared.

Christian also could not deny the charm of the new acquaintance, though
she certainly felt no pleasure in it. Never had she seemed to herself
so destitute of every grace, as beside this bewitching vision, who
appeared gradually to win even her old admirer, Mohr, though he had at
first been embarrassed in the presence of his old friend's "relative,"
who had so suddenly appeared. He became more and more eloquent, and in
his own original fashion poured forth a multitude of quaint sayings,
which he at last addressed almost exclusively to Toinette, perceiving
that his grave neighbor only absently shook her head at his most daring
paradoxes. Marquard, after fulfilling all the duties of a host toward
his guests, comfortably gave himself up, without making any special
exertion to be witty, to a low toned conversation with his little
flame, and only sometimes condescendingly laughed at Mohr's jests, as
if amused by the singular folly of a man who is making an entirely
useless display. For a time Mohr allowed him to laugh and only
occasionally dealt him a satirical thrust. But as he did not spare the
wine and moreover gradually became heated by his own words, his real
feelings toward the comfortable, self-satisfied man of the world, whom
as we know, he accredited with a tolerably shallow brain and cold
heart, at last burst forth.

"My honored friends," said he, as he rose and lifted his full glass, "I
will beg your permission to speak for five minutes on a subject that is
of interest to all. We sit here so cozily either liking each other or
wishing we did. At any rate this modest little orgie is calculated to
excite the envy of the so-called gods, since six people are on a
tolerably green bough of sustenance, washing from their souls all
anxieties about the present and future life, in, I trust, unadulterated
champagne, and thus losing fear as well as love for gods and devils. As
for the envy of the former, I'm far from making it a reproach to them.
On the contrary, as I have no special reason to feel any great esteem
for them, since they've shown little friendship toward my insignificant
self, it's this envy alone that partially reconciles me to them. These
poor devils of gods, who, like us, can't always do as they please, thus
show a truly human side; for, my friends, profound thought and mature
experience have taught me, that what is truly human, full of genius,
and so to say god-like in our race, as well as the human side of the
gods, is _envy_. You stare at me, Fräulein Adèle, and seem to be asking
your neighbor whether I'm always in the habit of expressing such crazy
opinions, or only when I've been drinking sweet wine. But you're
mistaken; I'm as sober as he is, innocent nightingale; for tell me
yourself, would you be the charming creature you are, the spoiled child
of the boards, the much photographed, much slandered, much adored
_Adèle_, if you did not feel a deep envy of the happy mortal called
_Adelina_, the divine Patti? Without this envy, which has accelerated
your flight to higher and higher spheres, you would still be twittering
imperfect couplets, as on your first debut. But for envy of the great
champions of thought, our friend Edwin would now be a well paid
professor of logic, reading stupid volumes year in and year out. But
for this envy, our artist, Fräulein Christiane, would never have poured
her whole soul into her finger tips, nor I, her unworthy neighbor at
table, extorted from my reluctant brains one of the most remarkable
compositions of the day, the famous _sinfonia ironica_. Fräulein
Toinette too, whom I have not yet the honor of knowing very well,
has--I read it in her black eyes--received her share of this hereditary
virtue. For what is envy, except that which people usually call
religion: the confession of our imperfections and distress, and the
longing for improvement, to reach a higher round in the ladder, which
we already see attained by loftier natures. Must we not feel better
disposed toward the so-called gods, when we think that they too are not
satisfied with themselves, that they too cherish unattained and forever
unattainable longings for the joys of mortals, for a dinner in the
Pagoda in pleasant society, bubbling over with wit and _Cremant rosé_?
That they will go so far as to maliciously desire to destroy such joys,
is a degeneration of the virtue of envy, of which I do not approve, but
from which no virtue is safe. On the contrary, nothing can more deeply
offend gods and men, than to meet certain souls who have never felt the
bliss of a noble envy, who in their sublime self-satisfaction, deride
or condemn every one who is not so well pleased with himself, who does
not draw his face into such well satisfied lines, and when he is
cleanly shaved pat himself delightedly on the back, and say to himself:
'You're a famous fellow!' My friends, I know what's due to the company.
I refrain from all personalities. But when I see certain brows, one in
particular, which begins to be prematurely bald, a brow that has the
effrontery--"

He had spoken louder and more rapidly, fixing his eyes more and more
steadily and defiantly on Marquard, who submitted to this singular
apostrophe with the utmost good humor; but at the last words, the smile
suddenly died on his lips. He again filled his glass, and rattled his
knife on an empty one that stood beside it.

"Ladies and gentlemen," said he, "as we have no president, who could
call any one abusing the freedom of speech to order, everyone must look
out for himself. I take the liberty of interrupting the honored orator,
because he's in the act of doing something for which I certainly should
not envy him: disturbing the beautiful harmony that pervades this
circle, by making to one of its members, who though perhaps unworthy is
certainly not obstreperous, exactly the reverse of a declaration of
love. I have the honor of being intimately acquainted with this member,
and know that our friend, Heinrich Mohr, has always used his right
not to think him agreeable. I have never disputed that right, though
I myself formerly held a different opinion and thought this man
whose soul was destitute of envy, a very lovable fellow. Since
that time"--here he cast a glance of comical pathos at his fair
neighbor--"I have found myself mistaken in this view, but for very
different reasons. I will not enter upon the intellectual controversy
about the virtue of envy. Friend Mohr will at least admit, that there
are exceptions to the rule. I, my friends, have studied so much natural
history, that I know the ostrich would not become any more perfect if
it envied the falcon its wings, and the sparrow would be a singular
fanatic if it practised solfeggi to outdo the nightingale. If therefore
I early renounced the cultivation of talents I did not possess, and
like a true realist, endeavored to take the world and myself as we are,
it should rather be imputed to me as a virtue, especially as I have
risen to a tolerable height in the admiration and enjoyment of gifts
denied me, and moreover possess a few valuable qualities, such as for
instance the ability to order a good dinner, to brew a punch, and to
write prescriptions for intermittent fever. And now, after this
effective little correction, I propose that we drink the ladies' health
and beg Fräulein Adèle to use her exquisite voice in singing away the
last remnant of discord."

A loud clapping of hands, for which Adèle herself gave the signal,
rewarded this speech, during which Mohr had slowly reseated himself and
emptied his glass in little sips. Refilling it, he turned toward
Marquard with a peculiar twinkle in his keen grey eyes.

"I heartily assent to the proposal," said he, "but must first place on
record a short personal observation, namely that I was a great donkey.
The ladies will pardon the rude expression, since I doubt not, they are
convinced of its truth. Fritz Marquard, I hereby declare that you're
right in patting yourself on the back and thinking yourself a famous
fellow. From this day I beg you to grant me your friendship, and hope
to give you proofs of mine--"

                 "And if a man has fallen
                  Love guides him back to duty--"

sang Adèle, as she sprang from her seat and glided to an old piano that
stood in one corner of the room, and which was sometimes used for
little dancing parties. She hastily opened it, struck a few notes, and
called Christiane to try it more thoroughly. Meantime Marquard had
crossed over to Mohr and cordially shaken hands with him; Edwin and
Toinette also rose, lights and a fresh bottle of wine were brought in,
and amidst the bustle of coming and going Christiane hastily ran her
hands over the keys, and commenced Weber's "Invitation to the waltz."
The room became quiet. Edwin had carried two chairs into a window
recess, which was illumined by the last crimson rays of the autumnal
sunlight. Without a word from him, Toinette took one chair and he sat
down beside her. He had scarcely spoken to her at the table, but he had
listened to her every word, and little as he appeared to look at her,
had often turned his eyes with delight upon the delicate profile and
black lashes. But now as she gazed out at the bare treetops, bathed in
the crimson glow, with her head and shoulders likewise steeped in the
radiance of the sunset, her lips parted as if her very soul were
absorbed in the lingering beauties of the day, he forgot his self
control, and gazed steadily into her face. The room was quite dark; two
candles only illumined the table still crowded with the empty bottles
and half filled glasses, and lighted up Marquard's pleasant features,
as he sat alone smoking his cigar and looking intently through the
round glasses of his gold spectacles at the piano. Mohr had thrown
himself down on a stool beside the musician, Adèle was tripping lightly
up and down the room, singing to herself in a low tone and sometimes
with a coquettish gesture throwing at her friend, who continued to
smoke phlegmatically, a grape, from the cluster which, in bacchanalian
fashion she had fastened to the gold circlet on her head.

"You have been very charming to-day," Edwin whispered to Toinette. "I
thank you for the conquests you have made of my friends. I'm vain
enough to think you did it partly for my sake. If Balder had only seen
you!"

"Why?"

"Because I always think of him, whenever anything pleases me; because I
wish him to share my pleasures with me. Have you never had the same
feeling toward your sisters?"

"I would gladly have felt it, but I never could succeed. Each thought
only of herself, her few miserable trinkets, her lovers, and the next
casino-ball. I really think sisters are scarcely capable of what you
call brotherly, love. But hush; she's beginning to sing. Who would have
supposed there was so much music in the queer little doll!"

In fact a flood of melody now filled the room, as Adèle sang
Pergolese's morning serenade:

           "Tre giorni son che Nina
            Al letto se ne sta."

Christiane accompanied her. The worn out instrument under her hands was
fairly transformed, and gave forth tones of which it had probably
scarcely been capable in its best days. When the charming little song
was finished, Marquard rose and solemnly kissed the singer's hand.
"Brava, bravissima! You're the singing-bounding-lion-teaser in the
fairy tale."

"An _in_cantatrice!" cried Mohr from his dark corner after having made
a terrible noise applauding alone.

"Spare your enthusiasm, gentlemen," laughed the saucy girl, turning on
her heel. "There are better things in store! And the lion's share of
the lion teaser belongs to my strict teacher. Now: 'Ye who know the
instinct of the heart--'" and without waiting for the accompaniment, she
began the aria she had shortly before studied with Christiane.

The musician accompanied the song only with single chords. She was now
sitting completely in the dark, having shaken her head in reply to
Mohr's question whether she would have a light. Her thoughts were far
from Pergolese, Mozart, and all her other musical saints. Above the
piano hung an old fashioned oval mirror, directly opposite to the
window in whose recess Edwin and Toinette were sitting. As the sunset
glow slowly died away, she could distinctly see the expression with
which Edwin's eyes rested upon the calm face of the beautiful girl.
During dinner, her first jealous pain at meeting him with such a
charming companion had almost disappeared, for he had not paid any
particular attention to his lovely cousin. Now it suddenly flashed upon
her, that this indifference had been, only a mask, and a feeling of
inexpressible bitterness overpowered her, when she recalled the
pleasure she had felt at the courteous kindness with which he had
treated her. Now, sitting opposite the stranger in the crimson sunset,
what a different language his eyes spoke! With the prophetic insight of
a hopeless passion, she perceived that he loved this girl. And she
could not even hate him for it. For had not the stranger every charm
she lacked? To be sure, the keen eyes of jealousy told her that he met
with no response to his feeling, the response that he deserved, and
that she would have given. This cold blooded enchantress, even while
Edwin's eyes were fixed upon her profile as a supplicant gazes upon the
miracle-working image of a saint, could look unmoved at the dry
branches without; her hand did not touch his, which he had laid on his
knee as if seeking it, her soul--if she had one--where was it? And he,
why did not his pride rebel against serving here without wages, when
elsewhere he might have ruled? But rule over what? she asked herself. A
heart which no one had ever tried to conquer, which no one seemed to
consider a boon to possess, he least of all. Had he not lived under the
same roof with her for years, and not felt the slightest desire to
approach the woman who daily spoke to him in harmonies, poured forth
her inmost feelings in accents so intelligible to him?

It was this feeling that now overpowered her, and in addition to all
the exciting emotions of these hours, the gayety, and the unusual
indulgence in wine, fairly intoxicated her senses. A wild, fiendish
rage took possession of her soul. When the aria from Mozart was over,
she said curtly: "You are not in good voice, child; the champagne is
beginning to revenge itself. You mustn't sing another note, or you'll
be terribly hoarse to-morrow." And without heeding Marquard's
remonstrance, she commenced a stormy improvisation. A string broke with
a rattling sound--she did not notice it; a second and third--she played
steadily on. Mohr, who had pushed his chair behind hers, while Marquard
sat in the darkness on a little sofa beside Adèle, was in a perfect
delirium of ecstacy. He had never heard her play so before, and was
musician enough to say to himself that the greatest masters would be
delighted if they could hear her improvise in such a mood. More than
once he turned toward the two couples and enthusiastically tossing his
long arms, endeavored to attract their attention to what this wonderful
genius was producing. But he seemed to be alone in his admiration, at
least to Marquard as he incessantly whispered in the ear of the singer,
this remarkable playing seemed nothing more than the roaring of a
storm, and Edwin, at this moment, believing himself unnoticed as the
light without had at last wholly died away, had caught a curl of
Toinette's hair and was holding it in his hand. Now he cautiously bent
forward and pretending to fasten the string of the curtain, hastily
pressed the soft tress to his lips. At the same moment the fourth
string snapped, a sharp discord rang through the powerful passages, and
the player started up pushing back her chair. "No more!" she cried in a
hollow tone. "It's killing me! Air! Air!"

"For God's sake, Fräulein, what is the matter!" exclaimed Mohr, who had
also sprung to his feet. "You're tottering, you'll faint--here, lean on
me--shall I get you some water, take you into the open air?"

"No, no, it's over! Leave me! Why do you seize me so rudely? I'm well,
perfectly well--at least I shall be perfectly well when I'm alone. The
wine, the music, the darkness--give me my hat and cloak, I'll go out
into the air a moment, then it will all pass off."

In the greatest perplexity he did as she requested, but she had spoken
in so low a tone that the others scarcely noticed what was passing at
the piano. Marquard alone hastily cast a glance at her. "Is the
champagne revenging itself on you too?"  he called in a jesting tone.
"You ought to drink a cup of coffee, it will soothe your nerves. Or is
genius made giddy by its own lofty flights?"  There was no reply Mohr
accompanied her to the door. "Stay here," she whispered imperiously.

"But you'll come back again?"

"When this feeling has passed away." With these words she left him, and
in a greatly agitated mood he returned to the piano. It gave him
pleasure to sit down in her chair and touch the same keys over which
her hands had just dashed. But he did not play; only now and then he
softly struck a chord, as if to caress the strings she had handled so
roughly. Besides he listened constantly, but nothing stirred, and after
a time he knew that she was not coming back again.

Suddenly he started up. "My friends," said he, "Fräulein Christiane has
taken French leave of us. But as it's growing very dark and she did not
feel particularly well, I think it would be better for me to follow and
if necessary offer my services as escort, in case she cannot find a
carriage. Marquard, will you attend to matters here and tell me
tomorrow my share of the reckoning, Fräulein Christiane's expenses of
course included. Good night and a pleasant evening!"

Before any one could reply, he put on his grey felt hat and disappeared
also. Half an hour later two droschkys drove away from the Pagoda. The
first was occupied by Marquard and Adèle, the second by Edwin and
Toinette. The first, whose windows were closed to shut out the cool
evening air, and which seemed in no hurry to reach its destination,
soon turned off from the highway into the darker avenues of the
Thiergarten as if with the intention of leaving its companion behind.
In the second carriage the window on Toinette's side was open, although
the breeze was somewhat damp and chilly. But the beautiful girl said
she liked it, that the music had gone to her head, and in fact her
cheeks were burning. As they drove on, talking about the people with
whom they had spent the last few hours, the conversation gradually
became less fluent and finally ceased, the moon rose above the tree
tops, and aided by the extreme clearness of the autumn air soon cast a
bright silvery light over the trees by the way side and the stones on
the road. It was charming to gaze into the more densely shaded portions
of the park, where mysterious lights and shadows played, where now a
statue appeared in dazzling whiteness, and anon a black clump of
shrubbery defied the power of the light. Edwin had looked out of his
window for a long time, absorbed in thoughts which were both sad and
cheerful. Once he fancied he saw a female figure walking swiftly along,
which as he bent forward seemed to perceive him and hastily retreated
farther into the shadow of the trees. He turned to Toinette, to tell
her his supposition that Christiane had preferred to traverse the long
distance to the city on foot, and made the discovery that his companion
had fallen asleep. The moonlight was flickering over her little hands,
that lay ungloved in her lap. In the dim light that surrounded her
head, he could see her white teeth glitter as she smiled. For a time he
restrained himself, though the pulses in his temples throbbed
violently, but at last this smile on her lips was stronger than all his
resolution. He cautiously bent toward her, and after a pause of five
minutes, during which he felt her breath on his eyes, lightly pressed a
kiss on the half parted lips.

She instantly awoke, so suddenly that he drew back in alarm, glowing
with blushes. "Where are we," she whispered. "Dear me, what bright
moonlight! I believe I've been asleep. It's very impolite, isn't it?
But people are wearied even by pleasure. I haven't enjoyed myself so
much for a long time."

She talked gaily on; He could not discover whether she had felt the
kiss or thought she had only dreamed of it. To be sure, he had not
noticed that she returned it.

One more short hour, and he helped her out of the carriage in
Rosenstrasse. She thanked him cordially and repeatedly for the
delightful day. "We'll continue the cure to-morrow," she called, just
as she was closing the door of the house. With these words she
dismissed him, and absorbed in blissful dreams, he pursued his way home
through the quiet streets.



                               CHAPTER V.


                        Beloved Sun,
                        To all benign,
                        Hold in thy heart
                        This child of thine!

                        Sleeping I lay
                        In fevered dreams,
                        Softly thou com'st,
                        With healing beams;

                        Hov'ring gently
                        With smile so bright,
                        Flooding my lone cell
                        With golden light,

                        Till the prisoned soul
                        From bondage free,
                        Like opening buds
                        Unfolds to thee.

                        Forcing thy way
                        Over the towers,
                        Mid roofs, through tree tops,
                        Among green bowers,

                        Caressing me gently
                        Powerful one!
                        Folding me closely
                        Beneficent Sun!

                        Few earthly joys
                        Have fallen to me,
                        All I possess
                        Are given by thee;

                        Refreshing fruit
                        Thou dost bestow,
                        And strengthening bread
                        As white as snow;

                        Another gift
                        The maiden fair,
                        With rosy cheeks
                        And golden hair--

                        Thou mak'st her bloom,
                        Child of the sun,
                        A joy and blessing
                        To me alone,

                        To this frail form
                        A halo lend,
                        Till she draws near
                        On me to tend.

                        Of her bereft,
                        Hopeless I sigh,
                        Nothing remains
                        Only to die,

                        So that thine eye
                        Alone may keep,
                        Watch over my grave,
                        And dreamless sleep.--

The sheet on which these verses were written, lay on Balder's knees.
Soon after Edwin left him, he had seated himself at the window in the
sunlight, and began his holiday by taking a sheet of paper and pouring
forth the feelings that filled his soul. We know that he was never
happier than when his heart of its own accord began to sing, and his
hand could scarcely write fast enough to seize the melodies he heard.

But to-day he was particularly happy. His unusual capacity for finding
pleasure in everything, even the smallest trifle, seemed heightened by
the joy of convalescence. He gazed through the closed window a long
time at the white cat, that lay on the sill blinking sleepily, sunning
itself, and pretending not to see the sparrows that ventured close up
to it. A small white cloud was drifting slowly across the blue sky. He
became absorbed in the spectacle, as if he beheld the most wonderful
pictures, until his eyes ached from staring at the radiant heavens;
then he rose and walked slowly through the room, drawing the lame foot
after him almost as if he were dancing, and from time to time pressing
to his lips the last of the oranges Marquard had recently brought him,
to drink in the fragrance and juice at the same time. Sometimes he
thought of his brother, and how pleasantly the hours must be passing
with him, sometimes of Reginchen, whose voice was distinctly audible in
the front of the house, as she sat at the open windows of the kitchen
working and singing to herself; then he paused before Edwin's book
shelf, drew out at random one of the volumes, with all of which he was
familiar, and read half a page only to restore it to its place again to
meditate on what he had read. He even took up his tools as if to use
them, but remembered that he had promised Edwin to rest at least a
week. True, he considered this rest very unnecessary, for he had never
felt stronger and better, or breathed more freely.

When Reginchen brought up his dinner at noon, she noticed his unusual
gayety and cheerfulness. "Your sickness has done you good, Herr
Walter," said she.

"No," he answered smiling, "it was your nursing, Reginchen."

"Well, it's all the same," she answered. "But why didn't you go into
the country with the Herr Doctor? (she always gave Edwin this title.)
No one who's well would stay at home to-day."

"Are you going into the country too, Reginchen?"

"I indeed! I'm the house dog to-day. My parents went to a christening
at eleven o'clock, the journeymen of course all went off too, and
there's nobody in the house except the old couple; _she's_ sick, and
_he_ to keep her company is sick and cross, too. You may think I am
joking; but just ask their girl. If he even has a cold, she worries so
that she can neither eat nor drink, and is obliged to go to bed. It's
comical, isn't it, but very pleasant to see two old people still so
fond of each other."

"'Still?' I should think people would love each other more and more the
longer they knew each other."

"Certainly! The longer the dearer. But it isn't always so. Would you
like to grow old, Herr Walter?"

"If the people I love grow old with me, certainly."

"I shouldn't," she answered. "I used to think nothing could be worse
than to die. But now--you'll laugh at me--I am often fairly disgusted
with life, though I can complain of nothing. I feel so oppressed and
anxious, and nothing pleases me; I wish for I know not what, and fear I
know not why. You're so clever, Herr Walter. What is the cause of
this?"

"Dear Reginchen"--and he seized her hand and gazed into the frank face
which was turned toward him with innocent curiosity. He was seeking for
words to intimate to her, that it was the exuberance of youth and the
yearning desire for love which disgusted her with her everyday life;
perhaps he meant to summon courage to confess that he too had the same
feelings. But she suddenly withdrew her hand.

"Didn't you hear? The old lady has rung for me; heaven knows what she
wants. Her girl has gone, because it's her Sunday out, and there's
nobody to wait on her but me. Eat your dinner, Herr Walter, perhaps if
I have time, I'll come up again for five minutes. You're altogether too
lonely, and on Sunday too!"

She glided out of the room. He was almost glad that they had been
interrupted. What could he have said to her, without entirely betraying
himself? And if she had learned his feelings and confessed her love for
him what would have followed? Would it not have been a betrothal, and
must not Edwin have been told? And yet it seemed impossible that any
one should know of this wonderful fairy dream. And could it be
possible? He thought of his delicate health, his seclusion from the
world, his youthfulness--he had seen but twenty years--was he one to
step forward, like other men, and say: "here's a girl whose husband I
wish to become, with whom I desire to found a home, and--rear
children!" As this thought passed through his mind though entirely
alone he blushed crimson and shook his head. Then he sat down to the
table, and as he ate the simple food with a good appetite, his
confidence in his destiny increased and he became very well satisfied
and silently resolved if she came up in the afternoon, to tell her that
he thought he knew what she desired and feared:--To give her heart to
another heart, and lose her own life to celebrate a joyful resurrection
in another.

But he had long finished his dinner, and the cat had licked the plates
so clean that they shone in the sun, and still his little housekeeper
kept him waiting. For the first time in his life he felt a weary
impatience that he could not dispel. He heard the clock strike four and
then five; the sunlight faded, and he suddenly felt an eager desire to
get out of the desolation of his "tun" into the open air. How long it
was since he had had the blue sky over him, or even put his head out of
the window! A feeling of exultation thrilled his heart, as he took his
old black cloak and cap from the chest of drawers, and thus equipped
glided lightly down stairs. His heart throbbed as violently as if he
were setting out on a long and dangerous journey, and yet he was not
going out of the house at all, but only down into the courtyard, where
he would wait till the young girl came, glide up behind her, and see
her astonishment at finding him below.

In spite of the gathering twilight, the air in the courtyard was very
mild, as if a remnant of the warmth of the sun which during the day had
shone into the space between the four walls, still lingered there. Not
a breath of air was stirring, and there was no sound either in the
house or street. Balder felt almost like a boy who is playing hide and
seek, as he entered the arbor covered with the yellow and almost
leafless bean vines, sat down on the little bench, and noticed that no
one coming from the front of the house could see him, as the poles were
so close together and the black pump intervened. Besides he wrapped
himself carefully in his cloak and turned up the collar, so that not
even his fair hair could betray him.

Absorbed in fantastic dreams he sat waiting for Reginchen. What would
Edwin say, when he came home and heard that Balder had had his
excursion too. But the best part of it he must not be allowed to guess.
Or should he confess to-day? If he had really been as happy as he
hoped, and talked with her heart to heart--would he be able to conceal
his joy? Would it not sparkle in his eyes, flush his cheeks, and burst
from his lips of its own accord?

He determined to let matters take their course and to follow the
dictates of his heart. If she would only come! She could not have
forgotten her promise, but what detained her so long? He was weary with
anxious longing, and yet he did not venture to look for her in the
house. Who could tell whether he should find her alone?

And yet she was alone, even after he had been sitting in the arbor for
half an hour. She had had a great many things to do for the old couple
upstairs; finally after taking up the tea tray she had been dismissed,
and now for the first time remembered her promise, but at the same
moment it occurred to her that she had not yet looked at the volume of
Schiller, which must be returned in a few days. If he questioned her,
it would be very shocking to know nothing about the poems; what could
he think except that she did not care for the improvement of her mind?
So she sat down in the dark shop, whose half open door, admitted
nevertheless light enough to read, laid the little book in her lap and
took her knitting in her hand, for she thought it a waste of time to
read without working. But she did not open the volume; her thoughts
wandered far away to him of whom for weeks she had heard nothing, even
through her brother. She would have liked to send him the stockings,
which had long been finished, and then if he were in earnest--"he does
not really love me," she sighed to herself. "But if he knew how often I
think of him--he is such a good man!"

She remembered his sturdy figure and dark, honest face, with its black,
bushy beard, so distinctly, that she could not help laughing, even at
the moment when she secretly acknowledged her love. But she had a great
respect for him on account of his trade of printer, which she supposed
to be the most learned of all. Besides she knew through her brother
that he composed all sorts of essays, which were very fine and always
eagerly seized by the workmen. That such a clever and remarkable man
should in her presence be as confused as a boy, not even daring
to tell her he loved her, flattered her innocent and very modest
self-consciousness not a little; nay it really touched her when she
thought how dearly he must love her, that he did not seek some more
distinguished and highly educated person. In return she meant to love
him truly and faithfully and to learn a great deal, and thought it her
duty, above all, to at least read Schiller, though she did not exactly
understand the beautiful words. If _he_ would sit beside her and read
them aloud, it would be so much easier. She liked to listen to his
voice, and her brother had often boasted what an orator he was. But as
he did not appear, she could do nothing but try to read to herself. She
had just opened the book and read the first lines of the "Melancholie
an Laura," when a black shadow suddenly appeared between her and the
light, and she started up with a low cry, letting the book fall on the
floor.

The subject of her secret thoughts was standing before her, or rather
kneeling at her feet to pick up the book, stammering out an apology for
the sudden entrance which had startled her.

Her nerves were so strong that she instantly recovered her composure,
as soon as she was assured that the vision was no ghost, but her own
sun-burnt lover, for whom she had so ardently longed. She laughed at
her own terror, grew as red as she had before been pale, and could not
understand why he was gazing so intently at the written sheet that had
fallen out of the little book and which he had unfolded and read. She
did not think it exactly polite for him to forget her for such a
scrawl, but thought it must be on account of his learning. He also
apologized as he laid the book down on the counter, and only asked
timidly where she had obtained it. Herr Walter had lent it to her, and
she had just commenced reading it for the first time. He had probably
forgotten the written sheet. What was in it, that Herr Franzelius had
studied it so eagerly?

"Fräulein Reginchen," replied the printer, wiping the perspiration from
his brow, "will you allow me to put this in my pocket? I'll return it
to him myself--it might fall into the wrong hands--but you've pardoned
my bouncing in so abruptly, haven't you? If you knew, Fräulein
Reginchen--"

So saying, he looked around in all directions with a very disturbed
expression. She had never seen him so strangely excited before.

"What's the matter?" she asked. "Do you want a glass of water? If I can
help you in any way--"

"You cart, Reginchen, you're the only person who can help me. But
here--so close to the street, where we may be interrupted at any
moment--oh! you do not know the subject of which I want to speak."

She certainly thought she knew. What could it be, if she alone was able
to help him? And what could he have to confide to her, in which he did
not wish to be interrupted, except the one, the one great subject on
which he had never yet found courage to speak, and which she had
nevertheless seen long ago in his eyes?

"You're perfectly right," she said in the most innocent tone, and yet
with a shade of curiosity. "This is just like being in the street. Do
you know, the work-shop is empty and there's no one in the courtyard;
you can tell me everything there. But I must first lock up the shop.
This is _such_ a surprise. The very last thing to be thought of, your
coming here to-day."

She hastily closed the heavy outer doors of the shop, so that both were
suddenly left in total darkness. But the next instant she opened the
second door leading into the entry and let him pass out. "There's
nobody at home," she whispered, "my parents won't return from the
christening until seven, the Herr Doctor has gone into the country, and
only Herr Walter--"

She suddenly remembered what she had promised the lonely youth. But it
was now too late, she would apologize in the evening.

"If its something that's to be an entire secret and you do not wish to
be seen in the house, run across the courtyard as fast as you can. The
old lady up stairs might happen to look out of the window. Dear me,
what's the matter? You're so pale and don't speak a word!"

He made no reply but followed her advice. Without looking to the right
or left, both glided across the little courtyard, which was now very
dark, and entered the work-shop whose windows were directly opposite to
the bean arbor. They were all closed.

"We'll open one," whispered the brisk little maiden. "You're not
accustomed to the smell of leather and cobbler's wax, and besides
there's no danger; as I said before, there's not even a cat in the
courtyard to overhear us. Well? Have you recovered your breath a
little? I really shudder at the thought of what this secret may be."

She had seated herself on a three-legged stool, with her back to the
open window, that he might not see her face distinctly, and was
smoothing with both hands the rebellious little curls that clustered
around her forehead. "It's very hot here," she said as he still
preserved his silence, and with both hands behind his back paced
heavily up and down the dark room, absorbed in deep thought. At last he
stopped before a table, on which lay various tools and half finished
pieces of work piled upon each other.

"Reginchen," said he, "perhaps this will be the last time we shall see
each other. If all signs do not fail, I shall either be a prisoner or
on my way to America to-morrow."

"Merciful God!" she exclaimed with unconcealed anguish, "you're not in
earnest."

"Only too much so," he answered in a hollow tone. "I am not surprised;
I've seen this coming a long time. Reginchen--look at me and tell me:
do you believe I'm capable of a crime?"

"You! You're the best man under the sun! You could not hurt a child--"

"Thank you, Reginchen. To hear you say so is a great consolation,
perhaps the only one I shall take with me, if I'm compelled to fly; no,
not even the consciousness that I'm suffering for a holy cause--"

"But pray tell me--"

"You're right, the moments are precious. I'm here to ask you for a
great service, which you can render me and the sacred cause. Your
brother, the best young fellow I have ever known--he's worthy to have
you for a sister, Reginchen--if you wish to know farther particulars,
ask him. He has all the numbers of my newspaper, on account of which
I'm persecuted. True, I have irritated them, but we have all practised
the patience of the lamb long enough, the ass's skin is at last
becoming too tight for the lion, but perhaps he was unwise to betray
himself by his roar before he was ready to spring. However, it is done;
only slaves and cowards are always wise. I don't know what they intend
to do now. But that it will--"

"Merciful Heavens!" she exclaimed, "will they try you, throw you into
prison?"

"To render me harmless, yes! What is there new or strange in that? Oh!
dear Reginchen, the falsity of this so-called justice is so old that
quiet citizens may well accept it as a matter of course. But I'm not
here to tell you things of which your noble innocent heart can frame no
idea. See, this is my dearest possession"--and he drew out a tolerably
thick leather pocket book, fastened with a string and sealed. "It
contains papers, which if found on my person, would ruin not only
me--what would that matter--but many noble men who have trusted me. I
knew of no place where I could safely conceal these papers and letters,
no one whom I could trust under all circumstances to protect them from
every eye; for all my friends run the same risk; any night the police
may break into their asylum and search their most secret repositories.
Then I thought of you, Reginchen. No one will ever dream of looking
here for papers dangerous to the government; your father, though a
liberal, has always shaken his head at all the plans of socialism. Will
you do me so great a favor as to keep my legacy and never allow it to
leave your hands until I write myself and tell you to what address to
send the pacquet?"

She hastily seized the pocketbook with both hands and thrust it under
the thick woolen handkerchief she wore crossed over her shoulders and
tied in a knot behind. "No living soul shall know anything about it,"
she said, "it shall be as safe with me as if it were in the bank. But
oh! Herr Franzelius, have matters really gone so far? Must you go away
forever?" She hastily passed her hand over her eyes, he must not see
that they were wet; he was causing her quite too much pain, and she
seemed to herself a very unhappy creature that all her dreams should be
so quickly destroyed.

"Reginchen," he stammered, "I thank you for your sorrow--though--you
cannot suspect what I feel. You would never have known, if I could have
remained here--but now--since it can no longer do any harm--"

She gazed at him in astonishment with eyes that had suddenly become
dry. "No longer do any harm?" she repeated.

"Yes Reginchen. When I am gone, you will soon forget me, even if you
know that I--that I--but perhaps you do know it already."

"I, Herr Franzelius?" Her Eve's nature was again aroused; she would not
make it easy for him, he must speak out. How could he possibly be so
good an orator, when in her presence he stammered like a school boy?

"Reginchen," said he, drawing a long breath and taking a sudden start,
"if you really have not noticed--and I believe you, for you're
incapable of dissumulation--I--I have long--for two years--give me your
hand, Reginchen. You see I've sometimes imagined that some day I should
be granted the happiness of asking you--and your dear parents--to give
me this hand for life. I--I have loved you dearly, unspeakably, ever
since I knew you--and--though I know that I usually have very little
success--either in life or with women--it often seemed to me--as if you
too--"

He paused and let her hand fall, to take out his handkerchief and wipe
his forehead. The little fair haired deceiver thought it more decorous
to keep him in suspense a short time, though her whole heart drew her
toward him and she would gladly have thrown herself into his arms at
once.

"What are you talking about, Herr Franzelius?"  she replied, half
pouting. "You have loved me, and now--now it's over. Because you're
going away, you will leave me behind like a troublesome piece of
property that won't go into your trunk?"

"Oh! Reginchen," he exclaimed, suddenly gazing at her so tenderly that
she blushed and cast down her eyes, "you're only joking. You know very
well what I mean, and that I shall never cease to love you far more
than any one else. If I tear myself away, believe me it's not only
because I should think it unprincipled--with my uncertain future and
the destiny which may be in store for me--to ask one so young and so
unused to want and privation--"

"Oh!" she interrupted, "is that all? I've always heard that the
principal thing is for people to love each other. Doesn't Annchen von
Tharau's song, which you once wrote out for me, say:

           "No matter what tempests may burst overhead,
            We'll cling to each other our pathway to tread--?"

"My darling," He exclaimed, fairly beside himself with delight, while a
ray of surprise and joy flashed over his gloomy face, "is this true?
You have--you have remembered this--applied it to me, to us both? Oh! I
never ventured to hope for so much. My precious Reginchen! And now--how
happy I should be--if I only dared. Tell me once more, dear precious
child, is it true? You would have gone with me, if I had proposed
it--and your parents--But no, tell me nothing! It can do no good, and
will only make my hard task still harder." He sank down on a stool by
the table, and buried his face in his broad hands. Reginchen watched
him in silence. She could not understand his behavior. What was it that
stood in the way? Why could it "do no good," this acknowledgement of
her love, and her willing offer to go out into the wide world with him?


Suddenly he started up and approaching her said: "Promise me, dear
Reginchen, that you'll try to forget what I have said. I ought to have
kept silence; but my feelings overpowered me. And now farewell and make
_him_ happy. He deserves it more than I, he also loves you truly and
fondly--though certainly no one in the whole world can hold you dearer
than I."

He pressed his lips to her hands, then strove to release them and rush
out of the workshop. But Reginchen stopped him. "Dear Herr Franzelius,"
she said, "if you're in earnest and really love me, why do you grieve
me so, by telling me things I don't understand, and asking me to make
somebody else happy when I do not even know of whom you're speaking? I
love you too, and if it were only my parents--but speak; I don't
understand a single word of all you have said."

He paused at the door and looked at her in astonishment. "Is it
possible?" said he. "That you have no idea of whom I mean? That you see
him daily, and yet have never perceived what an impression you have
made on his heart? I noticed it long ago, and suffered deeply in
consequence. Oh! Reginchen, you don't know what it is to grudge such a
friend the love of such a girl, because one loves her himself! And yet
I know what I owe him, how deeply, perhaps fatally, it would wound him,
if you and I--"

"Merciful Heaven!" she suddenly exclaimed, "no, no, it's
impossible--you can't mean Herr Walter!"

"And why not?"

"Pray consider, he's so sickly, do you really believe he ever will be
well again, ever think--dear me, how you startled me! I should never
have dreamed of such a thing in all my life! Herr Walter!"

"I know what I know, dear Reginchen," replied the printer sadly. "What
will be done _when_ he is again well and strong, and whether that will
ever come to pass--who can tell? But I should be a scoundrel, if I
caused him who has already suffered so much, even the shadow of a grief
that I could spare him. Oh! Reginchen, if you knew him thoroughly, the
noblest, loftiest soul that ever dwelt in a fragile body--you could not
help loving him as I love him, more than myself, and you would rather
bear and suffer everything, than cloud even an hour of his life." Both
fixed their eyes on the floor. An anxious, oppressive pause followed.

"So you really think--" Reginchen began; but she did not finish the
sentence.

"I'm as sure of his love as of my own," Franzelius faltered. "If I
could have cherished any doubt, everything would have been proved and
made plain half an hour ago. I have no right to persuade you to
anything against which your heart rebels. But I'm sure that now
you know his secret, it will be impossible for you not to become
attached to him; he is far more lovable than I, whom only your heavenly
goodness--perhaps through mistake or accident--"

"No," she eagerly exclaimed, almost ready to cry, "now I must speak
frankly; there was no special goodness about it except your own, and as
to Herr Walter's being more lovable--dear me it's possible, but I can't
help it--I'd rather have _you_; didn't you notice it when you tried on
the boots, spoke of the stockings--wait, I'll get them right away,
they've been finished a long time, I hurried so because I thought you'd
have to go away, though not forever! Dear me, to think I must help you
now, besides making the stockings."

"Girl!" he exclaimed, "you would really--It's too much--oh! now I see
for the first time how happy we might have been."

"Who knows what may happen yet," she said, consoling herself as she
wiped her eyes with her apron; "but wait here five minutes; I've got
them in my work table. I'll be back again directly. They will certainly
fit you and keep you warm."

As she passed close by him and went out of the door, he was strongly
tempted to hurry after her, clasp the beloved form in his arms, and
imprint his thanks for her gift on her fresh lips. But he was so
sincere in his purpose of resigning her to his friend, that he did not
trust himself even to touch her, precisely because he felt that she
would not have resisted. When she had gone, he sank down on a bench
like a heavily burdened man and pressed his hands to his eyes. Amid all
his sorrow, he revelled in the bliss of knowing that she loved him, and
each word which had assured him of the fact still echoed in his soul.

He was suddenly roused from this happy reverie by a loud cry in the
courtyard, close to the door that opened into the back building. He
recognized Reginchen's voice, and in mortal terror started up, tore
open the door, and was about to rush across the entry into the
courtyard. But a terrible sight checked him.

On the threshold of the back building, which was reached by two steps,
lay Balder, wrapped in his dark cloak and completely insensible. The
unfortunate youth must have overheard the whole conversation, since he
had not dared to move lest he should betray his presence. Who would
undertake to describe the storm that raged in his soul, as silently
leaning against the wall, he saw all his dearest illusions shattered!
His still delicate chest heaved and labored till he thought he was
suffocating, and the idea that the two happy lovers might come out and
find him there pierced his heart like glowing iron. He had already
risen to rush out into the street, when her proposal to bring the
present from the front of the house again bound him to his dark corner.
But he thought he would take advantage of the few minutes before her
return. As soon as she had disappeared in the passage, he hastily
dragged himself to the door--clinging to the wall as his limbs refused
to support him, in order to reach the staircase that led to his room.
But just as he had gained the second step, his strength failed, a
stream of blood gushed from his lips, and he fell fainting on the
threshold.

When Reginchen returned with the little package, she started at the
sight of the dark mass that barred her way, but when she recognized the
fair hair and saw the dark stains on the stones close by, she lost all
composure and screamed for help as piteously as if she herself had been
stabbed to the heart. She did not exchange a word or glance with the
friend who came hurrying out. In the twinkling of an eye everything
became clear to her, and she shrank like a criminal from the eyes of
her fellow culprit. They carried the unconscious sufferer, who only
uttered low moans, up the stairs and laid him carefully on his bed. In
the midst of their efforts to restore him to consciousness, while still
fearing that he might open his eyes and see them both at his side,
Edwin returned and entered the room in the highest spirits.

With what anguish the sight that met his gaze overwhelmed him, they
only can understand, who have lived long enough to experience the cruel
mockery with which fate delights in suddenly hurling mortals from the
greatest happiness into the deepest misery.



                              CHAPTER VI.


After Christiane had seen the couple in the carriage and fled from the
wide avenue into the more densely wooded portions of the park, she had
wandered about for hours without aim or object, at times pausing
breathless to rest upon some bench.

The fog had become so impenetrable that the crescent of the moon hung a
pale line of light in the grey sky and total darkness brooded over the
intricate paths of the Thiergarten. It was no night for a solitary
pedestrian, but she met no one, and she felt no fear. What indeed could
happen to her? To be sure she might be attacked, robbed, or even killed
by some drunken vagabond. But she was quite willing to run the risk of
this, and the thought of other dangers to which a woman might be
exposed in such a nocturnal ramble did not alarm her. When Adèle had
once asked how she dared to go out so boldly at all hours of the
evening, she replied: "I always go about with my face unveiled, I need
no better protection." To-night in particular, with all the tortures of
a hopeless love in her heart, she had become more firmly convinced than
ever that she was a discarded step-child of Mother Nature condemned to
perpetuate self-sacrifice; she felt a sort of bitter pleasure in the
thought that she had nothing in common with the rest of mankind, either
in love or hatred, but was as it were a peculiar being, allied to
unknown creatures of darkness, who were as ugly as she, and therefore
wise enough to avoid the daylight. In this wild mood which gradually
obtained more and more the mastery over her, she would scarcely have
been alarmed, if at some crossing in the paths she had chanced upon a
crowd of spectres and been bidden to make one of their company.
Anything would be better than to return to mankind, the best and
noblest of whom had always made her the most miserable without even
suspecting the fact. She shed no tears; all personal feelings--love for
Edwin, jealousy of the beautiful girl--receded farther and farther into
the background of her thoughts; only her own destiny, the world in
which her fervid heart was languishing, the tortures of a lost youth,
the dread of a lonely and loveless old age,--these rose in ghostly,
exaggerated outlines before her soul, and from time to time extorted
from her a cry, that in the deep silence startled even herself.

When she came to the fish ponds, above which floated still denser fogs,
she involuntarily paused. For a long time she stood and gazed at the
dense whiteness which never shifted and which seemed to be waiting for
some wearied, hunted human life to find rest in its depths. But her
seething blood, inflamed by the unusual indulgence in wine, recoiled
from the thought of such an end. Mechanically and without thinking of
what she was doing, she picked up a stone from the roadside and threw
it into the mist-veiled water. The sullen plash of its fall recalled
her to herself. She drew a long breath, trembled, wrapped her cloak
closer around her, and then walked away more slowly than before, but
taking a direct lane toward the city, which she reached in half an
hour.

In the wild chaos of thoughts that filled her mind as she went, there
was one fixed resolution, to which she constantly returned: to-morrow
she would leave the house where she lodged, engage other rooms, and
then consider whether it would not be better to turn her back upon the
city altogether and seek some corner of the world where life would be
quite destitute of charm, nature most barren, and men utterly wretched.
Invalids often go to springs merely to find companions in suffering and
thus make their condition more endurable. Why should not the miserable
avoid the neighborhood of the happy, in order to bear their burdens
more easily among those who are wretched likewise?

As she entered the little courtyard of the house in the
Dorotheenstrasse, she noticed that there was a light in her room; but
thought the maid servant, who waited upon her and had a second key, was
probably doing something there and unsuspiciously ascended the stairs.
She had been unable to make up her mind to look at Edwin's windows.

On reaching her door, however, she did not find the key in the lock.
"Perhaps the girl has only lighted the lamp and gone out again," she
thought, as she hastily opened it. The little ante-room was dark and
nothing was moving there, so she hastily opened the door of her sitting
and sleeping room, but paused on the threshold in astonishment when she
saw Lorinser sitting in a corner of the sofa, holding on his knees a
book, from which he did not even raise his eyes at her entrance.

The little lamp with the green shade was burning on the table beside
him and illumined the strongly marked countenance with its high, smooth
forehead and firm mouth. No expression betrayed any special agitation
of mind, and when he at last raised his eyes and fixed them on the dark
figure of the woman who stood on the threshold in silence, gazing at
him as if she could not believe her own eyes, no stranger would have
suspected that he was a guest playing master of the house in the
presence of the real occupant, so perfectly unembarrassed was the smile
with which he greeted the newcomer.

"Good evening," said he, "you are late. Excuse me for having made
myself comfortable here during your absence; I provided for plenty of
light and warmth, and have whiled away the long hours--But my God!" he
exclaimed, suddenly interrupting himself, "how you look, Christiane!
You're deadly pale and trembling from head to foot--take off your damp
cloak--come--here's a warm place in the sofa corner--will you tell me
where your tea pot is? You must get warm again--"

"Leave me!" she hoarsely exclaimed, repelling the hands that tried to
clasp her cold fingers. "I need no one--I'm perfectly well--it's only
surprise, indignation, at finding you here after I've plainly told you
that I did not desire your visits, that I would never receive you
again."

"That's the very reason I've come," he replied in the calmest tone,
while his eyes wandered toward the ceiling. "You've expelled me as we
only expel one whom we deeply hate or--love a little, and therefore
fear. Do you suppose a man will endure this, without at least making an
endeavor to discover in which of the two situations he stands? I at
least, even if you were not what you are to me, am not the man to obey
blindly. I've had no rest, Christiane, that's why you see me here with
but one question on my lips; when I have the answer, I'll go. But we
must understand each other."

She had sunk into a chair, which stood beside the window. The damp
cloak still hung over her shoulders, but she had hastily removed her
hat as if the strings choked her. As she now sat gazing into vacancy,
he supposed that she was reflecting upon his words. But it was only
because she heard Edwin's step overhead, and all her former emotions
again awoke. She forgot that Lorinser had asked her a question, nay
even that he was in the room.

"You delay your answer, Christiane," he began again. "I don't wonder at
it and greatly as I desire to have a clear understanding between us, I
have no wish to hasten this explanation. Perhaps the most favorable
thing for which I can hope, is to have your soul hover in a sort of
twilight, so strangely compounded of sullen hate and dawning affection,
that neither can gain the victory. Such a condition may be singular and
mysterious to your strong nature, which is usually so quick to decide;
you think you can shake it off by ridding yourself of the man who
causes the mood. You're mistaken, Christiane. You may deceive yourself:
I know that I'm already too near to you to be crowded out of your life
so easily. You must go on until you arrive at either hate or love. No
one capable of a real emotion, has ever yet had a half feeling toward
me." He had approached nearer and was standing beside her with folded
arms, gazing at her face which in profile was distinctly relieved
against the dark curtain. His vicinity, his low, quiet words, the
firmness with which he asserted his position, angered her more and
more. With a quick indignant gesture, she threw her cloak over the back
of the chair and rose.

"I must earnestly beg you to leave me," said she. "Only on condition
that you respect my wishes now, will I consent to take no farther
notice of the manner in which you've intruded here. If you were as well
acquainted with human nature as you profess to be, you would give up
the crazy idea that I could ever give you any power over me either for
good or evil. Our characters are entirely unlike."

"You talk like a child," he answered quietly, "or you don't know what
you're saying. If the difference between us were not as wide as heaven
and hell, we never could be anything to each other. Only opposite poles
attract each other, simply because they seem to repel. Can there be a
victory without a conflict? What you are to me, Christiane, I know only
too well. What I am or shall be to you--you will soon learn, though you
may now thrust the knowledge ever so far away. Or do you know another
man," he continued gazing steadily into her face, "who in the hour when
you are forsaken by all, when you feel more wretched than you have ever
felt before, would come to you and offer you his hand to save you, who
could again make desirable the life you would fain throw away as a
worthless possession?" A lightning like glance from her gloomy eyes
fell upon him. Contrary to his usual custom, he endured it and could
not conceal his exultation; his bold shaft had struck the sore spot in
her heart.

"Who has told you that I am miserable?" she passionately exclaimed.
"And if it be true how do you know that I would not a thousand times
rather remain unhappy than be rescued by you and your God? If you're
right in supposing that all mankind has abandoned me, do you wish to
rob me of what is yet left to me, my own individuality, my freedom, my
solitude, in which I need answer to no one for my suffering? You've
asked me the nature of the feeling that holds me aloof from you. It is
this: I've a _horror_ of you! In the first hour of our acquaintance I
detected in you the demon to whom nothing is sacred, not even the grief
of a poor unhappy woman; who merely to gratify his selfishness, would
fain obtain the mastery over everything, and therefore does not even
think what others despise or overlook--a creature so destitute of all
joys as I--too insignificant to be made useful. But you're mistaken,
and neither your heaven nor your hell will help you; this is the last
time you'll ever see me, as truly--"

"Silence!" he imperiously exclaimed. "Do not forswear your own
salvation, do not conjure up the fiends who are lying in wait for
souls. And moreover no such vows are needed. Believe me, Christiane, I
too have pride, and strength to suffer for its sake, and if I speak in
vain to-day, it will be my turn to avoid you. But you must listen now.
You're too just to condemn me unheard." He drew a long breath, as if he
were obliged to gather fresh courage for what he wanted to say. Then
suddenly in his softest voice, into which when he chose he could throw
an almost magical influence, he continued: "Sit down quietly; I will
try to be brief. But you are greatly exhausted. You have just suffered
bitterly again; do not deny it, Christiane, my longing jealous heart,
makes my eyes keen; I could not tell you what or whom it was that
caused you pain, but your soul is still trembling from the effects of
this blow. Is not it so?" He relapsed into silence and watched her
intently. She was gazing into vacancy but her lips quivered. "You're a
fiend," she murmured. "But go on--go on--! let us get to the end."

"To the end?" said he. "Oh! Christiane, if you were only more gentle,
if your grief had not made you insensible to the pain of others, you
would spare me further words. Have I not already told you, that from
the first moment I saw you I recognized the inevitable destiny that
bound me to you, and have vainly striven with all the powers of the
soul and mind to escape the thraldom? I have concealed from myself
nothing that could help to stifle such a flame--your obstinacy, your
atheism, your indifference to all that usually charms and misleads your
sex. I have told myself that I had no happiness to expect from this
love, no future, no help for my own needs; the thirst for rule which
you falsely impute to me--or no, let me confess it, which perhaps
usually sways me--was never so ignominiously baffled as by you.
Everything that can offend the vanity, the pride, even the honor of a
man, or repel his affection, I have experienced at your hands. And now,
Christiane, I ask you on your conscience: do you doubt the power of
nature, or as I call it, the mystical force, which alone is capable, in
spite of everything, of bringing me back to your feet? I was fully
prepared to be misunderstood, reproached, abused. But that is the very
miracle of love: it prefers to be trampled under foot by the beloved
object, rather than caressed by an indifferent hand. Now have you still
the heart to call me a fiend, only anxious to get your soul into his
power? Your soul? oh God! I have given up the hope of winning it, spite
of the pain it has cost me, I despair of initiating you into the depths
of my life with God, making you a sharer in the bliss of my fears and
longings. But believe me, Christiane, there is an earthly compensation
for the highest divine ecstacies, of which all minds are not capable, a
compensation which matures the soul and at the same time prepares it
for higher degrees of knowledge: the blending of spiritual and sensual
passion, that thrills me with ardent yearning if I only touch your
hand, meet your eyes, feel your breath on my face. No one, no matter
how much he may have suffered, issues from this bath of the soul
unrejuvenated and unrefreshed, and indeed, my friend, for your own sake
I wish you had the courage to rush with closed eyes into the flames
from which the poor mortal creature, purged from all the dross of
earthly sorrow, emerges purified as a new, divinely consoled being.

"This is the mystery," he continued as she was still silent: "no one
comes to the Father save by the Son, no one can understand heavenly
love who closes the heart to earthly affection. You have not found your
God, my friend, because you would not yield to the power of your
god-_man_, your Saviour, who would have delivered you from yourself. Do
you know for what sin Lucifer was expelled from the presence of the
eternal one? He wished to remain in presumptuous innocence, disdained
to submit to the power of love. Now he is freezing amid his flames, as
you, Christiane, shiver with cold while your whole nature is on fire.
Oh! my friend, you are silent. Would that I had an angel's tongue to
win from your soul some echo, thaw your frozen heart. You say you have
a horror of me. Oh! it is not of me, the poor weak man, whom a single
glance of yours can curb; you dread your own fall, which must precede
your deliverance, the loss by which you are to gain, the death through
which you must live. 'So a heart trembles at the approach of love, as
if it were menaced by death.' But you have a strong soul, Christiane,
you will shake off this cowardice and risk all to gain all, death for
life, sin for mercy, hate for love--

"I knew it," he whispered, and his voice grew almost mournful, without
losing its passionate impetuosity, "when I first saw you and my heart
instantly whispered your destiny: I knew this hour would come,
resolutely as you might struggle, painful as were the thorns pride
thrust into my soul. I have seen you from the beginning as I behold you
now, and could not help secretly laughing at your foolish anguish,
because you did not believe yourself formed to awaken love. You, whose
looks and words and gestures have haunted me day and night, inflamed my
blood as no woman ever had power to do! You, who hate me, _believe_ you
hate me--for this horror is only the mother of longing--have poisoned
my dreams with cruel tortures and made my waking hours miserable. If
you knew all that from childish pride I have concealed from you--fool
that I am, only to writhe the more helplessly at your feet waiting for
mercy or sentence! And the omnipotent one knows that but one thought,
one voice in my heart gave me courage to endure all this: the thought
that the hour would come when you would suddenly melt, and swept away
by the same storm, say to me: 'You have suffered enough, take me. Let
us perish to live again in each other!'" He had bent nearer and nearer
to her, his lips almost touched her hair, his gaze rested on her brow,
which was damp as if from mortal agony, and she had closed her eyes as
if fainting. As she still remained motionless, a sudden terror seized
upon him. "Christiane!" he cried, clasping her impetuously in his arms
and seeking her lips with his. But at this moment he was violently
thrust back. She had sprung from her chair and retreated a step. In the
dim light of the lamp he saw her eyes wide open and fixed with an
indescribable expression upon vacancy.

"You're a fiend!" she exclaimed. "Leave me instantly! if you have the
Satanic courage to utter another word, I will throw the window open and
rouse the quiet night with shrieks of murder. Do you hear what I say?
If your own honor is not as indifferent to you as mine, go--go--GO!"

She uttered the last word in so loud a tone, and waved her hand so
imperiously toward the door, that he remained silent. Yet he did not
seem to be deeply agitated; nay even a smile hovered around his lips as
he took his hat and overcoat from the sofa, bowed carelessly, and with
a "good night" left the room. She heard him open the door that led into
the entry and slam it violently after him, but could not distinguish
his steps on the stairs. She was aware of his noiseless tread, however,
and so at last believed herself alone. But the solitude only enabled
her to collect her thoughts, and they made her still more wretched. She
sank back into her chair, and the grief and anguish so painfully
repressed found vent in passionate tears.

What had she been forced to hear! Although indignant at the art with
which the gloomy fanatic blended the highest with the basest things,
the divinest impulses with the maddest desires, striving with subtle
boldness to lull to sleep the pure voice of the soul: was it not
passion, she asked herself, that blazed within him, the language of
unbridled love, which risks all to attain its object, and summons hell
as well as heaven to its aid? Then she was not too repulsive to kindle
such a fire, there was one man who would dare all for her, whom neither
her hatred nor abhorrence could restrain from persecuting her with his
ardent longings! From the chill in which she had shivered during her
long walk through the misty night, into what a fiery gulf was she now
hurled! or no, not yet into the blazing abyss, but the flames that rose
from it were near enough to make her gasp for breath. She could not sit
still in her chair, the air was so oppressively sultry; she opened the
window, but instantly closed it again, as the fog, cold and damp as the
atmosphere of a tomb, floated into the room making her shiver. Long
before this the little fire in the stove had gone out, now the lamp
failed also. She was in darkness, but she did not heed it. Pacing to
and fro, absorbed in a chaos of thoughts, she mechanically loosened one
article of clothing after another, letting each lie, where it fell.
While thus groping about, she found herself beside her bed and sank
down upon it. "To sleep!" she said aloud, and started at the sound of
her own voice, then hastily cowered under the quilt as if for
concealment. But she could not close her eyes; they burned too
painfully after the long walk through the foggy night. She could not
banish from her thoughts the eyes of the dangerous man she had just
driven away; nothing availed her; they flashed upon her everywhere,
even from the darkness and through her closed lids. In her terror she
tried to banish the spectre by a spell which had never yet failed her,
by conjuring up Edwin's form before her mind. Now even this was
useless: with all her efforts, she could not recall the features that
were usually so distinct; but Toinette's lovely face suddenly came
uppermost in her mind, so bright and smiling that she felt a sharp
pang, and drew the coverlid over her eyes to shut out the memory. The
next instant she again threw it back, raised her head from the pillow
and sat up, as if suffocating. A weary moan escaped her lips, she threw
her bare arm over her face and buried her teeth in her own flesh until
the keen agony recalled her to consciousness.

"He was right," she said to herself, "there is but one magic, the magic
of sin. A God now, to whom one could pray: Deliver us from evil--but a
God, who must first be implored--!"

She sat erect bewildered with anguish, her heart throbbing stormily;
then gradually she sank back, into a recumbent posture, and at last
fell into a half slumber. The night seemed yet more silent, the world
seemed dead, and only she with her unappeased longing for happiness,
could not perish. Suddenly she fancied that she heard a strange
crackling sound, as if a bat were fluttering over the floor. A shudder
ran through her frame; she could not move, her limbs seemed paralyzed
by approaching death.

"Who is there?" she cried. No answer.

"Is there any one in the room?" All was still as death.

"I am delirious," she said to herself. "Oh! this long night! If morning
would only come. Oh! for sleep--for one hour's sleep!"

She buried her head in the pillows and at last really fell asleep. In
her dreams she met Edwin, and his manner toward her was different from
what it had ever been. He smiled at her with his happiest look, and
then grew grave again exactly as he had done when she had watched his
reflection in the mirror, while he sat opposite to the beautiful girl.
But now all his whispers and fond glances were directed toward her. Her
heart would not believe it, it must be a dream, a voice ever repeated
in her ear; but he talked so persistently and entreatingly, with looks
and tones of such ardent passion, only, strange to say, in the exact
words she had just heard from Lorinser, that intoxicated with delight,
she could no longer strive against the miracle. Beloved by him! A
thrill of joy made her tremble. She saw him bend over her, felt his
breath on her face, her burning lips half parted in the empty gloom and
murmured wild words----

A piercing shriek suddenly rang through the silent house, a shriek
which in its terrible shrillness sounded so little like the accents of
a human voice, that the sleepers whose ears it reached only started a
moment, and then as all remained still, quietly relapsed into slumber
again, believing it to be some dream or illusion of the senses. Up in
the "tun" Balder moved in his restless sleep, and asked if he had
screamed so himself. Mohr had sprung from his chair and was trembling
from head to foot. He thought he had distinctly heard the terrible cry
proceed from the room beneath. "Let me go down," he whispered to Edwin.
"It sounded as if some one were shrieking for help against an
assassin." Edwin stopped him. "Where do you want to go?" he whispered.
"If it were she, perhaps she has thus relieved her heart of some heavy
burden." They listened intently, but all below remained as still as
death. Mohr gradually grew calm and continued to renew for Balder the
applications of ice.

But the old maid-servant, who had come up the steep stairs with her
little lamp for the last time, to ask if anything was wanted, was just
passing Christiane's door when the terrible cry of mortal agony and
wild despair fell on her ear. The kind hearted woman also thought that
some sudden pain had attacked the young lady, but did not hesitate an
instant to open the door with the pass key she always carried, and
hastily enter the room.

When the light of her little lamp streamed far before her into the dark
ante-chamber, the old woman remained standing on the threshold as if
petrified, unable to take a single step forward or backward. She saw
Fräulein Christiane standing motionless with bare feet, beside the wall
at the head of the bed, the coverlid closely wrapped around her, her
unbound hair streaming over her shoulders, her right arm with the
fingers of the hand extended, stretched out before her, her eyes,
dilated so that the whites glittered in the light, fixed in a rigid
stare on the dark figure of a man, who also stood motionless in the
middle of the room. Not a syllable was uttered. A stifled cry, like a
rattling in the throat, came from Christiane, and from the spot where
the man stood a sound very like the grinding of teeth. The man then
turned, noiselessly and with apparent calmness, and seemed to be
looking for something on the floor; then waving one hand toward the
wall, and concealing his face with the other, he kept his back toward
the little lamp, and glided bare headed past the old woman out into the
dark entry.

At the same moment the white figure beside the bed sank down, and as
the old servant rushed forward, the light fell upon a face deadly pale
and distorted by the wildest convulsions of human agony.



                              CHAPTER VII.


Day had scarcely dawned, when the door of the tun was softly opened and
Heinrich Mohr's herculean figure appeared on the threshold; he took
leave of Edwin with a silent pressure of the hand. When, late in the
evening, he had come to the house to see whether Christiane had
returned in safety, he was soothed by the light in her window, and went
up stairs to pay Balder a visit and calm his excited nerves by a game
of chess. When he heard what had occurred and saw the poor young
fellow's condition, he could not be dissuaded from watching with him
through the night. Franzelius had rushed off for the doctor as soon as
Edwin returned. He found Marquard's doors locked, his master would
probably not come home that night, the servant said with a significant
smile. Another doctor, the best that could be procured, was then
summoned and prescribed the necessary remedies. After this the night
passed quietly without incident. The friends, both equally moved by
this vicissitude of fate, scarcely exchanged a word during the long
hours, but sat side by side on the bench by the turning lathe, each
with a book which neither read, listening to the irregular breathing of
the invalid. Toward morning, the slumber produced by opium seemed to
pass into a healthy, natural sleep, and Edwin now insisted that Mohr
should go home and make up part of the rest he had lost, begging him
first to leave at Toinette's lodgings a note, which contained the
following lines:

"_Do not expect me to-day. Whilst I was eagerly imbibing full draughts
from the cup of life, death knocked at our door. We still hope to
defend our citadel against him, but until we are entirely sure of doing
so, I shall not leave my post at Balder's side. Whether or not I can
forget you in any fate that may befall me, you well know. I shall send
you messages from time to time. If you want any books, please inform
me._

"_The envy of the_ '_so-called gods_' _has this time produced a master
piece._

                                           "Edwin."


When Mohr passed Christiane's door, he was on the point of ringing her
bell, but it occurred to him that it was not yet six o'clock. But he
came back again during the forenoon. He had scarcely been able to sleep
an hour; a strange anxiety urged him to return to the house in
Dorotheenstrasse, which contained all that was dear to him. As he
vainly pulled Christiane's bell for the third time, the maid-servant
came up the stair's bringing Edwin's dinner; (Reginchen would not
appear.) The woman was evidently confused when Mohr hastily asked where
the young lady had gone and when she would return. Fräulein Christiane
had gone out early in the morning, she answered sulkily, she couldn't
say where. She didn't trouble herself about the lodgers.

He was not particularly surprised; only it was disagreeable to be thus
compelled to wait before he could see her again. But as he intended to
stay in the tun for the day and night, he hoped at any rate to hear
when she returned.

On going up stairs he found Marquard, who tried to put the best
possible face on matters.

"There's no immediate danger," he said in a low tone, while Balder was
sleeping, "if he will only keep quiet and not play any more tricks.
What the devil induced him, instead of taking a little ride in the
sunshine, to venture alone into the city and wander about the foggy
streets till he was warm and tired."

That he had done this, Balder had written with a trembling hand on a
scrap of paper, for which he asked Edwin as soon as he awoke, as if by
his written testimony to remove all suspicion of any other cause.
Franzelius, who came up a moment to inquire about his health, and
scarcely dared to look the invalid in the face, had kept silence. And
indeed he knew nothing definite; he left after insisting that he must
be permitted to watch the following night. There was no longer any
mention of his fixed idea that he was pursued.

Here was a fresh instance of the power a pure and noble soul can exert
over coarser natures. There was not a loud word heard in the house;
everybody moved about on tiptoe; a Sabbath-like stillness pervaded the
workshop beneath, only interrupted by the smothered grumbling of the
head journeyman, if the apprentice who was sent up stairs in his
stocking feet every two hours to inquire about Balder, remained too
long. Even the old gentleman in the second story had been to the tun in
person to express his sympathy for Edwin, and Madame Feyertag, the only
person who succeeded in seeing the patient, came down with tearful eyes
and declared that he looked like a young Saviour, and it was heart
rending to see such a picture of a man suffer so terribly.

Reginchen, as has already been mentioned, did not appear. The
maid-servant said she was ill. Such a thing was hard to imagine, but no
one had much thought for anything except whether Balder would ever rise
from his bed again.

We must, however, except Heinrich Mohr, who in the deathlike stillness
of the house listened for nothing more anxiously than the sound of
Christiane's door. But there was no movement or sound beneath, though
hour after hour elapsed and she had never before remained absent
without informing the pupils who came to take lessons at the house, and
who were dismissed to-day by the old servant, with a shrug of the
shoulders. The uncertainty became harder and harder to bear. He had
never passed hours so full of torture as these in the quiet sick room,
beside the friend to whom he could not even speak of his fears, for
Edwin's sole anxiety was for his brother.

Evening had already come, when Mohr with a beating heart suddenly heard
a carriage drive up the street and directly after rapid steps cross the
courtyard. Now the first flight of stairs creaked, a woman's light
footsteps could be heard upon them; they paused at the first landing
but Christiane's room was not the goal, for with light cautious steps
the late visitor mounted higher, reached the door of the tun, and
tapped lightly on it.

Edwin who was sitting beside the lamp, dozing a little after his
sleepless night, instantly started up. "Come in!" he called softly,
forgetting that no one was allowed to enter the sick room. The door
opened, and Toinette's slender figure, wrapped in a silk cloak, glided
noiselessly in. Her first glance lighted upon the bed where Balder was
quietly sleeping, then she laid her finger on her lips and nodded to
the two friends, who had started from their chairs and were gazing at
her in astonishment.

"Toinette--you here!--you've come yourself!" exclaimed Edwin.

"Hush!" she answered. "He's asleep, I'm going away again directly. But
I couldn't rest, I was determined to see how bad matters were. You
wrote me such a short note, that I haven't got over my fright yet. Tell
me, is he out of danger?"

"We hope so. But won't you sit down?"

"No, no," she answered, now for the first time glancing around the
dimly lighted room, with an involuntary sigh which betrayed to Edwin
how poor and uninviting the famous "tun" appeared to her. "I shall
disturb you!" she added in a whisper. "Only let me look at him once
more. Thank you," she added to Mohr, who had moved the lamp nearer the
sleeper. For a few moments all three were silent.

"He's very handsome!" she said softly. "What a gentle face! So that is
your brother! Do you know I should have known it instantly, though you
don't look at all alike. What pretty slender hands, one would never
think they had learned a trade; but he's moving, as if in pain; take
the lamp away, we mustn't wake him."

"Won't you not at least sit down a moment?" pleaded Edwin, who could
hardly restrain his feelings. "I can't offer you a sofa though. Neither
philosophy nor the turning lathe has progressed so far as that."

"No, I can't stay. I kept the droschky waiting at the door because I
only wanted to inquire in person. What a terrible attack! But at least
he does not suffer. What does the doctor say?"

At this moment the invalid moved his head, raised it a little from the
pillow, and slowly opened his eyes. His gaze was fixed upon Toinette,
whom he seemed to notice with quiet curiosity, but without surprise.
Whether he took her for some dream-vision, or whether he was really
awake, they could not tell. "How sweet those violets smell!" he
murmured. "Is it Spring already?" A faint smile lighted up his face and
then died away. Slowly, as if closed by some stranger's hand, his
eyelids drooped, and with a heavy sigh he sank back upon the pillows.

"He thinks he has seen a vision, and will dream on about it," whispered
Edwin. "I wonder if he will remember you to-morrow."

"Don't tell him I was here," Toinette replied quickly, drawing her hood
over her head. "Goodnight. I'm glad I've seen him, I really could not
have slept without it." Mohr silently bowed. Meantime Edwin had lighted
a small lamp and was prepared to accompany her down stairs.

"I'm making you a great deal of trouble," she said as she slowly
descended the rickety steps, "but one might easily break one's neck
here. And then, I've something to tell you, a request to make, but you
mustn't be angry with me."

"What can I do for you?"

"It's not for me, it's for your brother. Things must not go on so, he
ought to have a change, he can't spend the winter in that oppressive
atmosphere. I'm angry with myself for having managed so badly, lived so
recklessly. A fortnight ago I should have been twice as rich. But
you'll certainly treat me like an old friend and take what I have, that
he may go to some warmer climate, if not to Cairo or Madeira." He stood
still on the stairs. The hand which held the light trembled.

"And you, Toinette? What is to become of you?"

"That's a matter of no consequence. Surely you know that 'My Highness'
must end sooner or later, and I shall not have been utterly useless at
last."

"Toinette! What are you saying! You're jesting, and I--in all
seriousness, do you suppose I would accept your offer?"

"You would be very unwise if you did not. Do you call yourself a
philosopher and still cling to such foolish prejudices? What can one
human being give another that deserves less thanks than miserable
money? I thought you despised it as much as I. But I see you're no
wiser than other men, who don't hesitate a moment to take everything
from a girl, love and life and honor, but who when the point in
question concerns a few paltry pieces of money, become stiff-necked
from an incomprehensible pride. Go! I see you don't love your brother
even as well as I do."

In her indignation she ran down the stairs and crossed the courtyard so
rapidly, that in following her his candle was blown out.

As he helped her into the carriage, he whispered: "We'll discuss this
matter another time. But whatever I do or leave undone, I thank you,
Toinette, thank you from the bottom of my heart, for having been so
sisterly, so kind, so--"

"Hush," she said. "Go back to your ugly tun again. I'm not at all
satisfied with you, and am not to be conciliated by fine words so
easily. Reflect until to-morrow. I shall see you again toward evening."

"No, dearest," he answered hastily, "you must not do that. Beautiful
and worthy of you as it was to cast aside all scruples to-day, you must
not again expose yourself to gossip without cause. Did you see good
Madame Feyertag's face as we passed the shop door? I can't bear to have
people form such an opinion of you, and besides--suppose he should see
you when in the full possession of his senses and fall in love with
you? One fever is enough isn't it?"

"You're a fool," she answered laughing, but instantly becoming grave
again; "but if you'll write every day and give a full, very full
account of him, I'll stay at home. But reflect upon what I said to you.
Good night."

The droschky drove away, and Edwin looked after it till the dim lamps
vanished around the corner. For the first time in all these weeks it
did not seem to him impossible, but rather it seemed a blissful
certainty, that the ice between them would be broken and a spring time
arrive, which would make amends for all his tortures. At this moment
everything, even Balder's fate, receded into the background. Bare
headed and without a cloak, he stood for a long time in the gloomy
street, as if intoxicated by contending emotions, and did not feel the
first flakes of a November snow storm fluttering down upon him.



                             CHAPTER VIII.


Christiane did not return home at all that night.

Mohr, who had insisted that Franzelius must exchange with him and give
him the night watch, again sat at the window through all the long dark
hours uttering not a word, his eyes fixed steadily upon the door into
the courtyard. When Edwin, toward morning, started from a short
slumber, he found him still in the same position; his eyes were red and
fixed, his face grey and haggard. He gave contradictory, half comical,
half sulky answers, and altogether behaved so strangely, that Edwin,
who had no suspicion of his state of mind, declared he was sick and
insisted that he must go directly home and to bed.

He obeyed as mechanically as an automaton. In the courtyard below, the
maid-servant met him, and he learned from her that Madame Feyertag had
received a note from Fräulein Christiane early that morning: the young
lady had been obliged to set out on a journey very suddenly, and it was
uncertain when she would return.

Mohr nodded and acted as if the news had no special interest for him.
Nevertheless he entered the shop, where Madame Feyertag was standing,
under the pretext of inquiring for Reginchen's health. She was getting
better, her mother said; it was only affectation, the whimsical child
seemed to think it a joke to fold her hands in her lap and let herself
be nursed. Then the conversation turned upon the music teacher, and her
note was shown. It was written in pencil, evidently in great agitation,
but afforded no farther clue.

Herr Feyertag also came in. He was very much depressed and his
Schopenhauer wisdom seemed to have left him entirely in the lurch, for
his whole heart was bound up in Reginchen, and this was the first time
the child had caused him the slightest anxiety. He did not speak very
kindly of Christiane, for whom he had always expressed the highest
esteem. He would never let an interesting woman lodge in his house
again. That had hitherto been his maxim, for women must above all
things be women, and the strong minded ones, who lived alone, played on
the piano, and were taken up with the sorrows of the world, did not
exactly belong to the "weaker sex"--with or without moustaches--His
good wife cast a significant glance at him, and shrugging her shoulders
said "We know why you prefer weak women, Feyertag. Instead of talking
such stupid nonsense, you ought to go to the police and ask if they
know anything."

The faithful friend left the house with a still heavier heart. He told
himself many times, that all this was perfectly intelligible, that
nothing was more natural than this sudden departure, that the movements
of musicians were perfectly unaccountable, and November weather no
hindrance if the point in question were a duty toward friends and
relatives. Might not a sick friend have summoned her, or her assistance
been requested at some concert in the country? Nothing was more
probable. And yet, when he thought of her passionate outburst in the
Pagoda, her sudden disappearance--why, if all were well, should he have
this heavy heart, why should he be visited with this mysterious
anxiety, which oppressed his breath, and aroused a hundred sorrowful
ideas?

He got through the day as well as he could, found an opportunity to
question Adèle, who also had not seen her friend since the excursion,
and, as it grew dark, betook himself once more to the tun, where he
felt most at ease. If she returned, he would at least be near her and
would know it; this was his secret thought.

The day seemed to have passed tolerably well. Marquard was satisfied,
Edwin said. How Balder felt when not asleep, was difficult to
determine. He had not said anything except that he was very
comfortable, but they knew him well, he had always concealed his
sufferings. Fortunately he slept most of the time, and without
narcotics. Entire exhaustion of all the vital powers seemed to have
followed the attack.

He was still sleeping, when in the evening a very timid knock summoned
Edwin to the door. In the passage outside, where a small lamp lighted
the stairs, stood a figure wrapped in a narrow, old-fashioned cloak,
with a high collar, in whom Edwin did not recognize the zaunkönig until
the embarrassed little gentleman mentioned his name.

He had only heard of Balder's serious illness that noon, when one of
the apprentices brought him a pair of shoes, but had had no rest since,
and his daughter and Frau Valentin who was with them, had both urged
him to inquire immediately in person. He was also to ask whether the
ladies could be of any assistance in nursing or sending delicacies;
Frau Valentin placed at their disposal her whole store of jellies and
her cook, who had had a great deal of experience in preparing food for
the sick. He said all this in such an earnest, beseeching tone, that
Edwin pressed his hand with deep emotion. He would certainly remember
this kind offer when Balder was convalescent. Would he like to see him
a moment?

The little man entered the room on tip toe, bowed courteously to Mohr
whom he did not know and then stood motionless beside Balder's bed.
Suddenly he turned away, drew out his handkerchief and made every
effort to stifle in its folds the agitation that found vent in
passionate tears. When this was no longer possible, he hastily waved a
farewell to Edwin and hurried to the door.

"He's forgotten his hat," said Mohr. "I'll follow the good old fellow
and see that he gets down stairs safely, I was going away at any rate,
Edwin. Our tribune of the people will probably soon be here." On the
landing before Christiane's door he overtook the little artist, who had
paused to collect his thoughts and dry his wet face.

"I've brought you your hat, Herr König," said he.

The artist nodded his thanks, put his hat on mechanically, and then
slowly descended the staircase. He seemed so absorbed in thought that,
contrary to his usual courteous custom, he took no notice of his
companion.

But on reaching the street before the house, where Mohr was about to
take leave of him, the artist suddenly seized his arm, and said: "If
you have time, my dear sir, I beg you to walk a few steps with me. I've
something to tell you. You're an intimate friend of both brothers. The
Herr Doctor often mentioned your name. Perhaps, too, you know how it
happened that I--that I found myself compelled to stop the lessons he
gave my daughter. My creator knows it was no easy matter for me--or my
daughter either, as you may well believe. It was like punishing her
when she felt perfectly innocent. But that's not the point; to one who
loves his child--but it ought not to be a chastisement for does not our
heavenly father deny us many dear and precious things, we know not why?
Of course I don't mean to compare our human wisdom with the infinite
wisdom of God; I only say all this because perhaps you have thought me
hard hearted. Indeed I'm not; I've probably suffered even more than my
dear child; but I did not dream that she'd take it so much to heart. I
tell you she has altered beyond recognition, become a totally different
creature, not like a girl of eighteen or nineteen, but a wearied soul
for which all the happiness of this world is past. My heart bleeds when
I see her wandering about, uncomplaining, often even wearing a smile,
but so pale! And that's why I couldn't restrain my tears when I saw
your friend's brother lying on his couch of pain, I don't know how it
happened, but I couldn't help thinking suppose my child, my Leah,
should lie before me so, and I--an old man--no, no, my God--thy mercy
will spare me that, this cup--" Overpowered by his feelings, he stood
motionless with his face buried in his hands. To rouse him from his
grief, Mohr at last said:

"You wanted to tell me something?"

"Yes indeed," replied the little artist, recovering his self-command.
"You see, I'm aware your friends have no superabundance of money, and a
sickness--you understand what I mean. I'm still in the Herr Doctor's
debt. If you could induce him, at least now--"

"I doubt whether my friend would hear of such a thing, my dear sir. But
you need feel no anxiety. We're a sort of communistic society, and
where Balder's interests are concerned Edwin is not too proud to
receive help from his friends."

"That's just it," sighed the little artist. "If he only knew what good
friends he has outside of your circle. Frau Valentin--an excellent
woman, believe me, has in spite of everything the highest esteem for
this admirable young man. But you see, as he so openly rebels against
being called a child of God, and doesn't even recognize a heavenly
father, can you blame an earthly father if he does not want his only
daughter's inheritance of the kingdom of heaven argued and
philosophized away? She's so young, ought she to surrender her mind and
soul to a man who knows nothing, and wishes to know nothing of God?
Isn't it better for her temporal welfare to suffer, rather than her
soul should sustain an injury?"

At any other time Mohr could scarcely have refrained from arguing with
the little artist and driving him into a corner. Now as he slowly
walked beside him through the rude November storm, he only listened
with half an ear. His thoughts were far away, yet at every muffled
female figure whose gait and bearing had the most distant resemblance
to Christiane's, he involuntary started.

"If the hard winter were only over," the artist prattled frankly on,
without taking the slightest umbrage at the silence of his gloomy
companion. "Well, with God's favor, we shall soon see another Spring
and then I shall no longer be anxious about my daughter. The doctor
thinks change of air, amusement, and journeying, would restore her more
quickly than any other remedy. A few months ago, this opinion would
have startled me. A poor artist, who has never been prosperous or had
particularly rich patrons--dear me, how could he obey such
prescriptions? But when the need is greatest, God's help is nearest;
that has been made manifest to me afresh. Just imagine, my dear sir,
what has happened. I had only one little picture at this year's
exhibition, which closed a fortnight ago--the times have been very
bad--I was obliged to devote myself exclusively to my remunerative
labor, wood engraving. Well, as I said before, I couldn't make up my
mind to be entirely unrepresented in the exhibition, although I should
hardly have been missed. So just before the doors closed I finished a
little picture, one of my zaun pieces, which perhaps you've seen here
and there. My speciality, my dear sir, in which I'm safe from
competition. But what happened? On the last day, when I had wholly
resigned all hope of selling my zaunkönig this time, in spite of its
moderate price of forty thalers, and was walking resignedly through the
hall, thinking: 'no wonder you're left; almost all the others are
better,' I saw three gentlemen standing before my little daub, engaged
in eager conversation and pointing so frequently to the picture, that I
at first thought they were making fun of it; but no, they talked as
gravely and earnestly as if they were standing before some master piece
from which a whole theory on aesthetics might be demonstrated. I now
recognized one of the gentlemen, a well known connoisseur in art, Baron
L., and he also recognized me and whispered something in the ear of the
taller of his two companions, who had a very aristocratic air, after
which they continued to converse for some time in a low tone, the
aristocratic gentleman looking at me through his eye glasses, till I
was really embarrassed and tried to slink away. But the baron called to
me and begged me to return, he wanted to introduce me to His Highness,
Prince Batároff, who wished to make my acquaintance. Well I couldn't
escape, I was obliged to answer a multitude of questions, especially
about art, how I painted, what my thoughts were while painting, and
even _why_ I painted, as if that were not as much a matter of course,
to an artist as eating and drinking. At last, after the prince had said
something in Russian to his companions, he asked me what I earned a
year by my pictures on an average. I quickly made a rough estimate and
named the sum, which of coarse is no princely revenue, and on which
alone I could not live. Upon this His Highness said: 'Would you pledge
yourself, Herr König, on your word of honor, to give everything you
paint to me, and not touch a brush without my orders? In return I would
give you a regular yearly income, four times the amount of the sum you
have named. But you understand me: if you should break your promise--'
here the professor interposed and said that was not to be feared from
me, that I was known to be a man of principle and religion, but he
winked at me to accept the offer without a moment's hesitation. Tell me
yourself, my dear Herr Mohr, could I have justified my action to my
child if I had delayed? I joyfully agreed to the proposal, and am now
in a situation to take my daughter to Switzerland next May, perhaps
even on a little trip into Italy. Wasn't I right in saying that the
ways of Providence are wonderful?"

"Wonderful indeed," replied Mohr, "so wonderful that in your place I
should have been curious to discover the connection of affairs. As you
acknowledge that your paintings are a specialty, how do you account for
this Russian patron's fancy for getting a whole brood of zaunkönigs?"

"I asked the baron that question directly afterwards; for between
ourselves, the prince didn't seem to me exactly in his right mind, and
I thought it wrong to profit by a monomania. I know very well that I'm
only a mediocre artist, many of my works I can't endure myself. But the
baron quieted my scruples. My salary was no more to the prince than the
bottle of wine which I certainly should not grudge myself on a holiday,
is to me. Besides, he had a very shrewd head and was interested in my
artistic individuality, as he called it. Well, a man's wishes are his
own private affair. I'm now a Russian court painter, and the first
quarter's salary has been paid in advance, but there's nothing said
about an order and the sketch of my lagune, which I have sent and would
like to finish, has not been returned to me: 'it will do very well,'
was the answer. His Highness is still reflecting what he will order
first."

"I congratulate you," said Mohr dryly. "If your opinion that you're
only a mediocre artist were correct, it would at least be an _aurea
mediocritas_, a golden mean, with which one might well be satisfied."

"My dear sir," replied Herr König good naturedly, without showing the
slightest irritation, "all things must serve to benefit those who love
God. I submitted to my mediocrity, even when no Russian prince gilded
it for me. If all creatures were of the same size, all men, plants and
animals the tropical giants now to be found in some regions, what would
become of the bright, cheerful diversity in the world? Even to belong
to it, I consider so great a happiness that I think those artists very
unfortunate who wish themselves out of it because they have attained
only average success or even fallen below mediocrity."

Mohr cast a keen side glance at him. Were these words, which struck his
sensitive spot, intentionally aimed at him? Had Edwin told the little
gentleman anything about his symphony or comedy, and was this lecture
on contentment intended to put a damper on his fruitless zeal? But the
artist's bright innocent expression contradicted such a suspicion, and
made it impossible for the other to utter the sharp answer that was
already hovering on his tongue. Besides, while engaged in this
conversation they had reached the little house on the canal, and the
artist urged his companion so cordially to come in for a moment and
take a cup of tea, that Mohr in spite of his dejection, could not
refuse. Where else should he go? The wind was blowing from the river
with icy coldness, and all life on the banks seemed frozen. Nothing
awaited him in his lonely bachelor lodgings save a dark night full of
anxious dreams. So he allowed himself to be guided across the timber
yard, along the narrow path between the lofty piles of wood, toward the
door, from which streamed a faint ray of light.



                              CHAPTER IX.


Leah was seated at the table in her little sitting room; before her was
the tea urn, and a closed book but she seemed to have been occupied
with neither, but entirely absorbed in her own thoughts. As the two men
entered she started up, her first glance fell upon the stranger, and a
look akin to disappointment flittered over her face. Had her ears
deceived her and made her suppose that Edwin was accompanying her
father?

She did not speak, but with downcast eyes listened to the report of the
invalid's condition. Her father introduced his guest as a friend of her
former teacher; she bowed in visible embarrassment. By degrees,
however, as Mohr himself thawed out and began to talk about his
university life with Edwin, she too became more at ease and performed
the duties of hostess with the most winning grace. The guest was very
much pleased with her, he even wondered that Edwin had never spoken of
her personal appearance, which was really worth mentioning, though a
sickly pallor made her seem older than her years, and her movements
when she walked, were weary and languid. After she had poured out the
tea, she took some sewing and sat down in an armchair at a little
distance from the others, not far from the niche in which her mother's
bust stood. A warm light animated the still features of the marble
image, and Leah's transparently pale complexion, especially when her
beautifully sparkling eyes were fixed on her work, made the semblance
between the living woman and the dead marble so striking as to produce
an almost uncomfortable impression upon the visitor. He again relapsed
into his own gloomy cares and presentiments, and if the little artist
had not continued the conversation with the most persistent
cheerfulness, the mood that prevailed in the pleasant room would have
become more and more dismal.

But with each passing moment the zaunkönig seemed to become more
comfortable in his nest. When Mohr, out of courtesy, asked to see some
of his work, he brought out of his studio with a diffidence with which,
however, was blended an air of quiet satisfaction, a large portfolio,
and began to spread the sketches before his guest. "These are old
designs," said he. "When my wife was alive, I was in the habit while
we sat together in the evening--the child yonder used to go to bed
early--of scrawling my fancies on a sheet of paper. They were not so
modest and tame as now, but took the boldest leaps and caricoles, as if
they belonged to a great artist who possessed the ability to execute
them. To be sure, even in those days, I knew that I was no Poussin or
Claude Lorraine; but when alone, after toiling honestly all day as a
mediocre artist, I would permit myself during the evening hours, to
dream of what I would paint if I were one of those great geniuses. Now
these fits come more rarely, and I'm slow to detain them. If I can't
wholly reform, I merely sweep a bit of charcoal over the sheet for a
time, and my sleeve effaces even the smallest trace."

Mohr turned over the drawings, which were on rather an exaggerated
scale, and the way in which he expressed his opinion of one and another
and detected the artistic idea in the often very imperfect lines,
seemed to delight the little gentleman greatly. When the cuckoo clock
struck eleven and the guest rose, with an apology for having already
remained too long, the master of the house most cordially invited him
to come again very soon, if their modest tea table had not seemed
tedious. The portfolio, he added smiling, certainly should not appear
again.

"My dear sir," replied Mohr, "I fear you would repent this
philanthropic offer, if I availed myself of it. I have a vein of that
'shelterless, restless barbarian,' and I like you too well not to spare
you a closer acquaintance with me. But no one can answer for himself.
If my own society becomes unbearable even to myself, I shall come and
beg to be allowed to sit quietly in this sofa corner for an hour. Your
tea urn sings so melodiously that in listening to it one quite forgets
what a discord usually prevails in this world."

He shook hands with the father and daughter and left the little house
in a strange paradoxical mood. "What is it that we want?" he muttered
to himself, as, insensible to the storm he stood beside the river,
gazing down into its gloomy depths. "This man, to whom everything seems
to work together for good, because as a well trained child of God, he
believes in time and eternity; who is satisfied with everything, his
mediocrity, his weakness, his skill and want of skill, who makes
a virtue of every necessity, even the heart-sorrow of his only
child,--does he deserve honor or detestation? Is not this yearning for
God, which ennobles everything to him, and shows him a paradise behind
every face, in reality only selfishness in disguise? Is not even this
piety, viewed apart from intellectual blindness, a fondling of self at
the expense of others? I, who enter this house for the first time, can
scarcely see the lovely girl without compassion and indignation at her
fate, and her own father, trusting that his dear God will again lead
the stray sheep back to the fold when the wolf has once been made
harmless, reconciles himself to see the beautiful, talented, patient
creature waiting away because her proper nourishment is withheld from
her. Really, we savages are the better men! If I should ever have a
daughter--"

He did not finish the sentence. The wind suddenly dashed such a whirl
of snow flakes into his face, that he was forced for a time to close
his eyes and mouth and cling involuntarily to the railing. When he
again looked around him, the storm seemed to have raged itself calm,
the moon even cast a misty light through the black clouds, and for a
moment revealed the houses on the opposite side of the canal, from
which, as it was now almost midnight, only a few lights gleamed.

"It's time to go home," murmured the young man. "Every one in the boats
below is already asleep. I wonder how a man feels who's born in the
cabin of a boat on the Spree and dies there, after gazing for sixty
years through his window into this _Cloaca maxima_!"

He had not walked a hundred paces along the bank of the river, when he
saw on one of the largest boats, loaded with wood, a crowd of people
pressing in excited but silent eagerness around a dark object on the
deck. From time to time the rays of a ship's red lantern flashed over
the group, revealing the broad faces of the fair haired men and women,
who were standing around something lying at their feet, and seemed to
be discussing what was to be done with it, but in suppressed voices, as
if it were a matter of great importance to settle the affair among
themselves.

On one of the boat landings, directly opposite to the scene, stood Mohr
endeavoring to discover the cause of this nocturnal assemblage.

A woman's sharp voice suddenly became audible above the confused
buzzing and murmuring.

"Let the wet lump bring us into trouble? No, indeed. We're too smart
for that. That's the third charming gift this week. First the drunken
harper, then the new born babe, and now--"

"Don't scream so, mother," said a sturdy young fellow, who had just
snatched the lantern from his neighbor's hand and turned its light full
on the face of the prostrate figure, "You'll bring the police upon us."

"That I will," cried the woman, "and at once. When we took that sewing
girl out of the water last Easter, and I put her in my own bed and made
a cup of tea to restore her to her senses--what did the wicked minx do?
Stole six pairs of gloves from a shop the very same day, and because
we'd had her with us, we too got nabbed by the police just as if we
were receivers of stolen goods. And I'm to get myself into trouble
again by my kindness to strangers! God forbid. Let the police take care
of the whole brood of suicides. Carl, put on something warm and run as
fast as you can, till you find a watchman. We've taken a strange woman
out of the water, who was dead as a door nail, and the rest of it."

"Stop," suddenly cried a hoarse voice. All turned toward the landing
and to their astonishment saw Mohr leap down the steps and rush across
the narrow wooden bridge to the deck. The next instant he had snatched
the lantern from the captain's hand and fallen on his knees beside the
lifeless form. The light fell brightly on the pallid face, whose half
parted lips seemed still quivering with the agony of departing life.
The heavy eyebrows were painfully contracted, and only a narrow strip
of the eyes gleamed under the wearily closed lids. This rigid, almost
masculine countenance, had obtained in death an expression of gentle,
child-like helplessness, which exerted a softening influence even on
the rude minds of the sailors. Mohr dropped the lantern, which was
extinguished in its fall. For an instant the deepest darkness prevailed
on deck.

When the boatman's wife, who had been completely silenced by the sudden
interruption, had lighted the lantern, Mohr started up.

"How long is it since you found this lady and drew her out of the
water?" he asked.

"Not half an hour. But no one can tell how long she's been floating,"
said the man to whom the boat belonged. "I'd gone to sleep, and
suddenly woke and remembered that I had left my new jacket on deck, and
if the snow kept on it would be ruined by morning. As I went astern, I
heard something strike the boat like a log of wood. The lady must have
a hard skull or it would have been broken. Do you know her, sir?" Mohr
made no reply. He had enough to do to collect his thoughts and decide
upon what was to be done.

"Have you a litter?" he asked. "You can make three thalers by putting
the lady on it and carrying her a hundred paces to a house where she
will be received. I'll answer for the rest, and if the police should
afterwards find out that you didn't give them notice of the affair,
I'll take all the responsibility. But make haste, before it's too
late!--There, lay her flat on her back and cover her with this cloak.
And now forward--"

Not another word was spoken. His hasty, imperious manner, the promised
reward and the prospect of getting rid of the disagreeable business,
urged the sailors to the utmost speed. Two stout men lifted the
motionless figure on a flat frame, which was used for unloading baskets
of fruit, and fastened her firmly on it with a broad girdle. Her
clothes and hair were still dripping with water, as she was raised and
carefully carried up the steps of the landing. Then the bearers moved
swiftly forward with their burden, while the others remained on the
boats dividing the money among them. Mohr was the only one who followed
the bier. He had not trusted himself to touch the lifeless body, but as
it was raised he bent over the litter to keep it steady, and had
brushed her hand with his cheek; its icy coldness froze the blood in
his veins.

He ordered the bearers to stop before the artist's little house, but
was obliged to ring the bell at the gate of the timber-yard a long
time, before any one moved. How terribly long the moments were! Who
could tell whether a hundred seconds more or less might not decide
whether that motionless breast would ever again be heaved by the breath
of life?

At last a door behind the wood pile opened, a flickering light
appeared, and the zaunkönig's voice was heard asking: "what's the
matter?" A very few words were enough to urge the kind-hearted little
man to breathless haste. His trembling hands instantly opened the
little door beside the gate, and without another syllable being
uttered, the sad procession moved along the dark path to the little
house.



                               CHAPTER X.


At this same late hour the boudoir of the singer, whose acquaintance we
made at the Pagoda, looked very bright and cheerful. A candelabrum with
five candles was burning on the daintily spread table, at which the gay
beauty sat with her friend, resting on her laurels after the first
night of a new opera.

"You were charming to-night, Adèle," said Marquard, as he pushed back a
plate filled with oyster shells and rose to light a cigar at the
candelabrum. "Really, loveliest of witches, you improve in each new
part, and I shan't be surprised if one day you outgrow even me. But
you've one talent that compels my highest esteem: I admire it even more
than your acting, your singing, or the black art by which you make a
whole audience madly in love with you."

"And that is?"

"Your talent for eating oysters. You laugh, Adelina. But I'm perfectly
serious, believe me. I would engage to describe the mind and heart of
any woman with whom I had been ten minutes without any other knowledge
of her than eating oysters together, and never make a mistake--with the
sole stipulation that it's not her first essay in the noble art, when
even the most gifted person may set about it awkwardly."

"Well, and wherein does my merit in this direction consist?"

"First call Jenny and let her carry away the bouquets which have been
thrown to you to-day. The odor of champagne, Havanas, oysters and roses
all at once, are too much of a good thing and we shall have the
headache. Besides, I'm far from being vain enough to think the couch of
a beautiful girl softer, because it's strewn with rose leaves bestowed
by less fortunate admirers."

"You're terribly _blasé_!" laughed the singer. "If you were not so
amusing, I'd have discarded you long ago. But be quick, tell me your
oyster theory."

"No," he answered with a calm smile, leaning comfortably back on the
little sofa; "some other time. The subject's more profound than you
suppose. All themes which trench on the boundaries between the sensual
and the intellectual are very subtle, and I've too much scientific
knowledge to make short work of such delicate things. Besides, directly
after your declaration that you only tolerate me because I'm amusing, I
should be a fool to deliver a lecture on the physiology of enjoyment,
instead of giving a practical illustration of the subject. You may do
me the favor of taking off your head-dress, child. You know I've a
foolish fancy for pulling your poodle head."

"Indeed!" she replied. "First give me a light for my cigarette, and
then I want the explanation you promised me yesterday: the reason why
you'll never marry. You remember, I had to go to rehearsal and you to a
consultation."

"And you've not already discovered the answer yourself? Oh! Adelina,
your love for me clouds your clear intellect!"

"You insolent, conceited fellow! But he's incorrigible," laughed the
girl, as she carelessly took off the heavy false braids and laid them
on the chair beside the wine-cooler. She really looked far prettier in
her short and now disordered curls.

"There, now you're yourself again," said Marquard looking at her
through his gold spectacles with unfeigned satisfaction. "And since
you've laid aside all deceit, I'll honestly acknowledge, that out of
pure sentimentality, I shall never marry; my tombstone will bear the
inscription: 'Here lies the virgin Marquard.'"

"You and sentimentality!"--she laughed merrily.

"To be sure, my fair friend. Judge for yourself: don't you think it
would be pastoral, that I should show sensitiveness if my wife were not
faithful to me? yet I myself should be just as devoted to polytheism
after marriage as before. I couldn't help it you see, but I'm too just
to expect that a good, virtuous creature would be satisfied with such a
small fraction of a husband."

"As if the right woman wouldn't be able to improve you and make you a
whole man and husband!"

"Improve me, my friend!" he sighed with a comical pathos in his look
and tone. "In case you should ever want a faithful husband, let me warn
you to beware of doctors in choosing one. We really ought to take a vow
of celibacy, like the Catholic priests. The man to whom you confess,
must be either a stone or a saint, to escape the contagion of your
sins. And yet I'd rather listen to the symptoms of an ailing heart,
than hear of a contusion on the knee. Why do you move away from me?"

"Because you're a very frivolous fellow and have had too much
champagne. Besides, it's late."

"Too late--to go. I left word at home that my servant needn't expect
me. As I fortunately have no wife, I'll for once be as comfortable as
other married men and sleep for one night without being disturbed by
domestic troubles or by other people's. Here I'm no doctor, here I'm a
man and may be permitted to act like one." He threw away his cigar and
tenderly approaching the young girl, took both hands in his and swung
them to and fro.

At this moment Adèle's maid entered, holding a card in her hand. "The
gentleman's in the ante-room and earnestly begs to see the Herr
Doctor."

"Tell him he may go--Why did you say I was here?"

"He didn't ask me. He gave me the card at once, in spite of my
denial--"

"Mohr! Good Heavens, what brings him here at this hour! If
Balder--excuse me, Adèle, but I must see what the trouble is." He
rushed out of the door so hastily, that he upset the basket in which
Adèle's little terrier was quietly sleeping. While she tried to still
the loud barking of the frightened animal, Marquard had hurried into
the ante-room with the question about Balder on his lips.

"I believe all is going on well at the tun," said Mohr. "But you must
come with me at once: some one has met with an accident--we've not a
moment to lose."

"Holloa, my friend!" replied Marquard, suddenly relapsing into his
usual indifferent tone. "If that's all, four houses beyond, on the
right hand side as you go out of the door, lives a very worthy
colleague of mine, who has little practice as yet and probably will be
more inclined at this moment to obey your philanthropic summons--"

"You'll come with me, Marquard," said Mohr in a hollow voice, which
trembled with a terrible anxiety. "Christiane has drowned herself;
we've just taken her out of the river; God only knows whether it's not
already too late--" He tottered as he wearily gasped out the words; his
powerful frame seemed ready to sink, yet he did not take the chair
Marquard pushed toward him.

"You ought to have said so at once," grumbled the latter. "That's quite
a different matter. Sit down two minutes, I only want to get my hat.
The child in there needn't know anything about it yet."

An instant after he came out of Adèle's room, and not a word, not an
expression of his grave face betrayed any remembrance that he had been
so rudely interrupted in his bacchanalian levity. When they were
sitting together in the droschky, whose driver incited by Mohr's double
fare, drove at a furious pace, he said to his silent, gloomy companion:

"Among all the painful and unpleasant tasks expected of us physicians,
nothing is more sad, at least to me, than to do my duty in such a case
as this. Every one owes Nature a death. But to arouse a poor fool, who
thinks he's settled his debt and compel him to count out the whole sum
again, because he didn't pay it the first time in the current coin of
the country, is really a contemptible business, and enough to disgust
one with the whole trade. I've been called in on such occasions four
times, and amid all the rubbing and manipulating, have always wished my
efforts might be vain."

"I hope this time, you'll--"

"You need have no anxiety. The professional spirit is stronger than
philosophy or humanity. _Tiat experimentum et pereat mundus_, that's in
this case: _vivat_ a poor creature who has nothing to live for, but
every reason to curse existence. Christiane! Have you any suspicion
what induced her to do this? To be sure, we ought to remember that she
has a fancy for taking French leave of pleasant company. Is anything
known of her circumstances? An unhappy love affair? But you're like the
statue of the Commandant!"

"Pardon me if I'm a poor substitute for the society you've just left,"
faltered Mohr. "I--my nerves are no longer the strongest; this has
taken a violent hold upon me; between ourselves, Marquard, this girl,
who seemed by no means attractive to the rest of you, _I_ loved very
dearly."

"My poor boy!" murmured the physician, as in the darkness he took
Mohr's cold hand and pressed it gently. Then no more was said. Mohr
threw himself back in one corner of the carriage and buried his face in
his handkerchief. When they alighted at the timber-yard, Marquard saw
that it was flushed and wet with tears.

The little artist was standing at the open door of the housel "At
last!" he exclaimed. "We're nearly dead with anxiety and impatience.
However there really seems to be some hope. Leah thinks she's beginning
to breathe. Turn to the right, if you please. We've laid her on my bed
in the studio."

"Stay outside, Heinrich," said Marquard, "and I don't need the young
lady either. I shall manage better alone." He gave a few directions,
said a soothing word to Leah, who was gazing at him with a strangely
intent expression, like that of a somnambulist, and then proceeded to
his difficult task.

The three were now once more together in the very room where, a few
hours before they had chatted so comfortably around the tea table. But
no one broke the silence. The artist had seated himself opposite to the
bust of his dead wife, and seemed to be questioning the mute features
about the eternal secret of life and death. Mohr, with his hands
crossed behind his back, paced restlessly up and down the room like a
caged lion, pausing at every dozen steps as if to listen. Leah sat at
the window, gazing out into the storm. She did not move a limb, her
eyes were closed, but not for a single second did she lose her
consciousness of what was passing around her. The cause of this
paralysis was neither bodily exhaustion nor the stupor that often
follows great excitement. When she removed the clothing from the
stranger's motionless body to wrap it in blankets, she had found under
the wet corsets a small, leather case, fastened with a red ribbon.
Thinking it might contain a letter which would give some cause for her
mad act, or a card with her name, which Mohr had not thought to tell
them, she opened it, unnoticed by the others. It contained neither
letter nor card, but a photograph stained, to be sure, by the water,
but in which she nevertheless recognized at the first glance--Edwin. We
need add nothing farther to explain why she sat so absently at the
window hour after hour.

At last--it was probably about four o'clock in the morning--they heard
the door on the opposite side of the entry open, and directly after
Marquard entered.

"Good morning," he said dryly. "We've won the victory and driven the
enemy from all his positions. My adjutant, your excellent old servant,
Herr König, has orders to pursue him and clear the battle field of all
marauders. I'm going home to get a few hours sleep, and I shall then
have the honor of seeing you again."

He bowed carelessly and left the room. As he was groping in the dark
passage to find the door, he suddenly felt himself seized from behind
and clasped in two trembling arms. Mohr lay sobbing on his neck.



                              CHAPTER XI.


Balder's convalescence was more rapid than could have been hoped for.
At the end of a fortnight it had progressed so far that he was able to
sit up a few hours and, though with the greatest caution, employ
himself a little, read, and take part in quiet conversation. His
youthful vigor seemed to kindle anew and pervade all his organs with
vital strength. He had never seemed more cheerful than during these two
weeks, never more winning than when he acknowledged the affection shown
him by even the merest acquaintances. When Frau Valentin, who had daily
supplied him with strengthening broths, jellies, and the most delicate
game, was at last on the tenth day after his attack, permitted, as a
reward for her motherly care, to see him five minutes, the short visit
was enough to make the worthy lady fairly in love with her ward. Every
day Madame Feyertag's first business was to go to the tun to inquire in
person how he had spent the night; light a fire in the stove, because
the girl made too much noise and Reginchen still avoided the room, and
to water the beautiful palms, which Toinette the day after her visit
had sent to the tun, to delight the invalid's eyes. She did not come
again herself, but the dwarf with the pale blue eyes was sent every
noon for the latest bulletin, which Edwin, faithful to his promise,
wrote every morning. These lines were the only bond of intercourse
between them. He had vowed not to leave Balder's side again until he
should be well, with the exception of the hour at noon, when he
delivered a lecture, at which time, his place was supplied by one of
his friends. Either Mohr came to play chess, or Franzelius, who no
longer seemed to have any other occupation, sat down beside him with a
book and read aloud, an accomplishment of which he was a master. But
not a word was exchanged with the patient on the subject that engrossed
the thoughts of both. The names of Christiane and Reginchen never
crossed their lips, and even the little artist, who often looked in,
had agreed with Mohr that the unhappy girl's fate ought not to be
mentioned in the sick room.

One beautiful sunny day in November, Edwin had set out on his daily
walk to the university, and Franzelius was preparing to read aloud from
a translation of Sophocles, when Balder, who was reclining near the
window in a comfortable arm-chair sent by Frau Valentin, suddenly laid
his pale slender hand on the book and said: "We won't read to-day,
Franzelius, I'd rather talk about all sorts of things with you. I feel
so well that it's not the least exertion to speak, and the sun is
shining so brightly in the clear sky! Only to see that, is such an
incomparable happiness that to enjoy it one would gladly endure all the
evils of this life. Don't you think so?"

"I can't look at it without thinking that it shines equally on the just
and the unjust, and beholds much more misery than happiness," replied
the printer, looking almost defiantly toward the sky. "I wish it would
die out once for all, and with it this whole motley lie which we call
life."

"No, Franzel," said Balder quietly, "you are wrong. Even if the sun
knew what it was doing, in creating and sustaining life, there is no
cause for shame in such a work. Why do you call existence a lie,
Franzel? Because its end is so abrupt? But your existence had its
beginning as well and did that beginning ever bespeak a promise of
perpetuity? On the contrary my dear fellow, there is much honesty in
human life; it promises so little and yet yields us so much. Will you
censure it because it can't be all that we visionary or dissatisfied or
unjust people demand?"

"There's no joy to me in living," muttered the other gloomily, covering
his eyes with his broad hands. "As soon as one need is satisfied,
another takes its place, and he who ventures to differ from the
opinions held by mankind in general never finds repose."

"And would life be worth the living if we were sunk in repose? Is
sleeping, living? Or absorption in a dull dream of existence, such as
the beetle has when it climbs up the blade of grass to reach a
dew-drop--is that leading a worthy life? My dear fellow, if you drive
necessity out of the world, how unnecessary it would be to live!"

"You're playing upon words."

"No, I speak in sober earnest. A short time ago I read a stanza, in
Voltaire, which, like many things he says to the masses, is drawn from
his deep hoard of knowledge and contains a pure gem of truth.

     "Oh! who could bear the harden of his life,
      The sad remembrance of the whilom strife,
      The threat'ning ills that hover round his way,
      If the dear God, to ease man of his pain,
      Had not so made him thoughtless, careless, vain,
      That he might be less wretched in his day.

"Don't growl at the poor translation; its a hasty improvisation which I
ventured upon because I know you can't bear French. The sense is
faithfully rendered, and it's a sense admirably suited to the
senseless. I know of but one way that leads to real unhappiness, and
that's when a person is vain and frivolous. And those lines contain
much wisdom for it is just those people who lack the strength to endure
sorrowful recollections of the past and anxiety concerning their
futures, that are so deeply indebted to Nature for the ability of
thoughtlessly and unconsciously enjoying their pitiful present. This
will not bring them happiness, it will only make them less miserable,
for the real bliss of living they will never learn to know. He only can
understand that who is capable of quiet reflection, or, if you will,
who is able to grasp the meaning of both past and future at once.
Perhaps, though you're exactly the opposite of vain and frivolous, even
you won't wholly understand life for a long time as I've understood it.
I have always been best able to enjoy life by retrospection; and
whenever I wished to thoroughly enjoy existence, I have only needed to
awake in myself a vivid remembrance of the various periods of my life;
of my laughing frolicsome childhood, when I was in the glow of perfect
health; then the first dawn of thought and feeling, the first sorrows
of youth, when they came to me, the perception of what a full,
healthful existence must be, and yet at the same time the resignation
to my fate which is usually easy only to men advanced in years. Don't
you believe that one, who can experience whenever he wishes such a
fullness of life in himself, to whom for this purpose everything lends
its aid, sorrow and joy, loss and gain, each showing him a new side of
his own nature--don't you believe, my dear fellow, that such a
fortunate man must consider it a mistaken conclusion, even if a
philosopher gave it utterance, it would be better not to be born. To be
sure, no one can deny that there are times when sorrow stifles the
desire for existence and excites an overwhelming longing for mere
unconsciousness? But oftentimes the greatest sorrow brings an increase
of our life experience; how could we otherwise understand the
triumphant delight which martyrs have felt under torture by fire and
rack. They felt that their torment only confirmed their confidence in
the strength of their own souls, pervaded as they were by an illusion
or a truth that their tormentors sought to tear out or kill. The worst
that could be inflicted upon them served to develope the highest
enjoyment of their personality. And so all the tragedy of life which a
shallow philosophy pronounces to be the misery of the world, is merely
another, higher form of enjoying life peculiar to lofty souls. When
death steps in at last, it's like the sleep that comes after a holiday,
when people have been so long in an ecstacy of delight that they are
weary at last and have no strength for future enjoyments." He was
silent a moment and wore a rapt expression. Then he suddenly said:

"If the festival is over for me, Franzel, you must hold fast to Edwin."

"What nonsense you are talking!" exclaimed the other. "You've never
been on a fairer way toward recovery than now. Your sickness was a
crisis, Marquard said so himself."

"Yes it was a crisis," replied the invalid smiling. "It will decide,
indeed has already decided something. Life has pronounced judgement
upon this not very durable structure and written down its defects in
red ink. Do you really suppose that Marquard does not know as well as I
that the drama is played out? The slightest agitation, the least
imprudence--"

"Balder! what are you saying! These are mere fancies, perhaps a passing
weakness--"

"You think so because I can speak of the end so quietly? You ought long
ago to have credited me with as much strength as was needed for that. I
know how few are willing to rise from the table just when the viands
are most tempting. And indeed, Franzel, life never seemed to me so fair
as now. How many kind friends I have gained during these last weeks,
how much, beautiful poetry, and lofty and profound thoughts I have
enjoyed! But all that's of no avail, man must live and let live, and
there are doubtless others waiting to take their turn. If you are sad,
Franzel, I must wait for another time to make my last request; though I
do not know how long I may have to linger. But come, be sensible. You
know I love you dearly, indeed next to Edwin you have the first place
in my heart. But I do not need to take leave of my brother. My whole
life during the last few years has been only one long farewell. We knew
we should not always remain together, I at least was fully aware of it,
so we have enjoyed all our happiness, as it were, on account. But when
the end comes, I know how it will be; at first he'll be unable to
reconcile himself. And that's why I want to beg you to keep near him.
His needs are great, and there are not many who can fulfill them."

"And that is the first thing you ask?"  cried the honest friend, with
an emotion he vainly endeavored to repress. "But for Heaven's sake,
Balder, what sort of talk is this? You--you really believe--I--we--" He
started up and rushed desperately around the little table in the centre
of the room, so that the leaves of the palms trembled.

"You scarcely understand as yet all that I mean," continued the invalid
quietly. "That you'll always remain his friend is a matter of course.
But, to give me any real comfort, you will have to make a sacrifice."

"A sacrifice? As if I would not--do you know me so little?"

"I know you to be the most unselfish man under the sun," said Balder
smiling. "But it is just this very habit of never thinking of yourself,
that for his sake and mine you must lay aside, at least so far as you
can do so without being faithless to yourself. Do you know what will
happen if you go on as you have been doing? In two years, in spite of
your friendship, you'll not set foot in the tun."

"I? But tell me--"

"It's a very simple matter: because you'll be thinking of your friends
either behind prison bars or in America. Dear Franzel, must I tell you
why you're not fond of living? Because you believe that a man only
truly lives when he becomes a martyr to his convictions, I have always
loved you for this belief and yet I believe it a mistaken one. Test it
awhile; say to yourself that you aid many more by living than you could
by your martyrdom, and you will see that a man can guard his post very
bravely and self-sacrificingly, without fool-hardily summoning the
enemy by alarm shots. It would be an inexpressible comfort to me, if
you would promise for two years to let alone all 'agitation' and see
how affairs really are. There are currents in which it's a useless
waste of strength to row, because the boat floats onward of its own
accord, I know what it will cost you to do this. But it would be a
great joy if this last wish--"

"Say no more," cried the other suddenly pausing before his friend, with
his tearful eyes turned toward him--"Balder is it possible, that
you--that you are about to leave us? And can you believe if that should
happen, that I could continue my life as if nothing had occurred. When
men can no longer behold the sun--do you suppose I could--that I
would--" Words failed him, he turned abruptly away and stood motionless
beside the turning lathe.

"I did not mean that I thought you could live on, the same as before,"
said Balder in a lower voice. "But you need a substitute for what you
resign. You must learn to be glad to live, and I think I know how you
would learn to do so most quickly. You must take a wife, Franzel!"

"I? What can you be thinking about? How came such an idea into your
head? Just at this time too--"

"Because it will soon be too late for me to earn a kuppelpelz[4] from
you. True, I shall scarcely need it. I shall not feel cold where I lie.
But I should like to know of you're being warmly sheltered. And I know
from experience--I've been 'married' to Edwin---that the world looks
much blighter seen with four eyes than with two."

"You see," he continued, as his friend still stood motionless, boring a
hole in the bench with a point of a file--"Edwin will find a wife in
time who will make him happy; then you would be left again with nothing
but mankind to clasp to your heart, and beautiful and sublime as the
idea is, it's not all you need--and that's why you get over excited,
and the thought of martyrdom overcomes your judgment. So I think a
little wife, who would know how to love and value you, would by her
mere presence instruct you every day in the doctrine that Edwin has so
often represented to you in vain: that you should husband your energies
for the future and not prematurely sacrifice your life without cause.
There is no danger of your becoming faithless to your convictions from
mere selfish pleasure in your home. And then how can a socialist who
knows nothing except from hearsay of family life, upon which basis the
whole structure of society rests, who knows nothing of where the shoe
pinches the father of a family, talk to married men about what they owe
to themselves and others?"

As he uttered these words a bewitchingly cunning expression sparkled in
the sick boy's beautiful eyes. He almost feared that Franzelius would
turn and looking in his face penetrate the secret design, the purpose
of attacking him on his weakest side; so, rising, he limped to the
stove and put in a few sticks of wood. While thus employed, he
continued in a tone of apparent indifference:

"You mustn't suppose I'm saying all this at random. No, my dear fellow,
I've a very suitable match in view for you, a young girl who's as well
adapted to your needs as if I'd invented or ordered her expressly for
you. Young, very pretty, with a heart as true as gold, fond of work and
fond of life too, as she ought to be, if she is to wed with one who
doesn't care to live; not a princess, but a child of working people.
Haven't you guessed her name yet? Then I must help you: she writes it
Reginchen."

"Balder! You're dreaming! No, no, I beseech you, say no more about
that, you've too long--"

"I am astonished," continued the youth rising as he spoke and moving
toward the bed "that you didn't understand me readily and meet me
halfway. Where have your eyes been, that you've not seen that you have
stood high in the dear girl's favor for years. Even I have noticed it!
I tell you, Franzel, the little girl is a treasure, I have known her
all these years, and love her as dearly as a sister, and the man to
whom I don't begrudge her I must love like a brother. Therefore, blind
dreamer, I wanted to open your eyes, that I may close mine in peace. To
be sure I'm by no means certain that you've not already bestowed your
heart elsewhere, and my brotherly hint may be too late. At any rate,
whatever you do you should do quickly for the young girl's sake. She
seems to have taken your long absence to heart, her mother says she is
by no means well yet, and eats and sleeps very little I should like to
see my little sister well and happy again before I--"

He could not finish the sentence. He had been seated on the bed while
speaking and now he laid his head on the pillow and closed his eyes, as
if wearied with the unusual exertion of conversing. Suddenly he felt
his hands seized; Franzelius had meant to embrace him, but instead, he
threw himself down beside the bed, and with his head resting on
Balder's knees, he gave way to such violent and uncontrollable emotion,
that the youth was obliged to make every exertion to soothe him into
composure.

At last he rose. He tried to speak, but his voice failed.
"You--you're--oh! Heaven, forgive, forgive me! I'm not worthy!" was all
he could stammer. Then he started up and rushed out of the room.

Balder had sank back on the bed and closed his eyes again. His pale
face was almost transfigured, he looked like a hero resting after a
victory, and for the moment did not even feel the pain in his chest.
The room was perfectly still, the sunlight played amid the palm leaves,
the mask of the youthful prisoner, suffused with a rosy light which
came from the open door of the stove, seemed to breathe and whisper to
its image on the narrow couch: "Die, your death shall be painless!" But
a sudden thought roused Balder from this anticipation of eternal
repose. He rose and dragged himself to the turning lathe, wherewith a
trembling hand be unlocked the drawer. "It's fortunate that I thought
of it!" he murmured "What if they had found it!"

He drew out the portfolio in which he kept his collection of verses. On
how many pages was the image of the child whom he secretly loved
described with all the exaggerated charms with which his solitary
yearning had invested her; to how much imaginary happiness these simple
sheets bore witness! And yet he could now let them slide through his
fingers without bitterness. Had not his feelings been sacred and
consoling to him at the time? What had happened, which could strip the
bloom and fragrance of this spring from his heart? There would be no
summer, but did that make less beautiful the season of blossoming? He
read a verse here and there in an undertone, now and then altering a
word that no longer satisfied him, and smiling at himself for polishing
verses which no human eye had seen or ever would see. Many he had quite
forgotten, and now found them beautiful and couching. When he had
turned the last page, he took the pencil and wrote on a loose scrap of
paper that he laid in the drawer in place of the volume of poems, the
following lines, which he wrote without effort and without revision:

            Good night, thou lovely world, good night!
              Have I not had a glorious day?
            Unmurmuring, though thou leav'st my sight
              I to my couch will go away.

            Whate'er of loveliness thou hast,
              Is it not mine to revel in?
            Though many a keen desire does waste
              My heart, it ne'er alone has been.

            Delusion's veil of error blind
              Fell quite away from soul and eye;
            Clearer my path did upward wind
              To where life's sunny hilltops lie.

            No idol false is there adored;
              Humanity's eternal powers,
            O'er which the light of Heaven is poured
              Stand self-contained in passion's hours.

            High standing on the breeze-swept peak,
              Below may I with rapture see
            The land whereof no man may speak
            Save him who fares there wearily.

            This is the rich inheritance
              The children of the world shall own,
            When crossed the wearisome expanse,
              And fate's supreme decrees are known.

            Oh! brother, who art seeking still
              For love and joy, where I have sought,
            I would your path with blessings fill
              When to its end my life is brought.

            Ah! brother, could we two aspire
              Together to the glorious height,--
            Hence tears! some part of my desire
              Is thine. Thou lovely world, good night!



                              CHAPTER XII.


Suddenly Edwin's step sounded on the stairs. When he entered, he found
Balder sitting before the stove stirring the bright fire with the
poker.

"How do you do, child?" he said, with a brighter face than usual. "What
are you doing? Where's Franzel? Have you been burning papers here?"

"I've been making up a little more fire," replied the youth, bending
toward the flames to conceal his blushes. "It's beginning to grow cold.
Franzel went out a short time ago, probably to visit his betrothed."

"Our tribune of the people betrothed? The conspirator conspired
against? And to whom, if I may ask?"

"You were right, Edwin, in your suspicion that something unusual was
the subject of Reginchen's thoughts. It's still a secret, however. But
I'm very glad. They will suit each other exactly, I think."

"Well, well! how fast children develope! Our philanthropist and woman
hater, and the little house swallow! This is news indeed! Well, I too
have something to tell. Just as I was coming into the house, the
post-man overtook me and handed me a letter, which, _entre nous_, is
worth fifty ducats: we've won the prize, my boy!"

"Your essay? That's very pleasant!"

"Pleasant? Nothing but pleasant? I think your brotherly love receives
the news of this miracle very phlegmatically."

"Because I think nothing more natural than that you should at last be
appreciated. I've never doubted that you would be."

"Yes, yes, child," laughed Edwin passing his hand caressingly over his
brother's luxuriant hair, "if you should read in the newspaper
to-morrow, that a certain Dr. Edwin was made Grand Mogul, or what would
be still more wonderful appointed minister of public worship and
instruction, you would, in your famous blindness, lay aside the sheet
and say: 'I'm only surprised that the bright idea didn't occur to them
long ago.' Well then, you member of the _nil admirari_ society, I can
venture to tell my second piece of news without fear of causing you any
special agitation. The faculty that were wise enough to assign the
prize to my essay, have been so well pleased with me that in spite of
my radical tendencies, they offer me a professorship. That is, for the
present only surreptiously. They have to struggle against all sorts of
eddies and tack constantly, to bring me through. But they think, if I
should come and show myself, certain orthodox colleagues, who believe
me a child of hell, would see that the devil is not so black as he's
painted. So I'm to come, see and conquer, and that soon, for the
professorship has been vacant ever since Easter, and they would like to
have the _collegium logicum_ filled again during this winter session.
The salary is not bad, at any rate it's a piece of bread, though for
the present there's no butter to spread it with. Well, if we find we
can't live down prejudices now, it's a sign at least that the light
will eventually conquer the darkness, 'and the day of the noble hearted
(that is to say, your dear brother) will dawn at last.'"

"Although it can't be done? But Edwin, I beg you--"

"My child, that's very evident. We can't strike our tent in winter and
travel fifty miles toward the south, with your poorly patched lungs,
especially as we don't know how the climate there will suit you. Ah! if
the tun could be packed up just as it stands, and sent as freight,
marked 'glass, this side up with care--!'"

They were both silent for a time. Balder held the letter from the
faculty in his hand and seemed to be reading it again. The prize essay
was mentioned in the most flattering terms, its special merits dwelt
upon, and a private letter added from the dean, in which he emphasized
the wish to obtain such promising young talent for the university.

Edwin had gone to his desk and was beginning to cut a pen.

"Are you still studying the letter, child?" he asked carelessly. "They
write in a very pleasant style in that neighborhood, don't they? Well,
we will do ourselves credit too."

"Does _she_ know it yet?" asked Balder, without looking up.

"She? What are you thinking about? I haven't seen her for a fortnight.
Besides, what interest would she take in it? It'll be time enough to
tell her when I make my next visit, and she won't even be curious about
the prize essay. Such a duchess!"

Balder quietly rose, laid the letter on the table and said: "You'll not
hurt my feelings by refusing this, Edwin. I can spend the winter here
if necessary and join you in the spring. You know what excellent care I
shall have in your absence, and I shall never be really well again. But
the most important thing is to first talk the matter over with her.
There's no obstacle in the way now."

"Child!" exclaimed Edwin, throwing aside his pen, "do you want to drive
me mad--that you represent as possible things, which once for all--But
no, it's folly to even speak of it seriously. Come, let's eat our
dinner, I hear them bringing it and since the knowledge has come to me
that we possess fifty ducats, I feel as hungry as a millionaire--or no,
millionaires are never hungry--I'm hungry as a man who has never seen
fifty ducats at once in his whole life."

The door opened. But instead of the maid-servant who usually brought
the dinner, little Jean entered, his round face with its staring blue
eyes half buried in the high collar of a thick pilot-cloth coat, his
hair carefully brushed, and his cheeks as red as Borsdorf apples from
exposure to the sharp east wind. He held in his hand a paper horn, from
which he awakwardly drew a bouquet of violets. "I'm to give this to the
sick gentleman," he said in his automatic falsetto voice, "and my young
lady wishes to know how he is."

Balder took the bouquet from his hand. "Say that I'm very well, and
that my brother will call himself this afternoon to express my thanks
for the beautiful flowers. And here--" he felt in his pocket and took
out the last thaler he possessed--"you've had to come up these steep
stairs so often--"

The boy retreated a step. "My mistress forbid me to take anything."

"Say to her that we've won the great prize in the lottery," replied
Balder smiling, as he put the thaler into the pocket of the boy's rough
coat. "And now go, give my compliments to your mistress, and this
afternoon--you understand?" The boy nodded gravely as usual, and bowing
respectfully left the room.

"What have you done!" exclaimed Edwin, as soon as they were alone;
"Child, child, you force me to yield my head or at least my heart, to
the knife. What pleasure in being called Frau Professorin do you
suppose she would find?"

"Put the flowers in the water, Edwin, and then go to your desk. They're
not meant for me. This afternoon will settle the rest: here comes the
dinner, and the news that this morning has brought, has made me hungry
too. How's Reginchen to-day, Lore?"

"She seems rather better," said the faithful old servant, who had lived
in the house many years, smiling mysteriously. "At least I saw Herr
Franzelius go in an hour ago; and as he's there still and has even
dined with her, and as Reginchen first cried and then laughed, her
sickness can't be very dangerous. Goodness me, and I've carried her in
my arms!"



                             CHAPTER XIII.


When Edwin entered Toinette's room that afternoon, he found her seated
on the sofa, evidently absorbed in thought, for she did not look up
till he called her by name. A small box stood on the table before her,
and she was absently turning the key backward and forward in the lock;
her face was pale, and her eyes wore a strangely fixed expression. They
rested on the new-comer's figure for some time, as if she found it
difficult to recognize him; but it was only because she was forced to
make an effort ere she could withdraw the look that had long been
searching her own heart, and turn it again upon external things.

"Good afternoon, my dear friend," she said without rising, as she held
out her hand to him, "have you come to see me again at last? That's
very pleasant, but the best part of all is that you can do so with a
light heart. What anxious weeks you have passed! Well, I too have been
very miserable and the worst of all is that no nursing or brotherly
love can help me. But let's talk of something else, of something more
cheerful. You have drawn the great prize? I congratulate you."

He smilingly explained what had induced Balder to play this joke upon
little Jean, but said not a word about the professorship.

"No matter," said she, "it is pleasanter for you to have won a prize in
a lottery where one must have more sense than luck if one is not to
draw a blank. And yet it's a pity that it was only a joke. It would
have consoled me for being unable to keep my promise."

"Your promise?"

"To offer you the relics of my princely fortune, in case your brother
should wish to travel toward the south. Although I've lived very simply
ever since then--see, this is all I have left. When I've paid my last
housekeeping bill, there'll be just enough left for a dose of opium."

She had unlocked the little box and allowed him to look in. It
contained a few gold pieces and thalers.

"I'm glad you've some room," he answered in a jesting tone, "or I
should not know where to keep my fifty ducats. Such splendor in our
lowly hut--you've now seen the famous tun--we've not as yet had any use
for a fire-proof safe."

"Laugh on," she replied closing the little box. "But I'm angry with
myself for having been foolish enough and weak enough, just before you
came, to weep over my bankruptcy. The stupid money really is not worth
the tears. But you see, that's the very reason a great prize is such a
splendid thing, because we've no longer any need to humble ourselves by
thinking and worrying about money. I'm ashamed of myself that I could
be so base, even for a moment. And now not another word on the subject;
tell me about your brother. Is he really out of danger?"

Edwin sat down on the sofa beside her and spoke of Balder's condition,
of the hopes which Marquard had given, of the great love which all his
friends had shown him, and of the earnestness with which he had charged
him to thank Toinette for all her kindness. "Of course I thank you for
myself, also, dear friend," he added. "I imagine you wished to show me
kindness too. You knew what I suffered during those days, and that
nothing could give me more hope and courage than your sympathy. Will
you believe that amid all my anxiety for that beloved brother, I still
found time to miss you most painfully? If you had coldly remained
aloof, how I should have been forced to reproach myself for having
become half faithless to my brother, for the sake of a friend who was
perfectly indifferent to him!" She made no reply. It seemed as if she
had only half heard his words, and was brooding over a thought which
had nothing to do with him and his presence.

"You're fortunate," she said after a pause. "You have some one who can
make you both sad and happy. I--but do you know whom I have seen again?
The count."

Edwin started up. His face suddenly grew pale. After a long pause, he
said in a tone of forced indifference: "The count? In spite of the
unequivocal declaration you made by your change of residence--"

"Oh! If you only knew him! Such a foolish man is not easily rebuffed.
And I at least owe him thanks for having amused me, while you left me
all this time to grow melancholy."

"He has--? You've received him here--allowed him to visit you more than
once?"

"Why shouldn't I? If you should see him, you would understand that no
one can be less dangerous than this adorer. You know how fire-proof I
am; why I could spend a hundred years with such a lover, and my heart
would never beat one bit the faster! To be sure, at first, when, Heaven
knows how, he found me out and entered unannounced, I was extremely
angry at the intrusion and received him so coldly that he remained
standing at the door like a penitent and could not utter a word of the
apology which he had prepared. I said things to which no one else would
have submitted quietly. But he--at first he seemed utterly crushed, and
then he suddenly threw himself at my feet and faltered out that he was
a lost man, if I would not have compassion on him; that he had done
everything to prove how honorable his intentions were; he had forced
his mother, a very proud lady, to consent to receive me as her
daughter-in-law; his aristocratic relatives had caused him a great deal
of trouble, but he had at last succeeded in removing every obstacle
from the way, and now I rejected him and refused him all hope. And
then, still kneeling at my feet, he poured forth such a torrent of vows
and protestations, that I really didn't know whether to laugh at or to
pity him."

"Toinette! And you allowed him the hope--"

"I? If you think that you don't know me! When I found the torrent of
words continued, all desire either to laugh or pity vanished, and I
very positively and curtly declared that I had not the slightest
inclination to become his wife, that if this would cause him
unhappiness, I was very sorry, but that I could not accept the
proposals of the first eccentric man I met, at the expense of my whole
life. This was my final answer."

"And he still has the effrontery to annoy you? And you were yielding
enough--"

"Unfortunately, my friend, I'm much more kind-hearted than you suppose.
The first time he returned after this, as I thought, final dismissal,
you could not have helped laughing yourself at the penitent manner, in
which he sneaked into the room after little Jean. I received him only
on the condition that not a word should be said about admiration, love,
or marriage. As for the rest why should I, a ci-devant duchess, deny
myself so cheap a pleasure as keeping a count for my court fool? I was
so lonely, so out of spirits. And as I said before, you can't imagine
anything more comical than his face and manner. He actually has no face
at all; when he's not here, it's impossible to remember how he really
looks, his countenance is exactly like those on the tailor's fashion
plates, his nose straight up and down, his month straight across, and
his whiskers just such as grow on the faces of I don't know how many
young noblemen. But now imagine this commonplace physiognomy beautified
by perpetual lines of grief, or rather by the attempt to look utterly
miserable, and you must perceive that there could be no more amusing
contrast. I abuse him as much as I can, say the most impertinent
things, refuse to even allow him to kiss the tip of my slipper, but
have never succeeded in rousing him from his devout submission and
adoration, I shouldn't be the daughter of a poor ballet-dancer and a
vain, idle, tolerably desperate creature, if such an aristocratic slave
didn't divert me."

"And how long do you propose to continue this delightful game?" asked
Edwin, in a somewhat irritated tone.

Instead of answering, Toinette opened a box and took out several large
photographs. "These are views of his castle," said she. "Here, as it
appears on the heights above the forests; here's the courtyard, with
the carriage waiting and the young count's saddle-horse standing close
by--I call him young, although one never thinks of his age, for can a
man who never really experiences anything grow old?--And here are three
views of the interior: the dining-hall, the conservatory, and the
boudoir for the young countess. It can't be denied that he, or at least
his upholsterer, has good taste, but the master of the house is an
unwelcome addition to all this magnificence. I told him so to his face.
His only answer was a sigh."

"And how long is this proceeding to continue?" Edwin repeated.

Toinette threw the photographs back into the box and rose from the
sofa. "You jealous friend; why should you desire to disgust me with
this innocent pleasure in the evening of my life. Haven't you looked
into my strong box? I do not wish to spend my days in gloom before the
last thaler is exhausted."

"And then?"

"Then? I thought we had agreed that we are superfluous in the world,
when we can no longer be useful nor give pleasure to ourselves or
others."

"And have you already gone so far?"

"Exactly so far. That is, I should, as he says, not only make my count
happy but enable him really to live, if I would give myself to him. But
I ask you, what kind of a life would it be for us both! A quicker,
plainer, more unequivocal suicide would be preferable. And besides for
whom could and should I live? True, I believe you're an honest and
sincere friend, but haven't even you during the last few weeks, managed
to do very well without me? And would you be able to enjoy the little
pleasure my existence affords you, if you should see that I was
dragging out the most miserable days, under a burden of deprivations
and petty cares, which would crush my whole nature and at last destroy
me?" She had uttered the last words with increasing agitation, pacing
restlessly up and down the room. It had grown dark. Little Jean knocked
and asked whether his mistress wanted lights. "No," she answered
curtly. The boy noiselessly retired.

"Toinette," said Edwin, "will you listen five minutes, without
interrupting me?"

"Speak. I would rather listen, than talk myself. My thoughts, when
uttered aloud, have such a strange sound, that an icy shiver thrills
me. Speak, speak!"

"You've reached a point where you can neither stand still nor go on, I
mean in the direction you have adopted. There's apparently but one
other course: to plunge into the abyss. But that's only the impulse of
despair, and you've no right to despair. Couldn't you first try to turn
back, take some other direction and see how far you could proceed? You
believe me to be a sincere friend; I also believe in my friendship for
you, although with all my honesty of purpose, I cannot think solely of
your fate, but also a little of my own, when I aspire to be something
more than your friend. Don't be startled. I know I should speak a
language you would not understand, if I told you of the deep,
unconquerable, and ever increasing passion, which from the first hour
of our meeting has taken entire possession of me and with which you
will bear witness, that I've never troubled you until to-day. I don't
envy the count the part he plays, but it would be just as foolish, to
maintain total silence in regard to this love that exists and demands
to assert its rights in so solemn an hour. I know enough of your life
to be able to cheer myself with the thought that no one stands nearer
to you than I. Is it so utterly insane to cherish the hope, that I
might in time become still dearer, that you might find it worth while
to continue to live, if you should share your life with me, belong to
me and find your happiness in mine? Dear Toinette, I'll not praise
myself: but all whom I have ever loved will bear witness that I'm to be
trusted. In other respects you know me; from the first I have always
appeared what I am, never either in a moral or intellectual sense, have
visited you in borrowed attire. If I did not know, that despite your
unfortunate love of display, you possess a soul, true, simple and
incorruptable, I should not be such a fool as to offer myself to you.
All I possess has belonged to you from the first hour of our
acquaintance, and I believe it will be enough to support you without
too many deprivations; the passion I feel has first made me aware what
a treasure of love I have, enough for the most exacting heart, and so I
do not speak to you as a beggar. Whatever you give me, I can outweigh,
even if a miracle should happen--your heart at last awake to me, and
all that nature has lavished upon you be merged into the best gift--the
power to love.

"This probably surprises you," he continued after a pause, during which
she sat motionless on a chair by the door, her face expressionless and
immobile. "I too have been taken by surprise, although for months I
have told myself that this hour must come, for in spite of your
peculiar situation and the amusing game you are playing with the count,
(Ah, Toinette it does not seem so absurd to me!) I should scarcely have
said what I have to-day, but simply continued to do my duty as a mere
friend, had not something occurred which unchains my tongue. A
professorship has been offered me. It's not only that I must go away
and therefore leave you behind--my whole future is secured. You know I
have no ducal aspirations. You have seen our tun and can understand
that he who has so long climbed that steep staircase without a murmur,
would not consider it a necessity of life to drive in his own carriage
through miles of woodland to an ancestral castle. Yet I should never
have expected you to climb to your heaven-upon-earth by means of such a
tottering Jacob's ladder. Now matters are different, and though my
means are still limited, my life on the whole will be quite endurable.
My brother, of course, would be the third in the alliance--" At this
moment little Jean entered and announced the arrival of the count.
Toinette did not seem to hear him, but when the boy repeated his words,
she said: "I cannot see him! Say I am not well!" The lad went out, and
they heard an eager voice in the entry talking with him, then the door
closed and soon after a carriage rolled away from the house. The room
was perfectly still. Toinette remained seated in the chair by the wall,
and Edwin on the sofa. He rose, and standing by the table seemed to be
searching for some word that might loosen her heart and tongue.

"I understand your silence, Toinette," he said at last "You're too
honest to hold forth hopes to me or to yourself in which you have no
faith. Hitherto you've liked me because I made no claims upon you. Now
I've confessed that I want all or nothing, and therefore have suddenly
become a stranger to you, an unpleasant monitor, from whom you must
defend yourself. Oh! Toinette, I feel what I've risked and perhaps
lost, but I couldn't help it; I owed this confession to you and to
myself; for the life I have hitherto led with you would if continued
consume and destroy me, and the sacrifice would not even have afforded
you pleasure, you're not vain and selfish enough for that. Why aren't
you, Toinette? Why are you this wondrous mystery, whose incompleteness
becomes a torture to itself? If you were a coquette, who found in human
sacrifices and in her triumphs compensation for all the profound joys
which can only rise from a deep heart, I should almost be grateful for
it; it would be easier for me to put an end to everything between us.
But no, send me away, tell me nothing more, I know what your silence
means, and I know that no words of mine can awake a feeling which
nature has not made possible to you." He moved, as if to leave the
room, but his feet refused to obey his bidding; he could only walk to
the window and stand there clasping with both hands the fastening of
the sash, and pressing his forehead against the pane. Just at that
moment, the young girl began to speak in a low, almost timid voice:

"Are you angry, my dear friend, because I have so mutely listened to
all this, to all your kind, earnest words, which I do not deserve, for
which I cannot even thank you as I ought? For you'll not believe how
much grief it causes me, that you are so kind, and I--I remain as I am.
Oh! you're right, it is becoming a torture to me, this defect in my
nature. It's like a spell. I've read of a girl apparently dead, who lay
in her coffin, surrounded by friends who were pouring forth their love
and sorrow, while she, with all her efforts, could not stir or hold out
her hand to her weeping friends, and say: 'I'm still alive. I love you
and will not leave you.' It's the same with me. Nothing ever caused me
so much pain as that you now wish to leave me, because you desire from
me that which I cannot give. And yet I should think I was committing a
crime against you, if I sought to restrain you. I could expect anyone
else to be satisfied with what I can give, be it little or much. But
you--I want you to have all you desire and need; you're worthy of
something better than to be weighted through life by such an unhappy
creature as I. My dear friend, if I were not perfectly sure that you
would repent it, that I should make you unhappy and in so doing go to
destruction myself, believe me, I would not hesitate a moment, even if
I felt I should be miserable, You've become so dear to me that I would
gladly forget myself to help you. But we must not deceive ourselves;
it's impossible! You're too sensitive to be able to endure happiness at
the expense of another." Then, after a pause she continued: "And yet
you're perfectly right, all this must have been uttered some day. But
it's inexpressibly sad that it should come so! Is there no help? When
we've parted now--is there no hope, that we may again meet in life, if
I still have a life before me, and clasp each other's hands like two
faithful old friends? Must the parting be for ever?"

He turned and with a secret tremor, saw that she had risen and softly
approached him. Her face looked out from the gloom with a touchingly
mournful expression; she stood like a child pleading for forgiveness,
with her arms hanging at her side and her head bent so low that her
hair fell over her temples. "Edwin," she said softly, extending her
hand and raising her eyes to his. His heart was burning with love and
anguish. "Oh! Toinette," he cried, "farewell, farewell! Not a word
more. All is said, the sentence of death is uttered!" Mournfully she
held out her arms to him; he clasped her to his breast, pressed his
lips to her soft hair, felt for an instant her breath on his neck, then
tore himself away and rushed like a madman out of the room.



                              CHAPTER XIV.


It was a singular coincidence that on the very same day and almost at
the self-same hour another of the friends placed the decision of his
happiness or misery in a woman's hands, and received no more consoling
reply, nay was rejected in still more mysterious language than Edwin.

It happened thus. Mohr had gone to the little house on the lagune, as
indeed he did every day, to inquire about Fräulein Christiane's health.
Neither he or any other man had seen her since the night of the
accident; for she had positively refused even to receive Marquard, who
had saved her life. She sat in the small room behind the kitchen, which
the old maid-servant had given up to her; the single grated window
looked out upon the canal and the bare, blackened chimney. Here she
bolted herself in and opened the door only at Leah's knock, but
remained mute even to her kindly inquiries, and during the first day
sat like a statue on the stool by the window, with her eyes intently
fixed upon the sullen waters below. It seemed as if she considered
herself in a self-chosen prison, separated from the world for life. She
touched none of the food her nurse brought, except a little soup and
bread, and the only time she had spoken was on the third day, when she
asked for some work. Since that time sitting always in the same place,
she had sewed from early morning until late at night, mended
underclothing, hemmed handkerchiefs, and answered all the young girl's
timid entreaties and questions only by a pressure of the hand and a
gloomy shake of the head.

The same cheerless report was all that could be given today. The night
before, Leah had glided into the kitchen, listened at the door of the
room, and heard the poor thing moving restlessly to and fro, perhaps to
warm herself, for it was cold and she had refused to have a fire
lighted in the little stove. She had often groaned like one suffering
the deepest pain, and vainly striving to repress any manifestation of
it. Midnight was long past before all was still.

"What will happen if God in his mercy does not perform a miracle and
let a ray of his love and peace illumine the poor darkened soul!"
exclaimed the little artist, with a deep sigh. "Oh! my child, don't you
see I was right in saying that all earthly paths lead to darkness and
error, unless we humbly strive to seize God's hand and walk by his
side? This poor lost life! God forgive me, but I can scarcely help
agreeing with the Herr Doctor: who can tell whether it was well for
her, that we took so much trouble to recall her to existence?"

Leah was standing beside her painting table, with her pale face bent
toward the floor. She made no reply. Her heart was so heavy with her
own griefs and those of others, that had it not been for her father,
she would fain have wished herself out of the world.

"My honored friends," said Mohr, rising from his chair, where puffing
huge clouds of smoke from his cigarette he had sat for some time
absorbed in thought, "I too am of the opinion that something must be
done; we have given the mercy of God ample time to work a miracle.
Perhaps that mercy is held in abeyance; perhaps God is waiting to see
whether we will not ourselves move in the matter and assail the
difficulty with our poor human powers. And to do this, I at least, a
tolerably obstinate heathen,--no offense, Herr König--am fully
resolved."

"What are you going to do?" asked Leah, looking up in alarm.

Mohr stretched his herculean frame, as he was in the habit of doing,
when after long consideration he had formed some definite resolution.
For a moment his muscular arms almost touched the ceiling, then he
buried his hands in his bushy hair and said, half closing his eyes and
drawing his mouth awry:

"This Marquard may understand his trade well enough, so far as the body
is concerned, but rubbing the limbs is not all that can be done. The
soul, which has been just as much benumbed by the accident, must also
be warmed by spiritual friction and moral mustard plasters; for in its
desperation it is still freezing in its death-like torpor, while the
body is already rejoicing in the flow of the thawed blood. I'll go in
and apply to this apparently dead soul, some of the restoratives we
ought to have tried long ago."

"She will not admit you," said Leah with a sorrowful shake of the head,
"and even if--have I not done everything in my power, by kind words and
the most sincere good will--"

"Certainly, my dear Fräulein, but that's just it: you've handled her
with gloves. I--now, I will try a ruder way. Devil take it! no offense,
Herr König, but really the evil one, if there is such a person, would
laugh in his sleeve and with good reason, if we let this poor soul,
which we've toiled so hard to snatch from his clutches, fall back into
them for want of aid. Here it's force against force, and a little
cunning into the bargain; if you'll knock, Fräulein Leah, and say you
want to come in and then let me step before you--such an innocent
stratagem will never be imputed to you as a sin."

"I fear it will be useless," replied Leah, "even if it does actual
harm. At least I--but perhaps I don't understand." She went out, and
Mohr, with awkwardly feigned liveliness, followed her on tip-toe as if
bent upon some mischievous prank. Yet the hands he passed through his
hair trembled. When Leah knocked at the chamber door, a scarcely
audible voice within asked: "Who's there?"

"I, dear Christiane," replied the young girl, "and I wanted to ask if
you would allow--here is--"

At this moment the bolt was drawn back, and Mohr, without the slightest
ceremony, passed Leah and entered the half open door.

"Here's some one else," he said finishing Leah's sentence, "who would
like to inquire about Fräulein Christiane's health. Pardon an old
friend, that cannot endure to be always shut out by locks and bolts. By
_Styx_, my honored friend, you've not chosen the most cheerful
quarters. This dark cage is uncommonly well adapted to give the blues."

Christiane was speechless. At the entrance of Mohr, who instantly
closed the door behind him, she had started violently and fled to the
grated window, where she stood motionless, with her arms folded over
her breast and her eyes cast down; she almost seemed to be asleep. The
jesting tone died on his lips, as he saw the death-like pallor of her
face and the expression of hopeless suffering that dwelt about her
mouth and eyes. As he approached nearer and tried to take her hand, she
drew still closer to the window, sank into the chair which stood beside
it, and with averted face and shuddering limbs motioned him away. An
inexpressible compassion took possession of him.

"Fräulein Christiane," he said when he partially recovered from the
shock of such a meeting, "my visit is unwelcome to you; I'm sincerely
sorry, but the reasons for my intrusion are far too grave for me to
take leave of you at once, as well-bred people usually do under such
circumstances. The more quietly you listen, the sooner you'll get rid
of me. Will you listen?"

"No!" at last burst hoarsely from her scarcely-parted lips. "Go--leave
me--I've nothing to hear or say!"

"Allow me to doubt that," he answered with apparent composure. "For in
the first place you are ill. The wisest sick people don't know what's
good for them, they are in a certain sense irresponsible beings.
Whether you have anything to say to me, I do not know, but I, have a
great deal to say to you. To begin without circumlocution: I know
you're angry with me, because I prevented you from accomplishing your
purpose and turning you back on this world, which for some unknown
reason, you wished to quit. Do you know why I took this liberty? Not
from common philanthropy. I should beware of grabbing the coat tail of
the first person I might see making the leap. No, my dear Fräulein,
what I did for you I did from common selfishness; for if you were no
longer in this world, it would lose it charms for me, like a quartette
from which the first violin was missing. Pardon the not very clever
comparison, but while your face is so ungraciously averted, I'm glad if
I can even patch my sentences together, without making any pretensions
to style." She still remained silent, with her forehead pressed against
the bare wall and her hands convulsively clasped.

"I don't know for what you have taken me so far," he continued in a
smothered voice, as he leaned, against one of the bed posts and
secretly wiped his forehead, although the room was by no means warm.
"Probably you've not had quite so bad an opinion of me, as I of myself,
since I was vain enough to put my best foot forward as far as possible.
One thing however, you do not know: as a man I may be a tolerably
useless, superfluous and ill-made individual: but as a poodle I'm
remarkable. The few persons to whom I attach myself can never shake me
off, no matter what they do, or whether I'm agreeable or disagreeable
to them. And therefore, I must inform you, that it will be useless to
reject me, ill-treat me, or even plunge into the water again to get rid
of me; the poodle will leap in after you and bring you out again, even
if he's obliged to do it with his teeth.

"I know that if you were to vouchsafe me a word, you would ask by what
right I intrude upon you, what you are to me, why I annoy you with the
information of my poodle qualities? Dear Fräulein, I might answer that
I can no more give you a reason than the poodle could in the same
situation; it is mere instinct. But a still better reply would be this:
the misfortune of my life, dear friend, has been that I've always done
everything by halves. It grieves me deeply, that this time also, in
saving your life, I seem to have only half succeeded, and therefore I
wish to see if I cannot complete my task, if I devote to it all my
energies, my small portion of brains and heart and my large share of
obstinacy.

"Don't be offended by the not very choice mode I take of expressing
myself, dear Christiane! You may believe that I'm in the most solemn
earnest. Do you know what I told the brothers in the tun, when I first
saw you and received that well merited dismissal you gave? I said that
you were a whole-hearted woman, for whom I had a great respect. And
this respect I still feel, and because I believe you to be one of the
rare women, to whom an honest man may without the slightest peril offer
his heart and hand--"

"Hush! Oh! for God's sake, hush!" she interrupted, starting from her
rigid immobility. "Go, go--say no more--each word is like a red hot
needle piercing my wounded flesh. You don't know--you shall never
know--"

"Nonsense, dear Fräulein! I shall never know! As if I wanted to know
anything, as if anything I could learn would be able to change my
opinion of you! No, my honored friend, that would not be a poodle's
trait. His master may steal spoons, may be the saviour of his native
land; it makes no difference to the dog, he licks his hand with equal
respect. The motive you had for taking that premature cold bath, I
shall never ask to know in this world. Of course you were not entirely
yourself, you had been tasting some of the bitter wormy apples, that
hung on the tree of knowledge, and the cramps which ensued appeared
unendurable. So be it! That belongs to the past, you've rid yourself of
the indigestion by a violent remedy, and can gradually regain a taste
for the household fare life serves up on an average. Isn't this clear
to you, best, dearest of all artists? You would not be what you are,
would not play Beethoven as you do, if you had passed by all the
abysses and thorney hedges of this life safe and untorn."

He waited a short time for some reply; then he tried again to approach
her window, but she turned away with a shrinking gesture, as if he
would be degraded should his hands touch hers.

"No, no, no!" she cried in a stifled voice. "You think a thousand times
too well of me. I--oh! there's nothing that less deserves to live, that
is less able to endure life, than the wretched creature for whom you,
self-sacrificing as you are,--but no, draw back your hand; you don't
know whom you wish to raise."

"Is it so?" he said quietly. Then we must call things by their right
names, that we may understand each other. Statistics and public
opinions unite in saying, that of all the women who arbitrarily seek to
leave the world, nine-tenths seek death from misplaced affection,
deceived, unrequited, or hopeless passion. Should your case be one of
these, the common prejudices of the world cannot prevent me from
placing my love at your disposal. I know you never can have done
anything base, half way, contemptible, which alone could degrade you in
my eyes, because it would destroy and give the lie to the image of you
which I cherish in my heart. Even if a misplaced love had led you into
the arms of an unworthy man, and indignant anguish at a piece of
knavish treachery, devilish villainy--He suddenly paused, startled by
the fixed, almost Medusa-like gaze, with which she looked him in the
face.

"I thank you," she answered mournfully. "'Devilish villainy' the words
are apt, very apt. It's only a pity that I can't tell you why they are
so. But that--that no lips would utter, save in madness, and
unfortunately madness will not yet come to me. Perhaps if I repeat the
words over and over, reflect how well they apply--but no, Fate is not
so compassionate! Into the mire with the worm, should it show any
desire to crawl. But to crush it, to give it the death blow--ah no!
that would be far too humane, too magnanimous for an adorable
Providence. Fie, how bitter this earth taste becomes on the tongue!"

She shuddered, then started from her straw chair as if some strange
power had rudely shaken her. "Can you still remain!" she exclaimed.
"Don't you feel that I must hate you more than any other human being,
just because you have restored me to myself, hurled me back to the fate
I thought I had escaped? It is such a refinement of mockery, that you
should come with your kind, warm-hearted desire to aid me now, when
there's nothing more to be saved. Ha! ha! ha! Perhaps if you stay here
a little longer, madness may come. Then you would have rendered a
service, which would atone for much. Won't you sit down? We'll have a
little music--a few false notes more or less--_pshaw_, what will it
matter? The harmony of the spheres will not be interrupted. Well? Don't
you like the idea? Why are you silent?"

"Christiane," said he, and the tone of his voice revealed a firm,
inexorable purpose, "I will take my disagreeable face out of your
sight--for to-day! But rely upon it; you will see me again. You do not
know, cannot suspect what means a brave, honest man can summon to aid
him in healing wounds that seem to be mortal. Christiane, despite all
you have told me, I cannot give you up, cannot leave you to yourself;
and this terrible, incomprehensible fate of which you speak--only give
me time to struggle with it; I think I'm the stronger. Your life
belongs to me. You threw it away, and I, the honest finder, restore it
to you--if you despise it, it's mine. Only give me time! Only promise
me--"

"Nothing," she exclaimed with savage resolution, by which she strove to
arm herself against his beseeching words. "My life is over. You will
never--never see me again!" She turned away and hid her face in both
hands, which she pressed against the iron bars. After a pause she heard
him say: "So be it; I will go. But every word I have said stands fast.
Henceforth your life is mine. I'll see who'll tear it from me." Then he
left the room. Leah and her father were waiting for him in the sitting
room. He passed on in silence, as if he did not see them, and the
expression of his face was so gloomy and menacing that neither ventured
to accost him.



                                BOOK IV.



                               CHAPTER I.


When, late in the evening Edwin returned home, he found Balder lying
dressed upon his bed, with the little lamp, by which he seemed to have
been reading, beside him. His face was even paler than usual, his
features wore an expression of feverish excitement, and his limbs were
so paralysed by exhaustion, that he could only raise his head a little
to greet his brother.

"What news do you bring?" he cried. "Nothing good? How is it possible!"

Edwin approached his bed and bent over him. "Child," said he, "you
ought to have been undressed long ago. Do you know that you're very
cold and pale? I've nothing now but you. If you play me any mischievous
tricks--"

"Oh! Edwin I--But you, how do matters stand between you and her? For
God's sake tell me! what has happened? What did she say?"

"Nothing new, child; nothing which could surprise us. But it will be
better to say nothing more about it to-day. I've taken a long tramp and
feel very well now. Don't you see I'm perfectly calm! Why do you excite
yourself instead of going to sleep, as I am about to do?"

"No, no," cried the youth starting up in bed, while Edwin was trying to
re-kindle the fire in the stove; "I want to know all! Do you suppose I
could sleep? Tell me--"

"Well then, we had a thorough explanation and parted afterwards good
friends, very good friends, but who, however, are resolved to avoid
each other in the future. That's all, my boy! There, the fire is
burning again. I feel terribly cold; and the night will be long and may
bring snow. So Mohr, whose specialty is getting up a heat, hasn't been
here! Come, we needn't grudge ourselves a little supper, now that we
have become capitalists. I'll call Lore."

"I've already provided for that," said Balder. "I thought--we would
have a pleasant evening together. She put it all down on the bench by
the lathe--Oh! Edwin, is it possible?"

"What, my dear fellow? That there are people, young ladies especially,
who don't find your brother so lovable as you, dear enthusiast? Ladies
who would not prefer a tun and his heart to a fairy castle? Oh! child,
if I really were the human jewel your brotherly affection believes me,
don't forget how poor and tasteless the setting is, and that elegant
young ladies regard fashion more than material. Courage, old fellow!
We're too good to dispose of ourselves for less than our value; fool
that I was to wish for something more in life, when I was already so
rich. Haven't I wife, child, brother, and sweetheart all in one? Come
on, child. I feel as hungry as if, instead of a stomach, I carried in
my body the basket[5] I received this morning, and the provisions in
yonder corner look remarkably appetizing!"

"Unfortunate girl!" said Balder in a hollow voice.

Edwin paused in the middle of the room. "I thank you for those words,"
he said with a sudden change of tone. "She deserves that one should
weep tears of blood for her. Not because she is unable to take a liking
for my worthy person; in that, she is perhaps very wise. But to be a
child of the world, as she is, and neither able to conquer her fear of
annihilation, nor able to take refuge in the arms of the eternal one
called Love--oh! child, it's terrible. To have a heart so heavy that it
draws her into the gulf of death before she knows why she has lived--a
mind so clear, that it contends that we have a right to give up an
enigma we are weary trying to solve, even if it were our own life, in
order to obtain repose! Yes tears of blood, precisely because she
cannot weep them herself; for her poor Undine soul, in its despair, has
not even the petty consolations of tortured mortals. Mark my words, no
drop of blood will flow when she dies. She'll be found some day sitting
before her mirror with a frozen heart. Turned to stone by her own
image."

"Edwin! You think--she could--"

"Put an end to her life, rush out of the world--marry the count, which
to be sure, amounts to very much the same thing. But hush! I hear
Heinrich on the stairs. We'll show him cheerful faces; these have not
been altogether happy days for him of late."

Mohr entered. It was touching to see how his gloomy face brightened
when Edwin without saying a word, handed him the letter from the
faculty. "I'll dedicate my comedy to these gentlemen," said he. "There
seems to be some people in the world after all who know how to
appreciate uncommon merit."

He remained until late in the evening. They pushed the table close to
Balder's bed-side and all shared in the frugal meal, engaging in
conversation about the latest events in their lives; a conversation
during the progress of which each unburdened his heart to the other,
and in acknowledging the necessity and inevitability of pain and sorrow
they grew as calm as mariners who, floating with the stream, take in
oars and sails and lying on their backs watch the movements of the
clouds.

But when the brothers were again alone, the memory of what they had
recently experienced seemed to seize upon Edwin with fresh strength. "I
would give my life to help her!" he said to himself. Balder doubtless
caught the remark, but remained silent. When they had put out the
light, he heard Edwin rise and come to his bed. "Child," said he, "it's
so cold over there. Move a little nearer to the wall; I should like to
hold your hand until I fall asleep. I've nothing but you, but that's
enough, if I only know you're near me."

He lay down beside Balder, with his hand clasped in his brother's. It
was not long before he fell asleep and breathed as quietly as a man who
has peaceful dreams. But Balder lay awake for hours, revolving various
unformed ideas in his mind.

When they awoke the next morning, they were as usual silent and
absorbed in their own thoughts, and the events of the previous evening
were not mentioned between them. Edwin looked over his notes for the
lecture. Balder sketched some models lent him by his employer; only
once the latter asked casually if Edwin was not going to answer the
deans' letter immediately. "There's no great hurry now, child," replied
the other. "But it shall be done. A change of air would be the best
thing for me, and perhaps for you too."

"Certainly," replied the invalid. "I long to get away from this air."
He meant more than his words conveyed, but Edwin did not see the calm
smile that would have betrayed his thoughts.

"I shall leave you without any one to look after you to-day, my dear
boy," said Edwin, as he put his notes in his pocket to go to the
lecture. "I hope you'll be good and neither attempt to work, nor commit
any other act contrary to police regulations. Farewell, child! Make up
a little more fire. Your hands are so cold again."

At the end of ten minutes Balder threw aside his pencil, and began to
exchange his dressing gown for a street suit. His hands trembled when,
for the first time in many weeks, he again took out the old cloak and
little grey hat he had worn on his last expedition to the courtyard.
Despite his old fashioned, almost shabby clothes, and the weary manner
in which he limped along with his cane, there was such a charm in his
movements and the slight droop of the beautiful face, that no one would
have smiled at the short cloak and worn felt hat.

He glided down the stairs very softly. On the landing before
Christiane's door, he remembered how long it was since he had heard her
play. He thought she had stopped on account of his illness and
determined on his return to knock and beg her not to deny herself the
pleasure any longer. The door of the workshop was only ajar. The head
journeyman saw him pass, and called after him to ask a friendly
question about his health and warn him not to catch cold. He answered
with a jest and crossed the courtyard without looking at the bench in
the bean arbor, but was obliged to stand still a moment in the entry to
recover his breath. His heart throbbed loudly; he heard through the
door Franzelius' deep voice, suppressed but apparently engaged in eager
conversation, and now and then a merry, girlish laugh he had missed for
weeks. Only a momentary pang thrilled his frame, the next instant he
was calm and cheerful again. He felt strong enough to enter and greet
the happy pair without envy. "Perhaps I will when I come back," he
thought, and then limped softly forward, glad that he met no one who
would have remonstrated against his hazardous venture.

A keen, cold east wind was blowing, driving before it flakes of dry
crumbling snow. Fortunately an empty droschky was just passing; Balder
stopped it, and as he sat within, wrapped himself closely in his cloak.
But it was not the cold that made him shiver, but the feverish
excitement of his blood; for every pulse throbbed in anticipation of
the decisive moment he was about to meet.

When he reached the house in Rosenstrasse, he could not alight directly
at the door, as an elegant carriage already occupied the place. He
ordered the droschky to wait, and with many pauses, that he might not
lose his breath, ascended the stairs.

Little Jean opened the door and stared at the unexpected visitor with
eyes that grew larger than ever at the sight of him. There was some one
calling on his mistress, he said, but perhaps she would receive him; he
would see. He came back almost immediately and in his unmovably solemn
manner, without uttering a word, opened the door of Toinette's room.



                              CHAPTER II.


When the young girl saw Balder, she hastily rose from the sofa and with
the most winning cordiality approached him, holding out both little
hands, as if to support his tottering steps.

"You've come to see me yourself--to-day!" she exclaimed. "But was it
safe? The wind is so cold--my stairs are so steep--and yet you don't
know how glad I am to see you well again. Allow me to introduce you to
the Herr Count."

She turned toward a tall, slender man, dressed entirely in black, who
sat negligently leaning back in the chair beside the sofa, and only
noticed the young stranger in the shabby cloak by a slight bend of the
head. A flush crimsoned Balder's face, partly at the count's haughty
gesture, partly at the thought: "So he's the man who has supplanted
Edwin!" His clear eyes rested a few seconds upon the countenance of the
young nobleman, who had taken a newspaper from the table and seemed to
be attentively reading it. He did not know why the regular features and
faultless figure caused him so much dissatisfaction, and at the same
time awakened a sort of compassion. He too had bowed in silence and now
sank into the arm chair the beautiful girl had drawn forward with
friendly solicitude.

He was now sitting opposite her, but at first could find no words with
which to begin a conversation, he was so completely captivated by her
face. In spite of Edwin's descriptions, he had not imagined her so
beautiful and elegant, had not supposed that the tone of her voice and
the expression of her dark eyes were so gentle and innocent. She seemed
to attribute his silence to exhaustion caused by unusual exertion and
left him to rest for a time, while she rang for the boy and ordered
some sugar and water. Then she again turned toward him and in the most
cordial manner questioned him concerning his health, and what remedies
the doctor had ordered.

His only reply was to express his thanks for the friendly interest she
had shown him during the past few weeks, and tell in how many delirious
dreams the palms had played a part, and what pleasure they had afforded
him in his hours of consciousness. At first his manner was hesitating
and embarrassed, but when he noticed the sarcastic smile on the face of
the count, who sat opposite him without uttering a syllable, he
suddenly shook off his diffidence and gave utterance to so many bright
and clever ideas that Toinette thought him very attractive, and frankly
told him that his brother had slandered him, when he described him as a
misanthropic hermit. She hoped to see him more frequently now; she was
angry with him for having waited till he had been seriously ill before
finding the way to her, and he might as well confess that the only
reason he had not joined the party to Charlottenburg, was because he
was prejudiced against her. Who could tell how Edwin might have
slandered her too. She said all this in such a gay tone, that Balder
was secretly amazed. Was it coldness of heart or self-control, that
enabled her to speak of Edwin as if nothing had occurred between them,
as if he would come to her again to-morrow and renew the old
intercourse? Absorbed in this reflection he again became silent, and
she also lost her gayety.

"You were going to say something more," she began after a pause. "I saw
you repress the words that were hovering on your lips."

"You may have been right," he replied. "But if you'll allow me, I'll
say it some other time. I'll not interrupt you any longer to-day." He
glanced at the count and prepared to rise.

"My dear Count," said the fair girl, without the least embarrassment,
"I should like to say a few words to Herr Balder alone. If you would go
into the ante-room for five minutes--you will find books on the table,
and can amuse yourself in feeding my sparrows."

"I hope the private audience will not last too long," said the young
gentleman sharply, as he rose, and pulling his whiskers, walked slowly
toward the ante-room.

Toinette's color heightened. "Have patience," she cried. "Herr Balder
is a less frequent visitor than you, and I must avail myself of the
favorable opportunity. Besides, you'll lose nothing important, so far
as I am aware."

He made her an ironical bow and said: "You somewhat abuse your
sovereign rights, Fräulein; but in case of necessity, the room to which
you send me has a second door of egress. _Au revoir_."

They were scarcely alone, when Balder seized Toinette's hand and
pressed it warmly. "Dear Fräulein," he said, "I thank you for having
allowed me this interview. I shall not try the gentleman's patience
long. The object that has brought me here, in addition to the desire to
thank you in person, is soon explained. My brother has told me--from
the very beginning--the terms on which he stood with you, and that
yesterday you deprived him of all hope. I don't know whether you were
really as much in earnest as he supposed, whether it was indeed your
final answer. And Fräulein, I'm so proud of my brother that I could not
make up my mind to utter even a syllable that might sound like
intercession to a woman who had really rejected him. It's not merely
the partiality of kindred blood: I've lived with him six years and know
his value, and I know that the best of women would scarcely be good
enough for him. Therefore, if the woman he loved did not perceive his
worth, it might at first be a great grief to him, but I should console
myself with the thought that she did not deserve him and must lack the
power to render him happy, if she could fail to appreciate his
nobleness and wealth of intellect, and her incredible piece of good
fortune to be loved by such a man. Knowing you as I do, dear Fräulein,
through him and through my own short acquaintance with you, I have
formed too favorable an opinion of you to believe that you could be
blind to the worth of Edwin's mind and heart. His ironical manner of
speaking of himself, his simplicity, and disdain of all pretension have
not deceived you in regard to the depth and warmth of his nature, the
superiority of the man who has laid his life at your feet. If
nevertheless you can endure the thought of losing him, I must believe
that some other obstacle stands between you. You have always been
honest and frank toward Edwin. Be so to me too, dear Fräulein; tell me
openly whether I'm mistaken or whether I have made the right
conjecture, in believing you would have accepted his offer if he had
been entirely alone in the world, if he had not imposed upon you, for
who knows how long a time, the care of an invalid brother."

She looked at him with an expression of the greatest astonishment and
admiration. "Dear Herr Balder, how can you even for a moment--"

"You're right," he smilingly interrupted, "it would be too much to
expect you to carry honesty so far. Therefore please say nothing, but
let me tell you that this miserable obstacle does not really stand in
the way, or rather that it will scarcely be an obstacle after a few
weeks longer. I've asked our physician on his conscience--and
fortunately he has one, so that I might even have believed a different
answer than the one he gave. The poor mortal who stands before you,
will soon be obliged to leave vacant even the modest place he now
occupies in the world. Edwin of course has no suspicion of this; we are
all accustomed to think even the inevitable improbable, if it's coming
is long delayed. When it at last occurs, we try to accommodate
ourselves to it as best we may. Edwin will get over his grief in time.
For my part--I confess, dear Fräulein, I find the world very beautiful.
I should have liked to continued your acquaintance too. But one must
not be grasping; I've enjoyed life so fully, in a condensed essence as
it were, that I really ought not to complain if the portion allotted to
me is already consumed." He paused, a calm smile resting on his lips.
When he looked up, he saw that Toinette's eyes were full of tears. "Why
do you weep?" he asked anxiously. "I hope my fate, which causes me
anything but sorrow--"

"No," she eagerly exclaimed, closing her eyes a moment as if to repress
the tears. "I don't weep for you, dear Balder--pardon me for addressing
you like an old friend or brother-you're not to be pitied, I _envy_ you
your beautiful life and your still more beautiful death, even if it is
as near as you believe; perhaps it may be farther off than you think; a
man can endure much, and doctors are bad prophets. If my eyes grew
moist, it was for myself, because I'm such a poor fool, that I must
remain in debt to you and your brother for the offer of all the good
and beautiful things you would fain give me but which I must
nevertheless decline. Dear Balder, if you knew--but why should you
know? If I'm unhappy, isn't it my only consolation to at least appear
no worse than I am, explain why, with the best intentions, I cannot
make those I love as happy as they deserve to be?

"I have repented a thousand times," she continued, pushing her hair
back from her temples, and at the same time surreptitiously brushing
the tears from her eyes, "that I did not yesterday tell your brother
all my story. I have been reflecting ever since how I could repair my
error, whether I should write my tale or beg him to come to me again.
But it makes no difference; I may as well tell you as him that I now
know that I shall have no happiness in life, never, never, either
through myself or others. You shall know why, although the secret
concerns subjects which are rarely mentioned between two young people.
Dear friend, I can give you no better proof of the high esteem in which
I hold you, than in telling you this sorrowful secret, which I only
learned myself a few days ago."

She here cast a hasty glance at the door, through which the count had
left the room. "I owe this knowledge to him," she continued in a lower
tone. "As his relatives tried to persuade him out of his mad intention
of marrying me, by harping upon my humble origin, he made inquiries
concerning me in my native city; he wished at least to ascertain
whether anything derogatory could be said about my family. The little
that was known about my parents did not satisfy him; so he applied to
the young prince, who of late has again resided in his ancestral castle
and is about to wed his cousin. Madly in love as he is, the count did
not conceal why he desired to information, and the young prince, now
perhaps the only person who really knows anything about the matter,
thought it his duty, by way of warning, to tell him the family secret
that his mother, on her death bed, had confided to him. Oh! dear
Balder, such horrible things happen in this world! Oh! that a poor
mortal should be obliged to live and struggle against his fate in vain,
seldom even knowing why he must suffer! But when they _are_ known the
stronger the reasons the less comfort they afford! Since I've known why
I am constituted, as I am, that it all precedes from perfectly natural
causes and that it is not at all surprising that I have never been able
to make myself or others happy. I've also lost all hope that things can
ever alter for the better." She leaned back in the corner of the sofa,
rested her head on the cushion and gazed fixedly at the ceiling. "Do
you know my story?" said she.

"My brother told me all."

"He has told you nothing; for I find that I myself knew nothing of the
truth, that I did not even know my real parents. The good ballet-master
was not my father, my father was the prince, and the woman I called
mother, was utterly alien in blood; my mother was a poor girl,
beautiful and unfortunate, more unfortunate even than her daughter. She
is said to have loved a worthy young man, but he was too poor to marry
her. The prince, who did not love his wife and never remained with her
long at the castle, was residing in Berlin; he saw the timid young
creature in the street, and followed her. She would have nothing to say
to him, his rank and wealth did not allure her, she preferred to remain
a beggar, rather than prove faithless to her love. But her mother! Can
you imagine how a mother can break the heart of her only child? Yet her
mother did it. And now she is dead, and her unhappy daughter is dead,
and the child of that daughter, who was forced to sacrifice herself
without love, this child of misery and blasphemy lives and must atone
for its patents' sin by carrying through life an unhappy heart that
cannot love!"

She was silent, and he too sat without speaking, deeply moved by the
hopeless tone of her voice. They heard the count pacing impatiently up
and down the ante-room, carriages rolling along the street, and the
bright winter sun shone cheerily through the clear window panes.
Suddenly the lovely girl sat erect again, shook back her hair and said
with a forced laugh: "Oh! how horrible! But what's to be done? It is
and cannot be helped. Only those people seem to me pitably stupid and
cruel, who seek to make such a poor unfortunate being responsible for
its acts, I would gladly be a good, warm-hearted, simple fool, like
other girls, make kind people happy, and be tenderly petted myself, if
it hadn't been for this terrible spell which is upon me; but my poor
mother could leave me nothing but her hate and cold, mute despair, and
from my father I inherited my princely tastes and empty hands. He loved
me very dearly, they say, the more so because the purchased happiness
with my mother was so short; she died when I was born. In order to be
able at least to occasionally see me, he placed me, despite of the
princess' opposition, with my foster parents, for whose child I passed.
But he himself died young and forgot to provide for me in his will, and
the princess never forgave me my existence. If she had lived to see me
curse my life, she might perhaps have been conciliated. But she too is
dead, and I'm all alone."

"Must you remain so, dear Fräulein?" said Balder, laying his hand
gently on hers, which were clasped on her lap.

"My friend," she replied, "I believe that both you and your brother
have the kindest intentions toward me. But it would be a crime, if I
were to persuade myself that you could help me now, when I see all so
clearly, know that my fate is to suffer from a taint in the blood. How
can you persuade me to make your brother unhappy? For he would be so; I
could never endure narrow surroundings. Of course if one loved, that
passion would chase away all the rest, all the cares and poverty of
daily life would be forgotten. My mother certainly would not have
sighed or complained, had she become the wife of the man she loved.
But--I will promise no one what I can't perform. To lead my sorrowful
life alone, to my own cost, shrink from an unpaid bill and turn again
and again a worn-out dress--that I could accomplish if necessary. The
princess who had to tend geese, may have secretly wept herself weary;
and if the worst should come no one can control me. But when I've once
given my life into other hands, and am no longer mistress of myself, I
should be obliged to persevere even if I saw that my unhappiness was
weighing down another heart with sadness. And your brother is too dear
to me for that, you can tell him so."

She rose seemingly wishing to end the conversation. But Balder remained
seated and after a pause said: "So you want to deprive those whom you
believe to be your friends, of all hope of conquering what you call
your fate? I believe, like you, in the power of blood, but I believe
too, in the power of the will and the might of love. Only one thing
seems hopeless to me: the commonplace. I've not known many people, yet
among the few I have known were some who felt so perfectly well
satisfied with what was base and mean, that nothing higher and purer
could touch and win them. But a noble spirit, like yours, unhappy
because of its loneliness, suffering only on account of its inability
to give joys to others--no, dear Fräulein, never will I believe that
your heart can have no future, that you must forever remain in this
sad, cold isolation, and all the efforts of warm-hearted men to melt
your soul be utterly in vain. When I repeat our conversation to my
brother, I know well what his course will be; he will not think of
himself but of your fate and his duty not to remain away from you. You
don't know what he can do. Not that he will seek to win you for
himself, to creep into your heart in any way. But he will fearlessly
battle with the dark powers that rule your youth, and," he added with a
melancholy smile--"I'm only sorry that I shall not be alive to hear
you, when you say to him: 'You've conquered; my heart has grown warm.'"

Toinette gently shook her head. "You're a good man, but a bad prophet,"
she answered smiling. "But no matter. Only promise me to live, for who
knows what may happen; and tell your brother--what you please. I doubt
whether he will come here again. He's different from you, prouder, more
passionate, he wants 'all or nothing.' If he will only learn to be
satisfied with a little--I shall always be glad to see him. But he must
come soon, for I can't tell what will become of me. In three days I
must decide upon something; for even if I loved life, I can live no
longer as I am; servitude, poverty--or a third contingency, which might
not be the worst. And now, my dear friend--"

She looked toward the door, which had already been once opened and
hastily closed again. The youth rose and approached her. "I thank you
most sincerely for all you've confided to me," said he, "and I shall
carry away a lighter heart than I brought with me. But I should like to
say one thing more; if it's impossible for you to refuse to receive
this count, beware of letting Edwin meet him here. From what I know of
my brother, he would not endure this gentleman's haughty manner, and
even his mere presence, his cold, empty smile, his brow, behind which
no noble thought ever germinated, would be so repulsive to him, that he
would beseech you to choose between him and this third alternative. How
is it possible for _you_ to tolerate such a person near you? The very
nobility of your own nature ought to make such a caricature of true
nobility--"

At this moment the door was gently opened and the count appeared on the
threshold. "Send this eloquent young man away, Fräulein," he said
contemptuously, without vouchsafing Balder a single glance, "or you'll
place me in the painful position of being forced to give him a lesson
in good breeding, to make him understand that it's unseemly to express
his very immature opinions about people in so loud a tone that those
concerned can't help hearing it in the adjoining room. Of course it's
impossible to feel insulted by such complimentary remarks from a saucy
lad. But--"

"You forget where you are, Count," Toinette hastily interrupted, while
Balder growing red and pale by turns, vainly strove to find an answer.
"If the time seems long to you, pray go. I'm accountable to no one for
the length of my interview with this friend."

"Undoubtedly," replied the count with a slight bend of the head,
"you're at liberty to choose your friends, and no one is responsible
for his taste. I, too, trust to continue the acquaintance of this
hopeful youth--at some more suitable place. Farewell, Fräulein!" He
took his hat and with an icy smile left the room.

"What have you done, Balder!" cried Toinette. "You've deeply offended
him, and he'll never forget it. Why didn't I warn you? These walls and
doors are so thin!"

"Pardon me the unpleasant scene; I deeply regret having caused it,"
replied Balder, extending his hand to her. "But I've no anxiety about
anything else. I still believe the count has too much good feeling to
revenge himself on a defenceless man for an unintentional offence, and
then--no one can bear me a grudge _long_. I do not even know whether I
can bid you farewell a second time?"

He bent over her hand, and, absorbed in other thoughts, she left it in
his clasp. "Don't go yet," she said. "Wait till he has driven away. I
don't feel satisfied about this matter. And you're exhausted, and you
ought to take a glass of wine--"

He smilingly released her hand. "Although I'm not the strongest person
in the world--my nerves are strong enough as yet to prevent any fear of
men. You may be perfectly at ease, dear Fräulein, I shall find my way
home safely. Farewell!"

He limped out of the room so quickly, that little Jean, who was sitting
at a small table in the entry, writing exercises, was not quick enough
to open the door for him. But when he had descended the stairs and
reached the street, he saw the count's carriage still standing in the
same place. "He's waiting till I have gone, and will then go up again,"
he thought, and regretted that there was to be a continuation of the
scene just experienced. But as he looked around to summon the droschky,
the carriage door opened and the count alighted.

"My worthy young gentleman," said he, approaching Balder, "we've not
yet done with each other. I've taken the liberty of waiting here, to
give you some good advice." He paused a moment and measured the youth
from head to foot. Balder looked him quietly in the face. "I'm eager to
hear it," said he.

"You're still very young and moreover in other respects not a person
who could be held to the full meaning of his words. But for that very
reason you will do well not to try forbearance too far. I inform you
therefore that I don't desire to meet you in this young lady's drawing,
room a second time.

"It will rest entirely with you, Herr Count, to avoid me. I've no
reason to shun you."

"Then you must submit to the treatment I think proper to bestow upon
any insolent person of your stamp."

Balder had turned deadly pale, and his limps trembled, but instead of
menace there was a strange expression of sorrow in the eyes that rested
upon the man who offered him this insult.

"Herr Count," said he, "I regret that I expressed my opinion of you in
so loud a tone that you could overhear it. It always pains me to offend
any one. But I regret still more, that your subsequent conduct confirms
my hasty judgment. I believe we've nothing more to say to each other."

He bowed coldly and beckoned to the driver of his droschky, which was
waiting at some little distance. At the same moment he felt his cloak
seized.

"It is true, my young friend, that I have done with you," he heard the
count say in a tone of suppressed fury. "Your feeble health gives you
the liberty, so easily abused, of saying what you please with impunity.
But you will oblige me by giving your brother, in my name, the same
warning that I have given you. Out of consideration for the lady to
whom he, as I hear, is paying attention, I should prefer that she
should be spared the necessity of making a choice between us. I'm not
in the habit of putting myself on a level with the first person who
comes along, and the affair might have unpleasant consequences for him.
You'll be kind enough to give him this message, my young friend? And
now I'll not keep you standing in the windy street any longer. I trust
you have understood me." He drew back, bowed with mock civility, and
sprang into his carriage, which drove rapidly away.

Balder remained silent and motionless. Involuntarily he placed his hand
upon his heart, where he felt a keen pain. But it passed away again.
His rigid features relaxed, and he smiled sadly as he drew his cloak
closer around his shoulders. "What a contemptible man!" said he. "How
anybody who is governed by such dull instincts must feel! And she, she
could--no, Edwin, he is not dangerous to you, or she has never been
worthy of possessing your heart!"

The droschky stopped beside him, the driver, who saw the pale youth
standing so lost in thought, pitied him, and jumped down from the box
to open the door and help him in. "Why, sir, you ought to be with your
mother, instead of making visits. An old droschky like this isn't very
warm, and you're shivering like a sentinel when it is ten degrees below
zero."

"You are right, my friend," replied Balder smiling. "But I think the
sentinel will soon be relieved. Drive me home as fast as possible, I
shall hardly get out of doors again."



                              CHAPTER III.


Edwin was strolling down Friedrichstrasse with Marquard, whom he had
met on his way home from the university.

"I thought it would only be a soap bubble of happiness," said he. "A
removal at this season of the year is as impossible, as for him to
remain here alone. You'd undoubtedly take the best care of him, and
Mohr has even offered to move into the tun bodily as 'Vice-Edwin.' But
nevertheless, my dear fellow, don't urge me. You don't know how we've
spoiled each other. There are hours when it's troublesome for him to
speak, and then I read the signs on his brow as clearly as my own
handwriting. And, reproach me if you will for being sentimental, I,
too, should fare ill without him. For the last six years my best
thoughts have come to me in his calm presence. If I reached a point
when I could make no farther progress, I only needed to look at him,
and light dawned upon me from his eyes. I'm really afraid I should seem
stupid, if I were to go to the university without him, and the faculty
would think I'd had somebody's help in writing my prize essay. _Habeat
sibi!_ Some other door will open."

"You know your own affairs best," replied Marquard, who, wrapped
in an elegant fur cloak, was strolling beside him with apparent
indifference. "If it doesn't agitate him to think that he's the
obstacle. Perhaps--it's only an idea--you might allege your regard for
the princess in Rosenstrasse, as a pretext for not going away."

"Unfortunately the good advice comes too late. He knows that that is
all over."

"What? Been made such short work of? How did that happen?"

"It's a long story. I'll tell you some other time."

They walked on in silence side by side. At last Marquard said: "I see
I'm the only practical person among you; for even our tribune of the
people--though he's shown more common sense than I gave him credit for,
in selecting from among the children of the people one whose father is
a house owner for his bride--will scarcely become a steady married man
and quiet citizen. You, my noble philosopher, are in love with a
psychological problem, and our satirical friend, instead of at least
acting out his comedy: 'I am I and rely on myself--'"

"What news have you heard of him? He came in to play chess last night
as usual."

"His queen checkmated him yesterday, the game's up, the zaunkönigs were
sitting in their nest with very anxious faces when I make them a short
call in the evening. The mysterious night-bird they sheltered, has
flown away, no one knows where."

"Could the poor creature for the second time--"

"That was the fear of her worthy hosts, behind whose backs she stole
away. But I soothed their anxiety. After a conversation forced upon her
by Mohr, in the course of which God knows what he may have said,
undoubtedly with the best intentions, but in his mad way, she waited
until papa König and the young girl had gone out, then suddenly emerged
from her solitary corner and saying that she wanted to buy a winter
cloak, asked the cook to lend her some money. When she'd got twelve or
fourteen thalers--all the ready money the woman had,--she entered a
droschky and drove away. It's not likely that she wanted to buy a
pistol, having possibly taken a prejudice against water, for tickets to
eternity can be bought cheaper by other routes. Moreover so many days
have intervened since that unhappy night, that it's natural to suppose
milder thoughts had come. In a note to Leah, she begged her not to seek
to discover her, for that she would send her word when she could find
courage to live and a desire to recall herself to the memory of those
who had meant kindly toward her, though they had acted against her
will. Herr Feyertag might sell her furniture and piano, deduct the rent
and the borrowed money from the proceeds, and give the remainder to the
poor; the letter was resolute, like the woman who wrote it, but it was
no suicide's bulletin; I know that, for I once made a collection of the
autographs, last notes, etc., left by suicides just before they entered
eternity."

"And Mohr?"

"He came again in the evening, and seemed to have been brooding
meantime over some plan or to have had some other question to ask. When
he found the cell empty, (no one thought of an escape, as the
imprisonment was voluntary,) he became even more thoughtful, morose,
and uncivil than he's been for the last few weeks. Even the little
zaunkönig, who can usually stand a good deal, seemed somewhat nettled
by his strange manners. For the rest--all honor to the little man! He's
cared for the unfortunate creature like a real Samaritan, while from a
Christian standpoint, suicides have usually been considered the very
scum of humanity, the poor step-children of God and predestined to
misery, and have always been buried outside the church-yard wall. A
long hymn of praise might be sung over Leah's treatment of the
stranger. My little Adèle actually gets jealous when I tell her how
self-sacrificing, clever, and discreet the zaun-princess' conduct has
been."

"And there's still no clue to the cause of this desperate step?" said
Edwin. "When I think of our bacchanalian revel at Charlottenburg, and
her playing--she seemed to be in such good spirits, like all the rest
of us, only of course in her strange, sullen way--"

Marquard shrugged his shoulders. "Who can tell! Perhaps Leah! At least,
whenever I alluded to the subject, she grew speechless in a strange
way, like a person who has no talent for lying and therefore prefers to
seal his lips. Mohr, who'd be easier game to an inquisitor, seemed, up
to yesterday, to have no suspicions; but early this morning, so your
old Lore tells me, he went to Fräulein Christiane's room, on the
pretext that he wanted to buy the piano. There he rummaged in every
corner, and at last found something--a little book, at the sight of
which he uttered an inarticulate moan. What it may have been, his
'so-called gods' only know. However, he's happy now; he has an object
in life which occupies all his thoughts: to unveil this mystery and
trace the woman who has disappeared."

"I've wondered whether, after all,--did you never meet a certain
Candidat Lorinser?"

The physician made no reply; for they were just turning the corner of
Dorotheenstrasse, and Marquard's keen eye had discovered a crowd of
people standing silent and motionless around a droschky in front of
Herr Feyertag's shop. "What's that?" said he. "Are the neighbors
waiting to see Jungfrau Reginchen drive out to pay wedding calls? We've
not got quite so far as that--no, some accident--"

Edwin heard no more. Urged by a sudden presentiment, he reached the
house at the very moment a lifeless body, carefully supported by the
head journeyman and the driver of the droschky, was carried up the
steps. He heard the crowd around him say: "There comes his brother!"
then his senses failed. The by-standers caught him, as he tottered and
seemed about to fall.

But it was only a momentary faintness that paralysed him. The next
instant he heard Marquard's voice again. "Keep up your courage, Edwin!
Come! It can scarcely be death!" Aided by his friend, he stood erect
and allowed himself to be led into the house.

The entry was crowded with the members of the household and with
curious neighbors, but they silently made way for them. All the
apprentices were assembled in the courtyard, gazing at the upper
windows as if expecting some message; but not a word was uttered, the
whole house seemed holding its breath in terror.

The driver of the droschky now appeared in the doorway. "Good Lord,
what a misfortune!" he said, approaching Edwin. "Such a young fellow! I
really thought he was a girl in disguise, till he began to talk to the
strange gentleman; then his eyes flashed as only a man's can. I saw
he'd got a little heated, so I shut the window, and he jested when I
told him he was shivering like an old sentinel. And all the way from
Rosenstrasse here, I never noticed that, as one might say, he was
driving to eternity in the old droschky! I suppose you're his brother?
Well, there's no hurry about the fare." Edwin shuddered and his voice
failed when he turned to speak. Marquard gave the man some money and
took his number, in order to ask him some farther questions about the
last scene; then he helped Edwin up stairs.

They had laid the lifeless form upon the bed just as they had taken it
out of the carriage, still wrapped in the faded cloak. No one had gone
up to the room except the head journeyman, Herr Feyertag and his wife;
Reginchen had glided after them, but she had not ventured to enter and
was crouching on the stairs, pale as a ghost.

When Edwin, leaning on Marquard, entered the tun, Madame Feyertag was
kneeling beside the bed rubbing Balder's cold temples with some
stimulant. Marquard permitted her to go on, and for some minutes
closely examined the motionless body. Then he turned to Edwin, who had
sunk down on the foot of the bed. "Poor boy!" said he. "Come, Edwin, be
a man! It was only a question of weeks. He's passed into the other
world quickly and painlessly. Look at the calm face."

A loud burst of weeping interrupted him. Herr Feyertag, with gentle
violence, led away his kind-hearted wife, who sobbed as hopelessly as
if she had lost a child of her own; the head journeyman, with tears
streaming down his face, softly followed them; he first tried to say
something to Edwin, but checked the words that were on his lips. When
he returned to the workshop, he sat down on a stool and buried his face
in his hands. Half an hour later, when the apprentices stole in to
continue their work, prepared for violent reproaches, they found the
choleric fellow in the same attitude. He seemed completely transformed;
but when toward evening, the youngest apprentice began to whistle
softly to himself, he rushed at him like a madman and called him a
heartless toad, for screwing up his mouth and whistling wedding tunes
on such a day.

Over the house there was a hush, as if with the fading away of this one
life all the joy of existence had vanished. Every one went about on
tip-toe and closed the doors noiselessly. When, toward evening, the
maid-servant went to the pump, she looked up to the open windows of the
upper room, wiped her eyes, and stealing away with the empty pail,
brought the water from one of the neighboring houses.

In the afternoon, Mohr came, and an hour after him, Franzelius, both
entirely ignorant of what had happened. But Herr Feyertag sat in the
shop and beckoned to every one who entered the house, in order to keep
troublesome visitors away from Edwin. Mohr did not utter a word and no
change of countenance betrayed his emotion, so that the worthy
shoemaker shook his head, as, muttering something in a low tone, the
young man left the shop, to go up to the tun. But it was a long time
before he reached it. He first slipped into Christiana's room, and
sitting there in the darkness let the first passion of grief rage
itself calm, before he ventured to go to Edwin. Franzelius, on the
contrary, had thrown himself into the arms of his future father-in-law,
with such heart-rending sobs, that Herr Feyertag, who hitherto had
placed no great confidence in him, because he believed him to be a
bloodthirsty revolutionist, secretly admitted that his wife was right;
Reginchen could not have found a better husband.

It was strange that neither of the friends ventured to let Edwin see
their first sorrow, that both paid the common toll of human weakness
before making their daily visit to the tun. Was it because of the habit
formed during the last few weeks, of considering that room a sacred
place, from which all the tumult of selfish sorrows and passions must
be kept away, or did they fear that they could not endure the sight of
the survivor, if they had not first regained their own composure?

They met on the stairs, just as Mohr was leaving Christiane's room.
Without uttering a word, the old antagonists fell into each others
arms, kissing and embracing each other as if there had never been any
ill-blood between them. Thus a solemn vow of eternal friendship was
exchanged, and they mounted the stairs hand in hand.

They found Edwin alone, still sitting in the same attitude as when
Marquard had left him an hour before, to visit some patients. Balder
was lying wrapped in his cloak, like a victor who had fallen on the
battle field. Edwin was bent forward, leaning on the foot of the bed.
He now half rose and with a faint smile held out his hands to his
friends.

"Have you come too?" said he. "I'm glad. He's so beautiful! I can
scarcely pity my own loneliness when I look at his face. Can you
believe that he will never open his eyes again? And yet he never will,
Marquard says he never will, and he must know." After a pause he
continued: "Take a chair, Franzel. Pardon me that I keep my seat. We
need not stand upon ceremony, and it is hard for me to move a limb.
He's better off, I don't grudge him his happiness,--but it's hard to
think we shall soon see his face no more."

Mohr had taken a chair opposite the bed, Franzelius was leaning against
the door gazing through his tears at the closed eye-lids and marble
brow of the beloved dead. When the room grew so dark, that they could
scarcely distinguish each other's features, Mohr rose and insisted upon
taking Edwin to his room, where he could get some wine and some light
food to strengthen him. "You've a great deal before you; you must
husband your strength. Franzel will stay here. We'll send a lamp up to
him. The night watch can be divided between us." Unconsciously, like a
somnambulist, Edwin obeyed. The strong wine Mohr pressed upon him threw
him into a sound sleep for half an hour. As he awoke, he uttered a cry
that made his companion start up in alarm.

"It's nothing!" Edwin said with a sorrowful shake of the head. "I was
only dreaming that I heard Balder's voice. Just as I tried to take his
hand, I awoke and suddenly remembered all. I thought my heart would
burst; but I am strong again, only my eyes are still dry. Come, we'll
not keep him waiting too long."

When they opened the door of the death chamber, they paused on the
threshold in astonishment. Franzelius had taken advantage of their
short absence to erect, with the aid of the household, a sort of
catafalque. The turning lathe was placed in the centre of the room and
covered with a black cloth, and on it was a hastily made couch, on
which Balder was laid. At his head stood the palms, and beside them two
tall laurel trees, which the old tenor had sent. His wife had added two
silver candelabras, which burned on either side of the bier and shed a
calm light on the beautiful pale face. Instead of the little cloak, a
white sheet, on which the slender hands rested, covered the slight
form. The white cat had glided in through the open window and wandering
around for a time, crouched finally at the foot of the bier with its
yellow eyes fixed steadily on the candles.

Edwin seated himself on Balder's empty bed and drew his friend down
beside him. "Thank you," said he. "We'll let no stranger touch him. No
one but those who have loved him."

Franzelius mutely pressed his hand and turned away to hide his tears.
Mohr had sat down before the chess board that stood on the little table
in the corner, and mechanically began to move the pieces.


They had not long sat thus silent and alone, when some one knocked
gently. Mohr went to the door and came back saying: "The zaunkönig is
here, with Leah and Frau Valentin. They only wish to hear how you are,
and have no desire to intrude upon you. But I thought if you had no
objections we would admit them."

Edwin nodded and rose. When the little artist entered and cast a glance
at the simple catafalque, tears gushed from his eyes. He blindly
grasped Edwin's hand and held it firmly, trying to conceal his emotion
behind his hat. Frau Valentin's pleasant face also disappeared in her
handkerchief. Leah, without looking at Edwin, approached the bier and
seemed utterly petrified with surprise at the incomprehensible mystery
of death. Her face was as still and white as that of the departed. Only
her eyes, which without the quiver of a lash, rested intently on the
noble countenance of the dead, glowed with the intense fire of life.

For a time no words were uttered; at length Frau Valentin, wiping her
eyes, approached Edwin. "Forgive me for coming," said she. "My heart
brought me here. You needn't fear that I shall obtrude words of
consolation that would be meaningless to you. But to me, to us, you
will not grudge the comfort of believing that the Father has recalled
his child, and that we other children of God shall meet him again in
the eternal home; and meet you too, dear friend, who until then must
feel his loss so terribly."

"Thank you," replied Edwin. "I know your meaning is the kindest. You
wish to give me of your abundance in what you think is my poverty. To
be sure, I've lost much; for what can replace the joy of daily and
hourly drinking in every look, every thought that proceeds from such a
soul! I'll say nothing about him; he would never let me praise him to
his face, and I'm foolish enough to fear that yonder poor husk would
begin to blush. To speak of him later--behind his back--will be the
best consolation. As for the rest--do you really believe, that I shall
not see him again daily and hourly, even without waiting for a heavenly
meeting? If I were forced to await that, I should hardly linger long
behind. But I have him, he can never be torn from me; the happiness of
having known and loved such a creature in the flesh and blood, can
never pass when the flesh moulders away. This spiritual intercourse is
the only really living thing, the only eternity, and it continues to
exist amid a thousand changes, an inextinguishable flame, even when the
individual brain and heart which for a time have fed the flame, cease
to feed it longer. They may well crumble to ashes, when their short
blaze has kindled a fire in other souls." He paused. She had listened
with deep emotion and a scarcely perceptible shake of the head; but
repressed any desire she might have had to contradict him. Edwin now
approached Leah.

"I thank you for coming," said he as he pressed her hand. Large tears
welled to her eyes, but she did not utter a word. "See how beautiful he
is!" Edwin gently continued. "I know you will never forget these
features, and therefore I'm glad you can see him. True, his rare smile
will never come again, and his eyes--but dear Fräulein, this is
exhausting you too much. Let them take you home--I'll come in a few
days--you ought to spare yourself."

A look from him summoned her father, who gently took the hand of the
deeply agitated girl and led her out of the room. Frau Valentin
embraced Edwin like a mother, and then followed the others. The room
was again perfectly still, and they sat together in silence for several
hours, until Marquard came and insisted that Edwin must spend the night
with him. "To-morrow!" replied the latter. "Let me have my own way
to-day. Go all of you, and leave me. Rest assured this course is best
for me; I'll go to sleep, and my quiet companion will not disturb me."

At first Marquard would not listen to such a proposal, but Edwin was
firm in his resolution, and they at last left him alone with the dead.
It was ten o'clock on a cold, dark winter's night; the wind drove snow
flakes into the open windows, and ever and anon the candles flickered
as if they would be extinguished. Edwin, wrapped in Balder's cloak, had
thrown himself on his bed without undressing, and now lay listening to
the wind, the spluttering of the candles, and the distant rolling of
the carriages in the crowded city. No restful sleep visited his excited
senses, only a hasty changeful dream, in which scenes from his earliest
childhood passed before his mind, and amid them Toinette seated in a
light carriage beside a stranger, gazing coldly and sadly at him,
followed by a vision of Leah's thoughtful face which appeared beside
her mother's bust. When he opened his eyes to drive away these confused
images, he looked straight into the round yellow eyes of the cat that
would not leave the bier. This at last made him uncomfortable. He rose,
took the animal in his arms and carried it to the door, to drive it
down stairs. But when he turned the handle, he saw crouching on the
threshold the figure of some one who seemed to have been peeping
through the key hole.

"You here, Reginchen?" he exclaimed in astonishment.

The young girl had started up, and was standing before him trembling
from head to foot like some detected criminal.

"Ah! Herr Doctor," she faltered at last, "don't be angry with me. I
couldn't sleep, I tossed about continually, and let me close my eyes as
resolutely as I would, I constantly saw him before me, and then--then
something fairly drew me here--I thought when I'd once seen him I
should feel better, that I could rest, and so I crept up stairs. I
could, just see his face through the keyhole, but it wouldn't let me go
away again. If you hadn't come, I believe I should have knelt here all
night and been forced to look at him till I died."

"Won't you come in, child?" he said, taking her by the hand. "Don't be
frightened. I'll cut off a lock of his hair for you. Do you want it?"

"No, no!" she exclaimed vehemently. "Not in there, not a step nearer!
I'm so afraid of him, I'm afraid he will open his eyes, and ask--oh!
Herr Edwin, you don't know--let me go--if I should touch a lock of his
hair, I should never be able to leave his side again and I can't help
being a poor stupid thing, who didn't understand him! Oh, God! my heart
is breaking!"

Passionate sobs checked her utterance. But when Edwin put his arm
around her and kindly tried to soothe her, she broke from him and
darted down the stairs like an arrow, while he stood a long time in the
darkness, musing over this strange enigma, ere he again threw himself
on his cold bed.



                              CHAPTER IV.


On the morning of the third day the funeral took place. Franzelius, who
had undertaken to attend to all the sorrowful details, insisted that
this last duty should be performed at six o'clock. "Perhaps then the
preacher will oversleep himself," said he. Edwin had assented. The
clergyman belonging to their ward, who as professor of theology had met
Edwin at college, came the day after the event to condole with him and
ask for some notes for the funeral address. "You would do me a favor,"
Edwin replied, "if you would merely say what is absolutely necessary,
what your formula prescribes. Eulogies from a person who knew nothing
of the dead, have always been repulsive to me; and besides, as my
brother shared my opinions, many a word would be uttered over his open
grave, against which he would protest if he could hear it." The
clergyman probably thought that the softened soul of a mourner would be
good soil in which to sow the seed of religion, but Edwin cut short all
farther conversation, and his colleague, in by no means the best of
humors, left him.

Franzelius had still another reason for choosing the dark morning hour.
A society of workmen, of which he was a member, wished to sing a hymn
in the churchyard and could not assemble later. But he did not tell his
friend a word of this.

He had kept his promise, no stranger's hand had been allowed to touch
the dead body. Even the most painful task, he performed himself,
screwing down with his own hands the coffin lid. Then, as the bearers
wound slowly down the crooked stairs with their burden, he took Edwin's
arm and supported him on the last sorrowful pilgrimage.

The street was only lighted by a faint reflection from the snow, and
few persons were standing around the door. Edwin bowed sorrowfully to
his acquaintances and then entered the first of the four mourning
coaches, which instantly moved forward. He was accompanied by Mohr,
Marquard, and Franzelius. The second carriage was occupied by Herr
Feyertag and the old gentleman on the second floor, who despite the
wintry cold, would not be dissuaded from showing his fellow-lodger this
token of sympathy. The third carriage belonged to the little artist. He
had come by himself and intended to follow the coffin alone, when he
perceived the head journeyman, who with a large weed on his hat and a
band of crape on his left arm, was preparing to accompany the
procession on foot. Herr König instantly ordered his driver to stop,
opened the door, and compelled the worthy man to take the seat beside
him, which the modest fellow after long hesitation, at last consented
to do.

The fourth and last carriage contained a young Pole and the president
of a society, which numbered among its members many foreigners and
formed the largest portion of the audience to Edwin's lectures. They
followed the body solely from regard for their teacher, as they had
never known Balder, and instantly drew down the curtains in order to
beguile the long ride by discussing theatrical matters, the latest
news, and smoking paper cigarettes.

From an upper window, a weeping girl wrapped in a thick shawl, gazed
after the slowly moving carriages. It was Reginchen, who for two days
had not made her appearance and steadily refused even to see her lover.

The procession moved through the Oranienburg Gate and traversed the
suburbs for some distance, ere it reached the cemetery. The air was
mild, as if a thaw were about to set in, and the snow over which they
walked to the grave, yielded noiselessly under their feet. Beside the
fresh mound of earth stood the clergyman, and behind him a throng of
dark figures, the workmen to whom the printer had said that he had lost
his dearest friend. The clergyman, whom Edwin only greeted with a
formal wave of the hand, now read aloud the prayer for the burial of
the dead and then approached the edge of the grave, into which the
coffin was already lowered.

He began: "'In the midst of life we are in death.' But they who turn
from the light of eternal truth, bear the gloom of death within their
souls. They live as if they thought never to die, and die as though
they were never to live again. What grief and terror will overwhelm
them on the day when the graves open and the dead come forth to receive
the crown of glory or the sentence of eternal condemnation. How the
words of the Judge will thunder in their ears: 'I offered you salvation
and ye rejected it with scorn and turned a deaf ear unto my message.'
In your vain self-righteousness you chose to be your own deliverers,
and have pronounced your own doom. Then will your pride bow before the
throne of the Highest, and defiance be crushed before the majesty of
the Son of Man. Then lips will sue for mercy, which on earth overflowed
with blasphemy, denying with Peter and saying: 'I know not this man.'
But we, who stand around this sad grave, will unite in silent prayer to
God, and implore him not to enter into judgment with this our brother,
to suffer a ray of his eternal mercy to transfigure and cleanse from
sin the frail erring life, which too early reached its end!"

An unbroken silence followed these words. The clergyman had folded his
hands over his book and closed his eyes in prayer. Suddenly Franzelius'
suppressed voice was heard amid the group of friends who were standing
at the foot of the grave:

"Let me speak, for I cannot be silent, I should despise myself, I
should be a miserable coward, if I could hear such words spoken over
his grave, without uttering a protest in the name of those who have
known and loved him. What is that I hear? 'let there be no scandal?'
Say that to those, who have not hesitated to carry the strife of
opinions into the stillness of the churchyard, where even the bitterest
enemies lie in death quietly side by side. No, my friends," he
continued in a loud voice, springing upon one of the snow covered
mounds, "we at least have not assembled around this grave, to stammer
an abject petition for a poor sinner who, unless justice be tempered by
mercy, is forever lost. This dead man will never be lost to us, and as
by the might of his love and intellect, he has indeed redeemed himself
from the curse of frail mortality, the terrors of blind delusion and
the bonds of selfishness, his memory will help us to free ourselves
also and to become more worthy of the joy of having been loved by him.
For yes, he has loved you too, my friends who never saw his face or
heard his voice. His great heart beat for all his brothers, for all who
were poor and miserable, for all the children of this world, who come
they know not whence and go they know not whither, and yet are too
honest to console themselves with fantastic tales and be lulled to rest
by idle dreams. What can be called sacred, if his grave is not? For do
you know _whom_ we are burying here? A laborer, my friends, who was
ever sharing his last shilling with some poor man; a poet who never
desecrated his genius for fame or gold; a hero, whose last act was a
deed of sacrifice for those he loved. And is this life to be swallowed
up in gloom? Should this grave be called a 'sad' one over which
penitent sighs and pharasaical petitions for mercy must resound? Oh! my
Balder, I know you would submit to even this error of a gloomy,
intolerant formalist, with the quiet smile which was your only weapon
against all assaults. But we, your friends, are not yet at peace, but
in the midst of warfare. We must struggle for the weak who allow
themselves to be intimidated by formulas preferring to leave their free
souls in imprisonment than to shake themselves free from the hands of
their tyrants, to learn to know and love this earth instead of
despising its beauty in view of an imaginary world to come. Despise an
earth, which has contained you, my Balder, a sky to which your noble
eyes have been raised? no, a thousand times no! such a world is no vale
of tears, and even in the bitterest woe beside your grave, we still
have a feeling of triumph--we have possessed you, and all the
calamities of life are richly compensated for, by the certainty that
your great heart lives on in ours--Balder--my friend--my brother--"

His voice suddenly failed, he pressed his clenched hand to his eyes and
turned away, but the next instant regained his composure and motioned
to the singers, who stood in a dense mass behind him. Instantly a
quartette choir, whose voices at first low and unsteady from agitation,
became gradually clearer and more powerful, began a song, which Mohr
had composed to the air of _Integer vitae_:

            Brother, ere in the dust thy form we lay,
            We'll to thy worth a loving tribute pay;
            Thy virtues rare, and kindly heart, which were
                        A comfort on life's way.

            Fearless thy earnest, noble soul did stand,
            Not mid the lofty masters of the land,
            But with thy brothers, 'mong their lowly huts,
                        A member of their band.

            O! chosen one, for whom we proudly weep.
            Of whom thy friends a loved remembrance keep,
            How patiently thy weary lot was borne
                        Till peaceful thou did'st sleep!

            Rejoice we at thy absence; gone before
            Thy pleasures and thy pains on earth are o'er;
            Rest thou, while on through strife and woe
                        We heavenward soar.

The last solemn notes died away, but there was still no movement among
the group who stood with bowed heads beside the open grave. When after
a pause they raised their eyes they perceived that the clergyman had
disappeared. The old sexton, unable to understand the strange scene,
had also retired leaving his spade behind him. While Edwin, standing
between Mohr and Marquard, gazed into the grave as tearlessly as a
departed spirit, it was rapidly filled, each person stepping forward in
turn to cast in a spadeful of earth.

Franzelius approached Edwin, and they clasped each other's hands in
silence. The mourner's soul was still benumbed with grief, and the same
dull stupor rested upon him as the party returned home. He took leave
of his friends at the door of the house and went up to his desolate
cell alone.

He found everything in the neatest order, nothing was left to recall
the sorrowful events which, during the last few days, had occurred in
the quiet room. A bright fire was burning in the stove, the breakfast
stood on the table as usual, and the turning lathe was once more in its
place beside the window, with the tools arranged upon it as before.

But on Balder's chair lay the little chisel with which Franzelius had
screwed down the coffin lid. At this sight, the spell which had bound
Edwin was suddenly broken; he threw himself into the chair and gave
free course to the bitterest tears.



                               CHAPTER V.


When Marquard visited Edwin the following morning, he found him at his
desk, holding his pen in his right hand and resting his head on the
left. A sheet of paper lay before him.

"Good morning, Fritz," said he. "You've come just at the right time. I
must make a decision, and everything within me seems walled up. I need
some one to unlock me. Perhaps you have the key." He looked at him with
a weary, restless glance, and tried to smile. It was pitiful to see the
effort he made to adopt a careless tone. His friend shook his head, "A
decision?" he asked.

"Yes, indeed, and no less important one than to dip this pen into
yonder inkstand and write: 'Honored Sir!' Will you believe that I've
been working at this herculean task for two hours and have not yet
stirred a finger?"

"You can do something more sensible."

"Gladly. If it doesn't require too much intelligence."

"Only as much as is needed to pack a trunk and go with it to the railway
station. My fur boots are at your service, and also money to pay the
traveling expenses. If you will only for once take the medicine,
without reflecting upon the prescription, and pack up this very day."

"This very day?"

"What's the use of writing that you will come? You're going, and that's
enough. I know all you want to say: that you don't feel like it, that
you fear you'll not make a favorable impression just now. That's all
nonsense. If you don't make haste at once, it's very doubtful whether
you can ever present yourself in any place; you're far more likely to
absent yourself--retire where we yesterday accompanied our own Balder.
You've been moping about here for months. It's a bit too much, quite
enough to break down a stronger man. Come now, make a dash, put on your
dress-coat, visit your superiors and colleagues, set the cog-wheel of
your career in motion, and let the grey substance in your brain rest,
that it may make good its deficiencies. If this prescription is not
carefully followed, I'll answer for nothing, or rather I will answer
for the nothing into which your insignificant self will soon be
resolved. Have you had any sleep?"

"I believe so," replied Edwin, with an absent nod. "I slept night
before last from two to three."

"I thought so!" exclaimed his friend, dashing his hat violently upon
the table. "And no one made his appearance yesterday, to perform a work
of charity and bore you till you fell asleep. What's the use of friends
who are poets in private and lecturers in public? Where was Mohr, with
his famous comedy? And our dear Franzel? Holy--"

"Philosophy showed poetry the door in the afternoon," said Mohr, who
had just entered and overheard Marquard's words, "but don't be
disturbed. Doctor, I'm not at all offended. It's long been known that
you materialists have not classical culture enough to distinguish
between Orpheus and Morpheus. Good morning, Edwin. I'm only here to
tell you that I'm not yet fit for anything. The salt in my nature has
lost its savor, or else grown bitter. As Bitter-salt[6] it may perhaps
be of some assistance as a purgative; (pardon the wretched pun, the
times are too hard for good ones.) And then I wanted to tell you why
the tribune of the people cannot appear to-day any more than yesterday.
He's been imprisoned."

"Franzel?"

"Arrested and imprisoned. The police officers have extended their
motherly arm toward him and taken the erring child. We needn't pity
him. He's very well satisfied. My phenological science told me long ago
that he has _la bosse du martyr_.

"But the occasion, the pretext?"

"The disturbance of a public act of worship. Your reverend colleague,
Edwin, drove straight from the churchyard to the police headquarters,
to complain of the atheistical opposition he had encountered. Franzel
was doubtless already prominent in their books among the powers hostile
to repose and order, so they took advantage of the opportunity to keep
him quiet for a time. They can't do much to him, and a few weeks
imprisonment is a more merciful punishment for godless heretics, than
the wood piles of former days. I'm only afraid it will make him still
more obstinate."

"And he's right!" cried Edwin, as he started up and began to pace up
and down the room in feverish haste. "They want an open battle, they
challenge it themselves, and there will be no peace until it has been
fairly fought. How often, in this very spot, I've agreed with Franzel
that we ought not to discuss anything, except with those who hold
similar views, for certainly the truth will not be spread by arousing
superstition and folly against it. But we ought at least to retain our
right to go our own way, and much as people prattle about liberty of
conscience, when the matter becomes serious, the liberty is only for
those who think they have rented the public conscience; and we, in the
belief that the more sensible people have already yielded, are
constantly stopping half way. We submit ourselves to listen to
unmeaning formulas repeated at the most important epochs of our lives;
when a child is given to us, a tie formed for life, a loved one
restored to earth, a stranger whose every word we would fain oppose,
utters that which wearies if it does not anger us. I've endured it like
a thousand others, and said to myself: it's no worse than to sign
yourself at the close of a letter 'with respect and esteem,' when you
feel neither; it is a mere form which can only bind those who find in
it a substance. But I now see whither this carelessness leads. Instead
of declining all priestly gabble, I paid no more attention while this
warder of Zion was slandering Balder's dust, than if the wind had been
blowing through the leafless branches, and was only roused from my
reverie by our faithful friend's eloquent defense. If he had remained
silent, I verily believe I should have been stupid enough to let the
zealot talk on, just as once, when I undertook to be godfather, I
weakly said 'yes,' when asked if I would strengthen the child in the
faith that Jesus Christ descended into hell and rose from the dead on
the third day. And now our poor champion must atone for the cowardice
and false shame we have all shown in not honestly and thoroughly
renouncing ancient abuses. No, I'll go and tell these gentlemen--"

"You'll be kind enough not to attempt to escape from my care," said
Marquard quietly, as he seized the agitated man by the arm. "As for our
scapegoat, I hope to set him free immediately. I am blessed with
various connections, and fondly as conservative circles cherish the
deceptions of a high church patterned after the English, they can't
wholly shake off a secret fear of the free-thinkers, and are the first
to counsel half way measures and compromises as long as possible. But
you, my son, will now take an hour's walk, accompanied by Mohr, in the
course of which you'll converse on the most shallow and insignificant
subjects--"

He was interrupted by the old maid-servant, who came in to deliver a
letter. A deep flush crimsoned Edwin's pale face as he recognized the
handwriting, "Excuse me," said he, "if I glance it over."

He went to the window, and they soon heard him laugh aloud. "Good
news?" asked Mohr, who was absently playing with the leaves of the
palms.

"Excellent! And it comes just at the right time. I'll set out on my
journey this very day, for you're right, Fritz, the air of this city
doesn't agree with me. I must beg you Heinrich, to take my farewell
messages to the little house on the lagune and to Frau Valentin.
I--whether I ever set foot in the tun again, or trouble one of you to
send my movables after me--at any rate, I'll write as soon as I know
how matters stand where I am going, and whether I shall remain. And
now--perhaps you'll excuse me--the train leaves in two hours, and I
still have all my arrangements to make."

"We yield to force," said Marquard dryly, "and I dispense with all the
formalities of leave taking the more willingly, as I'm sure all this is
mere bustle, and we shall not get rid of you so quickly."

He was not mistaken. Two hours after, Edwin still sat as unprepared for
traveling as before, gazing at the letter which lay open before him, as
if he expected to discover some other meaning in the lines, than that
which the words conveyed. They ran as follows:


"My Dear Friend!

"_The time has expired, the three days have passed without my seeing
you again, I had scarcely hoped that the disclosure I made to you
through your brother--give my kindest regards to him; I envy you the
happiness of possessing such a relative--that any word from me could
produce any impression upon you since I can retract nothing, cannot
deceive you and myself._

"_I have ceased to desire to exist and have exhausted my means to do
so. You know that with me both amount to very much the same thing. I
cannot understand how people can remain attached to a life, whose
conditions are limited to simple existence. And yet--I must suffer more
than I yet suffer, physical and spiritual hunger must gnaw still more
sharply, ere I can bring myself to try the last resource. Meantime the
pain is dull, and sometimes blended with the hope that it may not last
forever. So I wish to try whether I shall be better amid entirely new
surroundings. The old countess has invited me to spend some time at her
castle; she came for me in person, and little as I like her, I have
still less reason to be over fastidious. When you read these lines I
shall be on the way._

"_I can scarcely ask you to write to me. But if you do not prefer to
utterly forget me, pity me more than you condemn. I shall never cease
to remember you._

                                                    "Toinette."

At noon, when kind Madame Feyertag went to the tun to interrupt his
solitude, and ask if he wanted anything, he seemed perfectly calm,
spoke of his speedy departure, thanked her for the love she had shown
Balder, and made all sorts of arrangements, in case he should enter
upon his duties as professor at once. He even ate a portion of the food
brought up to him, but could not made up his mind to go, and the trunk
he had brought down from the attic remained unpacked. Old Lore saw him
wandering about his room late at night; his lamp was not extinguished
until after midnight.

When Marquard called the following morning, he was not at all surprised
to hear that the Herr Doctor had not yet gone. "He has a disease of the
nerves called absence of will," he said to the shoe maker, "it's hard
to reach, but I think if we can once get him on the way--"

At the door of the room he started violently. He heard Edwin's voice
talking in a very strange tone on all sorts of matters. When he
entered, he found his friend sitting on the bed with dilated eyes,
holding the little bottle of violet perfume and Leah's plate, and
striking them together like a tambourine and a drum stick. He did not
recognize the new comer, and continued his discordant music, which he
accompanied with confused, delirious words, and verses of Italian
poetry--apparently from Dante. On the little table beside him lay a
small copy of the Divina Comedia, and beside it Toinette's letter. The
back of this was covered with writing in Edwin's small hand, which had
probably been done just before the fever set in, and his friend in
amazement read a singular improvisation in the style of the Inferno,
whose echo must have excited the sick man. Although Balder had said
that his brother was a poet, he had not been caught in such sins for
years, and in his days of health, certainly would not have fallen into
this fever for versifying. But as it sometimes happens in dreams or a
state of somnambulism, that we suddenly practise with wonderful skill
an art whose rudiments we have scarcely mastered, these lines had been
written without an erasure, as if dictated by some other, and as even
the worst verses were far superior to what Edwin usually acknowledged,
and the cynical, over-excited tone of the whole was utterly foreign to
his nature, Marquard looked upon them as a record of words uttered by a
man possessed with a devil, and forced to repeat what the demon
suggests. The verses ran as follows:

            Methought that all my tasks were duly learned,
            And I prepared to turn my back on school.
            Must I examined be, to show what rank I've earned?

            Then pray begin to ask your questions o'er,
            For I am almost tempted to display
            Before you all my wisdom's scanty store.

            Our life--whence comes it?--That we do not know.
            And whither does it tend?--From dusk to night.
            Its purpose?--Earth to teach us to forego.

            Say, 'What is God?--That, God alone doth know.
            And what is pleasure?--To be free from pain.
            And pain?--To lack all pleasure here below.

            Not always must we joy in self-denial.
            We are too far removed from actual life,
            And to the ground 'twixt two beliefs will fall.

            Well, in the first class I have learned this truth,
            Which in the sixth I dimly did suspect,
            Hollow's the nut we have to crack, forsooth.

            When scarcely from the nurse's arms escaped,
            We gnaw, till on it we have cracked our teeth.
            By earnest zeal reward from toil is reaped.

            To feel the pangs of hunger never stilled,
            Mocking us alway as dry husks we gnaw,
            In the delusion we are being filled.

            Then, though of course the palate, without question,
            Is thereby fooled, the stomach's soothed, and we
            Our nap can take fearing no indigestion.

            Naught save the carelessness that questions never,
            Goes satisfied away. It took the shells
            For kernels, and thought ignorance clever.

            It hopes, when shrinking from the pangs of death,
            That life's just opening, the best to come!
            When its last sun doth fade, and fails its breath.

            A brighter heavenly light will swiftly shine.
            Good dreamers! After school there is no doubt
            That a pleasant vacation will be thine.

            Next to the university, the student,
            When once the school examinations o'er,
            Will go, and with the change be well content.

            From obscure toil and hours of study free
            Into this world we go; only again
            Quiet and insignificant to be.

            No difference exists 'twixt old and young; nor
            Any trace of cheerful intercourse,
            No longer rings the cry "Excelsior!"

            And say, are all these changing forms in quest
            Of this? This lavish outlay too! Oh fools!
            Who in this world think "all is for the best."

            To me, from whom its joys have passed away,
            It seemeth like a dream of the great Pan,
            Sprung from his burning brain on some dog day.

            _Dixi!_ Although thy brains thou'st often racked.
            The matter is not yet so plain and smooth.
            The aid of ripe experience thou hast lacked.

            Not yet? A little longer turn the pages dreary,
            Conning the self same lesson? Said I not
            Of sitting on the school bench I was weary?

            Loathsome the animal, whose monstrous jaws
            The food long since digested idly grinds,
            And grinds again, nor ever makes a pause.

            No matter, still thou must remain to aid
            Thy weaker schoolmates on the lower forms,
            Till themes are all prepared and lessons said.

            Why sullen looks and frowning brow display?
            The hours of leisure may be occupied
            In scribbling rhymes, while schoolboy pranks you play
            And on the school room bench your name enscribe.



                              CHAPTER VI.


Sensitive minds are in the habit of terming the union between body and
spirit an unequal marriage, a _mèsalliance_. And yet good and evil days
might teach them a better term, show them that whatever may be thought
in regard to the difference of origin, in the conscientious fulfillment
of every duty the dust born portion certainly does not fall below the
other, which is said to be its master. How could the soul enjoy the
sensation of pleasure, if its faithful companion did not lend to it the
aid of the senses, to say nothing of the joys which, even to the most
transcendental, arise from the senses alone. And if, in the pure ether
of spiritual enjoyment, we tremble at the thought of our resemblance to
God, what tortures we should suffer in the knowledge of our likeness to
the worms, if the body did not again befriend us, and as distress
reached its climax, transfer the conflict to the domain of the senses,
thus, as it were, retrieving the vantage point it has lost, until it
has gained new strength and new armor to end the struggle in its own
territory.

Thus the severe illness which attacked Edwin was a boon to his sorely
wounded spirit. For weeks he lay senseless, a prey to a violent nervous
fever. He recognized none of his nurses, neither Franzelius, who after
having been released from his imprisonment with an impressive warning,
spent his nights regularly in the tun, sleeping perhaps a short time on
Balder's bed, when toward midnight the patient grew a little calmer,
nor the faithful Mohr, who acted as sick nurse during the day, and who
in the intervals when his constant attendance was not required, found
his sole recreation in sitting at Balder's turning lathe and playing
countless games of chess. At the commencement of the illness, Marquard
had been inclined to send Edwin to the hospital, where he could have
taken charge of him more easily. But the other two friends and Madame
Feyertag would not listen to the proposal, and although the illness
lasted for weeks and months, the kindhearted woman never for a moment
regretted that she had kept the sick man under her roof. Her heart and
her linen chest, her hands and those of her old maid-servant were
always open and ready, whenever they were needed. "My worthy friend,"
said the zaunkönig to her husband--he came every day to inquire how the
sick man had passed the night--"your explosive theory is brilliantly
refuted, and the wisdom of Solomon proven:--'the price of a virtuous
woman is far above rubies.'"

A calm smile rested on his lips and he looked at the crape on his white
hat. The shoe-maker shrugged his shoulders. "The intention is good,"
said he, "but the idea is usually weak. For instance, there's my
daughter Reginchen!--Well, I won't praise her, but Schopenhauer is
right again in regard to her explosive effect. The Lord knows what ails
her; her mother didn't make half so much fuss when she was young. But
her imaginative power Herr König, is beyond any man's comprehension.
You know she's betrothed to Herr Franzelius. Didn't she act at first as
if she would die if she couldn't have him? Besides, he's a very
respectable man and if he only gets rid of his radical nonsense, can
make a good living; for it can't be denied that he has education and
what's called character, and with the few groschen she'll bring him, he
can settle in life and even start a printing office. Well, as I have
only this one daughter--we're weak, Herr König, we men when we are
fathers. But now, just think of this: ever since the young gentleman
upstairs died, the silly thing has worn black as if he had been her
brother, and all the betrothal gayety is over. When Herr Franzelius
comes in the evening, they clasp each other's hands for ten minutes and
hang their heads like a couple of weeping willows, and all the rest of
the day she sits still and reads Schiller's poems, and if I ask how
much of her wedding outfit is completed, she says: 'There's no hurry
about that, father.' Yes, yes, Herr König, it's just as I say: the will
is good, for she still means to marry him; but what notion she's taken
into her head, to be suddenly absorbed in Schiller when she ought to be
thinking of making up underclothes and bed-linen--if I've got the least
idea, I'll never attempt to tell the difference between neat's leather
and calf skin again. By the way, where's your daughter? It's an age
since I've had the honor--"

The little artist, who had listened with evident sympathy, was so much
disturbed by this question that his only answer was a heavy sigh. At
last he said: "The dear God some times tries us very severely, Herr
Feyertag. He has long showered blessings upon me, I was happy in my
home and in my art, and really always strove hard to keep my mind
humble that I might not be rendered arrogant by so many mercies. Since
I've become a court-artist, especially, I've examined my heart and
uprooted every fibre of pride, for after all there are many far more
deserving and talented than I, who yet accomplish nothing, while my
modest speciality--but now I've been chastised in what was dearest to
me. My Leah's health is failing, no one knows what to do for her, even
Dr. Marquard can say nothing except that it may improve when the
weather is more favorable, when we can travel. But its now February,
who knows how matters will be in April or May. Oh! my dear friend, all
my life I've clung to the consolation that our heavenly father
chastises us because he loves us, but if I should be compelled to
endure--"

He paused suddenly and without, as usual, leaving his regards for
Madame Feyertag, hastily quitted the shop.

At this time, Edwin had been out of danger for several weeks and even a
relapse was no longer to be feared. His physical health was visibly
improving; but his intellect seemed inexpressibly slow in regaining its
clearness and strength. He could sit at the window for hours with a
very cheerful face, without seeking any amusement or occupation. Not
until the first days of early spring came and he could drive out in the
noonday sun, did the mist which had settled on his mind gradually
dissolve. His memory regained its power slowest of all. When the events
which had occurred during the last few months before Balder's death
were mentioned, it was with the greatest difficulty that he could
re-unite the sundered threads.

Even after nursing was no longer necessary, Franzelius still continued
to sleep in the tun. Edwin had begged him to do so, because he felt how
much pleasure it afforded the faithful friend to thus fulfil what he
had promised Balder. Moreover, after being alone all day--Mohr having
sought solitude for some time, it was pleasant when evening came to see
the honest face and to be lulled to sleep by quick conversation. True,
there was no lack of other visitors. The little artist came and Frau
Valentin, who again as far as Madame Feyertag's jealousy permitted,
hastened convalescence by preserves, strengthening broths, and various
delicate birds. But the more his strength returned, the more
indifferent and content with his position the invalid seemed.

The news that another had obtained the professorship offered to him had
come long before. Edwin had seen it in a newspaper and submitted to the
disappointment with great indifference. What was his career to him now?
He was happy in once more feeling strength to think of new books, and
eagerly read the important works that had appeared during his sickness.
Toinette's name never crossed his lips. He once asked whether Marquard
had seen a letter which he had received just before his illness and
which he was unable to find. "The maid-servant probably lighted the
fire with it long ago," Marquard answered dryly; "was it anything of
importance?" He did not want to return the fatal sheet which he
had carefully laid aside, until there was no possible danger of a
re-opening of the old wound.

But this danger seemed at last to have disappeared. One day, when
Marquard was making a short call, Edwin with a perfectly calm face
showed him a note he had received an hour before at the sight of which
his friend could scarcely conceal his alarm.

"It has come true," said Edwin smiling, but with a slight flush. "I
thought the lime twig would not release the bird again. Well, I hope
her gilded cage will be large enough for her to fancy herself at
liberty."

"May I read it?" asked Marquard.

"Certainly. Unfortunately I've never had any secrets in common with
her, and you have long thought her what she seems here."

The note ran as follows:


"_You discarded me so suddenly, dear friend, that if I were sensitive I
should now keep silence in my turn. But as, from the beginning of our
acquaintance, I was as sincere in my friendship as you in your
unfortunate love, my feeling is more lasting, as well as more
compassionate and considerate than yours, I should not like to have you
learn through the newspapers, that your poor duchess has resolved to
make a mésalliance and in a few days will be called countess. Why have
I made this resolution? If your philosophy can find no answer to the
question, will you expect a hopeless simpleton to furnish one? Why are
we in the world at all? Perhaps a curiosity to learn whether any reason
for existence would declare itself was the sole motive that induced me
to take this step, at which you will doubtless feel some degree of
indignation. Believe me, it is only a preparation for the last extreme
measure, the step into nothingness. Besides, I have not been untrue to
myself, I told him all, even that I do not love him. But as he is more
easily satisfied than certain people, and asks nothing I cannot give, I
think we shall get along with each other very well, as we generally end
best with those with whom, we have never begun. With you--I feel it by
this letter, which can find no close--I should never have been happy.
But it is the same now. There are some absurd destinies, is it not so,
dear friend?_

            "_In spite of everything ever your own_

                                                         "TOINETTE,

"_P. S.--Little Jean sends his compliments to you. It was on his
account that I decided to marry the count. He would have been miserable
for life, if he had not been permitted to wear the count's livery,
which is green embroidered with silver, and makes him look like a
green-finch in a gala dress._

"_Despite all this I still wish I were--_"


The last line was erased, but the words were yet legible. Marquard
silently laid the letter on the table.

"What do you say to it?" asked Edwin, as he slowly replaced the sheet
in the envelope.

"Nothing. I've long since given up saying anything about the countless
varieties of the great species, 'woman.' I hate unscientific talk and
therefore only try to look at each individual case from the practical
side. At present I should like to hear what you say to it. You've taken
more than a theoretical interest in the case from the very beginning."

"I'll tell you, as soon as I have found the formula. Hitherto, it has
only been boundless surprise."

"At her decision? Why, I should think--"

"No, at its effect on myself. Will you believe that I read this letter
without any quicker pulsation of the heart than if it had contained the
news that the Sistine Madonna had been removed from Dresden to Munich.
It seems as if the enchantment had vanished with the old blood the
fever consumed. Countess Toinette--I can say it as calmly as Reginchen
Franzelius."

Marquard, with immovable composure, looked him steadily in the face.
"Bravo!" said he. "You ought to have a red ticket: 'dismissed cured.'
To-day you must take a little walk, then for dinner--but I'll consult
with Madame Feyertag about that."

He pressed his hand, whose temperature did not seem to exactly please
him, and left the room. On the stairs he met Mohr. "Be kind enough to
watch Edwin to-day as closely as possible and not leave him alone
long," he whispered hastily. "His old love has accepted her count. He
says he's perfectly indifferent to it, but this idealist is not to be
trusted. Tell Franzel to keep watch to-night. I'll look in again
to-morrow."

But this time the clever physician was mistaken. When he returned the
next morning, he found his patient looking much fresher and brighter
and his pulse in a perfectly normal condition. He listened to the
account of the expedition made the day before, which, favored by the
brightest March sunlight, had for the first time restored Edwin's
confidence in his strength. "To-day, with your permission, I propose to
make a visit," said he. "I want to look in upon my little friend and
patron in the Venetian palace. He's not made his appearance in the tun
for a week. Did the child of God only have intercourse with the child
of the world as a good samaritan!"

"You're very much mistaken," replied Marquard looking unusually grave.
"Our zaunkönig is watching his nest, because his brood is looking very
miserable."

"Leah? Sick? And how long has she been ill? Why do I first hear of it
to-day?"

"Why should I gossip about one sick room in another! I only wish I were
as successful there as here. But there are cases which remind us rather
roughly of the limits of our powers."

"Can't you understand her sickness?"

"Her case requires a wiser man than I. I know that the seat of the
difficulty is in the mind, and I would even venture to touch the sore
spot with the point of a needle. But what will that avail, if the
remedy, which I also know, is not to be bought at any apothecary's?"

"A disease of the mind?"

"No: a simple consuming fever with a perfectly clear intellect. In
short:

           "By angels 'tis called a heavenly bliss,
            By devils a woe of th' deepest abyss,
            While mortals exclaim 'it is love.'"

"Love? Is the poor girl--"

"In love, and so deeply that her life is imperiled. Oh! my dear fellow,
these still waters!"

"And who in the world--But to be sure, from what I know of her, she'd
not confess it to you, or any other human being."

"A good family doctor needs no verbal confession in such cases. We've
other means of examining a feverish little heart--quiet noiseless
means. At first, its true, I was on the wrong track. I imagined--mind,
this is entirely between ourselves--that I myself was the fortunate
object and cause of this mysterious suffering. After all, it would not
have shown any want of taste in her, and with the romantic occasion of
our introduction--the night when we rescued Fräulein Christiane from
drowning--who would have wondered if she had at first revered me as the
saving angel, then admired, and at last learned to love. And I confess
the bare thought cost me several sleepless nights--until about
midnight. You know what I think of love and matrimony, but my most
sacred prejudices were in danger of being vanquished, when I fancied
that a girl like this zaunkönig's daughter could really want me for her
lawful husband. There's something about her which must make it
difficult, nay impossible for an honest man ever to be faithless to
her. I'm as good a conductor of heat as an iron stove, and opportunity
added fuel to the flames. Under the pretext of being obliged to watch
her, I daily spent an hour in her society, almost always alone; and
besides, just at that time, I'd had a quarrel with my little
nightingale. Adeline had been a little too enthusiastic about a
handsome Hungarian. So I took advantage of the holiday thus given my
heart, to make studies beside the lagune, to ascertain whether I could
change my sentiments and transform myself from an admirer of ladies in
general, to the adorer of one."

"And in what did these studies consist?" asked Edwin forcing a smile.

"That's _my_ secret," replied Marquard pathetically. "Enough I gave up
the game as I saw it was lost to me; but with the zeal of jealousy
searched for the man who stood in the way. My old sympathetic method
didn't leave me in the lurch this time."

"May one know--?"

"It's not my own invention. One of my colleagues in the dim past made
use of the stratagem. You know the story of the sick prince, who was in
love with his step-mother, and whose secret the physician discovered by
feeling his pulse just as the queen was entering the room. Well, I
couldn't introduce the man whom I suspected into Leah's sick chamber.
There was an obstacle in the way. But his name, which I uttered
apparently without design, while clasping the delicate round wrist of
the little Jewish-Christian, produced precisely the same effect. A
sudden quickening of the pulse to forty more throbs a minute.

"Of course the case is not particularly interesting to you," he
continued, as Edwin made no reply but with averted face gazed steadily
out of the window. "You've never had any different feeling for this
pupil, than for any other student. At that time you'd been bitten by
the serpent, and even if you had been offered the three graces attired
in their authentic Olympic costume, you would have blindly pursued the
ducal banner. Whether under these circumstances, however, it would be
well for you to pay your visit to the Venetian palace today, you must
decide yourself. True, we usually recommend rubbing chilblains with
snow, but unfortunately a woman's heart is somewhat more delicately
organized than the sturdy extremities. I thought it my duty to make
this acknowledgement. Adieu!"

He patted his silent friend on the shoulder and left him alone.

It would be impossible to describe Edwin's state of mind in a few
words; we can scarcely venture to say whether joy or perplexity
predominated in his strange bewilderment. The first overwhelming
surprise was succeeded by the sense of secret shame that this could
have so amazed him, the burden of a fault, which pardonable on account
of its total unconsciousness, was yet unable to wholly absolve itself
from the charge of ingratitude. How selfishly unfeeling it now seemed,
that he had not even repaid with friendly recognition her many
unobtrusive tokens of the most humble affection! Even today, when he
had determined to see her again, it was principally the father, toward
whom he thought he had a duty to fulfil. And now he learned that the
happiness and misery of this young girl's life depended upon his
presence or absence.

He closed his eyes and recalled all the scenes in which she had played
a part, from the first interview in the little house to the evening
when she had stood beside Balder's catafalque and gazed at the still
face with an expression of the deepest woe. He saw her so distinctly
that he could have sketched her features line for line, the beautiful
lines of the eye-lids, which had attracted his attention at their first
meeting, because they moved very little, as if the eyes had more
strength than those of others to bear the light without the quiver of
an eyelash. Then the delicate, strongly marked brows, which contracted
when she was in thought--her father often teased her about it; her
forehead was like a white page containing some secret inscription, and
the eyebrows arched beneath it like two large interrogation points--all
these things appeared before him, and the quiet droop of the head when
it was difficult for her to understand something he was explaining, and
the sudden movement with which, when she had grasped the idea, she
raised it as if exulting in her victory and demanding new and more
difficult tasks.

This girl loved him, and for months he had not had the slightest
suspicion of it!

He took the plate she had painted for him from his desk, where he kept
all sorts of writing materials lying on it, and looked at it as if for
the first time. Without thinking what he was doing, he breathed on the
surface and polished it with his handkerchief. It seemed as if he
thought some secret cipher was concealed among the flowers and ears of
corn, which must now stand out and reveal what thoughts had passed
through her mind while she painted.

Suddenly it occurred to him that he possessed something better than
this. The volume written by her own hand, in which as her father said,
she had copied his lessons--a deep flush crimsoned his face as he
remembered that it still lay unopened in his desk. True, how could it
have interested him to see whether his pupil had correctly understood
all his words, since the instruction was to cease. But suddenly this
pledge entrusted to his care became of the greatest value, as a fresh
means--since she would disclose her feelings in it without reserve--of
obtaining a thorough knowledge of her, and then: did he know what
confessions she might have made between the lines, confessions which
had so long remained mute and unanswered?

As if to repair the omission by the utmost haste, he now drew out the
package and tore off the enclosure. A plain thick volume, like a diary,
appeared, on whose blue cover was written the word "journal." A
flourish had been drawn beneath with the pen, and as he turned the
leaves he found many traces on the margins of the pages that the writer
had dreamily drawn, intricately interwoven flowers and figures, before
summoning up courage to commit her thoughts to paper.

It was anything but a simple exercise book. The records dated much
farther back, to a period three or four years before her acquaintance
with Edwin, and contained all the secrets of her young life, everything
which since her girlish heart had awakened, had aroused grave doubts
and questions.

There was scarcely a trace of external events; only from the reaction
on her mind could it be inferred that even this most quiet, uniform
life had experienced its trials and storms. But instead of merely
describing the tone and contents of these pages, let us at this point,
while Edwin for hours absorbs himself in reading, insert a short
extract from oft-interrupted soliloquies of this earnest young soul,
which will at least afford an idea of its principle characteristics.



                              CHAPTER VII.

                           FROM LEAH'S DIARY.


"Since I burned the old volumes in which I so conscientiously gave an
account of all my secret struggles before and after confirmation, I
have had a horror of all writing. But is not this feeling similar to
that experienced by a person just recovering from small-pox who sees
himself in the glass for the first time, and desires to break the
innocent mirror that shows him his real face. I wish I had not burned
those diaries. True, they told a tale of sickness; but have we any
reason to be ashamed, if we are attacked by fever and rave in delirious
fancies?

"As to what befell me at that time--either I am greatly mistaken, or we
are developed by sickness; few escape this development by pain, I
think, and those few only because their natures are too weak and their
blood too stagnant.

"But when I reflect upon it, it was not shame because I must endure
these childish tortures before reaching clear views of life, which made
me destroy the old journals; it was a gnawing remorse that I could see
so plainly and yet lack the courage to openly assert my convictions. I
could not even plead the excuse that my unbelieving mind was not wholly
clear, and when my lips repeated the confession of faith, I only made a
vague protest. I knew perfectly well that I was uttering a monstrous
falsehood, my own quiet creed in black and white gave the lie to the
public confession in church, and in addition to the first act of
cowardice, I committed the second one of destroying these mute
witnesses, as if thereby I could stifle my own consciousness.

"I can still remember how, in those days, a shudder like the chill of
death ran through my frame, as, one after another, I heard all the main
points of the creed which my benumbed brain had for months vainly
striven to comprehend, echo loudly through the church, and at each one
a voice within me shrieked 'no! no!' and yet the 'yes' fell from my
lips, and I suddenly felt as though I were dead, since I had so
publicly and solemnly belied my own nature. It seemed as if I had
forsworn my existence, renounced what was nearest for something alien,
and taken what must ever be foreign to my character as my dearest
possession. Oh! the shame, the confusion, in which I returned and was
forced to allow myself to be congratulated on my disgrace and
degradation. For months I have been unable to regain my courage, or
enter into cordial relations with myself, so utterly was I crushed.

"In those days, no palliating circumstances occurred to me, neither the
timidity natural to my sixteen years, nor the horror that would have
filled the solemn space if I had told the truth, nay I did not even
think of the true motive of my decision, the grief I should have caused
my dear father by a step so unprecedented. I heard only my own voice
professing a religion of which my heart knew nothing, nay which to
myself I had even clearly refuted, openly refused, and yet now
acknowledged as the substance of my deepest thoughts and feelings. It
weighed upon my conscience like a perjury; then I burned the books.

"Why have I now commenced a new one? What have I to discuss with
myself? Ah! the silence which I have become accustomed to keep, because
I fear the sound of my own thoughts, has at last reached such a point
that nature and the world and my own heart are also dumb to me. There
is no one to whom I could utter my secret feelings. My father would be
frightened if he should see such deep gulfs and lonely heights in my
soul. Aunt Valentin speaks a different language, and others who come to
the house take me for a strange and not very lovable girl, who has few
attractions.

"It's all the same. On the whole, silence makes us far happier; but we
ought not to forget to talk to ourselves. I will practice the art
again. Hitherto I have always lived at peace with myself, except for
that one great discord.

"And that--I have now clearly perceived it--is the fault of the bad
habit of expecting young people, just as they are beginning to suspect
the value of words, the difficulty of the enigma of the world, the
depths of the abysses of life, to be contented with a few answers
learned by rote to the most mysterious questions! It is cruel, to
compel them either to carelessly cast aside every doubt, in obedience
to the exhortations of a good man, who by virtue of his office is not
permitted to doubt, or the tremendous courage to step forward before a
whole congregation and reveal the inmost depths of their souls!

"The objections I ventured to make during the time of instruction were
all so easily refuted--with the theological self-sufficiency and
supreme wisdom against which there can be no debate, since it refers
every spiritual doubt to the poor hypercritic's conscience, and instead
of any real arguments has only the inscrutable retort: 'we must pray to
God for faith, and he will bestow it.' Is not that like saying that
when I am hungry and ask for bread, I can have an opiate, that I may
forget my wants and dream of full dishes? Thoughts disturb me, and to
escape from their conflict, I must pray for thoughtlessness?

"But they are happy and wish others to have the same joy. If only the
same food satisfied and nourished all!--

"_May_ 10_th_.--I have been driving about the city with Aunt Valentin,
buying all sorts of things. While we were so engaged she took advantage
of the opportunity to labor again at my poor soul, which I thought she
had given up as hopeless. But she really loves me, and therefore does
not weary in constantly directing my attention to what renders her
happy. I said very little in reply. There was so much noise and bustle
in the streets, I had not felt cheerful and gay for so long a time, why
should I spoil my enjoyment of the beautiful sunlight with arguments
and self-defense? But at last, when we were again approaching our
little house, in order not to delude her with false hopes, I remarked
that I certainly greatly needed redemption and often longed for it with
bitter pain. Yet how was I to feel love for a Saviour who did not
answer my questions, did not know my sad thoughts, and stood before me
as a sinless, perfect god-man. The mystical act of dying to rescue
erring humanity has always been incomprehensible to me. Single
beautiful rays of his nature shining through his doctrine might have
warmed me; but I needed not only to be warmed but enlightened, and
besides the wants of the heart, about which I am never uncertain, I
have other needs, which the catechism does not still, and which--even
if they are unnecessary or wrong--no dogmatic words can soothe.

"My dear father who was just going out, met us and interrupted Aunt
Valentin's reply. No theological subjects are ever discussed before
him, he has positively forbidden it. His relations toward God and all
'that is not of this world,' fill his whole nature so completely, that
he himself says it is like a second health. If we speak of it, we must
already be half sick, as we usually do not feel it at all. I envy him
the happy certainty of constant intercourse with his God, who is as
living a presence to him, as if he could see him with his eyes and
touch him with his hands. I, on the contrary, always feel alone with
myself, my human heart, my human thoughts; Aunt Valentin calls it
godless, I call it god-forsaken. But is it my fault, that it is so?
Have I not honestly sought him in tears and despair, the nearer the
time came when I was to confess him in public? And he has not suffered
me to find him!

"_Evening_.--I have been obliged to finish a piece of work, a vase
designed for a wedding gift, roses and sprays of myrtle with the
interlaced initials of both names in the centre. I can understand how
my father is so 'satisfied in his God.' He has a much less exacting
heart, and is also content with his art, while my half-way talent
shames me. This too is a matter of temperament. It is an impossible
thought that we must wish (that is pray) to close our eyes to our own
deficiencies, to be satisfied with trivial things. It is well not to
murmur, to submit to what cannot be altered, but to falsify our own
judgment for the sake of so-called contentment--I shrink from it as
from a heinous sin.

"Perhaps if I had great talent, or any high, difficult life-work taxing
my energies, I might sooner cease to brood over inscrutable things. He
who creates something in which he can himself believe, will perhaps in
time lose his curiosity or the anxious desire to understand what has
been created around him. He knows or imagines he knows why he lives.
Each day seems to show him. I, on the contrary--if I were not necessary
to my father--

"_Two days later_.--I stopped writing day before yesterday, because
some impulse suddenly urged me to read the New Testament again. I had
not opened it since so many incomprehensible, threatening and
condemnatory sentences perplexed my heart and then threw it back upon
itself. Now, since I have lost the childish awe of hearing in it the
voice of an infallible spirit, an Omniscient God, since I have read the
story of one of the noblest and most wonderful of men, I have found
much that greatly refreshed me. But the subdued tone of the whole at
last oppressed me again. What do we mortals possess that is more
elevating, pure, and consoling than joy; joy in beauty, in goodness, in
the brightness of this world! And while we read this book, we are
constantly wandering in the dusk of expectation and hope, the promise
of eternal life is never fulfilled, but just dawning when we have
struggled through time, uncheered by a bright ray of joy, a jest, a
laugh--the pleasure of this world is vanity--we are referred to a
future which makes the present worthless, and the brightest earthly
bliss, that of becoming absorbed in a pure, deep, loving thought, must
also be suspected by us, since only the poor in spirit inherit the
kingdom of heaven--

"I am poor in spirit, but it makes me unhappy that I feel it, and at
the same time feel that if I could break though these restrictions, I
should no longer be what I am, not yet become sure of my redemption and
happiness. For what transcends me is no more mine.

"And then the thought that this gentle man, in order to belong to all
humanity, should turn away from his relatives with such strange
harshness, have no family ties--I suppose it was necessary but it
always chills the ardor of my feelings. All the other great souls I
have loved, have been glad and bright, and amid their majesty were
allied to my nature by the chords of human needs. When I read Göethe's
letters, of Schiller's narrow circumstances, Luther and his family, or
of the people of still more ancient times, up to Socrates and his
scolding wife, I always feel a breeze from the native soil out of which
the plant of their spirits has sprung, and which also bears and
supports my insignificant one. But the absence of everything akin to
humanity alarms and estranges me, and to make amends I have not even
the faith to believe that all, as with God, is perfectly right.

"I have often wished I were a genius, for I thought geniuses must be
very happy people, since with a sudden bound of fancy they leap over
all the abysses of doubt at which quiet thinkers, to whom no brilliant
idea suddenly lends wings, stand gazing helplessly. But on the other
hand no applause from others or myself--though I greatly value
genius--would induce me to relinquish honest labor, even if it advances
slowly or does not reach the goal at all. This is my piety since I lack
any other. Genius and devotion are probably incongruous, but without
the consciousness of being absorbed in quiet honest devotion, in
studying the mystery of life, not even our brief existence would not be
worth the trouble of living.

"_End of July_.--I have worked hard at my studies from nature. I think
these industrious months which have filled my portfolio, must have done
me good; for I now believe I am on the track of my own views and
opinions, and have freed myself as much as possible from what I
learned, which never satisfied me.

"True, while I was doing so my journal has been neglected. I have
painted until not only sight and hearing, but thought failed. If
absorption in nature and art could content me, I should have
experienced a few months of perfect happiness.

"Aunt Valentin has brought to the house a young man whom she holds in
the highest esteem, an artist who belongs to the Nazarene school, not
without talent and not unattractive, but in spite of his St John's
head, as Aunt calls it, he will never be dangerous to me.

"_August_ 2_d_,--When I think I must some day belong to a husband, I am
always filled with fear, so greatly do I feel the need of loving,
yielding up my heart, in whose depths many things are unchained which
will some day burst forth like hot springs. But I know that I can only
deliver up my life to a man, when he is what I have so often sought in
books--a very Saviour; when he is so far above me in strength,
goodness, and intellect, that I can always receive from him, no matter
how often I ask. It is said to be more blessed to give than to receive.
But in marriage, it seems to me, since a woman gives her all, she ought
to receive more than her all. It may be that these are dreams woven in
a girl's idle brain, and that in reality such a union of two in one is
impossible. At least my own parents, exemplary as they were, my good
aunt and all the other happy married people I have seen, do not
correspond with this ideal. However, there will be plenty of time to
lower my standard when it is necessary.

"3_rd_.--Aunt Valentin has just been talking about N--r. She said he
esteemed me very highly, loved me warmly, and should consider himself
happy if he could win my affection and make me his wife. I have seen it
coming, and my answer was the more free from embarrassment, the less I
reciprocated the feeling.

"_He_ my saviour? He, who has not the most distant idea of my nature,
and who would not have the least comprehension of my needs, if I told
him all?

"'We are too unlike,' I answered. 'He is mistaken if he thinks one like
me could make him happy.'--Aunt Valentin eagerly protested against
this. He knew my religious opinions, and that was precisely what had
turned the scale. He now felt how much he had to give, otherwise his
modesty would have discouraged him. We discussed the matter a long
time, debating whether with the possibility of conversion and future
understanding, two persons so widely different in belief might venture
to join hands. Dear me, she believes it because she desires it. This
reason for faith does not exist for me, since I do not even wish to
attract him.

"A nature like his, which is alarmed by everything vague and seeks
repose at any cost, even that of truth--I mean truth to itself--such a
peace-loving soul would be chilled to death in the storms of thought
which are my element. It requires courage to stand as sentinel on such
a lonely post, and not even know when one will be relieved--if at all.

"_Wednesday_, 6, _A. M_.--I awoke last night and could not fall asleep
again on account of the heat, so I rose and sat down at the open
window, where the night heaven looked down upon me with its countless
stars. Then suddenly, when all around was so calm and silent, and yet
so grand and wonderful, a feeling stole over me as if I distinctly
heard my soul say: 'No, this boundless expanse contains no heart whose
pulses throb in harmony with yours. But do not fear. We breathe and
move and will and think according to eternal necessity, and are not
solitary, even amid the desolation of midnight.' And as I said this to
myself, I heard my dear father's quiet breathing and stole softly into
his room. There he lay smiling so lovingly in his sleep, that I
involuntarily knelt beside him and gently kissed his hand; then I
returned to my bed and slept more sweetly than I had ever done before.

"Long ago, when it occurred to me, that what people call God was a
vision created after their own image, a thrill of superstitious awe
stole over me, as if I must be punished in some way for my audacity.
But it is childish to suppose that if a conscious, omniscient,
omnipresent being really holds the world in his hand, our doubts or
misapprehensions would offend him, as an earthly monarch would be
angered if a sentinel did not pay him due honor. But the childish
tricks and farces which we daily see performed with the utmost
seriousness, and even take part in ourselves, have gradually made us in
earnest. People in Catholic countries believe that they offend this
God,--whom they call all-good and all-wise--if they pass a church
without removing their hats or making the sign of the cross, and in
many Protestant houses they do not appease their hunger without asking
the Saviour to share the meal. This is child's play, and very harmless
and even pleasing, if in these little pious, symbolical exercises, men
did not lose the capacity to realize the vast heights and depths of the
idea of God, that would be worthy of this vast universe. But you make
him out what you are yourselves, a being irritable, capricious, and so
susceptible to flattery that he cannot bear to have a man, at a rare
piece of good fortune, cry out: 'Well done;' but at once spoils the
poor mortal's mirth. If forsooth nothing can be gained by a formal
suit, he must try again to appease him, a being, that with all his
majestic designs, does not suffer a sparrow to fall from the roof
without serving his purpose, let alone a poor slater, who leaves a wife
and children penniless.

"Very well; let them model their household God as they choose and can.
But why do they rage with fire and sword or angry denunciations against
all who cannot make the magnificent creation harmonize with such a
creator, who to atone for the contradictions and mysteries, hardships
and delusions of life, seek something besides the rewards and
compensations to be received: in another world? Why should one who
troubles nobody with his wanderings and searchings, not be permitted to
fight his way through at his own risk, but always be forced to walk on
the great high road, where by the rays of the privileged lights so much
is done and approved that is utterly repulsive to him.

"_Later_.--My father too--in his tender affectionate way--has also
asked what I think of N--r. I made no concealment of my utter
indifference, and begged him to inform the worthy man that he might
cherish no delusions. 'You know,' said I, 'I have always been a
terribly obstinate child, and only one person has had with me the
patience I need--yourself. I should be a simpleton if I left you to
quarrel with somebody else who will not even listen to what I say, but
already believes me a stray sheep.' He laughed and said he did not wish
to give me up, I should have to run away from him till he could become
reconciled, and besides he only wanted to know my opinion; the affair
had seemed to him very improbable.

"I clearly perceived that Aunt Valentin, to whom he can never refuse
anything, was at the bottom of the matter. But with all his mildness
and gentleness, there is one point where he becomes firm as a rock, and
we perfectly understand each other: a person who lacks real nobility
and greatness of soul can not influence him, spite of the best
qualities. And therefore--"


                           *   *   *   *   *


"What I wrote yesterday afternoon has been strangely verified.

"Aunt Valentin interrupted me and induced father also to leave his work
and enjoy the fine weather in the Thiergarten. A concert was to be
given for some benevolent object. When we reached the place, we found,
as I suspected, N--r already there. As it was very crowded, he had
secured places for us, so we sat very comfortably looking at the gaily
dressed ladies and children, who moved up and down near us, and
listening to all sorts of overtures and dances, which failed in
producing a pleasant impression, on my ears at least. But the air was
like balsam, the recent rain had made it soft and free from dust, and
in the midst of the music a calm, cheerful feeling took possession of
me, and I was very grateful to aunt for having afforded me this
pleasure. She looked very bright; I often think she does not grow old,
but in spite of her hard, dogmatic ideas, retains some of the innocence
of childhood in her features; my father was very gay, his new coat
fitted him perfectly, and we joked about it; even N--r seemed more
agreeable than usual. Among all the _blasé_ vacant, or frivolous faces,
his grave modest countenance looked like a human face amid mere masks.
Suddenly, in a pause between two pieces of music, we heard from an
adjoining table, where several officers were sitting, loud words about
us, or rather me. A very saucy looking young lieutenant was beginning
to tell his companions why he thought me pretty. I will not repeat his
language here, but though not intended to be insulting, it was an
offence against all good breeding, especially as various jests,
stories, and satirical remarks, such as are common among gay young men,
were added. Father turned pale and looked at Frau Valentin. 'We ought
to go away,' said Aunt, 'this is intolerable.' 'We ought to request
them to stop,' replied father, glancing at N--r. 'It would be better to
avoid a quarrel and any scandal,' replied the latter without daring to
look up. 'Why can't we remain quietly here, and let these children of
the world continue their talk, which doesn't concern us.' 'Us?' said my
good father rising. 'I should think, as we're sitting at the same
table, it concerned us all if any person behaved rudely to one. I'll
see whether this babbling mouth can't be stopped.' 'Would you--?'
exclaimed N--r in astonishment, but father did not hear him. He had
approached the table, courteously raised his hat, and said a few words
in a tone so low, that I did not understand them; there was a strange
roaring noise in my ears. I only saw his dear, gentle, honest eyes
flash with an unusual light, a flush mount to his cheeks, and an
expression of such firm resolution rest upon his features, that even
the blustering young officer remained perfectly quiet, and no one
interrupted him. When he had finished, he paused a moment to ascertain
whether they had anything to say, then as all were silent and only the
principal hero faltered a few incoherent words, father smiled very
pleasantly, raised his hat again, and bowed to the whole table.
Meantime the orchestra began, and when the piece was over, our
neighbors departed, courteously raising their caps to my dear, knightly
father, in doing which the ex-orator did not even venture to look at
me.

"N--r was overwhelmed with shame, but father behaved as if nothing had
happened. Afterwards when we were driving home with Aunt (my peaceful
suitor had found some pretext to bid us farewell,) he took occasion to
tell her that in the future she need not encourage this singular person
to visit our house. 'I know,' said he, 'that we're told to turn the
right cheek when smitten on the left. But although I greatly desire
always to be disposed to forgive insults to myself, as soon as they are
addressed to another, especially a lady, you must allow me to defend
myself and hold the man who either has not the heart or spirit to do
so, a weakling, with whom I prefer to have no intercourse.'

"When we were at home and alone, I threw my arms around my dear, noble
papa's neck and kissed him till he was fairly out of breath and began
to scold, though there were tears of joy in his eyes.

"N--r was not mentioned by either of us. I think I shall not see him
again--

"How little the days bring, that really touches the heart! Oftentimes
this void is not at all oppressive. A mist seems to enfold me, which is
already beginning to grow less dense and be gilded by the first rays of
the sun, which I cannot yet see. A soft, delightful expectation
pervades my soul, like the anticipation of very pleasant events,
experiences, and enlightenments, which will undoubtedly soon take
place. But when another day has passed in monotonous waiting, I lie
down on my bed with a very heavy heart, and think: suppose nothing
should happen? Suppose all your hoping and waiting should only befool
you? For I have long understood that our wishes can give no claim to
their gratification, our longings no right to their fulfillment. We all
strive toward perfection, and remain in our incompleteness.

"But there is so much beauty, depth, and joy accessible to me, even in
my limited sphere--and yet I am unable to attain it--am still far from
it--the greatest happiness is beyond my reach.


"To-day I stood a long time before a shop where medical and
philosophical works were displayed in the window. If I only had
money enough, I would buy all whose titles please me and read them
hap-hazard, as the man in the fairy tale ate through a mountain of
pan cakes and found priceless treasures. But the little I earn by
painting--

"I have again looked over the contents of our book shelves which I
already know by heart. Even in our great authors, I do not find what I
seek and need. Then I mechanically took down a volume of Becker's
History of the World and read a portion of it. If I only had some
connection with those long past wars, political revolutions, and
historical events! But the happy betrothal of our pretty little
neighbor, our landlord's daughter, is really more important to me at
this moment, than that Ninus married Semiramis, and Cleopatra had
several husbands. Does not very much the same farce go on under
different names, in other lands and costumes, a farce whose origin and
purport we understand no better when we have read all these fourteen
volumes?--


"And yet, if we did understand, could we endure life? Is not the fancy
that we have something very important and necessary to do, is not this
delusion perhaps the best in existence? At the theatre we ought to
forget, as much as possible, that the actors behind the footlights are
rouged and obey the prompter's voice instead of the dictates of their
own hearts.

"I can still remember how I felt, when in my childhood I sat toward
evening on the flight of steps leading down to the canal, gazing at the
tiny spot gilded by the slender ray of sunlight that made its way
between the high roofs. I always grasped at it and thought I could take
the golden water in my hand. Then it was once more as dull and dirty as
everywhere else in our lagune. But I had fancied or read somewhere,
that if one knew a certain spell it would not turn back to common
water, but remain liquid gold. Yes, if one knew the spell!--


"My good, kind, ever loving, ever thoughtful father! He has given me
to-day a joy never experienced before. Be has found me a teacher and
brought him home at once. The very first words exchanged with the Herr
Doctor have convinced me that he is wholly unlike all the others, that
he knows what I need, what I have not found in books and hitherto have
not asked from men.

"If I should describe the wonderful impression this man and our first
conversation--"


Here the writing suddenly stopped at the bottom of a page. The
following sheets seemed to have been cut out with a small pair
of scissors--how many could not be discovered. Then began in a
clear, regular hand--all the previous writing had shown traces of
agitation--an elaborate account of all Edwin had said during his
lessons. He was astonished, since in his presence she had scarcely
written a name or a date, to see how clearly the essential portion of
his statements was given without the slightest misunderstanding, and
yet in her own words, so that her memory was the least merit. No
description of personal moods and experiences interrupted the quiet
flow of these thoughts, but oftentimes there was a dash or
interrogation point on the margin, a sentence thrown in which showed
that here and there the writer's mind had not yet penetrated the lowest
depths, and was obstinately seeking to fathom them. "This might be
printed just as it stands, as a history of philosophy for women!"
exclaimed Edwin, when he had read the last line. "What a head! And I,
when she was gazing so dreamily into vacancy with her great eyes,
thought 'where is she wandering'--when she perhaps understood better
than her teacher.

"It's a pity that it closes so soon! I should like to see what she
would have made of later events. But there's something more."

He had turned the page and now read as follows:

"The most difficult thing in life has always seemed to me to clearly
perceive, in a conflict of duties, which is the higher, and those are
the happiest and most ingenious who can do so. If goodness were a
perfectly simple matter, what would be more delightful than always to
be good? But that reason must put in its word where affairs of the
heart are concerned, that we must think of what is customary, and often
come to no positive decision, is sad, because it makes us doubt that on
which we should most rely, our own consciences, and---whichever path we
may choose--leaves in the soul a sting, a something to regret.

"We are firmly convinced that it is our duty to offend no one. It is
the law of the gospel, as well as of our deepest feelings, which deals
with all the sorrows of the world, and therefore makes every
individual, out of compassion for the others, labor to alleviate the
misery of the world. And now each individual again strives toward
perfection, to the full extent of his powers, and yet can rarely carry
his point without injuring others, as a tree in the midst of a forest
has only just as much light and air as the neighboring trees admit. And
therefore many a one withers and pines away, knowing it, foreseeing the
end, and obliged to be silent--

"Yes, obliged to be silent even if speech would injure no one, when a
mere prejudice decides it to be unseemly to grow beyond a certain
height and breadth, and that those who are exceptions, would be struck
by lightening; Oh! why must----"

Here several lines were erased. Then on a fresh page was a letter:


"_I never dreamed that I should ever give this volume to any one, least
of all that it would come to your notice, my honored teacher. But
father wishes that the instruction for which I owe such inexpressible
gratitude, should cease, that for some time I should turn my thoughts
from all that was the subject of your lessons. He begged me to destroy
these pages too. But I cannot yet resolve to do so, and requested him
to allow me to place the volume in your care. So what came from, you
returns to you again.--I beg you not to laugh at the earlier records,
if you happen to cast a glance at them. I must now dispense with that
which during the past few weeks has occupied all my thoughts and
feelings, and for which I can never thank you enough! How deeply this
grieves me I cannot tell you, and yet I feel that it would be the only
thanks I could offer, if I could make you fully understand how much I
shall now sacrifice. You would then perceive how much you have given
me, and that I have received everything, even what was perhaps somewhat
above my comprehension, with the most eager and honest purpose. At
least I must tell you that presentiment and the incompleteness of my
knowledge will never torture me in the future, as they have done in the
past, now that I know there are clear judgments, and that even an
untutored, simple girl, if she collects her thoughts and has the right
guide, can at least advance far enough to comprehend the grandeur of
the task, and exercise her powers upon it._

"_Farewell, honored Herr Doctor. Be kind enough to accept the little
memento I venture to send, and hold an indulgent memory of your
sincerely grateful pupil,_

                                                           "L. K."



                             CHAPTER VIII.


It was high noon when Edwin turned the last page of this confession,
and meantime the maid-servant had brought his dinner, which stood
untouched on the little table. Even now he sat motionless at the window
for a long time, with the book on his knees and his hands crossed on
it, as we place them on a chafing dish by whose feeble glow we try to
warm ourselves.

When he rose, his eyes sparkled with a light as strong and brilliant as
if the slow work of his convalescence had suddenly been completed. He
extended his arms toward the blue March sky, and drew a long breath,
like a person who feels strong enough to cope with anything that may
come. "If I could only speak of it to Balder!" he said to himself; then
he carefully locked the book up in his desk and went out into the
street.

Once more life seemed dear and pleasant, the motley throng of people as
delightful as the swarming of bees in midsummer, the faces he met kind
and dignified. He paused before the shop windows, entered a
confectioner's more to look at the dainties and the human beings who
were eating them, than to enjoy them himself, and visited several of
his intimate acquaintances, whose thresholds he had not crossed since
the autumn. All congratulated him on his recovery, and said the
sickness had rejuvenated him. At last, when he had walked till he was
tired and remembered Marquard's threats if he attempted too much at
first, he went to Mohr's rooms and would not be deterred from entering
when told he was not at home. A strange, joyous restlessness urged him
to see all sorts of strange people and things, and remain with them for
a time, in order to have the secret pleasure of thinking of the
treasure he concealed in his bosom; as in times of special happiness,
when the lofty joys we experience render our sleep full of dreams, we
wake, turn from one to another and reflect that the joy we feel on
awaking, is the only real and actual experience.

Mohr did not return home. When Edwin had ransacked his room, looked
through his books, and softly struck a few chords on Christiane's
piano, which Mohr had bought at the sale of her effects, he at last
resolved to go home. He was delighted to see Franzelius, but did not
tell him one word of the subject that was occupying his thoughts. But
as he fancied he read in his friend's honest countenance something like
a reproach that Edwin could be so cheerful, almost wantonly gay, when
Balder had scarcely been dead five months, he took his hand, and said
gravely: "Franzel, I know of what you're thinking. But have patience
with me a little while. Signs and wonders happen, and a dry stick which
seemed fit for nothing except to be hacked to pieces and cast into the
fire, suddenly puts forth green branches. If _he_ had lived to see
this, I really believe the joy and wonder would have prevented his
death, we should have kept him here."

Then the next morning, when he opened his eyes and saw the sunbeams
playing among the palms, he could not help thinking of a verse of
poetry he had read somewhere, and as Franzelius had long since risen
and gone to his printing office, he softly repeated it:

      How pleasant to wake in the bright morning's glow
      When one has lain down with a soul full of love.
      And hear in our wonder the heart laughing low
      And know not the music that maketh it move,
      Till full soon the radiant light comes, and low
      The purple veil is withdrawn from above,
      Revealing the vision of love just dawning,
      Nodding and murm'ring: "Good morning! Good morning!"

He started up and hurriedly threw on his clothes. All hesitation was
over, and he now reproached himself for having waited yesterday to see
whether other thoughts would come during the night. If it had been
admissible to make a call at nine o'clock in the morning, he would have
rushed off without his breakfast. But he allowed another hour to pass,
and then in the brightest of spring sunlight, turned his steps toward
the Schiffbauerdamm and the lagune.

"Where are you hurrying at such a rate, Herr Doctor?" he suddenly heard
some one call behind him. "One must borrow the wings of the morning to
overtake you."

It was extremely disagreeable to be compelled to stop and give his
pursuer a courteous answer. And yet the speaker was a man whom he was
usually by no means unwilling to meet, a Livonian baron, whose great
wealth gave him the means to indulge his passion for art and extend and
correct his powers of judgment by constant travel. He had a gay,
careless disposition, with which a sort of Berserker rage that
overwhelmed him whenever the conversation turned upon spurious pictures
or undeserved fame, oddly contrasted. One who saw him passing through
the streets in his negligent attire, with a broad brimmed black hat
crowded down over his bald head, and eyes that from constant searching
and gazing, protruded like a snail's, as if eager to touch everything
visible, would scarcely have expected to find the artistic judgment and
delicate enthusiasm, which had made him dear to Edwin.

But to-day nothing could have been more inopportune to our friend than
this meeting. He pleaded a business engagement as the cause of his
haste, but could neither decline the troublesome companionship, nor
conceal the goal of his walk.

When the baron heard the zaunkönig's name, he paused in astonishment,
and with a "_Cospetto di Bacco!_" seized Edwin by the coat.

"Listen to me, my dear fellow," he exclaimed, "this is a dispensation
of Providence, or there is no God. Do you know I was just in the act of
taking the same walk, and grumbling because I was obliged to do so, and
now I'm heartily glad to be relieved of the necessity."

"Have you an errand to the artist, which I could perform in your
place?"

"If you will be so kind, my friend; for that you can do so, and ten
times better than I, is just the miracle. But first hear _di che si
tratta_. Last autumn, when the exhibition of paintings was held here, I
had the honor of escorting Prince Michael Paulovitsch Batàroff, our
great Mæcenas, you know, a man who between ourselves has allowed a
wretched Byzantine daub to be imposed upon him for a Taddeo Gaddi, and
otherwise paid dearly enough for his connoisseurship. But that's of no
consequence if he's in the right hands, his money sometimes goes to the
right man. Well, I am, so to speak, his oracle. Whenever anything is
offered him, especially by a modern artist who is not yet famous, he
always wants to ascertain from _me_, how the picture really suits
_him_. Of course I'm as rude and inconsiderate toward him, as a good
diplomat must be to conceal his subtlety. At that time, when as I've
already mentioned, we nosed around the exhibition, in doing which he
used me as his truffle-dog,[7] he had his pathetic days, when he would
pour forth the most incomprehensible tirades about the moral influence
of art, the priesthood of genius, and the incapacity of the German race
to produce any great artists--phrases which always made me think of the
famous symphony on the influence of blue on the arts, from the _Scénes
de la Vie de Bohéme_. Well, one day he was riding his hobby: in art
only the highest developments have a right to exist. If he could be a
Caligula of æsthetics, he would wish that all mediocre painters had but
one neck, that he might sever it from the trunk at a single blow. I,
who've grown old enough to make a wry face at the theory of perfection
in art, dryly remarked that I knew spheres of life in which bungling
did still more harm. Was not a mediocre statesman, doctor, priest, nay
even an unskilful cook, far more injurious to the community, than a
poor devil of a painter, who quietly daubs his little square of
canvass, and meantime thinks himself an artist who understands how to
enjoy life and beauty far more than other mortals? Whom does he injure
except himself, if he sells nothing, and is compelled to starve with
his wife and children? And if he really helps to corrupt the taste of
the public, would the crime be any more reprehensible, than that
committed by a statesman who incites nations to war against each other,
or a cook who destroys our stomachs, let alone miserable doctors who
can't heal them again. No, I would not on any account wish the innocent
mediocrities away, unless they were blatant fools or scoundrels, and
procured large orders by intrigue. A hundred bunglers were necessary,
before one genius distinguished himself; but whether this eternal star
enjoyed as much happiness amid all its splendor, as the majority of
these ephemeral insects derived from their feeble spark, was very
questionable, etc., etc. His Highness condescended to laugh and call me
a paradoxical sophist. 'Look at this picture, my dear baron,' he
exclaimed stepping before a genuine zaunkönig, which really did cut a
very poor figure. 'Will you, even in the presence of this sufficiently
pitiful production, assert that the kingdom of heaven belongs also to
the poor in art, that the worthy painter was satisfied with his work
and would not joyfully abandon his trade, if he had learned anything
else? I'll wager that most of these gentlemen, who pretend to glow with
the sacred fire of genius, would not hesitate a moment, as they've only
got into the habit of painting, as old Schadow said, to get out of it
again, if they were better paid for their idleness, than for their
bungling industry.'

"Well, he's not usually so unjust. You know, my friend, what a part
materialism plays at the present day, even in art. But the cold,
_blasé_ tone thoroughly enraged me, as I know the condition of the
so-called sacred fire of art in His Highness' own breast. Just at that
moment I saw our zaunkönig, with his good, modest face, standing at
some little distance, almost alarmed to see people linger so long
before his insignificant picture. 'Suppose you make the trial, your
Highness,' I hastily replied. 'The artist who painted this picture is
close at hand. My Mantegna against your Luini, that no money in the
world will induce this worthy man to sell the pleasure of occasionally
sending such a little abomination of art into the world. But we must go
to work delicately. An open offer would mortally offend his pride.
Propose to give him a yearly salary, on condition that he does not
touch a brush except for you, and must wait till you give him orders.
I'll declare your Taddeo Gaddi genuine, if the little artist can hold
out even a twelvemonth, without scrawling his hedges and foregrounds.'

"What do you say to this malicious wager? Shameful, my dear fellow,
wasn't it? But it popped out all at once, and really my Mæcenos was
prince and Russian enough to think the trick very clever. I was ashamed
of myself, when the zaunkönig was summoned and showed a touching
confusion, when he heard that his 'speciality' had at last found the
right purchaser. 'How much do you earn by your painting in the most
successful years?' asked the prince. 'Three hundred thalers at the
most,' was the reply. 'Well, I'll give you a thousand, and from this
time you're my court painter. You'll receive your salary from the
embassy every six months, and in return bind yourself not to touch a
brush except to execute my orders. Adieu!'

"So the good little man stood as if he had suddenly fallen from the
clouds, surrounded by several perplexed, envious colleagues, who were
paying him sarcastic compliments. But do you know, since that day I've
not slept as quietly as usual, for I've also undertaken the pleasant
task of watching the new court painter, to see whether he scrupulously
keeps his contract. As I should make the mischief still worse by
tattling, and moreover at last hope to win the wager and bring off my
old friend with all the honors, I must after having said A., go on to
B. I was just on my way to him again. He once told me that the spring
always arouses in him a desire to paint. The trees themselves are then
as dry as hedge poles, and vegetation is scanty; he can at any rate
reproduce that. And yesterday the secretary of Legation handed me a
letter, in which our artist asks His Highness whether he may be
permitted to paint a very charming picture for him: the last snow on a
low heath, with the bright spring sky arching over it, the first tender
grass, etc. All letters to the prince, at least from artists, pass
through my hands. Well, I shall win my Luini sooner than I expected.
But this espionage is very repugnant to my feelings. Dear Doctor,
you're an entirely disinterested person, and might do me the favor,
especially since, as a psychologist, it must be of interest to you--"

"My dear baron," interrupted Edwin laughing, "I'm very much obliged to
you for the part you wish to assign me in this tragi-comedy, but I
really don't know whether I can undertake it, whether the visit I'm
about to pay may not be the last for a long time, perhaps forever.
Yesterday I wrote to L., where a professorship of mathematics is
vacant. If it is given me, I've determined to exchange the air of
Berlin, which does not agree very well with the constitution of a
private tutor, for some more favorable climate. Besides, you take your
wager altogether too much to heart. To say nothing of the fact that
psychology will be greatly indebted to you, I see no danger whatever to
our excellent friend. Like you, I'm convinced that you'll win, and
then, as Russian princes always have their whims, it will be easy to
find some pretext for breaking the bargain. Your Herr Michael
Paulovitsch will have a good lesson, and the zaunkönig his thousand
thalers, which in spite of all, he'll have honestly earned. But here we
are at his nest. Won't you come in with me? For this time I can place
my talents as a police inspector at your disposal."

"_Mille grazie_," replied the other. "I'll take you at your word. Write
a line this afternoon, either yes or no, to inform me whether the old
sinner is secretly spoiling colors and washing brushes, or
conscientiously keeps to his bond. I'll then add a postscript to his
letter to the prince. Adieu, my dear fellow, I wish you success!--"

Edwin's heart beat violently as he entered the little house. The door
chanced to be open, and he met no one in the entry. His heart told him
that he should find Leah in the sitting room on the left. Yet he
knocked at the door of the studio, and without waiting for the "come
in," crossed the threshold he had so long avoided.



                              CHAPTER IX.


At his entrance the little artist started from a chair by the window,
where he had apparently been seated a long time, absorbed in deep
thought.

"Thank God!" he exclaimed, and his sad, honest face brightened, as he
held out both hands to Edwin--"you again walk among the living. It's
pleasant that you instantly remember your old friends--though this is
not exactly the right atmosphere for a person just recovering from
illness--you come to people who, in the midst of the loveliest air of
Spring, sit in affliction and the shadow of death. Well--it's as God
wills, I keep calm."

With the tear's streaming down his cheeks, he now told Edwin that Leah
had grown so ill that she could scarcely get an hour's sleep, and the
food she took was hardly enough to nourish an infant a week old. Yet
she bore her fate with a divine patience that often made him wonder
whence she derived her strength, since she neither prayed nor accepted
everything as the will of an all merciful Father who could make even
the most incomprehensible and hardest things result in a blessing. "In
that she's like her mother, whose only defense and weapons against all
sorrow were silence and meditation. Go to her, dear Doctor, I know
she'll be delighted to see you. She always esteemed you so highly, and
God is my witness that I've often reproached myself for yielding to
Frau Valentin and interrupting your lessons. Doctor Marquard says the
sickness is connected with the mind--if she could but divert her
thoughts, and not brood perpetually over one idea--Ah! me! If
philosophy could give her sleep and appetite, preserve my child to
me--" He paused and pressed his handkerchief to his eyes.

"If you'll give me leave, dear Herr König," said Edwin, "I'll try what
I can do. Philosophy has already banished many evil spirits and infused
new blood into whole races. I'll speak to your dear daughter, and hope
it is not yet too late."

He turned away to conceal his emotion, and hastily left the studio.
When he entered Leah's room, he found her resting on the sofa with a
book in her lap, her beautiful dark eyes fixed upon it, each a burning
fire in whose glow a waxen image is slowly consuming. In other respects
she was not altered, except that her complexion was more transparent
and a sorrowful smile seemed frozen on her lips. But as he approached
her and with a few cordial words took her hand, a deep blush suffused
the delicate face and gave to it the appearance of blooming freshness
and health.

"What sorrow you are causing us, dear Leah!" he said drawing a chair
toward her couch. "No," he added as she attempted to rise, "you must
remain as you are, if you don't want to drive me away. I'm so glad to
see you again. Since that terrible day I've only heard of you through
others. And yet not entirely through others, through yourself, too. Do
you know that I read your journal yesterday for the first time?"

She moved her head as if to beg him not to talk about it, and replied:
"You've so many better things to do--if my father had not desired it--"

"No, dear Fräulein," he answered, "I only wished I had not spent my
time over things so much more useless, before I took up that volume.
And yet, who knows whether I should before have been capable of
estimating the full value of the treasure entrusted to me."

She suddenly turned pale. "No," she murmured, "do not talk so, don't
treat me like a silly child, to whom you must make pretty speeches,
because you perceive my weakness and think you must spare or flatter
me; it pains me--I've been used to different things from you."

"I know you're ill and need consideration," he replied in a trembling
voice. "And yet, dear Leah, I've come to tell you something which will
at any rate excite you, think what you please and answer as you may.
Since I've read those pages, it has become evident to me that I've been
groping about in the mist like a dreamer and not perceived a real
happiness--the happiness of having found a soul, such as is revealed in
those pages, never to lose it again!

"They've tried to part us, dear Leah," he continued with increasing
agitation, while she lay with closed eyes and hands clasped upon her
bosom, without any sign of life. "But it only served to unite our
hearts more closely. We've both experienced how necessary we are to
each other, how little qualified to cope with life alone. True, you'll
doubt whether I've really missed you; nay I did not even realize it
myself. I was enchained by a passion which like some diabolical
enchantment, made me a stranger even to myself. I know not how much you
know or suspect, dear friend. For the first time in my life I learned,
a woman's power, and suffered keenly from it. It's over, Leah, the last
trace of it has vanished. She's about to become another's wife, and I
heard the news without the slightest heart-throb. Oh! Leah, those were
terrible days! When I think that the result might have been different,
that I might have been forever forced to bow to this power--a power
which treated pride and freedom, all that was worthy and precious in
life, as a toy, and rendered me almost unfeeling, even in the days of
Balder's keenest sufferings--I shudder at myself and the danger I have
escaped. But you ought to know, Leah, the weakness of the man who now
comes to you and says: 'will you, can you, notwithstanding all that has
happened, unite your life to mine? Can you give your soul to one who
has already once lost his own, while both he and you, perhaps may never
wholly overcome the smart of his servitude?'

"If you were to say no, Leah, I should understand why and be forced to
bear the pain. I know that I was dear to you. You would have burned
that book rather than have entrusted it to my care, if your heart had
not resistlessly drawn you toward me. And yet, Leah, I should not think
less of you if after the confession I have just made, your heart should
draw back, your pride forbid you to be satisfied with that which I
offer with this perfect candor. You've a right to expect and demand
that the man to whom you give yourself will repay you for the treasure
with such enthusiastic and passionate devotion, that even the thought
that any other power could become dangerous to him, would never enter
his mind. I, dearest Leah, am, as you see me, a fugitive, whose wounds
are scarcely healed after a severe battle. I come to you because I know
I can nowhere be safer, nowhere find a more inaccessible refuge than
with you. What I feel for you--we've not yet come to Spinoza," he
interrupted himself with a quiet smile, "so the phraseology of the
schools is not familiar to you. He, the great philosopher, calls the
feeling men have for that which he termed God--the absolute something
which encompasses, does and wills everything--the exaltation of all
emotions which follows when we become absorbed in the nature of this
one and all, he calls 'intellectual love.' It's neither a jest nor a
blasphemy, but the simple words of truth when I say that with such a
love I love you, Leah! That blind, demoniacal passion, which is usually
called love, has been washed out of my blood--I trust forever! What now
lives in me is the happy consciousness that you're the best, purest,
noblest creature that ever appeared on earth, the one being in whom my
world is contained, and that the man whom you should love and to whom
you consented to belong, would be the happiest of mortals!"

As he faltered the last words he knelt beside her couch, and taking her
hands held them clasped in his, fixing his eyes upon her cool, slender
fingers, unable to look her in the face. He remained for a long time
absorbed in a blissful stupor; it was such a relief to have told her
all, that he felt he scarcely feared her answer, although he was far
from being sure of a favorable one.

She still remained silent. At last he grew anxious, looked at her, and
instantly started up in alarm, for he could not doubt that she had
fainted. He hastily seized a little bottle containing some powerful
stimulant which he found on her table, and poured some on his
handkerchief to rub her temples and restore the color to her pale lips.
"Leah!" he exclaimed, "come to yourself again! Oh! do not punish me so
fearfully for my thoughtlessness; oh, how could I, when I found you so
ill--"

Her lips moved and she slowly opened her eyes. "Forgive me for alarming
you, my beloved!" she murmured. "The happiness was too great--too
sudden. But--I'm well again--I live--aye, I will live, now that I know,
through you and for you--Edwin, is it possible!"

She raised her arm and timidly put it around his neck. He bent toward
her face, now again glowing with blushes. "My wife!" he whispered. "You
are mine! mine! mine! And so surely as I hope to be happy through
you--" His lips, which met hers, stifled and sealed the vow of eternal
love and constancy.



                               CHAPTER X.


The same day, toward dusk, the little artist was seen hurrying along
the street in which Frau Valentin lived. Any one who had seen him in
his studio that morning, would scarcely have taken him for the same
man. Although the March winds could not seem exactly Springlike to
elderly gentlemen, he had stolen lightly out of the house without an
overcoat, like a youth whose hot blood keeps him warm. He had paid five
groschen for a little bouquet of violets which a poor girl offered him,
and fastened it daintily in his button hole; his white hat rested
jauntily over his left ear, as always happened during his hours of
inspiration, and those, who saw him pass, looking around with a merry
joyous face, nodding sometimes to a pretty child or flourishing his
cane, might well suppose that wine had played one of characteristic
pranks on the little man, and persuaded him that he was once more a
youth of twenty, and might yield to the most unbridled gayety as freely
as the most hopeful young schoolboy.

But when he saw Frau Valentin's house in the distance, his joyous
manner suddenly changed, his step became more moderate, a grave
expression shaded his face, and he even paused as if considering
whether it would not be better to turn back. Then he seemed to summon
up all his manhood, energetically fastened the upper button of his
coat, set his hat straight, and with resolute steps walked toward the
dwelling of his pious friend.

He found her up stairs in the large room among a party of little girls
who came to her twice a week after school, to be taught sewing, and
then, strengthened by lessons of wisdom and virtue and a cup of coffee
with a huge roll, were dismissed to their homes. The hour had just
expired, and the little ones were crowding around their benefactress,
who usually had to prevent them from kissing her hand by kindly
stroking the round cheeks or giving a friendly pat on the shoulder. In
spite of the dim light, she instantly perceived by the voice and
expression of her old friend, that some important motive had brought
him to her, and hastily led the way into the adjoining room, where her
little lamp was already lighted before the picture of the dead
professor. Her first question was concerning Leah. "She's very well,"
replied the artist, as he took the bouquet of violets from his button
hole and gallantly offered it to his old love.

"What has happened to you, my dear friend?" asked the lady in surprise.
They used the word _ihr_[8] in addressing each other when alone, as
they were too intimate for the formal "you" and yet did not venture to
adopt the familiar "thou."

"To me," he answered boldly, as if he were really meaning to conceal
something from her. "I don't know what you mean, my dear madame. I'm
just the same as usual. But it's suffocatingly hot here. Allow me at
least to open the windows--"

"Don't talk nonsense, my dear König," she said quietly. "I can read
your good old heart as easily as the coarse print of my hymn book.
You've come here to tell a piece of news that pleases you, and yet
you've not the pluck to speak out. And that's just what surprises me;
for whatever pleases you, my old friend, has always been agreeable and
welcome to me. So out with it quick. I must go to the meeting of the
lying-in society in half an hour. Is Leah improving? Has any quack of a
doctor suddenly inspired you with such good courage?"

"You are the very embodiment of wisdom," replied the artist, who had
taken the chair at her work-table and was thoughtfully rummaging in her
little basket. "It is certainly a doctor, who has inspired me with
courage, but he's no quack, and the affair is altogether--"

He hesitated again and stooped to look for a thimble which he had
luckily dropped. "Keep your hands away from my things, for heaven's
sake," said the good lady sharply. "You know your meddling makes me as
nervous as I should make you if I wanted to paint a part of your
pictures. And now, once for all, for I hate all mysteries and enigmas,
what doctor are you talking about and what hopes has he given to you?"

"You shall hear, my dear friend, but I know you'll not like the mode of
cure, and that's why I want to prepare you a little; for you often put
on a look that makes even an old friend fear you. But if you want me to
speak out: our Leah's engaged!"

"Engaged! That's certainly a piece of news nobody could be prepared
for. My dear old friend, I hope you're not joking with me. You almost
look as if you'd come from a drinking bout and had all sorts of fancies
and notions in your head."

"Another sign of your sharp-sighted wisdom, dear lady!" laughed the
artist, rubbing his hands in delight, for he had already told the most
difficult part. "I really have emptied half a bottle or perhaps three
quarters, as my son-in-law, he who is to be I mean--these people who
are in love don't know how to value good wine--"

"Better and better! Have matters already gone so far? A formal
betrothal dinner, and Leah's second mother would have heard nothing
about the matter, if the wine had not betrayed it. Well, Herr König,
I've had to forgive many things in the course of our long acquaintance;
but this--this--"

The artist started up from his chair, as if he had been touched by a
spring and approached his offended friend, who had seated herself on a
sofa and tried to look resolutely away.

"Dear lady," said he, "first hear how it all happened. It was precisely
because we all have so much respect for you, that we wanted to reflect
a little and discuss the matter among ourselves, before we asked your
consent. It came upon me like a thunder clap. And amid all the
happiness--you may believe me--the thought of what you would say to it
never left my mind a moment. You best know how I submit to your
authority, and how willingly I yield to the gentle yoke, though you
often treat me worse than my long years of love and loyalty deserve.
But this time--no! I could not ask you first. Tell me yourself: if your
child had fallen into the river and a man was ready to pull her out,
would you first ask what faith he had? Now you see, although I know you
don't like the doctor--"

"Doctor Marquard? That marriage-hater and Don Juan? That child of the
world in the worst meaning of the word--and our Leah?--"

"God forbid, my dear friend, this time your prophetic soul leaves you
in the lurch. But I scarcely know whether the right man will not seem
still more frightful to you. You see, I'm perhaps a weak Christian, at
any rate weaker than you, and as for the higher branches of theology,
you've more in your little finger than I in my whole artist skull. And
yet--I too felt a little alarmed when the children came to me and
confessed what had never entered my mind, that dear godless fellow of a
philosopher--"

"Edwin? Doctor Edwin? Oh! my presentiments!"

"Yes, indeed," said the little artist, "no other than the dismissed
teacher, who now wishes to continue the interrupted lessons all his
life. Do you think my poor daughter's rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes
consoled me at once for the destruction of my hopes in regard to her
religious life? But, as I said before, only a monster of a father would
have had the heart to say no, when the life of his only child was at
stake. Or if that word is too harsh--it would have inquired a martyr of
the dark ages, to prefer to see his child pine away and die, rather
than live and be happy with an unbeliever. And that her sickness was
only concealed love and that she would have wasted away without Edwin,
I saw plainly enough at dinner, when simply because he sat beside her
and looked tenderly into her face, she suddenly, in spite of her
happiness, felt an appetite she has not had for months, and afterwards
when he had gone away, lay on the sofa sleeping more soundly than if
she had taken all the opiates in the world. Then I slipped away to come
to you, my dearest friend. And now say a kind word to me--or if it
can't be kind, an angry one, anything is better than to have you sit on
the sofa so still and silent, with your handkerchief pressed to your
face, so that I can't even see what sort of expression my best friend
wears when she hears of my poor child's happiness."

The widow withdrew her handkerchief and revealed eyes streaming with
tears, which looked at him with a singular expression of mingled
indignation and kindness. "You're an old hypocrite," she said, drying
her lashes. "I'm not what you call me, your best friend, or you would
not have misunderstood and slandered me to my face, and to those too
lovers, as if I sat here with the air of the judge of a supreme
spiritual court, to whom it would be dangerous to bring news of such an
engagement. Fie! shame on you for a faint-hearted fellow. You're a weak
Christian indeed, if you expect to find in your fellow mortal a heart
full of bigotry and intolerance, instead of one submissive to God's
decree and accepting with gratitude and hope whatever he sends--If I
can't help crying, not only from joy and thankfulness that our Leah is
saved, but also with anger toward you, you reprobate, make amends for
your sin by taking the godless doctor my congratulations this very day,
and inviting him to dine here tomorrow; one of a party of four; do you
understand? And moreover give me your word of honor, that I'm better
than my reputation, and no ossified theologian. Don't you know my dear
friend, that God's ways are wonderful? Suppose he intends to draw to
himself these two hearts, that neither know nor desire to know him, by
this circuitous way: first leading them to each other, and causing them
to experience all the joys and sorrows of married life, in order, hand
in hand and heart to heart, to guide them back to their heavenly
father? There's no more influential home mission than matrimony, for
two honest people, of course, and that the doctor, with all his
blindness, has an honest soul, we've never doubted. So yes and amen,
dear friend, and because it's such a day of joy, all sins must be
forgiven. As a token that I bear no malice--come, dear father of the
future bride, and let her mother embrace you."

"You're a blessed angel right out of heaven!" exclaimed the artist,
making such an enthusiastic use of the permission, that the blushing
lady was at last obliged to defend herself by force. "Yes indeed," he
continued, when he recovered his breath, "this marriage has really been
made in heaven, all the signs prove it. Think, dear Frau Valentin, how
wonderful it is, that this very morning I was sitting thinking whether
it would not be better to resign my position and salary as court
painter to His Russian Highness, rather than continue to live on the
money so indolently and dreamily. For I said: who knows whether the
prince has not already forgotten me, and that I may not sit year after
year, like a fool, waiting for orders which will never come?' But now I
see that the dear God has so arranged this, that I need not portion my
Leah quite so shabbily. Dear Frau Valentin, I know what you've always
said--that that was your affair. But after all a father would also--"

He was just in the mood to tell everything he had planned for the
immediate future, when Frau Valentin's maid-servant entered and
announced a visitor. The gentleman only wanted to ask a question, and
would not give his name. Before her mistress had time to answer, a
hasty step was heard in the ante-room, and to the zaunkönig's no small
surprise, the gigantic figure of Heinrich Mohr crossed the threshold.

"I beg ten thousand pardons," he exclaimed in his hoarse voice.
"Although I've the reputation of being unceremonious, I'm not usually
so bold and uncivil as to enter a lady's room without ceremony. But
circumstances which will be explained at some future day--the
conviction, that there's danger in delay--perhaps several lives
may depend upon whether this lady will grant me five minutes
conversation--"

He had poured forth these words with such strange agitation, his whole
appearance was so singular, that Frau Valentin really did not know
whether she ought to grant his request. But the little artist relieved
her of all hesitation.

"My dear friend," he exclaimed, "don't have the slightest scruple. My
mission here is fulfilled, and I must hurry home to illuminate the
Venetian palace; our lagune must flash and sparkle like the Grand Canal
at the weddings of the doges, and you're invited too, my dear Herr
Mohr. No refusals. You owe it to your friend."

"To whom?"

"Why our doctor, your friend Edwin, my little Leah's betrothed husband.
Haven't you heard of it yet?"

"Not a syllable. So he's engaged! I congratulate him. But don't depend
upon me for this evening."

The artist started and looked at him in astonishment. This indifferent
manner of receiving such wonderful news surprised and vexed him. But
his joy was too great to be long clouded. "As you choose," said he, "we
won't quarrel about it. Besides the young couple won't miss you, and to
sit with an old fellow like me--you're right, it would not be much
pleasure. So another time and farewell!"

He seized his hat in the exuberance of his delight waved an adieu to
Frau Valentin. While so doing, the pins which had fastened the somewhat
rusty piece of crape came out, and the sign of seven years mourning
fell on the floor. He was about to pick it up, but changed his mind.
"No," said he, "we'll let it lie. If the mother can look down upon her
child, she will think it natural if no crape is worn after this day.
Farewell, my best friend! I still insist that you're an angel."



                              CHAPTER XI.


As soon as the artist had left the room, Mohr, who had remained
gloomily standing at the door, approached the astonished Frau Valentin
and said in the tone of a foot-pad, who demands the traveler's purse at
the pistol's point: "you know a certain Lorinser, Madame. As I have
reason to think this man of honor a scoundrel, who with persistent
cunning escapes the punishment he deserves, I take the liberty of
asking whether you've heard anything of him since he left Berlin."

"Lorinser!" exclaimed the good lady. "Oh! dear Herr Mohr, say nothing
about that unhappy man; he has already caused me sorrow enough. No, no,
I don't know where he is, nor do I desire to do so, I will never see
him again, and I think I'm tolerably sure he will never approach my
threshold as he has every reason to remain away from Berlin."

"In so believing, Madame," Mohr replied with a short fierce laugh, "you
have probably misjudged this Protestant Jesuit. True, when a few months
ago and again very recently I made inquiries about him at his former
lodgings and the police headquarters, I learned that he had gone away.
But people like him, who live on such intimate terms with angels and
archangels, ascertain before death, how one must manage to move about
as a glorified body. One saves rent thereby and passes through every
key hole. That this mysterious man should have forever abandoned the
great city, where people can take advantage of others so much more
comfortably and profitably, always seemed to me improbable. And this
very morning, just as I was doing him the honor to think of him, he
drove past me in a droschky--to be sure I only saw him through the
window, and he has let his beard grow; but I hope to be condemned to go
to the same heaven into which this fellow hopes to smuggle himself, if
I was mistaken. Pardon my somewhat strong expressions. Since scoundrels
like this, our beloved in the Lord, adopt a sweet pastoral style, an
honest man must wrap himself in his natural bluntness."

"You've seen him? Lorinser? No, no!"

"I'm sure, Madame, that no other man has those mother of pearl,
Lucifer-like eyes in his head. And besides, he seemed to recognize me,
for he hastily cowered back into the corner of the droschky, but it was
too late. Unfortunately I lost sight of him again. Perhaps, I thought,
he's gone to his old customers once more; it's a Christian duty to
forgive even such an imp of Satan, seventy times seven times. And after
all, I said to myself, he's doubtless always behaved properly to the
good Frau Valentin and not let the mask fall. I confess I half expected
to find him here, when the servant said you had a visitor, that's why I
rushed in so hastily."

Frau Valentin had sunk down upon the sofa and was gazing into vacancy
with unconcealed horror. "No," said she, "we've done with each other.
I'll take care, that even if he should have the effrontery to knock, my
door will not be opened to him again. No man has ever more shamefully
misused the holiest words and trampled the purest confidence underfoot.
I'll not mention the sums of money, amounting to hundreds of thalers,
he has talked out of me for charitable and religious objects, in order
as I afterwards learned, to use them for himself and his dissolute
life. But that he could do me the injury to corrupt an excellent young
girl, to whom I gave employment in my own house--let's say no more
about it, my dear sir. It always makes me so angry when I think of it,
that I forget all the commands of charity and wish this fiend in the
lowest depths of hell."

"Hm!" muttered Mohr between his teeth; "money embezzled--an innocent
young girl--very valuable material. Pardon me, Madame," he continued
aloud, "if I'm not yet inclined to cut short this interesting
conversation. Perhaps you would have the kindness to tell me the name
and residence of this unfortunate girl?"

"What interest can you have in it?"

"A very Christian, or at least an honest one, honored lady. For when
the arch-angel Gabriel--or was it Michael--drove the arch-fiend to the
spot where he belonged, the lesson of forgiving seventy times seven
times had not yet been invented. Suppose I had a fancy for playing
arch-angel? Trust me without fear. I'll wager your poor protégé knows
where this wolf in sheep's clothing has his den, and as I've all sorts
of things to settle with him--"

"Do what you believe to be your duty. I'll not prevent you; that is,
forestall God, who has perhaps chosen you for an instrument to
execute his decrees. Here"--and she tore a leaf out of her pocket
book--"here's the list of my seamstresses. The name through which a
line is drawn is that of the unfortunate girl."

"Like the black tablet in the doge's palace: _Marino Falier,
decapitatus pro crimine_. Permit me to write down the number of the
house. There--and now forgive this disagreeable visit, Madame. The
messengers of the Council of Ten in Venice were notorious for their
obligatory intrusiveness."

She took leave of him with a silent bend of the head; but as he was
passing through the ante-room, she called him back to entreat him for
God's sake to deal considerately with the poor girl, who had deserved a
better fate. "Have no fear," he replied. "We children of the world are
all sinners ourselves, and know how poor sinners feel."

Half an hour after, he knocked at the door of a garret in one of the
most out of the way streets in Friedrichstadt. A man's voice called
"come in!" Seated on a table in the deep recess of a window, to catch
the last rays of light, was an odd little figure with his legs crossed
under him, sewing busily on a woman's dress. At the mention of Fräulein
Johanne's name the busy little man let his work fall, shook his head
angrily, and exclaimed in his hoarse falsetto tone:

"Can you read, sir, or not? Pray look at the sign on the door, and see
if there's not an inscription on it in large letters: 'Wachtel, Ladies'
dressmaker.' The person whom you seek did live here, but is now
entirely to set up for four flights of stairs. Of course the fall is
first down stairs from the garret to the ground floor; after a time
they go still farther down: into the cellar, and then five feet under
ground. Besides, it isn't my affair; ladies' tailors are not
responsible for the first fall of man. Why! Well of course you know
that yourself. Ha! ha!" He laughed and took up his needle again.

"Does the young lady live alone?"

"Yes and no, according to the way you understand it. 'I'm lonely but
not alone'--as Schiller says. But try yourself, sir; I believe she's no
longer as timid about having evening visitors, as she used to be when
she worked for me; I work for her now, but I'm better paid at any rate.
This sort, you must know--"

"Does a certain Herr Lorinser happen to be with her, a
clerical-looking, pale man, with a black beard?"

"Can't say, sir. It's not my business to keep the register. Mam'selle
Johanne will be glad to tell you what you want to know--her present
admirer is a clerk, in a banking house, and can't get away till the
counting house is closed. So if you want a private conversation--ha!
ha!"

Mohr silently nodded a farewell and left the grinning little man. A
feeling of repugnance overpowered him, which only increased, when on
reaching the entry outside of the first floor rooms he heard a girl's
voice singing one of Offenbach's favorite airs.

His ring interrupted the song. Directly after, a slender young girl
with singularly large sparkling eyes in her pale little face opened the
door. "Is it you, Edward?" she exclaimed. Then perceiving her mistake,
said without any special sign of embarrassment: "What do you want,
sir?"

Mohr looked at her a moment with an expression of sincere sympathy,
which however formed so singular a contrast to his stern face, that the
beautiful girl was alarmed and began to consider how to get rid of this
mysterious man.

"Don't be anxious, Fräulein," said he suspecting her thoughts, "true,
I'm not 'Edward,' but I come with the best intentions. If you would
give me two minutes--"

"Please, sir, if it can be settled out here--"

"As you choose. Be kind enough to answer but one question, whether you
know the present residence of a certain Herr Lorinser--"

A deep flush suddenly crimsoned her face, her eyes which had hitherto
flickered with a strange restless light, now glowed with a sullen angry
fire, and her hand trembled on the door. She was evidently obliged to
reflect before she could reply.

"Why do you ask this question?" she said in a low, hurried tone. "But
come in. Here in the public entry--"

He followed her into the ante-room, and she closed the door behind
them, but remained on the threshold and did not invite him to sit down.

"Fräulein," he began, "I have a personal matter to settle with this
man. He vanished for some months and has now appeared again, and as no
one can help me on the track--for I suppose he has not used his real
name again in the city--"

"But why do you come to me? Who told you--?"

"Some one who means well toward you and deeply regrets all that has
occurred."

"I know whom you mean: Frau Valentin. Ha! ha!" she exclaimed, with a
sudden change of tone, "so it is she! And she means well toward me! Why
yes, as she understands it, so she does! When I went to her again and
wanted to work--for I thought she would surely receive me, though old
acquaintances would have nothing more to do with me--I was met with
only a shrug of the shoulders and a stern face; she was very sorry, but
she couldn't give her other seamstresses such an example--then a few
thalers were pressed into my hand and a recommendation to some house of
correction. First I wept--then laughed, as I always laugh now when I
hear that these religious people mean well toward us. Go back again and
tell her--"

"Pray, Fräulein," he interrupted, "let's keep to the point. That wolf
in the sheep's clothing of humility, that vender of souls, who treated
you so shamefully--"

"I'll neither see nor hear anything of him!" she exclaimed violently.
"I'd rather die, than be compelled to meet this man but for whom I--but
pshaw, it's not worth while to get angry about it. I was a simple
child, I believed everything I was told, now I no longer believe in
anything, neither in heaven nor in hell, only in the little space here
on earth, where I'll not allow my peace to be destroyed. Excuse me,
sir, for receiving you so uncourteously but I'm not yet dressed and am
going to Elysium--a concert and ball--we can't be young but once. If
you want to know where the Herr Candidat lives--he no longer calls
himself Lorinser, but has taken the name of Moser--there's his card, on
which he wrote his address. He said his first visit was to me, that he
still loved me and would prove it and provide for me. But as I said
before, I'd rather jump out of the window than have anything more to do
with the abominable scoundrel. Perhaps"--and she lowered her voice a
moment--"perhaps there's some truth in the tales about the other world
and the last judgment. But if I'm condemned, then I'll open my mouth
and tell what I know; what I was, and what I have become, and through
whom. Here, sir, here's the card, and now--"

She opened the door, bowed with an easy grace, and took leave of Mohr,
who fluent of speech as he usually was, remained silent from deep
compassion for the poor lost girl.



                             CHAPTER XIII.


The clock struck seven as he left the dwelling, and night had closed
in. The house whose number was written on the card, stood at the
eastern end of the city, and he felt somewhat exhausted by the many
excitements of the day. Yet he could not make up his mind to defer his
visit until the morrow, and therefore threw himself into a droschky,
and drove through the dark streets absorbed in thought.

At last he paused before a neat two story dwelling, and by the light of
a lantern read the name of the owner under the night-bell, and above
the word "Rentier." In reply to his ring, a maid-servant appeared, and
positively refused to admit him. Her master and mistress were just at
prayers with the gentleman who rented the upper room, and she was not
allowed to announce any one.

"And you must not announce me either, my pet," Mohr calmly replied,
pressing a thaler into her hand. "I want to surprise them. I'm a very
intimate friend of the Herr Candidat, and he'll be wonderfully
delighted when he sees me enter so unexpectedly. When I've once found
him, I'll let him continue his prayer without interruption."

The girl did not mark the tone of savage sarcasm, in which these words
were uttered, but took it all for coin as good as the thaler she held
in her hand. She lighted the generous visitor up to the second story
and with a smile of secret understanding pointed to the door, through
which a strange dull buzzing sound was heard.

Mohr distinctly recognized the voice of the man whom he had pursued for
months with unquenchable hate. The blood rushed to his head, and he
needed several minutes delay to regain even the appearance of calmness.
"Go, my good child," said he. "I need no farther help to find my way."

After she had gone, he listened a few moments longer. Lorinser seemed
to be reading aloud from some book of devotion, and at intervals came
long drawn regular tones, like a person snoring. Mohr softly grasped
the handle of the door and opened it so noiselessly, that he stood in
the room for some time before those present perceived him. Lorinser sat
on a wide sofa, the lower half of his face was shaded by a heavy black
beard which made him almost unrecognizable, and his closely cropped
hair was covered with a three cornered black velvet cap, which worn as
it was far back upon the head exposed the high polished brow. Nestling
beside him in very unequivocal proximity, sat a pretty young woman who
seemed to be looking at the book also and eagerly following the words,
while she held his hand firmly clasped in hers. An elderly man with a
simple narrow-minded face was leaning back in a large arm-chair, and
accompanied the reading with his peaceful snores. Mohr needed but one
glance to understand the condition of affairs.

"Don't let me disturb you," he said suddenly in the most courteous
tone. "I merely wish to say a few words in private to Herr Candidat
Moser."

Lorinser started up, the young wife uttered a cry and let fall his
hand, the sleeper rubbed his eyes in astonishment. For a moment it
seemed as if all three had been petrified by the sudden appearance of
the stranger. Mohr did not grudge himself the mischievous pleasure
afforded by the scene, but quietly approached a step nearer and bowed
to the mistress of the house.

"Whom do you want here, sir?"  asked Lorinser, who had hastily
regained: his composure. "I've not the honor of your acquaintance."

"So Peter said," replied Mohr dryly. "But you, I hope, will remember me
before the cock crows. Permit me to take a seat. Will you have the
kindness to introduce me to the company, or shall I do it myself?"

"This insolence goes too far," muttered Lorinser, who had grown deadly
pale. "Do you presume, sir, to force your way into a stranger's house
and disturb the devotions of the family without apology?"

"I do, my worthy sir. The night will be long enough to continue that
which, to my great regret, I've interrupted. I desire only a quarter of
an hour of your precious time--and will not disturb you longer."

The young wife had turned away to conceal her embarrassment, and now
glided out of the room. Her husband prepared to follow her.

"Stay," exclaimed Lorinser, still clinging to the mask of indignation.
"You must bear witness, my dear friend--"

"As you choose, my good fellow," said Mohr with icy composure. "It will
be a favor to me if the gentleman will make a record of our treaty. To
begin: in the first place--I've just come from Fräulein Johanne--"

He looked Lorinser steadily in the eye, and the effect produced by this
name was fully equal to his expectations. A short pause ensued, then
Lorinser whispered something in the ear of his host, and the latter
with a submissive bend of the head, left the room.

They were scarcely alone, when Mohr drew his box of Latakia out of his
pocket and began to make a cigarette. "You'll permit me to smoke I
hope," he said affably to his silent companion. "The air here is
abominably bad, the breath of heaven and hell mixed; I am afraid of the
contagion and should like to disenfect myself."

Lorinser's eyes were fixed upon the floor. Not a muscle of his rigid
face betrayed the feelings that were aroused by this visit. But when
Mohr had lighted his cigarette, he said with a slight cough: "I must
beg you to be brief, I don't like this odor."

"As brief as possible, my dear fellow," answered Mohr phlegmatically.
"You'll give me credit for having troubled myself about you only for
very serious motives, not merely from a desire to continue an
acquaintance which is utterly uninteresting to me. The class of human
beings to which you belong is, thank God, by no means numerous, but
sufficiently well known for it to be a mere waste of time to study it.
Goethe has described it admirably in Faust; you remember the passage
where he speaks of a certain abortion. Even the manner of playing you
represent, is not new. Zacharias Werner and others are your
predecessors, so you've not even the merit of originality, but are
simply a second-hand scoundrel."

"I only wish to observe," began Lorinser without losing his composure,
"that we will suppose you to have poured forth all your invectives and
come to the point at once. I'm accustomed to insults, and console
myself by thinking, that far more holy men, nay our Saviour himself--"

"Beautiful!" interrupted Mohr. "But one good turn deserves another.
I'll avoid every incivility except those which the mere business in
hand may entail, and you'll promise me not to again desecrate in my
presence a name so venerated as that of the founder of the Christian
religion by uttering it with your lips. I confess my weakness; it makes
me fairly sick, when I hear that a--how shall I express it--a poor
sinner--that's not insulting--is playing a blasphemous farce in the
name of that sublime sufferer and champion of humanity. So we're
agreed? Very well. And now we'll proceed at once to business. Do you
know this?"  He put his hand into his breast pocket; Lorinser
involuntarily shrank back.

"Calm yourself," said Mohr with a scornful laugh. "I've no pistol in my
pocket, to aim at your breast and force you to a full confession. I
despise such melodramatic means, which moreover would undoubtedly fail
if directed toward such a holy man, to whom a martyr's crown would be a
fitting reward. What I've brought here, is only a little book, a neat
pocket edition of Thomas á Kempis. Your name is written on the first
page, I mean your real name, before you believed in a second baptism
and exchanged the somewhat foul old Adam of your 'Lorinser' for a speck
and span 'Moser.' Do you recognize the little book?"

He held it out, and when the other had assented to the question with a
silent bend of the head, laid it on the table. "Thank you," he
continued; "you'll make this business easier for both of us, if you'll
drop all unavailing and useless lies. I found this little book in a
room in Dorotheenstrasse, from which on the day of your nocturnal
visit, a lady in whom I'm interested, disappeared. I was fortunate
enough to find her two nights after, and, as you're perhaps unaware,
with dripping garments and in a very silent mood. We worked for five
hours to obtain the smallest word. When she at last decided to open her
eyes and lips, of course there was no mention of you. But the little
Thomas à Kempis, probably in revenge for having been taken in paths
where there can be no question of the 'Imitation of Christ,' committed
the indiscretion of gossiping; the old maid-servant, who unlocked the
room for you in the evening and saw you creep out again at a much later
hour--you probably supposed you'd be seen only by God, who is already
accustomed to close his eyes to your doings--this worthy person, I say,
in reply to my questions, told me all and then suffered her mouth to be
sealed forever. So there are only four persons who know this secret of
that night. Three of them have good reasons to keep silence; but the
fourth might in some devilish mood, against which we must be on our
guard, or for some 'benevolent' or profligate object, tell the tale. To
prevent this, my dear fellow, you'll say to that fourth person, that I
am determined in such a case to stop his mouth forever, by shooting him
down like a mad dog or finding some other way to silence him. You've
understood me? A syllable, a wink, a shrug of the shoulders, which
would impugn that lady's honor, and you'll receive a passport into the
better world." He was silent, as if he expected some explicit answer.
Lorinser had leaned his head back and was gazing at the ceiling. He
coughed several times and passed his long, pliant fingers through his
beard.

"And is this all that has brought you to me?"  he asked after a pause.
"I hope you admire the patience, with which I listen to your
disconnected fancies; but I beg you not to abuse it." Mohr looked at
him with icy contempt.

"You are a precious rascal," said he. "Under other circumstances I
should wonder at the iron mask Mother Nature has put in the place where
other men wear their faces. But, as I said before, the atmosphere here
is so unpleasant that I'll limit myself to the most necessary words. So
in brief: do you know the present abode of the lady who is the subject
of our conversation?"

"No."

"Have you determined never to inquire for her?"

"Why should I, since I no longer have any relations with this lady?"

"No longer have any relations? You express yourself admirably. But are
you also disposed to bind yourself, if by accident you ever meet her
again, to leave the place and the city at once and avoid her for all
future time?"

"A singular obligation. You expect me to subject myself to all the
inconveniences--"

"I regret that I'm compelled to still further increase these
obligations. You must also forever renounce the pleasure of seeing me
with a solemn oath--although the peculiar relation in which you stand
toward your God, considerably weakens the value such vows usually have
between men of honor. However, I've means to compel you to keep your
promise."

"I should be glad to learn what they are."

"With pleasure, honored sir. Unfortunately, I'm unable to give you
without ceremony the chastisement you deserve, as we crush a venomous
reptile under foot. It would expose me to all sorts of unpleasantnesses,
and as I still have duties toward my fellow men, I must avoid as long
as possible the extreme measures which would bring me in conflict with
the criminal courts. However, although vengeance is mine, saith the
Lord,' I feel a repugnance to seeing a good for nothing fellow, like
you, roaming about at large, and as the arm of civil justice is either
too short or too clumsy to seize such clever criminals, I've resolved
to set in motion against you a noiseless and silent _vehm-gericht_.
Whenever I meet you in the future, I shall brand you without mercy--in
what manner will depend upon the inspiration of the moment. But out
of the world in which I live you must go!" he exclaimed, suddenly
raising his voice almost to a shout, as he rose and threw his cigarette
away. "Do you clearly understand me? I will not tolerate your presence,
will persecute you until you no longer poison the air I breathe; perhaps
the simplest way therefore, would be for you to decide without much
hesitation to emigrate to America, and join the Mormons, a vocation for
which you've all sorts of valuable qualifications, in case you don't
prefer Cayenne, a region in which home missions still have a fine field."

A pause ensued. The two mortal enemies looked each other steadily in
the face.

"And if," said Lorinser at last, "instead of taking advantage of all
these benevolent counsels, I prefer to inform the police to-morrow
morning, that a madman broke into my house with threats and attempts at
intimidation, and request protection against this violence? Certain
private affairs, over which you seem to have excellent reasons for
drawing a veil, would probably not withhold me from procuring myself
peace at any price."

"At _any_ price? That might perhaps be somewhat costly for you. Or
would you like, in answer to this notice, a complaint to be entered by
an honored patroness--on account of the embezzlement of money entrusted
to you for the poor?"

"Embezzlement!" exclaimed Lorinser, starting up. For the first time
during the whole conversation the iron mask fell, and his real face
appeared, disfigured by the most violent distortions.

"Embezzlement?" he repeated. "What ridiculous words you use; they serve
to show how far you are from understanding a nature like mine! Or no:
you're probably well aware whom you have before you, one of the elect,
who pass through life enwrapped by the atmosphere of the supernatural,
and do not think themselves compelled to keep always in the straight
roads made for sober children of the world. What is money to us? A
wretched, despicable necessity, as worthless as the other conditions of
this poor clay! He who never rises from the dust, may allow himself to
be a slave, watch pennies and reckon shillings. But should he who
offers the poor treasures with full hands, those treasures which
neither morth nor rust corrupt, opens heaven to them, and raises them
out of all anxiety and trouble into the fulness of eternal life,
scruple to receive from them what the lowest and basest human beings
can give each other, coined metal or stamped paper, and haggle over his
daily bread by mouthfuls with those who must forever remain his
debtors? Would you come to such a man with accusations about careless
bookkeeping, which to be sure to the petty souls in this world of trade
seems to be the only sin against _their_ holy spirit?"

"Bravo!" replied Mohr dryly. "You've memorized your part well and
delivered your little speech bravely. But it can't produce an effect on
every audience. These magnificent views of the work and money, which
you share with all interpreters of dreams, alchymists, and false
profits, from Mohammed down to our own times; this artless pilfering of
enthusiastic innocence, which in its blindness so eagerly seizes the
most glittering baits, may suit those who cling to you and find their
interest in being preyed upon by you. _Volenti non fit injuria_--you've
probably learned so much _Jus_. But the good Frau Valentin, who is not
in love with you, does not stand on the same theological soil, or
desire to purchase any religious enlightenment for hard cash, looks at
the matter from the standpoint of common plebeian honesty. I think
you've some idea of what people call honesty and good faith. The
excellent soul, in her narrow mindedness, holds fast to these and
thinks that he to whom she has given money for her poor, is a miserable
cheat, when he uses these funds to defray his own expenses and pays for
oysters and Rhine wine to the honor of God."

"You're a devil!" muttered Lorinser grinding his teeth.

"I never considered myself an angel," replied Mohr, still in the
calmest possible tone. "But at least I hope to be no stupid devil.
You've seen," he continued, as he again opened his tobacco box, "I'm
tolerably skillful in the art of rolling cigarettes. If the one now in
process of being made, is completed before you've given your consent to
my very reasonable compromise, I shall go straight from this sacred
place to the profane dwelling of a magistrate with whom I'm very well
acquainted. You don't smoke yourself? A pity! It's often very useful to
aid one in keeping cool. Blücher smoked in every battle."

A suppressed snort of fury came from the dark end of the apartment,
whither the other had retired. Suddenly he rushed to the door and flung
it wide open. "Leave this room!"  he shouted in so loud a tone, that
any listeners outside could not fail to hear it. "That we never meet
again shall be my care."

"Thank you," replied Mohr, putting on his hat. "The cigarette is just
finished. I knew we should come to an understanding. _Intelligenti
panca._ You're too polite; you need not so courteously open the door
for me. I know the rule of all ghosts and spirits, that they must go
out the same way they came in. There! And now success to you
devoutness."

Without vouchsafing another glance to his conquered foe, he walked
passed him with the calmest possible expression of countenance, while
Lorinser, trembling from head to foot with passion, stood beside the
door with clenched lists and slammed it violently behind his enemy.
When Mohr was going down stairs, he fancied he heard a low groan of
fury, such as might be uttered by a wild beast that has fallen into a
pit. An expression of bitter loathing passed over his stern face, and
his underlip curled with scorn. When he again stood in the cold dark
street, he paused, drew a long breath, extended his muscular arms as if
to throw off an unendurable burden, and for a moment closed his eyes.

"Where shall I go now?" escaped his lips. "Wither turn to regain what
is lost? No, not lost forever! If I'm forced to search the earth to its
remotest confines I shall find her, I must, I _will_ find her. Poor,
poor woman! I will give you peace, so far as is possible for men to
know peace against devils!"

He walked on a few steps, absorbed in deep thought, then paused
suddenly and passed his hand across his brow. "Good Heavens! I had
nearly forgotten it while occupied with all this baseness; Edwin and
Leah receive their friends to-night! I'll go there. I must see some
good people, to restore my faith in humanity."

And whistling the adagio from the symphony in C. minor--his invariable
remedy when he wanted to drive a bitter taste from his tongue--he
turned toward the zaunkönig's little house.



                                BOOK V.



                               CHAPTER I.


At the moment when after a lapse of four years we resume the thread of
our story, we find Edwin sitting at the open window of a hotel, attired
in a costume very similar to the one which he wore when we made his
acquaintance on a certain moonlight night. Again he wears an
unpretending grey summer suit, with a black tie fastened loosely around
his neck, and a straw hat, which, despite the changing fashions, is in
shape nearly identical to one worn long before, lies on the table,
adorned with a fresh bouquet of heather blossoms. Even his features
show no trace of the four years that have passed; indeed he might now
be taken for a younger man, his cheeks are slightly bronzed by the air
and sun, the line between the brows has disappeared, the restless
glance has vanished. He has just completed a long letter, and now lays
down the pen to feast his eyes a moment on the forest clad heights,
which, rise behind the trim little city. The time is twilight of a warm
summer evening; the air, as usual after the crimson light of sunset has
faded, is full of tremulous, translucent brightness; a silver grey sky
which merges into white, and relieves the eyes by forming a background
to the masses of tree tops and the mountain ridges upon whose crest is
uplifted the lofty tower of the old church, like a black silhouette
against a sheet of silver paper. In the foreground a few faint local
colors and hundreds of individual details fill out the picture. The
railway station only separated from the hotel by the wide street,
swarms with people; but it is Sunday and as if in deference to the day
there is no noisy bustle, no goods loaded and unloaded, and only
persons traveling for pleasure seem to be waiting for the next train,
which is to leave in an hour.

Meantime it rapidly grew dark. Edwin is compelled to move nearer the
window, in order to read, and we, as old friends, may be permitted to
look over his shoulder and see what he has written to his Leah.


"My Beloved Wife:

"_I have been here just two hours, during which time I have slept as
soundly as I ever did at midnight. It was a foolish whim of mine, the
desire to reach this place to-day; for to do so I was compelled to walk
in the heat of the noonday sun. I might have known Mohr would not tear
himself away from his home one instant before the term began, and of
course I have not found him here and may be obliged to wait several
days. However, his dilatoriness has procured me the pleasure of
strolling through this mountain region by moonlight, which I have done
for the last four stages of my journey. Dearest, it was unspeakably
delightful, to leave at moon-rise the hot rooms where I had spent the
day and then walk through the silent woods, which grew cooler and
cooler, until when the moon was about to set I reached some cosy nest
which was ready to receive me. To be sure he who wants to write a
hand-book of travel, must manage differently; the moon is the poet that
transfigures all things, but it is after the style of Eichendorff, who
with his rustling tree tops, flashing streams, and distant baying of
dogs always conjures up the same dreamy mood; so that at last it makes
no difference where we wander, whether in Italy or the Thuringian
forest. For me, who only wanted to thoroughly shake off the school dust
and forget everything that could remind me of the agreement of
triangles and the theory of parallelograms, this twilight mood was
exactly the right one, in which all forms blend together and I as it
were returned with a living body into the Infinite. 'Give my soul full
freedom'--how often I've repeated the words! How often I've thought of
and pitied you, because, as a woman, you can never enjoy the strange,
sweet wondrous delight, which I inhaled in full draughts with the night
breeze. The spell can only work in perfect solitude. The ear must hear
but one footstep, when the night reveals its secrets and there rises
that wierd vibrating hum, a noise like that our earth might make,
moving through the grooves of space. It is like a fairy dream, dearest,
to look up to the stars and become absorbed in the measureless silent
enigmas; the countless 'burning questions,' which nevertheless burn
only the souls of dreamers and night wanderers. And amid the depression
caused by the loneliness of the world it was a grand feeling of triumph
the consciousness of loving and being loved, that though fallen in the
deepest abysses we are never really given over solitary and hopeless,
to the spectres of night, since we can raise above us a shield our
pure, honest purpose, our strength and love of good, and feel ourselves
allied to all our struggling brothers, and throughout all this journey
you were always by my side, beloved, and on the other walked our
Balder, often in such bodily presence, that I actually saw your eyes
sparkle, and thought I distinctly heard your voice as it sounds when
you steal behind me and whisper in my ear: 'do I disturb you?'_

"_As I said before, I deprived myself of all this, when the fancy
seized me to come hither in the day time. Now in order to assure myself
of your presence, I must take up my pen which will not lend wings to my
thoughts, after my hot walk in the dog days. But if I keep silence
longer, I fear you may take some jealous fancy and imagine Frau
Christiane to be the cause, and that, instead of the moonlight, in
which I stagger intoxicated with the beauty of nature, perhaps the
moonlight sonata, which to be sure I have recently heard with fresh
delight, has gone to my head. No, dear Wisdom, on this point you can be
as much at ease as you were four years ago; nay, more so, for even your
old and at that time not wholly to be rejected hypothesis, that your
dear husband's extreme loneliness had made a fatal impression upon the
unoccupied mind of our artist, has proved, on a nearer inspection of
the facts and circumstances, entirely untenable. You must erase this
conquest from the list of my victories, which thereby is considerably
diminished. That we heard nothing of our friends for years, that
they did not even inform us of their marriage and only remembered
the old friendship a short time ago, arose from entirely different
reasons--concerning which I have promised to keep silence, even to you,
although to do so will be difficult enough. I have so accustomed myself
to sharing everything with you, not keeping in my mind and heart even
the smallest 'arrière-boutique,' as Montaigne calls it, closed to you,
that I should have preferred not to learn, the strange circumstances
through which these two people have found each other, at the cost of
being compelled to conceal them from you, my beloved keeper of the
Great Seal, especially as I know that this time, too, we should have
agreed in our judgment and feelings._

"_Oh! dearest! the hour in which our old friend broke at last the seal
of the dark secret he had kept so long, because he could not endure
that there should be a mystery between us, the way in which he told the
unspeakable secret, how he conquered hopeless despair by his deep,
earnest love--never, never will the smallest syllable of this
confession vanish from my memory. How these two mortals have battled
for their happiness, nay how bravely they must still daily defend
themselves against the ghosts of the past! Never have I heard a more
touching story than the account of his ceaseless quest of the lost one,
after he had at last found her in the most sequestered corner of the
world, his unwearied persistency, which nothing could rebuff, to make
her again accustomed to the light of day, the vital warmth of her
profession and his faithful love. For the first time I have learned to
thoroughly know this strange man, and understand how he was able to
accomplish the tremendous task of saving for the second time, this
apparently lost life. How much I should like to show you my old friend,
as I know him, one of the best, noblest, and most unselfish heroes, I
have ever met. For do not suppose that, blinded by his passion, without
a struggle and only keeping the object of possessing her before his
eyes--but enough, I'm on the way to say more than I am permitted to
utter. Let this hint be sufficient for you, dear heart, and promise me
never to allude to it again, nor even, if it's possible, to strive to
discover what is concealed behind it. Have I not myself given you a
beautiful example of how we can stifle even the most lawful curiosity,
by not even inquiring what motives you could have for not accompanying
me on this vacation's journey, and refraining at your request from all
meditations upon whether the point in question was a grand cleaning
festival, a new carpet in our study, or some other unsuspected and
thoughtful expenditure of the traveling expenses you have saved?_

"_But to return to Mohr and his young happiness, I would never have
believed it possible that he could have changed so much for the better,
as during the last few years._

"_He was waiting for me at the railway station, holding in his arms a
little boy about three years old, who smiled brightly at me with his
wise black eyes. Not until we were out of the crowd and the child could
be placed without danger on his own feet, did his father have his arms
at liberty to embrace me. Then we walked slowly and silently along the
road that led toward the little city, Mohr kept his eyes steadily fixed
upon his boy, and only now and then cast a side glance at me, as if he
wanted to ask if I had ever seen such a child. 'You must know,' he said
at last, 'he has no other nurse than I, and he will not feel the lack.
At first Christiane did not believe I had the necessary qualifications
for his attendant, and also thought I should probably have something
better to do. But now she has discovered that this is my real vocation.
We must take ourselves as we are. Your old friend, Heinrich Mohr, who
used to imagine that he was something in himself, something out of the
common order, a poet, a musician--the devil knows what--has now come to
the knowledge, that he's only a transition point, an intermediate step
between the Mohrs who were still more insignificant and commonplace,
and this little Mohr, who will be greater than all of us, the head and
flower of the whole stock. What in me was only impulse, desire,
presentiment and desperation, will in him become fulfillment. You
laugh, my dear fellow_, '(_I was not laughing at all_)' _but first you
must learn to know him. To be sure he doesn't inherit from his papa
alone; his best qualities may have descended to him from his mother:
her strong will, to risk all for all. The elements of a great artist
perhaps exist in me too; but criticism, conceit and suspicion kept them
forever apart. Well, it is no disgrace to bow to a law of nature.
Raphael's father was a miserable dauber, the elder Mozart played his
part in the orchestra very badly, and Beethoven's papa too, was by no
means a shining light. It's very possible that it was uncomfortable
enough for these worthy men to produce nothing remarkable, till they
perceived that they had the honor of being transition points, only the
retorts as it were, in which nature brewed the elixir of life, which
under the name of their sons were to rejuvenate and bless the world?_

"_While saying these words, he gazed at the little boy who was trotting
along very quietly beside the gutter, eating a cake, with a look
through whose tenderness gleamed a shade of respect, which would have
been laughable, if it were not so touching to see it in our old
friend._

"'_What's his talent?' I asked at last._

"_'We're not yet clear about it,' he answered gravely. 'Like every
unusually gifted person he has more than one eminent talent, and we
allow them all to develop together. His memory and his musical ear are
wonderful. Besides, he has a power of language of which many a boy of
six need not be ashamed, and his perception of form and color is beyond
all belief. You think me one of those fathers who are crazed by blind
partiality; I can't blame you for it, nor will I attack your unbelief
with a succession of tricks to display his genius; we take care not to
spoil so delicate and rich a nature by training it for a prodigy. As
you see him there, eating his cake and bounding merrily about in the
sunlight, we leave him entirely to himself, and my whole method of
education consists in not telling or teaching him anything, until he
asks for information. In ten years, we'll talk about him again.'_

"_'And Christiane?' I asked._

"_'You'll not recognize her,' he said laughing softly, like a person
already rejoicing in another's anticipated astonishment. 'I know you've
never understood why, from our first meeting, I didn't think her
homely; you laughed at me when I said her face was only clouded by
sorrow and calamity, and that when this dark varnish was removed a
pleasing picture would appear. Well, "who laughs last laughs best."
You'll see her and judge for yourself, whether the process of
regeneration has not been thoroughly completed in her. It's no wonder
either; for how she is appreciated, loved, honored! I may say the whole
musical life of our city revolves around her. You've come just at the
right time; the Cecilia Society she organized, gives an open air
concert to-night; first "Winter and Spring" from the "Seasons" then a
time for chat followed by some of Mendelssohn's quartettes. I make
myself useful in my way, by playing accompaniments, distributing the
parts, and often growling a little in baritone. With us, the women's
voices are the best, Christiane's method of instruction has already
produced its effect upon them. But we need tenors and basses.
Addressing the participants at athletic sports, shooting matches, and
workmen's picnics, ruins the voice; everybody thinks he shows his
patriotism by shouting, and then can't control his tones when they are
required for more delicate use. Well, we must put up with the shadows
too. We're living in a provincial town.'_

"_All this was said with such a radiant face that I saw he would not
have exchanged places with any band leader in Vienna or Berlin. I now
noticed that the trick which was so peculiar to him, drawing his under
lip awry and showing his white upper teeth, had entirely disappeared.
He could laugh with his mouth wide open like a child._

"_But the author of the comedy 'I am, I, and rely on myself' was still
so much like himself, that he didn't ask a question about how I had
fared, how my wife looks, and how our little city suits us. But this
omission was most amply compensated for by Frau Christiane, who met us
just outside the city, a few paces from her charming little house,
which is situated among gardens and meadows just beyond the gate. After
the first embarrassment always engendered by seeing old faces again,
she seemed perfectly at ease, her first question was about you, then I
was obliged to tell her about father and his marriage with Frau
Valentin, and next of our neighbor Franzelius and his little wife, and
so we were soon perfectly comfortable. My attention was attracted by
her quiet, gentle manner, which had a shade of suppressed humility,
especially when she turned toward her husband, for whose slightest
gesture she seemed to be on the alert. Only when the conversation
turned upon art, especially in the domain of music, the old harsh
strength of our strange friend flashed out like fire beneath ashes.
Meantime Mohr had brought a bottle of wine into the pretty honeysuckle
covered arbor of their little garden, and now smoking a cigar, sat at
the table, while his eyes constantly wandered from his wife to the
little boy playing near. 'Did I say too much?' he asked triumphantly,
when she was at last called away to give a singing lesson to the
Burgermaster's daughter; I was not obliged to use any special
self-constraint, not to disturb my old friend in his happy illusions;
for the sunlight of happiness although it could not transform our shade
loving plant into a blooming rose, has brightened the stern, gloomy
face so much, that no one will ever fear it; often at one of her
husband's droll ideas, or when the child came bounding up to her with a
question, so sweet a smile flitted over her mouth, that one almost
forgot her mustache. Her eyes were noticeable enough in old times and
happiness has given them a soft, soul-full light. She dresses, so far
as I understand such matters, by no means in a rustic fashion, but in
extremely modest colors, and without any ornaments. That the people
value her highly and know how to prize her talents, I had ample
opportunity to notice in the evening at the concert, which all the city
attended._

"_Much might be told of this concert, but I was most glad to see how
Mohr had altered; his satirical vein was entirely lacking, I'm still
too weary from to-day's walk for a minute description, so I must
reserve this genre picture for a vérbal report, I'll only mention one
episode, which shows the tender relations in which our friends stand
toward each other. While Father Hayden was being played, in which
Christiane did herself great credit, Mohr sat on a bench in the garden,
with the boy beside him, who, after a liberal supply of fruit and bread
and butter listened very quietly. It had grown tolerably late, and in
the pause before the quartette began, the 'sand man' appeared. As the
maid-servant was no where to be seen, Papa Mohr took the child in his
arms and carried it home, where he stayed until he had put it to bed
and given it into the charge of the negligent servant. When he again
entered the garden, to enjoy the remainder of the programme, he stood
still in astonishment and could scarcely believe his ears. Was that
Mendelssohn? No. But what was it? It seemed so familiar--and yet--it
could not be what he thought. Yet what else could it be? Yes, it was a
quartette which he had himself composed years ago and locked up in a
large box with other unsuccessful attempts, including the 'Sinfonia
Ironica.' And now he heard it sung before the whole audience, and sung
so well, that its conclusion was hailed with frantic applause and
shouts of 'Da Capo,' although it had only appeared as a modest
supplement to Hayden and Mendelssohn. Who would have suspected Frau
Christiane to be capable of such a trick? And especially that, in reply
to the numerous questions about the composer, she would be bold enough
to name her own husband! But the applause now burst forth like a storm,
and I could see how popular our old ci-devant mocker and man-hater was,
among his fellow citizens. It was most charming of all, to see him
approaching his wife, publicly embrace her and then scold her for
having betrayed his youthful errors, while she took advantage of the
successful stratagem to tell him what talents he really possessed, and
what she had always admired and valued in him._

"_This last however occurred when I was alone with them, for when the
concert was over we had an after piece in the honey-suckle arbor. How
we wished you were with us, my dear little wife! The surprise that
awaits me at home, must be something very charming, if it's to
compensate for your absence that evening--_

"_I remained with them all the next day, and during this long time
never once heard our friend utter the word 'envy,' in which he once so
luxuriated. Balder was right, when, he said Mohr's envy was only a
mutilated love. Since he has known the beautiful, healthful feeling in
its full development, he has dropped his philosophy of envy, for the
foreign element which still remained in his ennobled envy--that he did
not feel the goodness, beauty, and lovableness in others to be
his--disappeared as a matter of course, when he would have had to envy
flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, in a dear child._

"_They did not want to let me go so soon. But as the room they gave me
faced the south, it was so unendurably hot at night that I woke in the
morning with a dull headache, so I honestly and obstinately insisted
that they should put themselves to no farther trouble, but let me go to
the hotel. To this they objected, because such a change of quarters
would excite so much comment in the little city, so we at last adopted
the middle course, that I should walk through the mountains a few days
alone and meet Heinrich here. He, too, has been ordered by his
physician to take more exercise, but could never make up his mind to
part from his boy, and even now I'm not quite sure of his keeping his
promise. I shall wait for him until to-morrow evening; but I almost
fear a letter will come instead, in which he will declare nocturnal
pedestrian excursions with an old friend to be incompatible with the
duties of a nurse._

"_I'll now close this letter, dearest. It's just the hour when I like
best to wander alone through a strange town. Evening has closed in, but
the inhabitants, to save oil and candles, prefer to sit outside the
doors a little longer and watch the last rays of light as they fade
away. The school children, too, their tasks all completed, play merrily
in the open air, while the mother brings the youngest, clad in its
night gown, out to the father who is sitting on a bench; taking the
little thing in his lap he shows it the moon, the high church tower,
and the stork's nest on the town hall, delighted to see it listen and
open its eyes. Some day this gazing wondering child will become a
stern, practical man, eager in the race for gold, thinking little of
fairy tales, except on Sunday mornings, when they will perhaps
sometimes recur to his memory. But I believe that many will carry a
breath of childhood into old age, and this is far more likely to be the
case in villages than in large towns away from the accustomed
surroundings and amid strange scenes. I've often noticed how, as one's
memory of home grows fainter, we become more contented in strange
places and in a frequent change of abode. For one is oftentimes
completely overwhelmed by the mystery of existence, as, on a summer
evening we look with earnestness into the blue ether and find our gaze
rivited by the first twinkle of a star; in our absorption we may become
almost incredulous as to the existence of our own homes. And sometimes
when far away from those who are dear to us, though still surrounded by
a human crowd, one feels that there is no tie to bind him to any place
but that where at evening the fire is kindled upon his own hearthstone,
and where, after the labors and toils of the day, he can rest in the
sacred atmosphere of peace and perfect love. I'm often obliged to pause
and draw back when I pass a bright window, behind which a group of
people are sitting around a smoking dish, lest I should enter unbidden,
and say: 'Good evening! Don't you know me? I'm your brother!'--Oh!
dearest, those are poor fools, who say to themselves and others, 'we
are strangers in the world.' Have we sprung from the lap of our mother
earth and been nourished with her milk, and has our father, the sun,
given light to our eyes and awakened our senses, only that we may
wander about all our lives homeless waifs, with our heart-hunger
unappeased? Only an idle, selfish, and perverse soul can turn
reluctantly or arrogantly away from the pleasant place where it should
live and labor, and which helpful toil should make so dear. And such
hopeless people think, when the piece they perform becomes stupid and
tiresome, and is hissed, that it is the fault of the scenes! To such
should be said: 'Do your duty, play your part well, and these boards,
which are your world, will not burn so quickly beneath your feet that
when the need comes you cannot escape.'_

"_But whither am I wandering? Good night, my wife, dearest of human
souls. When Mohr comes, I'll you where we decide to go. I hope to be
able to persuade him that he owes you a visit. Believe me, if I were
not ashamed to turn back so soon, I should be with you again to-morrow,
or rather, as I do not see why I need be ashamed to find life dull and
unprofitable without you--if to-morrow a letter arrives, instead of my
friend, our doctor will shake his head in vain; for nothing shall
prevent me from clasping you in my arms the following day._

                                                          "Edwin."

"_Remember me to our neighbors, Frau Reginchen's ears must have burned
of late; I have been obliged to answer so many questions about her and
her little ones._"



                              CHAPTER II.

Edwin had just finished the letter and risen from his seat, to take it
himself to the post office, when there was a knock at his door; a
familiar knock, but one which he had not heard for years.

Before he had time to say "come in," the door opened, and in the dark
passage appeared a round head with thin fair hair and a pair of gold
spectacles. A portly, but active figure hastily entered. "It's he!"
exclaimed the friends in a breath, and the next instant Marquard and
Edwin were clasped in each others arms.

"Wonder of wonders!" cried Edwin, as he drew his friend nearer the
window. "Have you taken up the study of animal magnetism, that you
discover me here? True, you were always a sort of repertory for all
valuable knowledge, but as I don't know a soul in this place, haven't
been outside these four walls, or even written my name in the visitors'
book--"

"The mystery will be solved in due time," interrupted Marquard with a
grave face. "Come, let's sit down on this very thin couch and permit me
to light one of my own cigars. I'm afraid I am not idealist enough, to
find yours endurable. And now let's see and hear what these four years
have made of you. You've not gained in flesh. Such a teacher of
mathematics ought occasionally to pass beyond the rudiments of straight
lines and angles. I, as you see, am approaching aldermanic proportions,
and as Adeline is like-wise comfortably enlarging her natural
boundaries, a consequence of our happy domestic life and the
undisturbed harmony of souls--"

"Have you married her at last?"

"Not exactly according to form, but in point of fact it amounts to
nearly the same thing. We've resolved never to part, unless it should
seem advisable. Isn't the legitimate civil marriage merely a contract
so long as the parties are suited, and doesn't Schiller say, 'beauty is
freedom in necessity?' Well, that beauty exists in our alliance. We're
both free but each finds it necessary to be with the other. The good
creature has retired from the stage and adorns my loneliness with her
housekeeping talents, besides secretly helping me in a scientific
work."

"So the nightingale has also a talent for medicine?"

"Only the practical part of it. We're writing a cook book together, or
rather a book on the art of eating. Brillat-Savarin is classical, it is
true, but only a child of his time."

"And will yours allow you to devote yourself to such grave studies in
another department? Certainly the words: 'How difficult it is even to
attain the means by which we ascend to the source of things!' do not
apply to you."

"Of course not; but just because, as a favorite women's doctor and
happening to be first in this specialty, my time is very much occupied;
I should not be able to finish the difficult task without the
assistance of a co-worker so tasteful as Adeline. Well, you'll come and
see us, it's high time. We'll take you into our laboratory, and you
must bear witness--but first of all, what brought you here without your
dear better-half?"

"Happy fellow," laughed Edwin, "who doesn't suspect what summer
vacations mean to a poor pedagogue! Hitherto, I've always spent them in
traveling with Leah, but this time mysterious and higher considerations
forced me--"

"Must I congratulate you, my old friend? No shame-faced evasions with
your physician! You'll make an excellent papa. It's a pity," he added
in an undertone, "that uncle Balder is no longer here to see it."

Edwin shook his head. "I fear the point in question does not concern
such important matters," said he, "or I should probably be admitted
into the secret. To be sure, it might be possible; for who can
thoroughly understand a woman! For instance, would you believe that
this affectionate daughter, who when she left the hut on the lagune
shed bitter tears because her father would be there alone, can't yet
make up her mind to visit him, simply because he did the wisest thing
he could, under the circumstances, and married his old friend, Frau
Valentin?"

"So that's true!" exclaimed Marquard. "Adeline thought she had read it
in the newspaper, but afterwards we could not find the sheet to make
sure of the names, and of course they didn't send cards to us. Well, I
believe they'll live as happily as two doves, content with their God,
and good works will now flourish in partnership. But what does our Leah
see to condemn in such a match, which was certainly made in heaven and
which moreover is such a sensible arrangement; for where could the
lonely old man find a better refuge, now that a huge tenement house has
been built on the site of his Venetian palace, than under the
protecting wings of his excellent old sweetheart?"

"That's just it," replied Edwin, "that touched a spot in his daughter's
heart and she will hear no reasoning upon it. If the point in question
had simply concerned a new mode of life, in which other considerations
than her father's comfort had turned the scale, no one would have been
more glad, than my good wife. But papa zaunkönig informed her of his
decision in a letter which was certainly strange enough. The parts were
exactly exchanged; the father addressed the daughter in the tone a good
son or younger brother would use in informing a highly respected mother
or sister of a marriage of which she would probably disapprove, but
which, as an accomplished fact, must be accepted with the best
grace possible. He knew his child; he knew that she watched with a
deep-rooted jealousy, to see that her dead mother's image was not
supplanted. Her passionate love would not have rebelled against what is
termed a sensible marriage with anyone except his old love; but
throughout the letter, it was perfectly evident that a late blossom of
their youthful love had unfolded, a joyous midsummer warmth had
awakened in these two by no means aged souls, and that both the
worthy people felt all the timidity and embarrassment of a real love.
Frau Valentin's letter was also constrained, and in spite of their
excuse--they had perceived it was God's will, and had yielded to his
decree--it was easy to see that they had submitted with heartfelt joy
to this same higher will. This did not escape the penetration of my
little philosopher, and never was any letter of hers so tart as the
reply to this news. Nay, although during the two years which have since
elapsed, thanks to the truly Christian feeling that pervades the
marriage, the daughter's feelings toward her new mother have softened
and she has become almost reconciled--she still refuses to see her
father in his new relations--! And yet there are people, who attempt to
deny that women have their peculiar ethics!"

Both were silent for a time. It had grown perfectly dark, only the gold
frames of the spectacles sometimes glittered, when the lighted cigar
came near them. Suddenly Marquard said:

"Will you answer me a question, my lad. An indiscreet one, but I have
my reasons for it--are you happy?"

"I don't think that question at all indiscreet when propounded by a
friend," replied Edwin quietly. "But to answer it conscientiously, we
must first understand what you mean by happiness. In the ordinary
sense, of no wish remaining unfulfilled, and the absence of all
oppressing care, I know only one happy couple amongst our acquaintance:
our worthy tribune of the people and his little wife. Papa Feyertag
has, as you know, opened his pocket so generously, that Franzel, who
insisted upon moving to L. with me, was able to establish a very fine
printing office. We have only to turn the corner to reach their house,
and I needn't assure you that we're very neighborly. One can't find
anything prettier than this little rosy, fair-haired mother, with her
three red cheeked children--"

"Three? The marriage was only--"

"There's a pair of twins, now just two years old, exactly like their
papa and already recognizable at a long distance as young tribunes of
the people by their powerful voices. You ought to see our Franzel carry
the little mob about, one on each arm and the third pick-a-pack, his
bronzed face and the white teeth under his bushy beard fairly radiant
with fatherly pride; and Frau Reginchen, when he's romped enough,
pushes his shaggy hair back from his forehead and scolds him for making
the boys still wilder than they are by nature, her eyes meantime
sparkling with delight, I'm sure they never held conflicting opinions
for half an hour; she can twist him around her little finger now as
well as during their betrothal, in everything concerning household
affairs, and too, she's clever enough not to meddle with things she
does not understand--his business and theories for reforming the world.
He's still strong in them, but we've silently agreed not to argue
social questions, and what he does practically is very thorough. His
care for his workmen is really exemplary, they all have a certain share
of the profits--it's a sort of joint stock company, in which the
individual stockholders give labor instead of money, a system, which
depends solely upon the good will of the capitalist, and will be
imitated only when all manufacturers become philanthropists like our
Franzel. But here all have their share of the profits, and it's
pleasant to see how they all cling to him from the foreman down to the
youngest errand boy, idolize Frau Reginchen, and spoil the black-haired
boys and little girl. And moreover the cobbler's daughter, whose father
didn't trouble her with two many arts and sciences, has become a very
clever little woman, who plays no bad part in the discussion of every
day authors, provided the conversation doesn't go above Schiller. At
least so Leah says; she still stands in as much awe of me as if I were
the Holy Ghost incarnate, and avoids all literary topics in my
presence. Nevertheless we're on very pleasant terms with each other;
she calls me her God-father and I call her Frau God-mother; you ought
to come and see our quiet life--although you could gather no new ideas
for your gastronomical work."

"I am coming," said Marquard, "I certainly will! You've roused my
appetite, I can tell you. But we've wandered a long distance from the
main topic."

"Whether or not I am happy? You know it doesn't take much to satisfy an
idealist. The world is what we make it, and I've good reasons to be
very well satisfied with it. I've no occasion to be anxious about the
ordinary wants of life, and have never regretted for a single hour,
that I gave up the professorship to take a quiet subordinate position
as teacher in a school. While imparting the precepts of Pythagoras, my
metaphysical system has time to mature, and I needn't teach anything
for which I can't be fully responsible. Ambition I never possessed.
What I have not in myself, no one can give me; I never cared to have my
own opinion of myself corroborated by a crowd of people whom I don't
know and therefore can't respect. But I'm indebted to the little city
for one thing which I thought superfluous in the capital, but have now
learned to prize because it enriches and strengthens my existence: I've
entered into the midst of a motley throng of human beings, and the
hundred-fold contact with an apparently thoughtless reality has
benefited not only the man, but the philosopher. You smile, you
arrogant metropolitan! You can't imagine, that one's view of the world
may become more comprehensive in the atmosphere of a little town. And
yet man is everywhere the same, and such a little town is a retort in
which I can most easily insulate the experiment that slipped through my
fingers in the great busy city. You would be surprised if I should give
you examples of the psychological results I've obtained from my active
and daily share in the interests of my worthy fellow citizens. What did
I know of the genius _homo sapiens_, when I lived in our tun and only
allowed a few chosen specimens to approach me? Only from the average
can pervading laws be discovered. But you'll find all this some day in
my book, if I ever write it. But I'll say this--that nothing external
more richly rewards the trouble, than, wherever we maybe or whatever
people we may be associated with, to honestly devote ourselves to them
and share with them the best we have. These worthy people who at first
eyed me curiously, because I was wanting in those things which usually
help to win popularity and neither visited their usual places of resort
nor joined in their games of skittles, any more than Leah attended
their coffee parties, now know, that despite all this, they have a very
good friend in me. Now and then, on public occasions, I have asked
permission to address them and found fresh confirmation of my old
opinion, that no one can guide a crowd so easily as one who stands on a
higher plane, if he has but the power of awakening the true manly
spirit which sleeps in the breast of the lowest boor. Afterwards they
have not unfrequently come to me as this spirit moved within them, but
failed to find courage in its own strength. They would have elected me
to the Chamber of Deputies, if I'd not positively forbidden it.
_Basta!_ You may think I imagine it a wonder to be Cæsar in a village.
No, indeed, my dear fellow! Nay, I confess that it always costs me a
special effort to do my fellow citizens these trifling services; for at
the bottom of my heart I'm still the aristocrat whom only the old
saying _noblesse oblige_ can lure from his seclusion. I'm bound to few
by the tie of affection, and whether that wouldn't break up too, if I
should strike my tent and continue my journey--"

"Do you intend to resign your position?"

"No; but certain people, who can't bear to have a simple teacher of
mathematics take the liberty of thinking and saying what doesn't suit
their turn, may drive me to it. It's a very simple story; I delivered,
before a sort of society for the education of workmen, which Franzelius
of course instituted immediately upon coming to the city, and at which
every week honorary as well as working members assemble, a lecture on
Darwinism, relating purely to natural history; I was quite thoughtless
of the consequences, which were nevertheless very striking. Our city
pastor, my worthy colleague in the school, where he gives religious
instruction, took it so much amiss, that he instigated the principal to
suggest to me to send in my resignation. As I felt neither desire nor
obligation to do so, a report has been sent to the authorities, the
answer to which is still delayed. I'm awaiting it very calmly. I'm not
in the way of my other colleagues, the principal is well disposed
toward me and only yielded reluctantly to the authority of our
spiritual shepherd; if any change should occur in my position, my
opponent's victory is not to be envied, as the favor of young and old
will accompany me in my exile. So you see I'm beginning to make a
career, though at first in the sense of the rolling stone that gathers
no moss. But motion refreshes the blood, and a child of the world finds
his home everywhere."

"But your wife?"

"She'd undoubtedly find it much harder to part from our friends, than
I. Reginchen is as dear to her heart as a sister. For the rest, we two
are so well satisfied with each other's society, that we could not long
lack anything if we kept each other.

"True," he continued after a pause, as Marquard thoughtfully brushed
the ashes from his cigar, "one thing I do lack, or rather my dear wife.
It's strange, I was very fond of children, and a marriage without the
fulfillment of this purpose of life always seemed to me a very
sorrowful thing. Now that I experience the sorrow, I see that the
deficiency brings its own compensation. There's no third person between
husband and wife to divert their love; they're always alone, everything
remains as it was during the honeymoon, which extends to years. I only
wish it for Leah's sake, since she knows my old fondness for children
and can't look upon Reginchen's blessings without a sigh. For my part,
I could spend my life with what I have, and the natural desire for
offspring would gradually die out entirely. How few can boast of having
a wife who is a constant novelty, and yet as indispensable as the
oldest, most cherished habit! We are not always of one mind, like our
neighbors; Leah's blood is not so light and her thoughts stir it, and
then she has hours of hard secret struggle, and the conclusions at
which she arrives her honesty forces her to defend. But it's all the
prettier and more touching, when she regains her bright cheerful moods.
I can't help laughing when she doubts whether she's the right wife for
me, whether I should not have been happier with a fair haired child
like my little Frau God-mother." Marquard had risen and was pacing up
and down the room puffing violently at his cigar. "And the old love?"
he said after a pause.

"Rusted out, in defiance of the proverb! It becomes more and more clear
to me that the whole affair, the sudden mad passion, was only a symptom
of my general condition at the time and was melted out of my blood with
other useless stuff by the nervous fever. Since that time I've never
uttered her name, and have heard and seen no more of her than if her
husband's estates were in Sirius."

"I wish they were," muttered the physician between his teeth, stamping
indignantly on the floor. "I meant to keep it from you," he continued,
as he again threw himself on the sofa beside Edwin. "But since there'll
be no danger to you if she comes to a bad end some day--"

"She? Do you know anything about her? Have you seen her again?"

"I had the honor of kissing the countess' hand a few hours ago. Nay, I
can even tell you, we should have blindly passed each other here, if
your old friend and patron, the striped waistcoat, who was idling
around before the house, had not seen you at the upper window and
instantly recognized you."

"Little Jean? But how in the world--"

"You shall hear all. As I said before, I wished to keep it from you, as
I didn't know what impression it might make upon you, to suddenly find
yourself so near your old love. You know I've always had a great regard
for your wife, and have thought that no one could suit you better. I
hoped you'd be drawn toward each other by degrees and so regain your
full health. But when you began in such a heels-overhead fashion and
were so suddenly betrothed, I, as an experienced psychologist, couldn't
help shaking my head. Such speedy cures are rarely permanent; they
denote injury to some other organ. But the way in which you speak of
your domestic happiness, reassures me! I don't think I risk anything,
when I say, your old friend, in spite of her countess' coronet, has
made a worse match, than if she had taken the head master, Edwin."

"Unhappy? Poor thing! Does he ill treat her?"

"There!" said Marquard, "after all it will be better for me to keep
what I know to myself. It seems to me you can't yet, with the necessary
objectivity--"

"Don't torture me with delays and evasions!" exclaimed Edwin. "How
could I remain perfectly unmoved, when I heard that a creature once so
dear to me has such a hard fate to endure? But I assure you, even if I
heard it from her own lips, no other thought would enter my mind than
that an unhappy woman was lamenting her sufferings and had claims upon
my brotherly sympathy. The time when she could have bound me with a
hair of her head and forced me to do her will, is gone forever."

"Well then, listen," replied the physician. "Perhaps, as pious people
say, it's a dispensation of Providence, that I've found you here, since
I've been able to do nothing myself.

"A fortnight ago, I received a letter from a Count ----, who invited me
to his castle for a consultation. An address was enclosed, which left
me in no doubt that he was the richest of the counts of the name, and
the lady in question no other than our old friend. You'll understand
that I was curious to see her again. Adeline, who is far too generous
to be jealous, eagerly urged me to go. I had sent most of my patients
to various springs, so I set off at once and reached the place on the
third day.

"The count had sent a carriage to meet me at the station, as it was a
two hour's ride to the castle which was situated in the heart of the
mountains. But the drive didn't seem long; on the way I renewed another
old acquaintance, that of our little Jean, who's grown taller since his
unlucky drinking bout, but is not much more mature. The lad still
stares at the world with the same zealous boyish eyes he had in
Jägerstrasse. I tried to pump him, but his information never went
beyond the external magnificence that surrounded his master and
mistress. To judge from his story, there was no happier, more enviable
or charitable creature on the face of the earth, than his lady, the
countess, and as she, according to his account drove out daily, rode
horseback, or took long walks, never sparing herself or uttering any
complaint, there didn't seem to be the least occasion for having
summoned so distinguished a physician as your old friend, from so great
a distance to feel her pulse.

"The first conversation I held with her husband certainly made a great
change in my opinion. I found your successful rival an entirely
different man from what I had imagined, a person really needing pity,
who finds no enjoyment in all he possesses, money, lands, a noble name,
and a long line of ancestors, and who is not happy though in the prime
of life and surrounded by the utmost splendor.

"The style of the house I can only term ducal! A magnificent castle,
forests such as I've seen only in Russia, a four-in-hand of which no
prince need be ashamed, a kitchen and cellar that considerably enlarged
the horizon even of the author of the 'Art of Eating.' The ten days I
spent in the castle gave me an idea of the enviableness of the genuine
old nobility, living regardless of expense and not yet infected by the
industrial spirit of our times.

"The count himself, who has grown up amid these surroundings, is a
gentleman from head to foot, every inch a cavalier, a man who can talk
admirably about hunting and the ballet, and from whom, without the
smallest conscientious scruple, one can win a few hundred louis d'ors
at whist. That's however probably the best thing to be had of him; for
in other respects--but perhaps I'm unjust, I could not help continually
comparing him with you and asking myself--without wishing to flatter
you--in what way he'd have got the start of you, if you had both
appeared before our princess on equal terms. He seemed to me like a
beautifully carved, richly gilded old picture frame, containing a
cheap, poorly colored lithograph. But, as I said before, my old
prejudice in your favor may have played me a trick.

"'If it's only not something of the same kind, a comparison which must
result to the disadvantage of the man she has chosen, that is affecting
our countess', I instantly said to myself. But I soon perceived that
your old relations had not the slightest connection with the matter.

"In the first place, the count who made various confessions, such as
are heard only by a physician or priest, did not give the slightest
intimation that an older affection might be at the bottom of her
mysterious conduct. He took me directly to his study and there gave me
a detailed account of the four years of his married life. He knew that
she became his wife without love. She had not attempted to conceal the
fact from him for a moment, and, madly in love with her, as he was and
unfortunately is to this hour, contented himself with the thought that
he was no more repulsive to her than other men, toward whom she usually
showed a coldness of which he cheerfully bore his share. The old, oft
verified consolation that 'love will come after marriage,' and 'there's
no ice which a real fire can't ultimately melt,' helped him through the
short period of betrothal. Then came the strangeness of her new
surroundings, her struggle with all sorts of hostile elements in his
family, which to be sure resulted in a brilliant victory for the young
plebeian, but which did not exactly win her to greater tenderness. But
to his astonishment, even after marriage, the statue did not grow warm
in his arms. Probably the worthy nobleman lacked many qualities
essential to a Pygmalion. Yet he assured me that, despite her
inflexible coldness and reserve, he had treated her with the utmost
affection and spared her in every way.

"But now comes the strangest part of the tale. A child was born, a
bright boy, yet even this most powerful of all mediators did not
succeed in breaking the ice. Nay, it actually seemed as if the much
desired happy event only estranged the young wife still more. After the
child's birth, the countess, although she continued to live under the
same roof, effected an entire separation from her husband, locked
herself up in her own rooms, which he was never permitted to enter, and
only spoke to him at table, at large entertainments, and at hunting
parties, in which she took the most enthusiastic delight.

"All his efforts to break through this unnatural seclusion were in
vain. Nay, she even extended her aversion to the child, and usually
left it entirely to the nurse. But when, at seven months it suddenly
fell sick with any apparent cause, she didn't leave its bed day or
night and was evidently deeply affected by its death.

"But the expectations of her husband and the old countess that she
would now be softened and feel disposed to resume the old relations
again, were not verified. Nay, she began to seclude herself still more
and to adopt an even more capricious mode of life. This went so far
that she turned day into night and night into day, and only very
seldom, on some unusual occasion, though always present at the hunting
parties, did she appear among the guests in the castle. At such times
there was nothing noticeable in her manner, she was cordial and even
gay, and a stranger would have had no suspicion that anything unusual
was taking place. When the count's mother died, she attended the
funeral with every sign of sincere sorrow and held out her hand to her
husband for the first time in a year. But directly after the body was
interred, she again disappeared in her own rooms and continued the old
hermit life.

"I asked the count whether he had not himself questioned her concerning
the cause of this singular seclusion. He replied that he had done so
more than once, but she would not speak frankly, and only said she
perceived that she had been very foolish to marry him. She could not
and would not reproach him, but it would be better for both if he would
consent to a separation. She would never change her mind, never submit
to live with him as his wife again. She was sorry for him, but she
couldn't help it.

"In this resolution she remained firm, and neither kind measures nor
harsh produced any effect. After lavishing prayers and endearments,
anger overpowered him. The thought of being made a fool of by a woman,
to whose obedience he had the best claim, made his brain whirl. In the
madness of his pain and anger he burst into savage threats and cursed
the hour when he first saw her. She looked at him with a perfect
calmness and only replied: 'you're right to curse my existence; I curse
it, too. Put an end to this sad story and set me free.'

"But this he could not resolve to do. He could not banish the thought
that time must aid him. To give her a chance for reflection and perhaps
to accustom himself to do without her, he spent six months in traveling
and led a tolerably gay life in Paris and Berlin, but his love was not
weakened nor did he find the smallest change in her on his return; If
there was any alteration, it was for the worse; she was even colder,
sterner, and more reserved toward him and more dissatisfied with life.
Yet her bodily health had never been better, her sleep, her looks, her
pleasure in hunting and even in dancing, when, during the winter, she
was sometimes invited to neighboring castles. Now, however, even
strangers couldn't fail to notice, that in the midst of the gayest mood
her features would become terribly rigid and stony, and she either
turned her horse and dashed off home, or left her partner standing on
the ball room floor, and without the slightest reason or excuse ordered
her horses to be harnessed. There were a great many discussions and
consultations about the matter; the family physician, an old and
tolerably skillful man, with whom I speedily came to an understanding,
shrugged his shoulders; one medical notability after another, upon
being consulted, could not even obtain an interview, or, like the
christian physician in the harem, be permitted to feel the beautiful
patient's pulse through a hole in the wall; so matters were as hopeless
as they well could be, and the fear that monomania or some serious
derangement of the mind was imminent, was unfortunately only too well
justified.

"A lady who had known the count in Berlin, and in whose family I had
once been successful in curing a patient, mentioned my name to him. So
I came to the castle, and when on the following day I sent in my name
to the countess, simply as an old acquaintance, who had accidentally
wandered here while on a journey and merely wished to present himself
to her, I cherished the brightest hopes of penetrating the secret,
since I was at least admitted, a favor which had been obstinately
refused to all the other physicians who had been summoned.

"But I was very much mistaken. She received me as frankly and cordially
as in Jägerstrasse, seemed to remember every incident of those days,
down to the magical feast in the Pagoda, which was the last time I saw
her. She even inquired about you; you were doubtless married and no
longer lived in Berlin; then she wished to know what had happened to
the other guests at our bacchanalian revel at Charlottenburg. I clearly
perceived that she listened to my answers absently, not as if she were
giving herself airs, like a great lady who wishes to awe a plebeian,
but with an expression of profound weariness, numbness, and
joylessness, such as I have seen in the first stages of mental
disorder, or in the half lucid intervals of incurable lunatics. I can
truly say, that rarely have I so earnestly desired to be a medical
genius, which--between ourselves--I'm not. She's a beautiful creature,
you've no idea what she has become; I can easily understand, that a man
who has once possessed her, would rather die than consent to a
separation. If _I_ say this, who knows tolerably well what beautiful
women are, and that in the end one gets tired of even the fairest, it
means something. She probably perceived what an impression she made
upon me, and that I asked how _she_ had fared with real friendly
solicitude. 'Dear Herr Doctor,' said she, suddenly rising as if to
close the interview, 'I know why you're here. The count wishes to learn
from you whether I'm still in possession of my five senses, or if I run
any risk of losing one or more of them. Give yourself no anxiety about
me, I'm as well as a fish in water, and what I lack to be able to enjoy
my life as thoughtlessly as most other women, is not to be had from an
apothecary or discovered anywhere between heaven and earth. The count
has doubtless told you that I should like to go away from here, and be
free again. If you could persuade him to consent to this, it would be
the best thing you could do and I should be sincerely grateful to you.
Besides, it's more for his sake than my own, that I should like to be
separated from him. I pity him, as I should pity a living man bound to
a corpse. Just feel how cold! She held out her hand to me; it was
really cold enough to startle one. 'Yes, yes,' said she, 'it's always
so; I wish all was over. But what's done can't be undone.'

"Then she talked of indifferent subjects until I took leave, and the
two or three times that I afterwards saw her at dinner, she always wore
the same expression, of immovable cold insensibility to every joy.
During my stay at the castle, I fished for news like a member of the
secret police, questioned all her servants, and even thrust my nose
into things of a tolerably disagreeable nature. In vain. The only
person who perhaps might tell me something, her waiting maid, is as
silent as the grave. I'm just as wise as before, and when this
afternoon I raised the beautiful hand to my lips in farewell, it was no
whit warmer than at my first visit.

"The count, who has some business to do here, wanted to drive me to the
railway station himself. I could not conceal from him that he would be
merely throwing away his money, if he consulted any more of my
colleagues. A slight hint I gave, that he might perhaps regret it if he
insisted upon living under the same roof with her, that the sickness
which was impending might be averted by leaving her entirely to
herself, by a real separation, threw him into such a rage that I had
great difficulty in even partially soothing him.

"He had confidence in me, and I was forced to promise to invent some
pretext for commencing a correspondence with the countess, in order to
keep myself in some degree conversant with her condition. But these are
all useless expedients. I see clearly that there's but one hope of
solving this strange enigma, and--in some way--discovering where we
are. There's but one person who has any influence over her; it dawned
upon me like an inspiration, as soon as I saw him again. This one
person is--yourself! And now make up your mind, first, whether it's
your duty to set this poor woman's head straight, which some crotchet
has disturbed and bids fair to completely derange; secondly, whether
you can trust yourself to undertake it without danger to yourself or a
relapse into your old infatuation."

He had approached Edwin, and in spite of the gathering darkness, was
trying to read his face. After a time, as no answer came, he continued.
"But whatever you decide to do, you must do quickly. I've seen cases
where a state of mind that apparently gave no cause for uneasiness, and
resembled intellectual palsy rather than approaching insanity, would
suddenly at some trifle, change to most violent frenzy. I think that
you might then be unable to shake off the sense of a certain
responsibility, if you should now say: 'she's dead to me, it's not my
business to bring stranger's wives to their senses.' You see, Edwin,
I'm as sure as I am of my own existence, that neither he nor she would
tell any third person--no matter if the dignity and wisdom of a whole
faculty were united in him--what the poor wife would probably confide
to her old friend. The story about the child doesn't seem to me exactly
straight, but no one except herself can give any explanation of it.
Courage, Edwin! If she were in a burning house, you would not hesitate
to carry her out, even at the of being a little singed. Well, it wont
be so bad as that. What torments these poor, good, foolish creatures,
whether Catholics or Protestants, invent! what secret vows,
castigations, penances, and imaginary duties they impose upon themselves
dragging their poor bodies painfully about, and torturing their fellow
mortals! I could tell stories, of how I've now and then cured such a
distorted mind by a few sound remarks, though I can't vie with you in
logic. But here there's danger in delay. I shall set out for home
to-night, but the count will return to the castle in time for supper;
he has guests, some cousins and neighbors, with whom he's going to hunt
to-morrow. If you decide to go, I'll tell him I've accidentally met a
colleague here, who has fortunately appeared in the very nick of time,
and who is an authority in psychiatry, and that he can't do better than
to place the case in his hands. I know you've never seen each other,
and little Jean respects you too much not to keep his mouth shut if I
whisper a word in his ear, I hear the count's voice below. Shall I call
him or not?"

Edwin rose. "I know it will be useless, perhaps even harmful," he said
in a hollow tone. "_I_ have power over her? She must then have changed
very much. But no matter. As the case now stands, you're right; I
should reproach myself bitterly if I should keep on my way and
afterwards hear that some misfortune had happened. I'll only make one
request, that you'll tell the count who I am, the same man who once
loved his wife and whose brother--oh! Marquard, that's hardest of all!
To be under the same roof with the man who was the cause of Balder's
death!"

"For all that he's done to you or anybody else, he's now atoning in a
purgatory as terrible as one could wish for his worst enemy," replied
the physician. "I'm no hero of virtue, my lad, but I should like to
singe the thin locks on the count's brow with my coals of fire. But
you're right, we needn't be afraid to play with our cards on the table.
If he refuses, we must try some other way. But from what I know of him,
he's above the common fear of ghosts and will welcome with open arms
any spectre that will aid him in regaining his wife."

He rushed out of the room, and Edwin remained alone, a prey to the most
contradictory emotions.



                              CHAPTER III.


He hastily lighted a candle, took a small portfolio out of his
traveling satchel and wrote a few lines to inform Mohr where he was to
be found, in case his friend did not prefer to await his return, which
he hoped would be speedy, at the hotel. "It would be best," he
concluded, "for you to follow me at once, and take me away from the
castle, where the duties of friendship and a vain hope of being useful,
may perhaps detain me longer than I desire." He had just folded this
note, to leave it in the hotel, and was looking at his letter to Leah,
irresolute whether or not to open it and add a postscript, when he
heard steps on the stairs and directly after Marquard entered with the
count.

His first emotion was that of surprise, at seeing the very face he had
imagined whenever he thought of his rival--the insipid regularity of
the features, the haughty pose of the head, the hair already thin and
streaked with grey, while a thick, carefully trimmed beard covered the
cheeks and chin, the whole appearance indicating the scion of a noble
house and the heir of large estates. But the bright light that fell
upon his countenance revealed also traces of secret suffering, which
weighed down the eyelids and compressed the lips. The painful suspense
with which Edwin had awaited the man he had so long avoided, instantly
disappeared. It cost him no effort to take the hand which his old
antagonist frankly extended, and he returned its pressure without any
feeling of bitterness.

"We both know enough of each other to meet, even at the first
interview, as old acquaintances," said the count. "Our friend Doctor
Marquard, has told you the sad circumstances which induced me to ask
his advice. Unfortunately, he has been forced to confirm my fear that
his science has no means of reaching this obstinate disease. In such
cases we usually take refuge in all sorts of miraculous remedies, and I
confess I'm not sufficiently free from superstition, to refuse to
consult, if necessary, some old astrologist, or some woman who deals in
herbs. But before proceeding to such extreme measures, I should like to
try a better remedy. I know you were on very intimate terms with the
countess before she became my wife. She told me at the time, that there
was no man for whom she felt more esteem, nay reverence, than for
yourself; perhaps for that very reason another man would inform anyone,
rather than you, of his domestic unhappiness. But I believe you to be a
man of honor, Herr Doctor, and therefore incapable of entering my house
with selfish and malevolent joy to meet the woman who has not made your
rival happy. Besides, my state of mind is such that I no longer care
for myself, that I would risk everything to avert, if possible, the
terrible misfortune that threatens my wife. I shall consider it a great
proof of friendship, if you will go with me and after watching the
patient for a time, give me your opinion of her. If you should
succeed--" He paused and turned away. "However," he continued in a much
more formal tone, "I've no excuse whatever for asking such a favor, and
in case your time should not permit--"

"I'm entirely ready to go with you, Herr Count," replied Edwin. "But I
repeat what I've already told my friend--I go without any delusion that
I can exert any influence over the countess' mind. As in the old days,
in spite of her great confidence, she remained a mystery to me, I fear
that now, too, all my psychology will be baffled by the same problem.
But precisely because I stand in such a peculiar relation toward you,
you shall at least not be permitted to doubt my good will."

He took his hat and cane, passed the strap of his traveling satchel
over his shoulder, and opened the door. The three men walked down
stairs in silence side by side.

An elegant two seated hunting carriage was standing before the door of
the hotel; the long limbed young man in a green livery embroidered with
silver, who held the reins of the fiery horses which impatiently pawed
the ground, fixed his round blue eyes with embarrassed delight on his
old acquaintance, who nodded kindly to him as he came out of the house.
Marquard was right, little Jean's body had grown, but the rosy
beardless face remained unchanged. Edwin handed to the landlord for
mailing, the letter he had written Leah, gave him the necessary
information about Mohr's note, pressed Marquard's hand again and sprang
into the carriage. The count followed, took the reins from Jean who sat
behind, and waving his whip to the physician, spoke to the horses,
which impatiently dashed forward with the light vehicle.

"You'll make allowance for me, and pardon me if I seem silent or
abstracted," said the count, as soon as they had turned from the paved
streets into the softer forest road. "I've two new horses, which I'm
trying for the first time, and I must keep them well in hand. They're
full blooded Trakehners, but still somewhat young and untrained. Do you
take any interest in horses?"

"Yes, an interest, but I'm so ignorant that I should be laughed at by
all connoisseurs. The Great Elector's steed on the long bridge is to me
the crown of his race, and only now and then I find among brewer's
horses a specimen, that distantly reminds me of this ideal."

"That breed is scarcely used now, except for certain purposes," replied
the count gravely. "There's even a prejudice that muscular strength
bears a necessary relation to coarseness. The capacity to use strength
is the principal thing, and for that, thick fetlocks and broad chests
are not always requisite. Ho! ho!"--he shouted, as the horse on the
right did not know what to do with himself in his wanton caracoles. He
made the beautiful animals walk for some distance, standing erect as he
watched their pace with the eye of a connoisseur. When they had grown
more quiet and yielded to his firm hand, he resumed his seat beside
Edwin, and allowed them to trot.

Field after field, and forest after forest, tiny villages and lonely
huts flitted past them; the air grew no cooler, but the earth grew
darker, and the sky lighter. The horses dashed onward with their silent
load; the deep stillness of the summer night enwrapped them; over the
black tree tops hung the tender crescent of the moon, and now and then
a flash of light lit up the firmament, as if from a distant thunder
cloud; a dreamy, quiet mood stole over our friend, the subdued
happiness of a half dormant soul; in such a state we do not take either
joys or sorrows seriously and are scarcely surprised at the occurrence
of the most fabulous things. For years he had not uttered Toinette's
name; her image had become as dim in his memory as if she were no more
real than a character in some book of fiction; and now he was driving
toward her, who doubtless had as little expectation of such a meeting
as he himself had entertained an hour ago. He wondered if he should
find her so changed and why they fancied he would perform a miracle by
acting upon her strange moods, he who felt that all the ties that had
once bound him to her, were so utterly sundered.

He was surprised at the entire absence of anxiety with which he looked
forward to the moment when he was to see her again. He rejoiced in this
calmness. "If it had been an elementary power, to which I submitted in
those days," he thought, "the poison would now seethe in my blood again.
Though the iron be separated from the magnet a hundred years, it
quickly becomes conscious of its approach. True, happiness has changed
me much since then, so far as a man's nature can be changed and I am
calmed and strengthened. What will Leah say, when I tell her about it!"

He could not forbare to wonder at the singular circumstances, which had
decreed that the most unprejudiced witness of those past events, should
be the very one to recognize him and thereby restore to his mistress
her old friend. The old question of the connection between earthly
destinies once more rose before his mind. "Is this an intentional
exercise of some will that rules and guides our souls, or do we
separate and meet again like the waves of the sea, which obey only the
ebb and flow of the tide?"

Again he left these questions unsolved and became wholly absorbed in
the enjoyment of the moment. His companion did not disturb him. The
duties of a driver claimed his attention more and more, for the moon
grew brighter and the fiery young animals often shied and reared at the
sight of some, to them, mysterious object. For a time Edwin closed his
eyes and enjoyed the cool night air which refreshed him like a bath,
after the toilsome walk he had taken during the day. When, roused by a
sudden jolt of the carriage, he again opened his eyes, he was amazed at
the wondrous beauty of the scene. Before him, probably at the distance
of a fifteen minutes drive, on a bold height appeared the battlements
and pinnacles of a castle, to which a broad wide avenue led through the
dark forests. The roofs glittered in the moonlight as if coated with
silver, and when the wind moved the vanes, lines of light darted from
their sharp edges like falling stars. All the windows seemed to be
dark, no living thing seemed to be moving within; it was like some
enchanted palace. But when the light carriage, despite the rising
ground, had traversed the avenue through the forest at full speed, and
entered the courtyard through a lofty portal, flanked by two griffens
bearing coats of arms, there was a confusion of voices, mingled with
the barking of dogs, lackeys bearing torches rushed out of the lofty
and brilliantly lighted hall to meet the two gentlemen, a portly butler
in a black coat and white cravat appeared at the carriage door and
helped the stranger to descend, while the count threw the reins to a
stable boy and said to the head groom, in excellent English, a few
words about the first trial of the new horses. Then he too sprang out
of the carriage and overtook his guest on the upper step.

"My dear Herr Doctor," said he, putting his arm through Edwin's with
condescending familiarity, "I welcome you on the threshold of my home.
I hope you may remain here some time, and only regret"--here he lowered
his voice--"that I cannot present you to the countess to-day. She has
entirely withdrawn from all our evening assemblies, and only
occasionally appears at dinner. I hope the visit of an old friend may
induce her to make an exception in his favor to-morrow. For to-day, you
must be satisfied with masculine society. Have the gentlemen come
down?" he asked, turning to the butler who, holding a silver
candlestick, was preceding the gentlemen up the already brilliantly
lighted marble staircase.

"Five minutes ago. Your Excellency."

"Then we'll not keep them waiting. But perhaps, Herr Doctor, before we
sit down to supper, you'll wish to retire to your room a moment."

Edwin smiled. "I'm not able to make an elaborate toilette," he said
glancing at his traveling satchel, which a servant was carrying after
him. "You must apologize to your guests, Herr Count, for picking up a
simple wayfarer and bringing him under your stately roof."

"No ceremony among friends," replied the count, still with the same
immovably courteous face. "You'll find us too entirely _sans gêne_;
some of my neighbors have ridden over in their hunting suits, as we
have a deer hunt early to-morrow morning and I hope you'll give us the
pleasure of your company on the occasion."

He did not wait for a reply, but approached the large folding doors,
which were hastily thrown open by two footmen, and which admitted them
to the broad, carpeted ante-room of the first story. With an easy,
friendly gesture, the count invited Edwin to precede him, and they
entered the lofty dining hall.



                              CHAPTER IV.


Several slender tawny greyhounds came bounding toward them and
completed the illusion that they were entering a banqueting hall of the
_rococo_ times. The room was spacious and lofty, of an oblong shape,
with rounded corners adorned in the richest style of the last century
with gilded stucco-work and huge pier glasses which reflected the light
of the candles in the large glass chandelier and the glittering silver
on the table. At the other end of the apartment a glass door opened
upon a balcony, and this, like the two windows on each side, afforded a
view of the park, whose majestic trees towered above the long clipped
hedges and arbors. Nothing recalled the present century except an
elegant piano, at which a young man sat who failed to hear the entrance
of the master of the house and his guest, amid the noise made by his
dashing passages.

The others, who appeared to have been waiting some time, instantly
turned toward the door, and one after another was greeted by the count
and introduced to Edwin. Suddenly the musician paused, started up and
with great cordiality, hurried toward the count. He was a handsome
young man, in whom, despite his civilian's dress, the cavalry officer
was recognizable at the first glance, and whom the count introduced as
his cousin, Count Gaston. He seemed to feel perfectly at home, and even
at the table, where with amicable familiarity he drew Edwin down by his
side, almost wholly supported the conversation, which as usual turned
upon women, horses, and hunting.

When the champagne, which was not spared, began to heat the brains and
loosen the tongues of even the quieter members of the company, the
young gentleman turned to his neighbor, who had hitherto been a silent
listener, and said in a low tone:

"There! I've done my share by dint of friction, in putting some
enthusiasm into these wooden images and now the champagne must keep it
up. I hope, my dear sir, you don't suppose I enjoy this insipid gabble.
But what would you have? See how my cousin, the count, sits at his own
table with a face like the statue of the Commandant. If I don't
victimize myself and talk nonsense, the supper will be as tiresome and
silent as a funeral feast. So I must introduce subjects that amuse the
gentlemen, even though they may be terribly out of taste. But now let's
renew our acquaintance. Of course you don't remember our meeting a few
years ago in Berlin, at the rooms of one of my intimate friends, young
Baron L., to whom you were acting as private tutor, while he was
preparing to pass his examination for one of the higher government
offices. He's now Secretary of Legation at Constantinople, and I hope
does honor to your teaching. I am still what I was then, a man who
learns nothing in any school, except that of life. There must be such
odd sticks! But I can tell you, I no longer sit quite at the bottom of
the class in my school; for instance, I have long since left behind the
tasks at which our worthy companions are perspiring. You've been
introduced to them all after the ridiculous fashion of murmuring a
name. Allow me to make, you better acquainted with individuals. My left
hand neighbor, who is addressed as Herr Colonel, is, as you've
doubtless already supposed from his prominent cheek bones and peculiar
accent, of Slavonian descent; a Pole of the good old race of Oginsky,
who, _as he says_, having been compelled through a disagreement with
the Russian authorities, to enter the Austrian service, was promoted in
the Italian war to the rank of colonel; then, _as he says_, honorably
discharged in consequence of a wound in the foot. He has already stayed
several months with my cousin, as, _so he says_, a civil office has
been offered him in France, and he's only obliged to wait for his
Polish papers before becoming a naturalized citizen of that country. As
he's an excellent judge of horses, a tolerably good huntsman, and an
adept in all games of chance, my cousin has no reason to doubt the
existence of these papers, and I of course still less. His next
neighbor, the elegant gentleman of uncertain age, uncertain glance, and
very certain doubtful movements of the fingers, which suggest great
skill in tricks with cards, is, to speak frankly, what we call in plain
prose, a blackleg, a Parisian acquaintance of my cousin, whom he
invited here and can't shake off again, much as I've urged him
to do so. But he seems to have his reasons for handling this
Chevalier de Marsan--the only person here with whom I never exchange a
syllable--with gloved hands, while I would show him the door without
ceremony. My dear doctor, there are more doubtful personages between
heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy. A real
antidote to this corrosive sublimate pill, which I am daily compelled
to swallow, is the stout gentleman on the other side of my cousin, a
plebeian owner of an ancient estate, who married the daughter of an
immensely rich banker; his wife never appears among us, probably
because he's ashamed of her manners, which are not exactly suited to a
drawing room; but nevertheless, as you see, he's an excellent man, an
admirable landlord, a great huntsman, and a lover of old wine and old
stories, in short, the most appreciative of auditors for my witticisms.
You've heard how he can laugh. I once made a bet that I could make him
laugh till he rolled under the table, merely by telling stories of
great eaters, and to be sure, at the end of an hour, he lay gasping on
the floor; we were actually afraid of a fit of apoplexy. Beside this
harmless mortal and directly opposite you, sit two no less worthy
specimens of the creatures of God, who, however, can hardly be very
proud of these, his images. Did you ever see two people so exactly
alike? They look as if they'd just stepped out of Pletsch, don't they?
The same short, fair hair, the same low brows, small noses, close
cropped brushes on the upper lip, and solemn faces when everyone else
is roaring with laughter, which proves them very dull of comprehension.
When they stand up, you'll see that both are very tall men. Moreover,
these same brothers, Thaddäus and Matthäus von der Wende are noblemen
of a most ancient family. It's seldom that twins have so much fraternel
affection. Each is perfectly satisfied with half the usual portion of
common sense, and carefully guards against becoming wiser than the
other. We call them the Siamese twins, although they're not united by
means of any corporal bond, and of course there can be no question of
an intellectual one. However, they're rich and well bred and never
annoy anyone. Next comes a short, rather high shouldered gentleman
about fifty, with a white tie and crafty, humble smile, who says
little, eats a great deal, and hears everything. Don't get his ill
will, he's a piece of old family furniture, and was the physician,
confidant, etc., of the late countess; he is called Dr. Basler, and I'd
as readily trust my person to his physic, as my reputation to his
tongue. Beside him sits the steward, who'll join the hunting party
to-morrow and always drinks with us the night before, and the silent
gentleman on your other side is my cousin's private secretary, an
honest, clever soul, but afflicted with an unfortunate hobby. He's
trying to find the secret of perpetual motion. There, now! you know the
people assembled within this ancient house--even to the crown jewel,"
he added with a sigh, "which unfortunately disdains to shine except on
gala days."

"Are you speaking of the countess? I knew her several years ago, before
her marriage."

"And have not seen her since? Then you'll not recognize her. I confess
that upon first sight she made a great impression upon me. I was
prejudiced against the marriage, which I thought was a rash step on the
part of my dear cousin, after the style of his former _liaisons_.
Unequal marriages always have their difficulties, although of course
I'm sufficiently enlightened not to believe in 'blue blood.' But we see
every day, how uncomfortable it is for people of position to receive
into their circle a worthy little goose who feels 'honored' to live
under the shadow of a pedigree centuries old, or a pretentious heiress,
or any of the ordinary people whom it's all very well to love, but who
are too good or too bad to marry. It's easiest to get along with
actresses, opera singers--or for aught I care, ballet dancers. They at
least possess style, _savoir faire_, self-possession, and know us well
enough not to think us wholly unlike other human beings. But a ballet
master's daughter from a little provincial town--I didn't hear of the
princely paternity until afterwards--I confess I was furious. I love
this family seat, and have enjoyed spending a few months of every year
here, away from the gayety of the capital. Now, I thought, I should be
compelled to see a _roturière_ do the honors. But after the first
interview my feelings were entirely changed. Whoever her mother may
have been, she at least didn't belie the father's blood. And yet--at
that time she was but in the bud compared to the centifolia into which
she has since expanded. Pardon me if I threaten to become poetical.
Between ourselves--or even not between ourselves, since it's public
talk--my unfortunate passion for my beautiful cousin, which is as
hopeless as if I were in love with the Venus of Milo, has had so great
an influence upon the development of my character, that I can truly say
I'm no more like the man you met at little Baron L's., than an Ionic
column is like a hedge pole."

"Your poetic fervor, Herr Count, has at least the merit of a certain
impressiveness of style. But in what consists, if I may ask--"

"You're making sport of me, my honored sir. I still seem to you a
frivolous nobleman, a child of the world, with whom a grave man of your
stamp can at the utmost only chat away an hour at table. But learn to
know me better. This lady first opened my eyes to the fact that the
real charm of life consists in something forever unattainable, a
yearning that is ever unfulfilled. Are you familiar with Richard
Wagner's music? What I've just said of life he has striven to suggest
in art. For in what does the secret of melody consist? Take Mozart,
Glück, the Italian composers--there everything is complete, every piece
has its beginning, its middle and its end, exactly like ordinary love
affairs. We are allured, we enjoy, and we grow weary--_voilà tout_, and
if the music or the girl is beautiful, after a time we're again
allured--a new aria, a new ecstacy--and so on indefinitely till the
world tires us and our hair grows grey. This is the usual course of
life and art. But now think of a hopeless passion, such as I've felt
for years. I feel the same that I hear when I listen to Tristram and
Yseult--eternal longing, yearning and sighing, never repose and
satisfaction, a mere analysis of dissonances, and withal a tumult of
ecstacy in all the instruments, in which at last, as in a dream of
love, sight and hearing disappear and we're fairly beside ourselves
with restless longing, infinite melody, and voluptuous exhaustion. This
is the secret of the success this great man has obtained--emotion
increased to the utter exhaustion of all strength and constantly
subduing the poor, coarse senses--appetite continually excited without
being satisfied in the usual way--a sort of pathetic cancan, a musical
hasheesh intoxication. And even in the choice of the text, the moral
qualities of the characters, what consummate art is shown in the
avoidance of everything palpable, simple, and true to nature;
everything of which the ordinary human mind can form some distinct
conception! Take Don Giovanni--there you know exactly where you are.
From the peasant to the nobleman, from the light minded peasant girl to
the noble lady--the characters are perfectly natural, people with flesh
and bones, and red blood in their veins. I know them as well as if I'd
lived in the same house with them. The characters of Wagner's music, on
the contrary--why you might see the same opera ten times and be no whit
wiser about these swan knights, gods, and flying Dutchmen, than at the
first representation. I call this boundless characterization, and it
supplements the boundless melody. And to enjoy such an endless
master-piece, and in the meantime to brood over an endless passion, the
one as hopeless and alluring as the other--"

The conversation, which also threatened to become "boundless," was here
interrupted by the master of the house, who rose, bowed to his guests,
and with a courteous wave of the hand invited them to follow him into
the little drawing room adjoining the dining hall. Here there were
several card tables, a magnificent silver bowl containing punch,
several open boxes of cigars, and other paraphernalia for smoking.
While the count, with the Polish colonel and French chevalier, were
preparing to begin a game of hazard, in which no one else seemed
disposed to join, the fat landed proprietor became absorbed in a
conversation on agriculture with the steward, now and then asking the
silent secretary for his opinion, which the latter always gave with the
same grave bend of the head, often refilling his glass from the silver
bowl. The inseparable brothers Thaddäus and Matthäus had stationed
themselves behind the card players and gravely watched the alternations
of luck. Count Gaston had returned to the dining hall and seated
himself at the piano, evidently in the hope that his neighbor at table
would follow and allow him to give a musical commentary on his
knowledge of art and life. But Edwin was compelled to forego this
instructive pleasure; for the little man with the high shoulders and
clever old face, whom Gaston had introduced as the family physician,
approached him and asked in his low courteous voice, if he was not the
son of one of his college classmates who had suddenly abandoned the
profession of law to marry a very beautiful wife. He had been struck by
the resemblance before he heard the name. When Edwin answered in the
affirmative, the little man became very confidential, and after
inquiring very particularly about his old friend, acquainted the son
with his own circumstances.

When a student of theology, somewhat advanced in life, he had entered
the household to assist in educating the young count, who was then
about six years old. The countess, already a widow, had taken a fancy
to the clever man, who was better versed in every other department than
that of theology--a fancy, which in spite of the tutor's insignificant
appearance, seemed to have ripened into a still warmer feeling. Not a
syllable on the part of the discreet speaker, only a peculiar glance
from his piercing eyes conveyed this inference. As his prospect of
advancement in his real profession became poorer and poorer, an old
predilection for physical science obtained a stronger hold upon his
mind; the idea of going to Berlin occurred to him, and he studied
anatomy there for several years, absorbed all sorts of surgical
knowledge, and at last, as the countess would not consent to dispense
with his services any longer, returned to the castle with the title of
doctor somewhat doubtfully obtained, but a most undoubted salary as
physician-in-ordinary, as his former pupil had left home some time
before to complete his education by foreign travel.

He had understood the art of maintaining his position, even after the
death of his patroness; he had sustained it principally it appeared, by
a marriage with the countess' by no means youthful waiting maid and
_confidante_. He spoke of this union with a lofty and sarcastic smile,
that like many other things in the clever man, greatly disgusted Edwin.
The gentleman seemed to perceive the impression his confidential
communications were making on his hearer. "My dear Herr Doctor," said
he, "you're still a young man, and have always been independent. You
can scarcely imagine how the habit of accommodating one's self to
others, and not being over rigorous, will in time degrade a man who
originally is by no means a scoundrel. Ah me! when I think of the days
when, with your dead father, I still worked toward our so-called
ideals! Yet he died a bookkeeper, and I've written prescriptions in
which I felt no faith. The longer one lives, the more plainly one
perceives that there are very few mortals so happy as never to be
placed in a false position, and that since it's a man's duty to
preserve his life, there's but a single weakness that dishonors him: to
believe what is false to be true. A pastor who assumes the duties of
his parish a disbeliever in revealed religion, and gradually allows the
voice of reason to grow weaker and ends by accepting the tenets of the
faith he preaches, or a physician who begins the practice of his
profession by disbelief in his own powers and ends by using his salves
and plasters with a look of grave importance not wholly assumed--they
falsify themselves and are utterly contemptible. But he, who in a world
that is only too willing to be cheated, does not befool honest
individuals, but swindles men in the gross, and meantime is ready at
any moment, like the Roman augur, to laugh in unison with other clever
men, seems to me to play his part as a weak mortal very tolerably.
There was a famous Berlin doctor here yesterday, Herr Marquard, who's
perhaps known to you by reputation. He performs on a large scale, what
I practice here on a small one, and the fact of his being more learned
is rather troublesome to him than otherwise, since each individual case
gives him scores of things to reflect upon. But he's a clever man, and
after the first fifteen minutes we no longer tried to impose upon each
other. The gentleman was no more successful with the young countess
than I, but she didn't make him feel her contempt so keenly as she did
my insignificant self. Well, as you see, my back is naturally more bent
than my colleague's. I can take more on my high shoulders."

He laughed softly, but seemed surprised when Edwin's only reply to his
extreme outspokeness was a curt: "Every one is entitled to his own
opinions!" During the doctor's cautiously whispered speech, our friend
had glanced from one member of the company to the other and said to
himself: "These are the people with whose companionship she has been
obliged to be satisfied for four long years!" The thought aroused
within him an unspeakable sense of oppression, sorrow, and indignation.
He took advantage of a pause in the card playing, to approach the
count, and pleading that he was fatigued by his pedestrian tour, to
take leave of him for the night. The count looked at him absently a
moment, as if he were some stranger whose face he could not instantly
recall, then pressed his hand with marked cordiality and apologized for
having enjoyed so little of his society that evening. He hoped to make
up for the loss on the morrow. Then he motioned the butler to show the
guest to his room, and returned to his game, in which fortune, to judge
from the piles of gold before his companions, turned her back on him as
usual.



                               CHAPTER V.


The room to which Edwin was conducted, was situated in a wing of some
considerable length, a modern addition to the old castle, which had
completely destroyed the symmetry of the rear of the edifice. The
windows looked out upon the park, and on the other side a small
staircase led down into the courtyard, which was surrounded by domestic
offices, so that from thence the apartments in this one story wing
could be reached without using the stairs and corridors of the castle.

The sun must have found free admittance to Edwin's room all day, for an
oppressive atmosphere greeted him, which was not improved even after he
had thrown both windows wide open. But under any circumstances, it
would have been long ere he could have attempted to go to sleep. The
events of the day and the anticipation of the morrow quickened his
pulses. He went to the window and gazed out into the garden, where the
lofty jet of a fountain fell into a basin lined with shells. The
windows and balcony of the dining hall projected in softly rounded
lines from the facade, now but dimly illuminated by a moon that was
about to sink below the horizon. The remainder of the edifice lay in
shadow, but in the other wing of the castle two lofty windows in the
second story were brightly lighted. He did not doubt for a moment that
_she_ occupied them. How many evenings he had gazed up at her windows
in Jägerstrasse; now he found her here, once more in the count's rooms,
this time of her own free will, and yet--

Voices in the corridor aroused him from the reverie into which this
comparison had thrown him. The other guests were retiring to their
rooms; Edwin distinctly recognized the different voices as they bade
each other good night, and learned by the uniform double step, that the
brothers Thaddäus and Matthäus occupied the room on his right, while
that on his left was assigned to the fat landed proprietor. His right
hand neighbors were perfectly quiet, and if their thoughts were as much
alike as their faces, they could not have profited by any exchange. The
stout gentleman was more troublesome. After spending half an hour in
undressing, during which he whistled, muttered to himself, and several
times, as if recollecting some story he had heard in the evening, burst
into a roar of laughter, he at last threw himself on his bed so
heavily, that it creakingly threatened to break under the burden, and
almost instantly began to snore so persistently, and in such a variety
of tones, that Edwin, who had been about to undress, renounced all idea
of doing so and determined to spend the night in an arm-chair at the
open window.

But even this became at last unendurable, and moreover the moist breath
of the fountain allured him out into the silent night. He left the room
without his hat and soon descended the little staircase and opened the
door, which he found fastened with only a light bolt.

The courtyard lay as silent and deserted in the faint glimmering
moonlight, as the garden on the opposite side. In order to reach the
latter, he was obliged to pass around the whole wing, the stables, and
the servant's rooms. As he glided by the little windows, he saw a dim
light twinkling in one and involuntarily paused before it. He could
look into a narrow chamber, where a young girl was sleeping, not in her
bed, but on a stool before a low table, with her head leaning against
the wall. A lantern beside her revealed her round, pretty face and
graceful figure. She did not seem to have fallen asleep over her work,
but while waiting for something or some one. The step pausing before
her window roused her. She started up, hastily pushed her hair back
from her forehead, and exclaimed as if still half asleep: "Is it you,
Your Excellency?" Suddenly seeming to distinguish the strange face, she
uttered a low exclamation, and upset the lantern. Then all was still.

Edwin walked on, wondering which of his table companions was the happy
man expected. But when he passed through the courtyard gate into the
park, all these thoughts vanished, and the magic of the silent night
took complete possession of his senses.

He rested for some time on a bench near the fountain, cooling his hot
brow in the spray that filled the air around him; then walked aimlessly
down the principal avenue, and at last plunged into the more secluded
portions of the park, where only a faint glimmer of moonlight pierced
through the branches of the tall trees. Neatly kept paths ran in
various directions, here and there stood a bench, a summer house, an
umbrella-like tent, all tokens that the wanderer was not in the wild
forest. Even the stream he now found, flowed between low, regularly
formed banks, and was crossed at intervals by small bridges. Edwin
turned into the narrow gravel walk beside the noiseless water, but the
brook suddenly made a wide curve and ran under a high palisade, which
surrounded a pond. At this spot the woods were less dense, and the
stars were mirrored in the smooth surface of the little lake. Edwin
walked around the enclosure, hoping to find an entrance. He thought of
a bath here was tempting, and he saw at the end of the pond, under some
tall shrubbery, a little building that was evidently used for this
purpose. But a small entrance gate, which after some search he at last
found, was securely locked, and he was about to give up his intention
and return to the path, when he perceived a place in the palisade where
the stakes stood so far apart that a deer, in case of necessity, could
pass through. Urged on by his desire to bathe, he endeavored to widen
the hole, and at last with some difficulty, succeeded in forcing his
way through the opening.

He now went directly to the little building, but found it locked. The
shore here, which was overgrown with bushes and marshy plants, was not
suitable for bathing, but the opposite side, where a meadow sloped
gently down to the water, seemed very well adapted to the purpose, and
he bent his steps toward it. A feeling of strange delight stole over
him, as he walked on through the soft night air, beside the still, dark
water, from which no sound was heard save the melancholy croaking of a
frog. A few tall trees stood at the end of the little lake, and some
low bushes clustered around their roots. He determined to undress
behind this natural screen.

But he had not even commenced, when he saw on the opposite shore dark
figures approaching along the path by which he himself had come. As
they neared the palisade, he also heard low voices, which grew more
audible as they reached the little gate. Directly after a key rattled
in the lock, and he saw two muffled figures enter the enclosure, which
was lighted by the moonbeams--female figures wrapped in long black
cloaks with hoods--who, after securing the gate behind them, turned
toward the little bathing house.

He fairly gasped for breath, and began to consider whether he should
have time and opportunity to retreat unobserved through the opening in
the fence. But this seemed to be a dangerous venture. From the spot
where he stood, to the low bushes that grew along the enclosure,
there was not a tree or shrub to conceal him. And if he should be
discovered--in what a light would his nocturnal entrance into this
carefully guarded precinct appear!

But before he could think of any other expedient, all time for
reflection was over. The door of the bathing house was opened and a
slender white figure, whose unbound hair fell over her arms and
shoulders, appeared on the upper step of the little flight of stairs
that led into the lake. She raised her head and looked up for a moment
toward the night sky, which had become slightly overcast, then let the
bathing cloak wrapped around her fall, and stooped to the water to wet
her forehead and breast, the next instant she sprang down the steps,
disappeared a few seconds and then, shaking her dripping locks, rose to
the surface.

Her companion appeared at the doorway and called out to her, Edwin
could not distinguish her words but the bather replied in a smothered
voice. Then both were silent. The swimmer divided the water with long,
steady strokes, at intervals raising her head and shoulders above the
surface to shake back the thick hair from her brow. Her face looked
dazzling white in the dim light of the setting moon, but the middle of
the pond, to which she had swum, was too far from the trees on the
meadow, for any one standing there to obtain a distinct view of her
features. Thus the mysterious nixie swam up and down the lake ten or
twelve times, in the profoundest silence. Her companion had retired to
the little house, and none but she seemed to be breathing in the forest
solitude. Not a zephyr stirred the surface of the pond, not a leaf fell
from the trees; the croaking of the frog had ceased; only at intervals,
when the swimmer made a quick turn the water rippled audibly and the
rushes along the shore swayed to and fro.

At last she seemed to grow weary, and lying on her back, floated for a
time in a circle, so that only a little of the pale face appeared above
the water. While so doing she came so near the shore, that the watcher
behind the boughs could see the delicate white outline of the profile
relieved against the dark water, and distinctly perceived how the eyes,
raised quietly toward the night heavens, flashed with a peculiar light.

He had not doubted from the first moment the identity of the swimmer,
and his heart leaped into his throat, as he recognized again the never
to be forgotten face.

Finally as if the lake wished to draw the motionless figure down into
its depths, the head sank lower and lower in the noiseless waves, as if
resting on the softest pillows. At last the water rushed and whirled
around the sinking form; she hastily turned and with powerful strokes
swam back toward the steps.

Her companion was waiting, holding in her hands a large white linen
cloak, which she threw over the swimmer as she ascended the stairs. The
next moment both disappeared within the little house. The door, it is
true, remained half open, but in the darkness it was impossible to
distinguish anything within.

Ten minutes more elapsed, then the two muffled figures again appeared
and proceeding to the gate of the enclosure, opened it, relocked it,
and then retired along the foot path by which they had come.

A long time passed ere the secret witness of this scene left the spot
through the hole in the enclosure of the pond. As soon as he found
himself alone, he had instantly plunged into the waves, but it scarcely
calmed the strange tumult in his blood. As the rising night-wind now
tossed his wet hair and blew against his breast, it seemed as if
instead of cooling him, it was trying to fan the glimmering sparks in
the ashes of his memory.

He started at the thought and involuntarily paused, as something warned
him not to return to the castle. "No," he said to himself, "that would
be too cowardly, too pitiful. Four years, four such happy years--could
I again be the old defenceless fool? And all for a pair of white arms
and two nixie eyes? What power would man have over his own soul if the
forces of nature could never be successfully battled against? No, brave
heart, we will not evade the struggle."

He returned to the courtyard gate, after a long stroll in the park,
which had thoroughly exhausted him. It was about two o'clock in the
morning; the light in the countess' rooms was extinguished. Just as he
was about to enter, he saw a man step cautiously out of the door of the
room where the young girl slept and linger on the threshold a moment,
as if to bid some one farewell. The doorway was in the shadow and the
moon had set, yet as the late visitor now hurried past the buildings
with elastic steps and then cautiously groped his way to the wing,
Edwin distinctly recognized young Count Gaston; so the "endless
yearning" which ennobled him, did not seem to prevent him from
condescending to adventures which _had_ a beginning, a middle, and an
end.



                              CHAPTER VI.


The noise Edwin's next neighbor, the fat landed proprietor, made in
preparing for the hunt, roused our friend early the next morning from a
sound sleep. He was obliged to reflect a moment to remember where he
was, and that the events of the previous day had not been mere dreams;
then he hastily threw on his clothes and followed the servant who came
to ask if he could be of any assistance, into the great hall on the
ground floor, where the breakfast table was laid.

It was about seven o'clock; the day was dull and cloudy, and a damp
wind indicated rain. But the cheerful bustle in the courtyard, the
noise of horses and dogs, the shouts and exclamations of huntsmen and
servants prevented any feeling of depression from seizing the guests.
Besides the remainder of the company who gradually assembled in the
hall, congratulated each other on the excellent hunting weather which
had mitigated the heat of the preceding day. The chevalier alone begged
to be excused from taking any share in the day's entertainment. "The
only hunting he likes," whispered Count Gaston to Edwin, "is the
pursuit of yellow gold."

The Polish colonel, on the contrary, was full of sportsmanlike
enthusiasm, and related with the utmost seriousness, incredible
stories, at which the fat landed proprietor burst into roars of
laughter; but the brothers von der Wende did not seem any wider awake
in the morning, than they had appeared the preceding evening.

Neither the little doctor, nor any of the other household officers
appeared; but to make amends a plain old man with thin parchment-like
features and calm grey eyes arrived, and joined the gentlemen but
without sharing in the breakfast. Gaston introduced him to Edwin as the
head ranger. A slight curl of the corners of the mouth under the heavy
yellow moustache, told our friend what a correct estimation of himself
as an amateur sportsman, had been formed by this old master of the
noble game.

Their host appeared at last, greeted every one with monosyllabic
cordiality, and then approached the stranger.

"I thank you, Herr Doctor," said he, "for giving me the pleasure of
your company on our hunt, though you told me yesterday you were no
sportsman. You've only to say whether you'll accompany us on horseback,
or whether you prefer to drive in a light carriage over the beautiful
road that leads through the forest to the ranger's house, which is the
general _rendezvous_ and where, after the hunt is over, lunch will be
served."

"Unless you happen to have in your stable a descendant of Gellert's
grey, I must decide in favor of the carriage," replied Edwin smiling.
The count nodded carelessly, leaving it uncertain whether his knowledge
of horses extended back so far, and gave an order to the groom. He
seemed even more absent minded and gloomy than on the evening before,
busied himself in adjusting his hunting suit, and from time to time
glanced at his watch. "It's getting late," he said to the head ranger,
who had risen and was quietly awaiting his master's orders. "The
countess doesn't usually keep us waiting."

At this moment the butler appeared at the door, and said: "Her ladyship
is descending."

"_Eh bien_, gentlemen, if you please, we'll set out, and good luck to
our sport."

He hastily led the way into the ante-room, followed by the rest of the
company. In spite of the cloudy morning, the staircase was light enough
to make it easy to distinguish faces, even on the landing above. Edwin
was the last who entered the hall; he trembled and was forced to pause
on the threshold and close his eyes; everything was whirling around
him. When he opened them again, he saw a slender female figure
descending the broad marble steps, holding the train of her green
velvet dress under her left arm, and resting her right hand lightly on
the banister. Count Gaston was walking beside her, and a huntsman,
holding his plumed hat in his hand, followed. She wore a little green
velvet cap with a long grey veil, and her hair was simply dressed in
wide braids. All this Edwin could observe at leisure, as she was
talking to her companion and thus kept her head averted. She now
reached the lower landing and with a graceful movement turned toward
her husband, who welcomed her with knightly courtesy. She nodded a good
morning to him and her face was quite devoid of expression as she
raised her hand to her hunting cap to salute the rest of the party. At
this moment her foot caught in the folds of her riding habit, she
stumbled, turned pale, and with a gesture of alarm and a half
suppressed cry fell back into the arms of Gaston and the huntsman, who
had hastily sprung forward.

She could not have hurt herself seriously, yet it was at least five
minutes, ere, with the assistance of the two men, she again stood
erect, with a face whose ghostly pallor seemed scarcely warranted by
the little fright she had had. The other guests had rushed up to offer
their very unnecessary services, and Edwin and the head ranger alone
remained in their former places.

"It's nothing," they now heard the countess say. "I slipped and grew
dizzy for a moment. I thank you, gentlemen."

She bowed with a winning smile to the company and then, leaning on
Gaston's arm, slowly descended the rest of the stairs. When they
approached the main entrance to the castle, beside which Edwin was
standing, she started as if she could not believe her eyes.

"I have the pleasure of presenting to you an old acquaintance, my dear
wife," said the count--"the Herr Doctor Edwin, who has been our guest
since yesterday; an accidental meeting at the railway station--he's
taking a little pedestrian tour--I knew it would give you pleasure."

She did not answer immediately; her eyes were fixed upon Edwin but her
expression was undefinable. "Is it really you?" she said at last,
suddenly recalling her self-control. "It's delightful to see you again.
I thank you," she continued turning to her husband. "But why did you
wait until today--"

"It was late in the evening when we arrived. You don't usually appear
at that hour."

"True," she answered with an absent smile. "However, I might perhaps
have made an exception for the sake of an old acquaintance. You're very
welcome, Herr Doctor, I hope you'll remain our guest for some time."

She had removed her glove and now held out her hand to Edwin, who,
stammering a few incoherent words, pressed his lips upon it in great
embarrassment. Then she turned to the other gentlemen, addressing a few
courteous words to each. It was impossible to discover whether the
sight of her old friend had made any deep impression upon her. But
Edwin couldn't take his eyes from her face. When Count Gaston passed
him and whispered: "Well? Did I say too much?" his only answer was a
forced smile. He was ashamed of himself when he thought how stiff and
ill at ease he must appear, not to others but in her eyes. But there
seemed to be a spell upon him.

She had walked out to the flight of steps which led down into the
courtyard, where the head groom was holding the bridle of a beautiful
English horse which wore a lady's saddle. When it saw its mistress
approaching, it turned its head toward her with a joyful neigh and
impatiently pawed the ground. The countess paused a moment, patted the
animal's neck and let it take a piece of sugar out of her hand. Then
she prepared to mount, but when her foot was already in the stirrup,
she drew back again.

"I see I can't ride to-day," she said carelessly. "My foot is still
lame from the mis-step I made."

"If that's the case," replied the count, "don't tax it. The stag will
lead us a long distance to-day; it's the old one we chased last year,
but which finally escaped. I've ordered the hunting carriage for the
Herr Doctor. Perhaps it will be pleasant for you--"

"Certainly," she carelessly interrupted, without looking at Edwin. "We
can drive to the ranger's house together. I'll take Jean with me."

The lad, evidently proud of this preference, stepped forward from the
crowd of footmen, hurried toward the carriage, which stood a little
apart, behind the saddle horses and hounds, sprang on the box, and
taking the reins drove skillfully through the groups of huntsmen and
idle grooms to the steps.

"You shall witness my skill as a charioteer," said the countess in a
jesting tone to Edwin, who had hastily approached. "Don't be afraid; I
know how responsible science would hold me if I should upset one of her
votaries." Then she entered the carriage and took the reins and whip;
Edwin followed her, and urging on the beautiful animals she guided the
light carriage through the gate of the courtyard into the wide forest
avenue.

Her attention seemed to be entirely occupied with the horses; for the
first ten minutes at least she did not turn her eyes away from them or
utter a word. "How beautiful this forest is," said Edwin at last. She
smiled and then nodded gravely, but was still silent. She evidently had
not heard what he said. So he had plenty of leisure to watch her, and
was compelled to acknowledge that her beauty had really gained some
mysterious charm. The face was longer, the nose seemed to have
lengthened and the eyes to have grown larger and darker, but her smile
was no longer the same. It was not that strangely wearied sad smile,
that appears when we are too proud to show we have cause to weep, but
something far more mournful; a strange, fierce, implacable expression
hovered around the lips, the expression that a face might wear after a
heavy life storm in which every hope has perished, or when madness is
approaching. Edwin was overwhelmed with an emotion of such deep sorrow,
that after his fruitless attempt to break the ice, he remained
perfectly silent. The air was still and oppressive, a few solitary
drops fell, but there was no steady rain; not a bird moved in the
forest, no human being met them; only from the distance they
occasionally heard sounds from the hunting party, the barking of a dog
and the thud of horses' hoofs, which at last died away in the forest.

The road led through the village at the foot of the mountain. Peasant
women with their children stood in the doorways as they passed, and
eagerly greeted the young countess. A very young woman with a baby
stepped directly before them. Toinette stopped a moment, lifted the
rosy-cheeked little creature into the carriage, kissed it and asked the
mother various questions concerning it. When she gave it back to her
again, a crowd of village children had collected, who all held out
their little hands and cried good morning. The countess gave the oldest
a handful of shining silver. "You must divide it, Hans," said she.
"Give something to each. But you must be good and go to school
regularly." The mothers came forward and thanked her in the name of the
little people. The next moment the horses moved forward again, and they
left the village behind them.

"They love you very dearly here," said Edwin.

"I can't help it," she replied. "It's easy to seem like a divinity to
these poor people, if we merely treat them kindly. But if the gods have
no other happiness than that of being idolized, they're really not to
be envied."

Then they were both silent again. They had left the wide highway and
turned into a narrower road, where the carriage rolled noiselessly over
the soft earth. Meantime the sky had grown darker, and a fine warm
summer rain was beginning to sprinkle their faces. Suddenly Toinette
stopped the horses.

"If it will be agreeable to you," said she, "let's get out and walk a
little way on foot. We shall reach the ranger's house too early even
then."

He sprang out and offered her his arm, which she only touched with the
tips of her fingers. Jean, who was holding the reins, asked if the
countess would like an umbrella. "Why?" she asked. "It's scarcely
raining at all. Or yes, take it out of the case, the Herr Doctor will
be kind enough to open it."

"May I offer you my arm, Countess?" said Edwin.

Again she did not seem to hear him, but stood gazing into the dark,
silent forest, as if lost in thought. Then she shook back her
hair--Edwin involuntarily thought of the scene in the park the night
before--and took his arm. "Come," she said quietly. "Open the umbrella.
Doesn't this remind you of something? Haven't we walked together in the
rain before? To be sure, it was a long time ago, a whole life lies
between. Don't you think I have altered very much?"

"Certainly. You've accomplished the seemingly impossible; you have
become yet more beautiful."

She looked at him quietly, almost sternly. "Promise me not to say such
a thing again. It doesn't become you, and it wounds me. And don't
address me as 'countess.' I don't know whether I can still venture to
call you 'dear friend' as in old times; but I shouldn't like to have
you treat me precisely the same as an ordinary acquaintance. No, I've
grown old, much older than you suppose, so old that I often think I've
outlived myself, and you must perceive that too. But we won't talk
about that. Only tell me, why did you come here? I knew you would come
sometime; If I'd not been sure of it, who knows whether I should still
be alive! And yet it took me by surprise; for I could never imagine
what was to bring you to me again, after all that--"

She hesitated. He frankly told her of his interview with Marquard, and
that his old interest in her had been vividly awakened by the news that
she was only separated from him by a two hours' drive.

"No, no," she said as if to herself, "that was not it, you don't tell
me all. But as you please; I am weaned from wishing to know things that
are concealed from me. They're rarely pleasant. The more we get to the
bottom of people and things, the uglier they seem to us. Enough, you're
here, and I'm delighted to see you again, though at first I was as much
startled as if your ghost had appeared. More than once--on lonely walks
and in large assemblies--I've fancied I saw you just as you stood in
the hall below me, but it was only a freak of memory. You've not
changed in the least. If I could only forget these four years a moment,
I could fancy we were again walking beside the carp pond and I was
telling you Toinette Marchand's story. Those were pleasant times." Then
suddenly adopting a totally different tone, she continued:

"I heard you were married. Your wife was one of your old pupils. Have
you any children? No? That's a pity. Although, if nothing else is
wanting--! Tell me about your wife. But no, what can be learned from a
description? one can merely mention traits of character. One's real
nature is indescribable. You must bring her to me some day, will you?"
He nodded silently; but he knew that he should never do so.

"You've had a child and lost it," he said after a pause. "How much you
must have suffered!" She suddenly stopped and let his arm fall.

"_More than any human being suspects!_" she said with great emphasis,
laying a stress upon every syllable. "Let's say nothing about it. And
yet, why may I not speak of it to you, the only person I know who can
even understand what that anguish was, and also the only one who will
not be cruel enough to say: 'it served you right,' and you would have
more reason to say so than any other human being!"

She cast a backward glance toward the carriage, which was moving slowly
along about twenty paces behind them.

"Please shut the umbrella," she said in a low tone. "I'm so warm, the
damp air does me good. Dear friend, how often I've wished to be able to
talk with you so. I thought everything would then be easier. Although
in my hardest trials I should not have been able to show myself, even
to you, exactly as I was. I did not like to confess the truth to
myself; I dreaded to look in the glass, as if it were written on my
brow and I must die of shame if I read it. Now--when everything is
past--even the guilt, which I could not help--I only think of it all as
a great misfortune, the greatest that can befal a woman. You said I
must have suffered deeply when the child died. What will you think of
me, when I tell you--that I suffered as long as it lived, and ceased to
suffer when I lost it!

"It sounds horrible, does it not? And yet it is literally true. You'll
think me an unnatural mother, and you're right. But can I help it, that
I was born with this unnatural disposition, that everything which makes
others happy becomes a torture to me?"

"You're silent, dear friend. But what could you say? We should draw a
veil over that which is contrary to nature, and turn away. You were
also silent, in the olden time when I informed you through Balder, why
I must unfortunately live my life an exceptional creature; an unhappy
variety of the species. At first your silence wounded me deeply; I
thought, a friend ought not to make us suffer so keenly for what is not
our fault. Afterwards I saw that you were right to act as the heavenly
powers:

           "'Then leave him to his punishment,
            Vengeance for ev'ry earthly sin is sent.'

"You remember the reading? 'the sins of the parents upon the children
unto the third and fourth generations'?"

He stood still. "I don't understand a single word you're saying, my
dear friend. What? You sent by Balder--but do you not know that the
conversation he had with you, or rather with the count, was the last
that he ever held? And you told him--what? What, for God's sake?"

He had seized her hand and pressed it violently. "Toinette, speak, tell
me all. What is done and cannot be undone will at least be more
endurable if it is purged of all which the rude hand of malicious
chance may have mingled with it. You've misunderstood me; I now learn
this for the first time, and I have also misunderstood you. Speak,
speak--what thread did death sever, that would have guided us out of
the labyrinth into the right path?"

She shook her head. "Who knows? even if my message had reached you, you
would not have solved the problem! Of what use would it be? Can a heart
incapable of love become more lovable if you learn that it has very
natural reasons for being contrary to nature? A whim, a fit of
obstinacy, a childish caprice--a refractory character like Katharine
the shrew is not hopeless, since we need not once for all make a cross
against it and go our way. But the child of a forced love, the fruit of
a girl's bartered life--what can be hoped for, what aid can avail in
such a case?"

"And this--this is what I should have learned if my poor Balder had
survived that day. Oh! eternal Gods!"

"Yes indeed," she nodded with a bitter smile. "I thought you would have
taken pity on the poor monster and have borne with her for a time. I
hoped so for three days. Then, as I said, I thought: 'he's right'--and
came here with the old countess."

"Horrible!" he exclaimed, wiping his brow, on which drops of cold
perspiration were standing. "And so I--none other than myself--blind
and unsuspecting as I was--and your letter, which I did not
understand--the three days respite--"

"Calm yourself, my friend. It's not your fault; the threads of fate
were too delicately spun. Even if you had come, who knows whether I
might not still be here? True, if I had known then, what I know now--"

"What, Toinette, what!"

She hesitated a moment, then with closed eyes and her delicate brows
contracted in an expression almost threatening in its sternness, said
slowly and softly: "That my womanly nature would some day awake, that
the hour would come when, like every other lonely creature I should
long for a happy love--and that I then should belong to a man, of whom
my soul knows nothing, and who would force me to drain to the dregs the
sorrowful cup that broke my mother's heart!" She sank down upon a moss
covered stone beside the road, and buried her face in her hands.

Edwin stood before her; he did not feel the rain, which now began to
fall in heavy drops, did not pick up her gloves, which had slipped from
her lap and lay on the wet ground; he made no reply to little Jean's
question whether he should close the carriage, except to wave the
intruder away with his hand. All his thoughts were absorbed in the one
emotion of pity he felt for the woman once so deeply loved, who across
the gulf of years had suddenly once more approached so near him, as if
naught had even come between them.

"My poor dear friend," he faltered at last, "be calm, compose yourself,
you're no longer alone. I am here, I--" His voice died away. How false
and powerless was everything he could say. Toinette suddenly rose,
shook back her hair, as we do when reminded that we must hold up our
heads, and said with a forced smile:

"I believe we're getting wet. The little discomforts of life have their
use; they cause annoyance and compel a division even in the midst of
great sorrow. Give me your arm again, and open the umbrella. Ten paces
farther on is a beech wood, where the foliage is so thick that we might
quietly await a deluge. To be sure, my velvet dress is ruined, and I'm
not yet 'duchess' enough not to regret it. However, it can be replaced.
If there were nothing else--but come, come, you're standing as still as
a statue."

He mechanically obeyed, surprised at the sudden change in her
expression, and they walked on a short distance farther. "Yes, indeed,"
she said as if to herself, "in other things too, I might take my
present equals in rank for a pattern. It's very bad style to have any
feelings at all, especially to speak of them, and to trouble old
friends with them. But you must be lenient. I exhausted these
aristocratic expedients long ago; pride is a weapon, but a two edged
sword, as it were, a shield that pierces the arm with its sharp edges.
Now my heart, which is not thoroughly aristocratic, has run away with
me again. And for what do we have friends, except to abuse them? But
we'll be sensible and talk of more cheerful things. Your friend
Marquard, for instance, what do you really think of him? He has such
contradictory traits of character, that he resembles people with one
blue and one black eye, we never know which is of the right color. So
he too in the same moment is grave and frivolous, honest and not to be
trusted. A singular combination."

Edwin made no reply, he did not seem to have heard what she said. After
a long pause, during which he had gazed intently into vacancy, he
suddenly exclaimed: "And the child--your child? If your womanly nature
awoke too late, were you not a mother soon enough to at least find
consolation in that?"

"Oh! my friend," she replied, relapsing into her former tone, "these
are strange, sad mysteries. This child--I might perhaps have been able
to reconcile myself to the way in which I became its mother, but
unfortunately it looked so much like its father that it reminded me
with a thrill of horror, at what a price I had obtained it. Pray spare
me the memory of the time when, each day, I asked myself whether I
could endure to remain longer in this world! There are mothers who care
little for their children and would rather dance or flirt, than be
troubled with the charge of them. I--with my freshly aroused need of
loving, of pressing something close to my heart--rose every day with
the resolve to live only for the child; but when I approached its
cradle and saw its delicate, cold, aristocratic little face, with the
eyelids often half closed like its father's--I could not overcome my
repugnance, could not hug and kiss it, rejoice in its innocent voice
and baby w