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Title: An Old Story of My Farming Days Vol. III (of III). - (Ut Mine Stromtid)
Author: Reuter, Fritz, 1810-1874
Language: English
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                             GERMAN AUTHORS

                                VOL. 36.

                           *   *   *   *   *

                              AN OLD STORY

                           IN THREE VOLUMES.
                               VOL. III.

                              AN OLD STORY

                           OF MY FARMING DAYS

                          _(UT MINE STROMTID)_

                             FRITZ REUTER,
                      AUTHOR OF "IN THE YEAR '13:"

                            FROM THE GERMAN
                            M. W. MACDOWALL.

                           IN THREE VOLUMES.

                               VOL. III.

                         _Authorized Edition_.

                              LEIPZIG 1878
                          BERNHARD TAUCHNITZ.

                  CROWN BUILDINGS, 188, FLEET STREET.

                              AN OLD STORY

                           UT MINE STROMTID.

                               CHAPTER I.

The day after Christmas was passed very busily in Mrs. Behrens' house
in Rahnstädt. Louisa was continually to be seen running up and down
stairs, for she was finishing the arrangement of her father's room.
Whenever she thought it was quite ready, and looked really nice, she
was sure to find something to improve, some alteration that must be
made to ensure perfection. Dinner-time came, but her father had not
arrived, though she had prepared some little dainties especially for
him. She laid a place for him, however, as perhaps he might come before
they had finished dinner.--"I don't know why it is," she said to
little Mrs. Behrens, "but I feel as if some misfortune were going to
happen."--"What?" cried Mrs. Behrens, "you've only lived in town for
three months, and you have presentiments already like a tea-drinking
town-lady! What has become of my light-hearted country-girl?" and as
she said this, she stroked her foster-child's cheek with a tender touch
and loving smile.--"No," answered Louisa, taking the kind hand, and
holding it tight between her own, "such indefinite presentiments never
trouble me. Unfortunately it is a very definite fear lest my father
should weary of the inactivity of a town-life, after what he has been
accustomed to in the country."--"Why, child, you talk as if Rahnstädt
were a great city; no--thank God!--the geese go about bare-foot here
just the same as at Pümpelhagen, and if your father likes to see
farming-operations going on around him, he has only to watch the two
manure-carts belonging to our neighbour on the right, and the three
belonging to our neighbour on the left. If he wants to talk about
farming he need only go to our landlord Mr. Kurz, who will be too
happy to harangue him about grazing fields and town-jails till he's as
sick of these subjects as we are."--Louisa laughed, and when the
dinner-things were cleared away, she said: "Now, mother, suppose you
lie down and have a little nap, while I go down the Gürlitz road, and
see if I can't meet my father."

She put on her cloak, and a warm hood, and set off down the road, which
had always been her favourite walk since she came to Rahnstädt, for it
was the one that led to the place where she had been so happy. When she
had time she used to go to the hill from which she could see Gürlitz
village, t he church, the parsonage, and the church-yard, and when she
had a little more time she used to run down to the parsonage to see
Lina and Godfrey, and have a talk about the old days and the new. She
walked on and on; her father was not in sight; the east-wind blew in
her face, and made her cheeks bright and rosy, so that her lovely face,
framed in her dark cloth hood, looked for all the world like a sunny
springday which gives the promise of hope and joy to man. But her eyes
were full of tears. Was it because of the rude east-wind? Was it
because she was looking so keenly down the road in search of her
father? Was it because of her thoughts? It could not be the east-wind,
for she was now standing still, and gazing out into the west with her
eyes full of tears. It could not have been the keenness of her search
for her father, for she was now looking straight over at the place
where the sun was setting behind the black pines on the horizon like a
red ball of fire. It must have been her thoughts that made her weep.
Such thoughts as come to the young making their joy and sorrow, which
sometimes crown their brows with gladness unspeakable, and at others
make them weep in agony, when they suddenly feel the thorns in what
they had thought was only a garland of roses. Why was she gazing
towards the west? She knew that he whom she loved was there, and her
heart repeated the words of the poet:

           "Haste westward, ever westward ho
            Thou boat at my behest!
            E'en dying, I should long to go
            Where all my hope doth rest!"

She blushed, when she found what she was saying to herself, and how she
was dreaming of happy days to come.

She reached the place where her father had stood a couple of hours
before, and had drunk his cup of sorrow to the very dregs. She stood
still, and looked down upon Pümpelhagen and Gürlitz, and let the
thought of all the love she had been blessed with overflow her heart.
Where the poor old father had stood and cursed those who had so cruelly
injured him, the daughter now stood and prayed, weeping tears of love
and gratitude, and her prayers and tears washed away the curse from the
tablet on which all human events are noted down.

The distance from Rahnstädt to Gürlitz is five miles, and as the
winter-sun was setting, Louisa could linger no more, she had to go home
at once. But she saw a man coming towards her from Gürlitz, perhaps it
was her father. She waited a few minutes. No, it was not her father, so
she walked on a short way, and then looked round again. This time she
saw it was uncle Bräsig, who was trying to overtake her.--"Bless me,
Louisa! What are you doing here? Do you find it a pleasant amusement
standing on the public road in a wind like this? Aren't you coming
down to the parsonage?"--"No, uncle Bräsig, not to-day. I only came to
meet my father."--"He passed long ago. Preserve us all! Where can he
be?"--Bräsig suddenly remembered Hawermann's strange manner, but when
he saw how anxious Louisa looked, he said to comfort her: "We farmers
have often to change our plans; we have to go here, there and
everywhere. Perhaps he turned to the right here and went to Gülzow, and
perhaps he has got to Rahnstädt by this time and is seeing about some
business. But I," he added, "am going with you, childie, I have
something to do in Rahnstädt, where I am going to spend the night. You
see I want to win the nine shillings back from that over-wise man,
Kurz, the shopkeeper, which he got out of me at that confounded game
Boston. This is club-night."

When they had gone a little further they met a dog-cart coming towards
them from Rahnstädt. It was Christian Degel with Dr. Strump. The doctor
ordered Christian to stop: "Have you heard the news?" he asked. "Mr.
von Rambow has met with an accident with his fowling-piece; he has shot
himself in the arm. But I hav'n't time to wait, the coachman is late
enough as it is, for I was out when he came for me. Drive on."--"What
is the meaning of this?" cried Louisa. "My father leave Pümpelhagen
when the family are in distress! He could never have done that."--"But
it may have happened after he left," said Bräsig, though when he
remembered how Hawermann had looked in the morning, he did not believe
that it could have been the case. Louisa was more uneasy than before
and walked on quickly. She could not understand why her father was so
late, nor could she understand how he could have left Pümpelhagen at
all, after such an accident, and yet she felt that the two strange
facts were somehow connected.

Meanwhile Hawermann had arrived at Mrs. Behrens' house in Rahnstädt. He
had left the high road and had gone round by a field-path, that he
might have time to regain his composure before meeting his daughter.
When he reached Mrs. Behrens' house he had regained his self-command,
but the struggle had fatigued him so much that he looked ten years
older than usual when Mrs. Behrens saw him. She was making the coffee
when he entered the room, and was so startled by the change in his
appearance that she allowed the coffee to boil over, and sprang to meet
him, exclaiming: "Good God! Hawermann, what's the matter? Are you
ill?"--"No--Yes, I think so. Where's Louisa?"--"She went to meet
you, didn't you see her? But sit down, do. How very tired you
look!"--Hawermann seated himself and looked round the room as if to
make sure that he and Mrs. Behrens were alone.--"Hawermann, please tell
me what is the matter," she said, taking his nerveless hands between
her own.--"It is all over with me now. I must go through the world as a
useless, dishonoured man."--"Oh, don't! Don't! Don't say that!"--"I had
grown accustomed to the thought that my work was done, though it was
hard to bear at first. But the misery of losing my honest name is more
than I can endure; it crushes me."--"But who wants to deprive you of
that?" asked Mrs. Behrens looking at him affectionately.--"The people
who can do it most thoroughly, Mr. von Rambow and his wife," said the
old man, and then he began to tell her all that had happened in a weak,
broken voice; but when he got to the part when Mrs. von Rambow had also
deserted him, had turned her back upon him, and had let him be ordered
out of the room as a thief and a cheat, his anger broke out again; he
sprang to his feet and began to pace the room with flashing eyes and
clenched fists, as though he wanted to fight against the world. "Oh,"
he cried, "that is not all. They have hit me harder than they knew.
They have wrecked my child's life as well as mine. There, read that,
Mrs. Behrens," and he gave her Frank's letter.--She read it, the paper
trembling in her hands from nervous excitement, and while she read it,
he stood before her, his eyes fixed on her face the better to read her
thoughts. "Hawermann," she said, taking his hand, when she had
finished, "don't you see the finger of God in this. One cousin has
sinned against you, and the other makes it right."--"No, Mrs. Behrens,"
he replied sternly, "I should be the scoundrel the world will call me
from henceforth, if I were to let a good and trustful man take a wife
with a stained name into his house. Poor and honest, let me be that;
but dishonourable, never."--"Oh me!" cried Mrs. Behrens, "why isn't my
pastor here? If my pastor were only here, he could have told us what to
do."--"Indeed he could," said Hawermann sadly. "I _cannot_ do it," he
exclaimed, "Louisa must decide for herself, and you must help her. You
have been able to teach her to distinguish right from wrong as I never
had the chance of teaching her. If she thinks it right and honourable
to enter into this engagement in spite of what has happened, and you
agree with her, I will give my consent. I will not influence her in any
way, and will not even see her until she has decided. Here is Frank's
letter to her. Give it to her after you have told her what has
happened. It was all exactly as I told you. I'm going to my room now;
I'll have nothing to do with her decision." He left the room, but came
back again to say: "If you think it is for her happiness, never mind
me! Forget what I said about it's being impossible. I will do what I
can to hide my dishonoured name." He left the room once more, and as he
went upstairs, he said to himself: "I can't do otherwise, I can't do
otherwise." When he threw himself upon the sofa in his little room, and
saw how his daughter had arranged everything for his pleasure and
comfort, he covered his eyes with his hand and murmured: "And I must do
without all this perhaps." Then with a deep sigh: "And why not? Why
not? If it is for her happiness," he exclaimed aloud, "I'll never see
her again." The door-bell rang, he heard Bräsig's voice, and then his
daughter's; then all was still; he listened intently for any sound,
Mrs. Behrens was telling about it, and Louisa was suffering the pain of
hearing the story. At last footsteps were to be heard coming slowly and
heavily upstairs. Bräsig came in, he looked as calm and solemn as if he
had seen the dead rise from their graves and come to meet him; his
eyebrows, which were usually raised as high as his hair when he heard
of anything extraordinary, now hung low down over his eyes. He seated
himself beside his friend on the sofa, and merely said: "I know it,
Charles. I know all."

They sat for a long time silent in the half-darkness. At last Bräsig
took Hawermann's hand in his, and said: "Charles, we have known each
other for fifty years. You remember at old Knirkstädt's? What a happy
life we had when we were young, always contented with our lot and merry
hearted. And except for a few silly tricks I played with you, we have
nothing to reproach ourselves with. Charles, it is a pleasant thing in
one's old age, when one's conscience only reproaches one with follies,
and not with wickedness." Hawermann shivered and drew away his hand.
"Charles," said Bräsig, "a good conscience is a great blessing in one's
old age, and it's a remarkable thing, a very remarkable thing, that
these good consciences always cling to each other in their old age, and
that nothing can divide them from each other. Charles, my dear old
boy!" and he fell upon his friend's neck and wept bitterly.--"Bräsig,"
entreated Hawermann, "don't make me more miserable than I am, my
heart's heavy enough as it is."--"And why, Charles? What makes it
heavy? Your heart is as pure as Job's, and should be as light as a lark
which soars up to heaven, for the story about the confounded.... No, I
don't mean that; I was going to say.... Pshaw! what was it we were
talking about? Oh, to be sure, it was about the conscience. The
conscience is a very strange thing, Charles. For instance, take Kurz's,
for he has one as well as you or I, and I believe that it will enable
him to appear in the presence of God at the Last Day, and that it will
justify him, but still it doesn't justify him in my eyes, for he peeps
at the cards, when he's playing at Boston; he has what may be called a
penny-conscience, for in great things he's most scrup'lous; for
example; with Mrs. Behrens' house rent, but if he can take a hair's
breadth off a yard, or give just the least atom short weight, he's not
ashamed to do it, that's to say when he can manage it, which isn't
always. I wanted to say, Charles, that you'll have to see a good deal
of him, while you're here. You'll find the pleasure of his acquaintance
quite as so, so, as his conscience, for he will try to discuss farming
matters with you, and that's as unpleasant as driving in a cart without
springs. I'm afraid you'll find it a little dull, so I think that as
soon as I've got the young parson's spring sowing done, and everything
is in order, I'll come here to you, and then we'll be able to cheer
each other up. I can go out to Gürlitz again when the harvest begins,
that that poor boy, the parson, mayn't get into any difficulty. Indeed
I'm sure there's no danger of that, for, George, is a thoughtful sort
of fellow, and takes a good deal of the management upon himself--thank
God for that--and also that Lina backs him up when it's necessary. When
the first year is over you'll see that Godfrey will pitch all his
Methodistical trash overboard, but we must give him time to learn that
there are certain worldly matters which are better suited to man than
hymn-books are. And then I'll come to you, Charles, and we'll enjoy
life as much as if we were in Paris, and you'll see that the last
quarter of our life-time will be the best part of the whole ox."--Here
he threw his arm round his friend's shoulder and went on talking to
him, mixing up the past and the future, and making them into a regular
medley just as a mother does, when she tries to change the current of
her child's thoughts.

The moon shone in at the window, and what can better soothe a wounded
spirit than the soft light of the moon, and the love of an old friend
who clings to us through good and evil report. I have always thought
that the clear bright sunshine is most suited to lovers, while the calm
moonlight is best for friendship.

While they were sitting together the door opened, and a slender figure
came softly into the room and remained standing in the full light of
the moon. The girl's arms were crossed upon her breast, and her pale
face looked like that of a white marble statue against the dark wall:
What can have happened to thee, thou poor child?

Bräsig went out of the room silently, and Hawermann covered his eyes
with his hand as if they pained him, pained him to the heart. The girl
threw herself down by his side, clasped him in her arms, and laid her
pale face against his. Not a word was said by either of them for a
long, long time, but at last the old man heard a low whisper at his
ear: "I know what you think it right to do; I am your child--am I
not?--your dear child?" Hawermann put his arm round his dear child and
drew her closer to him. "Father, father!" she cried, "we can never
part! My foster-father, who is now with God, told me how you wanted to
keep me with you when you were in such sorrow, although that good
woman, the labourer's wife, offered to take charge of me. Now that you
are again in sorrow do you really wish to part from me? Do you think
that I could let you go?" and pressing him in her arms, she said: "Your
name is my name, your honour is my honour, your life is my life."

They talked a long time together in the sweet moonlight, but what they
said no one else has a right to know, for when a father and child speak
to each other heart to heart and soul to soul, God is with them, and
what they say is between themselves, the world has no part in it.

Down stairs in the parlour it was very different. Mrs. Behrens was
sitting in her arm-chair weeping bitterly. The dear good woman was torn
in two by conflicting opinions, and her heart was sore for Hawermann
and his sorrows; but when she foresaw the terrible struggle she was
obliged to cause in the heart of her adopted daughter, and when she saw
it awake, and saw faith and courage get the victory in spite of misery,
she felt as if she herself had brought all these misfortunes on the
head of her darling--remorse and compassion filled her heart, and she
burst into bitter tears as soon as she was left alone.--Bräsig on the
other hand had left all his compassion upstairs, he had expended all
that he had upon Hawermann, and now his wrath, which he had before
restrained with infinite difficulty, burst forth, and as he entered the
dark room, he exclaimed: "The infamous Jesuitical packages! What do
they mean by blotting the fair fame of such a man as Charles Hawermann?
It's a Satanic deed! It's just like one man holding the cat, while the
other impales it! Curse the ...."--"Bräsig, Bräsig, _please_ don't!"
cried little Mrs. Behrens. "Don't let us have any of your unchristian
ways here."--"Do you call that unchristian? It sounds to me like a song
of the holy angels in paradise, when I say that sort of thing about the
infernal plots of these Jesuits."--"But, Bräsig, we are not their
judges."--"I know quite well, Mrs. Behrens, that I am not a judge, and
that you hav'n't a seat on the municipal board; but still you can't
expect me to look at vermin with the same pleasure as at beautiful
canary-birds! No, Mrs. Behrens, toads are toads, and Pomuchelskopp is
the chief toad that has squirted its venom over us. What do you say to
the trick he has been trying to play me lately? You see, he has put up
a fence across the foot-path that leads to the glebe, and which has
been in existence for a thousand years for anything I know, and has
sent me a message that if ever I cross that fence he'll have my boots
pulled off and let me hop away home through the snow in my stockings
like a crow. Do you call that a Christian sentiment? But I'll go to law
with him. The fellow daring to even me to a crow! And parson Godfrey
must go to law with him also, for trying to deprivate him of the use of
the foot-path. And young Joseph must go to law with him, for he has
said, several times, and publicly too, that young Joseph was an old
fool, and young Joseph is not obliged to take that quietly. You must
also go to law with him for not having built you a dowager-house, as he
was obliged to do by law, at least one or two old people have told me
so. Then Charles Hawermann must go to law with Mr. von Rambow. We must
all get up a rev'lution against those Jesuits, and if everyone will
agree with me, we might all drive to Güstrow to-morrow to see the
Chancellor, and summons the whole lot of them on a bit of parchment. We
can engage five barristers, that'll be one for each of us, and then,
'Hurrah for the lawsuit!'" If Bräsig had had any idea that Louisa had
to suffer more than anyone else from "the Jesuits," he would have
insisted on engaging a barrister to plead her cause also, but he had
not the remotest notion of her misery.--Mrs. Behrens tried to calm him
down, but she found it a very difficult task, for the misfortunes of
his old friend had caused him much mingled anger and sorrow, and all
the small rages proper for a farmer, and the irritability brought on by
gout and losing at cards combined to augment his rage.--"I came here,"
he said, "to amuse myself because it was club-day, and because I wanted
to win back the nine shillings from that old sharper Kurz, that he
fleeced me of with his confounded trickery, and now the devil is
holding his d--d telespope before my eyes that I may the better see
some utterly vile human actions! And that's to be my amusement! Now,
Mrs. Behrens, if you don't mind I'd like to spend the night here, for I
shouldn't make much of that stupid game, Boston, this evening, and it
might be as well for me to sleep in Charles' room so as to be able to
cheer him up whenever he gets low."--Mrs. Behrens replied that she
would be much obliged to him if he would do so, and she spent the rest
of the evening trying to calm down the irrascible old man. Neither
Hawermann nor Louisa came back to the parlour, and when Bräsig went
upstairs he found that Louisa had gone to her own room.

When Bräsig took leave of his old friend on the next morning, he said:
"You may leave it all in my hands, Charles, I'll drive over to
Pümpelhagen, and get your things. You shall have all your belongings
though it makes me ill to cross the threshold of the house where you
were so badly treated."

On the same morning Hawermann sat down to write to Frank; he told him
honestly and clearly what had happened at Pümpelhagen, even to the
terrible ending of his stay there, and the accusation which had been
made against him, and said that he and his daughter were of one mind in
declining the offer Frank had made. He wanted to tell the young man of
his warm friendship for him, but somehow the words would not come as
easily as usual, and when written seemed rather forced. He ended by
entreating Frank to leave him and his daughter to go their way alone,
to forget them, and allow them to live out the rest of their lives by

Louisa also wrote, and when she had sent Mrs. Behrens' maid out in the
evening to post her letter, she went to the window, and watched the
servant as if she were taking a last long leave of what was very dear
to her, and then looking at the setting sun, she murmured:

           "E'en dying, I should long to go
            Where all my hope doth rest!"

She did not blush to-day when she said these words, as she had done
only yesterday; her face was pale, and when the last rays of the
setting sun were hidden behind the houses, she sighed heavily, and slow
tears gathered in her eyes and rolled down her white cheeks. She did
not weep for her own sorrow, but for his.

As soon as Bräsig reached the parsonage, Lina ran out to meet him,
exclaiming: "Oh, uncle Bräsig, I'm so glad that you've come. Such
dreadful things have happened here, I don't mean _here_, but at
Pümpelhagen. Dr. Strump has been here--George was taken ill suddenly
last night--so I had the doctor's gig stopped in the village as he was
coming back from Pümpelhagen, and he told us such a frightful story--I
don't mean the doctor, for one could hardly get a word out of him on
the subject--but his coachman said that--oh _do_ come in, there's such
a draught here," and she drew the old bailiff into the parlour. When
there, she told him that the people said her dear uncle Hawermann had
shot Alick, and had then gone away no one knew where, but most probably
to take his own life. Bräsig comforted her by assuring her that
Hawermann was alive, and after having convinced her of that, he asked
how Mr. von Rambow was getting on. Lina told him that Dr. Strump did
not think him dangerously wounded, and then Bräsig went to see George
who was apparently suffering from congestion of the lungs. After that
it was time for him to go to Pümpelhagen for Hawermann's things as it
was about twelve o'clock, so he set out in search of a man who could
act as coachman instead of George.

He asked several of the villagers to go with him, and help him to bring
away the things, but they all refused on one pretext or another, and he
soon found that he would have to go alone. But at the last moment old
Rührdanz, the weaver, came forward, and said: "I don't care what he
says; if he chooses to make a scene he can do so, it's nothing to me,
I'll go with you, Mr. Bräsig."--"What do you mean by making a scene,
Rührdanz?" asked Bräsig.--"You see, sir, he has forbidden us to do any
kind of work for the parsonage people, we ar'n't even allowed to go a
single step in their service."--"Who forbade you to do so?"--"Why _he_
did. Our master Pomuchelskopp."--"The infamous Jesuit!" muttered Bräsig
below his breath.--"He told us that if we disobeyed him we might feed
our cattle on saw-dust, for he would give us neither hay nor straw, and
we might burn stones to warm ourselves, for he would give us neither
wood nor peats."--Bräsig grew more and more furious every moment, and
the old weaver, having got into the full swing of talk, went on: "And
then you see we've to be ready night and day when he wants us. I myself
have been from home all the Christmas holydays, and only got back at
ten o'clock last night."--"Where were you?"--"At the old station in
Ludwigslust."--"What were you doing there?"--"I wasn't doing any thing
there."--"Why you must have been sent on business?"--"Yes, I was sent
on business, but nothing came of it, as there were no papers."--"What
_do_ you mean?"--"You see, I was sent to the station with a ram, and I
got there all right. I found a fellow waiting for me, so I said to him:
'Good-morning,' I said, 'here he is.'--'Who?' he asked.--'The ram,' I
said.--'What has he come for?' he asked.--'I don't know,' I said.--'Are
there any papers?" he asked.--'No,' I said, 'there are no papers
about him.'--'You fool,' he said, 'are you sure that there are no
papers?"--'Yes,' I said, 'the ram has no papers.'--'Confound you!' he
said. 'Hav'n't _you_ brought me some papers yourself?'--'What?' I said.
'I? What's the good of _my_ having papers? I'm not to be sold to you
here.' Then the fellow grew very rude and had me turned out and the ram
after me, and so there we were both left standing before the station.
'Ugh! Ugh!' coughed the old ram. We were turned out into the road
because he had no papers, and I had none either. What was to be done? I
drove him home again, and when I got back last night, there was a
frightful scene. I thought our master would have eaten me up he fell
upon me so viciously. But it wasn't my fault. If the man ought to have
had papers they should have sent him some. But of this I'm sure, that
if our master wasn't such a great man and didn't happen to be so much
too strong for us, and if we only stuck to each other properly we'd
manage to take him down a peg. As for his hop-pole of a wife, she's a
thousand time worse than he is. It was only last spring that she nearly
beat my neighbour Kapphingst's girl to death. She beat the girl three
times with her broom-stick, and then locked her up in the shed without
food. And why? Because a hawk had carried off one of her chickens. It
wasn't the girl's fault that the hawk carried off the chicken, nor was
it my fault that I wasn't given any papers."--Bräsig listened to the
weaver's story, and although only yesterday he had wanted to bring
about a revolution against Pomuchelskopp, he was now silent, for he
would never have forgiven himself, if he had thoughtlessly helped to
excite the labourers against their master.

They got to Pümpelhagen at last, and stopped at the farm-house door.
Fred Triddelfitz sprang out, and ran up to Bräsig: "Oh, Sir, Sir," he
cried, "it wasn't my fault that Mary Möller packed the book by mistake
amongst my things, and I knew nothing about it till I was changing my
clothes at Demmin."--"What book?" asked Bräsig quickly.--"Why,
Hawermann's book, about which there has been such a row."--"And that
book," cried Bräsig, seizing Fred by the collar and shaking him till
his teeth chattered, "you took to Demmin with you, you infamous
grey-hound that you are." Then pushing him towards the house: "Come in,
and show me the book."--Fred brought it tremblingly, and Bräsig
snatched it out of his hands: "Do you know what you have done, you
infamous grey-hound? You have brought the man, who tried in all
kindness and gentleness, to make a responsible human being of you, and
who always covered your follies with a silken mantle, to misery and
shameful suspicion."--"Oh, _don't_ Mr. Bräsig," entreated Fred turning
deadly pale, "indeed it wasn't my doing; Mary Möller packed the book
with my things, and I galloped home with it from Demmin this morning as
hard as I could."--"Mary Möller," cried Bräsig, "what have you got to
do with Mary Möller? Oh, if I were your father or your mother, or even
your aunt, I'd thrash you till you ran round the wall like a squirrel.
What have you got to do with that stupid old woman Mary Möller? Do you
think that galloping on the public road is the way to make good your
folly? Is your innocent horse to suffer for your sins? But now come
away, come away. You must appear in Mrs. von Rambow's Court of Justice.
You must tell all about it there, and then you can explain the mystery
about Mary Möller." When he had said this he set off to the manor
house, and Fred followed him slowly, like hard times when they come
into the land, and his heart was full of grief and pain.

"Will you let your mistress know that this young man and I want to
speak to her," said Bräsig to Daniel Sadenwater, pointing at the same
time to Fred. Daniel made a half bow, and went. Fred waited, and amused
himself by making a face, in the same way as he used to do at Parchen,
when he was called before the headmaster of his school to answer for
some piece of mischief. Bräsig meanwhile was pulling up his boots in
the corner, the better to show their yellow tops, and at the same time
holding the book tightly under his arm. When Mrs. von Rambow crossed
the hall on her way to the drawing-room, Bräsig followed her, his face
quite red with inward excitement, and with stooping. Fred came slowly
after, looking pale and anxious.--"You have something to say to me,
Mr. Bräsig," said the lady turning from one to the other of her
visitors.--"Yes, Madam, but under the circumstances, I'd be much
obliged by your first listening to what this apothecary's son,
this ...."--"infamous grey-hound" he was about to have said, but
stopped himself in time--"has to say; he has a nice little story to
tell you."--Mrs. von Rambow looked enquiringly at Fred, who began to
stammer out something very like what had really happened, turning red
and pale as he spoke. The only thing he left out was Mary Möller's
name, and he concluded his story thus: "So the book got into my
portmanteau by accident."--"Out with it about Mary Möller," interrupted
Bräsig, "the truth must be made known."--"Yes," said Fred, "Mary Möller
packed my things for me as I had so much to do that day."--Mrs. von
Rambow had grown very uneasy: "Then," she said, "it was all owing to a
wretched mistake?"--"Yes, Madam," answered Bräsig, "and here's the
book. Look, Hawermann's account is balanced in the last page, and
besides his sal'ry, you see that he has to be paid sixty pounds. You
may be sure that it's all right, for Charles Hawermann never added up
wrong in his life; he was always better at accounts from a boy than I
was."--Mrs. von Rambow took the book with a trembling hand, and as she
looked at the column of figures on the last page, the thought flashed
into her mind, that as Hawermann was proved innocent in this
particular, he might be equally innocent of the other charge brought
against him, and in which she herself had never believed. Fred's story
bore truth on the face of it, and so she saw that she had done the old
bailiff a grievous wrong. But he had shot her husband! She had an
excuse for her conduct in that. She said: "What made him shoot at
Alick?"--"Madam," said Bräsig, raising his eyebrows and putting on his
gravest expression, "allow me to say that that is a false accusation.
It was your husband who got the gun, and when Hawermann tried to take
it from him, it went off. That's the whole truth, for Hawermann himself
told me, and he never lies."--She knew that well, and she also knew
that she could not say the same of her husband. In the first excitement
he had certainly declared: "He is not a murderer;" but ever since then,
he had said that Hawermann had shot him. She sat down and covered her
eyes with her hand. She tried to regain her self-control, but it was
only with a great effort that she roused herself to say: "You have
come, I suppose, to receive the money for the bailiff, but my husband
is ill, and I cannot disturb him by asking for it just now. I will send
it."--"No, Madam, I hav'n't come for that," answered Bräsig, drawing
himself up to his full height, "I came here to tell the truth, I
came here to defend my friend, my old school-fellow of sixty years
ago."--"That was unnecessary if your friend has a good conscience,
which I believe he has."--"I see, Madam, that you don't understand
human nature. Every man has two consciences, one of which is within him
and of that no devil can deprive him; but the other is external, and is
known as his good name, and that can be stolen from him by any rascal
who has power and cleverness enough to do it. When his good name is
taken from him, the man dies morally, for no one lives for himself
alone, but also for the world. Evil reports are like the thistle-down
which the devil and his accomplices sow in our fields. The better the
ground, the more the weeds flourish, and when they are in seed the wind
comes--no one knows whence it cometh, or whither it goeth--and carries
the thistledown with it, scattering it over the land, and next year the
field is full of thistles. Then people come and abuse the land, but no
one will lend a hand to pull up the weeds, for each man is afraid of
hurting his fingers. And you, lady, have also feared the pricks. That
was what pained my friend Charles Hawermann most of all, when he was
turned out of the house as a cheat and a thief. That is what I came to
tell you--and now farewell--I will say no more." He then left the room,
and Fred slunk after him.

And Frida? Where was the high spirited young woman with the wise eyes
and clear judgment, who could see what ought to be done so calmly and
decidedly? She was changed now, her calm judgment was gone, and
uneasiness had taken its place, and a veil of sorrow had fallen over
her eyes, which hindered them seeing as clearly as before. "Oh," she
exclaimed aloud. "Another untruth! All these suspicions were only born
of lies, self-deception and unmanly weakness! My anxiety about him and
my love for him, have made me participate in his guilt; have made me
wound the noblest heart that ever beat for me. But I will tell him
all," and she sprang to her feet, "I will tear the net in which I am
entangled." Then falling back in her chair again, she went on sadly:
"No, not now; I can't yet; he is too ill." Ah me! She was right:
self-deception and lies had gained ever more power and strength, and
her true heart would find it very difficult to keep itself uninfluenced
by its surroundings, and to distinguish between what was real and what
merely seemed to be real.

When Bräsig got back to his carriage, he found that Rührdanz had
collected nearly all of Hawermann's possessions with the help of
Christian Däsel, and the rest of the things were very soon got
together. As Bräsig was getting into the carriage beside Rührdanz, Fred
Triddelfitz pulled him back, and said: "Mr. Bräsig, please tell Mr.
Hawermann that I am innocent; that it wasn't my fault."--Bräsig was not
going to have answered him at first, but catching sight of his
miserable face, was sorry for him, and said: "Yes, I'll tell him that;
but see that you improve." And then he drove away.

After they had gone a short distance Rührdanz said: "It's nothing to
me, Sir, and that's why I speak of it, but who ever would have thought
it! I mean about Mr. Hawermann."--"What are you talking about?"--"Oh,
nothing! I mean that he should have gone away so suddenly, and then the
shooting!"--"That's all nonsense," said Bräsig angrily.--"I said so
too. Sir, but Christian, the groom who helped me to pack told me it was
true. He said the quarrel was all about some confounded papers, for
Hawermann's papers wer'n't right. Yes, that was it, the confounded
papers!"--"Hawermann's papers were all right."--"That's just what I
said, Sir, but then there's the shooting. Our young master Gustavus was
telling the story all over the village this morning."--"Gustavus,"
cried Bräsig furiously, "is a young rascal, a puppy! A puppy whose ears
ar'n't shorn yet!"--"That's just what I said, and I hope you won't be
angry with me, Sir; but still he's the best of the lot up at the manor.
You see, my father's sister's son came here from the Prussian district
near Anklam last week, and he told us what sort of a man our squire is.
He always had some human skin sticking to the end of his cane, he was
so fond of thrashing folk, but the Prussians would stand it no longer.
The people had him up before the county-court or the country-court--I
forget what the thing's called--and the Landgrave punished him
severely. I only wish that we had a Landgrave like that close at
hand, for the Chancellor's office is too far away."--"Yes," cried
Bräsig crossly, "if you had a Landgrave like that, you'd have rare
doings."--"That's just what I say, Sir; but Mr. Pomuchelskopp once went
too far, he beat a woman who was in the family way very brutally,
and--don't be angry with me. Sir--I think that was a horrible thing to
do. The king happened to hear of it, and commanded that he should be
imprisoned for life at Stettin with hard labour. Then his wife went to
the king and fell at his feet, and his majesty granted her request on
condition that he wore an iron ring round his neck for the rest of his
life, and that he did convict's work at Stettin jail for a month every
autumn. He was there this autumn. He was also banished from Prussia,
and so he came here. Now tell me, Sir, where do you think he will go if
he is chased away from here?"--"Where the pepper grows, for all I
care," cried Bräsig.--"That's just what I say, Sir; but--don't be angry
with me--I don't believe that they'll take him there even, for you see
he has money to buy himself off, though indeed there are his papers
against him. If the king sees from his papers that he has to wear an
iron ring round his neck, and that that's the reason he wears such a
large handkerchief round his throat, he won't let him buy himself
off."--"Ah, then you see you'll have to keep him," said Bräsig.--"Yes,
of course that'll be the way of it; we'd have to keep him because he'd
be given into our charge. Tche!" he said to the horse and then they
drove on at a slow trot through the village of Gürlitz, Bräsig thinking
deeply.--What a strange world it is! he thought. A fellow who is well
known to be a rascal has the power to take the good name from an
honourable man, and the world believes the evil speaking of the bad
man, while it turns a deaf ear to the asseverations of him whom he
calumniated. Bräsig believed, from what he had heard of the stories
Gustavus had been telling that Pomuchelskopp was doing his utmost to
spread evil reports of Hawermann.--"It's scand'lous," he said to
himself as he got out of the carriage at Mrs. Behrens' door in
Rahnstädt, "but wait Samuel! I've got the better of you once in
preventing you having the glebe, and I'll get the better of you again.
But first of all I'll have the law of you for likening me to a 'crow'."

                              CHAPTER II.

New year's day 1846 had come with all its pleasures. The Rahnstädt
people congratulated themselves on the cold weather outside, and on
their warm rooms. There was a great deal of sledging in the morning,
and many salt herrings were eaten because of Sylvester, Eve. Amongst
the young people there was much talking of this and that thing they had
noticed at the ball on the previous evening, and the fathers and
mothers talked, not of what had happened at the ball, but of what was
going on in the world. The story of the quarrel between Hawermann and
Mr. von Rambow was one of the chief subjects of conversation at all the
dinner tables in the town. As every house has its own style of cookery,
every house spices its gossip to suit its own palate, and Slus'uhr and
David added the one pepper and the other garlic to make the Pümpelhagen
dish of scandal more appetising. So it came to pass that in Rahnstädt
and its neighbourhood the story was now so highly seasoned that it
satisfied all who partook of it, more especially as each individual had
thrown into it some of his favourite spice. It was said that Hawermann
had been cheating the young squire and his late father for years, and
had amassed such a large fortune that he had impoverished Mr. von
Rambow; that he had got possession of half of the money stolen by the
labourer Regel, for which reason he had assisted the thief to escape,
and had at the same time provided the man with an estate pass to help
him on his way. No one had quite made up his mind as to what part
Joseph Nüssler had taken in the business. At last Mr. Frederic
Triddelfitz, son of the apothecary, a very clever young man, had
discovered the roguery on one occasion when he was privately looking
through the farm book. He had told the housekeeper, Mary Möller, what
he had found out, and they had both agreed that Triddelfitz must take
possession of the book until Hawermann was gone. The young man had
therefore taken the book to Demmin with him, intending to hand it over
to Mr. von Rambow on the first opportunity. Hawermann had missed the
book next day, and had taken it into his head that Mr. von Rambow had
seized it, so he had gone to him and told him he was a thief and that
he must give him back his book. The squire had refused to admit that he
had it, and so he had rushed at him with a gun. The squire had then
tried to get the gun away from him, but it had gone off and Mr. von
Rambow was now lying wounded to death. Hawermann was hidden away
somewhere in the town. The story current in the town was much the same
as this, and everyone wondered why the mayor did not put such a
dangerous man in irons instead of letting him go at large.

Fortunately there were two wise men in the town who would not believe
the story, and one of these was Moses, who when his son told him his
version of what had happened, only said: "What a fool you are, David!"
and then went back to his work. The other was the mayor himself, who
only shook his head when the story was told him and then went on with
his work.--Rector Baldrian did not go back to his work, for it was
holiday time. He said that there must be something in the story as the
whole town was full of it; but of this he was so certain that he would
take the Holy Sacrament on it, that his son Godfrey's father-in-law,
Joseph Nüssler, was _not_ in the plot.--Kurz said: It might be true,
though he would never have thought it of old Hawermann, but no one
could see into the heart of another. At the same time, he must confess
that the affair seemed to be improbable, for he could not imagine Fred
Triddelfitz acting with so much precaution, and he therefore thought
the story must be much exaggerated.--The apothecary of course believed
it, because it redounded to his son's honour, and so he went about
spreading the news in the town.

Strangely enough while the whole of Rahnstädt united in praising Fred,
he looked upon himself as a great criminal, and humbling himself before
Hawermann entreated his forgiveness with piteous earnestness, assuring
him that he had wronged him unintentionally. Hawermann stroked the
lad's red hair gently, and said: "Never mind, Triddelfitz! Remember
this. Many a good action has evil consequences in this life, and many a
bad action good consequences; but we have nothing to do with the
consequences of our actions, they are in other hands than ours, and the
consequences of our deeds do not make them good or evil. If you hadn't
done wrong in trying to deceive me about the corn account your
conscience wouldn't prick you, and you wouldn't have had to come to me
to-day. But I forgive you heartily, and here's your receipt for the
money. Try to be good, won't you? And now good-bye." He gave Fred the
receipt for the money Mr. von Rambow had sent him for his wages, and
for what he had expended for Alick.

Fred went to the inn where he had left his horse. A crowd had
collected, and several people came up to him, and said: "Well, how is
it? You behaved very well!"--"Is Mr. von Rambow dangerously wounded?
And is he still alive?"--"Bless my soul! can't you be quiet and let Mr.
Triddelfitz tell us about it."--"Tell me ....."--"Have you got
Hawermann's place?"--Fred was not at all in the mood for talking, and
besides that, he had no wish to publish the tale of his own folly. He
forced his way through the crowd with a few "pishes" and "pshaws", and
mounting his horse rode away, so all the Rahnstädters said with one
voice that he was a very modest young man, who did not wish to sing his
own praises.

The Rahnstädters had surrounded Fred, and had tried to get at his news,
as if they had been a swarm of flies and he a bottle of syrup, but they
had made nothing by the move. Still New-year's-day was not to pass
without news. Scarcely was Fred, outwardly proud and haughty and
inwardly sad and humble, gone away, when a carriage drove up to the
inn--the gentleman was driving himself and the servant was on the back
seat--the Rahnstädters flattened their noses on the window panes and
wondered who it was. "I'm sure I know his face," said one.--"Yes, and
I've seen him before too," said another.--"Isn't it ....?" began a
third.--"My patience!" said Bank, the shoemaker. "You mean that it
isn't him."--"I know who it is," said Wimmersdorf, the tailor, "I've
made many a coat for him. It's the Mr. von Rambow who lives at
Hohen-Selchow on the other side of Schwerin, and he's a cousin of the
squire of Pümpelhagen."--"The tailor's right, it's just him."--"It's
just him."--"It's just him."--"Of course he has come because of the
quarrel."--"Most likely, for the squire of Pümpelhagen's too ill to
attend to business. You'll see that matters will soon be put to rights
now."--When Frank went into the coffee-room to take off his furs, the
worthy town's folk present turned their backs to the window, the stove,
and the wall, and looked with all their eyes into the middle of the
room where he was standing. They resembled hungry spiders enclosing
Frank like a helpless fly in the web of their curiosity.

Frank went out, and after saying a few words to the hall-porter set off
in the direction of the marketplace.

"John," asked one of the Rahnstädters, putting his head out of the
window, "what did he say to you?"--"Oh," said John, "he only asked
whether I thought that the mayor would be at home."--"Did you hear? He
has asked for the mayor. Something's going to be done in real earnest
now."--"John," enquired another, "was that all that he said?"--"He
asked whether the clergyman's wife, who has come to live here, didn't
live in the house next to Kurz the shopkeeper."--"Aha! Did you notice?
The bailiff is probably hidden in Mrs. Behrens' house. Good-bye
now."--"Why, Wimmersdorf, where are you going?"--"I'm going to Kurz the
shopkeeper's."--"Wait a moment. I'll go with you."--"Of course," said
another, "Kurz's house is the best place to see from."--"Yes, let's all
go there."--And before long Kurz's shop was fuller of customers than it
had been for a very long time. Everyone had a glass of something,
several people even indulged in two glasses, and Kurz said to himself:
"Thank heaven, the new year is beginning well."

After a short time Frank came back from the market place and passing by
Kurz's shop, made his way straight to Mrs. Behrens' door.--"Faith, he
hasn't brought a policeman with him," said one.--"Höppner isn't at home
to-day. He has gone to Prebberow's to fetch his pig."--"Oh, to be
sure!"--"I wonder how the old bailiff feels, now that he knows he's in
a regular scrape," remarked Wimmersdorf.--"My feet are growing cold,
lads, so I'm going home," said Bank the shoemaker.--"Won't you wait and
see the end of it?" asked Thiel, the cabinet-maker.--"D'ye know," said
Bank, "it has just occurred to me that the whole story's a lie from
beginning to end."--"What?" cried Thiel, the cabinet-maker, "and yet it
was you who told me all about it this morning."--"Yes, that's true, but
morning talk and evening talk are different. I've had time for
consideration since then."--"That's to say you've got cold feet," said
Wimmersdorf the tailor.--Everyone laughed.--"That's a pack o' rubbish,"
said the shoemaker, "and the whole story's a pack o' rubbish. The old
bailiff has had his boots made by me for many a long year, and he
always paid his bill to the day, and you're not going to make me
believe that he has taken to stealing and shooting in his old
age."--"It's all very well to say that, but the whole town is full of
it."--"The whole town! Here's Mr. Kurz, ask him if the bailiff didn't
always pay him honestly for everything he got. Ask him what he says to
that."--"What I say to that? I say nothing," said Kurz, "but still I
don't believe the story, and I have my reasons for not believing
it."--"D'ye hear that?"--"Yes, it's very possible."--"And I always
said it seemed improbable."--"Well," answered Wimmersdorf, "he
never employed me, and so I don't see why I shouldn't believe
it."--"Quite right, tailor, don't let yourself be laughed out of your
opinion."--"Come, lads, let's laugh the tailor out of the idea."--"I'll
tell you something," said Bank thumping the counter with his fist,
"come here all of you--Mr. Kurz give us another glass all round--let's
drink to the health of the honest old bailiff."--After that they
separated, and all went home with entire faith in Hawermann's
innocence. Excepting Wimmersdorf, the tailor, they one and all restored
his good name. And why? Because Bank, the shoemaker, had cold feet.

The good and evil opinion of men often depends on causes as slight as
that. These men had just declared that they did not believe the tales
circulated about Hawermann, but what chance has the good opinion of a
few poor operatives of conquering that secret invisible power, which in
small towns governs the fate of men, and awards them friendship or
hostility according to their supposed actions. I mean the secret bed of
justice held by the women when they gather round a tea-pot with their
knitting in the dusk of evening. At these meetings every sinner has
judgment pronounced on him untempered with mercy. He is pricked with
knitting needles, pinched with the sugar-tongs, burnt with the flame
under the urn, and every bit of biscuit or Muschüken[1] eaten by the
members of the council is looked upon as an effigy of the culprit. What
effect had Jack Bank's good opinion or cold feet on the Rahnstädt
council of women? or even the knowledge that Hawermann had paid all his
bills? These judges set to work more seriously than the men, they took,
what lawyers call, the circumstantial evidence into consideration, and
came to the conclusion that things looked badly for Hawermann, Louisa,
Mrs. Behrens, and even for Bräsig. Mally and Sally Pomuchelskopp
had--as diplomatists say--prepared the ground, by dropping a word here,
and another there. Slus'uhr had collected all of these costly pearls of
speech, and had arranged them in what learned men call, one point of
view, and then David had added a few more items, so that the council
had a very good idea of Frank's love for Louisa, of Hawermann's and
Mrs. Behrens' matchmaking powers, and of Bräsig's shocking conduct in
carrying letters between the lovers.

Just as all the first questions were answered, the town clerk's wife,
and Mrs. Krummhorn, the merchant's wife, came in, and were greeted with
a scolding from their hostess for having arrived so late. The two
ladies excused themselves in a few unmeaning phrases, and then seated
themselves with an important rustle. When they took out their knitting,
they set to work vehemently and waggled their heads in what would have
been a supremely ridiculous manner, if it had not shown that they knew
something that was worth telling. The ladies then only did their duty
when they began to feel their way carefully and by degrees to the
mystery, but the town-clerk's wife and Mrs. Krummhorn were prepared for
the veiled attack, and pursed up their lips as tight as oyster shells,
and although the council were determined to get at the news, they could
not persuade the oysters to open their shells by force or diplomacy.
The ladies all sighed, and dipped some muschüken in their tea, and the
two oysters soon found to their terror that their news had a good
chance of becoming stale and losing its freshness, they therefore
unclosed their shells, and the town-clerk's wife asked the mayor's
wife whether a young gentleman had not called on the mayor that
afternoon.--Yes, said the mayor's wife, Mr. von Rambow's cousin had
been with her husband, they had just been talking about it.--"What did
he want?" asked the town-clerk's wife.--"He came to ask why the search
for the stolen money had been given up, and he also asked what had
taken place at Pümpelhagen--you know--about the shooting--and what was
done about it."--"And what else?" asked the town-clerk's wife, without
raising her eyes from her knitting.--"My husband told me that that was
all," answered the mayor's wife.--"And you believe that," asked the
town-clerk's wife. Now it is an insult to any court of justice, and a
much greater insult to the women's council, to ask the members of
either of these bodies to believe a simple natural action. The mayor's
wife felt the sneer that was hidden in the question, and said sharply:
"If you know better, my dear, perhaps you'll put us right."--The one
oyster looked at the other, and then they both burst out laughing. Now
when a comfortable looking oyster--the town-clerk's wife was stout and
comely and Mrs. Krummhorn was not far behind her--indulges in a hearty
laugh, it always makes a great impression on the auditors. The members
of the council let their knitting fall upon their laps and gazed at
the oysters.--"Good gracious!" exclaimed the hostess, "what do you
know?"--"Mrs. Krummhorn may tell you," answered the town-clerk's wife,
"she saw as well as I did."--Now Mrs. Krummhorn was a most excellent
woman, and could tell a story well and truly, but her tongue had the
same fault as old Schäfer's legs, it would not go straight, and she
might have said to her neighbours: "put me straight," and "turn me
round," as he did to his. She began: "Yes, he went right across the
market-place ....."--"Who?" interrupted a stupid little girl, who did
not quite understand,--"Hush!" cried they all.--"Well, as I was saying,
he went right across the market-place, and I recognised him at once,
for he had bought a new suit of clothes from my husband some time
before, it was a black surtout and blue trousers--bother! what was I
saying--I meant a blue surtout and black trousers; I see him now as
distinctly as I did then, he always used to wear yellow leather
breeches and top-boots--or was it Fred Triddelfitz who did so? I really
can't quite remember. What _was_ I going to say?"--"He went right
across the market-place," cried three voices at once.--"To be sure! He
went right across the market-place and turned into the street where the
town-clerk lives, I was calling on the town-clerk's wife at the time,
for she wanted to show me the new curtains she had bought from the Jew
Hirsch--oh, I remember now, it was from the Jew Bär, who was declared
bankrupt the other day, that she got them. It's a very odd thing, but
my husband tells me that all our Jews become bankrupt now and then,
after which they are richer than ever, so that a Christian merchant has
no chance against those rascally Jews. But where was I?"--"He turned
into the street where the town-clerk lives."--"Oh of course! The
town-clerk's wife and I were standing at the window and so we could see
right into Mrs. Behrens' parlour, and my friend was just telling me
that her husband had told her that if Mrs. Behrens would only go to
law--no, not Mrs. Behrens--the church, or the consistory or something,
Mr. Pomuchelskopp would be obliged to build a new parsonage at Gürlitz,
and my friend ....." But the town-clerk's wife was dying to tell the
story herself, and in asking Mrs. Krummhorn to do it, she had laid a
nice little rod in pickle for her own back, she could stand it no
longer and said: "He went straight into Mrs. Behrens' house, and
without waiting in the hall, ran right upstairs into the parlour. The
old lady started up from the sofa when she saw him, and made violent
signs to him to keep away from her. She looked as miserable as if some
great evil had come upon her, as perhaps it may. Then she set a chair
for him and signed to him to sit down, but he wouldn't do it, and
when Mrs. Behrens left the room, he began to walk up and down just
like--like ....."--"Why," interrupted Mrs. Krummhorn, "you said such a
pretty verse about it this afternoon."--"Ah well, 'The lion is the
king of the desert when he goeth through his domain.' He walked up and
down like a king of the desert, and when the old bailiff came into the
room with his daughter, he went up to him and reproached him
bitterly."--"But," interrupted the same stupid little member of the
council as before, "you don't mean to say that you heard all that was
said?"--"No, my love," replied the town-clerk's wife, laughing at the
member's stupidity, "we didn't _hear_ what was said, but Mrs. Krummhorn
and I _saw_ all that happened, we saw it with our _own_ eyes. The old
bailiff stood before the young man like a miserable sinner with his
eyes fixed on the ground, and without defending himself, while his
daughter threw her arms round his neck as if to protect him."--"Yes,"
interrupted Mrs. Krummhorn, "it reminded me of the scene when Stahl,
the old cooper was arrested for stealing the hoops. Mary Stahl sprang
between her father and Höppner, the policeman, saying that she wouldn't
let him be taken up because of his white hair, and yet he had stolen
the hoops, and I _know_ that he had, because he put three new hoops
round my milk pail, and my husband said it was all the same to us
whether they were stolen or not, and it didn't matter for the milk
either, for he said the hoops having been stolen wouldn't make the milk
turn sour, but all the same I noticed ....."--"Yes indeed, Mrs.
Krummhorn," said the town-clerk's wife, stopping her friend, "you
noticed how very pale the girl looked, and how she trembled when the
young man turned to her and broke off his engagement."--"No," replied
Mrs. Krummhorn, "I saw that she was deadly pale, but I didn't see her
trembling."--"Then I did," said the town-clerk's wife, "she trembled
like this," and so saying the lady began to shake in her chair as if it
were a summer's day and the flies were always settling on her face;
"and he stood before her like this," here she rose, "'The bond is
broken,' as my son, the student, sings, and then he looked at her this
way," and she stared so angrily at the little member, that the poor
girl got quite red, "then Mrs. Behrens forced her way between them, and
tried to make matters up, and patted him and talked so much that she
must have made some impression on him, for he shook hands with them
both when he went away; but still when his back was turned to them you
could see in his face how glad he was to be done with the whole thing.
Now wasn't it so, Mrs. Krummhorn?"--"I didn't notice that," answered
the merchant's wife, "I was too much taken up watching the girl. She
stood there with her arms folded across her chest looking, oh so pale.
I've seen a good many pale girls, and my brother's daughter amongst the
number, it comes from poverty of blood, and the doctor always says:
'Iron, iron;' but she has enough iron as her father is a blacksmith.
He might have been something else if he had liked, for our late
father ....."--"Poor girl!" cried the stupid little member, "and she's
so pretty. The poor old man too! I can't believe that he with his
venerable white hair has done anything to be ashamed of."--"My love,"
said the town-clerk's wife, with a look that might have been literally
translated into, "you donkey," "my love, beware of showing compassion
in the wrong place, and beware of making acquaintance with people who
are accused of crime."--"Of course he did it," passed from mouth to
mouth, from stocking to stocking, and from cup to cup.--The little
member was quashed, but suddenly two old and experienced advocates rose
to take her part. People who on former occasions had brought accused
parties before that same tribunal, and who had seemed to agree with
most of the speeches of the town-clerk's wife; but that lady had now
gone too far, she had forgotten the relationship of Mrs. Kurz and
Mrs. Baldrian to Hawermann, and it was time that she should be put
down.--"How do you know, dear, that Hawermann is a criminal?"--"Don't
you know, dear, that Hawermann is my brother's brother-in-law?"--"My
dear, you should really keep your sharp tongue in better order."--"You
know, my dear, that it has often got you into scrapes before now."

A war of "dear," and "my dear" now began across the table. The
teaspoons clattered in the saucers, cap ribbons waved up and down under
the ladies' chins, and the knitting was rolled up into hard balls and
put away in the work-bags. The mayor's wife joined the party of the two
advocates of Hawermann's cause, for she had not forgotten the sharp
words of the town-clerk's wife. The hostess went from one to the other
and besought them, by God, and all His saints not to disgrace her by
quarrelling at her tea-table, and the little member began to weep
bitterly, for she thought herself the cause of the dispute. But it was
over and done with, half of the guests rose and went away, and the
other half remained; so Rahnstädt was divided into two parties.

Meanwhile the people who had been the subject of the dispute were
sitting quietly in their parlour thinking no evil, and never dreaming
of the pains and trouble their fellow townsfolk were taking, in
settling their affairs for them. They did not imagine that the sharp
eyes looking out of the red face of the town-clerk's wife could
harm them, and little Mrs. Behrens said more than once, that the
town-clerk's wife, who lived over the way, must be a person of very
decided, strong character, and one who would be well able to rule her
household. And Louisa had no idea that the pretty young girl who so
often passed the house and glanced up at her window was full of loving
pity for her, or that she was the stupid little member of the women's
council who had taken her part at the tea-party. No, they had all too
much to do to have time to think of such things. Louisa had to teach
her sad heart to suffer and be still, that her father might never guess
how hard it had been for her to give up Frank, Hawermann had been even
more silent and thoughtful since then, and had no eyes for anything but
his child. When he saw her looking paler and more dreamy than usual he
used to go out into the little back garden and walk up and down in
search of peace. What became of his hatred when he saw his daughter's
love? What became of his anger against the world, where he found so
much kindness and affection in the little world with which he himself
had most to do? Hatred and anger had passed away from his heart, and
their place was filled by sadness and a deep compassion for his only
child. Little Mrs. Behrens thought no longer of her duster, she had
something else to do now, and she applied herself heart and soul to the
work of comforting her companions, but as far as Hawermann was
concerned, her labour was in vain.

The old man's strength was leaving him. His courage and love of life
were gone, and the unwonted inactivity of his existence at Rahnstädt
helped to depress him. His condition would have given his friends cause
for uneasiness had it not been that his daughter's sweet voice was
always able to banish the evil spirit of melancholy from him, in like
manner as the songs of David chased away the evil spirit from King
Saul. He refused to act differently from what he had done until he was
proved innocent of the charge of theft which had been brought against
him, and although Frank had tried to prove to him that the principal
charge had been that of falsifying the accounts, and that that had
fallen to the ground as soon as the farm-book had been restored, he
said that as long as the other accusation remained, he was a marked man
and he could not consent to Frank marrying his daughter. In vain Frank
implored him to remember what a weak, thoughtless man his cousin Alick
was, and that he was different and did not believe the charge.
Hawermann remained firm.

That was a great mistake on his part. Many people would say, why didn't
he, being strong in the knowledge of his own innocence, stand up and
throw the lie back in the teeth of the world? And I say to anyone who
asks me that question, you are right. He ought to have done so, and he
would have done so--if he had been the old Hawermann of former days.
But he was that no more. He was broken-spirited through being pained,
offended and constantly thwarted; then came the public accusation, the
horrors of his parting interview with the squire, and lastly Mrs. von
Rambow, for whom he would have given his life, had deserted him. The
climax came at a moment when his heart had opened to a dream of
happiness. In winter frost does no harm, for spring is coming to make
all right again; but it is very different when the frost comes and
shrivels the green leaves and flowers; when snow falls on the tender
shoots of hope and kills them, it is sad, very sad; and it is sad when
the little singing-birds which have put faith in the spring are frozen
to death in their nests, and the wood is silent as the grave. The old
man had allowed the spring of hope to blossom in his heart, and now it
was gone and dark gloomy forms had taken its place. He had received a
blow from which he could not recover. Take from the miser the treasure
that he has scraped together during the last sixty years, and you kill
him; and yet that is only a 'treasure that the rust doth eat;' what is
it in comparison with a man's good name.

Mrs. Behrens' only comfort was in Frank's last words; he had said, he
could wait, he would come again.

                              CHAPTER III.

Hawermann kept very much alone, and when visitors came to see Mrs.
Behrens, he either remained in his room or went out into the garden.
There were a great many visitors, for the one half of Rahnstädt thought
they could not better show their contempt for the other half, which had
put Mrs. Behrens' house under the bann, than by going there as often as
possible. So it came to pass that rector Baldrian and Kurz the
shopkeeper came to see Mrs. Behrens nearly every day, for their
women-kind had preached Hawermann's innocence to them so vehemently at
home, that they found it impossible to retain their doubts any longer.
Young Joseph, his wife and Mina, and parson Godfrey and Lina often came
in from the country and dined with them. Bräsig made Mrs. Behrens'
house his headquarters, and was always coming in and out like the dove
to the ark bringing any news from Rexow, Pümpelhagen and Gürlitz he
could pick up for his old friend. He told him that the ground was dry
and fit for ploughing; and sometimes when he spoke of what
Pomuchelskopp or Alick were about, he forgot his character of dove, and
dropping the olive branch, would show himself to be neither more nor
less than a raven. He would not be denied when he came, but told
Hawermann to his face that he had come to cheer him up, and if he did
not succeed on that occasion, he was not at all put out, and returned
to the charge next day as if nothing had happened, telling his friend
all about the weather and the crops.

In the spring of 1846 there was a great deal to be said about both the
weather and the crops. The winter had been warm and wet, so the spring
was early, and everything was green before anyone looked for it. The
grass and autumn sown corn were green in February, even the clover was
sprouting, the fields were as dry as one could wish, and the weather
was like harvest time. "Charles," said Bräsig, "you'll see that harm
will come of it, the spring is too fine, and when a bird sings too
early in the morning, a cat eats him before night; you'll see, we'll
all be groaning by autumn. The devil take every early spring!"--On
Palm-sunday he brought a rape-flower in full bloom and laying it on the
table before Hawermann, he said: "Look there! Look there! That's from
your rape-field at Pümpelhagen. You'll see, Charles, the Louis d'ors
will be in flower in a week's time; but it's all vinegar, it's covered
with beetles."--"Oh, Zacariah, we've often had that before and yet
we've had good rape all the same."--"Yes, Charles, _black_ beetles, not
_grey_ ones--I've brought the proof of your convarsion with me--," he
felt in his pocket and pulled out a small paper-parcel, but when he
opened it, it was empty. "What did I tell you, Charles! These grey
beetles are cunning dogs and are not to be counted on for anything even
to the harm they do. You'll see, Charles, that this year'll be neither
more nor less than a cake made of nest eggs, everything's going
contrary to nature. Why? The rye is seldom tall enough before May-day
to hide a crow, this year a good sized turkey-cock could easily hide
itself in it. No, Charles, the world has gone quite round. The parsons
have been preaching about it from the pulpit, they say that the moon's
going slap in among the stars, and then the sun 'ill be too near the
earth, and everything 'ill catch fire. They say that 'ill be the
beginning of the Day of Judgment, and that everyone ought to repent of
his sins at once."--"Bless me, Zachariah! That's all nonsense."--"I say
so too, Charles. It's a mistaken kind of repentance that has been shown
too, for the labourers at Klein-Bibow have given up work, have sold all
their possessions to the Jews, and are spending their time drinking and
devouring their goods. Parson Godfrey wanted to preach the same kind of
sermon in his church, but I hid myself behind Lina, and she talked him
out of it. But things are looking ill, Charles."--"I think perhaps we
may have a bad harvest; but Kurz was here yesterday and he told me that
the winter corn was looking beautiful."--"Well, Charles, I thought you
had been a wiser man. Kurz, if you please, Kurz! He understands all
about salt herrings, for he's a good tradesman; but he must get up
earlier in the morning if he wants to express an opinion about corn,
for it needs a farmer, and a good farmer, to understand _that_. You
see, it's just as I say, Charles, everyone puts his finger in our pie,
and these town's people are about as wise as bees. If any man takes to
farming _poor passer le tongs_, because he likes the amusement, _à la
bonhour!_ I have nothing against it, but when he tries to derive
advantage from it--pshaw!--Kurz! He may peep into a sugar barrel or
into another man's hand at cards; but when he tries to peep into a
field of rye, the meaning of what he sees, is hidden from him. But what
I was going to say, Charles, is this; I'm here, bag and baggage, next
week."--"No, Bräsig, no, if this is going to be a bad year the young
people will need you, and Godfrey understands too little about farming
to be able to do without your help."--"Yes, Charles, you're right, and
if you think I ought--for I have given myself entirely to you--I will
stay with him. But now good-bye! I don't know why, but I feel rather
stomach-achy, I must go and ask Mrs. Behrens if she can give me a
little kümmel." With that he left the room, but next moment he put his
head in at the door again, and said: "I had almost forgotten to tell
you about Pümpelhagen. There's such an infernally queer kind of farming
going on there just now that you might almost warm your hands and feet
at it. I met Triddelfitz yesterday near the shed, and although he's an
infamous grey-hound, he was nearly crying about it: 'Mr. Bräsig,' he
said, 'I lie awake at night bothering over the farming, and tire myself
out thinking, till I can't fall asleep at all. When I've got it all
beautifully arranged in my head, and have told the people in the
morning what they are to do, the squire comes out with his arm in a
sling and undoes all my arrangements. He sends the labourers off to the
fields in twos and threes, this way and that, so that they are all
running about like chickens with their heads cut off, and I have to
chase them and gather them all together again. Then when they're all
collected and working in the afternoon, he comes out, and scatters them
once more.' It must be a great satisfication to you to hear this,
Charles, for it shows that they can't get on without you." After that
he went away, but soon put his head in again to say: "What I wanted to
say, Charles, was this--half of the horses at Pümpelhagen are done up;
a few days ago I saw them standing while the carts were being filled
with marl, the poor things were hanging their heads and ears down
devotion'ly as the labourers do in church, and it isn't over work that
makes them do it, but want of food. The squire hasn't too much fodder
in his barns, for he sold three loads of oats, and two of peas, to the
Jews this spring, and his granary floor is now as empty as if the bull
had licked it. He has to buy oats, but the poor farm horses get none,
for the oats are all given to the thoroughbred mares who do nothing for
their living, and so steal the days when they should be at work from
God. There is great injustice in the world! Now good-bye, Charles." He
went away really this time.

It was a sad picture that Bräsig had drawn of the condition of affairs
at Pümpelhagen, but matters were even worse there than he suspected. He
had said nothing of the influence want of money was having on Alick's
character, and that was the worst part of the whole business. Pressure
of that kind does not only make people irritable, it also makes them
hard to their dependents, and poor Alick, like other men in his
position fell into the mistaken idea that the reason he was so hard up
was because his labourers were too well treated. It was Pomuchelskopp
who first taught him that this might be the case. So he took a little
here and a little there from his people, and then when his natural
good-nature got the better of him he gave them back a little here and a
little there, in both cases without method and just as the fancy seized
him. At first the labourers had all laughed at the new mode of farming
their young master had introduced, but very soon their laughter was
changed to murmuring, and then their murmurs became complaints. Under
Hawermann's rule the labourers had always received their corn and money
punctually, so they did not like waiting till there was some to give
them. When they complained to their master, they only got sharp words
in answer to their grumblings, and that they thought even worse.
Discontent was spreading.

Alick comforted himself with looking forward to the new harvest, and
the money he would get for it; but unfortunately Bräsig's predictions
came true. The crops looked thin as they stood in the fields, and when
they were cut down, and carried in, the barns were only half full.
Experienced old farmers said to the young beginners: "Take care! Save
what you can, for hard times are coming. That corn won't be worth
much." It was good advice, but what was the use of it to Alick? He must
have money, so he had the corn thrashed out at once for seed and for
sale. It brought a fine price when it was sold, for the corn-Jews saw
from the first what was surely coming, and bought up all the corn they
could on speculation, and so the natural dearth was succeeded by an
artificial dearth. The old labourers at Pümpelhagen shook their heads
when they saw the waggons driving out of the yard: "What's to become of
us! What's to become of us! We'll have no corn to make our bread." And
the women stood at their cottage doors wringing their hands: "Look
Daddy, that little heap of potatoes is all I have remaining, and
they're all diseased. What are we to do this winter?"--So dearth had
come into the rich land of Mecklenburg like a thief in the night. No
one had expected it, and no one had made preparations to defend himself
against it. What was to be done?--It fell most heavily on the small
towns, and on the artisans in those towns. The labourers always had
work, and the children could beg from door to door, and then soup
kitchens were organised for them. But the poor artisan had nothing to
do, for no one got anything made; he did not know how to beg, indeed
he was too proud to do so. I once went to see the wife of an honest
hard-working tradesman during that time. The dinner was on the table
and the hungry children were standing round it ready to begin. When I
went in, the woman threw a cloth over the dish, and while she was out
of the room calling her husband I lifted the cloth, and what did I find
under it? Boiled potato skins! That was all they had for dinner.

At such a time God sits in heaven and picks out the good men from
amongst the evil ones, that all may see clearly which is which; He
supports the good, and rejoices to see them bear fruit; but the wicked
fall under the flail and the scourge, that is to say, under the power
of their own evil wishes, unrighteous actions, and unjust thoughts, so
that when they grow up and the time comes for them to bear fruit they
are choked by weeds which are sometimes so fair to the eye that the
world looks at them with admiration, but when the harvest comes, and
the sickle is put to their roots, the crop of grain is found to be very
small, then the Lord of the harvest turns away from the field, for it
is written: "By their fruits ye shall know them."

Many people, during these hard times, gave to the poor with large
hearted charity in spite of the pressure of their own difficulties, and
the sheriff, Mr. von Ö .., the chamberlain, Mr. von E .., farmer H ..,
our old friend Moses, and many other people were of those who bore good
fruit in the sight of God in those hard times. But Pomuchelskopp was
not one of that good company, nor were Slus'uhr nor David, for these
three sat together in Gürlitz manor and laid their plans for completing
Alick's ruin. David and Slus'uhr felt no qualms of conscience in doing
their work, but they had not enough money to go on with it, for they
wanted to use all they had of their own for lending to those who were
in desperate need of it, at the highest possible rate of interest. They
had used up all their own capital and so they now applied to Mr.
Pomuchelskopp for money, promising that he should go shares with them
in their gains. But they found their friend too wide-awake to do
anything of the sort; he feared lest it should become known that he had
done so, and lest he should be blamed. He therefore said that he had no
money, but what he required to keep his cattle and his people alive
during the famine.--"I agree with you about the cattle," answered
Slus'uhr, "but it's great nonsense about the people. Don't deceive
yourself on that point, pray! Your people are going everywhere begging.
As we drove past the parsonage just now I saw all the wives and
children of your labourers collected in the yard, where your old friend
Bräsig was standing with two large pails full of porridge which young
Mrs. Baldrian was distributing."--"Let her go on! Let her go on!" said
Pomuchelskopp. "I never interfere with anyone's good works. These
people may be able to afford it, I cannot, and I have no money."--"But
you have the Pümpelhagen bills," said David.--"They're of no use just
now. Mr. von Rambow's harvest was worse than anyone else's, and he has
threshed out and sold all the grain he had."--"That's the very reason
you should do something," replied Slus'uhr. "Now's the time to act. You
won't have such a good opportunity again in a hurry, and he can't take
it ill of you, for you are in such desperate need of money that you
have had to sell some of his bills to David and me. You must wait no
longer. Shake the tree, for the plums are ripe."--"What is the sum
total?" asked David.--"H'm!" said Pomuchelskopp, going to his desk and
scratching his ear thoughtfully. "I have bills for sixteen hundred and
fifty pounds."--"Is that all?" asked Slus'uhr, "I wish it had been
more."--"Yes, that's all, except a mortgage for twelve hundred pounds
that I've had for the last year and a half."--"Then you've acted very
foolishly. You have always to give proper notice before you can
foreclose. However, it do'sn't matter so much after all. Give me the
bills for the sixteen hundred and fifty pounds, and I'll see that they
give him trouble enough for the present."--Muchel would not at first
consent, but Henny, who had joined them, was so determined that he had
to give way and hand the bills over to Slus'uhr and David.

The old game was once more played at Pümpelhagen. Slus'uhr and David
came and made Alick suffer the torments of purgatory. They would not
hear of the bills being renewed. He must and should pay, although he
had not a penny and could think of no plan for raising the money. The
blow came upon him as suddenly as Nicodemus came by night, and for the
first time the thought flashed into his mind that it might be a plot to
ruin him, that his kind neighbour at Gürlitz perhaps had his finger in
the pie, and had set these two rogues to badger him; but how it could
be so remained hidden from him. What was the use of thinking and
troubling about that. He must have money and from whom could he borrow
it? He knew of no one who could lend it to him. Then in spite of his
misgivings of a few minutes before his thoughts turned to his neighbour
Pomuchelskopp once more. He must help him; who else could do it? He got
on his horse and rode over to Gürlitz.

Muchel received him very kindly and heartily as if to show that he
considered it to be the duty of neighbours to cling to one another, and
uphold one another in these bad times. He groaned over his wretched
harvest, and complained loudly of the difficulties he was in for want
of ready money, so that Alick found it impossible to urge his request
and felt much ashamed of troubling a man, who was himself straightened,
with the tale of his difficulties. But necessity is a hard master, and
so he at last asked Pomuchelskopp why he had parted with his bills to
those two usurers. Whereupon Muchel folded his hands across his stomach
and looking compassionately at the young man, said: "Ah, Mr. von
Rambow, I couldn't help it.--Look" and opening his desk he pointed to a
drawer in which there were perhaps thirty pounds, "look that's all the
money I have, and I must buy provisions for my cattle and labourers,
and I thought you might perhaps have money by you."--Alick then asked
him why he had not come to him himself.--"I couldn't do that," answered
Muchel, "you know the proverb, 'Money binds strangers to each other,
but it separates friends,' and you and I are friends." That was all
very true, Alick replied, but the usurers had pressed him hard and he
did not know where to turn for help. "Did they really?" cried
Pomuchelskopp. "They oughtn't to have done that. I expressly stipulated
that they shouldn't dun you. Of course you will renew the bills--it'll
cost you a trifle, but that can't be helped under the circumstances."
Alick knew that as well as he did, but he would not allow himself to be
talked over this time, and passionately entreated Pomuchelskopp to help
him with his credit if he could lend him no money. "Willingly," said
Muchel, "but how? Who has money just now?" Alick asked whether Moses
would not help. "I don't know him," was the answer, "I've never done
any business with him. Your father found him useful, and you know him
yourself, so I advise you to turn to him."

That was the only comfort Alick could get; Pomuchelskopp slipped
through his fingers like an eel, and when he rode home his thoughts
were as gloomy and disagreeable as the evening itself.

David and Slus'uhr came back. They dunned him in the most shameless
manner, and when he told them that Pomuchelskopp was too hard up to
help him, they refused to listen, and only demanded their money the
more fiercely.

Alick rode from one place to another, knocking at this door and at
that, but all in vain, he could not raise the money. And when at last
he came home worn out and despairing, he read in his wife's quiet eyes
that she knew all, though she kept silence, her lips firmly closed,
reminding him of a beautiful book containing words of comfort which was
now closed to him for ever, for he had lost the key which would have
unlocked it. Since the time she had learnt the great wrong she had done
Hawermann on the day he had been turned off with ignominy, a wrong she
had done him from love to her husband, she had never again spoken to
Alick of his money difficulties. She could not help him, and she would
not tempt him to tell her what was false either about himself or
others. His restless manner and anxious expression showed that he was
even more unhappy than usual, and when she went to bed that night and
saw her sleeping child, her heart softened and she remembered that he
was her baby's father, so bursting into tears, she determined to speak
to him gently on the next morning about his difficulties, and to show
herself ready and willing to bear her share of his burden.

But next morning Alick ran down-stairs whistling and singing, called
Triddelfitz and gave him his orders, and then calling Christian Degel
told him to get the carriage ready and to put up clothes enough to last
him for several days. When he met his wife in the door-way he looked so
bright and happy that the words she had been prepared to speak died
unuttered. "Are you going anywhere?" she asked.--"Yes, I have to go
away on business. I shall probably go to Schwerin also, have you any
message for my sisters?" She told him to give them her love, and soon
afterwards Alick bade her farewell, and getting into the carriage,
drove off towards Schwerin. He had again told his wife but half the
truth, his only business was in Schwerin, at his sisters' house. He had
suddenly remembered during the night that his sisters had money. His
father had left them a small house and garden and rather more than two
thousand pounds. The money was put out at 4½ per cent interest, and on
this income, small as it was, they managed to live. Their father had
not been able to do more for them, and had trusted that the married
sisters, and especially Alick, would help them now and then. It was
this money Alick had thought of in the middle of the night; it was just
what he wanted; it would tide him over his difficulties, and he could
pay his sisters a reasonable percentage on it as well as strangers. He
determined to give them five per cent instead of the 4½ they had had
before, and he would himself be free from those rapacious money
lenders, and at small cost to himself considering the greatness of the
benefit to be obtained. It was this thought that had cheered him.

When, on reaching Schwerin, the young squire had explained his
necessities to his sisters, and had told them of his grievous losses
that year, the poor women were filled with pity for him and comforted
him to the best of their ability. When Albertine who was much the
wisest of the three sisters and who had the charge of their money
affairs, began to speak hesitatingly about good security, the other
two, especially Fidelia, fell upon her and accused her of
hardheartedness; their brother required the money, and in that he was
only like very many other farmers; their brother was their pride and
their only support, their father had himself said so when he was dying,
and when Alick promised that the estate should be security for the
money, Albertine gave way and rejoiced with her sisters that they were
able to be of use to their brother. Alick was fortunate in being able
to draw the money at once, although, of course, he met with a
considerable loss on the transaction. However he had made up his mind
that such must be the case, and had determined that he would take the
loss upon his own shoulders and that his sisters should not suffer,
indeed they would gain by lending him their money, for was he not going
to give them five per cent for it.

He came home punctually in the second week of January 1847, and a few
days later, when David and Slus'uhr returned to press him for the
money, he paid it down, took possession of his bills and bowed them out
of the room.

"What's the meaning of all this?" asked Slus'uhr when they were seated
in the carriage. "Why, hang it!" said David. "He has got money after
all. Did you notice that he had a lot more bank notes than what he gave
us?"--"Yes, who the devil did he get them from?"--"I say, let's ask
Zebedee." Now Zebedee was a poor relation of David, who always used to
take him with him as coachman, but his real occupation was spying upon
the owner of any estate in which his master was interested. "Zebedee,
have you seen or heard where he went lately?"--"The coachman told
me he had been to Schwerin."--"To Schwerin? What was he doing in
Schwerin?"--"He got the money there," replied Zebedee. "In Schwerin?
Didn't I always tell my father that these aristocrats uphold each
other through thick and thin? He must have got it from his rich
cousin."--"Ah," muttered Slus'uhr taking the packet of bank notes out
of his pocket and thrusting it under David's nose: "just smell that,"
he said. "These notes wer'n't got from a nobleman! They smell of
garlic, so he must have got them from one of you d--d Jews. But, it's
all the same where they were got. We must go and tell Pomuchelskopp.
Ha, ha, ha! How the little rascal will dance with rage!"

And he was right enough there! Pomuchelskopp was neither to hold nor to
bind when he heard that his plot had failed: "I told you so, I told you
so. I knew that the right time hadn't come yet. Oh, Henny, Henny, it's
all your fault, you made me do it."--"You're a fool!" said Henny
leaving the room.--"Come now, don't be angry!" said Slus'uhr. "It'll do
you no good you know. Tell him that you expect him to pay up the twelve
hundred pound mortgage at midsummer."--"No, no," Pomuchelskopp
whimpered, "that's the only foot-hold I've got on the estate, and if he
pays it, I shall have lost the game. You're sure that he has more
money," he continued, addressing David.--"Yes, a large roll of notes,
and a small one also."--"Well," said Slus'uhr, "you may have your will,
like the dog in the pond, but this much I'll maintain, he must be a
greater fool than I take him for if he doesn't smell a fox now; if he
doesn't see that you're trying to ruin him, and if he has got an
inkling of that, it doesn't matter whether you dun him for the money
now or a couple of years hence."--"But, but," exclaimed the honest old
law-giver, stamping and puffing about the room like a steam-engine,
"even though he may have guessed something of what is going on, it
doesn't si'nify much, for he can't do without me. I am the only friend
who can help him."--"Well then, don't help him. Midsummer is the
best time to make him pay up, for he has no money coming in at that
time."--"Hasn't he though? He'll have the price of the wool and the
rape."--"Hang it, man, you forget that he has to pay off the interest
of a lot of money, and besides that, you may be sure that he always
spends his income before he gets it."--"I can't do it, I tell you, I
can't do it. I can't draw back the foot I've planted on his land for
anything," repeated Pomuchelskopp, and he was not to be persuaded to
change his mind.

"It's a great pity," said the attorney as he was driving home, "when a
man hasn't courage to carry out his intentions and so stops short in
the middle. Mark my words, our work at Pümpelhagen is finished. I wish
I had to do business with the old woman, she'd have gone through with
it."--"She's a fearfully clever woman," said David.--"It's no good
talking," grumbled Slus'uhr, "our milch cow at Pümpelhagen has gone
dry. We'd have got on all right if you hadn't been such an idiot,
David. Why couldn't you have made your father foreclose his mortgage?
If you had done that, we'd both have made a pot of money."--"Good
heavens!" cried David. "He won't do it, I tell you. He goes to see old
Hawermann, and they sit for hours together talking. When I say to him
'foreclose', he tells me to attend to my own business and he'll attend
to his."--"Then he must be in his second childhood, and a man who knows
so little how to act for his own advantage ought to be put under
guardians, who will act for him."--"Well, d'ye know--I've thought of
that several times; but you see--it's so--so--and then you see; my
father's far too sharp for that to be tried."

                              CHAPTER IV.

By the help of the remainder of his sisters' money, Alick got through
the spring and half of the summer of 1847 pretty well, and when that
supply was at an end, he sold off his wool rather than apply to his
friendly old neighbour for help. He was sure that Pomuchelskopp had a
great deal to do with his troubles somehow or other, and the suspicion
grew stronger within him, that he had been shorn like a sheep for the
benefit of the man who had pretended to be a true friend and neighbour
to him, but how or why it was done was a mystery to him. His manner to
Pomuchelskopp grew much colder than before, whenever they chanced to
meet. He visited him no longer, and he slipped out into the fields
through the garden when he happened to see his former friend coming to
call upon him. Frida silently rejoiced in the change. We should also
have rejoiced in it if he had only acted wisely and thoughtfully, and
if he had striven with quiet courage to set himself free from his
entanglements, but instead of that he acted foolishly. Persuading
himself that he could not bear the presence of the man he now hated and
despised, he went so far as to refuse to shake hands with him, when
Pomuchelskopp greeted him warmly at a patriotic meeting in Rahnstädt,
and not contented with that, spoke of him in such insulting terms that
everyone present soon knew pretty well how Pomuchelskopp had been
employing his money. Though Alick's conduct on this occasion was
honest, it was very foolish. He owed Pomuchelskopp twelve hundred
pounds, and had not the wherewithal to pay him. If he knew the squire
of Gürlitz as well as he said he did, he must have been aware of the
danger of such conduct. Pomuchelskopp could stand a few hard words as
well as anybody, but the scene at the meeting was a little bit too much
for him, and means of revenge lay too close at hand for him not to make
use of it. He made no reply, but rising, went to attorney Slus'uhr and
said: "Let Mr. von Rambow know that if he does not pay me my twelve
hundred pounds by S. Antony's day I shall foreclose. I know now where I
am. I shan't have another chance, and so I'll do the best I can
now."--"If Moses would only foreclose too!" cried Slus'uhr; and this
pious wish was to be fulfilled also, but later.

There was a great change in young Joseph, which no one but Mrs. Nüssler
had noticed. She had always had a suspicion that Joseph would some time
or other take to new and evil ways, that he would at last refuse to be
guided by any one. This time was now come. From the very beginning of
his married life Joseph had been accustomed to lay by some money every
year. At first it was only ten pounds, but at last these ten pounds had
increased to hundreds, and he was very happy when his wife told him on
New-year's-morning that she had made up the farm-books for the year,
for she always kept the accounts, and that they had so much to lay by.
His soul rejoiced in his savings, why, he hardly knew; but in all these
long years of his married life he had grown accustomed to having a
larger or smaller sum of money to put in the bank or to invest, and
custom was Joseph Nüssler's life. When the bad year came, Mrs. Nüssler
had said to her husband during the harvest: "This'll be a bad year, and
I'm afraid that we'll have to take up some of our capital."--"Mother,"
Joseph had answered, staring at her in blank amazement, "surely you'd
never do that." But on this New-year's-morning his wife came to him and
said, she had drawn four hundred and fifty pounds, and that she only
hoped and trusted that that would be enough. "We can't let our people
and our cattle starve," she said in conclusion.--Joseph sprang to his
feet, a thing he had never done before; he trod on Bolster's toes,
another thing he had never done before; stared at his wife gloomily and
said nothing, a thing that he often did, and then walked out of the
room with Bolster limping at his heels. Dinner-time came, but Joseph
did not return. A beautiful bit of sirloin was put on the table, but
Joseph did not return. His wife called him, he did not hear. She sought
him, but could not find him, for he had taken refuge in the cow-house
and was busily engaged with a tar-pot in one hand and a brush in the
other, in making little crosses on his cattle, and Bolster was standing
at his side. After a long search his wife found him thus employed:
"Goodness gracious me, Joseph," she asked, "why ar'n't you coming to
dinner."--"I hav'n't time, mother."--"What are you doing here with the
tarpot?"--"I'm marking the cows that we ought to sell."--"Preserve us
all!" cried Mrs. Nüssler, snatching the tar-brush out of his hand,
"what do you mean? My best milkers!"--"Why, mother," answered Joseph
calmly, "we must get rid of some of our people and of our cattle or
they'll eat up our very noses and ears."--It was indeed a fortunate
circumstance that he had fallen upon the cows first and not upon the
people, otherwise the farm-lads and lasses might have borne tarry
crosses on their backs on that New-year's-morning.--Mrs. Nüssler got
him to leave off his work with great difficulty, and then took him back
to the parlour. When once more seated there, he announced that he would
not farm any more, and said that Rudolph must come and marry Mina, and
take the farm into his own hands. Mrs. Nüssler could make nothing of
him, so she sent for Bräsig. Mina, who had heard enough, rushed
upstairs to her garret-room and clasping both hands upon her heart,
said to herself, that it was wrong to harass her father, why could he
not be allowed to rest when he wanted, and why should Rudolph not
manage the farm, Hilgendorf had written to say that he could do it. If
uncle Bräsig took part against her in this she would tell him plainly
that she wouldn't be his god-child any longer.

When Bräsig came and had heard the whole story, he took his stand in
front of young Joseph, and said: "What's the meaning of all this,
young Joseph? Why did you spend the holy New-year's-morning in painting
tarry crosses on your cows? Why do you want to sell your wife's best
milkers? And do you really mean to say that you're going to give up
farming?"--"Bräsig, Rudolph can attend to the farm, and why can't Mina
marry him at once? Lina is married, and Mina is as good as her
sister."--As he said this he glanced at Bolster out of the corner of
his eye, and Bolster shook his head in grave agreement with his
master's sentiments.--"Joseph," said Bräsig, "justice is a great
virtue, and I must confess that your folly has for once driven you to
speak the words of wisdom"--Joseph raised his head--"no, Joseph, I'm
not going to praise you, it is only that you have for once in your life
said something I can agree with. I also think that Rudolph should be
sent for, and that he should manage the farm. Hush, Mrs. Nüssler!" he
added, "come here for one moment please." He drew Mrs. Nüssler into the
next room, and explained to her that he intended to remain with parson
Godfrey until Easter. He could look after matters at Rexow till then,
but after that Rudolph must come, "and it's better for you that it
should be so," he continued, "for he'll never paint crosses on your
cows, and it will be equally good for him, for in that way he will
gradually learn to manage a farm on his own responsibility. Then the
marriage must be in the Easter holidays of next year."--"Goodness
gracious me, Bräsig, that'll never do, how can Mina and Rudolph live in
the same house? What would people say?"--"Ah, Mrs. Nüssler, I know how
hard the world is in its judgment of engaged couples. I know it well,
for when I was engaged to the three--toots, what was it I was going to
say? Oh, it was this, that Mina might go to parson Godfrey's. My room
at the parsonage will be empty after Easter, for I'm going to Hawermann
in Rahnstädt then."--"Yes, that'll do very well," said Mrs. Nüssler.
And so it was all settled.--Rudolph came to Rexow at Easter, but Mina
had to go away then, and when she and all her luggage were packed into
the carriage, she wiped the tears from her eyes and thought herself the
most miserable creature on the face of the earth, for was not her
mother sending her out of her own father's house to live amongst
strangers--by which she meant her sister Lina--and without any good
reason that she could see. She doubled up her fist when she thought of
Bräsig, for her mother had said that Bräsig thought the arrangement a
good one. "Pah!" she cried aloud, "and I am to have his room at the
parsonage; I'm sure it'll smell of stale tobacco, and that the walls
will be so well smoked that one might write one's name upon them with
one's finger!" But when she entered the room at last, she opened her
eyes wide with astonishment. There was a table in the middle of the
room, and it was covered with a white cloth, while right in the centre
of it was a glass vase full of the most beautiful flowers that could be
got at that time of year, blue hepaticas, yellow acacias, and wild
hyacinths. Beside the flower glass lay a letter directed to Mina
Nüssler in uncle Bräsig's hand-writing, and when she opened it, she was
more surprised than ever, for it was written in poetry, and this was
the first time she had ever had verses addressed to her. Uncle Bräsig
had learnt an old proverb, used in house building from Schulz the
carpenter, and had adapted it to a room. He had then added a few lines
of comfort entirely out of his own head. This was the letter.

            To my darling god-child.

            This room is mine,
            And yet not mine.
            Thou who hadst it
            Didst think it thine.

            When thou didst go
            I did come in,
            When I am gone,
            Some one comes in.

            Sad are both parting and absence,
            But a year soon vanishes hence,
            So find comfort in this, my dear.
            That with next spring the wedding's here.

Mina blushed when she read the bit about the marriage, and throwing her
arms round her sister Lina's neck, began laughingly to abuse Bräsig for
his stupidity; but in her heart of hearts she blessed him. Thus Mina
went to Gürlitz, Rudolph to Rexow, and Bräsig to Mrs. Behrens and
Hawermann at Rahnstädt.

With Hawermann everything was going on in much the same way as before.
He led a very retired life in spite of the efforts of his friends. The
rector often gave him a little lecture; Kurz inveigled him into many a
farming talk, and even Moses now and then made his way upstairs, spoke
to him about old times, and asked his advice on various business
affairs; but the old man kept on the even tenour of his way
uninfluenced by any of them. He thought night and day of his daughter's
fate and nourished a faint hope that the labourer Regel would return
sooner or later, and by telling the truth would wash away the stain of
dishonesty which had been fastened upon him. The labourer had written
home several times lately, and had sent his wife and children some
money; but had always kept his whereabouts a secret. Little Mrs.
Behrens was much afraid that his sorrows were preying on her old friend
so heavily as to make him more or less morbid, and she feared that he
might in time become a monomaniac, so she thanked God heartily when
Bräsig came to live with them. Bräsig would do him good, he was the man
to do it, if any could. His restless nature and kind heart made him try
to rouse his friend; he would oblige him to do this or that, would
persuade him to go out for a walk with him, would make him listen to
all sorts of silly novels which he got from the Rahnstädt lending
library, and when nothing else had any effect, he would give utterance
to the maddest theories in order to induce his friend to contradict
him. Hawermann grew better under this mode of treatment, but if ever
the words Pümpelhagen or Frank were mentioned in the course of
conversation, all the good was undone for the time being, and the evil
spirit of melancholy once more possessed him.

Louisa got on much better than her father, she was not one of those
women who think that when they have been disappointed in love they
ought to go about the world sadly, and show every one by their
woe-begone faces and languid movements how much their poor hearts have
suffered, saying by their manner, that they are only waiting for death
to release them from a world, in which they have now neither part nor
portion. No, Louisa was not that kind of woman. She had strength and
courage to bear her great sorrow by herself, she did not need the
world's pity. Her love was hidden deep down in her heart like pure
gold. She spoke of her feelings to nobody, and only took from her
treasure what was required for the needs of the day, for the
loving-kindness she lavished on all who came near her. When God sees a
child of man striving valiantly for victory over a crushing sorrow, and
in spite of his own misery, doing what he can to make the lives of
others easier and pleasanter to them. He gives him help and strength to
go on with his battle, and sends him many little accidental
circumstances that assist him on his way, but which pass unnoticed by
outsiders. What is called chance is, when regarded from a truer point
of view, only the effect of some cause which is hidden from our eyes.

Such a chance help, as I have mentioned, came to Louisa in the spring
after the meeting of the stormy council of women, which divided
Rahnstädt into two parties.

One day when Louisa was returning home from visiting Lina at Gürlitz,
as she was walking along a foot path at the back of some of the gardens
at Rahnstädt, one of the garden doors suddenly opened, and a pretty
little girl came up to her with a bunch of elder-flowers, tulips and
acacias. "Please take these flowers," said the little member, blushing
deeply, for it was she who had come to speak to Louisa. When Louisa
looked at her in surprise, wondering what it all meant, tears began to
roll down the girl's cheeks, and covering her eyes with her hand, she
murmured: "I w-wanted to give you a little pleasure." Louisa touched by
the kindness of the girl, threw her arms round her neck and gave her a
kiss. They then went into the garden together and seated themselves in
the arbour made of the interlaced branches of elder. There Louisa and
the warm-hearted little member began an acquaintance which soon ripened
into a firm friendship, for a heart full of love is easily opened to
friendship, so it came to pass that the little member became a daily
visitor at Mrs. Behrens' house, and whenever she appeared all the faces
in the household brightened at her approach. As soon as Hawermann heard
the first notes struck on Mrs. Behrens' old piano, he used to come down
stairs, and seating himself in a corner, would listen to the beautiful
music the little member played for his entertainment. When that was
over Mrs. Behrens would come in for her share of amusement, for the
little member was a doctor's daughter, and doctors and doctors'
children always know the last piece of news that is going; not that
Mrs. Behrens was curious, she only liked to know what was going on, and
since she had come to live in a country-town she had been infected with
the desire, all inhabitants of such towns feel, to know what their
neighbours are doing. She once said to Louisa: "you see, my dear, one
likes to hear what's going on around one, but still when my sister Mrs.
Triddelfitz begins to tell me any news I don't like it, her judgments
of people's actions are so sharp and sarcastic; it's quite different
with little Anna, she tells such funny innocent stories that one can
laugh over them quite happily; she is a dear good child."

This new friendship gained strength and significance when the bad
harvest brought its consequences of famine, want and misery into the
town. Anna's father was a doctor, although he had not the title of
Practising Physician, but he had something that was better than any
such title, he had a kind heart, and when he came home and told of the
poverty and wretchedness he had seen, Anna used to go to Mrs. Behrens
and Louisa and repeat to them what her father had said. Mrs. Behrens
used then to go to her larder and fill a basket with food and wine,
which the two girls carried out to the homes of the starving people in
the dusk of the evening, and when they came home they gave each other a
kiss, and then they kissed Mrs. Behrens and Hawermann, that was all,
not a word was said about it. When arrangements were to be made
about the soup kitchens, all the ladies in Rahnstädt held a great
'talkee-talkee,' as Bräsig called it, to settle how the distress in the
town could best be alleviated. The town-clerk's wife said that if there
were to be soup-kitchens at all, "they must be on a _grand_ scale." And
when she was asked what she meant, she answered that it was all the
same to her, but if any good was to be done it must be on "a grand
scale." Then the elder members of the council agreed that a difference
must be made between the converted and unconverted poor, for a little
starvation would do the latter no harm. After that a young and newly
married woman proposed that some man should be appointed manager of the
charity, but her motion was quashed at once, as all the other ladies
voted against her, and the town-clerk's wife remarked that as long as
she had lived--"and that's a good many years now," interrupted Mrs.
Krummhorn--all cooking and charitable societies had been managed by
women, for men didn't understand such things, but she would once more
impress upon them that the charity must be done on a grand scale. The
Conventicle then separated, every member as wise as she had been at the
beginning. When the soup kitchens were opened, two pretty girls of our
acquaintance became active workers in them. They flitted about the
great fire in their neat gowns and long white linen aprons, and ladled
out the soup from the large pots into the tins the poor women brought
with them. They sat on the same bench as the converted and unconverted,
and helped them to peel the potatoes and cut the turnips for the next
day's use. That was the way that Louisa expended what she took from the
treasure of love hidden away in her heart, and Anna also added her

Bräsig took a good deal of the distant visiting of the poor off the
little member's hands, saying that running messages was just what he
was made for, and when he had not got gout he trotted about the town
wherever he was wanted. He said to Hawermann one day: "Charles, Dr.
Strump says there's nothing like polchicum and exercise for gout, and
the water-doctor says, it ought to be cold water and exercise. They
both agree in advising exercise, and I feel that it does me good. But
what I wanted to say was this,--Moses sends you his compliments
and desires me to say that he intends to come and see you this
afternoon."--"Why, has he returned from Dobberan already? I thought
that he didn't want to come home till August."--"But Charles, this is
S. James' day, and harvest has begun. But what I wanted to say was
this,--the old Jew has quite renewed his youth. He looks almost
handsome, and ran up and down the room several times to show me how
active he was. I must be off now to see old widow Klähnen, she's
waiting for me in her garden, and is very impatient, for I've promised
her some turnip seed. And then I must go to Mrs. Krummhorn's and look
at her kittens, she has promised to give us one of them, for, Charles,
we require a good mouser; after that I have to go and speak to Rischen
the blacksmith about the shoes for Kurz's old riding horse. The poor
old beast has as many windgalls as Moses' son David has corns on his
feet, I'm not joking, Charles. I suppose you hav'n't heard yet that Mr.
von Rambow has already invested in a horse with windgalls, otherwise he
might have bought Kurz's horse to complete the infirmary at
Pümpelhagen. I have to go and see the mayor's wife later in the
afternoon, for she has got some newly mown rye, and wants me to to make
her some beer as we have it in our farms. She is going to make quite a
festival on the occasion of the beer making. Now good-bye, Charles, I'm
going to read aloud to you this afternoon, and I've got a book that I'm
sure will amuse us both." Then he went away, and ran up one street and
down another, visiting this house and that, and doing all in his power
to help his neighbours. As the inhabitants of a small Mecklenburg town
are more or less interested in agricultural matters, Bräsig was
continually appealed to for advice and assistance, and finally became
the oracle and slave of the whole town.

In the afternoon Bräsig seated himself beside his friend Charles, and
opening his book prepared to read aloud. If we were to look over his
shoulder we should read on the title page: "The Frogs by Aristophanes,
translated from Greek." We open our eyes wide with astonishment, but
only think how much wider the old Greek humourist would have opened
his, had he seen to what heights education had advanced in Rahnstädt,
had he known that his frogs had taken their place, two thousand years
after his death, in the same shelf of the Rahnstädt circulating library
as "Blossoms," "Pearls," "Forget-me-nots," "Roses," and other annuals.
How the old rascal would have laughed! Uncle Bräsig did not laugh, but
sat there gravely and seriously. He had put on his horn spectacles,
that looked for all the world like a pair of carriage lamps, and
was holding the book as far away from him as the length of his arm
would allow. When he began: "'The Frogs'--he means what we call
'puddocks,' Charles--'by Aristop-Hannes'--I read it 'Hannes,' Charles
as I look upon 'Hanes' as a misprint, for there's a book called
'Schinder-Hannes'[2] that I once read, and if this is only half as
horrible, we may be well satisfied, Charles." He now began to read
after school-master Strull's, fashion, only stopping for breath, and
Hawermann sat still seeming to listen attentively, but before the first
page was finished he was buried in his own thoughts again, and when
Bräsig wet his finger to turn the fourth page, he discovered to his
righteous indignation that his old friend's eyes were closed. Bräsig
rose, placed himself in front of him and stared at him. Now it is a
well known fact that the miller wakes when the mill stops working, and
that the hearers wake when the sermon is done. So it was with
Hawermann, he opened his eyes, pulled at his pipe, and said:
"Beautiful, Zachariah, most beautiful."--"What? you say 'beautiful' and
yet you were asleep!"--"Don't be angry with me," said Hawermann, who
was now thoroughly awake, "but I couldn't understand a single word of
it. Put the book away, or do you understand it?"--"Not so well as
usual, Charles, but I paid a penny for the hire of it, and when I pay a
penny I like to have my money's worth."--"But if you can't understand
it?"--"People don't read in order to understand, Charles, they read
_poor passer lour temps_. Look," and he tried to explain what he had
read, but was interrupted by a knock at the door, which was followed by
the entrance of Moses.

Hawermann went forward to meet him and said: "I'm very glad to see you
Moses. How well you're looking!"--"Flora says so too, but it's an old
story with her, she told me so fifty years ago."--"Well, how did you
like the watering-place?"--"I'll tell you some news, Hawermann. One is
very glad of two things at a watering-place. The first is that one can
go there, and the other is that one's going away again. It's just the
same as with a horse, a garden, and a house one rejoices to have
them, and rejoices to get rid of them."--"Yes, I see that you wer'n't
able to stand the full course of it; perhaps however it was business
that brought you home."--"How I hate business. I am an old man. My
business now is not to enter into new transactions, and gradually to
withdraw my money from old ones. That's what has brought me here today
I want to have the ten hundred and fifty pounds I lent on
Pümpelhagen."--"Oh, Moses, don't! You would plunge Mr. von Rambow into
great difficulties."--"I don't know that. He must have money; he must
have a great deal of money. David, the attorney and Pomuffelskopp tried
to ruin him at the new year, but he paid them up sixteen hundred pounds
at once. I know all that David has been about; I questioned Zebedee.
'Where were you yesterday?' I asked. 'At the Court's,' he said. 'That's
a lie, Zebedee,' I answered. But he swore it was true till he was black
in the face. I always said: 'You know you're telling a lie, Zebedee.'
At last I said: 'I'll tell you something. The horses are mine, and the
carriage is mine, and the coachman is mine. Now if you don't tell me
the truth, I'll send you away, for you're a scoundrel.' Then he
confessed and told me about the sixteen hundred pounds, and yesterday
he said that Pomuffelskopp had given Mr. von Rambow notice to pay up
the mortgage he holds on Pümpelhagen, on S. Anthony's day. Now
Pomuffelskopp is a wise man, and he must know how it stands with
him."--"Merciful heaven!" cried Hawermann quite forgetting his hatred
to Alick, and feeling all his former loyalty to the von Rambow family
revive, "and you are going to follow his example? Moses, you know that
your money is safe."--"Well, I'll confess that it is safe. But I know
many other places where it would also be safe." Then looking sharply at
the two old bailiffs, he said very emphatically: "I have both seen him
and spoken to him."--"What? Mr. von Rambow? Where was it?" asked
Hawermann. "In Dobberan at the gaming-table," said Moses angrily,
"and also in my hotel."--"Alas!" said Hawermann, "he never used
to do that. What will become of him poor fellow?"--"I always said,"
exclaimed Bräsig, "that too much knowledge would be the ruin of the
lieutenant."--"I assure you," interrupted Moses, "that I saw these
people round the table with piles of Louis d'ors before them. They sat
at one part of the table and then at another. They pushed about the
money in this direction and in that, and that's what they call
business, and what they call pleasure! It's enough to make one's hair
stand on end. And he was always at it. 'Zebedee,' I said, for Zebedee
had brought my carriage ready for me to go home on the next day,
'Zebedee, stand here and keep your eye on the Squire of Pümpelhagen.
You can tell me afterwards how he gets on. It makes me quite ill to
watch him.' Zebedee came to me in the evening, and told me he was
cleaned out. And a little later Mr. von Rambow came and asked me for a
hundred and fifty pounds. 'I'll tell you something,' I said, 'I'll act
like a father to you, come away with me, Zebedee has the carriage all
ready, I'll take you with me, and it shan't cost you a farthing.' He
refused my offer, and was determined to remain."--"Poor fellow, poor
fellow," sighed Hawermann. "That boy," cried Bräsig, "has actually a
wife and child! If he belonged to me, what a wigging I should give
him."--"But, Moses, Moses," entreated Hawermann, "I implore you by all
you love not to demand payment. He will come to his right mind, and
your money is safe."--"Hawermann," said Moses, "you also are a wise
man; but listen to me; when I began business as a money lender, I said
to myself: when anyone comes to borrow money from you who has carriage
and horses and costly furniture, lend him what he wants, for he has
goods to be security; when any merry-hearted young fellow who laughs
and jokes and drinks champagne wants to borrow money from you, lend it
to him, for he'll earn enough to pay you back; but if a man should come
to you for help who has cards and dice in his pocket, and who frequents
gambling-tables, beware what you do, for a gamester's money is never to
be counted on. And besides that, Hawermann, it would never do. People
would say that the Jews incited the young man to gamble, so as to ruin
him the quicker, and make sure of seizing his estate," and Moses drew
himself to his full height. "No," he continued, "the Jew has his own
code of honour as well as the Christian, and no man shall come and
point to my grave, and say: that man drove a dishonest trade.--I won't
have my good name taken from me in my old age by a man whose own
conduct is not immaculate. Has he not stolen your good name, and yet
you are an honest man and a true-hearted man. No," he went on, as
Hawermann rose and began to walk up and down the room, "sit down, I
won't talk about it. Different people have different notions. You bear
your fate, and you have your reasons for doing so; I should not bear it
if I were in your place, and I have my reasons for saying so. Good-bye
now, Hawermann; good-bye Mr. Bräsig. I shall demand my money at S.
Anthony's day all the same," and so saying he went away.

It was thus that the black clouds rose on this side also of Alick's
sky, and they rose when he did not expect them. The dark storm clouds
hemmed him in on every side, and when once the storm burst who could
tell how long it might rage, and how many of his brightest hopes might
not be destroyed by it for ever. He would not let himself think that
ruin was staring him in the face, he comforted himself by looking
forward to a good harvest, by counting up the money he expected to get
from the grain merchants and wool-staplers, and with the hope that some
lucky chance would stave off the evil day of reckoning a little longer.
People always think when things are going ill with them that chance
will come to their rescue and make everything easy to them. They treat
the future as if it were a game at blind man's buff.--So the year 1848

                               CHAPTER V.

This is not the place to decide whether the year 1848 brought most good
or evil into the world. Let everyone give his verdict as he thinks
best, I will not be drawn into expressing an opinion one way or the
other, and will only describe how it affected the people about whom I
am writing, for if I did not do that, the end of my book would be
rather incomprehensible to my readers.

When the February explosion took place in Paris, the Mecklenburgers
imagined that it would affect them as little as if it had taken place
in Turkey, or some such distant country, and most people thought it a
good joke that anything so exciting should still be possible in the
world. The good folk of Rahnstädt began to take much more interest in
politics than they had ever done before, and the post-master said that
if matters remained as they were, the thing would have to be enquired
into. He had been obliged to order eleven new newspapers, four of which
were the "Hamburg Correspondent," and seven were numbers of the "Tante
Voss." He regarded this preponderance in favour of the latter paper as
a very bad sign, for the "Tante Voss" inculcated the necessity of
overthrowing the existing order of things; perhaps the editor meant no
harm by it, but he did it all the same. Thus we see that forty-four
politicians were provided with the latest news, for every four of them
took a paper amongst them which they each read in turn, and the
olive-branches of the various subscribers might be seen running with
the newspapers to the different houses at which they were due, looking
as if their parents thought it well to bring up their children to be
post-men. But what were eleven newspapers in a town like Rahnstädt? The
artisans were still unprovided for, that had to be seen to; and it was
done before long.

"Where are you going, John?" asked Jack Bank's wife.--"Well, Dora,
I'm going to Grammelin's."--"You're going much too often to the
public-house. I don't like it."--"Oh, Dora, I only drink _one_ glass of
beer. Lawyer Rein is going to read the newspaper aloud there this
evening, and one likes to know what's going on in the world."--So Jack
Bank and about fifty other artisans went to the ale-house.

Lawyer Rein seated himself at the head of the table, newspaper in hand,
glanced down the table to see that there was a good audience, and then
coughed twice. "Silence!"--"Silence!"--"Bring me another glass of beer,
Grammelin."--"Hold your tongue, Charles, he's going to begin."--"Hang
it! Surely I may order a glass of beer first."--"Hush! _Do_ be
quiet!"--The lawyer now began to read. He read about Lyons, Milan and
Munich. The revolution had broken out at all of these places, the whole
world seemed to be going mad. "Here's something more," he said. "Faröe
islands 5th. The country is in an uproar, because the meridian, which
we have had in our island for the last three hundred years, is
to be removed to Greenwich, England. There is a strong feeling of
hostility against the English. The people are getting under arms, and
both of our hussar-regiments are ordered out for the defence of the
meridian."--"Well, well; very soon all of them will be at it."--"Ah
yes, lad. This isn't by any means a small matter. When one has had a
thing for three hundred years, one do'n't like having to give it
up."--"I say, lad, do you know what a meridian is?"--"What can it be?
It seems to be something that the English like to have. Now, then, you
wouldn't believe me when I told you yesterday that the English were at
the bottom of all the mischief, and you see that I was right."--Lawyer
Rein laid the newspaper down on the table and said: "Things are getting
very bad, and one can't help feeling rather anxious when one reads the
news."--"Why, what is it?"--"Has anything worse happened?"--"Just
listen. North-pole, 27th February. A very dangerous and extensive
revolution has broken out amongst the Eskimos. These people obstinately
refuse to turn the axis of the world any longer, and give as a reason,
the want of train oil for greasing the machinery, which is caused by
the failure of the whale fisheries last year. The consequences of
this revolt will be indescribably disastrous to the rest of the
world."--"Heaven preserve us! What does all that mean? Where is the
mischief to stop?"--"Surely the government will do something."--"The
gentry won't allow that."--"I don't believe it," said Jack Bank.--"You
don't believe it? Well, being a shoemaker you ought to know. Has the
price of train-oil risen since last year?"--"Well, lads," said
Wimmersdorf the tailor, "it looks very bad to me."--"I don't care,"
cried another. "When the sky falls the sparrows will all die. But I
will say this. _We_ must all work hard, and yet those cursed dogs at
the North-pole are sitting with their hands folded in their laps doing
nothing. Another glass of beer, Grammelin."

Three things are to be remarked from this scene at the ale-house.
Firstly, that Lawyer Rein trusted as much to his invention, as to the
newspaper, for the information he gave the people. Secondly that the
Rahnstädt artisans were not quite well enough educated for newspapers
to be properly understood by them, and thirdly, that people are apt to
be rather indifferent to that which does not come home to their own

But it was to come nearer them now. One day the post from Berlin did
not arrive, so the Rahnstädters crowded round the post-office, and
asked each other what it meant. The grooms who had come to fetch the
letter-bags for the country places wondered whether they ought to wait
or not. In fact the only man who was perfectly satisfied with the state
of affairs was the post-master, who was standing at his own door,
twirling his thumbs. He said that during the thirty years he had held
the office of post-master he had never had such a pleasant time of
leisure at that hour as he was then enjoying. Next day, instead of the
little boys, the subscribers to the newspapers came themselves, and
instead of the grooms, the squires rode into Rahnstädt to ask for their
letters; but that did not help them much, for the post did not arrive
that day either, and it began to be whispered that Berlin had also
risen. One man told one story and another gave a different version,
each vouching for the truth of his own. Old Düsing, the potter, said
that he had heard the distant roar of cannon all morning, and everyone
believed him although Berlin was nearly a hundred and twenty miles from
Rahnstädt. His neighbour Hagen the carpenter was the only man who
doubted, and he said: "I made the noise of cannon, for I was hacking up
some wood in my yard all morning."--The post arrived on the third day,
but not from Berlin; it only came from Oranienburg, and with it a man
who could tell them all they wanted to know, as he had just come from
Berlin. The only pity was that he had talked so hard the whole time he
had been travelling that he had no voice left when he reached
Rahnstädt. He was a candidate for the ministry, and was born in the
neighbourhood, so the Rahnstädters plied him with egg-flip in hopes of
making him speak. He drank a great deal of the flip, but all in vain,
he could only touch his throat and chest, and shake his head sadly. He
then tried to go away. Now that was a stupid thing of him to do, for
the Rahnstädters had not come to the post-office to look about them and
hear no news. They would not let him pass, and he had to make up his
mind to describe the revolution in Berlin as best he could, helping
himself out by means of signs. He showed them that barricades were
erected in the streets, naturally only by signs, otherwise the police
would have been down upon him. He shouldered his stick like a musket,
and showed how the barricades were stormed. He rushed into the midst of
the Rahnstädt crowd to show them how the dragoons came up at a
hand-gallop, and then he imitated the roar of cannon by saying "boom,"
that being the only word he had uttered, and it was said with infinite

That was how the Rahnstädters learnt what a revolution was like, and
how it ought to be conducted. They sat in the public-house, and while
they drank beer, they disputed about politics. The state of affairs had
now become so grave that Lawyer Rein no longer dared to read despatches
from the North-pole. The gentlemen who subscribed for the newspapers
also began to frequent the ale-house, in order that they might make
themselves known to, and liked by the artisans in case there should be
a revolt here also. Such a consummation would have surprised nobody.

There were advanced thinkers in Rahnstädt as elsewhere, and if the town
as a whole had no particular grievance, a great many individuals
amongst its inhabitants had small wrongs which might be magnified by
discontent into instances of gross injustice. One man had this, another
that, and Kurz had the town-jail. So it came to pass that all were of
one mind in thinking that the present state of things might be altered
with advantage to the community, and that in order to improve their
affairs they must needs have a revolution like their neighbours; but
still they thought that in their case a small one would be sufficient.

Thus the meeting of ignorant men for reading the papers was changed
into a Reform-club with a chairman and a bell, and the former irregular
attendance was changed to a regular attendance. The members of the
society adjourned every evening from the bar of the public-house to a
private room where they deliberated, but unfortunately they always
carried the fumes of the beer they had drunk with them. Everything was
done decently and in order, and this was a circumstance worthy of the
greater admiration that the whole company was composed of discontented
people, with the sole exception of Grammelin the landlord. Speeches
were made at the meeting. At first whoever had anything to say spoke
from his seat, but after a time that was all changed. Thiel the
cabinet-maker made a sort of pulpit, and the first speech delivered
from it, was when Dreier the cooper accused Thiel of having taken the
work out of his hands, for in his opinion he ought to have made the
pulpit and not the cabinet-maker. He concluded by begging the meeting
to uphold his rights. He gained nothing by his appeal, although it was
apparent to every eye, that the pulpit was exactly like a vat belonging
to a brandy-making establishment, and not like a pulpit at all. Mr.
Wredow, the fat old baker, moved that the pulpit should be made over
again, for it did not allow a man sufficient room to turn; but
Wimmersdorf, the tailor, said that such things were made large enough
for ordinary mortals, and that no one was expected to make them to suit
the fancy of people who chose to smother themselves in fat. So the
matter was settled much to the satisfaction of the thin members, while
the fat ones were so disgusted that they ceased to attend the meeting,
and this the others maintained was no great loss. But it was a mistake
on their part, for they thus got rid of the "calming element"--as it
was called--which would have kept the meeting in check, and instead of
it, the vacant places were all filled by labourers, so the revolution
might begin at any moment. The only two stout people who were still
members of the Reform-club, were uncle Bräsig and Shulz the carpenter.

No one was more satisfied with the unsettled state of affairs than
uncle Bräsig; he was always ready; he was like a bee, or rather--like a
bumble-bee, and looked upon every house-door and every window in
Rahnstädt as a flower from which he might extract news. When he had
gathered enough he would make his way home and feed his friend Charles
with the bees-bread he had collected.--"I say, Charles, they've chased
away Louis Philippe."--"Is that in the newspaper?"--"I've just read it
there myself. What a cowardly old humbug he must be, Charles. How can a
king allow himself to be turned out?"--"Ah, Bräsig, such things have
happened before. Don't you remember Gustavus of Sweden? When a nation
unites against him, what can the king do? He stands alone."--"That's
all very true, Charles, but still I'd never run away in such a case.
Hang it! I'd seat myself upon my throne, put my crown on my head and
hit out with arms and legs at any one who attacked me."

Another time he came, and said: "The Berlin post hasn't come to-day
either, Charles, and I saw your young squire galloping through the
streets to the post-office to ask why it hadn't come, but I'm sorry he
did so, for some of the artisans collected in a crowd and asked each
other whether they were bound to stand a nobleman galloping through
their streets any longer. He rode from the post-office to Moses' house,
and got the worst of it there. I also had something to say to Moses,
and so I followed him. Just as I got to the door, Mr. von Rambow came
out, and looked at me as he passed, but did not seem to know who I was.
I didn't take it ill of him, for he appeared to be full of his own
thoughts. I heard Moses say: 'What I have said, I have said: I never
lend money to a gambler.' Moses is coming here this afternoon."

Moses came as he had promised: "Hawermann," he said, "it's quite true;
it's quite true about Berlin."--"What? Has the revolution broken out
there also?"--"Yes," he answered, "but don't repeat what I tell you.
The son of Manasseh came to me this morning from Berlin. He travelled
by post to get here sooner, for he wants to do business with some
flints he has had since the year--15."--"What on earth does he expect
to get for his flints," cried Bräsig, "everyone uses percussion-caps
now."--"How can I tell?" said Moses. "I know a great deal, and I know
nothing. He means that if the revolution spreads all the old muskets
for which flints were used will be brought into requisition again. He
tells me that the soldiers in Berlin fired upon the people with
muskets, pistols and cannon, and hewed them down with their sabres. The
fighting lasted for a whole long night. The soldiers fired on the
populace, who returned their fire from the windows and from behind the
barricades. They also made use of stones. It's horrible, very horrible,
But don't speak of it on any account."--"Then there was a regular
canonnade?" cried Bräsig.--"Merciful Heaven!" exclaimed Hawermann,
"what times we're living in, what dreadful times!"--"What do you mean
by that. The times are always bad to stupid people; the wise find
all times good. These wouldn't be good times for me, if I didn't make
sure of getting my money paid up here and there. I, who am an old man,
find the times very good."--"But, Moses, do you never feel anxious
when you see everything going topsy-turvy? You are said to be a rich
man."--"No, I'm not a bit afraid. Flora came to me whimpering and
David came trembling. He said: 'Father, where are we to go with our
money?'--'We'll just remain where we are,' I said. 'We'll lend where we
have good security and we'll make money where we can; we'll be on the
side of the people if it's required of us. And David, let your beard
grow,' I said, 'the times are in favour of a beard.'--'Well, and if the
times change?' he asked.--'Then cut off your beard,' I said, 'the times
will no longer require you to wear it.'"

They now began to discuss Alick, his difficulties, and the fact that
neither money nor credit were to be had. They found much to say on that
score, for when credit goes the estate must go too, and many a
landowner would be unable to save his estate the times were so bad.
After Moses went away the two old bailiffs went down-stairs and spent
the evening with Mrs. Behrens. They talked together sadly, and Mrs.
Behrens every now and then clasped her hands and exclaimed at the
wickedness of the world, for the first time thanking God for having
taken her pastor to himself before these evil days had come upon the
land, and for having thus prevented him seeing the unchristian actions
which were now ruling the world. Hawermann felt like a man who had
given up some dearly loved occupation, only to see his work brought to
nought by his successor. Bräsig alone took things easily, he held his
head in the air, and said: that the restlessness which had come into
the world was not only owing to man, but that God had helped to cause
it, or at least had allowed it, and it was a well known fact that a
storm cleared the air. "And, Charles," he added,--"I'm not talking
about you, Mrs. Behrens--but if I might advise you, Charles, you'd come
to Grammelin's with me to-morrow evening, for we ar'n't rebels, I
assure you. And do you know what it feels like to me? Just the same as
a thunderstorm. It's dreadful when one looks at it from outside, but
it's a very small affair, when one's in it."

That was how Bräsig came to join the Reform-club, and every evening
when he returned home, he told his friends all that had happened. One
evening he came back later than usual, and said: "It was a mad meeting
to-night, Charles, and I have consumed a couple of glasses more beer
than usual because of the greater importance of our proceedings. You
must know that a number of labourers have become members of our club,
and why shouldn't they, we're all brothers. And the confounded rascals
have voted that all the land in the Rahnstädt district should be
redistributed, so that everyone living within the district should have
an equal portion of land. Then as to the town-woods, they want to give
everyone the right of cutting down a fine old beech-tree every autumn
for his firewood during the winter. After that the people who owned the
land near Rahnstädt got up and opposed the motion; they approved of
equality as much as the labourers did, but still they wanted to keep
their land. Kurz got up and made a long speech about arable fields and
meadows, of course ending with the town-jail, and when he was done they
all called him an aristocrat and turned him out of the room. Then
Wimmersdorf, the tailor, rose and preached about free-trade. No sooner
had he done that than the other tailors fell upon him and thrashed him
unmercifully: they all wanted equality, but still their guild must be
kept up. Whereupon a young man came forward and asked sarcastically:
What about the seamstresses, must the guild be maintained amongst them
likewise? Then it was said that the seamstresses should be admitted
into the tailor's union, but others opposed it, and there was a great
row in which the old tailors got the worst of it. Meanwhile rector
Baldrian was making a long, long speech in the body of the hall, in
which he talked a great deal about the emancipalation--or some such
long word--of women, and said that if the tailors wouldn't admit the
seamstresses into their guild, the latter were quite able to set
up one of their own, for they were human beings and sisters like the
rest of us. So the motion was carried and the seamstresses are now
admitted into the guild; and it was arranged before I left that
all the seamstresses should dress themselves in white the day after
to-morrow--you remember the yellow faced old maid who passes this
house regularly, Charles? Well, she's one of them; they always call
her 'auntie'--and go and thank the rector, and give him a woollen
jersey and a pair of drawers on a cushion in token of their
gratitude."--"Bräsig, Bräsig," remonstrated Hawermann, "how can you
talk such nonsense. You're all acting as if there were no lawful
authority remaining, and as if you could each do what is right in your
own eyes."--"Why not, Charles? Who wants us to do otherwise. We pass
our resolutions to the best of our knowledge, and if nothing comes of
them, why nothing comes of them. As far as I can see, nothing can
possibly come of them, for everyone wants to gain something, and no one
will give up anything that he has."--"That's just as well, Zachariah,
and I don't think for my own part that this little town will do much
mischief to anyone with its speechifying, for parties are very equally
divided. But just fancy if the labourers throughout the country were to
take it into their heads to divide the estates of their masters amongst
them! What a dreadful thing it would be!"--"Oh, they'll never do it,
Charles."--"It's one of the deepest desires of human nature, Bräsig, to
wish to call a bit, however small, of the earth one's own, and those
ar'n't the worst men who try to gain some of it for themselves. Just
look round you. When an artisan has made a little money, does he not at
once lay it out on a small garden or field? and is not his pleasure in
his purchase as great as his gain? The town labourer does the same, for
he has the power to do so, and that's the reason that I don't think the
discontent of the Rahnstädt labourers will ever rise to a dangerous
height. But it's utterly different with the country people, they have
no property and can never even by the greatest economy and diligence
attain to any. If these new opinions should happen to take root amongst
them, and if they are egged on by demagogues, there is no telling what
harm may come of it. Yes," he exclaimed, "the bad masters will suffer
first, but what assurance have we that the good masters will not be
attacked next?"--"Well, Charles, you may be right, for Kurz said to me
this evening--that's to say before he was turned out--that two
Gürlitz labourers were talking very strangely in his shop last
Sunday."--"Well," said Hawermann, taking up his candle to go to bed, "I
don't wish anyone harm, although some people have perhaps deserved it,
but the pity of it to my mind is, that the innocent will suffer as well
as the guilty, and that the whole country will share the fate of the
few, who by their misconduct have brought all the misery upon
themselves."--He then went away and Bräsig said to himself: "Charles,
may be right after all, and dreadful things may happen out in the
country, so I must go and see what young Joseph and parson Godfrey are
about. However young Joseph's in no danger, for he has never angered
his labourers in any way, and so they'll let him alone. George at the
parsonage isn't a rebel either, I'm sure of that."

Hawermann knew the nature of the people amongst whom he had worked for
so many years. A feeling of uneasiness was spreading like a fever
throughout the land. Reasonable complaints together with the most
unreasonable and insane demands flew from mouth to mouth; what at first
had been only whispered, was soon to be spoken of openly. The
landowners were most to blame for that. They had lost their heads. Each
of them acted as it seemed good to him, selfishly worked for his own
safety regardless of others, and as long as he was at peace with his
own people cared nought for his neighbour's fate. Instead of meeting
their people honestly and straightforwardly, and showing them the real
state of the case, some of the squires granted every demand their
labourers chose to make in their folly and ignorance, while others,
getting on horseback, wanted to reduce their labourers to order with
swords and pistols, and I know several landowners who never went out to
drive in their own grounds without taking a couple of loaded muskets in
the carriage with them. And why was this? Because their conscience
pricked them for their former conduct, and because there was no kindly
human sympathy between them and their dependents. Of course that was
not the case with all the masters.

Alick was one of those landowners who had never ill-treated his people.
He was not hard on them generally speaking, but he could be hard if he
thought his position was becoming insecure. During that time of
political and social excitement the hidden qualities of all men were
clearly revealed, and he who could look calmly on the march of events,
and do what had to be done with quiet circumspection, who could
distinguish good from evil, and steer his ship through the breakers
which threatened to engulf it, was a wise and far-seeing man. That was
not Alick's character. He was surrounded by his discontented vassals,
and tried now this way, and now that way, of stemming the rising tide
of insubordination, so it came to pass that he made two of the mistakes
we have before alluded to; at one time he would foolishly submit to the
villagers' demands, and at another, he would return to the ideas of a
cavalry-officer and threaten his people with fire and sword. The
peasantry also were changed, and it was his own fault that this was the
case. He had taken from them little customs to which they were attached
from use and wont, and at other times he had, in his good-nature, given
them all kinds of injudicious liberties, that had only made them greedy
of more, for he did not understand human nature as a whole, nor did he
understand the peasantry at his gates. He had praised the people when
they were idle, and he had scolded them when they were working hard,
for he didn't know their capabilities. In short his actions were not
guided by right and justice, but by his impulses, and as he had been
rather low spirited of late, the discontent of the labourers was
increasing, and threatened soon to break out into a blaze.

There was a hotbed of disaffection close to where Alick lived, and that
was Gürlitz. It had once been as quiet and well doing a place as any in
the country side, but in spite of the efforts parson Behrens had made
for many years to keep it so, matters had gradually been growing worse
and worse. Each of the new owners into whose hands it had passed had
helped to bring about this state of things, and that old wretch
Pomuchelskopp rejoiced when he saw it, for--dreadful as it is to
say--there are some people who would rather see their labourers badly
off than happy and comfortable, for they think that when their people
are suffering from want, they will be the better able to rule them
autocratically. Pomuchelskopp did not remember that when revolutions
are the order of the day a half starved peasantry may be easily induced
to revolt altogether, while those who are well off have not the same
inducement to go so far. The neighbouring gentry who had long seen that
the Gürlitz labourers were growing disaffected, never thought that
the fire which Pomuchelskopp had fanned--without understanding its
force--for his own ends, might spread throughout the district. The
Gürlitz labourers had become accustomed to the taste of brandy, for
there was a brandy-distillery up at the manor, and what they drank
there was deducted from their wages. So in course of time they became
beggars, and every penny they made, over and above what they spent at
the still, was expended in the Rahnstädt public houses, where they soon
learnt how the world was wagging. The waiters at the spirit shops told
them what was going on throughout the country, and when they came home
with their heads muddled with the brandy they had been drinking, they
began 111 their besotted ignorance to add their unreasonable desires to
the tale of their real wrongs, and so added to the miserable
complication. Their starving wives and children stood about them
looking like ghosts; the only way they could get a morsel of food was
by begging; thus they carried story of their wretchedness through the
country-side written on their famished faces, and sparks of the
revolutionary fire were kindled everywhere.

Nothing was as yet ripe for revolt, there was still too much to be made
in other ways, and the people were also restrained by the well meant
advice of kindly souls, who understood and felt for them. Another thing
that kept them from open revolt was the old feeling of loyalty to their
masters, and the remembrance of former benefits received from them, to
say nothing of the eternal sense of right and law which survives
wonderfully long even in men who are led astray. These things all
combined to keep the fire from bursting forth, even with the Gürlitz
villagers. If they had been able to read what was going on in the heart
of their master, they would perhaps have risen at once, for hardness
and cowardice were striving for the mastery in his soul. His conscience
had died long ago, and he had no need to accuse himself of any kindly
action to an inferior. At one moment he would exclaim in a rage: "Oh
those wretches! If I only.... The law must be changed! What's the use
of a government which possesses soldiers, and yet doesn't march them
out? Why, my property's in danger; and it's the duty of my government
to protect my property." Next moment he would perhaps call Gustavus to
come to him out of the yard, and would say: "What a fool you are Gus,
why are you running after the threshers; let them thresh what they
like, I won't have a row with my people." On one such occasion he
turned to his wife immediately after saying this, and seeing her
sitting on her chair as stiff and unbending as a poker, looking at him
contemptuously with her pointed nose and sharp eyes, he added: "I know
what you're thinking, Henny. You want me to go out and show myself a
man; but that would never do. It really wouldn't do, Chuck. We must
temporise, we must temporise, and we may perhaps get the better of them
by judicious temperamentation." Henny expressed no opinion upon this
proposal of her husband's, but she looked as if she had no intention of
acting in accordance with it, and Pomuchelskopp then said to Mally and
Sally: "Children, let me beg you not to repeat what I have just said.
Especially take care not to tell any of the servants. Be as kind to
them as you can, and try to induce your dear Mama to be kind to them
also. I am always in favour of kindness, for my own part." Then Mally
and Sally went to their mother, and said: "You don't know what dreadful
things have happened Mama. John Joseph told the servants this morning
that the work-women of the X. estate have whipped squire Z. with
nettles. We must give way, Mama, we must give way, there's no help for
it."--"How silly you all are," cried Henny, rising to leave the room.
"Do you think that I'm afraid of such people?" she asked scornfully as
she closed the door. But she was alone in her unnatural heroism, and
got no sympathy from anyone, for Muchel was not to be sneered out of
his fear of stormy weather, and the other members of that "quiet
family" for once agreed with their father. "Children," cried
Pomuchelskopp, "treat everyone kindly. The confounded rascals! Who
would have thought of this three months ago? Now Phil and Tony remember
this. I won't have you beat the village children or paint an ass' head
on the back of old Brinkmann's smock-frock. The ragamuffins! I'm sure
that they're egged on by the Reform club at Rahnstädt, and by the Jews
and shopmen. Just wait a bit ...!"--"Yes, father," said Sally, "did
you know that Rührdanz the weaver has become a member of the Reform
club and that the other villagers want to join it also? It's a bad look
out, isn't it?"--"Bless me! you don't mean to say so! But wait, I must
join it too. I'll get myself elected."--"_You!_" cried both his
daughters in a breath, looking as much astonished as if their father
had just announced his intention of setting fire to his own house. "I
must, I must. It'll make the artisans like me, and will prevent them
setting my people against me. I'll pay up all my bills, at once, that's
the first step--it's a horrid thing to do, but it's necessary in order
to check-mate my labourers."--Mally and Sally were frightened, they had
never before seen their father in such a state; but they were still
more startled when he added: "I've got another thing to say to you, and
that is, be sure that you're polite to the parson and his wife--for
mercy sake remember that--your mother won't--Oh Henny, Henny what
misery you cause me! The parsonage people may be very useful to us or
very hurtful as the case may be. A squire and a parson can do what they
like, if they only hold together! We must invite Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey
Baldrian to dine here some day, and then afterwards when times are
better, we can break off the acquaintance if we find them unpleasant

This was done! A few days after this conversation parson Godfrey and
his wife received a note of invitation from Mr. and Mrs.
Pomuchelskopp,--for good old Henny had given in to her husband in this
point--, they presented their compliments and hoped to have the
pleasure of their company at dinner, and concluded by saying that the
maid was waiting for an answer. Bräsig had just arrived at the
parsonage to see how everything was going on. When Godfrey had read the
note of invitation, he looked as thunderstruck as if he had just
received a summons to attend a meeting of Consistory because of
teaching false doctrine, or leading an immoral life. "Well!" he
exclaimed. "Here's an invitation to dine at the squire's! Where's Lina?
Lina," he shouted putting his head out at the parlour door. Lina came.
She read the letter and stared at Godfrey, who stood before her not
knowing what to do. She looked at Bräsig, who was sitting in the sofa
corner grinning at her like a fox at Whitsuntide. "No," she said at
last, "we wont go there."--"Dear wife," said parson Godfrey, for he
always called her "dear wife" when he was going to put his clerical
dignity in the scales against her opinion, at other times he contented
himself by saying "Lina," "dear wife, it is wrong to thrust away the
hand one of our brethren extends to us in kindness."--"But Godfrey,"
answered Lina, "this isn't a hand, it's a dinner, and besides that,
this brother's name is Pomuchelskopp. Am I not right, Bräsig?" Bräsig
made no reply except by a grin. He sat there like David the son of
Moses when he was engaged in weighing a Louis d'or, for he wanted to
see which would turn the scale, Godfrey's clerical dignity or Lina's
sound common sense. "Dear wife," said Godfrey, "it is written: 'Let not
the sun go down upon your wrath,' and 'if any man strike thee on thy
right cheek ....'"--"That's got nothing to do with it, Godfrey. We
are'n't angry, and as for the slap on the face, I agree with Bräsig
about that. May God forgive me if it's a sin! It may have been
different in those old times; but I know that if it were the fashion to
do that now-a-days, there would be a great deal more fighting than
there is, and all the world would be running about with swelled
faces."--"But, dear wife ..."--"You know, Godfrey that I never
interfere with your management of clerical affairs, but a dinner-party
is a worldly matter, and when it's at the Pomuchelskopps it's even more
than that. And then you forget that we have a visitor. Isn't uncle
Bräsig here? And wouldn't you much rather eat pea soup and pig's ears
here with uncle Bräsig, than dine at the Pomuchelskopps? Besides that
they hav'n't invited Mina," she added as her sister came into the room,
"and yet they know that Mina is staying with us." All this had a great
effect upon Godfrey. He was very fond of pea soup, and pig's ears
pickled at home were his favourite dish; then I may add that he had a
real affection for uncle Bräsig, and was very grateful to him for the
help he had given him; indeed one of his greatest puzzles was how a man
like Bräsig, who was so honest and true in all his dealings could be so
poor a Christian and churchman. He therefore excused himself and his
wife from dining at the manor. But unfortunately whilst they were at
dinner, Bräsig was so far left to himself as to mention that he had
really become a member of the Reform club in Rahnstädt, and Godfrey,
pig's ears or no pig's ears, sprang to his feet, and spoke strongly of
the evil influence exercised by that society. Lina tried to pull him
back into his chair by his coat tails several times, for the soup was
growing cold, but Godfrey would not stop. "Yes," he cried, "the scourge
of the Lord has come upon the world; but woe to the man whom God shall
choose as His scourge!" As he was not in church this time, Bräsig
interrupted the clergyman, and asked who was the scourge to be chosen
by God. "That is in the hands of the Lord," cried Godfrey, "He may
choose me, or Lina, or you."--"Neither Lina nor I will be chosen,"
answered Bräsig, wiping his mouth, "for Lina fed the poor in the year
'47, and last week I voted for equality and fraternity at the Reform
club. I am not a scourge, for I do no one any harm; but if I could only
get hold of Samuel Pomuchelskopp for one moment--then ...." Godfrey was
too much taken up with the importance of what he had been saying to
allow Bräsig to finish his sentence: "Oh!" he said. "The devil is going
about the world like a roaring lion, and every platform erected at
these Reform meetings is an altar on which men offer him sacrifice. I
will oppose all such altars by another. I will preach in God's house
against these burnt offerings made to the Devil, against these reform
meetings, against these false Gods and their altars." He then sat down
and eat a couple of spoonfuls of pea soup. Bräsig watched him for some
time in silence, and as soon as he saw that the reverend gentleman had
got over his excitement, and was beginning to enjoy the pig's ears, he
said: "You're quite right in one respect, parson, the place where the
speeches are made at our Rahnstädt meeting looks just like one of the
devil's altars, that's to say, it's shaped like a vat such as are used
in a brandy-distillery. Still I can't say that any one sacrifices to
the devil at our meetings. If any one does, it must be Wimmersdorf, the
tailor, or Kurz, or perhaps your own father, for he makes the longest
speeches of the whole--now hush--I only want to say that from my
knowledge of the devil, and I've been acquainted with him for many a
long year, I'll answer for it that he'll have nothing to do with the
Rahnstädt Reform club, he isn't such a fool."--"You know Godfrey," said
Lina, "that I never interfere with your management of clerical matters,
but surely you will never mention such a secular thing as a Reform club
in the pulpit." Godfrey answered that that was just what he intended to
do. "All right then, do," said Bräsig, "but it'll only prove that
people are wrong in saying that the clergy understand their own
advantage better than any other class of men, for instead of preaching
your church _full_, you'll preach out everyone who goes to hear
you."--Uncle Bräsig was right, for after Godfrey had preached one
Sunday with great zeal and fervour against the spirit of the
times--which, let it be remarked in passing, he understood as little as
a new born child--and, against all reform meetings, concluding by
saying that he would finish what he had to say on that subject on the
following Sunday, he found that Lina, Mina and the beadle were his only
audience when he got into the pulpit, for he did not count a few old
women who had only come to church for the soup Lina always gave them
after service. So he went home with his sermon and his womankind,
followed by the old women with their soup cans, and the beadle locked
up the church. Godfrey felt like a soldier who, carried away by
military ardour, has gone too far, and finds himself surrounded by the

Everything was going wrong throughout the land, and every man's hand
was against his neighbour. The world had been turned topsy-turvy, and
those men who had formerly made themselves of much account were now
unheeded, while those who had nothing, thrust themselves forward. The
men who used to be accounted wise, were now looked upon as foolish, and
those who had been called foolish, were supposed to have grown wise in
the course of a single night. The great were abased; the nobles gave up
their titles, and the labourers wanted to be called Mr. so and so. But
two threads ran straight through the maze of cowardice and impudent
self-assertion, and served to comfort and cheer humanity. The first of
these was parti-coloured, and anyone who could free himself from the
general fear, and general greed of moneymaking, sufficiently to follow
its course, might enjoy many a quiet laugh at the oddity of human
nature. The second thread was of a rosy hue, and on it depended all
that made the happiness of mankind; pity and compassion, sound judgment
and reason, honest service and self-sacrifice, and the name of this
thread was love, pure human love, which made its way right through the
tangled web of selfishness, showing the truth of God's decree that love
is to remain unimpaired by misery, so that it may in the end change
even the dull grey of the web of selfishness into its own rose colour,
for--God be thanked!--that thread is never cut.

                               CHAPTER VI.

All was quiet at Rexow. That is to say amongst the labourers, Mrs.
Nüssler and Rudolph; but young Joseph and young Bolster were not quite
so easy in their minds. Young Bolster had gone into the cow-house one
day and had there seen a little puppy under the charge of Flasskopp the
cow-man. Now this puppy was the very image of himself, and what was
more, it was also called Bolster. He remembered his own youth perfectly
and how he had succeeded Bolster "the sixth" on the throne of Rexow,
and so after much gloomy thought he came to the conclusion that this
small image of himself, which Joseph Flasskopp was rearing so carefully
on nice sweet milk, might possibly succeed him under the name of
"Bolster the eighth"; indeed that was very likely in the present state
of affairs. He was miserable, but did not know what ought to be done.
Should he divide his power with Bolster the eighth, or should he treat
him as a pretender to the throne, drink up the sweet milk in the dish
before his very eyes, pick a quarrel with him and send him off on a
long journey on the other side of the Rexow territory; in short, get
rid of him altogether. He looked up at young Joseph for advice, but
young Joseph had enough to do attending to his own affairs. The times
were so bad that even these two old friends ceased to share each
other's thoughts; both of them were restless and anxious, but from
opposite causes. Bolster shuddered at the thought of an heir to his
throne, while nothing would serve Joseph but instant abdication of his
rights. Bolster, after having tasted the pleasures of power, hated the
idea of retiring into private life and getting bones without any meat
on them, while Joseph regarded private life as a golden cup which Mina
should fill with coffee every morning, which his wife should fill with
beer at dinner and with chocolate in the evening, and which should
contain punch every time that Bräsig came to stay with them. He was
determined to give up the reins of government, especially at the
present moment when his pipe might be put out by keeping them. He
continued to read the Rostock newspaper, but would often throw it
aside, and say crossly: "They've never taken any notice of the geese
yet, mother." He imagined that everyone looked upon him as a hard
master, because he had, by Rudolph's advice, bought up his labourers'
right of keeping geese for a round sum, and as he had subscribed to the
Rostock paper for forty years, he looked upon it as the duty of the
paper to take his part about the geese. The Rostock paper might have
done this quite easily I think, for Joseph was as innocent of doing
wrong as a new born child, but perhaps the editor may have forgotten to
notice the circumstance, or he may even never have heard of it at all.
Joseph could not get it out of his head. If he saw two farm lasses
talking together about their cap ribbons, he thought they were saying
that no goose's eggs were to be set that year at Rexow; and if two
labourers threshing out the oats stopped their work for a minute and
talked about the oats, he thought they were complaining of having no
geese to eat some of the grain they were threshing. He felt lost in
these new times and could not understand the new arrangements
introduced into the farm. He would not consent to rule any longer, he
was determined to abdicate, and as Bolster was of a different opinion
the bond uniting them burst.

As I said before, Mrs. Nüssler was herself quiet and calm, but Joseph's
condition began to make her anxious, and she continually hoped that
Bräsig would come. "I wonder," she said to Rudolph one day, "why Bräsig
hasn't come to see us. He has nothing earthly to do, and yet he never
looks near me."--"Ah, mother," answered Rudolph, "you know him; when
he has nothing to do, he always makes himself work. But he's coming
to-morrow all the same."--"How do you know that?" asked Mrs.
Nüssler.--"Well, you see, mother," said Rudolph rather shyly, "I was
over at our rye field by the Gürlitz march this morning, and as I was
there at any rate, I--I just ran into the parsonage for a moment.
Bräsig was there, and he told me he was coming here to-morrow."--"Now,
Rudolph, I won't have it. Remember that I don't allow you to be running
over there. It's quite different when I can go with you on Sundays. You
go and chatter to each other, and you put all kinds of nonsense into
Mina's head about marriage and such like things, and yet you know that
that can't be yet awhile."--"Why, mother, if we don't marry soon we'll
be growing too old and cold for such a thing."--"Rudolph," said Mrs.
Nüssler, as she left the room, "what's to become of Joseph and me if
you do. We are still young and have plenty of work in us. Are we to be
shelved before our time?"--"Nay," answered Rudolph after she was gone,
"you're not so very young now. Old people should rest. Uncle Joseph
would be only too thankful to retire, but my aunt has work enough in
her to kill off three young women. Well, Bräsig's coming to-morrow, and
I'll prompt him a bit."

Next day Bräsig arrived. "Good morning," he said. "Sit still, Joseph.
Well, have you got a small rebellion here too?"--"Ah," said Joseph
smoking like a chimney, "what's to be done now--Bolster?" He pretended
to be speaking to Bolster, for Bräsig had left the room before he had
had time to finish his sentence, and was now calling Mrs. Nüssler in
the passage.--"Good gracious, Bräsig," she said, drying her hands on
her apron, for she had been washing them when she was called away, as
she had been busy baking and did not wish to give her old friend a
floury hand to shake. "Good gracious, Bräsig, why don't you come to see
us in these bad times? How's my brother Charles?"--"'Bonus', as lawyer
Rein would say, or 'Bong', as the grey-hound would put it, or 'he's in
very good case', as I should say myself. The only pity is that he
_will_ go on thinking about the loss of his good name, and of the
separation of little Louisa and Frank. These inward sorrows prevent him
interesting himself in the doings of the Reform-club, of parliament,
and in great political thoughts."--"Thank God!" replied Mrs. Nüssler.
"I know my brother Charles too well to think that he'd even mix himself
up with such folly."--"Mrs. Nüssler," returned Bräsig drawing himself
up and looking his old love full in the face, "you have unintentionally
said a great thing, as rector Baldrian said the other day when the
potato-ground of the labourers was spoken about; but in these times one
must take care what one says--They turned Kurz out the other day--and
as I am a member of the Reform-club I can't allow the word 'folly' to
be applied to our doings."--"Mercy me!" cried Mrs. Nüssler putting her
arms akimbo, "I really believe that you'll want to turn me out of my
own kitchen next."--"Did I ever say so?" asked Bräsig. "They've turned
out Louis Philippe, and the Bavarian Louis, and Louis Kurz; is _your_
name 'Louis'? No, I came here to see that you were all right. If the
revolution should break out here I'll come to your assistance with the
Rahnstädt club, and the civic guard--we've all got ourselves pikes as
well as muskets: I'll protect you, never fear."--"You shan't come here
with your pikes and muskets," cried Mrs. Nüssler, "tell your wretched
rabble from me that they'd better provide themselves with an extra set
of legs and arms before they venture into my farm-yard, for if
they come here they shall lose those they have," so saying Mrs.
Nüssler turned round and going into her larder, shut and locked the
door.--Those were sad times when the devil sowed the seeds of dispeace
between old friends. Bräsig waited as long as Bolster had often done
before, expecting the larder door to open every minute, and when it did
not, he returned to Joseph in the parlour with his ears hanging like
Bolster's under the same circumstances. "Yes," he said to Joseph,
"these are dreadful times, and yet there you sit moving neither hand
nor foot, although rebellion has broken out in your own house."--"Ah,
Bräsig, I know that, it's because of the geese," said young Joseph;
"but what can be done? I say, Bräsig, help yourself to a little
kümmel," pointing with his foot at the lowest shelf of the
wine-cupboard, "you'll find the bottle there."

Bräsig thought a good deal of a little kümmel! He went to the window
and looked out at the weather. The wind was driving sharp spring
showers over the sky, and these as they passed away were succeeded by
bursts of sunshine. In like manner one sad gloomy thought after another
came into his head: "What?" he said to himself, "and _this_ is to be
the end of it? She thrusts me from her side when I am trying to help
her!" Then the sun's rays once more penetrated his heart, but with a
clear cold light which did not soften him, and he added with a scornful
smile: "Ha! ha! I wish I could see her fighting against the whole of
the Rahnstädt civic guard, headed of course by Wimmersdorf, the tailor,
and the wise old dyer 'For my part'!"--At this moment Rudolph crossed
the yard, and seeing Bräsig at the window, came in, as he wanted to
speak to him. "How-d'ye-do, uncle Bräsig."--"How-d'ye-do, Rudolph. How
are you getting on? I mean the labourers? Is all quiet?"--"Yes, quite.
There has been no difficulty as yet."--"Ah, but you'll see that this
affair of the geese ...." interrupted young Joseph.--"Never mind the
geese, father," said Rudolph.--"What's all this about the confounded
geese?" asked Bräsig.--"Nothing," said Rudolph. "You see I had such a
deal of trouble about those geese, they destroyed the edges of the
ditches, they eat up our young cabbages and did a lot of damage to the
corn, so I called all the labourers together and promised them twelve
shillings each at harvest time if they'd give up keeping geese. They
agreed readily to my proposal, but my uncle has taken it into his head
that the villagers all look upon him as a monster, and that there will
be a rebellion about the geese."--"Goodness gracious me!" cried Mrs.
Nüssler coming in, "the geese again!" and throwing her apron over her
face, she burst into tears.--"Why, mother," exclaimed Rudolph springing
to her side, "what's the matter? What has gone wrong?"--"What's to be
done now?" asked Joseph rising.--Bräsig would also have spoken if he
had not guessed that he knew more of what was passing in Mrs. Nüssler's
heart than any of the others, so he turned away to the window and stood
there gazing hard at the April weather with his eyebrows raised as high
as they would go.--Mrs. Nüssler at last got up, dried her eyes, put
aside both Rudolph and Joseph--rather hastily too--went up to Bräsig,
and throwing her arms round his neck, exclaimed: "I know that you meant
me well, Bräsig, and I won't hack off anyone's arms or legs."--"Oh,
Mrs. Nüssler," said Bräsig with a very April face, for he was smiling
with tears in his eyes, "you have my full permission to treat
Wimmersdorf, the tailor, and the would-be wise old dyer 'For my
part' as you like."--"What _is_ the meaning of all this?" asked
Rudolph.--"I'll tell you," said Bräsig, freeing himself gently from
Mrs. Nüssler's embrace, and taking her by the hand, "and it's this.
You've got a real angel for a mother-in-law. Not a so-called angel such
as you meet at balls and in the promenade at Rahnstädt, but the grand
old kind we read about in the Old Testament; a warlike good angel, who
doesn't fear the devil in a good cause, and is worth three of you any
day." With that he turned upon Rudolph as though he had done Mrs.
Nüssler some great wrong.--"Preserve us!" cried Rudolph. "I've done
nothing that I know of," and he looked at Joseph, who looked at
Bolster, but neither could help him, so Rudolph added: "I really don't
know what ....."--"It isn't necessary," said Bräsig, then turning to
Joseph: "and as for you, young Joseph, if you don't look out there'll
be a revolution in the house, and all because of your stupidity about
the geese. The best thing you can do is to sit there quietly. Now then,
Rudolph, come away with me, I want to look over the farm and see what
you have learnt from Hilgendorf."

Sitting still was what Joseph liked better than anything else, and
going out with Bräsig gave Rudolph the very opportunity he wanted to
egg his old friend on to arrange that his marriage should soon take
place. So neither of them made any objection to Bräsig's decree.

Fred Triddelfitz came to the farm that afternoon as he was out riding
at any rate. He was mounted on a horse with a very extraordinary
action, for it walked like a human being with its fore feet, and never
thought it incumbent on it to use more than three legs at a time, thus
showing that nature sometimes puts herself to unnecessary trouble by
creating a superfluous limb, for instance the tail of a Dandie Dinmont,
the ears of a pug and the left hind leg of a horse that finds three
legs sufficient for its wants. Fred's steed was by no means beautiful,
especially when in motion; but he was a very courteous animal and kept
on bowing the whole way along the public road. In this respect he
suited Fred very well, for the lad had grown to have extremely good
manners from his intercourse with Mr. von Rambow. When anyone made game
of his horse Fred used to smile and say to himself: "You fools! I've
always made by my horses. I was paid in ready money when I exchanged
the sorrel-mare for the black, the black for the brown, and then
the brown for this horse." The horse bowed itself politely into the
farm-yard at Rexow where Fred dismounted politely, went into the house
politely, and said: "How-d'ye-do" politely.--"Mother," said young
Joseph, "give Mr. Triddelfitz something to drink," for they happened to
be at coffee at the time.--"Bless me!" thought Bräsig. "He's called
_Mr_. Triddelfitz now, is he?"--Meanwhile Fred divested himself of his
waterproof coat, took something out of his pocket, and sitting down,
placed a pistol to the right and left of his coffee cup.--"Sir," cried
Bräsig, "the devil take you and your pistols! What makes you put these
infernal implements on the coffee table amongst our cups?"--Then Mrs.
Nüssler rose quietly, and taking the fire-arms in one hand, lifted the
tea kettle with the other and poured hot water down the muzzles of the
pistols, saying calmly: "There now, they can't go off."--"Oh, dear!"
cried Fred, "that was the last shot we had ....."--"Sir," interrupted
Bräsig, "do you think that you're in a robber's cave when you come to
see young Joseph?"--"The whole world is a robber's den just now," replied
Fred, "Mr. von Rambow proved that clearly in his speech to the labourers
yesterday, and so I went to Rahnstädt and bought these two pistols--one
of them for him--we are going to defend ourselves to the death."--Mrs.
Nüssler looked at Bräsig with a half ashamed smile, and Bräsig burst
into a roar of laughter: "And so you and Mr. von Rambow think you'll be
able to stop the labourer's mouths with a speech and a pair of
pistols!"--"Yes, the squire told the people plainly that he would rule
them mildly but strictly, and that they must do as they were
desired."--"Ah well, it all depends upon circumstances," interposed
Joseph.--"You may be right this time, young Joseph," said Bräsig,
"for every man must cut his coat according to his cloth, but Mr. von
Rambow is not the man to conduct a case like this properly. He'll be
sure to treat impudent pretentions mildly, and timidity with
sternness."--"So he has made another speech?" said young Joseph.--"A
splendid one," cried Fred enthusiastically. "I don't know how he
managed it."--"It doesn't matter," replied Bräsig. "But, tell me, what
did the labourers say to the explanation made them?"--"The rabble,"
answered Fred, who had learnt something besides politeness from his
master, "wasn't worth the trouble he took. When I was going about the
farm-yard afterwards I heard different groups of labourers talking of
'equality' and of what they called the 'gee hup and gee wo' style of
farming."--"It was you they meant, of course," said Bräsig with a
grin.--"Yes," said Fred honestly, "but only think what happened. Five
of them came to the squire in the afternoon; they were some of those I
had always thought the most sensible of the lot. Old Flegel, the
carpenter, was the spokesman, and he said he had heard that Mr.
Pomuchelskopp had advanced money to all his people, had promised them
more potato-land and various other things, but they would say nothing
more on that head, for they were by no means so badly off as the
Gürlitz villagers, indeed they were quite satisfied with what they had;
but they didn't like the way in which they were treated. They were
often scolded when they had done nothing wrong, were knocked about when
they didn't deserve it, and were hunted from yard to field and back
again without knowing what they were expected to do. They thought Mr.
von Rambow would do well to get rid of me, for I was not up to the
work, and was too young to have the management of so large an estate
and so many labourers. There was one other request they wanted to make,
and that was, that they entreated the squire to get old bailiff
Hawermann back again. Just imagine! What a people!"--"Hm!" said Bräsig
with a broad grin. "And what did the squire say to that?"--"Oh, he soon
showed them what he thought of them. He said that if he was satisfied
with me--here he pointed to me, and I made a polite bow--these
gentlemen, the labourers, might be satisfied too. Then an old
white-haired fellow, John Egel, came forward--you know him, he's one of
the oldest of them all--and said, that they were not 'gentlemen,' no
one knew that better than they did, and they had only come to speak to
him, their master, out of the goodness of their hearts, and not to
exchange sharp words. Mr. von Rambow was master, and could do as he
liked."--"What an infernal old rascal," said Bräsig still on the broad
grin.--"Ah, but listen. That wasn't nearly all. The thick end of the
wedge came last. Towards evening I noticed that one of the labourers
after the other went to the stable where the riding horses are kept,
and as I knew that Christian Däsel, the groom, doesn't quite like me, I
thought some mischief might perhaps be going on, so I went into the
stable next to that where the men were, and in which there is a hole
that goes through to the other, and then I heard what Christian Däsel
was putting the labourers up to."--"That's to say," interrupted Bräsig,
"that you listened."--"Well--yes," answered Fred.--"All right then,"
said Bräsig, "go on."--"I must begin by telling you that Christian
Däsel announced that he had made up his mind to marry Sophie Degel with
whom he has been 'keeping company' for several years, and the squire
won't have a married groom on any account, for he thinks a married man
will be more careful over his children than the foals, and I've no
doubt he's right in that. But he won't part with Christian because he
thinks him a good servant and attentive to the horses--however I can't
say that I agree with him there, he isn't as particular as he might be.
Now Christian Däsel went on to say that he would be allowed to marry
Sophie if it were not for the paddocks, he was certain of that, so he
wanted the labourers to demand that the paddocks should be given them
for potato-ground."--"Of course you went straight to Mr. von Rambow and
repeated what you had heard?" asked Bräsig.--"Naturally," said Fred,
"it was necessary that he should know, in order that he might be
prepared. At last they came and asked for the paddocks, saying that
their wives and children were every bit as good as the squire's mares
and foals, and yet the latter were better off than the former. Then Mr.
von Rambow sent them away double quick with a flee in their ear. I need
not add that Christian Däsel's wages were at once paid up and that he
was turned off on the spot."--"And what does Mrs. von Rambow say to
it?" asked uncle Bräsig.--"H'm," replied Fred, shrugging his shoulders,
"how am I to know? She says nothing. I don't know what's the matter
with her. She always used to notice me--courteously, but perhaps rather
stiffly--and ever since that stupid mistake of Mary Möller about the
farm-book, she has never even looked at me. Mary went long ago, I'm
happy to say, for she was really growing very foolish, and Mrs. von
Rambow is now her own housekeeper. I must confess that she keeps
everything in splendid order, though she takes no notice of me.
Caroline Kegel says she only works so hard to prevent herself thinking,
that she often writes long letters and then tears them up again, lets
her hands fall in her lap and sits still watching the baby sadly.
Caroline says that it goes to her heart to see her. Mrs. von Rambow
manages the housekeeping very quietly; she never scolds or rushes
about; she only desires that a thing should be done, and she's
obeyed at once. Caroline Kegel wishes she had a friend to speak
to--I'm no longer to be called that--and the squire has no friend
either."--"That's enough for me," cried Mrs. Nüssler, starting to her
feet, "I'll go and see her tomorrow. And as for you, Joseph, I think
you ought to go to that poor misguided young fellow and bring him to
hear reason. In times like these neighbours should stand by one
another."--"Ah, mother, what can I do? And then there's our own scrape
about the geese. But Godfrey and Lina ....."--"True, true," cried Mrs.
Nüssler, "the von Rambows helped to set them up in life, and we ought
never to forget that."--"But," interposed Bräsig with a sly roguish
look, "Mr. von Rambow has a friend! What would Mr. Samuel Pomuchelskopp
say if he had heard what you said a minute ago?"--"Pomuchelskopp?"
asked Fred. "We have nothing more to do with him," he added
contemptuously; then bending towards Bräsig, he whispered: "He has
demanded his money, principal and interest. I heard it from Zebedee,
Moses' coachman Zebedee. So you see that there's no longer any
friendship between the two. Slus'uhr either comes or writes daily,
but we have also engaged a lawyer to help us, Mr. Rein. Do you know
him?"--"Yes," whispered Bräsig, "I know him through the North-pole and
the Faroe islands."--"Isn't he a very clever fellow?"--"Certainly. He
can lead most people by the nose. But," he said aloud, "what is your
master going to do about the labourers?"--"I'll tell you," answered
Fred, "we've both determined to defend ourselves to the death, and so I
had to go to Rahnstädt and buy these pistols."--"And if the labourers
come back?"--"Then we'll shoot," said Fred.--"Right," said Bräsig
taking up one of the pistols and playing with it carelessly, "but, Mrs.
Nüssler," he went on, "you've made it quite wet and perhaps it'll
rust." Then he proceeded to rub it up on the outside with the skirt of
his coat, and while Fred explained the use and management of the other
to Joseph Nüssler, he took it to the window as if to examine it better.
"Where's your tool-box, Joseph?" he asked. Mr. Nüssler pointed to a
cupboard with his foot. Fred heard a great knocking and hammering
going on behind him and then a sharp sound as if something had cracked.
When he turned round to look what it was, Bräsig held the pistol
out to him, but without its dog head which he had just succeeded in
twisting off with a pair of pincers. "There!"--"Confound it," cried
Fred, jumping up. "Now," said Bräsig, "there's no fear of your
shooting in the people's faces."--"How dared you destroy my pistols.
Sir?"--"Because you're a foolish boy, and children oughtn't to play
with fire-arms."--"You're an old ...."--"'Ass.' I suppose that was what
you were going to say, and perhaps I am an ass for interfering with
you; but, Sir, I am here in your aunt's stead, and I did what I did for
her sake."--"My master told me to buy the pistols and I always do as he
desires me."--"That's right. Here's the one for your master. Let him
shoot with it if he likes. He has shot before now--but you ...." and
suddenly thinking of Hawermann, he continued: "Wretched boy, hav'n't
you done mischief enough already?"--Mrs. Nüssler exclaimed: "Hush,
Bräsig. Not a word on _that_ subject. But, Triddelfitz, you ought
to be ashamed of yourself for talking so lightly of taking human
life."--"What?" cried Joseph, springing to his feet, "he wasn't going
to have shot at the people? Was he, mother?" Bolster was also affected
by the excitement, and expressed his horror by giving utterance to one
or two sharp barks, and Fred was so much confused by what he heard,
that, forgetting all his former courtesy, he snatched up his
waterproof, thrust the remaining pistol into his pocket and rushed
away, only turning when he had reached the door to say with great
emphasis that ten horses should never drag him over that threshold
again. "It isn't at all necessary," replied Bräsig calmly. But if he
had heard what Fred was muttering as he went along the road towards
Pümpelhagen gazing blankly at his broken pistol, he might not have
taken things so quietly. For Fred bestowed so many titles of honour on
him that those of the emperor of Austria were few in comparison.

Fortunately he did not hear, and he thought and cared little that Fred
should have put the Nüssler's house under the ban. That very morning he
had seen how easily even old friendships are dissolved in troublous
times, and he had promised solemnly, that under no circumstances
whatsoever should he lead the Rahnstädt civic guard to Rexow. His quick
temper often carried him further than he intended, but his good heart
always conquered in the end. He wanted joy and peace to be everywhere,
although his way of trying to bring them about often caused noise and
strife instead.

In the dusk of evening when Joseph and Bolster were sleeping by the
fire-side, uncle Bräsig thought there could not be a better time for
him to say a few words about Rudolph and Mina, so he began: "Mrs.
Nüssler, do you remember the saying: Long love, makes old love, and
long ...."--"Have done with your stupid old proverbs, Bräsig. They
don't suit either you or me. I know what you're going to say, and I
agree with you that things can't go on much longer as they are, but
what's to become of him and me?"--"Mrs. Nüssler, you mean young
Joseph ...."--"Hush, Bräsig. Name no names I beg of you. If it were
only him," pointing to Joseph, "you might do so as much as you liked,
but he," pointing to Bolster, "is sharper than all of us put together,
so take care what you say before him. Just look how he's pricking his
ears."--"H'm!" said Bräsig, peering under Joseph's arm chair, "so he
is, but that doesn't matter. Well, Mrs. Nüssler, this business must
come to a happy end."--"Yes, Bräsig, that's just what I tell myself
every day. But tell me, what's to become of me, and what's to become of
him?" here she pointed at Joseph once more. "If Mina and Rudolph are to
have the management of everything, what am I to do? and what is he to
do?"--"Why, Mrs. Nüssler, you will have rest and quiet, and can rejoice
in the happy life of your posterity."--"That's all very well, Bräsig,
and I know that people can get used to anything, can even get used to
idleness. But look at me. You see how stout I am in spite of my active
life, and you know that if I were to sit still and do nothing, I'd grow
so fat and unwieldy that I'd become a perfect monster."--"No, no, Mrs.
Nüssler," replied uncle Bräsig, rising and standing before her, his
heart full of the memory of their youth, "you have always been
beautiful, and you will be beautiful as long as you live," and he bent
over her and seized her hand. "Don't be silly," said Mrs. Nüssler,
drawing away her hand, "just look at the old dog, he understands all
that's going on. But it do'sn't so much matter about me, as about
_him_. What's to become of him? I can always find something to do, but
he--what sort of life will he have when he has no work?"--"He'll smoke
and sleep," answered Bräsig. "Ah," she said, "he can do so now. But he
is changed, very much changed lately. I won't speak of the silly affair
of the geese, for I'll be able to talk him out of that, I know,--but he
has grown so contradictious, and opposes everything that's done;
when he has nothing to do I'm sure he'll get into some frightful
scrape."--"_Joseph_?" cried Bräsig in amazement. "Yes, but it's no use
going on now. Look!" On turning round, Bräsig saw Bolster get up and
rub his tail twice under Joseph's nose, whereupon Mr. Nüssler stretched
himself and asked in a very wakeful voice: "What o'clock is it,
mother?" Then he stretched himself again, and becoming aware of
Bräsig's presence, said: "What a clever fellow Mr. von Rambow is to
have made another speech."

Rudolph came in, lights were brought, and Bräsig made a grimace at
Rudolph across the table. He did not mean the young man any harm, he
only intended to say: "Hold your tongue and trust in me. Your affair is
progressing favourably." The evening passed very slowly, for each of the
party was busied with his own thoughts, and when they all went to bed,
Bräsig was the only one who fell asleep at once. Rudolph was thinking
of Mina, and his marriage; Mrs. Nüssler, of the terribly idle life that
lay before her; and Joseph, of the geese and Mr. von Rambow's speech.
This last thought kept him from sleeping all night, and when Mrs.
Nüssler turned on the other side towards morning in hopes of getting a
little nap, she saw Joseph leaving the room fully dressed with Bolster
at his heels. She could not make it out. The devil might know what he
was about, she did not.

                              CHAPTER VII.

Young Joseph walked up and down the yard followed by Bolster. He often
stood still during his walk and rubbed his forehead as if he did not
know what to do next. Whenever he did so, Bolster also stood still,
wagged his tail, and then immediately lost himself in sad consideration
of the divided sovereignty that lay before him, Rudolph came out: "Why
father," he said, "up already!"--"Yes, Rudolph, and it's all because of
the geese;" he was going to have said something more, but the words did
not come to him, and Rudolph exclaimed: "Don't bother your head about
that, father, it's an old story now; but I'm very glad you're up, for
you can give the overseer his orders, and I'll go and see how the
field's getting on that I was at yesterday on the Pümpelhagen march. We
must do the same as yesterday, cart manure to the potato land."--"Yes,
Rudolph but ...."-"That's all you've to do, father; now I must be off,"
and he hastened away. Joseph resumed his walk up and down the yard till
at last Kalsow, the overseer came to him: "Kalsow," said Joseph, "send
all the workpeople here to me," and having given this order he went
into the house accompanied by Bolster. The labourers, labourer's wives,
and work-people crowded into the court and asked each other: "What are
we to do?"--"I don't know," answered Kalsow, the overseer. "Ah then,
just go and ask him, will you?"--Kalsow went into the parlour where he
found young Joseph pacing up and down, followed by Bolster, for as
Joseph had not taken off his cap. Bolster thought his company was
required. "The villagers are all here, sir," said Kalsow.--"Good,"
replied young Joseph. "What are we to do now?" asked Kalsow.--"Wait,"
said Joseph.--Kalsow then went out and told the people, so they waited.
In a short time he returned to his master: "They're waiting, sir," he
said.--"Good," answered Joseph, "tell them to wait a little longer, for
I'm going to make them a speech." Kalsow went out again and desired the
people to wait, adding that Mr. Nüssler was going to make them a
speech. They waited for a long time, but nothing came of it, and at
last Christian the coachman, said: "I know him Kalsow. Go back and wake
him up." So Kalsow went in again and asked: "Well, sir, how about the
speech?"--"Confound you!" stormed Joseph, "do you think that my
thoughts are growing on my back ready to be plucked when I want them."
The overseer retired and said to the people: "It was of no use, it only
made the master angry, so we must wait."--"Goodness gracious me!" cried
Mrs. Nüssler, when she had finished tidying up the larder, "what's the
meaning of this? Why are the people all standing in front of the house
doing nothing?" and opening the window, she called out: "What are you
doing there?"--"We're only waiting, mistress."--"What are you waiting
for?"--"We don't know mistress, but the master's going to make us a
speech."--"_Who?_" asked Mrs. Nüssler. "The master," said Kalsow. "What
did you say he was going to make?"--"A speech," said Kalsow.--"A nice
state of affairs this!" muttered Mrs. Nüssler as she slammed down the
window. Then hastening to her husband, she seized him by the arm, and
shook him as if she wanted to bring him back to his senses: "What are
you going to do? You're going to make a speech? What sort of a
speech are you going to make? Is it to be about me? or about Rudolph
and Mina?"--"Mother," said Joseph firmly, "it's to be about the
geese."--"May God have mercy upon you," said Mrs. Nüssler angrily, "if
you ever dare to speak to me about the geese again."--"What?" cried
Joseph, rising in open rebellion against his wife for the first time.
"Mayn't I make a speech? Everyone does it; Mr. von Rambow does it;
Bräsig speaks in the Reform-club, and you don't think me good enough to
follow their example." Then striking the table with his fist: "I am
_master_ here, woman, and will speak about my own geese if I choose!"
Mrs. Nüssler turned very pale, and stared at Joseph silently. After
waiting a minute, she pressed one hand over her heart, and groped for
the door handle, which having found she turned slowly, and then left
the room backwards, her eyes still fixed on Joseph--in like manner as a
lion tamer treats a wild beast which has defied his authority. As soon
as she was safely out in the passage, she threw herself down on a bench
and began to cry. Ah yes, the year 1848 was a terrible time. Lawful
government was no longer held of any account, and open rebellion was
the order of the day.

Bräsig came down stairs whistling merrily, but stopped short when he
caught sight of his old sweetheart weeping bitterly. "As sure as your
nose is in the middle of your face, tell me what's the matter? What
makes you cry at _this_ time of day, Mrs. Nüssler? it's only half past
six." So saying he threw himself on the bench beside her, and tried to
pull the apron away from her face, but she signed to him to let her
alone. "Mrs. Nüssler," he exclaimed, "for God's sake tell me what has
happened." After a long time she managed to ejaculate: "Joseph."--"Good
God!" cried Bräsig. "He was quite well yesterday. Is he dead?"--"Dead?
not he!" she exclaimed, throwing down her apron and showing her red
eyes, "but he has gone quite mad!"--"God have mercy upon me!" cried
Bräsig, springing to his feet, "what's he about?"--"He's going to
make a speech."--"What? Young Joseph? A speech? that's a very bad
sign!"--"Oh me, me!" groaned Mrs. Nüssler. "The labourers are all
waiting for him to begin, and he almost turned me out of the room,
indeed I hardly know how I got out."--"Well, I never thought of such a
thing in my wildest conjecturation!" exclaimed Bräsig. "But keep your
mind easy, Mrs. Nüssler, I'm not afraid, I'll venture into the
parlour." And he immediately went away.

Joseph was walking up and down the room, and rubbing his forehead every
now and then. Bräsig seated himself on a chair near the door and
followed his every movement with his eyes, but did not say a word, and
Bolster sat at the opposite side of the room silently watching his
master. It was an anxious moment, at least to Joseph and Bräsig;
Bolster took the state of affairs pretty quietly upon the whole. At
last Bräsig asked very gently: "How are you, Joseph?"--"I don't know,"
answered Joseph, "I have rather a buzzing in my head, and my thoughts
are jumping about as if some one had poured a bushel of wild oats into
my brain."--"I believe you, Joseph, I believe you," said Bräsig, still
watching him as he went up and down the room. At length Joseph suddenly
stopped and exclaimed indignantly: "Who the devil can make up a speech
when you two are staring like that?"--"Oh you're going to make a
speech, are you? What's it to be about?"--"Am I worse than any other
man Bräsig? Are my labourers worse than other people's labourers? In
these bad times they must be pleased like the workmen on other estates,
but I'm not good at it, it's too hard a task for me; you are
quicker-witted than I, so please make the speech for me."--"Why not?"
said Bräsig, "if it will really be a relief to you. But now don't
disturb me." And Bräsig in his turn began to pace the room while Joseph
sat down and watched him. Suddenly the bailiff opened the window and
shouted: "Come here, all of you!" and the labourers did as they were
desired. "Fellow citizens!" began Bräsig; but--bang--he shut the
window, exclaiming: "Hang it! That won't do at all, these people are
labourers, so one can't call them 'fellow-citizens.' Now you see Joseph
what a difficult thing it is to make a speech, and yet you wanted to
meddle with a thing that even I cannot manage."--"Ah, Bräsig,
but ...."--"Hold your tongue, Joseph, I know what you're going to say."
He then went to the window, opened it, and said: "You can all go back
to your work now, there won't be any speech to day."--"All right," said
Kalsow, "but the master ...."--"Has thought better of it," interrupted
Bräsig, "he thinks that spring is rather too early in the year for such
a thing, but he hopes to make you a stunning good speech in autumn
after the harvest is secured."--"Very well," answered Kalsow, "perhaps
that'll be the best time for it. Come away then," and so he and the
labourers all went back to their work.

Now that the coast was clear, Bräsig turned to Joseph, addressed him
with all the dignity he could command, and used all the influence he
had gained over him in the course of many years: "How? You were said to
be mad! You are no more mad than either Bolster or I; you are only
_stupid_. What ever induced your dear--I mean to say--late--I mean to
say--confounded parents to bring you into the world? Was it that you
might make speeches and distress your good wife who has tended you for
five and twenty years as anxiously and carefully as if you had been a
little new born child? Come away at once, and beg her pardon, and
promise that you'll never do it again." Joseph was quite willing to do
as he was bid, but he was saved going out in search of his wife by Mrs.
Nüssler coming into the parlour: "Josy, Josy," she said, "how very
miserable you have made me!"--"Ah mother ...."--"Josy you'll bring me
with sorrow to the grave!"--"And that with confoundedly imposing
language," interposed Bräsig.--"Mother, I won't ...."--"Ah Joseph, I
don't believe you'll ever give it up now that you've once begun." But
Joseph assured her that he had had enough of it. "God grant that it
maybe so," said Mrs. Nüssler, "and that you may see that I also can
give way, Rudolph may marry to-morrow if you like."--"Ah," said Bräsig,
"that's good, there's peace in the house again, and you'd better seal
it with a kiss--now another, Joseph, that the left side of your mouth
mayn't have short measure."

As soon as that was settled, uncle Bräsig made the best of his way to
Gürlitz to visit his little god-child, and tell her of her happy
prospects. He went by the short cut, by the very foot-path in which
Muchel had put up the fence alleging that it belonged to him, but
Godfrey had been egged on by Bräsig to go to law about it, and having
won his suit, the fence was now cleared away and the road was once more
open to the public.

When Bräsig was going along this path who should meet him but the
squire of Gürlitz, who on seeing him put on a friendly smile, and said,
as soon as he got near enough to speak: "Good morning my dear ...." He
could not finish his sentence, for Bräsig thus accosted him, without
vouchsafing to look at him: "A certain person, who shall be nameless,
threatened to pull off my boots here, and to leave me to hop home with
bare feet like a crow," having said this he walked on without once
looking back.

After he had told Mina what had brought him to Gürlitz and had rejoiced
at the sight of her happiness, Lina asked him to remain with them,
though as it was Saturday, Godfrey must write his sermon instead of
enjoying his society. He answered: "No, no, Mrs. Lina, everyone has his
work to do in the world, and if parson Godfrey has to write a sermon,
why shouldn't I have one to preach also? I must go to the Reform-club
to-night." And having said good-bye, he returned to Rahnstädt.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

When Bräsig had told Hawermann and Mrs. Behrens all the news he had
picked up at Rexow and Gürlitz, and had answered all their questions,
he rose to go away again: "Don't be angry with me, Mrs. Behrens, or you
either, Charles, but you see I must go to the club as soon as I have
put on another pair of boots. You should come with me, Charles. We're
going to choose a new president this evening, for the old one, as he
himself confesses, is quite lost amongst us, I'm going to vote for
lawyer Rein.--Do you know him? He's a nice fellow, and a man of the
world; besides that I must say he's a bit of a wag. Then we have to
decide a very important question--rector Baldrian says that it has a
strong connection with the spirit of the times--I mean that we want to
discover the cause of the large amount of poverty there is in the
world. You should come with me, Charles." But Hawermann was not to be
persuaded, so Bräsig went alone.

The first person Bräsig recognised on entering the hall of meeting
was--Samuel Pomuchelskopp, who hurried forward to greet him, saying:
"How d'ye do, brother! How are you, Zachariah?" Only a few people saw
the expression of Bräsig's face when the squire of Gürlitz thus
addressed him, and of those who saw, hardly anyone understood the
meaning of what he had seen; but Bank the shoemaker told me about it:
"Fritz," he said, "his face looked for all the world as if it had been
reflected in a shoemaker's-ball. His mouth was as large again as it is
by nature, his nose was twice as thick as usual and his face was
glowing like a furnace. Can't you imagine what he looked like when he
answered: 'Mr. Samuel Pomuchelskopp we are not on sufficiently intimate
terms for you to address me so familiarly.' Well, he looked exactly
like the picture of old Hofer, landlord of the Sands in the Tyrol,
which is hanging on the coffee room wall of Fuchs' inn at Ivenack,
except that he hadn't a musket in his hand. Then he turned his back
upon Mr. Pomuchelskopp, and what a back! went to the election table and
gave his vote in a loud clear voice that could be heard all over the
hall, saying: 'I vote for Mr. Rein (pure) for our cause and actions
must be pure, and if a scoundrel should chance to come in amongst us,
he must be turned out' No one understood what he referred to, but there
was a dead silence, for everyone knew that something had happened. When
he went back to his seat everyone made way for him, because he looked
like a bull ready to toss whoever opposed him, but he sat down quietly
in his place, and every member of the club knows all that went on
afterwards."--That was what Jack Bank told me, and I believe that he
told the truth, for he was a great friend of mine and an honourable man
although he was only a shoemaker. He was murdered by a ruffian while
still a comparatively young man when he was standing up for the right.
I mention this fact although it has nothing to do with my story,
because he was my friend, and because I don't wish his virtues to be
known only from the epitaph on his grave stone.

So Zachariah Bräsig seated himself in an out of the way corner of the
hall looking like a thunder storm that might burst at any moment. Mr.
Rein was elected president, so he rang the bell, crept into the vat or
pulpit, thanked the members of the club for having done him the honour
of electing him as their president and then added: "Gentlemen, before
we enter on the question of the evening regarding the origin of
poverty, allow me to mention that Mr. Pomuchelskopp of Gürlitz has
applied for admission as member of this Reform club. I believe that no
one has any reason to oppose his being admitted as one of us."--"Ah,"
cried a voice behind him sharply, "are you so sure of that? I beg to be
allowed to speak," and when the new president turned round he saw uncle
Bräsig standing beside the pulpit. "Let Mr. Bailiff Bräsig say what he
has to say," answered the president, so uncle Bräsig clambered into the
pulpit and began: "Fellow-citizens, how long is it since we swore to
maintain liberty, equality, and fraternity in this hall, which used to
be Grammelin's dancing saloon? I will say nothing just now about
liberty, although I have no room to move in this confounded barrel; of
equality I will also say nothing, for our new president shows us a good
example in that respect by always wearing a grey coat, instead of going
about in a blue surtout with brass buttons like some people; but it is
of fraternity that I am going to speak. Fellow-citizens, let me ask if
it is brotherly conduct for a man to threaten to have his neighbour's
boots pulled off, and to leave his fellow man to hop home barefoot
through the snow, and if there should be no snow, through the mud? Is
it brotherly to be proud of saying such things? and of making a fool of
another? I ask you if that is brotherly conduct? and I tell you that
Mr. Samuel Pomuchelskopp is a brother after that fashion. I will say no
more." He descended the pulpit and blew a long trumpet blast of
defiance upon his nose. Wimmersdorf the tailor was the next to speak,
he said that it was a great honour to the Rahnstädt Reform club that it
was now to number a large landowner amongst its members; as far as he
knew Mr. Pomuchelskopp was the only squire in their ranks, for Mr. von
Zanzel was not to be counted although he had an estate and was a member
of the club, as he neither bought anything in Rahnstädt nor had
anything made there. He therefore voted for Mr. Pomuchelskopp's
admission. "Bravo!" was shouted by many voices. "Wimmersdorf is right.
You're right lad. How can we expect to live if we don't uphold such
people?"--"I don't agree with you," said Schulz the carpenter letting
his head appear above the edge of the pulpit by slow degrees, like that
of a fat old snail out of a shell which has become rather a tight fit.
"That's all nonsense, Wimmersdorf, great nonsense. If the Gürlitz
potentate had ever troubled himself about us before, if he had paid his
bills at once it would have been all very well, but he needs us now. If
he were outvoted, would he go out modestly? I tell you no! And why?
Because he is a great Mogul. Away with him, I say, away with him!" Then
the snail crept back into its shell, but its speech had had a great
effect. "Out with him! Out with him!" cried several voices, while
others shouted: "Go on! Begin again from the beginning!" and a
mischievous journeyman shoemaker sang in a loud clear voice:

           "Little snail, pray don't be shy
            Point your four-fold horns on high!"

But Schulz was much too wise to show himself again, he knew that he
might only weaken the decided effect his speech had made if he said any
more, so he took his stand by Bräsig at the back of the pulpit and
joined him in shouting: "Out, out!" They would certainly have gained
the day if the devil had not sent David and Slus'uhr to take their
places in the speaker's pulpit, where they now made their appearance
their upper lips adorned with moustachios to show their liberal
principles. These two then proceeded to sing Pomuchelskopp's praises as
though to the music of a psaltery and fiddle. Slus'uhr called the
squire of Gürlitz: "An angel of charity."--"Yes, a fine solid angel!"
cried the witty journeyman shoemaker--he had helped many a poor man in
Rahnstädt (Slus'uhr did not think it necessary to mention that his
friend had charged ten per cent interest for these little loans) and he
was willing to do even more than that for the town. David sang a song
to the same tune, but perhaps his eulogies were even more highly
coloured and spiced than those of the attorney: "Gentlemen!" he began,
making at the same time a peculiarly low bow to the witty shoemaker as
if to ask him to be silent and let him go on: "Gentlemen, consider,
only consider the weal of the whole town. Look here, per primo, there's
Mr. Pomuchelskopp in person, and then there's Mrs. Pomuchelskopp--a
horribly clever woman she is too!--then there are Miss Sally and Miss
Mally, Mr. Gustavus, Mr. Anthony and Mr. Philip; then come Miss Mary,
Miss Sophie and Miss Milly and the little Masters Christian and Josy,
and last of all there's the baby. Wait a bit, I hav'n't done yet--then
there are the housemaids, cooks and nursery maids, and the wenches who
attend to the pigs--now who else is there?--then come the coachman, the
grooms and the cowherd--there's something else he needs? Why shouldn't
he need something? Every one does! You all require coats and trousers,
shoes and boots, stockings, shirts and night shirts. In cold weather
you must have warm coats, and in warm weather, light coats. Then on
Palm Sunday when you are confirmed you must have good coats, and at
Christmas likewise. Ah yes, have I not always said that this Christ you
worship must have been a great man? How busy everyone is at Christmas
time! We fill our shops and keep all sorts of beautiful things. Who
buys them from us? Mr. Pomuchelskopp to be sure! I'll say no more." And
indeed it was not necessary for him to say more, for no sooner had he
finished his speech than all the shoemakers and tailors began in
thought to make shoes and boots for the little Pomuchelskopps, and to
sew trousers and coats for them, while the shopkeepers imagined
themselves doing a large business with Muchel, and Kurz went so far as
to sell him half the contents of his shop--in thought.

But in spite of all this Bräsig and Schulz cried out the more:
"Out! out!"--To which others replied: "No, remain!"--"Out!
out!"--"Remain!"--At last there was a frightful uproar. The material
interests of Rahnstädt in the shape of Pomuchelskopp's boots, trousers,
&c. opposed the ideal of fraternity; it was a hard battle.--At last the
president's bell produced a lull, and Mr. Rein began: "Gentlemen!" he
said--"Out! out!"--"No, stay!"--"Gentlemen," he said once more, "God be
thanked!"--"Out! out!"--"Stay!"--"Thank God, the opinion of this
assembly has already been so clearly expressed that we may at once
proceed to voting. So: Let all who wish to admit Mr. Pomuchelskopp into
our club go to the musician's platform, and let the rest go to the
other side."--The members of the Rahnstädt Reform-club were now all in
motion. They stamped their feet as hard as they could on the floor as
they walked, in order to show how firmly their minds were made up. It
sounded in the distance as if Grammelin had set a fuller's mill to work
on his premises, the consequences of which act would soon be seen,
for Grammelin rushed in and exclaimed: "Mr. President, my lads, I
entreat you to choose another way, a quieter way of voting!"--"What!"
cried Thiel, the cabinetmaker. "We _must_ vote or this wouldn't be a
Reform-club."--"That's quite true, Thiel, but your voting is bringing
down the plaster of my ceiling."--They all saw that it was true and so
they agreed to Grammelin's request to vote with their hands instead of
their feet.

The votes were counted and Pomuchelskopp was admitted to be a member of
the Rahnstädt Reform-club,--Schulz, the carpenter, turned to Bräsig:
"Ah, Mr. Bräsig," he said, "if things go on like this, what's to become
of Germany?"--"I don't care," said Bräsig, "but don't let anyone talk
to me of fraternity."

Then the question of the origin of poverty was brought forward. The
president put the subject clearly before the meeting thus: "When
did poverty first show itself in the world, and why does it still
exist?"--Rector Baldrian was the first speaker. He mounted the pulpit
from behind like everyone else, and as soon as he had taken his place,
he leant forward and took a large bundle of books from his head pupil
that he might the better prove the truth of his statements. When he had
arranged before him on the ledge, the Bible, Xenophon, Plato,
Aristotle, Livy, Tacitus, and as many volumes of Cicero as he happened
to possess, he made a bow, and said that these books were an army of
authorities he had brought to help him.--"Ah, lad," said John Bank to
Deichert, the shoemaker, "it'll be slow work now, I know the man, let's
each send for another glass of beer before he begins."--The rector now
showed from the testimony of the Bible that poverty was known to the
Jews of old.--"That isn't true!" cried a hoarse voice from amongst the
crowd behind the speaker, "these cursed Jews have all the money. _They_
know what a poor fellow feels?"--The rector paid no attention to this
interruption, he showed all that could be learnt from the Bible on the
subject, then taking up Xenophon he explained the condition of the
Spartan Helots, but his audience did not seem to understand a word of
what he was saying. After that he took up Plato, opened it at the part
about the Republic, and added in all good faith that if the
Rahnstädters had what Plato had imagined for the Athenians on these
evenings, then every Rahnstädt labourer would have roast-beef and
potatoes every day for dinner, and would be able to drive in a carriage
every Sunday afternoon, and the children would have gold chains instead
of ribbons to tie round their necks.--"He ought to tell us more plainly
how we can have all that?" said some. "Hurrah for Plato, hurrah!" cried
a number of voices.--"I say, lad, does he mean the old Jew Platow who
can only see out of one eye?"--"Ah, lad, I used to know him well,
he has often cut up a bit of beef in my shop," said Krüger, the
butcher.--The president's bell rang and produced silence, then that
rascal Mr. Rein turned to the rector, and begged him in the name of the
assembly to be so kind as to give the Rahnstädt Reform-club a clear
description of Plato's Republic. That was a terrible request! The
perspiration stood in large drops on the poor rector's forehead as he
three times began to explain the nature of that ideal Republic, and as
often broke down, because his own ideas regarding it were not of the
clearest. At last he said that Plato's Republic was a republic, and
that he was sure all of his politically educated hearers knew what a
republic was. As everyone was agreed on that point, the rector went on
to speak about the Romans, and told his audience as a very curious fact
that the Romans had now and then suffered from starvation, and had then
shouted at the tops of their voices for "panem et circenses." "Now, my
dear hearers," he continued, "you must know that 'panem' signifies
'bread,' and 'circenses' 'public games'."--At this moment Deichert, the
shoemaker, sprang upon his bench, in spite of the efforts Jack Bank
made to drag him back by the coat tails, and exclaimed: "The old Romans
weren't such fools after all, and what they did we Rahnstädters can do
any day. Why as things are now if I and Bökel, Jürendten and others
were to play a game at vang-toon when we are sitting together at
Pfeifer's, the mayor would have our cards taken away from us, and we
should have to appear in the town hall with Daddy Pfeifer and pay a
fine and costs! Why, I say again like the old Romans: Let's have free
public games."--"You're right there, lad," cried Jürendt, "three cheers
for the old Romans and Mr. Baldrian."--"Hurrah! hurrah!" and once more
"Hurrah!" was shouted.--The rector bowed his thanks both for himself
and the Romans, and as he saw how often the president glanced at the
clock, he soon brought his speech to a conclusion. "My honoured
hearers," he said, "when we consider the poverty at present amongst
ourselves, we find that it is only the children of poor people and of
journeymen who are obliged to go about our town begging." He then came
down from the pulpit with his army of authorities under his arm.

He was succeeded by John "For my part".--"Gentlemen," he said, "for my
part, I am a dyer," here he stretched both hands out over the edges of
the "vat" to show how blue they were dyed by his work, "I was in Mr.
Baldrian's school when I was a boy, and I say that he's right, we must
have a republic. You may choose Plato's if you like, for my part, or
any other; but what the rector says of the journeymen is a sin and a
shame; I mean the journeymen, for my part, and not the rector.
Gentlemen, I, for my part, have travelled to other lands in my calling
as a journeyman dyer."--"You sat quietly at home with your mother,"
cried a voice.--"What's that you say? I went as far as Birnbaum in
Poland, and even further; for my part, onward was my motto, as far as
the blue sky extends and an honest dyer in blue can get work," here he
beat upon his breast. "And gentlemen," he went on, "I could, for my
part, have two men under me; but I can't manage it, for indigo is too
dear."--"Ah, you rogue!" cried Deichert, the shoemaker, "you use
logwood."--"I think, for my part, that you're talking nonsense,"
replied John.--"What indigo?" exclaimed a number of voices, "he dyes
with logwood!"--"Yes," cried the wit, "anyone can tell the women who
get their things dyed by him in a moment, they all have a washed out
look, for that wretched logwood comes off so dreadfully."--"Young man,"
asked John with a grand air, "have you ever examined my tubs?"--"You
should hold your tongue when people speak of poverty. You're a rich
man," cried another.--"For my part, gentlemen, I think that's all bosh.
It's true that I've built myself a new house ...."--"Of logwood," cried
the shoemaker.--"Of logwood," shouted a dozen voices.--"No," cried the
dyer, "of pine, with oaken posts."--"Of logwood!" was shouted again by
the assembly.--"For my part, gentlemen," exclaimed the dyer beating his
breast with his blue hand and drawing himself up to his full height,
"I'm a Rahnstädt citizen and that's all that I've got to say."--"And
it's quite enough," cried a number of voices.--"Then you're a very good
thing," said some of the labourers, "down with the slow coach, we know
all that he has to say." So John "For my part" had to come down from
the speaker's desk.

Kurz was the next to address the meeting: "Fellow citizens," he said,
"we came here to talk of poverty and the honourable gentleman who spoke
last told us about indigo instead. It's enough to bring down a
judgment upon him! How can we tradesmen be expected to pay our taxes
when every dyer imports his own indigo. Now the honourable gentleman
who spoke last does this in order that no one may guess how much
logwood he adds to the tub of indigo! He takes care to keep his trumps
out of sight."--"You always peep at the cards," cried some one behind
him; he stared Bräsig full in the face, and then went on as if nothing
had been said to interrupt him: "If he chose he might buy his indigo
from me at a much lower price than he can get it in Rostock. But,
gentlemen, our subject is poverty. If matters remain as they are we
shall soon all be poor."--"He's right there, lad," said Deichert to
Jack Bank.--"Fellow citizens," continued Kurz, "I bought myself a
carriage and horses to send about the country side with my wares, for I
must neglect no possible mode of turning an honest penny in these hard
times."--"These small profits don't seem likely to come any more," said
Fred Sievert, the driver.--"But," Kurz went on, "they took possession
of my carriage last year at Tetterow."--"Because you didn't pay the
tax," interrupted Fred Sievert.--Kurz cared nothing for such a small
matter as an interruption, for he had once been turned out of the
meeting and had come back again at another time, so he went on: "The
mayor sent for me and asked me, what van I employed to carry my
wares.--'My own van,' I answered.--'Then you do it per se,' he
said.--'No,' I said, 'not per sea; Rahnstädt isn't a sea port town; per
van.'--'Oh, I was talking Latin,' he said with a laugh."--"Fellow
citizens, what is the world coming to when our judges begin to talk
Latin? When our horses and carriages are put under arrest? That's the
way to become poor! How are we trades-people to carry on business when
we make such very small profits on coffee, sugar, tobacco and snuff as
we now do?"--"You'd better hold your tongue about your confounded
snuff," interposed Deichert, "it gave me such a swelled nose," and he
covered his nose with his hand, but did not make much by that action,
for everyone laughed when they saw that it stretched out beyond his
hand both to the right and left.--"Fellow citizens," said Kurz, "I know
very well that poverty must exist, but I think it ought to be kept
within reasonable bounds. I mean, it should never be more than each man
can deal with by himself without becoming a burden on his neighbours.
But is that possible in the present sad condition of our town? Fellow
citizens, I have been struggling for many years past to put an end to
certain unjust privileges in the possession of which some people are
revelling through the favouritism of the authorities."--"I say, lad,"
said Thiel, the cabinetmaker, to Jürendt, "you'll see that he's going
to speak about the town jail, and if he does, he'd better get out of
that, for Wredow, the baker, is my brother-in-law."--And sure enough he
was right!--"Fellow citizens," cried Kurz, "I mean the town jail; that
un ....."--"Down with him!" shouted Thiel, the cabinet-maker.--"Yes,
down with him!" was echoed throughout the hall.--"We won't listen to
anything about jails or pails," cried a number of voices.--"He won't
allow anyone to make a small profit except himself," said Fred
Sievert.--"He wants to have everything for himself, and the town
jail into the bargain."--The president rang the bell in the most
inhuman manner, while Kurz gesticulated wildly, and shouted: "Fellow
citizens ...."--"What's all this row 'fellow citizen'?" said Thiel and
Deichert while dragging the unfortunate shopkeeper out of the pulpit by
the tails of his coat. He soon disappeared into the hollow of the
"vat", but his two hands were long to be seen grasping the sides
of it convulsively, reminding one of a pot of soup boiling on the
kitchen fire, in which the fat bubbles up with a sound like "town
jail--jail--jail," then all was silent and Kurz fell almost fainting
into Bräsig's arms. Bräsig and Schulz took him out of the room between
them.--"Hold your foolish tongue," said uncle Bräsig shoving Kurz into
the room next to that in which the meeting was held, "do you want to be
turned out in good earnest?"--Then the two old fellows placed
themselves on guard, one on each side of Kurz, like the two men in the
"willen Manns-Gulden" who watch a rampant lion lest he should suddenly
spring upon the people. The only difference was that Bräsig and Schulz
acted more wisely than the wild men in having each a long pipe instead
of a whip in their hands.

Meanwhile Fred Sievert had shown that the poverty they were suffering
from was caused by their having to pay so much for keeping up the
roads, and had proposed that the road tax should be done away with.
Wimmersdorf the tailor had then given it as his opinion that something
must be done for the poor, and had thought that, at that moment, the
only feasible plan was to write on the door of the Grand Duke's castle
it Rahnstädt that it was "national property." If the castle were sold
and the money that it brought were distributed amongst the poor, he
considered that there would be no more pauperism in Rahnstädt. This
motion was carried unanimously, and seven men were sent to the castle
armed with Grammelin's stable lantern and a bit of chalk to see about
putting the plan into execution.

"Christian," said a voice behind Mr. Pomuchelskopp, "I like this sort
of thing very much. You can write too, so you must write that on our
squire's front door to-morrow evening." Pomuchelskopp looked round; he
thought he recognised the voice, and found himself--face to face with
one of his own labourers, who had joined the Reform club before him,
and who had the assurance to nod to him on catching his eye. He was
very much taken aback, and did not in the least know what to do. He
asked himself what card he should play, whether being 'master' was
still a trump card, or whether 'fraternity' had taken its place.
Something had to be done at once. He must at least bring the opinion of
the meeting round to his side. So just as Bräsig and Schulz came back
into the hall after having seen Kurz safe home, the president said:
"Mr. Pomuchelskopp is going to make us an address." Pomuchelskopp
forced his way slowly through the crowd, and as he passed them, he
seized the opportunity of shaking hands with Thiel the carpenter, of
giving Wimmersdorf the tailor a friendly slap on the back, and of
speaking to the witty journeyman shoemaker. When he had got into the
tribune, he said: "Gentlemen." Now it always makes a great impression
when a man dressed in a blue surtout with brass buttons addresses a
crowd of smock-frocked labourers and poorly dressed mechanics as
"gentlemen," so a murmur went through the hall: "He's right!"--"He
knows how to treat us!"--"Gentlemen," repeated Pomuchelskopp as soon as
the murmurs had ceased, "I am not an orator, but a simple farmer. I
have heard better speakers," here he bowed to rector Baldrian, John
'For my part' and Wimmersdorf, and even Fred Sievert's services were
recognised by Mr. Pomuchelskopp on account of his speech about the
road money, "and I have also heard worse," here he glanced towards
the door out of which Kurz had been led but a short time before,
"than myself, but gentlemen, I didn't come here because of your
eloquent speeches, but because of the _principles_ that actuate
you."--"Bravo, bravo!"--"Gentlemen I am heart and soul for liberty,
heart and soul for equality, and heart and soul for fraternity. I am
very grateful to you for having admitted me into your noble
association." He now pulled a white handkerchief out of his pocket and
placed it on the ledge by his side. "Gentlemen, you were talking about
poverty. I have spent many a silent hour in thinking over that
question, and have passed many a sleepless night in considering how the
evil may best be remedied." He wiped the perspiration from his forehead
with the handkerchief as if to impress his auditors with the deep
anxiety this subject caused him. "Of course, Gentlemen," he went on, "I
allude to the poverty that exists in small towns, for there is no such
thing as poverty in the country."--"Oh! oh!" cried a voice behind him,
"It's time for you to speak, Christian."--"Our labourers," pursued
Muchel, paying no attention to the displeasure to which his last remark
had given rise, although he knew who had spoken quite well, "our
labourers have each a free house and garden, grazing for a cow, as well
as hay and straw for its winter fodder; they have fire wood and peat;
as much potato and flax land as they require, and every week they are
given a measure of barley and the same quantity of rye or three
shillings in money. Then there's all the thresher's corn, and the
labourer's wives can make six pence a day besides if they like. Now, I
ask you gentlemen, if the labourers in town are as well off as that?
What can a labourer want more?"--"Nothing! nothing!" cried all the town
labourers. "Gentlemen," said a journeyman carpenter named Stephen
Rutschow, "I am a journeyman carpenter, and my wages in summer are ten
pence a day, one penny of which I have to give back to my master. I'd
much rather be one of Mr. Pomuchelskopp's labourers than what I
am."--"You donkey!" cried Schulz. "You might have had plenty of work
all spring, but you're too fond of lounging about."--"Silence!
silence!"--"Gentlemen," continued Pomuchelskopp, "I have told you
what the position of my labourers is, and will now tell you how
they're treated. Any labourer may give warning at any time and go to
another place. Isn't my conduct worthy of all honour? Isn't that
enough?"--"Christian speak, the time has come," cried the same voice as
before. "Gentlemen," said Pomuchelskopp in conclusion, "I have been
induced to become a member of your noble association because of your
high principles, and because of the great poverty existing in all small
towns such as this. You shall see that--although I am not a rich man--I
will do all that lies in my power to help you. And now, gentlemen, I
ask you to help me in return, for if town and country are only true to
each other, order will be maintained, and everything will be conducted
to a peaceful end by this most admirable assembly. Long live the
Rahnstädt Reform club!"--"Hurrah!--Hurrah!--Hurrah!" was shouted from
every corner of the hall, interspersed here and there with: "Three
cheers for Mr. Pomuchelskopp!" Muchel then returned to his seat bowing
and smiling.

The very moment he left it, the pulpit was again filled, and Zachariah
Bräsig's red face showed itself above the book board. His face did not
shine down on the assembly with the peaceful radiance of the sun or
moon, no, it more nearly resembled the thunderbolt that God sometimes
sends down upon the world as a punishment for its sins. "Fellow
citizens," he cried, looking at his fellow citizens with an expression
that seemed to say that he had devoured two of them for breakfast that
morning, and intended to pick out the fattest of them for supper,
"Fellow citizens, if Mr. Samuel Pomuchelskopp had remained quietly in
his own farm-yard at Gürlitz, I should have said nothing; if he had not
spoken too familiarly to me here tonight; if he had not told a whole
string of most unblushing lies in this sublime corner of our
fatherland," here he thumped the "vat" to show that it was it he
alluded to, "I should have said nothing."--"That's got nothing to do
with it," interrupted Wimmersdorf, "that's only abuse."--"Silence! He
can speak as well as anybody."--"Mr. Wimmersdorf," said Bräsig, "if you
don't like my speech you may shut your ears for all _I_ care, as I
think you're a foolish fellow. Now you may go and have me taken up for
libel if you like, I am bailiff Bräsig."--"Quite right--go on," was the
cry. "Fellow citizens, I repeat that I should have said nothing, for I
hold it to be very wrong of any farmer, or of any man, to speak against
a master in the presence of his labourers. But when a man,"--"a great
Mogul!" shouted Schulz--"places himself on the altar of fraternity in
order to throw dust in the eyes of this assembly, and knowingly give
them a false idea of the condition of his labourers, I _will_ speak.
Fellow citizens, my name is bailiff Zachariah Bräsig."--"Hear,
hear."--"Mr. Samuel Pomuchelskopp has told you that there's no poverty
in the country, because he has arranged everything that affects the
labourers so perfectly. 'Bonus,' as our honoured president says--but,
fellow citizens, these things sound very well, in like manner as with
the roast beef and plums of life--they are uncommonly good to eat--but
very few of us can get them. For example, take the houses. To the right
of Gürlitz farm is a kind of pig sty, that is called a cottage, in
which Willgans lives--is Willgans here?" Willgans was not there. "It
doesn't matter. The thatch has never been mended during the last three
years, so that the rain comes in in streams, and when there is a storm
whilst he and his wife are out harvesting, the children may be seen
paddling about in the kitchen like frogs in a pond. When he asked
his master to have it mended, Mr. Pomuchelskopp said his name was
Willgans (wild goose) and water was always pleasant for geese to swim
in."--"Faugh! He oughtn't to have said that."--"And now with regard to
the grazing and hay for a cow. Where is the field for the cow to graze
in? About two miles and a half from the village, at the very edge of
the estate, is a large meadow on which nothing but twitch and fir trees
will grow, and the women have to go all that distance three times a day
to milk the cows. That's to say, three of them have to do so, for
eighteen labourers out of the whole one and twenty have lost their
cattle from disease, and the three cows that remain are just like
dancing masters, their figures are so slight and elegant!"--"What a
great Mogul the fellow is!" cried Schulz from behind. "Out with him,
out with him!"--"Silence! Let Mr. Bräsig go on."--"Yes, fellow
citizens, I will go on. As for the fire wood and peat: The peat is bad,
it crumbles away without giving any heat, and the fire wood is nothing
but any branches and cones the children can find in the woods and bring
home on their backs. And the potato and flax land? Where is it? A poor
bit of ground at the outside of the estate. And who manures it? The
birds manure it, and when one sees the few handfuls of potatoes that
are dug in autumn, one clasps one's hands above one's head and
exclaims: 'Great God! And that's what's to feed the people and the pigs
all winter!' But they can't live on it, they steal what more they
require. They don't steal from Mr. Pomuchelskopp; they know better than
to do that; but they steal from the neighbours, and a friend of mine,
Mrs. Nüssler, has given orders that if any of the Gürlitz labourers are
caught stealing from her potato-stores, they are to be let off, for
they're starving."--"Hurrah for Mrs. Nüssler!" cried John Bank.
"Hurrah!" was shouted throughout the hall, and again, "hurrah!"--"And
the flax," pursued Bräsig, "is only so long," showing about a foot's
length on his arm, "indeed Attorney Slus'uhr, who is a particular
friend of Mr. Pomuchelskopp, said jestingly in my presence, that the
Gürlitz women all wear short chemises because the staple of the flax is
too short to make long cloth."--"What a wretch the fellow is, to make a
joke about other folk's misery," cried Schulz, "Out with him, out with
him!"--"Fellow citizens," continued Bräsig, "I tell you that the
houses, cow's grass, fire wood and peat, potato and flax land are the
roast beef and plums of the labourers in the country; they are pleasant
things, but are not to be had, that's the reason of the poverty in
country districts. What is the cause of poverty in towns? I will tell
you, fellow-citizens, for I have lived in Rahnstädt long enough to have
observed the human nature to be seen here; _the great poverty in towns
arises from the extreme pauverté to be found there?_" Having said this
he descended the pulpit, and "Bravo!" was shouted throughout the hall.
"He's right!" said some. "Long live Mr. bailiff Bräsig!" cried others.
The president then closed the meeting, for he said that no one would
care to speak after that last address. Everyone surrounded Bräsig,
congratulated him, and shook him warmly by the hand. The only
exceptions to the general rule were Pomuchelskopp and David Berger,
leader of the town band; for the one had slipped away quietly, and the
other had run home to collect his fellow musicians. When Bräsig got out
at the inn door he found himself in the presence of seven performers on
brass instruments, who stood round him in a half circle, and played:
"See the conquering hero comes!" in his honour, while David Berger, who
had put on his spectacles, beat time with one of Grammelin's billiard
cues. The Gürlitz labourers then came up to uncle Bräsig, and Rührdanz
the weaver said: "Don't be afraid, Sir; you've stood by us, and we'll
stand by you." And so when Bräsig was solemnly conducted through the
marketplace and through all the principal streets in Rahnstädt, this
small band of oppressed and saddened men followed him faithfully, for
it was the first time that any one had spoken as though he understood
and felt for them in their dire necessity, and the knowledge that one
is not quite forsaken does more to develop and keep alive the good that
is in the human heart than any admonitions however well intended.

Bräsig said a few words of farewell to his guard of honour when they
all reached Mrs. Behrens' house. He said he could not ask them in, as
it was a sort of parsonage, but added that he invited all present to
drink a bowl of punch at Grammelin's on the following evening. The
invitation was accepted with a 'hurrah,' and when Bräsig was
comfortably in bed and was telling his friend Charles all the events of
the evening, the musicians struck up: "High stand the laurels o'er the
bed where the warrior sleeps." Meanwhile the Gürlitz labourers were
walking home talking gravely and seriously as they went. "We must
rebel, lads," said Rührdanz the weaver "there's no help for it, but let
us act quietly and firmly, not violently; for what would the Grand Duke
and Mr. Bräsig say if we were to be so ungrateful for his speech as to
act like brutes instead of honest men?"

                              CHAPTER IX.

On the afternoon of the next day, when service was over, for it
was Sunday, Kurz came to see Hawermann and Bräsig. "How-d'ye-do,
how-d'ye-do," he said, "I'm very much put out, for one thing after
another has happened to trouble me to-day. I never knew such a set of
people! They won't let one finish what one has to say. It's much
pleasanter work herding swine than being a democrat! These people cheer
the stupidest speeches, and give serenades during the night when
everyone ought to be asleep, while they always try to silence any one
who endeavours to make an important matter clear to them. And yet they
call themselves a _Reform_ club!"--"Listen, Mr. Kurz," said Bräsig,
walking straight up to him, and making himself appear at least two
inches taller than usual, "it is very unseemly of you to make any
slighting remarks about the serenade which was played in my honour, and
let me tell you that you would have received some very hard knocks if
Mr. Schulz and I had not good-naturedly taken you under the shadow of
our wings. Why? Have you never heard the good old proverb: 'You may
ride your hobby to town when fashion allows it;' but as you know
already, you can't career through the Reform club on your hobby the
town-jail, and if you attempt to do it, you must expect that both you
and it will be kicked out, for the Reform club was never meant for such
doings."--"I don't care; it's nothing to me!" cried Kurz. "But other
people ride on donkeys there, and yet they are made much of."--"You're
a rude barbarian!" exclaimed uncle Bräsig, "you're an impenetrable
fellow, and if this were not Charles Hawermann's room, I'd fling you
down stairs till you had to carry your bones home in a bag."--"Hush,
Bräsig, hush!" said Hawermann, getting between them, "and as for you,
Kurz, you ought to be ashamed of beginning a quarrel about such
nonsense."--"There was nothing but noise and quarrelling last night,
and it has just been as bad today. No sooner was I awake this morning
than my wife began to lecture me. She says that I'm not to go to the
Reform-club any more."--"She's quite right," said Hawermann angrily,
"you ought never to have gone, for your hasty temper and thoughtless
words have done nothing but mischief." Then leaving Kurz, he went up to
Bräsig, who was running up and down the room puffing like a grampus,
and said: "He didn't mean what he said, Bräsig."--"It's all the same to
me, Charles, what such a cross-grained, dunder-headed, addle-pated
idiot thinks of me. Ride on a donkey forsooth! Pooh! it's nothing but
small-minded jealousy."--"I never meant you," cried Kurz, beginning to
walk up and down the other side of the room, "I was alluding to my
brother-in-law, Baldrian, and to the dyer, and one or two other fools
of the same kind. It's enough to drive one mad! First of all I had
words with my wife about the Reform-club; then I had to scold the
shopman for not getting up till nine, in consequence of having gone
singing through the streets last night, and of having remained at an
ale-house till four this morning; then I had words with the groom and
the vet about my riding horse which has got influenza, and after that I
had another quarrel with my wife, who says that I mustn't set up a farm
of my own."--"She's quite right," interrupted Hawermann, "you'd never
make anything by farming, because you know nothing about it."--"I know
nothing about it, do you say? I'm thwarted everywhere. Again at dinner
the stupid table-maid gave us such a long table-cloth that it reached
to the floor on every side. Whilst we were at dinner a customer came,
and as the shopman didn't get up quickly enough to please me, I jumped
up myself, got my feet entangled in the table-cloth and so pulled the
soup tureen and all the plates clattering on to the floor. Then my wife
caught me by the arm and said: 'Go to bed, Kurz, you're unlucky
to-day,' whenever she sees that I'm in a bad humour she tells me to go
to bed! It's enough to drive anyone mad."--"Then again your wife was
right, for if you had gone to bed as she told you, you wouldn't have
brought your quarrelling here," said Hawermann.--"Ah," said Kurz, "have
you ever spent a whole day in bed when there was nothing the matter
with you, and only because it was an unlucky day for you? I'll never do
it again, however my wife may entreat me to do it. It just makes one in
a worse humour than before. Whenever she gets me to go to bed like
that, she takes away my boots and trousers, and so I have to lie still
and fret over not being able to get up when I want."--Here uncle Bräsig
burst into a loud fit of laughter, and Hawermann asked: "So you came
here to have it out with some one, did you?"--"Oh no," said Kurz, "I
didn't mean him, I only came to ask you both to come and look at my
land and tell me whether it's time for me to begin to plough."

Through Hawermann's good offices peace was soon restored and the three
friends set out together to visit the field belonging to Kurz, who
amused himself and his companions by his constant use of the most
abstruse agricultural terms he could remember, so that Bräsig could not
help asking himself, "who was riding the donkey now?"--"My field," said
Kurz, "is 150 square poles, and I bought ten waggon loads of manure for
it from Krüger, the butcher, most capital stuff; I intend to plant
beetroot there; the manure was spread yesterday; don't you think
there's enough? Just look!" and turning off the high road he led the
way to a field.--"It's very badly spread," said Bräsig, "properly
manured land should be as smooth as a piece of velvet," and when he had
said this he began to break up a larger lump with the end of his
walking stick.--"Oh, that doesn't matter," said Kurz, "something's sure
to grow there all the same, for the manure is good, it cost me thirty
shillings."--Next moment he came to a sudden standstill, beat the air
with his hands, and gazed confusedly around him.--"Preserve the man!"
cried Bräsig, "what's the matter?"--"This is some of the devil's own
work!" exclaimed Kurz. "It isn't my field. The one next it is mine, and
yet the confounded fellow carted the manure I had bought on to another
man's land, and I was foolish enough to tell him to spread it. Thirty
shillings for the manure; then the carter's wages, and the spreader's
wages! It's enough to drive one mad!"--"Don't take the accident so much
to heart, Kurz," said Hawermann, "your neighbour will understand how it
happened, and will of course pay you for what you have expended on his
land."--"Why that's the worst of it," cried Kurz, "the field belongs to
Wredow, the baker, the man I've tried to turn out of his office at the
jail, and he's certain to revenge himself now."--"You think yourself
fit to be a farmer," said Bräsig very quietly, "and yet you lay down
manure on another man's land instead of on your own."--"Isn't it enough
to drive anyone mad!" cried Kurz, "but what talking can do shall be
done," and having said this he hastened to the edge of the field,
speared a lump of manure with the point of his stick, and flung it over
on to his own ground. He knocked about the manure so vehemently that he
soon lost his breath with rage and hard work, then stopping short and
looking pale and exhausted, he flung away his stick and panted out: "I
wash my hands of it all. Why didn't I go to bed? If I can only lay
hands on that rascally carter when I go home--Oh, friends, help me--if
you don't take care something dreadful will happen."--"Trust me,"
said Bräsig, seizing him by the collar, "I'll keep you out of
mischief."--"There's no use leaving the stick there," said Hawermann
going on and picking it up.

Something was hanging to the end of the stick. Kurz in his vehemence
had thrust the point through something that had remained on the stick
when he threw it away. Hawermann was about to knock it off, when on
looking more closely at it he remained motionless with surprise. Bräsig
meanwhile was too much occupied with Kurz to be able to attend to what
his old friend was doing, so he now called out: "Come along, Charles.
We can do nothing more here." Not getting an answer, he turned
round to see what was the matter, and perceived Hawermann standing
still, turning something black round and round in his hand and staring
at it blankly. "Bless me, Charles, what's the matter?" asked Bräsig
going towards him.--At length with a mighty effort and in a low
tremulous voice, he said: "The pocket-book! The pocket-book! This
is the pocket-book!" and he held out to Bräsig a piece of black
waxcloth.--"Why? What pocket-book do you mean?"--"I had it in my hand
once before. I've seen it for years in my sleeping and waking dreams!
Look, there are the Rambow arms. And there's where the clasp was! It
was folded so, and was as large as that. That's how it was folded when
the three hundred pounds were in it. This is the pocket-book that Regel
was to have taken to Rostock." The words fell from him interruptedly
and with infinite difficulty as though he were speaking in a trance,
and he looked so overcome by his surprise and excitement, that Bräsig
sprang to him, and supported him in his arms. The old man clung to the
bit of waxcloth as though it were his dearest possession, and would
hardly allow Bräsig to look at it closely.--Kurz now came up to them.
He had been too much engrossed with his own wrongs to pay any attention
to what his companions were doing, and he now exclaimed: "Isn't this
enough to drive one mad? My thirty shillings worth of manure is lying
on Wredow the baker's field instead of on my own."--"Hang it!" cried
Bräsig. "Do have done with your moans about the manure. When once you
begin to talk, it's a never ceasing stream. There now, take your stick
and let's go home. Come, Charles, don't take on so!"--After Hawermann
had gone a few steps the colour returned to his face, and he suddenly
became possessed of a restless uneasy longing to get on quickly, and a
desire to ask questions. He asked Kurz from whom he had bought the
manure; where the carts were loaded; what sort of man Krüger, the
butcher, was; and then he again stood still, folded the pocket-book and
examined the tear in the waxcloth and the seal, till Kurz forgetting
his anger stared at him, lost in wonder that he should feel so little
sympathy with him in his unlucky farming transaction. At last Bräsig
had to explain what had happened to Kurz, at the same time adjuring him
by all he held sacred to keep his knowledge of the matter to himself,
"for," he said in conclusion, "you are one of those people whose tongue
runs away with them."--The three then stood together on the high road
and wondered how the cover of the parcel of money had got into the
butcher's yard. Kurz and Bräsig agreed that it was impossible for the
butcher to have had anything to do with the affair, for he was a very
respectable man.--"Yes," said Hawermann, and as he spoke all the old
activity, decision and quick-witedness that had marked his character,
and which he had apparently lost during the time of his sorrow and
suffering, seemed to have come back to him, "yes, but one of his
neighbours may have thrown it over the wall, and can you tell me
whether anyone besides Krüger and his family live in that house?"--"He
has let the small house at the back of his own," said Kurz, "but he
doesn't know what sort of people his tenants are."--"I must go and
speak to the mayor," said Hawermann, and as soon as they reached the
town, he went to his house. Kurz wanted to go with him, but Bräsig held
him back, saying: "Neither of us has lost anything." When they parted
at Kurz's door Bräsig added: "You insulted me terribly to-day, but I
forgave you your speech about the donkey. Remember this, however, if
you ever say a word to anyone about Charles Hawermann's affairs, I'll
twist your neck while you're alive. You old humbugging sugar-prince,

Hawermann found the mayor at home, and told him of his discovery; he
folded the waxcloth by the tear, and the mayor became more and more
interested every moment. At last he said: "True, true! I had the
pocket-book in my hand once also, when I wrote out the pass for the
messenger, and the examination I had to make soon afterwards impressed
the whole circumstance more clearly on my memory. If I were required to
bear witness as to this pocket-book I should be obliged to confess that
it is either the same that the labourer had, or else it is exactly like
it. But you see, Mr. Hawermann, the evidence is very slight. Krüger
certainly could have had nothing to do with the affair; he is one of
the most respectable citizens in our town, and it is impossible that he
could have had a hand in any roguery."--"But, I'm told that he has
tenants in the house at the back of his yard."--"That's true! H'm! Wait
a moment, who is it that lives there? We'll soon find out." He rang
the bell, and a parlour maid came in: "Sophie," he asked, "who lives in
the small house in Krüger the butcher's yard?"--"Oh, Sir, that's
where widow Kählert and Schmidt, the weaver, are living," answered
Sophie.--"Schmidt? Schmidt? Is that the same weaver Schmidt who is
divorced from his wife?"--"Yes, Sir, and it is said that he's going to
marry widow Kählert."--"Oh, ah! People say that, do they? Well, you can
go now, Sophie."--When she had left the room the mayor began to walk up
and down in deep thought; at last he stopped in front of Hawermann, and
said: "It is certainly a very strange concatenation of circumstances;
this weaver Schmidt was the husband of the woman I had up before me for
examination about this very thing. You remember the woman who said she
had found the Danish Double Louis d'or which she was suspected of
having stolen."--Hawermann made no reply; fear and hope were contending
for mastery in his breast.--The mayor rang the bell once more and
Sophie came back: "Sophie," he said, "go and ask Krüger, the butcher,
if he will be so good as to come and speak to me here in about a
quarter of an hour."--Sophie went, and then the mayor turned to the old
bailiff, and said: "Don't forget, Mr. Hawermann, that we have very
little evidence to go upon as yet; but it is quite possible that by
following this clue we may discover something that may lead to the
truth, it is only fair to warn you, however, that I hav'n't much hope.
Even though we don't arrive at any absolute certainty, it doesn't much
matter, for no sensible man can suspect you. I have been very sorry to
see how much you have taken the baseless suspicion against you to
heart. But now I must ask you to go away, the people look upon you as
being personally interested in this case. Say nothing about what you
know, and try to persuade Kurz and Bräsig to be silent also. Yes--let
me see--send Mr. Bräsig to me at nine o'clock to-morrow morning."

Hawermann went away, and Krüger arrived almost immediately afterwards.
"Well, Mr. Krüger," said the mayor, "I have sent for you to ask you
some questions. Widow Kählert and Schmidt the weaver are living in the
small house in your yard, are they not?"--"Yes, Mr. Mayor."--"I hear
that Schmidt is going to marry Mrs. Kählert? Does the woman know that
there are legal hindrances to Schmidt's marrying again?"--"Well, Sir,
as to your last question, I don't know; I never trouble my head about
such people; but you know that whenever there's the prospect of a
wedding women folk are just like bees, they bring so much news into the
house. Don't take it ill of me, Mr. Mayor, my wife isn't a whit better
in that respect than her neighbours, and she told me the other day that
the matter was now settled so far, that Mrs. Kählert was determined to
marry the weaver, who hadn't yet consented to do as she wished. Widow
Kählert had said to Mrs. Borchert that as she had cooked and washed for
Schmidt for a full year, it was high time for him to propose to her,
and she was sure that he would have done so long before, if it hadn't
been for his divorced wife, who came in and out of the house, and tried
to persuade the weaver to marry her again. If the woman ever came back,
Mrs. Kählert had added, she would give her a beating and would then
leave Schmidt to cook and wash for himself as best he could."--"What a
foolish woman the widow must be," interrupted the mayor, "to want to
marry that man. She has money of her own on which she can live, while
he has nothing but his loom. That all came out at the time of the
divorce you know."--"Yes, I daresay that was the case then. But you
see, sir, I don't trouble my head about such things. If my tenant pays
his rent punctually that's all I require of him, and Schmidt has always
done so hitherto to the very day. A year ago, I think it was, he rented
another small room from me, that adjoined his own, and my wife, who
went into it one day with Mrs. Kählert, told me that it was beautifully
furnished with a sofa and chairs and pictures on the wall."--"Then I
suppose that he has a great deal of work, and gets well paid for it?"
asked the mayor. "Oh, sir, he's a weaver you know! Weaving's a horrid
trade for telling tales, the whole neighbourhood hears when the loom's
silent, and I can bear witness that I often don't hear its music for
many days together. No, no, he must have money of his own."--"I suppose
that he lives on the fat of the land?"--"That he does! He has meat for
dinner every day, and I say to my wife that dame Kählert wants to marry
him because of his good beef and mutton."--"Now, Mr. Krüger, tell me
frankly--I ask you this in confidence--do you consider Schmidt to be an
honest man?"--"Yes, sir, I'm sure he is. I'm a good judge of such
things. I've had tenants who would sometimes be seen standing in my
yard with a splinter in their hands, but when once they were safe in
their own kitchen it turned out to be a good lump of my fire wood, or
perhaps when they were in the privacy of their own houses they would
pull out of their pockets a pound of my beef, or some apples from my
apple-tree. But he isn't one of that sort, I assure you; not a bit of
him!" The mayor was a kindhearted man, and an honourable man, but on
this occasion it must be confessed that he was sorry to hear the good
character given to the weaver, he would much rather have heard that
every one looked upon Schmidt as a rogue. It is difficult to explain
why such a thing should be, but in truth there is many a dark spot in
human nature, and a dark spot such as this, showing itself in an
unscrupulous judge has doomed many an innocent man to unjust
punishment. "Let him that judgeth take heed that he judge uprightly!
God is thy Lord and thou art His servant!" That is a fine old saying,
and I well remember how often my father used to repeat it to me when I
was quite a little boy; but the pitiful weakness of human nature does
not always attain to that, to say nothing of open wickedness which
seeks its own advantage.

After the butcher had gone, the mayor paced the room considering how he
could best discover the way in which the pocket-book had got into
Krüger's yard. He had two weighty reasons for desiring that the matter
should be completely cleared up; one of these was his deep compassion
for Hawermann, and the other was the firm conviction that the bit of
wax cloth that had been discovered that day was the self same piece
that had been wrapped round the roll of notes. Still he could find no
clue to the mystery; the only thing he had found out was that the
weaver's divorced wife kept up an acquaintance with her former husband.

Meanwhile Hawermann was also walking up and down in his room hastily
and restlessly. What prevented him telling his daughter and Mrs.
Behrens all his hopes and expectations? It was because he feared to
make them hope lest they should afterwards be disappointed. His own
anxiety was enough for him to bear. Bräsig sat still in an arm-chair,
and turned his head with every change of movement made by his friend.
He watched Hawermann with much the same intensity as Bolster had
watched young Joseph when he had put on his cap in the house.
"Charles," he said at last, "I am very glad of this for your sake.
You've grown quite active again and I'm sure that that activity will do
you good. But you ought to engage a lawyer. I advise you to choose Mr.
Rein, he's a clever fellow, and knows how to turn and twist about in
spite of his height. You'll never be able to manage the affair alone
Charles; but he'll help you, and if you like I'll bring the matter
before the Reform club, and then your fellow-citizens will be able to
help you to our rights."--"For heaven's sake, Bräsig, do nothing of the
kind! How can you think of publishing such thing? I am only afraid lest
Kurz should speak of it."--"Kurz? No, Charles, don't trouble your head
about him, he'll not talk about it to-day at least, for I've been to
see him and have lectured him until he can neither hear nor see,
and to-morrow he's in for a sore throat, and so won't be able to
speak."--"What do you mean, Bräsig? Kurz in for a sore throat?" cried
Hawermann laughing in spite of his anxiety. "What are you talking
about?"--"Don't laugh, Charles. You must know that his riding horse has
inflorenza, and the vet has ordered that the old beast was to be
separated from the others for fear of infecting them. Kurz is amusing
himself just now by purring over the sick horse in his wadded dressing
gown and then going to see how the other horses are getting on. So he's
certain to infect the whole stable, for nothing carries infection so
well as cotton wool--indeed wadding is looked upon as the best known
absorbant of infection--you'll see that he'll catch the disease himself
and will have a sore throat to-morrow. The Glanders is infectious, so
why not inflorenza?"

Hawermann spent a very restless night; but though he had not slept he
felt strong and capable of exertion next morning, for a ray of hope had
pierced through the night of his sorrow and had gilded the future with
its brightness. He could not remain in the house; the four walls seemed
to impede his breathing; he must have more room for his restlessness to
expend itself, and long before Bräsig went to the town hall at nine
o'clock in pursuance of the orders he had received from the mayor,
Hawermann was walking along the quiet path-way through the green spring
fields. And what a beautiful spring it was! It seemed as though the
heavens were saying to the earth: "Hope on!" and as though the earth
repeated the message to man: "Hope on!" The old bailiff hearing the
good tidings told him by the fresh green leaves and the joyous songs of
the birds, cried aloud: "Hope on!"

The Heavens did not always keep their word to the earth, for the last
year had been a year of scarcity; nor did the earth always keep her
promise to man, for the last year had been one of misery; would she be
as good as her word to the old man now? He could not tell; but he put
faith in the message he had received. He walked on and on, right
through Gürlitz. He was now going along the very footpath down which he
and Frank had walked together on that Palm Sunday when his daughter was
confirmed. He knew that it was on that day that Frank's heart had first
wakened to thoughts of love--the young man had written to him lately,
he often wrote to him--and now a bitter feeling rose in his heart that
so much innocent happiness should have been destroyed by the ignorance
and unrighteousness of others. He turned into another path to the right
that led to Rexow, that he might not be obliged to go through the
Pümpelhagen garden. He saw a girl coming towards him with a child in
her arms, who, when she came close to him, stopped short, and
exclaimed: "Good gracious, Mr. Hawermann, is it really you. I hav'n't
seen you for such a long time."--"How d'ye do, Sophia," said Hawermann,
looking at the child, "how are you getting on?"--"Oh, Sir, very badly.
Christian Däsel did something that angered the squire. You see he was
determined to marry me whether Mr. von Rambow allowed it or not, and so
he was turned away and I was to have gone too, but my mistress wouldn't
part with me. Well do you want to get down? Run then," she said to the
child who was kicking and struggling to get out of her arms. "I have
always to take the little one out at this hour," Sophia went on,
"because my mistress is busy with the housekeeping, and the child used
to get restless." Hawermann watched the little girl. She was plucking
flowers by the side of the path, at last she came up to him, and said:
"There--man," at the same time giving him a daisy. And immediately he
remembered that other daisy which a child--his own child--had given him
long years ago. He took the little girl in his arms and kissed her, and
she stroked his white hair murmuring "ah--ah." Then he put her down
again, and said as he turned to go: "You'd better go straight home,
Sophie Degel, it's going to rain." As he walked on a spring shower
began to fall in slow drops upon the earth, and his heart rejoiced in
it, as much as the tender shoots of grass. What had become of his
feeling of hatred?

When Hawermann reached his sister's house, Mrs. Nüssler hastened to
meet him as fast as her stoutness would allow: "Charles," she
exclaimed. "Bless me, Charles! Here you are at last! How much more
cheerful you look, and so well too! What has happened, brother Charles?
Anything good?"--"Yes, dear, yes, but I'll tell you afterwards. Where's
Joseph?"--"Joseph? Good gracious, that's a difficult question to
answer. No one knows where he is. Now-a-days he comes and goes like a
bird upon a branch. Ever since it was settled that Rudolph and Mina are
to be married next week, on Friday--of course you'll come to the
wedding?--he has had no rest either day or night. He sometimes goes out
to see how the farm's getting on, sometimes he goes to find out that
the spring sowing's all right, or perhaps he walks about the fields
and comes in late in the evening quite worn out. It really seems as if
he were trying to get through all the work in the last eight days
before the marriage, that he had neglected to do during the whole
five and twenty years in which he has idled away his time."--"Ah,
well, leave him alone, there's no harm in that."--"That's just what I
say, but Rudolph is angry with him for poking his nose into
everything."--"Things will soon right themselves, never fear. Are all
your people quiet?"--"Oh yes, and if Joseph hadn't wanted to make a
speech about the geese, we should hardly have known that there was such
a thing as disaffection in the neighbourhood, but from what I hear
matters look badly at Gürlitz and Pümpelhagen."--"At Pümpelhagen
too?"--"Yes, indeed. Neither of them confesses it; he doesn't say so,
nor does she; but everyone knows that there may be an explosion there
any day. He is terribly in debt, and the labourers want their wages,
which he has allowed to mount up I suppose. The wisest thing he could
do would be to get you to go back to him as bailiff."--"Pshaw! That
last is nonsense."--"I said so too. I told Mrs. von Rambow that you
could never go back there."--"What?" asked Hawermann quickly, "have you
been to see her lately?"--"Yes, didn't Bräsig tell you that we intended
to go?"--"He said that you spoke of going, but I didn't know that you
had really gone."--"You see, Charles, this was the way of it.
Triddelfitz brought all kinds of firearms here, which he told us he was
going to use against the people, so I said to Joseph that we ought to
go and see Mr. and Mrs. von Rambow. They had rather held aloof from us
before, and so we needn't have gone; but, Charles, these are hard
times. I wouldn't give much for neighbours who won't do each other a
kindness in such times as these. Well we drove over to Pümpelhagen.
Joseph saw the squire, and what passed between them will of course
never be known to any human being.--'Joseph,' I asked, 'what did he say
to you?'--'Nothing,' he answered.--'What did you say to each other?' I
asked again.--'What was the good of talking much?' he said.--'What was
the last thing he said to you?' I asked.--'He said good-bye,' he
answered, 'but, mother,' he added, 'I'll never go there again. One
either grows mad or foolish there.'"--"And how did she receive you?"
asked Hawermann.--"Ah me, Charles, I believe that if she had shown what
she felt, she would have thrown her arms round my neck, and would have
wept tears of blood. She made me go into her morning-room and looked so
kind and friendly, that I told her, that as her neighbour I felt drawn
to come and see her, and ask if I could be of any use to her in the
present state of affairs. She looked up in my face quietly and
trustfully, and asked: 'What is your brother doing just now?' When I
told her as, thank God, I could, that you were getting on pretty well,
she asked after Louisa, and as I could also give a good account of her,
I did so, and she looked pleased. She then told me how she managed her
household, but she didn't dwell upon it as a woman in my position would
have done; still I could see that she understood how to practise
economy. Poor thing, necessity may have taught that. Then, Charles, I
called up all my courage, rose and taking her hand in both of mine,
said: She must not repulse me; no one could tell what might happen in
these days; she might be in need of help some time or other--of course
she had many friends, but they might be too far away to be appealed
to--and I only wanted to assure her, that if ever she wanted me, I was
ready to go to her, and that as I was her neighbour, I was, as Mrs.
Behrens would say, 'the nearest' to her, I would do anything I could
for her. Well, Charles, her eyes filled with tears. She turned her face
from me to wipe them away, and when she looked at me again it was with
an affectionate smile, and taking my hand she said she would thank me
in the best way she knew. She then took me into another room, and
lifting her little child in her arms, she held it towards me, telling
it to give me a kiss. What a little darling it is, to be sure!"--"Yes,"
said Hawermann, "I saw the child this morning. But didn't she complain
to you of anything?"--"No, Charles, not a word. She said nothing about
him, or her position, and when we came home we were no wiser than when
we set out; at least, I can only speak for myself, for Joseph told me
nothing of what had passed between him and Mr. von Rambow, if indeed
they _did_ say anything to each other."--"Well, that doesn't matter,
dear. All the world knows that Mr. von Rambow is in great want of
money: Pomuchelskopp sent him notice to pay up the mortgage he holds on
the estate on S. Anthony's day, and as the squire failed to do so, he
has now entered into arrangements for going to law with him. Moses
wants his money at midsummer, and he won't get it either, for it would
be impossible for Mr. von Rambow to raise the money by that time, the
country is in such a state. I fear the place will have to be sold to
pay the creditors and that Pomuchelskopp will buy it. But if the times
should change for the better, and the estate were only well managed, it
might be made to weather the storm in spite of all that's come and
gone. You will do what you can to help Mrs. von Rambow, and so will I.
If the squire will only consent to have the farming matters put into
good hands, I'll give him all my savings willingly. Still that's not
enough. You might do something too, and I would speak seriously to
Moses. Matters will indeed have come to a pretty pass if honest men
can't beat a rogue in the long run. Pomuchelskopp thinks he has muddied
the water sufficiently to enable him to land his fish."--"Ah, Charles,
if he'd only take to farming properly and get you to go back there as
bailiff, then ....."--"No, dear," said Hawermann decidedly, "I'll never
go back there. But that doesn't matter. Thank God there's no lack of
good farmers in the country, and he can easily get another bailiff.
It's only possible to help him on the express condition that he puts
the entire management of his property into the hands of a responsible
person."--"That's all very well. We have now to provide Mina's outfit.
Kurz might do more than he does for his only son, but he always croaks
about poverty--and we want to settle matters out and out with Rudolph.
Besides that we have to make arrangements for our own old age, and our
money is mostly laid out in mortgages."--"Moses will help you to
arrange that. Look here, Sis, you told the poor lady that you would
help her, and I know that you really meant what you said--the time has
come for you to keep your promise."--"Yes, Charles, but Joseph--what
will Joseph say?"--"Oh, Joseph has obeyed you for five and twenty
years, and he won't refuse to do your bidding now."--"You're right,
Charles, he _must_ do this.--I've always acted for the best, and now
he's beginning to set himself up against me. He makes so many
difficulties about everything that I can hardly manage him," and as she
spoke, Mrs. Nüssler sprang from her chair, and struck the table
vehemently with her clenched hand in front of her brother as if he were
Joseph.--"You've succeeded in doing many a kind good action in the
years that are past, Dorothea, and I'm sure that you won't fail now.
God keep you, dear, and now, good-bye." He then kissed his sister and
went away.

How he enjoyed that walk! The anxiety that had oppressed him the day
before and early that morning had quite left him now, and his heart was
full of hope. The blue sky and the green earth seemed to participate in
the rest and peace that had taken up their abode in his soul, and when
he reached home he smiled so cheerfully in answer to his daughter's
scolding, and to Mrs. Behrens loudly expressed astonishment at his not
having come in to dinner, that Zachariah Bräsig stared at him blankly,
and thought: "Charles must have discovered some new piece of evidence,"
for he had learnt a good deal that was new to him of the nature of
evidence that morning. So he began to make frightful grimaces at his
friend, which Hawermann at last interpreted as signs that he should go
upstairs and have a talk with him.

When they were safely in Hawermann's room, the old bailiff exclaimed
excitedly: "Is there anything new Bräsig? Have they found out anything
more?"--"Charles," said Bräsig, sticking a long pipe in his mouth and
beginning to put on a pair of leggings, which he perhaps found rather
uncomfortable, for he never wore them except on this one occasion: "do
you see nothing different from usual in my appearance?"--"Yes,"
answered Hawermann, "these new leggings, and also that you seem to be
pleased about something or other."--"Oh that's nothing. Higher up if
you please!"--"Nay, then I can't tell."--"Charles," said Bräsig,
standing upright before his friend, "as sure as you see me here, I've
been appointed assessor in the criminal court, and shall have four
pence an hour whenever I have to appear in my place there."--"Ah never
mind that just now; tell me how my case is getting on." Bräsig looked
his friend full in the face, winked at him solemnly and said: "I
mustn't tell you, Charles, and I won't. His worship the mayor expressly
forbad me to speak of what I knew to anyone in our town, or even to
you, for he says it would only trouble you needlessly. We must have
better evidence, he told me, before we can make out a case. The
greatest secrecy is necessary the mayor says, in order to unravel this
cursed mystery, and if the whole town were to know what we were about,
the band of plotters would be warned to hide any remaining traces of
their villainy. This much I can tell you; they've been telling no end
of lies, and they're sure to go on lying, till they get themselves into
such a fix, that they can't get out of it again."

There was a knock at the door. A postman came in and gave Hawermann
a letter; "from Paris," he said as he went away. "Bless me, Charles,
what grand acquaintances you've got," said Bräsig, "from Paris,
indeed!"--"It's from Frank," answered Hawermann opening the letter
hastily, and his hand trembled as he did so. He often heard from Frank,
and yet a vague uneasiness always came over him when he got the
letters, for he never could make up his mind whether he should tell
Louisa about them. He read. The letter was full of the old friendliness
and affection. Every word recalled the remembrance of earlier days, but
there was not a single allusion to his love for Louisa. Frank concluded
by saying that he intended to remain in Paris until midsummer, when he
would go home. Hawermann told Bräsig the last bit of news, and then put
the letter in his pocket. Meanwhile Bräsig had been walking up and down
the room thoughtfully, and Hawermann might have heard what he was
muttering to himself: "Marvellous! It's really like a sign of God's
favour! The mayor can have nothing to say against this plan. Paris has
nothing to do with the evidence for or against, and this is quite a
private matter--Charles," he at last asked aloud, going up to
Hawermann, and looking at him as he had that morning seen the mayor
look at the weaver: "Tell me the truth, and the whole truth. Does your
young Mr. von Rambow, I mean your old pupil, know that I know what you
and Mrs. Behrens know of what passed between him and Louisa, and which
no one is to know?"--"I can't tell, Bräsig ...."--"All right, Charles,
I see that I hav'n't expressed myself clearly. I mean, does he think
like you and Mrs. Behrens that I wish him success in his love for
Louisa. That's what I wanted to say, so tell me your opinion."--"Yes,
Bräsig, he knows that you know about it, and that you wish him well;
but what's the good of talking of it?"--"All right, Charles, I
understand. But I must go now; I have invited David Berger, his
trumpetting angels and all the male members of the choir to drink punch
with me at Grammelin's this evening, and so I must have everything
ready. Good-bye," and then he went away, but returned immediately to
say: "Charles, will you tell Mrs. Behrens that I shan't come home to
supper this evening. If I were to tell her about the punch she would
make some spiritual remarks about the wickedness of my conduct. Don't
be alarmed if I am rather late, I've got a latch key." A few minutes
afterwards he once more came back to say: "What can be done, Charles,
shall be done."--"I believe you," said Hawermann, for he thought of the
punch, "you'll do your best." Bräsig nodded to him as much as to say
that he might trust to him, and then went away.

Hawermann sat still, and taking his letter out of his pocket read it
again. Who can blame him if he allowed all kinds of hopeful fancies to
blossom in his heart? The warm affection that showed itself in every
line of Frank's letter cheered him in the same way as the bright spring
weather had done that morning, and sounded as pleasant to his ear as
the happy songs the birds had sung to him during his walk. Was his hope
to be again destroyed? Time would show! Ah Time, and Hope! They are
often as much opposed to each other as light and darkness. What man,
who after watching through a long night, ventures to admit a ray of
hope into his trembling heart, and sees the first glimmer of light
showing itself on the dark sky, does not long for time to pass quickly
and let the sun shine out in all its glory.

                               CHAPTER X.

Next morning when Zachariah Bräsig got up, he put both hands up to his
head, and said: "You may be glad, Charles, that my headache isn't worse
than it is, for otherwise who could act as assessor to-day? If I had
allowed Grammelin to make the punch after his confounded receipt I
should have had neither more nor less than a frightful buzzing in my
head. As it was, I made the punch myself."--"I suppose," said
Hawermann, "that you never missed your turn."--"Well certainly the
younger ones didn't. I kept rather back. I sat beside David Berger,
and--oh Charles--what that fellow can get through! I suppose it's
because of his business, but he drank one glass after another without a
pause! It was only quite at the end that he grew what is called
sentimental, and, seizing my arm, said with tears in his eyes, that his
earnings were so small in these times of political agitation, that both
I and Mr. Süssmann--Kurz's shopman--would be sorry for him if we knew
it. Mr. Süssmann then proposed that a fraternity ball should be got up
for David Berger's benefit, that's to say, a political ball at which
all classes; nobles, squires, tenant-farmers, and towns-folk should
meet, shake hands and dance together, indeed they might even kiss each
other if they liked for all that I care. The motion was at once
carried, and next Sunday week is the day chosen for the ball. Mr.
Süssmann has prepared a list, and I have secured tickets for you and
me, Mrs. Behrens and Louisa."--"Bräsig! What could you have been
thinking of? How can Mrs. Behrens or Louisa go to a ball, or I either,
for that matter."--"You must go. It's for a noble purpose."--"You won't
be able to go either Bräsig, for Mina is to be married on Friday week,
and on the following Sunday, she's to go to church in state. What would
my sister say if you were not to be at Rexow because of a stupid
ball?"--"Of course that's a good reason for changing my mind about the
ball, so good-bye for the present, Charles, I must go and see Mr.
Süssmann at once about this alteration, and then I have to be at the
town hall--you understand? Four pence an hour."

On leaving home Bräsig went straight to Kurz's shop, but Mr. Süssmann
was not there. Kurz was fussing about, opening drawers and shuting
them again with a bang. "Good morning, Kurz, where's your young
gentleman?"--"I have no young gentleman. I'm master here."--"Take
care, Kurz, remember that we are living in a democratic age, and
that ...."--"What do you mean? Take care, do you say? I think very
little of democracy when it makes my shopman lie in bed till this hour
of the morning and spend the night in drinking punch. Old people should
be ashamed ...."--"Stop, Kurz, don't begin to make me flattering
speeches again like those of last Sunday, I won't allow it because of
my position in the law courts. Now good-bye, Kurz, I'm sorry for you.
You've got inflorenza and ought to go to bed, you have pains in all
your bones, and if you were to feel your glands you would find that you
were in for a regular sore throat." He then went away, leaving Kurz in
a worse humour than that in which he had found him. The latter knocked
about the things in the shop, abusing everything and everybody, till at
last when the shopman appeared, Mrs. Kurz came to the rescue, and
carrying off her worthy husband made him go to bed, and so kept him
quiet for the time being.

After this little scene Bräsig went to the town-hall, where he earned
one and eight pence without any trouble to himself, for the sitting of
the justices lasted five hours. When he came home dinner was over, and
so he had to content himself with something that had been kept hot for
him, and Mrs. Behrens grumbled about irregular hours, saying that
Bräsig had not come in until two o'clock that morning, and now he
wanted to have dinner at two in the afternoon. The old bailiff listened
to her scolding with a broad self-satisfied grin on his face, as much
as to say: if you only knew what hard work I've been doing, and how
useful I've been, you would pat me and stroke me, kiss me and pet me as
you've never done before. When he had finished dinner, he rose and said
solemnly: "It'll all come to light, Mrs. Behrens, as his worship, the
mayor, would say," and winking at Hawermann, he continued: "Bonus! as
Mr. Rein says." Then going to Louisa, he took her in his arms and
kissed her, saying: "Louie, dear, will you give me a sheet of your best
writing paper? I want to send a small--piece of evidence let me call
it--so that it may carry well, it has a long way to go." As he left the
room with the sheet of paper he turned round again, and said: "As I
told you before, Charles, what can be done shall be done." He came back
once more to say: "I shall be at home in good time for supper, Mrs.

He went to the post-office. The post-master was at home, but he was
always at home. He had allowed himself to be confined in a regular
bird-cage of a room, which he dignified by the name of an office, for
the salary of twenty two pounds ten a year. When he was not occupied
with any postal business, he amused himself by whistling and singing
like a canary-bird. He was thus employed when Bräsig came in, and said:
"Good morning, post-master. You are a man of honour, so I do not
hesitate to speak to you about an affair of great delicacy. You needn't
be told what it is exactly, for it is a secret, and you must promise
not to breathe a word of what I am at liberty to tell you. I am going
to write to Paris."--"To Paris? Confound you, what have you got to do
writing to Paris?"--"To Paris," repeated Bräsig, drawing himself
up.--"What the devil's the matter now! One bailiff gets a letter from
Paris, and another wants to send one there. Well, I'll look and see how
much the postage will cost." He looked it up in his book, and said at
last: "I can't find it here. But it'll cost a pretty penny, it can't be
less than sixteen pence."--"That doesn't matter. I earned one and eight
pence this morning at the town-hall."--"Who are you going to write
to?"--"To young Mr. Frank von Rambow."--"Do you know his address, the
place where he lives?"--"Why, Paris!"--"But Paris is a large place. You
must know the name of the street and the number of his house."--"God
bless my soul!" cried Bräsig. "What a fuss to make about such a small
matter! I don't know either."--"Can't you ask Hawermann?"--"But you see
that's impossible. I don't want him to know anything about it."--"Then
the only thing I can think of, is to send the letter to Dr. Ürtlingen
at the Mecklenburg Embassy, perhaps he may find out where he
lives."--"Of course he _must_," said Bräsig, "for the letter is one of
great importance, and he's paid for doing such things. But I was going
to ask, if I might write here in your house, as I don't want Hawermann
to know anything about the letter?"--"Oh, certainly," replied the
post-master, "come in here that my wife mayn't see you, for though
properly speaking this is only a waiting room, she won't allow anyone
under the rank of a count to enter it. I'm afraid that I must lock you
in."--Bräsig consented, so there he sat from three in the afternoon
till dusk of evening writing his letter. In the office in front of him
was the post-master whistling merrily. The post-mistress tried to get
into her best parlour, but all in vain did she rattle at the door, her
husband had the key in his pocket, and went on whistling and singing as
if he had nothing to do with it. Bräsig wrote and wrote. At last the
letter was finished. He read it over and we may now see what he had
written, it was as follows:

"Honoured Sir,

"A very strange thing has happened here. Kurz, the shopkeeper had the
manure he bought for his own field carted to, and spread over that of
Wredow, the baker, who is his rival in respect to the town jail.
Hawermann found a bit of black waxcloth with the Rambow arms upon it
amongst the manure, and this has been a great comfort to him, because
of the suspicion resting on him of having taken part in the theft of
the Louis d'ors in the year '45, especially as the mayor says that it
is a piece of evidence. The mayor has just appointed me assessor, in
which post I can make a little money, but at great inconvenience to
myself, for I have always been accustomed to lead a very active life as
farm-bailiff, and indeed I ought still to take a great deal of exercise
because of my gout. I havn't to work hard, but sitting still so long
makes me horribly sleepy. However there's one good thing in it, and
that is, that I get to know what the mayor won't let me tell Hawermann.
But as you are in Paris, and not in Rahnstädt, I can tell you as a
friend, all that is going on. The thing is this. The weaver told a lie
when he said he had never had any communication with his divorced wife,
and that, the mayor says, is another piece of evidence. Indeed we have
so many of these links in the chain of evidence, that it's enough to
make even a dog howl to think that more can't be made out of them. The
central point of the story is widow Kählert. Now widow Kählert is
determined to marry the weaver, and has discovered that he won't have
her, because his divorced wife has made up her mind to marry him again.
This discovery has given rise to an evil feeling in dame Kählert's
breast, which may be characterised as jealousy, and so she has let fall
some new bits of evidence that the mayor tells me are both important
and relevant, or as I should say, to the point. The mayor says,
however, that one has to be very cautious about believing the woman,
for she is so enraged that she wouldn't stick at a lie if she thought
it would serve her cause. I don't know about the lies, but I'm sure
that she told the truth when she said that the weaver showed her a
number of Danish double Louis d'ors which he has in his possession, for
Krüger, the butcher, has twice borne witness to his having them. And
this morning while the weaver was giving us new evidence of his powers
lying, Höppner and some other detectives were busy searching his house,
where they found _nine_ Danish double Louis d'ors in the secret drawer
of his desk. He tried to deny all knowledge of them at first, but did
not succeed in convincing any one. The former Mrs. Schmidt is also
arrested as a principal actor in this affair, for the police have found
in her possession a snuff box which belonged to the late Mr. Behrens,
and which had always been kept under a glass case as a sort of heir
loom. This theft has gained her free quarters in the jail. Dame Kählert
is there too, but merely for puncto cichuriarum,[3] for in her passion
she managed to insult all the members of the town-council including his
worship the mayor, and myself the assessor. They all tell lies till
they are black in the face, but what good does that do them? The mayor
says he is morally certain that these people committed the theft, and
that it will be proved that they did so some time or other. What a
triumph it will be for my friend Charles Hawermann, when he is
proved in his old age to be as innocent as an angel, and can go about
among the people in his white hair and white robes of innocence. They
will all be as much ashamed of themselves for ever having suspected
him, as a poodle is, when a can of water is poured over him. I
allude--respectfully of course--to Pomuchelskopp and the squire of
Pümpelhagen; by the way I must tell you that these two are no longer
friends, because Samuel has gone to law with the other; but I will say
no more about that, for I have already given Pomuchelskopp a bit of my
mind at our Reform-club, and your cousin of Pümpelhagen can't abide me.
Things are going badly with him just now, as besides what I have told
you, Moses has given him notice to pay up his mortgage at midsummer. He
has no money and no fodder, so how is he to live? He is very ignorant.
Remember, you must never let Hawermann know that I have written to you,
for it is a secret. I thought you would like to know who the real
rogues were, and that Charles Hawermann--God be thanked!--is not one of
them. He has grown much more cheerful since the beginning of these
discoveries, and can kick out now like a colt when its saddle is taken
off. I look upon this as a good sign for the future. The only news I
can give you of your old friends here is, that Mina and Rudolph are to
be united in marriage on the Friday of next week. Mrs. Nüssler, whom
you no doubt recollect as an extremely handsome young woman, is very
well indeed, but has perhaps grown a little fatter than she used to be.
Joseph also enjoys very good health, and is bringing up a new heir to
the throne in preparation for his retiring on a pension. Your old
fellow pupil, Triddelfitz, is now factotum at Pümpelhagen. Hawermann
declares that he will turn out well in the end, but I say that he is a
greyhound, for he went about shooting at the people, and has put Mrs.
Nüssler and me under the ban because we have put a stop to that little
amusement. We have got up a Reform-club at Rahnstädt. Young parson
Godfrey preaches against it, but Lina knows how to calm him down.
Rector Baldrian has carried the cause of the seamstresses and a man
called Plato, Platow or Patow through the Reform-club; but Kurz has
been turned out of it repeatedly; his four horses have all got
inflorenza; the first to take the illness was his old saddle horse, and
he himself will be the last, for he has begun to show symptoms of
having taken the disease. Old Mrs. Behrens is still the honoured head
of our house, and provides us with meat and drink and lodging, for
Hawermann and I live in her house and have our daily bread there. She,
as well as Hawermann, would beg to be remembered to you, but she can't
send you any message as she doesn't know that I am writing. We often
talk of you, for you are an ever present picture before our eyes. I
think that I have nothing more to tell you--oh, I forgot--Pomuchelskopp
has got himself elected member of the Reform-club; Schulz, the
carpenter, is a very good fellow, he stood by me bravely on that
occasion; Christian Däsel has been turned off by your cousin; and no
traces of Regel have as yet been found; but Louisa Hawermann is, thank
God, quite well.

"Hoping that my having written will neither trouble you nor cause you
any discomfort, I have the honour to take leave of you with the
greatest respect, and to give you my good wishes for your happiness as
an old friend. I am,

                       "Your very obedient

                                "Zachariah Bräsig,

                         "formerly bailiff, now Assessor."

"Rahnstädt. May 13th, 1848."

"P.S. I think it is as well to mention that I am writing this letter in
the post-mistress' sanctum, into which the post-master has locked me
for the express purpose, and he has promised to tell no one of my
letter. The reason for my keeping it such a secret is that I don't want
Hawermann or Mrs. Behrens or Louisa to know anything about it. Louisa
gave me this sheet of paper, and I think you will like to know that it
was from her I got it, for I remember the days of my own youth when I
had three sweethearts all at once. Louisa goes about her father, doing
little things for him with all love and humility, to everyone else she
is a costly pearl of humanity. When I hear from you that you would like
to have another letter from me, I will write from time to time and let
you know the latest news of these thievish wretches. If you happen to
be in our part of the world on Sunday week, I will give you an
invitation to our fraternity ball, all the seamstresses are to be asked
to it.

                                   "Z. B."

As soon as Bräsig had finished his labours, he knocked and battered at
the door, and when the postmaster unlocked it and let him out, great
drops of perspiration were standing on his forehead.--"Bless me!" cried
the post-master, "how ghastly you look! Work that one's unused to is
the hardest of all, isn't it?"--He then took the letter and put it in
an envelope which he addressed to Mr. von Rambow, and after that he
enclosed it in a second envelope addressed to the Mecklenburg Embassy
at Paris. Bräsig paid down his sixteen pence, which turned out to be
the exact price of the postage, so the letter might now go on its
journey at once in the mail cart which was waiting at the door. Whilst
he was putting up the letter the post-master sang: "A student of
Leipzig, &c. &c.", but when Bräsig was going away he changed his song
to: "A weighty despatch old Custine sendeth, to Paris quick his
messenger wendeth. The Saxons and Prussians are marching fast, to
bombard Mayence and I must at last, capitulate if help comes not, &c.
&c."--"You may capitulate as much as you like," said Bräsig, "it's
nothing to me; but mind you hold your tongue about what I told you,
remember your promise." Our old friend then went home, and besides the
happy feeling of having done a good action, he had the pleasant
consciousness of having surmounted a great difficulty with no little
skill, for he felt not a little triumphant that he had been able to
bring Louisa's name into the transaction.

Now when any one goes home after having accomplished a good deed of
this kind and desires to sun himself in the remembrance of it, he
thinks it very hard when instead of meeting with a kind reception, he
comes in for a perfect storm of reproaches and scolding. It was so with
Bräsig when he entered the parlour where Mrs. Behrens and the little
member were sitting. Louisa was not there. Mrs. Behrens was busy
lighting the lamp, but the matches would not strike, partly because
those Kurz sold were not of the best, and partly because Mrs.
Behrens--perhaps from a desire to be economical--was in the habit of
putting any broken or headless match back into the box, thus giving a
useless match twenty times the amount of enjoyment during its short
life that a good one could have. But although it may have been a very
pleasant life for the match, it generally succeeded in putting the
human being who was trying to strike it into a rage. "There you are at
last," cried Mrs. Behrens angrily as she endeavoured to strike a match.
"So you've really come home, have you?" trying a second. "You do
nothing but gad about the town," another match, "but you always take
care to go with your eyes shut"--two matches at once this time--"and
your ears too"--another match--"and still you think you know all that's
going on"--another match--"but when it comes to the point you know
nothing"--three matches at once. Bräsig always treated Mrs. Behrens
courteously and showed himself willing to do anything in her service,
so he now took the box from her, saying: "Allow me!" a match. "How do
you mean?"--a second match--"Have I offended you in any way?"--a
third--"Kurz may cover himself with these things without being in
danger of catching fire!"--two matches at once. "Things that ought to
catch with him, don't, and what oughtn't to catch, does,"--three
matches--"These beastly things must have got inflorenza too!" So saying
he flung the match box on the table and taking his own box of vesuvians
out of his pocket, lighted the lamp. "Bräsig," said Mrs. Behrens, as
she carefully replaced all the matches that had been tried in the
match-box, "I have a right to be annoyed with you. I am not curious,
but when anything happens that concerns Hawermann and Louisa, I
consider that as I am the nearest to them, I ought to be told. Why do
you leave it to our little Anna to tell me what you ought to have told
me long ago, for you knew all about it, I see in your face that you
did."--"Why, what do you mean?" asked Bräsig, pretending to look
unconscious; but Mrs. Behrens was too indignant to listen to him, for
she thought herself badly used, so she continued: "Now don't pretend,
it's of no use. I know that you know all about it, and that you've been
keeping me in the dark." Then she began to cross-question the old man,
and Anna helped her to the best of her ability. So the two women cast
their nets round Bräsig and never let him alone, until they had got all
he knew out of him, for keeping a secret was not one of his strong
points. At last he exclaimed in despair: "I know no more, I assure
you," but little roundabout Mrs. Behrens went up to him, and said: "I
know you Bräsig. I see it in your face. I see that you _do_ know
something more. Out with it! What is it?"--"Why, Mrs. Behrens, it's a
private matter altogether."--"That doesn't signify. Out with it!"
Bräsig sidled about on his chair, looked to the right and left for
help; but all in vain; he had to confess what he had done, so he said:
"I wrote to Paris to tell Mr. Frank von Rambow what is going on; but
Charles Hawermann must never know what I've done."--"You wrote to
Paris," cried Mrs. Behrens, putting her arms akimbo, "to young Mr. von
Rambow! And pray what did you write to him about? You've been writing
about Louisa, I see that you have! You've told him what _I_ should have
been afraid even to whisper to myself, that's what you've done," and
hastening to the bell, she rang violently. "Sophie," she said to the
servant, "run to the post-office and ask the post-master to be so
good as to give you the letter that Mr. Bräsig has just written to
Paris."--"Tooteritoo!" was that instant heard under the window, and the
mail cart dashed down the street, bearing Bräsig's letter straight to
Paris, and Mrs. Behrens, throwing herself back in the sofa corner,
ordered Sophie to return to the kitchen. I am sorry to say that as soon
as the maid had left the room, Mrs. Behrens began to murmur against
Providence for having allowed the Rahnstädt mail to start--for the
first time she had ever known it do so--at the right hour, on that day
of all others, thus insuring the safe arrival of Bräsig's nonsense in
Paris. Bräsig swore that he had conducted the affair with the greatest
delicacy, and that no possible harm could come of the letter. "Did you
write that she wished to be remembered to him?" asked Mrs. Behrens.
"No," answered Bräsig, "I only told him that she was well."--"Did you
say nothing more than that about her?"--"I only said that she had given
me the sheet of paper on which I had written, and that she was a costly
pearl of humanity."--"That she is," interrupted Mrs. Behrens. "And then
I finished the letter in a very friendly way by asking Mr. Frank to
come to our fraternity ball."--"That was very stupid of you," cried
Mrs. Behrens, "he'll think you mean to try and arrange a meeting
between him and Louisa."--"Mrs. Behrens," said Bräsig drawing himself
up, "your sentiments do you honour, but tell me, is it either stupid or
wicked to try to bring two people together who have only been separated
by the malice and evil-doing of others? I confess that such was my
intention, and that that was the reason I wrote the letter. Hawermann
couldn't do it, for he is Louisa's father and it would be unfitting for
him to stir in the matter. You couldn't do it because the good people
of Rahnstädt would call you all manner of pretty names if you did;
indeed they have done so already. But as for me, I don't care a pin if
they dub me letter carrier. I never trouble my head about such things.
I've just sent off a letter to Paris, and if he, to whom I sent it,
looks upon me as a man of honour and a true friend to Charles Hawermann
and Louisa, I don't care whether the Rahnstädters nickname me 'go
between' or not."--"Yes, Mrs. Behrens, yes," cried Anna throwing her
arms round the old lady's neck, "Mr. Bräsig is right. What does
Rahnstädt gossip matter? Who cares for the silly prejudices of the
world as long as one can make two people happy? Frank must come, and
Louisa must be happy," and then running up to Bräsig, she put her arms
round his neck and kissed him in order to show how she rejoiced in what
he had done, saying: "You're a dear old uncle Bräsig, that's what you
are." Bräsig returned her kiss, and answered: "And you're a dear little
musical girl, a sweet little lark. You must also be happy in the same
way as Louisa. But stop. We mustn't count our chickens before they're
hatched. We can't see our way clearly yet. The scoundrels hav'n't
confessed their crime, and I know Charles Hawermann well enough to be
sure that he must be quite free from suspicion before he will give his
consent. That's the reason I wanted to keep the whole affair secret
from him and Louisa for fear of making them uneasy. It's by God's
providence that Kurz is laid up with inflorenza, otherwise he would
never have held his tongue."--"Well, Bräsig," said Mrs. Behrens,
"Taking it all in all, I believe that you've done right."--"Yes,
hav'n't I, Mrs. Behrens, and wer'n't you only displeased with me
because you wished that you had done it yourself? I'm sure that that's
it, and so you shall have the honour of writing to Mr. Frank when
everything is known."

Three days after this conversation when Bräsig came home he met Mrs.
Behrens in the front hall. Her right hand was in a sling for she had
sprained her wrist the day before by falling on the stairs leading to
the cellar. He said with great seriousness and very impressively: "I'm
coming down stairs again immediately, Mrs. Behrens; I've got something
particular to say to you." After which, he went up to Hawermann. When
he entered his friend's room he neither said: "Good day," nor anything
else, but went in with a solemnity that was unusual to him, and walking
right through the sitting room, went into the bed-room beyond. He got a
glass of cold water and giving it to Hawermann, said: "There, Charles,
drink that."--"But, why?"--"Because it'll do you good. You'll find it
necessary afterwards, so it can do you no harm now."--"What's the
matter, Bräsig," cried Hawermann, pushing away the water. He saw that
something had happened which was of interest to him. "Well, Charles, if
you won't, you won't; but prepare yourself to hear what will surprise
you, prepare." He then began to walk up and down the room, and
Hawermann, who had turned very pale, watched him anxiously, for he felt
from Bräsig's manner that his fate was now to be decided. "Charles,"
asked Bräsig, standing before him, "are you ready?" Yes, he was quite
ready; he rose and said entreatingly: "Tell me at once, Bräsig; I can
go on bearing what I've borne so long already."--"I don't mean that,"
answered Bräsig, "The murder's out! The rogues have confessed, and
we've got the money, part of it at least." The old man had prepared
himself to hear the bad news he feared was coming bravely, the
destruction of the hope he had allowed to grow in his heart during the
last few days, but when a new day of joy and certainty broke for him
thus suddenly, his eyes were blinded by the unaccustomed brightness,
and he fell back in his chair: "Bräsig, Bräsig," he gasped, "my honest
name! My Louisa's happiness!" His friend offered him the glass of
water, and when he had drunk some of it, he felt better, and clasping
Bräsig, who was standing before him, round the knees, asked:
"Zachariah, you have not deceived me?"--"No, Charles, it's the truth,
and you'll find it in the indictment. The mayor says that the wretches
are to be sent to Dreibergen, but they'll have to go to Bützow for
their trial."--"Bräsig," said Hawermann, rising and going to his
bedroom, "leave me alone for a little, and say nothing to Louisa.--Oh,
please, tell her to come to me."--"Yes, Charles," said Bräsig going to
the window, and staring out as he wiped the tears from his eyes. When
he went out of the room, he could see Charles on his knees beside his

Louisa went upstairs to her father; Bräsig told her nothing more.

But in Mrs. Behrens' parlour the matter did not go off so
silently.--"Good gracious!" cried the good little woman, "there's
Louisa gone now, and Hawermann hasn't come down yet, and as for you,
Bräsig, you're never in time. The dinner will be spoilt and we have
such a nice bit of fish. What was it you wanted to say to me,
Bräsig?"--"Oh nothing," he answered, looking as mischievous as if the
rogues he had seen that morning had infected him with their evil ways,
"only Hawermann and Louisa aren't coming to dinner. So we'd better
begin."--"But, Bräsig, why ar'n't they coming?"--"Because of the
apron."--"The apron?"--"Yes, because it was wet."--"What apron was
wet?"--"Dame Kählert's. But we must begin, Mrs. Behrens, the fish will
be cold."--"Not a bit of it!" cried Mrs. Behrens, putting a couple of
plates over it, and then a table napkin, and lastly her own two round
little hands. She looked at Bräsig with such round frightened eyes that
he could not bear to tease her any longer, and said: "It has all come
out, Mrs. Behrens. They have confessed, and we've got back the greater
part of the money."--"And you never told me before," she exclaimed,
trotting off in search of Hawermann.--Bräsig stopped her, and bribed
her to sit down quietly on the sofa, by promising to tell her the whole
story from beginning to end. "Well, Mrs. Behrens," he said, "you must
know that widow Kählert's evidence was the most damaging of the lot,
and that it was all through her wicked jealousy that we got anything
out of her at all. Jealousy is a terribly common failing in women, and
it often leads to the most dreadful consequences. I'm not alluding to
you remember, only to Mrs. Kählert. You see the woman had made up her
mind to marry the weaver, and he wouldn't hear of it. She then came to
the correct conclusion, that the reason he wouldn't marry her after
all, was because of the influence of his divorced wife, and so she
watched everything her rival did, and that was how when her apron--I
mean widow Kählert's--was wet one day, she took it out to the hedge
in the garden to dry. While she was spreading it out to dry, she
saw from her hiding-place the weaver and his former wife holding a
_randy-voo_--you know what that is, Mrs. Behrens."--"Now, Bräsig,
I tell you that ...."--"Don't be afraid, Mrs. Behrens. They were
not sitting in a ditch, but were standing up behind a row of
scarlet-runners. The woman must have climbed over the hedge from the
other side in order to get into the garden without going through the
house. The widow was so malicious in her jealousy, that she called Mrs.
Krüger, the butcher's wife, to come and see what was going on. They
watched the two vanish behind the bean stalks, and then saw the woman
get over the hedge, and the weaver going up the garden path, whereupon
they both left their hiding-place. Mrs. Krüger swore to the truth of
this. The mayor told me that if we could only get widow Kählert to
begin to talk we'd soon get to know more. So I said: 'Female jealousy,
your worship.'--'But how can we make use of that?' he asked.--Then I
said: 'Mr. Mayor,' I said, 'I understand that sort of thing from my old
experience when I had three sweethearts at once. Jealousy is a
frightful thing, it knows neither mercy nor compassion. Let me see what
I can do.' When dame Kählert came in again I said quietly: 'Well, if
it's illegal for Schmidt to marry any other woman, there's nothing to
prevent his remarrying his former wife.'--The mayor understood my lead,
and answered: 'Yes, he may do that if he likes; the Consistory cannot
make any objection.' The widow immediately got into a state of
desperation, and shrieked out: If that was the case she would tell
everything. The weaver had got some money out in the garden, for
although he hadn't had a farthing in his desk that morning, yet when
she looked there afterwards she found a number of double Louis d'ors.
You see she had done for herself by this confession, for she had
acknowledged that she had a false key to open other people's desks. So
the mayor sent her off to prison. We had the three canaries safe in our
hands now. When the weaver was brought before us again he lied about
the way he got the money, and he lied in Mrs. Krüger's face by
declaring that his wife had not been with him in the garden. Mrs.
Krüger grew very angry and said, she had not only seen the creature
in the garden, but she had also seen her legs as she got over the
hedge--pardon me, Mrs. Behrens--that was just what she said. The weaver
was ordered ten stripes on the jacket, for--God be thanked--a man can
still be given a thrashing for lying in our courts of justice. The
mayor put heaven and hell plainly before him, and threatened him with
the disgrace of being turned out of the weavers' guild; but he wouldn't
be persuaded. No sooner had he felt the first three blows, than he fell
upon his knees, the sight of which horrified me so much that I had to
turn away. Then he said, he would confess all, and that it wasn't he
who had stolen the money, but his wife. The woman had taken the black
packet out of the labourer Regel's waistcoat pocket while he was drunk,
and had hidden it under some bushes in the wood, where she had left it
for two years, for she was always able to help herself to a few gold
pieces whenever she went to gather sticks, and these Louis d'ors she
had changed by the help of some old Jewish women--and one, as you know,
she tried to pass in Kurz's shop. About a year and a half ago she met
the weaver, and asked him if he would marry her again, now that she was
no longer poor. To prove that she was speaking the truth she made him a
present of a double Louis d'or, but he would not do as she asked him,
for he had meanwhile fallen in love with widow Kählert. With widow
Kählert, if you please. You might give _me_ widow Kählert on a salver
and _I_ should never think of falling in love with her. However he took
the Louis d'or, and that only made him wish for another, go she kept
him supplied at intervals, and thus succeeded in arousing a faint
liking for her on his part, and making him give up caring for the other
woman. Then she showed him her whole treasure, and they tried to hide
it in different places; at last this spring they shut it up in a box
and throwing the waxcloth into the butcher's yard, proceeded to bury
the money in the garden. We went there with the weaver, and found two
hundred and ten pounds worth of Louis d'ors amongst the potatoes. The
rest they had spent on furniture, &c."--"Good gracious!" cried Mrs.
Behrens, "both you and the mayor must be frightfully clever to have
found out so much!"--"Of course we are, Mrs. Behrens," said uncle
Bräsig calmly.--"But the woman?" asked the old lady, "she is the
nearest to him, you know."--"Yes, Mrs. Behrens, that was a sublime
moment when the mayor, with the small box and the money hidden away in
his every day hat, confronted the woman with her former husband and
called upon her to tell the truth. She lied again. The mayor then took
up his hat and said: 'It doesn't matter. We've got the money.' The
moment she caught sight of the box, she fell upon the weaver like a
fury, and in one second, before you could look round, had torn his face
with her nails, exclaiming: 'The wretch! I wanted to make him happy and
now he has made me miserable!' Ah, Mrs. Behrens, love is even madder
than jealousy. Mrs. Kählert would never have done that! But, Mrs.
Behrens, I think that our fish must be growing cold."--"Oh, Bräsig, how
can you think of such a thing just now! But I must go to Hawermann and
tell him ...."--"How glad you are that he's cleared at last," said
Bräsig, drawing Mrs. Behrens gently back to the sofa, "and so you
shall, but not quite yet. You see I think that Hawermann wants to have
a little quiet time to tell God all about it, and that Louisa is
helping him, which is quite right. It's enough for her to be there, for
as you know being a clergyman's wife, that our God is a jealous God,
and doesn't suffer people to meddle when he is speaking to a soul that
is filled with gratitude to Him. He draws back all such as would
interfere, and now leads the way with human compassion as He once did
with the Shining Light."--Little Mrs. Behrens gazed at him in
speechless amazement. At last she murmured: "Oh, Bräsig, I've
always looked upon you as a heathen, and now I see that you're a
Christian."--"I know nothing about that, Mrs. Behrens. I'm sure of
this, however, that what little I've been able to do in this matter has
been done as an assessor and not as a Christian. But, Mrs. Behrens, our
fish dinner is quite spoilt, and besides that, I'm not at all hungry. I
feel as if I hadn't enough room to breathe here, so good-bye for the
present, I'm going out to get a little fresh air."

                              CHAPTER XI.

Friday, the marriage day of Rudolph and Mina, had come, and the weather
was as beautiful as it ought always to be at Whitsuntide. Beside the
modest farm house at Rexow Schulz the carpenter had erected a peculiar
looking building by Joseph Nüssler's orders. From the outside, the
building was not much of an ornament to the place, for it was made of
rough planks nailed together, and was very like a common shed. But the
inside of this "work of art" was very different. The walls were hung
with sky-blue and yellow carpets, that is to say, one half of the room
was hung with blue and the other half with yellow, and the reason of
there being two colours was that there was not enough of the one to
hang so large a hall, to be got in all Rahnstädt, especially when it
was wanted in a hurry. There were six great beams put across to support
the roof, for Schulz refused to undertake the business unless he was
allowed to have the beams; indeed he declared that there ought by
rights to be nine supports, the span of the roof was so great. Now the
truth was that the building was much too large, and the expense of it
too great for such an occasion, but Joseph knew nothing of carpentry,
and Mrs. Nüssler was too busy seeing that there was sufficient for her
guests to eat and drink to be able to attend to anything else; while
Bräsig was far too grateful to Schulz for his support at the Reform
club to overlook and curtail his plans, so that Mr. Schulz had his own
way in everything, and put up the six beams without anyone saying him
nay. To each of these beams Bräsig fastened Chinese lanterns, after
which Christian, the coachman, bestrode the beams in buckskin breeches
every day for a week while festooning them with garlands of oak leaves;
he succeeded in making them look beautiful, but at the expense of his
breeches which the rough wood tore to tatters. Joseph seeing this took
the price of a new pair out of his red purse, for he wanted everyone to
be happy on his daughter Mina's wedding day, and he knew what would
please Christian. "Mother," he called to his wife, "Come and look. What
else can be done now?"--"It looks very nice," she said, "but, good
gracious, we must put candles in those lanterns." She was going away
when a voice addressed her from the clouds, that is to say, from the
clouds of oak leaves, and at the same moment a man's head showed itself
amongst the foliage, and the voice went on solemnly: "That's attended
to already, Mrs. Nüssler." When she looked up, she saw the jolly red
face of her old lover Bräsig peering down at her through the oak leaves
and tallow candles, for he had tied the candles round his neck to keep
his hands free for climbing. As soon as he had finished he came down,
and the three stood side by side looking at the effect of the
decorations. "Really Joseph," said Bräsig, "its just like one of the
fairy palaces in the thousand and one nights that I read about last
winter in one of the books I got from the lending library." And Joseph
answered: "Yes, Bräsig, it all depends upon circumstances. This is only
to last for one night though; I'll have it taken down the day after the
wedding."--"It's very strong," said the carpenter, "these six beams
will last for an age, and any number of fairies can come in here as
soon as they're baked and born."

Next day the fairies came, but not quite as Mr. Schulz had imagined
them. They all came dressed in crinolines, that is to say in petticoats
made of horse hair; not in the bells, barrels, and bee-hives, or clad
in the armour of steel hoops that they delight in at the present day.
Still they liked their petticoats to stick out even then, and old aunt
Klein from Rostock had run a good large hoop of strong oak into her
under petticoat, which had knocked against her sister's shins during
the whole drive, hurting her so much that she had to hop about on one
leg at the marriage. The fairies wore wreaths of real flowers in their
hair, not artificial flowers bought from a milliner. Now that was a
great pity, for at the end of the evening when the dancers were tired,
and their eyes began to close from weariness, and their hair was
somewhat dishevelled as if it had been blown about by the wind, the
poor tired flowers hung their heavy heads towards the earth seeming to
whisper faintly in each other's ears: "I wish it were over; nothing has
ever made me long for the sweet calm night so much as this burning
glare."--Now-a-days people manage better. However tired they may be,
the artificial flowers they wear in their hair are as fresh and neat as
at the beginning of the ball. These flowers might say: "Here we are as
good as ever. The wire and thread on which we rest have kept us firm
and strong, and when we have been put away in a box for a time, we
shall be quite ready to begin again."--Some people say: How much
prettier girls are now than they used to be! Ah well, as long as they
keep their youth, health, and innocence, they may dress in oaken or
steel hoops and artificial flowers for all that I care!

Joseph and Mrs. Nüssler had allowed Bräsig to invite anyone he liked,
so he had asked a number of nice and pretty girls in Rahnstädt and the
neighbourhood to the festivities at Rexow, and also some men. If one or
two of these last had rather bowed legs, he thought it did not matter,
for the shape of their legs was clearly seen, and so no one need be
deluded into dancing with them. Besides the Rahnstädters, Joseph had
made Rudolph invite all their mutual relations to the marriage, and
they were many in number. There were cousins scattered throughout all
Mecklenburg and western Pomerania. There were uncle Lewis, uncle
Christian, uncle John, and cousin Bill of whom Joseph said: "He's my
second cousin, and is a very amusing fellow, especially when eating and
drinking are going on."--Then there were aunt Dina, aunt Stina, aunt
Mina, aunt Lina, aunt Rina--and lastly there was aunt Sophie, who as
Joseph said: "had been a very choice specimen of womanhood in her
youth."--"That must have been a long time ago," remarked Bräsig.--One
grand carriage after another drove up to the door at Rexow, and all the
different members of the Nüssler clan crowded round Joseph, greeted
each other heartily, and asked after each other's well-doing during the
last fifteen or twenty years, for they had each lived almost entirely
at home for that time, and had heard nothing of their relations, as
those of them who could write, had never taken the trouble to do
so.--On seeing this Bräsig whispered sarcastically to Mrs. Nüssler:
"They're a very faithful and strong race, these Nüsslers! Genial and
hearty too, Joseph is of another stamp from the rest in being so very
thin and silent." He then went to the "temple of art" as the carpenter
called it, and found Schulz sitting in wrapt contemplation of his work
over a bottle of Bavarian beer: "Schulz," he said, "you've done your
part, and I've done mine, but you'll see that Joseph has spoilt the
whole evening with bringing such hosts of his foolish relations here,
by the end of the evening they'll take themselves off like a large dish
of curds."--"I've got nothing to do with it," said Mr. Schulz, "for I
myself am only one of the guests; but if they're what you describe,
then all I can say is: Out! out!"--Bräsig now went out into the garden
and wandered up and down like a tree frog; I do not use this simile
because he was wearing a green coat, for he had on his best brown coat
and a yellow waistcoat; no, the reason he was like a tree frog was that
he prophesied bad weather at night. Suddenly he looked over the garden
hedge and saw Joseph's own "phantom" coming towards the house, driven
by a labourer instead of by Christian. On closer inspection he
perceived two women seated in the carriage, and on closer inspection
still, he discovered that it was his own sister, Mrs. Korthals, widow
of a dairy farmer, and her only daughter. They lived in a distant
village in western Pomerania and were in very straitened
circumstances.--"God bless me!" he exclaimed. "My sister! And that must
be her daughter Lotta. This is her doing!" he cried as he rushed
through the kitchen and out into the hall where he met Mrs. Nüssler,
and said to her: "This is your doing, I know. Oh, you are ....."--At
this moment the two women came into the entrance hall in very very
simple dress, but they were both beautiful, _most_ beautiful! The elder
with tears of joy and gratitude rolling down her kind, honest old face;
and the younger with her bright unaffected manner, her large blue eyes
and golden hair. The latter came forward at once and asked: "Where is
my dear good uncle Zachariah?" she had only seen him once long ago when
she was a little child.--"Here, here!" he cried, drawing his sister and
niece forward to where Mrs. Nüssler was standing, and adding: "There
she is. Thank her for this."--When the two women had told Mrs. Nüssler
how happy she had made them by bringing them to Rexow, they looked
round for Bräsig, but he was gone. He had forced his way through the
heavy sack-like Nüsslers like a miller who had set his mill properly to
work, and then had taken refuge in the arbour in the garden, where he
employed himself in blowing such loud trumpet blasts on his nose, that
Schulz, the carpenter, came out of the temple of art to see whether it
was the musicians who were coming.

But they did not appear until later. First of all Kurz and the rector
came, each of them accompanied by his good old wife. When they had been
in the parlour for some little time and had been introduced to the
Nüssler family, uncle Lewis Nüssler, a thick-set, over-bearing sort of
man, went up to Kurz, and said: "You may count yourself fortunate in
having succeeded in arranging a marriage between your son and one of
this family, for we are rich and well-to-do. Look," pointing at uncle
Christian, who had just thrown himself on the sofa, "he's worth fifteen
thousand pounds."--"I've got nothing to do with this," remarked uncle
Christian. Kurz felt very cross, but he restrained all expression of
his feelings for the time. Uncle Lewis went on to ask: "Did you ever
see so many rich people in one room before?" and Kurz, who had now
quite lost his temper, answered: "No, nor so many fools either!" He
then turned away, and his wife, who had overheard what he had said came
up to him, and whispered: "Pray, take care, Kurz. You're beginning your
democratic ways here, and you'd much better go to bed." He would not do
that, however, and he was shunned by all the Nüsslers for the rest of
the evening.

At last parson Godfrey and Lina arrived. They were received with all
honour by their parents because they were to perform the marriage
ceremony. Don't let any one misunderstand me--Lina was not to take any
actual open part in the ceremony, that would never have done, but she
had interfered with Godfrey this once, so far as to read over and alter
the address her husband was to make to the newly married couple, and
she assured Godfrey that she had a perfect right to do so, as it was
more a family matter than a clerical one. She maintained her right as
Mina's twin sister, who cared for her so much more than any other
sister could do, to know what was going to be said to her, and so
Godfrey was obliged to give her her own way.

Hawermann came next, in a glass coach, accompanied by Mrs. Behrens,
Louisa and Anna. Mrs. Behrens would consent to go in no other
conveyance. She had once been obliged to decline an invitation to a
marriage at Rexow, for she happened to be in great sorrow at the time,
so she wanted to go to this wedding in greater state than she would
otherwise have done. She wanted to show by their manner of going how
happy they all were: "For we are all very happy to-day, ar'n't we?" she
said pressing, Hawermann's, Louisa's and Anna's hands alternately. Soon
after they got to Rexow, Hawermann caught sight of Bräsig's sister,
whom he had known long years before, and sitting down beside her, began
to talk over old times with her. Every third word they said was,
"Zachariah," and Louisa and Anna took Lotta between them and told her
about "uncle Bräsig."

A great harvest waggon covered with flowers and garlands of leaves now
drove up to the door, driven by Christian the coachman, who on that day
acted as postillion. Christian had on his new buckskin breeches, his
whip had a knot of red and blue ribbons on the handle, and he himself
had a wreath of roses round his hat, making it appear as if his old hat
were seizing this opportunity of celebrating its golden marriage day.
On the first cushion in front of the waggon was David Berger, the town
musician who was playing on a clarionette: "Three jolly post boys,
drinking at the Dragon" &c. &c.,[4] and behind him were the rest of the
band, playing the same air but not in the same time, because sitting on
the second, third and fourth cushions they were naturally somewhat
behind Mr. David Berger, who was in possession of the first. Besides
that Mr. Berger himself got wrong when he turned his head quickly, or
when Christian wanted to hasten the horses by using his whip, for at
such times he always felt something tug his back hair; and no wonder;
one of the members of his band had tied the lash of Christian's whip to
his hair, so that whenever the coachman twitched the whip, or when he
himself moved, his hair got a good pull.

Behind this waggon, came another as large, filled with girls dressed in
white, with wreaths of roses and pinks, which peeped shyly out from
amongst their thick curls, as much as to show how ashamed they were of
themselves for appearing to show themselves in rivalry beside the
blooming faces of the young girls. These were the little fairies. And
amongst the fairies sat the post-master in his new uniform, which was
the only one that Rahnstädt had to boast of, and to the honour of
wearing which he had only lately attained. There he sat like a
chaffinch in his bright new plumage, singing his merriest songs amid a
garden of flowers. This waggon was followed by a third, full of
partners for the fairies, chosen from amongst the best dancers in
Rahnstädt. Foremost amongst these was Kurz's assistant, Mr. Süssmann,
who was amusing himself by dancing along by the side of the waggon
followed by the rector's youngest pupil, a schoolboy, who footed it
lightly and airily behind him.

The guests all looked supremely happy, but Mrs. Nüssler felt not a
little uncomfortable, for she did not know any of the new arrivals,
Bräsig has chosen them more because they could dance well, than for any
other reason. She called Bräsig, but before he could come to her
rescue, Christian, the coachman, had smoothed away all difficulties and
had made himself master of ceremonies. He opened the kitchen door and
the dining-room door, and invited all whom he had brought with him from
Rahnstädt to enter: "Go in, go in," he said, "sit down quietly, and
rest a bit, the other man will soon come." His advice was good, for one
of the groom's men had not yet arrived, and so the marriage could not
take place at once. It was Fred Triddelfitz for whom they were waiting;
he had been induced by Rudolph's entreaties to take off the ban from
the Nüssler's house, and to undertake the office of groom's man.

At last he came riding into the court, and then dismounting, came into
the room amongst the other guests with such a stately air, bowing
gracefully to the right and left as he entered, that the stupid little
schoolboy whispered to Mr. Süssmann, next whom he happened to be
standing: "What a pity it is that it's all settled, that fellow would
have done capitally." Whereupon Mr. Süssmann looked at the boy
compassionately, and then turning to Bräsig who was standing on his
other side asked: "Do you know, sir, that they've chosen me to be
leader of the dance at our fraternity ball, which is to be the day
after to-morrow?" Bräsig was on the point of telling him that he would
be a fool if he accepted the position, for Kurz would discharge him at
once if he did, but at that very moment the bride and bridegroom came

Rudolph was a very handsome bridegroom. His usually merry smile had
given place to an expression of serious gravity, and you could see in
his brown eyes a firm determination to fight his wife's battles
gallantly as became a good husband. Yes, he was a handsome bridegroom,
and when does a man ever look better than when he enters the battle of
life full of courage and hope. Who could blame his mother for going up
to him and kissing him, stroking his brown curls, and secretly pulling
his cuffs a little further down over his hands, that they might be
better seen?

And Mina! Mina looked for all the world like a rosy apple lying on a
silver plate surrounded by its green leaves as she stood there in her
white satin gown and myrtle wreath. Outwardly she was calm and still,
but inwardly her heart beat faster than usual, and was filled with hope
and deep happiness at the thought that before Godfrey gave his address,
she and Rudolph would have been married. Mrs. Nüssler wept silently and
whispered to Bräsig: "I can't help it, for she is my last, my
youngest." Bräsig looked at her affectionately, and said: "Courage Mrs.
Nüssler, it'll soon be over." Then going to Louisa Hawermann, he made
her a bow, and said: "If you are ready, Miss Hawermann, we had better
take our places." On all other occasions he called her "Louie," but he
was groomsman to-day and must address the bridesmaid with whom he had
to stand more distantly than the girl he had known from her babyhood.
Fred Triddelfitz and Anna made the other groomsman and bridesmaid. Then
Kurz and the rector placed themselves one on each side of Rudolph, and
young Joseph was pushed and shoved with great difficulty up to Mina,
while Hawermann had already taken his place at her other side. When
this was done the procession moved off to Schulz's temple of art, where
they found Godfrey standing behind a white and green altar ready to
begin Lina's address.

I know that people have begun to think that a marriage in a house is
hardly a marriage at all, and that a church is the proper place for
such things. I have nothing to say against these notions, because I
myself was married in church even then; my wife being a clergyman's
daughter, nothing else would have been suitable; but in one respect at
least the marriage ceremony was better then, than it is now. We had
nothing in our service that could make anyone feel uncomfortable. I
think that it is unnecessary to read such passages as I allude to
simply because they are in the Bible. If that argument were to hold
good, the parsons might just as well read the Song of Solomon, for it
is also in the Bible. I believe that if Christ were to come into the
world again. He would have mercy on innocent children and would drive
many things that are now tolerated, out of His temple. If such teaching
would be most pernicious from the lips of a mother or even from those
of a saintly priest, what can it be when it proceeds from a young man
who has just preached his first sermon, and entered on the duties of
the living to which he has been appointed, immediately after passing
from the gay life of a student at one of the great universities.

Well, as I said before, the ecclesiastical court had not then appointed
a certain form of address to be used at weddings, so that the old
fashion still prevailed, and young people were married in the same way
as their parents had been before them. Christian Schult says that the
new mode had come in even then, but certainly Godfrey did not know of
it, and even if he had, Lina would never have allowed him to use it.
Lina was a married woman, and she would not have consented to let her
husband make a laughing stock of himself in the eyes of the rich, fat,
drowsy Nüssler-faction, or in those of the Rahnstädt tradesmen and
school-boys. She would not have allowed her twin-sister's wedding-day
to be spoilt by the orders of any consistory, although she was the most
zealous parson's wife in the world, that is to say, after Mrs. Behrens,
who was still 'the nearest' in all such matters.

As soon as the marriage ceremony was concluded, the twins threw
themselves into each other's arms, and Rudolph embraced them both at
once, while Mrs. Nüssler, who was standing a little apart, looked at
them over the edge of her pocket handkerchief, and leant her head on
one side, as though she were listening to something above her--perhaps
it may have been to an angel's song. Then the fat, rich, drowsy
Nüsslers trooped up to offer their congratulations, and young Joseph
took up his stand amongst them and bowed and bowed as if he were the
principal person concerned, and were being married over again: "Uncle
Lewis," he said, "this is my Mina. Cousin Bill, this is our little
governess! What is to be done now, aunt Sophie?" After that, the men of
the Nüssler clan pressed forward in their bright coloured waistcoats,
with heavy gold chains attached to their watches, and after them came
the women with regular flower-pot caps, and tears dropping slowly from
their eyes, thus making it appear as if the flowers had been too much
watered, and so the extra amount of moisture was running out. Then the
men and women of Joseph's clan kissed and embraced Rudolph and Mina as
if to show them that they were ready to receive them into their rich,
fat, drowsy family, thereby making Kurz furious, for they barred his
way so effectually that he could not get near his new daughter-in-law,
and on this occasion his wife quite agreed with him, for she could not
get at her own son. The guests from Rahnstädt forced their way as near
the bride and bridegroom as they could, and made their curtsies to them
from behind the Nüsslers, for they could do no more. Amongst these Fred
Triddelfitz and little Anna were to be seen, Fred, who had been
appointed commander of the dancing forces reared his tall slight figure
high above the rest, and behind him stood the rector's youngest pupil
ready to carry out as well as he could with his short body and black
cotton stockings, what Fred succeeded in doing with his long body and
black silk stockings. He was Fred's shadow, that is to say, his
noon-day shadow, which is always a short one.

Quite apart from these, four people were standing together without
making any attempt to join the throng round the bride and bridegroom,
for they had enough to do with themselves. These were Hawermann and his
daughter, uncle Bräsig and Mrs. Behrens.--Louisa was leaning her head
upon her father's shoulder and looking up in his face. She looked as if
she had been long ill, and had now for the first time got out of her
sick-room into the fresh clear air, and as if the blue sky were telling
her to get better, get better; her father's face was so calm and happy
that it might easily be likened to the sky, from which sun, moon and
stars, rain and dew came to quicken and refresh her heart.--Right in
front of these stood Zachariah Bräsig with his arms round little Mrs.
Behrens' round waist. His eyebrows were raised as high as they would
go, and he blew his nose energetically as he said: "My little Mina! My
little god-child! How happy she looks!" and every time one of the fat
old Nüsslers gave Mina a kiss, he bent down and kissed Mrs. Behrens, as
much as to imply, that he thought this would prevent any contamination
of his god-daughter by the foolish old Nüsslers with their wretched
worldly notions.--"You see I did it from such and such a motive," is
the excuse my servant, Lisette, whom I engaged when I came to live at
Eisenach, always makes when she is found fault with about anything, and
does not know what else to say. So Bräsig kissed Mrs. Behrens, and she
let him do it and thought no harm, but when she saw aunt Sophie, who
used to be considered a sort of Venus amongst the Nüsslers, kiss
Rudolph two or three times, she was very much shocked, and when Bräsig
was about to salute her again, she said: "You ought to be ashamed of
yourself, Bräsig. What have I to do with you?"--Then Bräsig drew back
rather crestfallen, and said: "Don't take it ill of me, Mrs. Behrens,
my feelings ran away with me." After that he led Mrs. Behrens to
Hawermann, and said: "Now, Charles, you ought to look after this lady.
Louisa is my bridesmaid, for I'm a bachelor, and as both you and Mrs.
Behrens have been married already, you'll go very well together."

Mina was holding Rudolph's hand, and as soon as she saw her oldest and
dearest friends standing aside, unable to speak to her, she tried to
force her way through the crowd of closely packed rich, fat, drowsy
Nüssler sandbags, and through the wooden palisades formed by the
serried ranks of school-boys and shopmen, and so get at her friends,
but all in vain. As soon, however, as her husband saw her fruitless
efforts, he placed himself in front of her, pushed aside sandbag number
one, in the person of rich uncle Lewis, and sandbag number two, in that
of the wit, cousin Bill; then seizing the longest post of the palisade,
Fred Triddelfitz himself, he gently lifted him out of the way and
placed his school-boy shadow behind him, and so having made a breech in
the fortifications, he brought his new wife safely beyond the
battlements to where she received warm congratulations coming from the
heart instead of from flower-pots, brilliant waistcoats and heavy gold
watch-chains. After Mrs. Nüssler had embraced and blessed her children,
Rudolph passed his hand across his eyes, and then said: "Suppose we all
go out into the garden for a little."--Schulz, the carpenter, who was
standing near, heard what he said, and backed him up by exclaiming:
"Quite right! Out! out! Go out all of you. We're going to lay the
tables." And beginning with the Nüsslers, he set to work to clear the

When our party--I say _our_--were walking past the celebrated arbour,
Bräsig pointed to the cherry-tree, and said: "You must always keep this
tree, Mina, as a memorandum and a sign, for your future was decided
through it and through me, and as we are talking of signs, Mina, just
bring me one of those blue flowers, look there's a nice one." When
Mina had gone to get it, uncle Bräsig asked: "Have you always
remembered what I said to you before, when I sent Mina for one of those
flowers?"--Rudolph said that he had, and Bräsig after looking at him
scrutinizingly from head to foot, replied: "I believe you."--At this
moment Mina returned with the flower, and Bräsig taking it from her,
said: "Thank you, Mina. Now I'll give you my wedding present," at the
same time pulling a thick old black pocket-book out of his brown coat
pocket. He turned over a number of old milk and corn accounts without
finding what he wanted, but at length in the last division of the
pocket-book he discovered a dried flower which he took out, and said:
"Look, my dear little god-daughter, this is the flower you gave me on
the day of your engagement, and it is the same as this," comparing the
two, "now if after long years of married life, Rudolph can give you
this second flower, you will have every right to say: 'I am a happy
woman.' I'll say no more, no more. And I have nothing more to give,
nothing more," so saying he walked away, and our party heard him
muttering: "Nothing but this memorandum. Rudolph's memorandum."--When
we next saw him, he was walking about with his sister, and her daughter
Lotta, and the two women were thanking and blessing him for all the
loving help and brotherly kindness he had shown them for many years.

Mrs. Nüssler now came up to us, and said: "Come away, friends,
everything is ready. But don't take it ill of me if I say that Joseph's
relations must be treated as our principal guests, and must sit next
the bride and bridegroom--for I can't hurt Joseph's feelings you
know--of course Kurz and his wife must be up there too, for, as you
would say, Mrs. Behrens, they are 'the nearest'. And Godfrey and Lina
must be amongst them also, for it's Godfrey's right as parson, and
Lina's as Mina's twin sister, and Joseph too, because he belongs to his
clan. But we, that's you, Mrs. Behrens, Charles, Louisa, and you,
Bräsig, will sit at the other end of the table, and I'm sure that we'll
enjoy ourselves."--"_Aller bon hour!_" said Bräsig, "but where's Mr.
Süssmann, I must have a little talk with him about our fraternity
ball."--"Oh dear! The poor man is sitting in our back room. He and
Triddelfitz were trying which could jump best over a heap of thorn
branches, when he fell and split part of his clothing, so that
Christian had to provide him with an old pair of blue trousers
belonging to Joseph. He absolutely refuses to show his face in day
light, and is hiding away until the evening, when he hopes that the
unsuitableness of his dress will not be noticed."--"And that's the man
who thinks he can lead the dances at our ball!" said Bräsig, as he
followed the rest of our party into the hall.

The company all sat down to table in the temple of art, and Mrs.
Nüssler's neat maid-servants went about in their pointed caps and white
aprons--for it was not the custom in those days to hire waiters in
shabby black coats, white neckcloths, and white cotton gloves, the
thumbs of which somehow always get covered with gravy while the man is
bringing in the roast. The fat Nüsslers eat as much as if they were
possessed by a party of French commissioners of supply, such as we used
to have quartered on us in 1812, and were required to provision an army
for the invasion of Russia. As soon as the fricassées and other such
dishes were finished, they attacked the puddings gallantly, and after
they had done their duty by them, they had roast pigeons and asparagus,
at the same time expressing great surprise that the pigeons in
Mecklenburg were not as large as geese, and complaining of the
asparagus not being as thick as hop-poles. When the roast was brought
in, cousin Bill, the wit of the Nüssler clan, rose, struck his glass to
enforce silence, shouted, "Hush!" three times, took up his wine glass,
and said: "Let us drink to the health of old General Knoosymong (que
nous aimons) who used to be a very celebrated personage, and whose
fame is still great amongst, &c.," as he said this he looked at the
young couple, and winked his left eye at Mina, and his right eye at
Rudolph. Then uncle Lewis--don't misunderstand me; it was _rich_ uncle
Lewis--stood up, and said: "What a wag you are, William!" and Bräsig
whispered to Mrs. Behrens, "I know that you dislike the Reform-club,
but I assure you that our wit, the journeyman shoemaker, can make much
better jokes than that."--Poor Mrs. Nüssler was sitting on thorns, for
she was afraid lest Joseph should now begin to make a speech; but
Joseph refrained from doing so; he intended to keep his speech for the
benefit of the neighbourhood, and not to throw it away on the world at
large, so he only said: "Give Lewis another glass of wine, Bill. Lewis,
give Bill another glass of wine."--When the Bowl[5] was brought in, and
the champagne, the fat old Nüsslers wishing to be polite said that they
had some of the same quality in their own cellars at home, and Freddy
Triddelfitz, the shopmen and school-boys drank one glass after another
to pass the time. The left wing of the army of wedding guests which was
composed of the dancers who had come from Rahnstädt in the waggons now
became so excited that the little member of the women's council, told
their commander, Fred Triddelfitz, that if he went against the enemy
after that fashion he would soon have to beat a retreat, and just as he
was making arrangements to prevent the necessity of such a retreat, he,
and all present were startled by an unexpected disturbance.--Nay, only
think how often an unconscious animal is inspired with a happy
thought!--Bolster--Joseph's Bolster--our old friend Bolster, who had
been adorned for the occasion by Christian with a green wreath round
his neck, and another round his tail, jumped upon the white and green
altar which was standing immediately behind the bride and bridegroom,
and at which Godfrey and Lina had performed the ceremony. He looked at
the newly married couple with his honest old autocratic face, licked
Mina with his tongue and slapped Rudolph on the cheek with his tail,
and then turning round licked Rudolph and slapped Mina. When he had
done this, the old dog sat down on the altar with quiet dignity, and
looked round the room with a satisfied air as much as to say that he
was pleased with everybody, and intended to remain where he was till
the end of the feast.--Suddenly Joseph sprang to his feet, exclaiming:
"For shame. Bolster! Down! down!"--Uncle Bräsig jumped up, and cried:
"Joseph, how dare you treat your best friend so ill on this solemn
occasion!" then turning to Godfrey, he added: "Reverend Sir, let
Bolster remain where he is. The dog is showing his love on a Christian
altar, and he knows it, although you don't. Bolster is a wise dog. I
know it as a fact, for when I was showing my love up in a cherry-tree,
he showed his by lying under the bench in the arbour. Reverend Sir,
Bolster may be cited as a witness to the marriage, because he was
present when they engaged themselves to each other."--Godfrey grew pale
with indignation when he heard such horrible sentiments, but he did not
succeed in expressing his opinion, for the humming and buzzing around
him had now grown deafening, as everyone had seized the opportunity of
rising from table and pushing back their chairs, amid shouts of "out!
out!" from Schulz, the carpenter. In the confusion that ensued the
rector's youngest pupil tripped over a heap of Mrs. Nüssler's best
porcelain plates, which were immediately scattered in fragments
throughout the room. He stood looking at the work of destruction, and
groping in his waistcoat pocket for some treasure the presence of which
was unknown to himself as to others; when Mrs. Nüssler passed by and
saw the broken plates, he blushed and said that he would gladly pay for
the damage he had done, but he didn't happen to have enough money with
him. Mrs. Nüssler smiled, patted him kindly on the shoulder, and said:
"That's a good joke! But I must punish you," and taking him by the hand
she led him to Bräsig's niece, Lotta, saying: "You must dance a great
deal to-night to make up for my broken plates."--He paid his debt
honourably by dancing his best.

Then the ball began. First of all there was the polonaise--Fred
Triddelfitz led, for Mr. Süssmann had not yet made his appearance. And
where did he lead the dancers. Through the hall, through the garden,
the kitchen, the entrance hall, the parlour, Mrs. Nüssler's bedroom,
and back again through part of the garden to the hall, so that Joseph's
fat relatives were puffing and blowing for want of breath, and Bräsig
called out to ask why they had not gone through the farm-yard when Mr.
Triddelfitz seemed so anxious to take them a long round. Even Joseph
took part in this dance, and the only difference between him and the
other men was that he had two partners instead of one, for he had aunt
Sophie on one side and Bolster on the other, and he looked, when seen
between aunt Sophie's flower-pot and Bolster's garlands, either like a
pearl set in gold, or an ass between two bundles of hay. When the
polonaise had come to an end, David Berger played a slow waltz to the
tune of: "Du, du liegst mir am Herzen, Du, du liegst mir im Sinn," and
in the distance another band was heard playing: "Nuse Katt hett negen
Jung'n." Then, when he went on to the lines: "Du, du machst mir viel
Schmerzen, Weisst ja wie gut ich dir bin," there came from the
distance: "Mina den Kater, smit'n in't water," and so on, for Mrs.
Nüssler had arranged that the servants and villagers should dance in
the dairy. The musicians there were old Hartloff, who had only one eye,
Wichmann, a carpenter, Rührdanz, the weaver, and several others.
Hartloff had given each of his followers a large tumbler of beer, at
the same time entreating them to do their best, and not to allow
themselves to be beaten by these town musicians, who if the truth were
known could not hold a candle to them, so they played their best, and
Christian the coachman kept them well supplied with beer. Sometime
afterwards Rudolph and Mina came into the dairy and danced, Mina with
Christian, and Rudolph with the cook. The overseer cheered the bride
and bridegroom, and Hartloff fiddled away so vehemently that Rührdanz
and his clarionette could not possibly keep up with him, and were at
last obliged to give up the attempt. When Rudolph and Mina had left
them. Christian and the cook went behind the door and talked. "Well,
Dolly," said Christian, "what must be, must be!"--"Why, Christian,
whatever's the matter with you?"--"Ah, Dolly, you and I are engaged,
and what's right for one, can't be wrong for another; we must go to
them, they can't take it ill of us if we do." Then Dolly said: she felt
a little shy, but if she went, she would dance with Mr. Bräsig, for she
knew him. And Christian answered that he would dance with the mistress.
No one thought it in the least strange, when a few minutes later,
Christian took his place in the temple of art with Mrs. Nüssler as his
partner, while Bräsig danced with Dolly. Such things could be done in
those days, and it is a great pity that they cannot be done now--in
many places, at least. Joy and sorrow ought both to bring rich and poor
together. Why does the master, who on his death-bed wishes to be
followed to the grave by his sorrowing dependents, not also desire to
share his joy with them.

Mina's wedding day was one of great happiness to all at Rexow, but it
would be quite impossible to enter into a detailed account of
everything that was done. This at least I can testify that Fred
Triddelfitz remained leader of all the dances; and that Anna often
blushed when she was his partner, and he generally was able to persuade
her to dance with him. Between the dances Anna used to take refuge with
Louisa as though she felt more comfortable when under her protection. I
know that the little schoolboy missed two dances because he had
involved himself in an arithmetical puzzle, as to how much his
predecessor got as schoolmaster and whether he was sacristan as well.
Whether he was very poor, whether he had taken a lease of the
shoemaker's potato plot, which cost so much the square pole, and
lastly, whether if he himself attained to such a position, rich uncle
Bräsig would help him a little, so that he might marry Lotta, whose
beautiful blue eyes and golden hair had captivated him. He cast one or
two hasty glances at his new black dress coat for which he had already
paid Kurz one third of the price on account. I know that the only
unhappy man in the whole company was Mr. Süssmann, and he was only
unhappy when he happened to look down and see Joseph's old worn out
blue trousers.

Yes, that was a happy day, but everything comes to an end. The little
fairies, shopmen, schoolboys, and dancers drove home with David Berger
and the dance music. The old people had gone earlier. Then Joseph took
all the men of his clan and showed them their rooms, while Mrs. Nüssler
did the same for the women. Every married woman was given a comfortable
bed, but the unmarried ones, with Aunt Sophie at their head, were put
into the large blue room which they had to share with each other.

                              CHAPTER XII.

On the Sunday morning after Mina's marriage, young Mrs. von Rambow went
through all her housekeeping duties, saw that everything was rightly
done in house and dairy, and entered various items on the debtor and
the creditor sides of her account book. Having done this, she sat
still, trying to master the feeling of undefined anxiety about the
state of Alick's affairs that had been worrying her all morning. But
she had no notion how very far on the road to ruin her husband's bad
management had brought them, for even her fears did not nearly reach
the point of reality. She only guessed that Alick was in great want of
money from his irritability of temper, and from the restlessness which
possessed him, and prevented him from sitting still for long at a time.
She had no idea that this embarrassment might be the last, that the
knife was already at his throat, and that an accident, or the malice of
an enemy might in one moment give him the coup de grace. He had told
her nothing; he had only ordered his carriage, and had gone away three
days ago. Where had he gone? And to whom? These were questions she had
long ceased to ask, for why should she knock at a door behind which she
only found dissimulation and lies. She closed her account book with a
sigh, and said to herself: "What good does it do? No woman's hand is
able to avert ruin from a house." Looking out at the window she saw
Fred Triddelfitz sauntering sleepily across the yard, and letting her
hands fall into her lap, she murmured: "The responsibility of
everything rests on that man's shoulders. It's a blessing that he's
honest, and that he was taught by Hawermann.--Oh Hawermann, Hawermann!"
she cried aloud, her heart full of sad regretful thoughts. Who has not,
at some time in his life, spent an hour such as this, when his thoughts
seem to take shape and stand round him like the ghosts of by-gone days,
each pointing with a spectral finger to what has become the weak place
in his heart? They neither quail nor relent, but stand before him as
immovably as a rock pointing at the aching place and shouting in his
ears: "You brought all this misery upon yourself by your conduct at
such and such a time." But what she had done, she had done from love.
That did not make the ghosts draw back--what does a ghost know of love?

While she sat there a prey to sad thoughts, Daniel Sadenwater came in,
and said that Mr. Pomuchelskopp had called. "Tell him that your master
isn't at home," said Frida. Daniel replied that he had already told him
so, but that Mr. Pomuchelskopp had expressly begged to see Mrs. von
Rambow. "Very well, I'll go and see him in a few minutes," said Frida.
She would not have said that if she had not wanted to escape for the
moment from the torment her thoughts caused her, for Pomuchelskopp was
hateful to her, but still he was a human being, and not a grizzly

She would never have sent that message at all if she had known what she
would have to endure in that interview. Pomuchelskopp had for some time
past, and on that morning also, taken council with David and Slus'uhr,
and they had all three at last come to the conclusion, that his best
plan would be to buy the estate from Alick as soon as possible, "for,"
as Pomuchelskopp himself said, "if the estate comes to the hammer I
shall most likely have to pay more for it, or it may slip out of my
hands altogether. These aristocrats stick to one another through thick
and thin, and many of them are very rich men; they'll perhaps pay his
debts beforehand, or if it comes to the hammer they'll buy it back for
him."--"Catch them!" said Slus'uhr. "Ah but," cried Muchel, "the best
plan would be to get hold of the place at once. He's ready for
plucking, I know he is. He'll never get over this scrape, for he only
thinks of tiding over the unpleasantness of the moment. If I were to
offer him enough money to free himself from his most pressing
liabilities and leave a small sum over, he would snatch at it eagerly
although he knows that it would only increase the burden of his debts
in the long run."--"You forget one thing," said the attorney, "his wife
is there too."--"Ah, but she knows nothing about it," answered Muchel.
"And that's just as well for you. If she had known you'd never have got
him so much in your power. Once--when the mystery of the stolen money
was talked about--she looked at me in such a way that I shall never
forget it as long as I live."--"Well," said David, "what of that? She's
a woman--not a woman like Mrs. Pomuchelskopp, who's a horribly clever
woman--she's a noble lady, she knows a great many things, but she knows
nothing, absolutely nothing of this. If he's ready for plucking, she
must be made the same." David succeeded in convincing the others that
if Mrs. von Rambow were told everything, the suddenness of the blow
would paralyze her and make her consent to an immediate sale of the
estate, and it was settled that Pomuchelskopp should begin the attack
that very morning, and that his visit should be followed by that of the
two other plotters. They all knew that Alick was away from home.

When Mrs. von Rambow joined Pomuchelskopp in the drawing room, the
squire of Gürlitz looked as sad and compassionate as if he had been a
parson and had come to condole with her after the death of her mother.
He stretched out both hands to her as though he wanted to press her
hand sympathetically between his. But as she only bowed, he contented
himself with clasping his hands and gazing at her as paternally as a
crocodile that is on the point of bursting into tears. He said that he
had come to speak to her husband as an old friend and true-hearted
neighbour. The matter was pressing, very pressing, and as the squire
was not at home, he had asked to see her. It made him miserable to
think that he had not been asked to help them before they determined on
selling Pümpelhagen by auction. Frida started back, exclaiming: "Sell
Pümpelhagen?" And now Pomuchelskopp's expression could be compared to
nothing but that of a wretched mother who had accidentally overlain her
child in her sleep: "God help me!" he cried. "What have I done! I
thought you must have known ...."--"I know nothing," said Frida firmly,
though she had turned deadly pale, and as she spoke, she gazed at the
old sinner, as though she wanted to look him through and through:
"I know nothing, but I wish to know all. Why is Pümpelhagen to be
sold?"--"Madam," replied Muchel, speaking as though with a great
effort, "the numerous debts ...."--"To whom does my husband owe
money?"--"To a good many people, I believe."--"And you are one of the
many, are you not?" At these words it seemed as if Pomuchelskopp raised
the sluice which for years and years had dammed up all his human
sympathies, that he might the more fully pour them out over
Pümpelhagen. Yes, he said, he was one of the creditors; but the money
he had lent, he had lent from friendly motives, and he could do without
it for the present. He had only come that morning to give Mr. von
Rambow the benefit of his advice as to how he could best turn and twist
the matter so as to get out of his difficulties. From what he had
heard, he believed it was Moses who insisted on the sale of the estate,
and he thought that if the Jew's mouth could be shut for a short time,
Pümpelhagen might yet be saved. When taking leave, he said with
fervour, and at the same time winking hard as though to hide the tears
that would come into his eyes, that if he had had any notion that Mrs.
von Rambow was ignorant of what was going on, he would rather have torn
out his tongue than have spoken to her about it.

If the matter had not touched her so nearly, she would have seen
Pomuchelskopp's hypocrisy much more clearly, but as it was she had an
instinctive distrust of the man. Her head was confused with the
suddenness of the shock, and she felt as though the house which had so
long sheltered her were shaking with an earthquake, and threatened to
fall at any moment and bury her, her child and any happiness she had
looked forward to in the future, under its ruins. She must go out, out
into the fresh air. She went to the garden, and there she walked up and
down in the sun, till at last she seated herself in the cool arbour and
thought over what she had heard. She felt as if the trees which
overshadowed her, were hers no more, and as if the very flowers which
she had planted with her own hands had also passed away from her care.
She was sitting on the selfsame bench on which her father-in-law had
sat, when he confided his pressing difficulties to Hawermann. Hawermann
had helped him then--where was Hawermann now? The same trees were now
shading her, which she had first seen when Alick showed her his home so
proudly. Where was that pride now? What of the home? To whom did these
trees belong? She thought that she had only been sitting there for a
few minutes, but she had been there for two hours. She heard footsteps
on the path leading to Gürlitz Church, and was rising to go; but before
she had time to move, Slus'uhr and David were standing before her.

Slus'uhr was rather taken aback when he saw himself so unexpectedly in
Mrs. von Rambow's presence. He thought of how he was about to hurt and
pain her. David chuckled like a monkey when an apple has suddenly
fallen into its hands. Slus'uhr went up to Mrs. von Rambow
respectfully, bowed low, and asked whether he could see the squire.
Frida answered, that he was from home. "But we must see him," said
David. Slus'uhr looked over his shoulder at David, as much as to say,
how I wish you'd hold your stupid tongue; but still he repeated: "Yes,
Madam, we must see him."--"Come back on Wednesday then; Mr. von Rambow
returns on Tuesday," and she began to walk away. The attorney stepped
forward as if to prevent her going, and said: "It isn't so much our
business as Mr. von Rambow's that brings us here to-day. Perhaps a
messenger might be sent after him. It's a matter of great importance.
We've heard of a purchaser for Pümpelhagen. A very safe man too, but he
insists on having an answer in three days, as to whether Mr. von Rambow
intends to sell by private bargain, or whether he is going to wait and
let it come to the hammer at the time the mortgage is due. This
gentleman is the son of Moses, the Jew whose mortgage must be paid at
midsummer, and who earnestly advises the sale of the estate through me,
his man of business." It is needless to say that this was a lie. The
beautiful young woman stood still looking the two rogues full in the
face. As soon as she had conquered her first terror, her whole soul
rose in arms against her unmerited misfortunes. "Madam," said David,
who had felt uncomfortably awkward when he first met her eye, and who
had therefore been reduced to pull his gold watch-chain for
inspiration, "consider: My father has a mortgage on the estate
amounting to one thousand and fifty pound sterling--or counting the
interest to twelve hundred pounds--, then there's Mr. Pomuffelskopp's
twelve hundred, then the bills owing to various tradesmen in Rahnstädt,
which come to four hundred and fifty pounds--we have brought the
accounts with us--besides these debts there are bills amounting to
fifteen hundred pounds--or more, for all that I know--given to Israel
in Schwerin. If you were to sell now to a safe man, to sell everything,
including furniture, bedding and household linen, you might have a
surplus of fifteen hundred, or sixteen hundred and fifty, or even
eighteen hundred pounds after paying all the liabilities. And then, you
know, you might rent a house in Rahnstädt, have nothing to do, and live
like a countess."

Frida made no answer, bowed coldly to the confederates, and went into
the house. Nothing makes a brave strong heart arm itself with cold
dignity so much as discovering the pitiful meanness of its opponents.
The foot that was at first raised to crush the adder, is then drawn
back, and pride, honour, and a good conscience unite in thrusting all
that had roused its indignation and misery out of the heart; when that
is done there is no more inward strife; peace has come instead; but it
is the peace of the grave.

"There she goes looking as haughty as a princess!" said David.--"What a
fool you are!" said Slus'uhr. "I'll never do business with such an
idiot again."--"What's the matter now?" asked David. "Didn't we do the
same when we went to dun that yeoman at Kanin, and didn't he give in
soon?"--"Yes, but he was a peasant! Are you a baby that you don't know
the difference between a noble and a peasant? We wanted to tire her out
and make her ready to fall into our hands at once, and instead of that,
we've only made her more obstinately prejudiced against us than before.
If we had treated him like that, he'd have said 'yes' to everything,
but," he added more to himself than to David, "there are people--and
truly--there are women even, who are only made the more firm and
decided by misfortune."

When they arrived at Gürlitz and told their accomplice how Mrs. von
Rambow had received them, Pomuchelskopp got into a great state of mind:
"Bless me! How _could_ you!" he said to David. "Whoever heard of anyone
coming plump out with a thing like that? You ought to have told her the
truth in such a round about way that she'd have been made wretched and
anxious, instead of telling her everything plainly at once. Hang it!
I'd got the affair into such good train, and now you'll see that she'll
make him as obstinate as herself, and so the estate won't be sold till
the term when Moses' money is due."--"And then of course you'll buy
it," said Slus'uhr.--"No, no, it'll cost too much then, and yet it lies
into my place so nicely!"--The worthy gentleman having made his moan,
now proceeded to hold council with the two others, and they gave him
very good advice as to how he should act so as to make sure of winning
the game.

There was another meeting of council on the Gürlitz estate, and
this time it was in the house of Rührdanz, the weaver. That morning a
number of labourers and labourers' wives assembled in Rührdanz's
kitchen where they talked neither passionately nor foolhardily, but
thoughtfully and with deliberation, but at the same time with dangerous
determination.--"What do you say, brother?" asked one.--"Nay, what can
be said, but that he must go, he's a monster in human form. Well,
Rührdanz, and you?"--"You're right, I quite agree with you. But, lads,
you'll see that they'll bring him back to us. If we could only get
papers from the government forbidding his return ...."--"Bother you and
your stupid papers," cried a tall masculine looking woman who was
sitting near the stove. "When you come home from Rahnstädt in the
evening with your heads full of brandy, you think you'll get everything
your own way, but very soon your courage melts away like the starch out
of a bit of linen when you put it in the wash tub. What, I've got to
send my little girls through the country side begging for food! I can
tell you this, I've had no bread in the house for the last three days
that hasn't been given the children out of charity."--"Things have
grown a little better lately," remarked old father Brinkmann.--"Yes,"
answered Willgans, "but from fear, not from good will. Let's go up to
the house each armed with a stout cudgel, and teach him the will of God
in this matter, then let's lead him quietly over to the other side of
the Gürlitz boundary, go a good bit along the road with him, and then
tell him to be off."--"What?" cried Mrs. Kapphingst, "do you intend to
let off that demon of a woman, his wife, who nearly beat my daughter to
death because of the chicken that the hawk carried off?"--"And the two
eldest daughters," said a young woman, "who plagued us out of our lives
when we worked at the manor house; those girls looked like angels of
mercy when they were in the parlour talking to their guests, but
outside amongst us they were perfect devils, and yet you'd allow them
to remain here?"--"The whole set must go," said Willgans.--"No,
friends, no," remonstrated old father Brinkmann, "don't hurt the
innocent little children."--"Yes," said Rührdanz's old wife, who was
sitting apart from the rest peeling potatoes, "you're quite right,
Brinkmann, and Gustavus must stay too, I saw him taking a quarter of
potatoes to old Mrs. Schult. In measuring out the potato and flax land,
he always gave a little extra, and then Willgans, he gave your eldest
boy one of his old jackets. He can't do all that he would, his father
looks after him too sharply for that. No, don't lift your hands against
Gustavus or the little ones."--"That's just what I say, mother,"
answered Rührdanz. "And now, friends," he continued, "I've got
something to say to you. Do everything decently and in order. The
others ar'n't here just now, let us meet again this evening and talk it
over. Mr. Pomuchelskopp won't be at home; John Joseph has had orders to
get ready the glass coach to take them to a ball in the town, so we can
meet quite easily and talk it over."--"Yes," cried the tall masculine
looking woman who was sitting near the stove, "talk, talk! You all
muddle your heads with brandy while we are starving. If you don't free
us from those people, we'll take the matter into our own hands, and do
as other women in the country have done already, a thorn bush and a bed
of nettles ar'n't far off."--She then left the cottage, and the rest of
the conspirators separated immediately afterwards. "Bernard," said Mrs.
Rührdanz, "this may turn out an ugly business"--"That's just what I
say, mother; but if we only do everything decently and in order the
Grand Duke can't say anything against it. The only pity is that we have
no papers to show for our actions, still, if he shows his papers,
they'll see from them how the matter stands."

Rührdanz was right--I don't mean about the Grand Duke, for I don't
understand such matters--but he was right in saying that Pomuchelskopp
had ordered the glass coach to go to a ball, for towards evening the
squire of Gürlitz might be seen seated in his carriage, dressed in his
blue coat and brass buttons. By his side was his brave old wife in her
yellow-brown silk gown, which reminded one both in colour and its
pointed trimming of one of her own short-bread cakes, except that she
was as dry and withered as a leather strap, and when she walked even on
a level road, her joints rattled as much as if she had hidden a small
bag of hazelnuts under her skirt. Exactly opposite were her two eldest
daughters who were splendidly, very splendidly dressed, but who were
also in a very bad humour because their father had insisted on their
going to this ball, which was to be attended by tradesmen and their
families; they had therefore determined to revenge themselves on their
father by not amusing themselves, and by treating everyone as an
inferior. Meanwhile they vented their wrath upon him by knocking the
heavy hoops in their crinolines against his shins, and that was very
cruel of them, for the wheelwright had made them new hoops that very
morning of strong hazel wands.--Gustavus was seated on the box beside
John Joseph the coachman.

I really cannot dance with my fair readers at another ball, I am too
old for that sort of thing, and besides that Rudolph's marriage only
took place three days before the fraternity ball, and I did my best on
that occasion. It will be sufficient this time to peep into the ball
room now and then and see how everything is going on. And now imagine
me seated on the bench in front of Grammelin's house on that lovely
summer evening, watching the people arrive, and going after a time into
the house to have a glass of punch and thus show myself to be a friend
and a brother.

There were a great many people at Grammelin's that evening. All the
dignitaries in the town were there with their hats and caps and all
their belongings; several landowners with Pomuchelskopp at their head;
several noblemen with their sons--their wives were unfortunately
prevented from coming at the last moment by bad toothache or headache,
and their daughters were from home--a number of tenant farmers and
small landed gentlemen came, but of our friends there were very few to
be seen. There was a party at Joseph Nüssler's to accompany the bride
and bridegroom to church, and Mrs. Behrens, Hawermann and Louisa had
remained at Rexow, while rector Baldrian and Kurz with their wives and
Bräsig had returned to Rahnstädt after dinner in order to go to the
ball. Kurz, however, had to give up all thought of going to it in the
end, for he had grown so cross with Joseph's relations that his beloved
wife found it necessary to send him to bed, which was not only a
blessing for himself, but also for Mr. Süssmann, who could now lead the
dances without fear of interruption. Mr. Süssmann had had a new pair
of trousers made for the occasion, and had deluged his hair with
pomade.--Little Anna went with her parents and Fred Triddelfitz, who
had got himself up like a country gentleman of the first rank.--The
little school-boy, who was in fear and trembling lest Bräsig's niece
should not come, seated himself at a rickety old piano and played and
sang mournfully: "My happiness is dying, &c. &c.", and then to comfort
himself: "I joy to see you little flies."--Mr. and Mrs. Baldrian
arrived; then came Bräsig with Schulz, the carpenter; and Slus'uhr and
David arrived together. David had put on two more gold rings than
usual; he held the rings in pawn and thought there was no harm in
giving them an airing, and he amused himself with chewing cinnamon
which was always his favourite spice and perfume.--Everyone had now
arrived and dancing might begin, so David Berger struck up the
Marseillaise--or Mamsellyaise as dyer "For my part" called it--and Mr.
Süssmann sang these words aloud to the music: "Allons, enfants de la

All went well at first; but there was very little brotherly feeling
shown taking it as a whole. Still, it must be confessed that the young
gentlemen of the town and the young gentlemen from the country joined
in fraternizing with the pretty little daughters of the tradespeople,
but that was nothing new, while the sisters of these same young
gentlemen refused absolutely to dance with the tradesmen's sons.
The first disagreement between the two parties arose from the
conduct of Mally Pomuchelskopp. The journeyman shoemaker and wit of the
Reform-club, who was the son of a respectable tradesman in Rahnstädt,
asked Mally to dance with him, and she refused, alleging that she was
already engaged. She then sat waiting till Fred Triddelfitz, Mr.
Süssmann, or some other equally eligible partner should come and ask
her to dance the next waltz with him. But as no one came she had to
remain sitting.--The shoemaker saw this and began to laugh and joke
about it, at last saying loud out, that if the young ladies would not
dance with them, their daughters and sisters must not dance with the
young gentlemen, adding that they had not come to the ball only to look
on at the dancing. And now the storm broke on the heads of the innocent
little burgher girls, who had been enjoying themselves so much. Their
brothers and lovers came to them, and said: "You're not to dance with
that apothecary fellow again, Sophie!" and, "You'd better look out,
Dolly, or I'll tell mother!" and, "If you dance with that barrister
again, Stina, I'll never speak to you any more!" This sort of thing was
repeated throughout the room, and so of course it reached the ears of
father Pomuchelskopp, who was not long in discovering the reason of the
new tactics. He became very uneasy, and going to Mally explained to her
what she had done. He said that the shoemaker was a person of great
consequence, and was looked upon as worth any ten ordinary men in the
Reform-club because of his sharp tongue, so she must soothe him down
again. And in spite of all her repugnance, father Pomuchelskopp made
her take his arm and walk down the room to where the shoemaker was
standing. He then said that there must have been some great
misunderstanding, for his daughter would only be too happy to dance
with such a well known member of the Reform-club. And a few minutes
later Mally and the shoemaker were whirling round the room together.

Father Pomuchelskopp had now--so to speak--sacrificed his first-born on
the altar of fraternity, but without much effect, the two parties did
not amalgamate well. Uncle Bräsig did his best to bring people
together, he rushed about in his brown coat, here, there and
everywhere, for he was determined that brotherly kindness should
prevail. He introduced Mr. von so and so to Mrs. Thiel, the
cabinet-maker's wife; he forced himself to walk up and down the
dancing-room arm in arm with his greatest enemy in the Reform-club,
Wimmersdorf, the tailor, and in the presence of the whole company he
gave the red-faced wife of John "For my part" a brotherly kiss on the
cheek; but it was all of no use; what influence has one man on a
number. "Mr. Schulz," he said at last, quite worn out with his labours,
"if the supper doesn't bring them nearer each other, I don't know what
to do, for the dancing seems to separate them more and more."

But the supper also failed to arouse a feeling of fraternity in the
company. The gentlemen and ladies sat at one end of the table, and the
tradespeople at the other. Champagne was drunk at the higher end of the
table, and at the other end there was a horrible concoction which
Grammelin had the impudence to call good red wine, and to sell at a
shilling a bottle.--It is true that the shoemaker sat next Mally and
her father, and that Pomuchelskopp took care to keep his glass
continually full; it is true that the dyer, John "For my part" and his
wife placed themselves between two country gentlemen, and that when
they wanted to pay for what they had ordered, John put his hand in his
pocket and drew out a handful of dyer's tickets instead of the paper
money with which he thought he had filled it.--Bräsig seated himself
between two pretty little girls, tradesmen's daughters, and treated
them with paternal kindness, feeling all the time that Mrs. Nüssler
would be angry with him for at least a week, for having gone to the
ball instead of remaining with her at Rexow, and that parson Godfrey
would lecture him about worldliness. It was of no use his having come,
he felt that bitterly. Grammelin's sour red wine looked badly beside
the champagne, and the higher and lower classes were even more separate
at supper than in the ball-room.--"Mr. Schulz," said Bräsig to his old
friend, who was sitting opposite him, "now's the time to play our last
trump, do you speak to Mr. Süssmann, and I'll tell Mr. Berger."--So Mr.
Schulz asked Mr. Süssmann whether he had the song-books ready.--"Yes,"
was the answer.--"Very well, deal them out, now's the time."--While Mr.
Süssmann distributed the books, Bräsig went to David Berger, and asked:
"Do you know that song of Schiller's, Mr. Berger: 'Sister with the
linen kirtle. Brother with the order grand'?"--"Most certainly,"
replied David.--"Strike up then, the sooner the better."--And suddenly:
"Happiness, that spark divine", resounded through the room, but with
every line the voices grew fewer and fewer, so that at last my dear old
uncle Bräsig was the only one who still held up his book and sang, the
tears rolling down his cheeks the while; but when he reached the line
in which liars were denounced, he could go on no longer.--"Liars?"--Ah
they were all liars, false to their convictions.--Everyone rose from
table feeling rather uncomfortable, and Bräsig crept away into a corner
to hide his vexation. The young people began to dance again, and David
and Slus'uhr retired to an anteroom where they drank champagne and
laughed at uncle Bräsig.

After a time Schulz the carpenter came to Bräsig, and said: "Do you
know, sir, that Attorney Slus'uhr and David are sitting with some other
men in 'number 3' making game of you, and dragging in all sorts of
political allusions. The attorney said just now that if the French
found it difficult to get a king to rule over them, now that they've
got rid of Louis Philippe, they couldn't do better than choose you, for
you had nothing to do, and so had plenty of time to devote to the
business of governing them."--"Did he really say that?" asked uncle
Bräsig rising indignantly. "Yes he did," replied Schulz. "And he is in
'number 3,' here at Grammelin's?"--"Yes."--"Come away with me, Mr.

Bräsig was hurt and angry that the fraternity ball from which he had
hoped so much for humanity had come to nothing. He felt like the
patriarch Abraham when he was about to offer his darling son as a
sacrifice. He was going to have slipped away home quietly, when he
beheld a scapegoat on which he might pour forth his wrath, the very one
he would have chosen next to his old enemy Pomuchelskopp. "Come away
with me, Mr. Schulz," he said walking energetically across the room to
the cloak room where he had left his hat and black thorn walking-stick.
He left the hat where it was, and picking up the stick, went to "number

Several men were sitting over their wine in "number 3," laughing at
some new witticism of their friend Mr. Slus'uhr. All at once there was
dead silence in the room, for another man had joined them whose face
scared away their merriment. Bräsig looked with strange significance
now at his black-thorn stick, and now at the attorney, and the men
guessing what was likely to happen, drew their chairs back from the
table rather hastily. "Which rascal was it who wanted to make me king
of France?" cried Bräsig, knocking some of the plaster off the wall,
from the vehement way in which he flourished his stick: "I _won't_ be
king of France!"--whack!--and the stick came down on the attorney's
shoulders, who shrieked out: "Oh!"--"I _won't_ be king of France!" and
again the stick did its duty. Bräsig and his stick repeated the
assurance again and again that he would not be king of France, until
candles, lamps and bottles lost their lives in this battle about the
French throne, and David crept under the table to avoid the storm of
blows. The attorney shouted for help; but no one stood by him, and only
when the onslaught was over did David venture to put his head out from
under the table and ask meekly: "Pardon me, Mr. Bräsig, but pray tell
me is this part of the ceremony of brotherhood?"--"Out! out!" cried Mr.
Schulz, dragging David from under the table. "Gentlemen!" exclaimed
Slus'uhr, "I call you all to bear witness as to how I have just been
treated."--"I didn't notice anything," said one. "And I wasn't
looking," said another. "I was looking out of the window," said the
third, although it was pitch dark. "Mr. Schulz," said Bräsig, "you're
my witness, and you'll remember how thoroughly I've thrashed Mr.
Attorney Slus'uhr." He then left the room, got his hat and went home.

The blows Slus'uhr got in "number 3," were distinctly heard in the
dancing room, and did not tend to make matters better. The two noblemen
and their sons had left long before, and the few town dignitaries who
still remained now slipped away as quietly as possible; little Anna
listened unmoved to Fred Triddelfitz's entreaties that she would dance
once more with him, and hastened to wrap herself up in her shawl and go
with her parents. Pomuchelskopp also prepared to go as fast as he
could, for he had an undefined but strong impression that, otherwise,
something unpleasant might happen to him, he therefore entreated his
wife and daughters to come away, saying it was high time to go home.
His family party was difficult to collect. Gustavus was dancing quite
happily with Wimmersdorf's youngest daughter. Sally was listening
attentively to what Mr. Süssmann was telling her, he said that he had
only taken the low place he held in Kurz's shop for fun and added that
as he could not remain where he was any longer, he was considering
whether it would be better for him to accept one of the situations
offered him in Hamburg, Lübeck and Stettin, or to set up for himself in
Rostock where he had a rich old uncle, who advised him in every letter
he wrote to set up in business for himself and marry, so that he, the
old uncle, might wind up his affairs and go and live with him. Mally
was sitting in a corner of the sofa crying over her ill-luck in having
had to dance with a shoemaker. Henny looked like a stake that had been
driven into its place, for in spite of all that had happened that
evening, she had never moved once since she had seated herself on
entering the room; the uncomfortable little episode with the journeyman
shoemaker even, had failed to affect her serenity, and now when Muchel
came and told her they must go, she answered affectionately: "Very
well. Pöking; but won't you invite your friend the shoemaker to come
with us. You might also bring one of your titled acquaintances if you
like, and then, if you add Rührdanz the weaver, Willgans and some of
your other brethren of the Reform club the party will be complete."

So our poor friend Pomuchelskopp had to drive home with this conjugal
shaft rankling in his large brotherly heart.

                             CHAPTER XIII.

Let no man be too certain of anything; above all, let him not paint the
devil on the wall, for he often comes when no man calls, and seldom
waits for an invitation; some of the guests Henny had proposed that her
husband should invite were already awaiting the arrival of their host
and hostess at Gürlitz manor. All the inhabitants of Gürlitz village
assembled in the court-yard of the manor as the dawn began to break on
that summer morning and stood at the door ready to receive their
master. "Lads," said Rührdanz, "what must be, must be; but do
everything decently and in order!"--"Bother you and your order!" cried
Willgans. "Has he ever treated us so?"--"That doesn't matter," said
Rührdanz, "we must act so as to have the right on our side. See how
foolish you are. When we go to our Grand Duke, as we ought to do, and
tell him all about it, he may ask: 'How did you set about it,
Willgans?' and if you have to answer: 'Oh, your Highness, we first
thrashed the man and his wife and then turned them out of the place,'
how do you think it would sound? And what tales do you think Mr.
Pomuchelskopp would have to tell against you."--"Yes," replied old
father Brinckmann, "Rührdanz is right. If we content ourselves with
turning them out of the place, we shall be quit of them, and needn't
mind what anyone may say afterwards." It was settled that this should
be done. Behind the men were the women and girls, and the tall
masculine looking woman who had attended the meeting on the previous
morning was standing amongst them. She said: "They've gone as far as
they will. If they don't chase that man and his wife out of the place
I'll thrash the fellow as long as he can stand."--"Yes, father," cried
another woman, "we must get rid of them, we _must_ indeed! I went to
the parsonage yesterday and Mrs. Baldrian gave me some food, and the
parson begged me to be patient.--_Patient!_ Can starving folk be
patient?"--"Joseph Smidt," said a tall slender young girl, "just run
over to the Seeberg, will you, and look if they're coming. How our two
young ladies will open their eyes, Sophie, when they find themselves
sent off on such an unexpected journey!"--"Father," said Zorndt, a
labourer, to Brinkmann, "oughtn't we to tell the parson what we're
doing? Perhaps it might be well for us that he should know."--"No,
father Zorndt, there's no need to tell him, he couldn't help us, and I
don't think he would understand our motives. If our old parson were
still alive it would be different!"--"They're coming now," cried Joseph
Smidt running up. "Who'll speak?" asked Willgans, "I'll catch the
leaders by the head."--"Rührdanz," was echoed from mouth to mouth.
"Well if you like, why shouldn't I do it?" answered Rührdanz--not
another word was said.

John Joseph, the coachman, drove up and was about to turn into the
yard, when Willgans caught the leaders by the head, made them stand a
little side ways so as to stop the other two horses, and said: "Wait a
moment, John Joseph." Pomuchelskopp looked out of the window of the
glass coach, and seeing all the villagers standing about the carriage,
asked: "What's the meaning of all this?" Rührdanz, followed by all the
others, came close to the carriage door, and said: "Sir, we've
determined that you shall no longer be our master, for you've never
treated us as a master should treat his servants, and you were every
bit as cruel to other people before you came here, for you've got an
iron ring round your neck, and we won't have a master with a ring round
his neck."--"You rascals! You scoundrels!" cried Pomuchelskopp, who had
now discovered what the villagers meant. "So you would seize upon me
and mine, would you?"--"No, that's not what we want," answered old
father Brinkmann, "we're only going to see you safely out of the
place."--"Drive on, John Joseph," cried Pomuchelskopp. "Slash at them
with your whip."--"John Joseph," said Willgans, "if you move your whip,
we'll knock you down. Now turn the carriage!--So--ho--That's right!"
The carriage and horses were now turned towards Rahnstädt. Sally and
Mally screamed out with terror; Gustavus jumped down from the box and
stood between the labourers and his father; everyone was in a great
state of excitement, except Henny, who remained stiff straight and
unbending as ever, without uttering a single word. "You band of robbers
you! What do you want?" cried Pomuchelskopp. "We ar'n't robbers,"
answered Smidt, "none of us will steal even a pin from you, and
Gustavus here may remain and manage the estate and tell us what we
are to do."--"But your wife and two eldest daughters must go with
you," interrupted Mrs. Kapphingst, "we can bear their tyranny no
longer."--"Gently, friends, gently," said Rührdanz, "let us do
everything decently and in order. It won't be enough to take them away
over the Gürlitz march as we intended, we must hand them over to our
chief magistrate, the mayor of Rahnstädt. I'm sure that that's the
proper thing to do."--"Rührdanz is right," said the others, "and you
may go home quietly Gustavus, no body will touch you. Now John Joseph,
drive on slowly." Then some of the villagers went on one side of the
carriage and some on the other, thus forming a guard. They went at a
quick march like a regiment of soldiers. Pomuchelskopp had given way to
the inevitable, but his misery was great. He wrung his hands and
groaned: "Oh me! oh me! What shall I do? What shall I do?" and putting
his head out at the window, he said: "I've always been a kind master to
you all."--"You mean a cruel monster!" cried a voice out of the crowd.
Sally and Mally were crying bitterly, but Henny sat as stiff as a tin
thermometer; if the labourers had known what a thermometer was, and
that I had likened her to one they would have said that she was marking
a point far above boiling. Willgans who had at first been near the door
on her side of the carriage, drew back a little, because she once,
without uttering a sound or bending forward, stretched out her hand and
seizing his curly red hair nearly pulled out a handful, her eyes
shining and glaring in the dusk of the early morning like those of a
beagle when chasing a hare. "Mercy! I say look at her!" cried Willgans.
"Father Düsing! help!--Mercy! Look at the wretch! Do give her a knock
over the knuckles." But before father Düsing could free him from her
clutches, brave old Henny had thrust his nose down on the carriage door
two or three times, so that the blood trickled down his face. "Mercy!
Help I say! This is not to be borne; wait a bit and I'll ...."--"Stop!"
cried Rührdanz, "you can't blame her, lad, for revenging herself
according to the malice of her nature, so take no notice this time, but
you can tell the Grand Duke all about it, and can show him your nose,
which will bear witness to the way she has treated you." Henny said
nothing, and the procession moved on again. When they reached the
border of the estate the labourers sent their wives and children home,
and about seven o'clock the prisoners and their guard entered Rahnstädt
slowly and solemnly.

Uncle Bräsig was stretched out on the window seat in his room smoking,
and meditating on the heroic deeds he had done on the previous
evening.--Kurz was in a very bad humour although he had not been at the
fraternity ball, and was going about his shop grumbling and scolding:
"The stupid ass! The idiot! Wait till I catch him!" After a time he
came, I mean Mr. Süssmann by "he." He danced over the threshold, and
Kurz laying both hands on the counter looked as if he were preparing to
jump over it and spring upon his assistant before he was well in the
shop, but he thought better of it and waited. "Good morning, chief,
chiefer, chiefest!" cried Mr. Süssmann, coming in with a clatter
and rattle of everything in the shop that could make a noise, and
seating himself on the edge of a herring barrel with his hat cocked
very much on one side, went on: "Good morning, Kurzie, woortsie,
poortsie!"--Before he had time to make any more rhymes on his master's
name, Kurz sprang upon him, pulled his hair with both hands, flung his
hat into the herring barrel, and then dragged him further into the shop
by the whiskers. Mr. Süssmann clutched blindly behind him for something
to hold on by, and chanced to seize the spigot of a barrel of oil, his
struggles were so great that the spigot came out, and the oil began to
run out of the hole.--"Hang it!" cried Kurz. "My oil, my oil!" and
letting Mr. Süssmann go, he stuck the forefinger of his right hand into
the hole in the barrel, Mr. Süssmann who still had the spigot in his
hand, waived it round his head in triumph, and as mad or intoxicated
people are always fertile in expedients, he determined to clinch
the matter and so pulled the spigot out of the vinegar barrel.
"Preserve us all! My vinegar!" cried Kurz, at the same time sticking
the forefinger of his left hand into the hole in the vinegar barrel. In
order to keep a finger in each of the barrels Kurz had to bend forward
and to stretch out both arms to their utmost extent, and this Mr.
Süssmann deemed too good an opportunity to be lost. "My
chiefie!--Kurzie!"--slap!--"Good-bye grocerie-pocerie!"--slap!
slap!--"Joanna goes, ne'er to come back again!"--slap, slap,
slap!--Having done this, Mr. Süssmann picked his hat out of the herring
barrel, set it on one side of his head, laid both the spigots on the
counter about twenty feet away from Kurz, and then left the shop
laughing and dancing.

"_Help!_" cried Kurz. "He-lp!--He--lp!" but not one of the servants was
in the house, and his wife was out in the back garden planting
asparagus. The only person who heard him was uncle Bräsig. "Charles,"
he said, "I think I hear Kurz bellowing. I'll go and see if anything
has happened."--"He-lp!" shouted Kurz.--"Bless me!" said Bräsig.
"Whatever are you making such a noise for at seven o'clock in the
morning?"--"Infamous rascal!" growled Kurz.--"What? Is that the way to
treat me?" remonstrated Bräsig.--"Meanspirited hound!"--"You're a rude
barbarian!"--"Give me the spigots that are lying on the counter over
there."--"You may get your nasty greasy spigots yourself, you ass
you!"--"I can't, or else all the oil and vinegar will run out of these
casks, and I wasn't talking to you, I was speaking to Süssmann."--"Ah,
then it doesn't matter," said Bräsig, seating himself on the counter
with a flop, and swinging his legs about, "what's the matter?"--Kurz
explained how he had come to be imprisoned at the barrels.--"Well,
Kurz, you're a joke, but take warning by what has happened, a man
always suffers in the very things which he has used sinfully."--"I
entreat ...."--"Hush, Kurz! You have always sinned in your sales of oil
and vinegar, for you used to pour out of your measuring tins into your
customer's basins with a swoop so as to leave two or three desert
spoonfuls in the measure without anyone noticing it. Will you give good
measure for the future, and will you never peep into the cards again
when you're playing at Boston."--"Yes, yes," cried Kurz.--"Very well
then, I'll set you free," said Bräsig, bringing him the spigots.

Scarcely was Kurz free than he rushed out into the street as though he
expected to find Mr. Süssmann waiting for him behind the door. Bräsig
followed him, and just as they reached the street Pomuchelskopp arrived
on the scene escorted by his labourers.--"Preserve us! What's this?
Rührdanz, what's the meaning of all this?"--"Don't be angry, Mr.
Bräsig, we've turned off our squire."--Bräsig shook his head as he
answered: "Then you've done a very foolish thing." He followed the
procession and many people they met in the street did the same.
When they got to the mayor's house, the labourers unharnessed the
horses, while Rührdanz, Willgans, Brinkmann and several others
went into the house.--"Well, Sir," said Rührdanz, "we've brought him
here."--"Who?"--"Oh, our Mr. Pomuchelskopp."--"Why, what do you
mean?"--"Oh, nothing, except that we won't have him to rule over us any
longer."--"Good Heavens! What have you been about?"--"We've done
everything legally, your worship."--"Have you laid violent hands
on him?"--"No, we didn't touch him, but as for his wife, she seized
father Willgans by the ...."--But the mayor had left the room, and
was already at the carriage door asking the Pomuchelskopps to come
in. They accepted his invitation and the mayor took them into the
drawing-room.--"Why have we been treated so badly? Why have we been
treated so badly?" whimpered Pomuchelskopp. "Oh, Mr. Mayor, you know
that I've always been a good master to my people."--"For shame, Kopp,"
interposed Henny.--"No," said the mayor without attending to Henny and
looking Pomuchelskopp full in the face, "you have _not_ been a good
master. You know that I have often been obliged to remonstrate with you
about your conduct, you know that I refused to have anything to do with
your law affairs because of the injustice of your cause. I'll have
nothing to do with this except as a private individual, and what I do
will be for the sake of those poor mistaken peasants. Pray, excuse
me ...."--"Oh, please advise me. What shall I do?"--"You can't go back
to Gürlitz for a short time; if you did it would only rouse the people
to violence, so you'd better wait here in Rahnstädt till you see your
way clear. Excuse my leaving you for a few minutes, I am going to speak
to the labourers."

What good could talking do? The people had made up their minds, and the
bad characters amongst them had been obliged to consent to let their
quieter, honester neighbours have their own way, and they were so sure
their way was the right one that they refused to give it up.--"No,
Sir," said Rührdanz, "we can't take him back whatever happens."--"You
have been guilty of a great crime this morning, and it'll go hard
with you if you stick to it."--"That may be; but if you speak of
crime, Mr. Pomuchelskopp has treated us much worse than we've treated
him."--"You've allowed your heads to be stuffed with nonsense by some
foolish people in the Reform-club."--"Don't be angry, your worship,
people say that of us, but it isn't true. Why? Mr. Pomuchelskopp
himself is a member of the Reform-club, and he made a speech too, but
he told a string of lies in his speech, no one knows that better than
we do."--"But what do you intend to do?"--"Mr. Gustavus is at Gürlitz
and when he tells us to do this or that, we'll obey him; but Willgans
and I want to go to the Grand Duke and tell him all about it, so
we would like you to give us the proper papers."--"What sort of
papers?"--"Ah, your worship, don't be angry with me, it doesn't matter
what they are. You see I was once sent to the old station without
papers--and of course they turned me out--our Grand Duke isn't a
station, and he'd never be so rude, so if we go without papers you can
show him your nose, father Willgans, and tell him how that woman
treated you, and I'll show my honest hands that have never taken what
didn't belong to them."--The old man then left the room, and joined the
other labourers outside. They all felt their pockets and drew out what
pence and halfpence they possessed. They gave them to Rührdanz and
said: "Now go! go straight to Schwerin!" and: "Don't forget to tell
about Kapphingst's daughter!" and: "If he asks you how we have lived,
tell him honestly that we never stole from our master, but that we
sometimes took a few of Mrs. Nüssler's potatoes, and she never blamed

The two labourers then set out for Schwerin, and the other villagers
returned home, while John Joseph drove the empty carriage after them.
The crowd that had collected round the mayor's door to see what was
to be seen, for the news of Pomuchelskopp's arrest had spread like
wild-fire, now separated, and uncle Bräsig said to Hawermann as soon as
he got back: "Well, Charles, he hasn't escaped his judge. I joined the
crowd for a little, not for his sake, but because of those poor
ignorant labourers. As soon as I saw him safe in the mayor's house I
came away for I didn't care to see his humiliation."

Pomuchelskopp, his wife and daughters took up their abode at
Grammelin's and the former, when he saw his family settled down, went
to Slus'uhr's bedroom and bemoaned his hard fate. Slus'uhr had been
obliged to remain at Grammelin's in consequence of the thrashing he had
had on the previous evening, as otherwise he could not have made out
such a good case of assault against Bräsig. "I have sent for the doctor
and am going to make him examine me that I may have a better case
against Mr. Bräsig. Strump isn't at home, but the other doctor will be
here very soon."--"How lucky you are!" said Muchel. "Well," answered
the attorney, twisting round on his other side, "I didn't quite look
upon it in that light. I don't see any great piece of luck in getting a
sound thrashing with a black thorn stick at least an inch in
thickness."--"You can have your revenge, while I--wretched man that I
am, can do nothing."--"You should send for a guard of soldiers and
that'll frighten your fellows out of their lives, and if you don't
like to go home at once, send your wife on before, she'll have
everything in order by the time you're ready to follow, I'll answer for
that."--"Mercy, what do you propose? No, no! I've had enough of it.
Pümpelhagen has escaped me, and I'll never go back to Gürlitz;
they'll set fire to the house when I'm in it, I know they will. No,
no! I'll sell, I'll sell!"--"Have you heard the news," asked David
coming into the room, and hearing the last words he added, "yes,
you're right. If you sell the place I'll manage everything for you, I
know ...."--"Infamous Jewish rascal!" groaned Slus'uhr, getting into a
new position, "Ugh! mercy!--Don't you think we can manage it between
us? Yes, Mr. Pomuchelskopp, you must sell, for even if they spare the
dwelling house, they're sure to burn the stacks and barns, for you've
got into a regular scrape."--"Now, Mr. Slus'uhr," said David, "you've
made a little money I know, and you can conduct the sale of a farm, or
a mill; but this is a large estate, and my father must manage the
arrangements for Mr. Pomuchelskopp."--"Your father! When he hears that
it's for Pomuchelskopp, he'll refuse to act. We three are in very bad
odour with him."--"If I tell him," began David, but at this moment the
doctor came in, and he was Anna's father. "Good morning, you sent for
me," he said turning to Slus'uhr, "what can I do for you?"--"Ah doctor,
you were at the ball yesterday too. Oh I'm in such pain! You must have
heard ...."--"He has had a good thrashing," said David, "and I was a
witness. He was very severely beaten."--"Hold your confounded tongue,"
shouted Slus'uhr. "Doctor, I want you to examine me carefully, I'm
afraid that I shall never regain the use of my limbs." The doctor made
no reply, but went to his patient, and pulling his shirt off his back,
saw some very distinct lines scored in red, such as are not to be seen
on every human back. Pomuchelskopp sat still, and folded his hands in
deep commiseration, but a flash of pleasure lighted up his face when he
saw the red weals. David sprang to his feet: "Merciful Jehovah! What a
sight!" he exclaimed. "You must examine me too, doctor, for Schulz the
carpenter dragged me out from under the table and tore my new coat
right down the middle."--"You'd better send for the tailor then,"
answered the doctor quietly, and turning again to the attorney, he
said: "I'll go down to Grammelin's coffee-room and write you a
certificate. Good morning, gentlemen." He then left the room, and soon
afterwards the housemaid brought in a paper, which she said the doctor
had desired her to take to Mr. Slus'uhr. The attorney opened it and

"This is to certify, that Mr. attorney Slus'uhr has had a thorough good
thrashing as the marks on his back show beyond dispute, but it has done
him no real harm.

                                    N. N. M. D."

"Does the fellow write that about me?" stormed the attorney, "'it has
done me no harm' for sooth!--Just wait and I'll have something to say
to you elsewhere!"--"But," cried David, "surely it's much better that
the beating shouldn't have done you harm, than that you should have
been maimed."--"You're an idiot! What's the good of lying here any
longer though?" said Slus'uhr. "Pardon me, but I must get up, and
repay Mr. Bräsig for his blows by sending him--a letter demanding
damages."--"Don't forget, my friend, that you've to write to
Pümpelhagen for me to day," said Pomuchelskopp. "Trust me to remember.
I feel so savage, I'd like to write a good many more such letters.
Hav'n't you anything for me to do in that line, David?"--"Whenever I
have anything to write I do it myself, and when I have nothing to
write, I leave it alone," said David, leaving the room with

                              CHAPTER XIV.

The hours that had elapsed since Pomuchelskopp's visit had seemed to
Mrs. von Rambow the slowest and dreariest she had ever known. Wearily
had they passed over her, every new minute revealing new cares and
anxieties. She had tried to tear out the weeds that threatened to choke
the wheat in her field, but alas the busiest hand grows tired in time,
and the bravest heart craves rest, the rest that comes when the day of
toil is past. Her husband had not come home on the day he had promised;
instead of his arrival, a letter came from Slus'uhr brought by a
special messenger, who said that he had orders to wait until he could
deliver it into Mr. von Rambow's own hands. She had a very good idea of
what that meant. As it grew dusk that evening she seated herself in her
room beside her child, folded her hands in her lap, and gazed out of
the window at the sky over which heavy clouds were rising.

The day had been close and muggy, a day in which the blood courses
slowly through the veins, instead of circulating rapidly, and giving
the body a sense of lightness and vitality it cannot otherwise enjoy.
On such an enervating day as this the blood flows languidly, like the
black, almost stagnant water in a moorland ditch, and even as all
nature groans and sighs for a storm to clear the air, the heart longs
for the whirlwind of action, or the shock of fate to drive away "this
stifled, drowsy, unimpassioned grief," wishes at any cost to shake off
the deadly lethargy! Frida's feeling was much what I have described,
she longed for anything that would clear the air around her, and make
it possible for her to breathe once more; and she did not long in vain.

Caroline Kegel brought in the post-bag, and stood about as if she
wanted to find something to do in the room. At last she opened the bag,
and taking out a letter, laid it on the table beside her mistress. Then
she hung about again, and asked: "If you please ma'am, shall I light
the candles?"--"No, never mind." Still Caroline did not go, she said:
"If you please, ma'am, you told us we wer'n't to repeat any gossip to
you, but ...."--"What is it?" asked Frida, startled out of her reverie.
"The Gürlitz labourers have chased away Mr. Pomuchelskopp, his wife and
two daughters."--"You don't mean to say so!" cried Frida. "Yes, and all
of our labourers are down stairs in the yard, and wish to speak to
you."--"Do they want to chase us away too?" asked Frida, drawing
herself up proudly. "No, no! my dear, dear lady," cried Caroline,
throwing herself on her knees and bursting into tears; "there's no talk
of anything so dreadful, and my old father says that he'll be the death
of the first who dares to speak of such a thing. They only say that Mr.
von Rambow won't listen to them, and so they want to speak to you, for
they have great confidence in you."--"Where is Triddelfitz?"--"Lor,
ma'am, he's going about amongst them talking to them, but they won't
hear a word he says, they say they have nothing to do with him, and
must speak to you."--"Come," said Frida, and she went down stairs.

"What do you want with me?" she asked as she stepped out at the door,
before which the labourers were all collected. Fred Flegel, the
carpenter, came forward, and said: "Madam, we have come to you, for
we're all of one mind. We told the master about it some time ago, but
he wouldn't attend to us. The squire was affronted with us for saying
it; but you see we have no confidence in Mr. Triddelfitz, he is too
young and doesn't know enough, and we thought perhaps you could help us
if you would be so very kind. We are not so impertinent as to ask for
more than we have, indeed we're quite satisfied with what we've got,
and we get all we ought, though never at the right time so that our
wives sometimes find it difficult to manage."--"Yes," interrupted
Päsel, "and last year, which was a year of famine, the rye was all
sold, and, Madam, you see I always have my wages paid in kind, so when
I couldn't get the rye, how could I live; and when I didn't get it, I
was told to be patient. Yes, to be patient! Then there was the potato
disease! So how could one live?"--"Madam," said a white-haired old man,
"I won't speak of food, for we never really starved; but I am an old
man and I was sometimes kept standing so long in the marl pit pouring
water over the marl, that I couldn't straighten myself in the evening,
nor sleep at night from pain, and it might have been so easily managed
better. We were used to other ways when Mr. Hawermann was here, but now
we're ordered about by folk that don't know what work is."--"Yes,
Madam," resumed the carpenter, "that's why we've come to ask you to let
us have a bailiff put over us who knows what ought to be done, either
Mr. Hawermann or another as good; one who will listen to us quietly
when we've got anything to say, who will not abuse us when we don't
deserve it, and who will not use his stick to our children when
they are doing their work, as Mr. Triddelfitz was in the habit of
doing."--"That must never happen again," cried Frida.--"Well, Madam, he
has given up doing that now. It must be six months ago that I made bold
to speak to him seriously about it one day when I was alone with him,
and he has never done it since. I wish that the squire would only see
that it would be for his own advantage if he got a good bailiff, for he
understands nothing about farming himself, and then the wind wouldn't
blow all the grain out of a field of wheat from leaving it standing too
long, as was the case last year, nor would the people talk of him as
they do now. And, Madam, there's a great deal of talk just now. It's
said that he's going to sell the estate to Mr. Pomuchelskopp, but we
won't have him for our master."--"No," they all exclaimed, "we won't
have him."--"A fellow whom his own labourers have turned out."--"We
needn't have him."

The labourers' words had fallen like heavy blows on Frida's heart. She
felt how little love and respect they had for her husband, and the
knowledge of the difficulty of her position made it hard for her to
speak. After a sharp inward struggle for composure, she said: "Hush, my
men! When the squire comes home he must decide whether he will grant
your request. Go home quietly and don't come back to the house in such
numbers again. I will tell the squire what you want, and I believe I
can promise you that there will be a change in the farming arrangements
at midsummer--one way or another," she added with a sigh. Then she was
silent for an instant, as though to swallow a lump in her throat.
"Yes," she continued, "wait patiently till midsummer, and then there
shall be a change."--"That's all right!"--"That's all we want!"--"And
we're very grateful to you."--"Good-night, Madam."--And they all went

Frida returned to her room. It had begun to thunder and lighten, and
the wind which was blustering through the yard drove sand and straw
pattering against the window. "Yes," she said to herself, "midsummer
will decide it. I hav'n't promised too much, for there must be a change
then. But what will it be?" and involuntarily she thought of the
picture David had so mercilessly drawn of her future life. She saw
herself condemned to spend the rest of her days in a hired house in a
small country town with her husband and child, leading an idle useless
life without hope of remedy, and hearing people whisper that their fate
might have been so different. She saw her husband get up in the morning
and go out into the town, come home to dinner, spend the afternoon
lounging on the sofa, then go out again, and come home to bed. He had
always hitherto frittered away the time God had given him to work, and
he would continue to waste his days in idleness. She saw herself worn
out and wearied with household cares, comfortless and friendless,
fighting the battle of life alone; she saw herself dying and her child
standing by her bed. Her child! Her poor child! The penniless daughter
of a nobleman! There are few things that are a greater curse than the
possession of rank without the means of keeping it up.--A man can get
on pretty well, for he can go into the army; but a girl? Even if God
has endowed her with the loveliness of an angel, and her parents have
done the best they can for their darling, a gentleman says: "She is
poor, so I cannot marry her," and a man of the middle-class says: "She
has grand notions, so I cannot marry her."--Frida looked sadly at her
child, who was sleeping calmly through the storm that was raging out of
doors, and that which was raging in her mother's breast.

Caroline Kegel brought in candles, and Mrs. von Rambow hastily took up
the letter that was lying on the table, like one who did not wish it to
be perceived that she had been engaged in deep and painful thought. She
looked at the direction and saw it was from her sister-in-law,
Albertine. She opened the envelope, and another letter fell out
addressed to her husband.--"Put this letter on your master's writing
table," she said to the maid.--Caroline took it and left the room.

Her husband's sisters had often written to her before, such letters as
women write to while away their time.--Frida unfolded the letter,
but--oh!--this was no commonplace chatty note such as she was
accustomed to receive,--Albertine wrote:

"Dear Sister,

"I don't know whether I am doing right. Bertha advises me to write to
you, and Fidelia has twice torn the paper from under my pen, for she
thinks it will make our dear brother Alick unhappy if I do. But however
that may be, I can't help it. Sheer necessity forces me to write. We
have already written to Alick twice, but he has never answered our
letters. I have no doubt that he has to travel about a good deal in
these bad times, and that besides that, he must have much to occupy his
attention at home--for we hear rumours of things going on about you, of
the probable truth of which we have only too many proofs here in
Schwerin--and so I think that I cannot be doing wrong in writing to
you. You will answer me soon, won't you?--You know that Alick has taken
the small capital our father left us as a mortgage on Pümpelhagen, and
that he has promised to give us 5 per cent on the money instead of the
4½ per cent we had formerly received. It was not necessary for him to
have done that, for we could live within our income before. But he
promised to send us the money punctually every quarter, and we have not
received a penny in the last nine months. Dear Frida, you may be sure
that we should never have complained if we had not been in very great
need. Our brother-in-law Breitenburg was here lately; he had never
heard of our having lent Alick the money, and as soon as he found it
out, he--you know how rough he is--swore at Alick, and told us we were
three geese to have given him the money. He asked to see our bond, and
when we could not show it to him, for Alick has always forgotten to
send it to us, he said outright, that our money was gone beyond recall,
as it was well known that Alick had ruined himself with his bad
farming, and that Pümpelhagen would have to be sold to pay his
debts.--We know how to treat our brother in-law's talk, for he has
always disliked our dear Alick; and as for selling Pümpelhagen, I don't
believe it. It has been in our family for centuries! The Grand Duke
would never allow it!--We told him that and a great deal more. Fidelia,
especially, gave him a piece of her mind very energetically. So he took
up his hat and stick, and said in his rude way: 'Your brother Alick has
always been a fool, and now he has capped all his former misdeeds by
behaving like a scoundrel.' Fidelia rose and showed him the door at
once.--It was a dreadful scene, and I should not have told you about
it, if I did not feel rather frightened lest Alick and Breitenburg
should meet, and act like those two brothers-in-law, Dannenberg and
Malzahn, who in order to avenge their injured sense of honour shot each
other dead across a pocket-handkerchief. Please warn Alick to avoid any
meeting with him, and if it is possible ask him to send us the interest
on our money.--We think of going to see you in autumn, and are looking
forward like children to the pleasure of seeing you, and of revisiting
the home where we played as children, dreamt our day-dreams as young
women, and where, alas, we saw our dear father die. Yes, Frida; Bertha,
Fidelia and I rejoice at the thought of seeing Pümpelhagen again, for
we live in the past, our present is so dull and empty of interest. Only
now and then, and at very long intervals do we see the face of some old
friend of our dear father, who comes to tell us what is going on in the
world, and Bertha and I think there is something very pathetic in the
way our little Fidelia throws down her work on such occasions, and
listens eagerly to the news our old friend brings us.--She is
especially interested in all that concerns the court.--Good-bye for the
present, dear Frida. Forgive me for having troubled you with this
letter, and give Alick the enclosed note. I have entreated him
earnestly to help us, but have spared him all the disagreeables of our
position as much as I could.--We shall meet in August.

                       "Yours affectionately,

                             "Albertine von Rambow."

"Schwerin, June 11th, 1848."

Frida began the letter, but did not read to the end. When she got to
the place where Albertine has repeated Breitenburg's words: "Your
brother Alick has always been a fool and now he has capped all his
former misdeeds by behaving like a scoundrel," she threw the letter on
the floor, started up from her chair wringing her hands, and began to
walk rapidly up and down the room. "It's true," she moaned, "quite
true!" Her little girl was sleeping calmly near her. She threw herself
into the chair again, picked up the letter, and once more read the
dreadful words. As she did so the terrible picture her imagination had
before drawn of her child's future faded before the actual horror that
confronted her. The new picture she saw was burnt into her brain. She
saw in it the faces of the three sisters, and underneath it was written
in letters of fire: "Swindled! Swindled by their own brother!" Beyond
them she saw her husband, but his features were blurred and indistinct
so that she could hardly trace them, and underneath this figure the
single word "scoundrel" was written. Horrible, most horrible!--She had
lost her all!--And it was a double loss!--She had only herself to trust
to now on earth, for she had lost him she had loved as her own soul.
That was the terrible part of her grief! Oh for help to wash away the
brand of dishonour from the forehead she had so often kissed lovingly.
But how? Who would help her? Alas, the people whose names occurred to
her were all far away and she could go to none of them in her distress.
She wrung her hand in agony. It seemed as though she were being more
and more hemmed in every moment. Pomuchelskopp's name flashed into her
mind, and Slus'uhr's and David's. She sprang to her feet and moved her
hands about as if to waive off once more the ghosts of the past. She
could think of very few names now, when suddenly in the midst of her
anguish she remembered a kind, womanly old face, Mrs. Nüssler's face,
and it looked as it had done when it bent over her child to kiss it.

Mrs. von Rambow immediately exclaimed aloud: "That woman has a heart, a
large heart that can feel the sorrows of others!" Out of doors the
thunder was still rolling, the lightning flashing and the rain coming
down in torrents. Mrs. von Rambow snatched up a warm shawl and
rushed out into the rain. "For God's sake, ma'am, tell me what's the
matter," cried Caroline Kegel, "see how it's raining and how dark it
is!"--"Leave me alone!"--"Nay, I won't do that," said the maid going
after her. "A kind heart, a kind heart!" murmured the poor thing as she
hastened on, the rain beating ever more violently in her face. She
still held the shawl in her hand without knowing it, and her feet
slipped often in the deep cut limestone road without her knowing it;
her whole soul was bent on getting on quickly. "If you _must_ go,
Madam, we'll go together," said Caroline, taking the shawl out of her
hand and wrapping it round her head and shoulders, then throwing her
strong arm round her waist, she asked: "Where do you want to go?"--"To
Mrs. Nüssler's," answered her mistress, and then murmured: "a kind
heart." A kind heart was beating close to her own and yet she never
thought of it; nothing separates two human beings so much as the words:
"Command and obedience." She had always been kind to her dependents,
and had met her servant's good feeling towards her half way; but at
this moment she did not think of Caroline Kegel, her heart was filled
with the thought of how Alick was to be saved from shame and dishonour,
and Mrs. Nüssler's honest face drew her on through the rain and
darkness as the only star of hope that shone on her path. "To Rexow, to

"Goodness gracious me, Joseph!" said Mrs. Nüssler, going to the window,
"what a storm it is!"--"Yes, mother, but what can anyone do?"--"Oh
dear!" said Mrs. Nüssler, reseating herself. "I hope that no one's out
on the high road to-night. I feel very anxious." Mrs. Nüssler went on
knitting, Joseph went on smoking, and the parlour was as quiet and cosy
as heart could wish. Suddenly Bolster, who was lying under Joseph's
chair, gave a short sharp bark which was dog language for: "what's
that?" As he got no answer he lay still, but next moment he started up
and crept to the door on his stiff old legs. When he got there, he
began to snarl after the manner of his kind. "Bolster!" cried
Mrs. Nüssler. "What's the matter with the old dog?--What is it
Bolster?"--"Mother," said Joseph, who knew Bolster as well as Bolster
knew him, "somebody's coming." At the same moment the door opened and a
pale woman staggered into the room supported by a strong country girl,
who placed her on the sofa. "Good God!" cried Mrs. Nüssler jumping up
and taking her visitor by both hands, "what's the matter? What is it?
Oh dear, how wet you are."--"Yes, indeed she is," answered Caroline.
"Good gracious Joseph, why don't you get up from your chair? Go and
fetch Mina. Tell her to come here at once, and tell Dolly she must make
some camomile tea." Joseph hastened from the room, and Mrs. Nüssler
taking off Mrs. von Rambow's shawl, dried the rain off her face and
beautiful hair with her pocket-handkerchief. Mina ran into the parlour
and was about to ask a number of questions, but her mother stopped her
by saying: "Mina, this isn't the time to trouble Mrs. von Rambow with
questions, go and bring one of your dresses and some of your
underclothing to my bedroom." But as soon as Mina had run away to
do as she desired, she herself asked: "What's the matter, Caroline
Kegel?"--"I don't know, but she certainly got a letter this evening."
As soon as Mina said that she was ready Mrs. Nüssler and Caroline
helped Mrs. von Rambow into the bedroom and undressed her, laid her on
the top of the bed and gave her the hot tea Dolly had prepared. She
soon recovered her full consciousness and remembered why she had come,
for it was only the sense of her utter loneliness that had overcome her
and had made her feel so faint and weak, and now that she saw the kind
motherly face bending over her, she felt strong and brave once more.
She sat up in bed, looked at Mrs. Nüssler trustfully, and said: "You
once told me that you would help me if ever I was in need."--"And I
will do so," said Mrs. Nüssler with tears in her eyes, and stroking
her visitor's hands softly, "tell me what it is."--"It's a dreadful
state of things," cried Frida, "our labourers are discontented,
we're in debt, deeply in debt, and our creditors want to sell the
estate ...."--"Good gracious!" interrupted Mrs. Nüssler, "surely it's
early days to talk of that!"--"I can't see my way at all," continued
Mrs. von Rambow, "but it was for something else I came to you, and I
can't, I dar'n't tell you what it is."--"Don't tell me, Madam. But what
you have already told me is not a case in which a woman's advice is
worth anything, we must consult some man, and if you like, we can drive
over to Rahnstädt and speak to my brother Charles."--"Ah, if I could!
But how could I ever expect the man, whom I ...."--"That's a mistake on
your part, Madam, and shows that you don't know my brother. Joseph,"
she called putting her head out at the door of her room, "tell
Christian to get the carriage ready and to make haste, and do you make
haste also. Mina, quick, bring me your new Sunday hat and cloak, we are
going out." Everything was done as she desired, and as soon as they
were seated in the carriage, Mrs. Nüssler said to Christian: "You know
that I don't like going too fast, Christian, but you can't drive too
quickly to-day; we must be in Rahnstädt in half an hour. If we don't
make haste they'll all be in bed," she added, addressing Mrs. von

Anna had just gone home after spending the evening at Mrs. Behrens'
house; Hawermann and Bräsig had said good-night, and Bräsig had just
opened the window, and looking out at the weather had said: "What a
sweet smell the air always has after a storm, it's quite full of
atmosphere!" when a carriage drove up to the door, and the light from
Mrs. Behrens' bedroom streamed into it. "Bless me, Charles," cried
Bräsig, "there's your dear sister and Mina, and every one ought to be
making ready to go to bed just now."--"There must be something wrong,"
said Hawermann taking his candle and leaving the room. "Why have you
come so late, Dorothea," asked Hawermann, meeting his sister on the
stairs, "Mina ...." then interrupting himself, "and you too, Madam, at
this hour?"--"Quick, Charles," said Mrs. Nüssler, "Mrs. von Rambow
wants to speak to you alone, so make haste before anyone comes."
Hawermann opened the door of Mrs. Behrens' best parlour and showed Mrs.
von Rambow in; as he followed her and closed the door he heard the
beginning of what Bräsig said to Mrs. Nüssler. "As sure as your nose is
in the middle of your face, tell me what's brought you here? Excuse me
for having come down in my shirt sleeves, but you see Charles is a
thoughtless fellow and he took away the candle so that I couldn't find
my coat in the dark. But where is he, and where's Mina?" Mrs. Nüssler
did not need to answer the question, for at this moment Louisa came out
of Mrs. Behrens' ordinary sitting-room with a candle. "Why, you here.
Aunt?" she said. "Come back with me to the parlour, Louie; and you
Bräsig, go and put on your coat again and then you can join us." This
was done, and Mrs. Behrens came too. All was silent and still in the
passage, and anyone who had chosen to listen at the keyhole of the best
parlour might have heard Mrs. von Rambow telling Hawermann her story.
She began shyly and tearfully, but gained courage as she went on, and
felt her hope and confidence in the old bailiff grow stronger every
moment. Anyone who had chosen to listen at the door of Mrs. Behrens'
sitting-room, which was to the left of the passage, might have heard
the horrible fibs that Mrs. Nüssler was telling, for it had suddenly
occurred to the good woman that she could not do better than allow
everyone to imagine that Mrs. von Rambow was Mina until she had had
time to tell all her tale to Hawermann, and that she might not be
troubled with questions. So she said that Mina was suffering from
dreadful toothache, and that she knew her brother Charles had a
wonderful remedy for it which could only be used with effect between
twelve and one at night, and in complete silence. Mrs. Behrens said she
was sure it could be no Christian work if that was the way of it, and
Bräsig remarked: "I never knew that Charles had any knowledge of
medicine or doctoring."

Soon afterwards Hawermann put his head into the room and said: "Will
you leave the house door ajar, Mrs. Behrens, I have to go out, but will
soon return," and before Mrs. Behrens could answer he was half way down
the street leading to Moses' house.

                              CHAPTER XV.

Moses was now a very old man, but he was strong and healthy though he
found it difficult to walk even a short distance, and did not sleep
well at night. He had grown into the habit of sitting up till long
after his old wife Flora was asleep. He used at such times to sit in a
large arm chair with a pillow under his head thinking over old stories.
He would have nothing to do with new things. David generally stretched
himself on the sofa as he used to do, and told him anything he thought
would interest him, and sometimes enjoyed a little nap between whiles.
I must say in David's honour that he was no exception to the rest of
his people, and that he was gentle with and careful of his father in
his old age, indeed he showed an example in that respect that it would
be well if many Christians were to follow. On this particular evening
they were chatting together. "David," said his father, "have I not
often told you that you ought not to have anything to do with
Pömüffelskopp?"--"But, father, have I ever been taken in by him?
Hav'n't I always made money by my transactions with him?"--"You have
strewed ashes on your head, you have eaten dirt."--"Are Louis d'ors
dirt?"--"There's always dirt sticking to Pömüffelskopp's money."--"If
you like father, we can do a good stroke of business, Pömüffelskopp
wants to sell Gürlitz."--"Why?"--"Because he wants to get rid of
it."--"I'll tell you why, David. It's because he doesn't feel safe
amongst his labourers, and fears lest they should burn his barns, or
knock him on the head. I'll tell you even more than that. I shan't do
the business, nor will you do it; but still it will be done, and by
attorney Slus'uhr too, whom you account your friend; but he's too
clever for you, David, and you're too young."--"Father, I ..."--"Hush,
David, I've got something more to say to you. You want to get rich, and
to get rich all at once. Now listen to me; a jar with a narrow neck
half full of gold is before you. You put in your hand and try to bring
it out again full, but you can't do it, if, however, you're content to
take one coin at a time, you get as many as you need in the end."--"Did
I fill my hand too full?"--"Hush, David, I hav'n't done yet. You see
two people, one throws a Louis d'or into a clear brook, while the other
throws a handful of them into the mire. You go into the cold water, and
get wet in picking up the Louis d'or, but when you've got it, you find
it bright and clean; or you go into the mire and pick up the handful of
gold, and all men try to get out of your way because you stink in their
nostrils. The money Pömüffelskopp has thrown you in the way of
business, you have been obliged to pick out of the mire."--"Nay,
father, it doesn't smell a bit worse than other gold."--"If men have
not yet perceived its evil odour, its stink yet rises to heaven; but it
is not true that men do not smell it, all honourable men know it to be
what it is, while to Pömüffelskopp and the attorney it is as the sweet
savour of myrrh and frankincense." Just as David was about to answer
there came a knock at the front door. "What's that?" asked David. The
old man was silent, and the knocking became louder. "Go and open the
door, David."--"What, at this time of night?"--"Yes, David, open the
door. When I was a lad, and used to go about the country with a pack on
my back, I often knocked at the door of some man's house, and he let me
in, and now that I am old I shall soon stand before another door, and
when I knock at it the God of Abraham will say: let him in, he is a
human being. Some human being is now knocking at my door, and shall I
not let him in? Open the door, David." David obeyed, and Hawermann came

"Bless me!" cried the old man. "It's the bailiff!"--"Yes, Moses.
Don't be angry with me, I can't help it, but my business is very
important, and I must speak to you alone."--"David, you had better go
away."--David made a face, but went,--"That doesn't help us much," said
Moses, "for he's listening at the keyhole."--"It doesn't matter, Moses,
I can't tell you here what I want you to know. Can't you come home with
me?"--"I'm an old man now, Hawermann."--"I know that, but the air out
of doors is quite warm, and the moon has risen. You can lean on my arm,
and if you can't walk so far, I will carry you if you like."--"Why,
what's the matter?"--"I can't tell you now, Moses; you must hear with
your own ears, and see with your own eyes. You can do a good work if
you come."--"Hawermann, you are an honest man, and have always been a
friend to me from your youth up, I know that you will act rightly and
justly. Call David."--Hawermann opened the door, and found him standing
behind it.--"Mr. Hawermann, surely you won't take my father out
tonight, he is an old man."--"Bring me my fur-boots, David," said his
father.--"Don't go, father, or I will call my mother."--"Call your
mother if you like, I'm going all the same."--"Why are you going?"--"On
business, business of importance."--"Then I'll go with you."--"No,
David, you're too young. Go and get me my fur-boots."--There was no
help for it, David had to go and fetch the boots and put them on his
father's feet. Hawermann then supported Moses with his arm, and the
latter set off with his friend for Mrs. Behrens' house walking with
great difficulty and keeping his hand in his left coat pocket all the
time that he might hold up his trousers on that side, for he still
continued to do without braces on his left side.

Hawermann did not manage to get old Moses over Mrs. Behrens' threshold
noiselessly as he had hoped, for Moses tripped and nearly fell as he
was going in. Naturally Mrs. Behrens heard the noise as distinctly as
the others did.--"Ah!" she exclaimed, hastening to the door, "there's
Hawermann come back with poor Mina," but when she put out her head
expecting to see Mina's face, a little swollen it is true, she saw
Moses in a flowing dressing gown, and fur-boots, and with his wrinkled
old face and large black eyes turned full on her: "Good evening, Mrs.
Behrens," he said.--Little Mrs. Behrens was so startled that she drew
back, exclaiming: "Preserve us all! Hawermann is trying all sorts of
magic and heathen incantations to-night, and now he has brought an old
Jew into the house at midnight; what can Moses do to cure Mina's
toothache?"--Mrs. Nüssler felt as if she were in her own kitchen at
home frying fish, and had just got a fine large pike in the frying pan,
when it caught her by the thumb and pressed its teeth gradually deeper
and deeper into her flesh, so that she could not move for fear of
losing her whole thumb. What business had Mrs. Nüssler to tell such a
fib, and a fib that might be disproved at any moment.--"Why, Mrs.
Behrens," said Bräsig, "it can only have been Moses' double that you
saw, it can't have been himself, for when I went to see him the day
before yesterday he told me that he couldn't walk in the streets any
more."--"Oh," interrupted Louisa, "my father must have something very
important to say to the old man, and my aunt knows all about it,
and has only been trying to put us off with a story about Mina. It
would be very unlike my father to play foolish tricks at this time of
night."--The pike forced its teeth deeper into Mrs. Nüssler's flesh,
but she shut her mouth tight and kept her own counsel a little longer:
"Ah see!" she said. "You're frightfully clever, Louie! Clever children
are a blessing to their parents; but," she could bear it no more, and
pulling her thumb out of the pike's mouth, she went on, "I wish with
all my heart that you were stupider. I'll tell you the truth, Mina
isn't here at all, it's Mrs. von Rambow of Pümpelhagen who has
something to arrange with Charles and Moses."--Little Mrs. Behrens was
very angry when she heard this, partly because she had been kept in
ignorance of the truth although it was her own house, and so she was
most assuredly the nearest, and ought to have been told; and partly
because it showed her how horribly and heathenishly her good old friend
and neighbour, Mrs. Nüssler, could lie: "You told us such a
circumstantial lie," she said.--"Yes, Mrs. Behrens," answered
Mrs. Nüssler, trying to look as if she had done nothing wrong, "I
did."--"Mrs. Nüssler," remonstrated her friend, looking as if the
little black cloak of the late parson Behrens had fallen on her
shoulders, "lying is an abominable unchristian sin."--"I know that,"
answered Mrs. Nüssler, "and I never lie for myself. Whenever I tell a
lie it's for the sake of other people. I was so sorry for the poor
lady, and feared lest she should be troubled with questions. As
everyone thought it was Mina, I just said 'yes' and then invented a
little story." And now it seemed as if an invisible hand had bound the
Geneva bands worn by her late husband round the little lady's neck; she
said gravely: "My love, I fear that you're in a very bad way, for
you're deceiving yourself at this very moment, you look upon what is
evil as if it were good, you tell a lie ...."--"Begging your pardon,
Mrs. Behrens," interrupted Bräsig, taking his stand by the side of his
old sweetheart, "for stopping you in the middle of your sermon; allow
me to say that I quite agree with Mrs. Nüssler. Look you, last week the
town-clerk's wife called me, and asked me very sweetly: 'Pray tell me,
Mr. Bräsig, is it true that Mrs. Behrens once gave some one a randy-voo
in a ditch ....'"--"Bräsig!" cried Mrs. Behrens, resuming her natural
manner.--"Don't be afraid," said uncle Bräsig glancing at Louisa, "I
know the prejudice that exists against such things.--'No, Ma'am,' I
said, 'it's a confounded lie.' So you see, Mrs. Behrens, that I told a
lie for your sake, and if I'm condemned to roast in hell for it, I hope
that you'll take compassion on me in heaven, and bring me a little
water to refresh me."--Mrs. Behrens was about to answer, when Hawermann
looked in to say: "Will you come and speak to me for a moment,
Bräsig?"--"Hawermann ...." began Mrs. Behrens.--"I shall return very
soon, Mrs. Behrens."--Bräsig went away.

The conversation in the other parlour had been as eager as the one I
have described, though quite different from it in every respect. When
Hawermann came in with Moses, Mrs. von Rambow rose from her seat on the
sofa with a pain at her heart, and Moses started back.--"Mrs. von
Rambow," said Hawermann, and then turning to the lady, he added: "This
is my old friend Moses, he is very tired after his walk. You will
excuse us, will you not, Madam?" and so saying he led the old man up to
the sofa and making him lie down, arranged the pillows under his head.
As soon as his friend had recovered a little from his fatigue,
Hawermann asked: "Do you know Mrs. von Rambow, Moses?"--"I've seen her
driving past my house, and I've seen her walking on the road near
Pümpelhagen; I touched my hat to her then and she returned the old
Jew's greeting courteously."--"Moses, you know that Mr. von Rambow is
in debt, deeply in debt."--"I know."--"You have demanded your money
from him, principal and interest."--"I know."--"Moses, you must
withdraw your demand; your money is safe."--"What do you call safe?
Didn't I tell you my opinion on that head in spring. Just now land
isn't good security, it's only on the man one can rely, and Mr. von
Rambow is not a man whose security is good. He's a bad farmer, he's a
fool about horses, he's a spend ....."--"Hush, remember that his wife
is here."--"I will remember."--Frida was in an agony of silent misery.
Then was not another word spoken for a few minutes, then Hawermann
began again: "Supposing things were differently managed, and the estate
were let on a lease of ...."--"Whoever would think of taking a lease of
it in such bad times?" interrupted Moses.--"Or supposing that Mr. von
Rambow decided on engaging a good, bailiff, and on leaving him alone to
do his work in his own way ...."--"Hawermann," Moses once more
interrupted, "you're an old man, and you're a wise man; you know the
world and you know Mr. von Rambow, now let me ask you, did you ever see
a master who could say, 'I won't be master any more, but will let
another man be master'?"--Hawermann did not know how to meet this
question, and looked enquiringly at Mrs. von Rambow, who cast down her
eyes, and said: "I am afraid that Mr. Moses is right, I am afraid that
my husband wouldn't do that."--Moses looked at her with a smile of
commendation, and muttered: "She's a clever woman, and an honest
woman."--Hawermann was in great perplexity, he sat thinking silently
for some time; at last he said: "Well, Moses, I want to know whether
you will give up your intention of foreclosing the mortgage, if Mrs.
von Rambow, or I, or the pressure of circumstances should induce the
squire to agree to this proposal, and to sign a legal document to the
effect that he will give up farming himself, and will engage a good
bailiff to manage the estate for him?"--"If he does that, I'll let
him have the money for another year; or even two years, if you
like."--"Well, you promise to leave your money as it is; but there are
other debts that must be paid. There's Pomuchelskopp's £1200."--"I
know," muttered Moses.--"Then there are the shopkeepers' and artisans'
bills that have been running on for the last year, and which will come
to at least £900."--"I know," said Moses.--"Then there's a debt of
nearly two thousand pounds that must be paid in Schwerin."--"Why!"
exclaimed Moses starting, "I know nothing of that debt."--"In
addition to what I have told you," continued Hawermann without
allowing himself to be turned from the main point, "we must have
three or four hundred pounds to cover the outlay required to begin
farming properly."--"That's enough, it's a bad business, a very bad
business," said Moses, making a movement as though to get up from the
sofa.--"Stop, Moses, I hav'n't done yet."--"Let me be, let me be! I'm
an old man, and can't undertake such an affair as this," and he sat up
on the sofa and prepared to go away.--"Listen to me, Moses. You're not
expected to give the money which will come to £4650, other people, safe
people are going to do that, and you are only required to raise it for
them by the midsummer term."--"God of Abraham! And I am to raise four
thousand six hundred and fifty pounds in a fortnight! _Four thousand
six hundred and fifty pounds!_ and that for fools who choose to throw
away their money on a bad bit of business like this!"--"Well, Moses, we
won't speak of that if you please. Just write down the names and sums
of money as I dictate. You know Mrs. Behrens? Write down Mrs. Behrens'
name for £750."--"Yes, I know her, she's a good woman and helps the
poor; but why am I to write down her name?"--"Do as I have asked
you."--Moses took a pocket-book out of the pocket of his dressing gown,
wet the end of his pencil in his mouth and wrote: "There now," he said,
"I've put her down for £750."--"You know Bräsig?"--"Who doesn't know,
Bräsig? He's a good man, and a reliable man. He often came to see me
when I was ill. He tried to make me a democrat, and to persuade me to
make speeches at the Reform-club, but still he's a good man."--"Put him
down for £900. You also know my brother-in-law, farmer Nüssler?"--"Have
I not always bought his wool? He's a quiet man, and a good man. He
smokes a great deal; but he isn't master, his wife is master."--"Very
well, put my sister down for £1950."--"No, I won't do that. She's a
woman, and a prudent woman, did she not stand out for two pence a stone
more than I offered for the wool."--"You can write her name; my sister
will tell you this very evening that it's all right. Now, then put me
down for £1050, and that brings up the sum to £4650."--"Good God!"
cried Moses. "He's going to give his hard earned money, the money he
had saved for his old age, and for his only child. And to whom is he
going to give it? To a young man who attacked him with a gun, who stole
his honest name and who treated him like a dog."--"You've got nothing
to do with that, Moses; it's my affair. We ...."--Mrs. von Rambow had
hitherto remained silent, feeling the full bitterness of her misery,
but now she could bear it no longer; she sprang to her feet, ran up to
Hawermann and laying her hands on his shoulders, said: "No, no! It
cannot be! These kind good people and you shall not be drawn into our
misfortunes. It is our own fault and so we must bear our fate. I will
bear it, and, oh, Alick would a thousand times rather bear it with all
its misery and shame than ... but--but," here she wailed out in spite
of herself, "those poor sisters of his."--Hawermann put his arm gently
round her, led her back to her chair, and whispered: "Try to compose
yourself. You promised to leave the affair in my hands, and I will
conduct it to the end, the happy end."--The tears streamed from Frida's
eyes.--"Good God!" thought Moses, laying his pencil within the
pocket-book, "she's beginning to be generous now. This isn't business.
This isn't business. But it's honest at any rate, and it's enough to
bring tears into the eyes of an old man like me," at the same time
wiping his eyes with the sleeve of his dressing gown. "Now, let me see
how it stands with the Jew."

Meanwhile Hawermann had left the room to fetch Bräsig, and after
telling him in the passage what had happened, came back into the room
with him.--When Bräsig came in he looked quite scared and Hawermann
could not help feeling impatient with him. He went straight to Moses
and said: "Moses, I am ready to sign anything Charles Hawermann wants
me to sign, whether it is that I'm to give the money down, or only
to put my name to a bill; but I can't pay up till S. Anthony's
day."--"Good," answered Moses, "you're a safe man and I'll get you the
money."--Bräsig then went to Mrs. von Rambow, who was leaning her elbow
on the table, and covering her eyes with her hand as though to shield
them from the light. He made her a low bow and asked her how she was,
and when she had murmured some almost inaudible answer, he asked: "And
how is young Mr. von Rambow?"--Frida shivered, and Hawermann, who had
intended to call in the others one by one, saw that it was time to
interrupt his friend, lest Bräsig should ignorantly make the poor lady
yet more wretched than she was already. "Zachariah," he said, "will you
be so kind as to ask Mrs. Behrens and my sister to come here. Louisa
may come with them."--"All right, Charles," he replied. Soon afterwards
he returned with the three women.--Mrs. Behrens rushed up to Mrs. von
Rambow, pressed her in her arms and then burst into tears, and Louisa
stood beside her full of deep but silent sympathy.--"God of Abraham!"
muttered Moses, "what a night it is! They say that they want to do
business, and yet there they are weeping over each other, pressing each
other's hands, embracing and showing themselves generous and loving to
each other, while they leave an old man like me to sit here till
morning. Miss Hawermann," he said aloud, "when you're quite done
showing your kind feeling over there, will you be so good as to bring
me a little wine, for I am an old man."--Louisa immediately brought a
bottle of wine and a glass, and Bräsig said: "Bring me another glass,
Louisa." He no doubt considered that it was an excellent opportunity to
get up a little clinking of glasses with Moses, for seating himself
opposite the old Jew, he began: "Your good health, Moses."--But he
failed in his attempt to induce Moses to join him, for the Jew did not
take the hint, and when Hawermann brought up his sister to where they
were sitting, Moses wetted his pencil and wrote. After Mrs. Nüssler,
Mrs. Behrens came, and Moses wrote down what she told him; Louisa
meanwhile was talking to Mrs. von Rambow somewhat apart from the
others. When he had finished writing, Moses stood up and said: "I have
something to say to you. The four thousand six hundred and fifty pounds
wanted are covered by the promises given me to-night; but this isn't
business, generosity has run away with you all. Now you know the truth.
I am a Jew, and it has also run away with me. I will get the money for
you. But I am an old man, and a prudent man. If Mr. von Rambow will not
place his affairs in the hands of a good bailiff, and make a legal
arrangement that they should be so managed, the contract is broken, and
I refuse to provide the money, for it will mean ruin. When they bury me
under the fir-trees in the cemetery where I have bought a resting
place, they shall never have just cause to say of me: He had a tomb
built for himself, of oak wood too. Shortly before his death he brought
several honest people to misery, merely that he might not lose any
business. Mrs. Nüssler, Mrs. Behrens, Hawermann and Mr. Bräsig are
ruined by him. I have been a business man from my youth up; I began
with a pack on my back; then I became a wool stapler, and lastly a
money lender. I shall die as I have lived a business man, but a prudent
one. Come and help me home, Hawermann. Good night, Mrs. Nüssler,
remember me to Mr. Joseph, and ask him to come and see me sometimes.
Good night, Mr. bailiff Bräsig, come and see me too, but don't preach
to me about the Reform-club, for I am an old man. Good night, Miss
Hawermann, I hope that when you next pass my house, you'll nod to me as
kindly as you did last time. Good night, Mrs. Behrens, when you go to
bed, you can say to yourself, I've had a number of honourable people
under my roof to-day, and even the old Jew was an honourable man." Then
going to Frida, he said: "Good night, Madam, you have shed tears
to-night because your heart was sore; but never fear, all will yet be
well; you have gained a new friend in an old Jew; but the old Jew has
wept for your sorrow and he will never forget that, for his tears do
not flow easily now." He turned away, said "Good night" once more, but
without looking round, and Hawermann led him out, while Louisa lighted
them to the house door. Within the best parlour silence prevailed, each
was busy with his or her own thoughts. The first to recover herself was
Mrs. Nüssler, who called Christian, who was sound asleep in the front
hall, and desired him to get the carriage ready. Christian was much
more active than usual on this occasion, so that when Hawermann
returned from seeing Moses home, he found Mrs. von Rambow and his
sister already seated in the carriage. He had only time to say one or
two kind hopeful words to Mrs. von Rambow, before Mrs. Nüssler said:
"Good night, Charles, she wants to get home to her little child. To
Pümpelhagen, Christian," and then they drove away.

Hawermann remained standing out in the street, lost in thought, and
following the receding carriage with his eyes. Just as he was turning
to go into the house again another carriage drawn by two horses came
slowly down the street, distinctly visible in the bright moonlight. The
old man was now standing in the door-way, his whole figure brought out
clearly by the background of light from the lamp his daughter had put
in the hall to enable him to see his way upstairs. He wanted to see who
was driving through their quiet street at such a late, or rather at
such an early hour in the morning; the carriage came nearer, and at
last stopped. "Take the reins," cried a voice which seemed strangely
familiar to him, and a man who was sitting on the front seat, threw
the reins to the groom behind him, and then sprang out into the
street. "Hawermann, Hawermann! Don't you know me?"--"Frank! Mr. von
Rambow!"--"What's the matter?" asked Frank. "Why are you up so late?"
pushing him a little away from him, "nothing wrong?"--"No--thank
God!--nothing; I'll tell you all about it immediately." Then the young
man threw his arms round Hawermann, pressed him to his heart, and
kissed him. They were not unhappy, on the contrary, their joy was
great, and yet in the sitting-room near them a girl might have been
seen with pale cheeks and large distended eyes staring at the door.
When she got up the floor seemed to rise to meet her, and she pressed
her hands upon her heart to still its wild beating when she heard the
voice she loved so well. She did not know it, could not see it at that
moment, the shock of surprise had come so suddenly; but the modest
flowers she had planted in the garden of her soul, and the shady bower
from which she had so often gazed at the evening star of memory and
where she had hidden away her inmost thoughts, were now lighted up by
the sun of joy, the rays of which were so brilliant that she was fain
to turn away her eyes; but she could not, and she saw new and wonderful
flowers appearing whose existence she had never dreamt of. She saw
rising from a bed of violets the loveliest red roses such as brides
wear, and the whole air was full of the songs of nightingales, showing
that spring had come, the spring of love. As Frank came in, her hands
sank down by her side, and when he clasped her in his arms she no
longer felt the ground tremble as it had seemed to do before. The storm
had passed away and she was happy. They talked a great deal to each
other: "Frank!"--"Louisa!" but none could understand their speech, and
stood round them comprehending nothing, for it was long since they had
heard such language. At last uncle Bräsig took compassion on the young
people who were soaring away over the earth and the clouds, and brought
them back to every day life with a little shock: "Mrs. Behrens," he
said, "when I had three sweethearts at once, I ...."--"Fie, for shame,
Bräsig!" exclaimed Mrs. Behrens in the midst of her tears. "You said
the same to me, Mrs. Behrens, that time that I told you I had written
to young Mr. von Rambow in Paris, through Dr. Ürtling, but I wasn't
ashamed of myself then, and I won't be ashamed of myself now, indeed I
have never been ashamed of myself all my life. You see, Mrs. Behrens,"
and he placed himself in front of the old lady with his feet even more
in the first position than usual, and blew his nose to hide that he at
the same time wiped his eyes. "You see, Mrs. Behrens, that in the last
few years I have had many a randyvoo. The first of them was held in a
meadow ditch ...."--"Bräsig!" cried Mrs. Behrens. "Never fear, Mrs.
Behrens, I won't tell, and I'll even go so far as to tell a lie for
your sake if I find it necessary. The second time was in a cherry tree
with Godfrey and Lina; the third, Rudolph and Mina, again in a cherry
tree; but you mustn't take it ill of me if I am perhaps a little too
proud of having brought about a randyvoo between Paris and Rahnstädt,
for in that also I have succeeded."--"Yes," said Frank, suddenly
falling to the earth from the clouds at that precise moment, "you have,
and I thank you for it with all my heart. Your letter was most
delightful to me, and I have it here, I always carry it about with
me."--"Hm!" said uncle Bräsig, "he carries it about with him, does he!
I'm very much obliged! But now tell me frankly, and honestly: did you
admire the letter so much that you keep it by you, because of the style
in which it is written--for you know Charles, you can't deny that my
style was thought better than yours, when parson Behrens used to teach
us long ago--or did you keep it because the paper had belonged to
Louisa?"--"For both reasons," answered Frank, with a merry laugh, "and
also because of the good news contained in your letter.--Yes," he
continued, going to Hawermann and throwing his arm round him, "now that
all your troubles, your self-made troubles are over, there's no reason
why this separation shouldn't end." Then going to Louisa he gave her a
kiss, and this kiss was a very peculiar one, for it might have been
divided by twelve and yet it was only one kiss in reality. "Bless
me!" cried Mrs. Behrens, "Look, it's actually beginning to get
light."--"Yes," answered Bräsig, "and here you are going about still.
Remember that you're an old woman now, and go to bed."--"Bräsig is
right," said Hawermann, "and you should go too, Louie."--"Come away,
dear child," said Mrs. Behrens, putting her arm round Louisa's waist,
"tomorrow will be another day, and a happy day too," and so saying she
kissed the girl fondly. "Yes," she continued, "a happy life is
beginning for you, and for me through you." They went away. "And
now Mr. von Rambow," said Hawermann. "Why not Frank?" interrupted the
young man. "Well then, Frank, my dear son, you may sleep in my bed
in the same room as Bräsig, I ...."--"I can't sleep," interrupted
Frank.--"Charles," said Bräsig, "I...."--"I can't sleep," interrupted
Frank.--"Charles," said Bräsig, "I don't feel at all sleepy; my usual
bed time, and power of lying still are both gone." He opened the window
and looked out,--"Charles," he said, "it seems to me as if this was
just the right sort of weather for the fish to bite. I must go out, for
I don't feel comfortable in the house, so I'll take my rod, and see
what I can get. I know a capital place to go to, I mean lake Lauban in
the pine wood at Rexow, where I'm sure to catch a good dish of tench.
Good morning, young Mr. von Rambow, good morning, Charles, have a good
talk about everything with your future son-in-law." He then went away.

"Pray tell me, dear father," asked Frank, "why you're up and stirring
at such an unusual hour? I left Paris as soon as I got Bräsig's letter,
and have travelled night and day as far as my own home, where I arrived
the day before yesterday. I found a good deal to attend to there, for
my bailiff is going away to be married, and I couldn't get away again
to come on here till yesterday morning. I had ordered horses to be in
readiness for me at the various posting houses, and when I got to
Rahnstädt--I may as well confess"--and he laughed rather consciously.
"I couldn't help wishing to see the house where Louisa lived, and I
found you all up."--"Ah," sighed Hawermann, "the cause of our being up
was a sad one. It was about the affairs of Mr. von Rambow of
Pümpelhagen, and his wife came herself to see me and tell me what was
going on. She has had a terrible time of anxiety and sorrow; but no one
could have saved her from that, and now everything is in process of
being arranged. I wish to God that you--had arrived a little earlier,
and then the business would have been done at once." Hawermann then
proceeded to relate all that had happened with such feeling and
sympathy, and such a visible desire that all should be put right, that
Frank also began to wish to help, and the best of it was that he could
do it. He had had the good fortune to have had wise guardians and
honest bailiffs who understood their work, so that his wealth had
increased in their hands, and afterwards in his own, for he had not
made a ladder of his inheritance by means of which to descend into the
abyss of dissipation and foolish extravagance; and on the other hand
his good sense and warm heart had saved him from growing into a hard
man. He could therefore act as generously as he wished.

Frank and Hawermann talked long and earnestly together, for both
desired to help Alick, and after careful consideration they agreed that
Frank should go and see Moses that very day. In spite of their frank
open dealing with each other, each of them had a secret from the other.
Hawermann did not say a word to the young man of Alick's debt to his
sisters, for that was a secret Mrs. von Rambow had confided to him with
a breaking heart; he felt that he had no right to tell such a thing as
that, it was the property of another and did not belong to him. Frank
had his secret also, but it must have been a pleasant one, his face
looked so happy, and there was such thorough enjoyment in the way in
which he first stretched out one leg on the sofa, and then drew the
other after it. When Hawermann went on to tell him other things, he
nodded smilingly, and went on nodding until he at last nodded himself
to sleep. Youth and nature were no longer to be debarred from their
rights. When he was asleep old Hawermann rose softly and gazed into his
face on which a smile still lingered, reminding one of the way in which
the last rays of the setting sun are sometimes to be seen flickering on
the clear, calm, transparent waters of some inland lake. He spread a
warm rug over the sleeper and then went out to the arbour in Mrs.
Behrens back garden, the arbour he himself had made in the days of his
sorrow, and seating himself looked up at the window of the room in
which his daughter slept. But was she asleep? Who can sleep when the
sun of joy is shining in his heart; who can sleep when every sound has
become a song of love and happiness. The garden gate clicked softly,
and a lovely girl came in dressed in a white morning gown. She raised
her face to the sky and watched the rising sun, with her hands clasped,
as though she did not fear to blind herself with its dazzling rays, and
as she gazed tears ran down her rosy cheeks. Right, Louisa! The sun is
God's sun, and happiness is also God's; when they shine in our eyes and
threaten to blind us with their beauty tears are good, for they enable
us to bear their brightness. She stooped down over a rose, and drank in
its fragrance, but without plucking it. Right Louisa! Roses are earthly
flowers, and joys are also earthly; they alike bloom for a time, so
leave them to live out their life in peace. If you wish to enjoy them
before their time, you will find a withered flower in your bosom, and a
withered joy in your heart. She walked on slowly, and when she came to
the arbour, she saw her father sitting there, and throwing herself on
his breast, she cried: "Father, father!" Right Louisa! You are in your
proper place, for God's sun is shining in your father's heart, and the
roses of earth are blooming there.

                              CHAPTER XVI.

Mrs. Nüssler took Frida home, and on the way there she dropped many a
word of comfort into her sad heart, and her words fell like rain upon a
dry and parched field. If hope did not spring up strongly in Frida's
heart, she was yet able to wait in patience, and to find rest in Mrs.
Nüssler's reiterated words: "Don't fret about it. Trust my brother
Charles, I am sure that he'll put it all right for you." When Frida
went into her room in the grey of the early morning she felt herself a
different creature from what she had been when she rushed out on the
previous evening. With the spark of hope that had been kindled in her
breast, love and faith had come back to her, and she went up to Sophie
Degel, who was seated in a large arm chair watching over her child, and
stroking her hair gently, said: "I am so much obliged to you, Sophie,
but I'm sure that you're tired; go to bed now."--"Oh, Madam," cried
Sophie starting up--no doubt from the midst of a dream about her lover,
"she has slept quietly all night; she only wakened once, and I gave her
some milk and then she went to sleep again."--"That's right," answered
Mrs. von Rambow, "but now go to bed." When the maid had left the room,
she bent over her little girl's crib and looked at her: no, no, the
baby was far too lovely for the sad fate of a penniless lady of rank;
the mother's thoughts this morning were quite changed from her
desponding forebodings of the evening. Her soul had been writhing in
anguish the night before, and out of that anguish hope had been born
anew in her heart. This child of pain now clasped her in its arms
kissed her and whispered the heavenly words: Faith--and--victory!

Mrs. von Rambow went to bed, and thought of all the people she had seen
that night. Caroline Kegel and Mrs. Nüssler, Mrs. Behrens and Louisa,
Hawermann and Bräsig, she could recall their faces clearly, and could
understand their kindness and sympathy; but there was another person
she could not understand, and that was the old Jew. She remembered his
speaking expression, the dark heavy folds of his dressing gown, his
shadowy wrinkled face--a face such as she had never seen before--then
all seemed to grow more misty--when she thought of the last words the
Jew had said to her as he was going away, she seemed to see him growing
larger and larger, but more and more indistinct, and folding her hands
upon her breast, she fell asleep.

She slept and dreamt of the old Jew, but it was a happy dream; at last
she awoke thinking she heard a carriage drive into the yard. She
listened attentively, but body and mind longed for rest, her head sank
back on the pillow, and her happy dream returned to her and whispered
marvellous things in her ears.

She had not been mistaken after all, a carriage had really driven up to
the door, and her husband had come in it.--Since he had left home Alick
had been driving here, there and everywhere, like a man who goes about
the country to buy up eggs and poultry. He had knocked at every door
like a rag merchant. He had begged from men of business, he had made
his moan to friends with whom he had become acquainted at race
meetings, and who had won his money. No one was at home, and the few
whom he met accidentally, had forgotten their purses at home. As long
as we go about the world spending money, we have many friends, but when
we begin to show ourselves a little out at elbows our friends become
ashamed of knowing us. Alick was to learn this by bitter, bitter
experience. He had gone secretly to Schwerin, without his sisters'
knowledge; he had gone to the Jews who had formerly done business with
him with so much pleasure, but what could he mortgage in these bad
times?--He could see Frank's estates in the distance from the window of
his inn; but where was Frank?--He had done what he could, he had even
gone to his brother-in-law, Mr. von Breitenburg, with whom he had
always been on bad terms, had borne with the cool reception he got, and
had explained the difficulties of his position but without mentioning
his sisters' money, and his brother-in-law had stared at him and
turning his back upon him rudely, had said: "'Tu l'as voulu, George
Dandin!' And you really want me to throw my money into the quicksands
that have swallowed yours? My money that I have made by self-denial and
hard work? For, as you know, your sister didn't bring it to me when I
married her."--Alick was about to have reminded him of the money his
father had once borrowed from Moses for him, when his brother-in-law,
wheeled round suddenly and asked point blank: "Where are the £1950
you swindled your sisters out of?"--That was the last straw--his
brother-in-law knew that--he turned deadly pale, staggered out
of the room, and got into his carriage.--"Where?" asked the
coachman.--"Home."--"Where are we to spend the night?"--"At
home."--"The horses will never manage it, Sir."--"They must."--So he
went home, and when he had got out of the carriage, John went and stood
beside his horses: "Ah," he said, "the two horses next the carriage
were knocked up before with the long distances we went, and now the two
leaders are done for. None of them will be up to any work again."

Alick went upstairs to his room with a slow heavy step. It was full
daylight now, and he saw that his room looked the same as usual. He had
always felt so comfortable there before, and all his life he had been
so much ruled by custom. But his heart was changed, his mind and heart
were changed, so that custom had no longer its old influence over him.
He was anxious and restless, and opened the window that the fresh
morning air might cool his heated brow. He threw himself in the arm
chair before his writing table and pressed his head between his hands.
Then his eyes fell upon a letter. The handwriting was well known to
him, for he had often seen it before; he tore it open; yes, it was from
his sister. What was it his brother-in-law Breitenburg had said to him?
Yes, that was it. He looked out of the window, and saw the sun rising
behind the pine wood at Rexow. He looked at the letter again, it was
full of words of kindness; but what good did that do, he had no
money.--He looked out at the window once more, and saw the wheat field
lying before him. Ah, if the wheat were only ripe, if it were thrashed
out and were found to have borne twentyfold more than usual, ah,
then--no, no, even that could not save him.--He looked at the letter
again: kind words! Somehow the words looked graver and more earnest now
than they had done at first--he could not turn his eyes from them--he
read on to the end, and this was the last sentence: "that is the reason
why I wrote to Frida too, for my dear, dear brother if you have not put
out our money safely we poor women are ruined."--"Yes, ruined," he
exclaimed, "ruined!" and he started up and began to pace the room
rapidly. He went to the window and the face of nature was turned to him
in her full glory. Nature has often a soothing influence on the human
heart; but then the heart must be open to receive the message of the
sunshine, and the green earth and deep blue sky. Alick's heart was not
capable of thus receiving the divine message, his mind and thoughts
were too much under the dominion of small, miserably pitiful human
action. Gold! Gold! He could not coin the sunshine into Louis
d'ors.--He threw himself into his chair again; she, his wife knew all.
He had often lied to her, when he knew she could not find him out; but
he could not lie to her about this, for she knew the truth. He imagined
her coming to him with her child in her arms, and looking at him with
her clear grey eyes, as she asked: "How have we deserved this at your
hands?" Then he thought that his sisters would come with hollow cheeks
and white lips, and say: "Yes, Alick, dear Alick, we are ruined."--And
behind his three sisters, he imagined a grave stern figure appearing--a
figure not of this world--and he knew that it was his father, who
seemed to say to him: "You should have been a prop and support to my
ancient house, and instead of that you have pulled it down from
battlement to basement, and have razed it to the ground."--He could
bear it no longer, and sprang to his feet--the spirits he had called up
were gone--he strode up and down the room, but at length stood still
before the cabinet in which he kept his fire-arms.--He knew a good
place to do the deed. Nothing could be better for his purpose than Lake
Lauban which lay in the pine wood at Rexow. He had often been there
shooting with good old Slang, the forester, in the happy days that were
gone, and he could do it there without fear of disturbance. He took the
pistol out of the cabinet which Triddelfitz had brought him to shoot at
the labourers with. He tried it; yes, it was loaded. He went out of his
room, but as he crossed the landing he saw the door of Frida's room,
the room in which his wife and child were sleeping, and he started
back, staggering as if he had received a blow. The memory of all the
happiness his true hearted wife had brought into his home and the
thought of the noble woman the gentle girl he had married had become,
came over him, and sinking on his knees at her door, he burst into
silent weeping. Who knows but what these hot tears and that fervent
prayer to God may have saved him--we shall see that they did--for God
holds our hearts by a light invisible thread. Alick rose, his prayer
had not been for himself, but for others. He went out of doors, and
walked straight on towards the still, woodland lake. When he was safely
in the pine wood, he threw himself on the grass behind a bush, pulled
the pistol out of his pocket and laid it down by his side. He gazed at
the scene around him hungrily; he looked up once more at the sun, God's
beautiful sun; it was his last look, the thick darkness of night
would soon enclose him. The sunlight blinded him, so he took out his
pocket-handkerchief and covered his eyes with it, and now the last
terrible thoughts came into his mind. He murmured with a deep sigh: "I

"Good morning, Mr. von Rambow," said a kindly human voice beside
him.--Alick pulled the handkerchief off his face and threw it over the
pistol.--"You're up very early," said Zachariah Bräsig, for it was he,
and as he spoke he sat down on the grass beside Alick, "but perhaps
you're going to fish too?" Laying his hand on the handkerchief and
pistol, he added: "Ah, I see you're going to practise pistol shooting."
And rising he asked, "do you see that mark on the pine?--Slang's going
to have the tree cut down--Now, I bet four pence that I hit it, and I
never bet more than that"--bang! and missed it; bang! missed it again,
and so on every time till he had fired off all the six shots the
revolver contained. "Who would have thought it? Missed them all! I've
lost my bet so, here's the four pence. It's a good-for-nothing thing,"
he exclaimed, throwing the revolver far into the lake, "and it's better
there, for children and young people might get hold of it and
imprudently shoot themselves dead with it."--Alick felt his thoughts in
a strange whirl. Between him and the firm determination he had come to
after much internal conflict and painful thought; between him and the
dark portal through which he had made up his mind to pass although
unsummoned, stood a common man, a mere clown as he had often called him
in his thoughts, and withal a man who was as self-satisfied and
impudent as a juggler at a fair. He sprang to his feet, exclaiming:
"Sir!"--"And you, Sir!" cried Bräsig.--"What are you doing here?" asked
Alick.--"And what are you doing here?" retorted Bräsig.--"You're a
meddlesome fool!" cried Alick.--"And you're much the greater fool of
the two!" cried uncle Bräsig, "You were about to do the most horrible
of all deeds here, in your thoughtlessness. You have forgotten
everything: Your wife and your child. H'm! you thought it a small
thing to do, and then you'd be free. Am I not right? Who's the fool
now?"--Alick was leaning against a pine-tree, one of his hands pressed
upon his heart, and the other shading his eyes from the sun, while the
"clown" who had prevented him entering the gates of death stood before
him, fishing-rod in hand.--"Look you," continued uncle Bräsig, "if you
had come here three minutes before I did"--these were the three minutes
he spent weeping and praying at his wife's door--"you would now have
been lying there with a hole through your head, a horrible example to
all, and when you appeared before the throne of God, our Lord God would
have said to you: You didn't know, Tom Fool, what your dear good wife
did for you to-night, and Mr. bailiff Hawermann, and Mrs. Nüssler, and
Mrs. Behrens, and Moses, and--and the others. If our Lord God had
enlightened you on this subject, do you know where you would have felt
yourself to be? In Hell!"--Alick had taken his hand down from his eyes,
and was staring hard at Bräsig: "What? What are you saying?"--"That
£4650 have been got for you this very night, that Moses is raising the
money for you, and that your cousin Frank has come, and he will
probably do more than that for you. But you are a foolish sort of man;
you employ the greyhound Triddelfitz to get you a revolver to fire upon
your labourers, and after all you are about to use it against
yourself."--"Frank here? Frank, did you say?"--"Yes, he is here, but he
didn't come for your sake; he has come to turn Louisa Hawermann into
Mrs. von Rambow. However if you want to know to whom you owe gratitude
just now--Frank will probably do something besides--you must go to your
own sweet wife, and to Charles Hawermann; you may also go to Moses, and
be sure that you don't forget either Mrs. Nüssler or Mrs. Behrens. They
have all united in doing you a good turn this night."

I never wished to shoot myself and I do not know how a poor fellow
feels when he is drawn back from the gates of death by a chance such as
this. I think it must be as provoking as for a weary, way-worn
traveller to be shown a glass of sour beer--and uncle Bräsig looked
uncommonly sour that morning--which he cannot get at. But very soon the
love of life returned, the dear love of life, and with it came the
thought of his young wife and little child, refreshing him as a glass
of cool wine drunk to the last drop: "Do tell me what has happened," he
said. Uncle Bräsig then told him of the good things in store for him,
and Alick staggered forward from his resting place against the pine and
throwing his arms round the old man's neck, exclaimed: "Mr. Bräsig!
Dear Mr. Bräsig! Can it be true?"--"What do you mean? Do you think that
I would lie to you at such a solemn moment." Alick felt dizzy when he
thought of the black abyss which had lain before him, and into which he
had dared to gaze. He fell back a few steps. The sweet sounds he heard
in the air, and the fair earth around him, all that he had formerly
looked at, and listened to with indifference, now filled his heart with
a sense of harmonious beauty he had never hitherto imagined. He hid his
face in his hands and wept bitterly. Bräsig looked at him
compassionately, and going up to him, put his arm round his shoulders
and shook him gently, saying: "We all have our times of bitterness
while we are in this world, and a great part of your misfortunes arise
from your own fault; but the fault doesn't lie entirely on your
shoulders, for what induced your lady mother to ride the devil of
pride, and make you lieutenant in a cavalry regiment? What use is a
lieutenancy to a farmer? It's much the same thing as if David Berger
the town musician, having blown away half the breath in his body in
playing the trumpet, were to wish to turn preacher and hold forth with
only a half allowance of breath; he'd break down to a certainty! But,"
here he drew the young man's arm within his own, "come away from this
place, and then you'll feel better."--"Yes, yes," cried Alick, "you're
right. All my misfortunes spring from the time I was in the army.
It was then that I first got into debt, and after that things grew
worse. But," he added after a short pause and coming to a sudden
standstill, "what am I to say to my wife?"--"Nothing at all," answered
Bräsig.--"No," said Alick, "I have just sworn a solemn oath to myself
to tell her the exact truth from henceforth."--"You're right there,"
replied Bräsig. "Surely you don't think that Mrs. von Rambow will ask
you--plump out--whether you didn't want to shoot yourself this morning?
If you should get into any difficulty in conversation with her when we
go in, I'll lie for you as much as is needful, and I'm sure that it
won't be counted against me, for it would be too horrible if the dear
good young lady were to go through life with the knowledge that the
husband, who ought to take care of her and her child, was once going to
have been cowardly enough to have forsaken them both. No," he said
decidedly, "she must never know it, nor must anyone know it except you
and me. Now listen, she must be still asleep, for it was very late
before she got to bed, and she must have been quite worn out."

When they reached Pümpelhagen, they found Daniel Sadenwater at the
door. "Daniel," said Bräsig, "will you go and get us some breakfast,
for," he added as soon as Daniel was gone, "you must eat to strengthen
yourself, what you have gone through this morning is enough to have
made you feel faint and weak." This time it is difficult to decide
whether Bräsig was actuated by love of his neighbour, or love of
himself, for when the breakfast came Alick could eat nothing, while he
had the appetite of a ploughman.

Frida came into the room about ten o'clock: "What, you here, Mr.
Bräsig, and you too, Alick."--"Yes, dear Frida, I came home this
morning," said the young man in a low weak voice. "And now, you won't
go away again, you'll remain here," said Frida determinately. "Ah
Alick, I have so much to tell you, and good news too. But how did Mr.
Bräsig and you happen to meet." Uncle Bräsig thought that the time had
now come for him to keep his promise about telling a lie: "I went out
early this morning to fish--I hope, Madam, that you won't mind my
having put my fishing tackle in your hall--and I met Mr. von Rambow,
who had gone out for a turn; we looked at his wheat field together
and he asked me to come to breakfast! Oh, Madam, what a capital
sausage your cook makes. You must have got the receipt from Mrs.
Nüssler."--"No," answered Frida slowly, and looking first at Bräsig and
then at Alick, as though she thought it strange that Alick should have
invited the old bailiff to come back with him. "What do you think of
the wheat, Mr. bailiff Bräsig?" H'm! thought Bräsig, there'll be no end
to the lying if I don't look out, I must change the subject, so he
said, "Pardon me, Madam, but you always call me 'bailiff,' I used to be
that, but have now got an advancement, and am made assessor. Apopo,"
turning to Alick, "why have you never come for the money that is
waiting for you at the town-hall in Rahnstädt?"--"What money is that?"
asked Alick. "Why, the two hundred and twenty five pounds that remain
of the three hundred you sent by Regel. The mayor wrote to tell you
about it last week."--"Ah," said Alick, "I've had so many letters
from the Rahnstädt court of justice lately that I've ceased to open
them."--"I know all about it," cried Frida, "Mrs. Nüssler told me. I'll
go and fetch the letter."--"Young Mr. von Rambow," said Bräsig drawing
himself up, "that was another mistake on your part, for we magistrates
are not only the punishers of humanity, but also its ben'factors."--"Do
tell me how the money got there."--"Here's the letter," said Frida,
giving it to her husband. Alick opened it with feelings that may easily
be imagined! His soul had longed for money during the last few weeks,
money, more money! And now an unlooked for sum was going to fall into
his hands; but what was it? "Oh God! Oh God!" he cried starting up and
beginning to pace the room with uneven steps and a troubled mien like
that of a sleep walker: "Neither is this true! Nothing true! In what
hands have I been? Deceived by all! Deceived by myself--and that was
the worst deception!" So saying he rushed out at the door. Frida would
have followed him, but Bräsig held her back: "Leave him to me, dear
Lady," he entreated, "I know how to calm him."--He followed Alick to
the garden where he found him in a half maddened state, and said: "What
mischief are you hatching now, Sir?"--"Get out of my way!" cried Alick.
"No," answered Bräsig, "there's no need of that. You ought to be
ashamed of yourself for distressing your wife so terribly."--"Why
didn't you let me put an end to myself?" cried Alick, "this is a
thousand times bitterer than death. Benefits and what benefits!--to
have to accept benefits at the hands of those one has formerly despised
and injured, on whom one has even brought shame and disgrace. Oh that I
had not to do it--but--if I am to live at all--I _must_. Oh, oh," he
cried, striking his forehead, "why should I live? Why should I live
with this arrow in my heart?" So he raged against himself and against
the world, and uncle Bräsig stood quietly beside him, watching him. At
last he said: "Go on like that a little longer. I'm glad to see you so.
You're getting rid of all your old stuck-up folly, and that's good for
you. What?--you wouldn't have any friendship with honest middle-class
people? Wasn't it so? You were quite happy when any Mr. von something
or other came, or you could even put up with Pomuchelskopps, Slus'uhrs
and Davids, for you thought you could then keep everything snug and
secret. But that sort won't come again. However that's quite a
second'ry matter. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for having dared
to wish that you had shot yourself before the very face of our Lord God
who saved you this morning. What? You are doubly a soo'cide!" Alick was
quite quiet now, but as pale as death. His head swam when he thought of
the abyss into which he had so nearly thrown himself, and Bräsig
catching him in his arms, supported him to the bench on which both his
old father and his wife had sat in their hour of sorrow. When he was
sufficiently recovered, Zachariah Bräsig took his arm again, and said:
"Come away. Come to your wife. That's the proper place for you just
now." And Alick followed him like a lamb. When they got back to the
morning room, Mrs. von Rambow put her arms round her husband, made him
lie down on the sofa and spoke so lovingly to him, that the tears came
into his eyes, and then the ice was broken by the warmth of the spring
sunshine her love spread around him, and his soul was free from the
bondage with which he had bound it--free, though not yet at peace!
Meanwhile Zachariah Bräsig had gone to the window, where he amused
himself by drumming his favourite 'March of the old Dessauer,' and Fred
Triddelfitz, who was passing, came and asked: "Do you want me, Mr.
Bräsig?"--"No," growled Bräsig, "attend to your own business, and see
to the farming."

Soon afterwards a carriage drove up to the door, and Frank and
Hawermann got out of it.

About nine o'clock that morning Frank had gone with Hawermann to see
Moses, and had told him that he would pay the £4650 for his cousin
instead of the people who had promised to do it on the previous
evening. Moses nodded his approval several times, and said: "You are
good for the money, and so are the others; but you are rich, and it's
better that you should do it." When this matter was satisfactorily
arranged and Frank and Hawermann had walked a good way up the street,
the former said: "Will you sit down on this bench for a few minutes,
father, I forgot that I must settle one little point more particularly
with Moses." When he went into the Jew's office, he said: "Moses, my
future father-in-law, Mr. Hawermann, tells me that Pomuchelskopp
intends to sell Gürlitz ...."--"What do you say?" interrupted Moses.
"Hawermann--father-in-law? What's all this?"--"I am going to marry his
daughter." The old Jew rose from his chair with pain and difficulty,
and laying his withered hand upon the head of the young Christian and
nobleman said: "The God of Abraham bless you! You are marrying a good
girl." After a short pause Frank went on to say: "I want you to buy
Gürlitz for me, and to make all the necessary arrangements without
letting my name appear--I don't want anyone--especially Hawermann--to
know about it. I can pay up £15,000 at S. John's day."--"How much shall
I offer?"--"I leave it entirely in your hands; but send in your offer
to-day. I'll come back to-morrow, and then we can talk it over more
particularly."--"Very well," said Moses, "this is business, honest
business, so why should I not do it for you?" Frank went away.

When Alick saw his cousin and Hawermann getting out of the carriage, he
tried to put on a look of indifference, and to make it appear as if
nothing had happened, but his attempt was a signal failure. The storm
that had been raging in his soul had been too terrible to admit of
concealment, and the traces of it were so painfully visible that Frida
and Bräsig put themselves forward to try and divert attention from him;
but he sprang to his feet and was about to rush up to Hawermann and
assure him of his repentance, when Frida putting her arms round him,
stopped him, and said: "Alick, dear Alick, not just now. To-morrow, the
day after, any day will do. You'll find Mr. Hawermann whenever you want
him." Then Hawermann took up his hat, and saying he had a message for
Fred Triddelfitz from his father, left the room. Frank went to Alick
and laying his hand upon his shoulder, said: "Come to another room,
Alick, I have a great deal to tell you." When they had been alone for
some time, Frank came back and asked Frida to join them. Shortly
afterwards Daniel Sadenwater crossed the yard in search of Hawermann,
and when he had gone to the others, passing close to Bräsig on his way
there, uncle Bräsig found it unpleasantly lonely in the morning room,
so he went into the garden, and seating himself in the arbour looked
down in the direction of the Rexow pine wood and lake Lauban. He
thought: "Strange!--What is life? What is human life?" after thinking
of a dozen or so different things small and great for half an hour, he
at last said aloud: "I wish I had something to eat, and that there was
a quiet place for me to refresh myself in!"

And his wish was soon afterwards granted, for Daniel Sadenwater came
and called him in, and when he was shown into the dining room he saw
Hawermann and Alick shaking hands warmly, while Frank came forward
rubbing his hands and glancing at the dinner table, said: "Ah Mr.
Bräsig, ar'n't you hungry?" Frida, who had been looking at her husband
with a sweet smile, and happy face, turned to the old man, and said:
"Mr. bailiff--I mean to say Mr. assessor Bräsig, when we first came to
Pümpelhagen, you sat beside me at dinner, and now that we are going to
leave it, you must sit by me again."--"Going away? Why?"--"Yes, old
friend," answered Hawermann, "you generally know everything long before
other people, but we've stolen a march on you this time. Mr. von Rambow
and Frank have exchanged their properties; it's arranged that Mr. von
Rambow's to have Hohen-Selchow, and Frank, Pümpelhagen."--"Nothing
could be better Charles, and as for your saying that I knew nothing
about it, I assure you that years ago, while he was still a member of
your household, I was quite aware how young Mr. von Rambow would turn
out." He then went to Frank and shook him heartily by the hand.

When dinner was over, there was much talk of the new arrangements to be
made, and everyone saw how much lighter Alick's heart was now that he
was no longer under a monetary obligation to anyone but his own cousin.
He was satisfied with all that was thought necessary for him to do, and
consented willingly to sign a bond that he would engage a thoroughly
good bailiff to manage his estate for him, for he knew that his doing
so was the best security he could give Frank that the money he had lent
him had not been thrown away.

Our story is fast coming to an end now.--In a week's time Moses had
completed the purchase of Gürlitz from Pomuchelskopp. It cost £19,300.
Frank set to work with a will, and went straight from Moses to Schulz,
the carpenter: "Mr. Schulz," he said, "can you keep a secret?"--"That I
can."--"Well,--Pümpelhagen belongs to me now, and I want you to send
some of your people there to pull down the palings you put up round the
paddocks."--"Ah," answered Schulz, "I thought at the time that it
couldn't go on long."--"Then you understand," continued Frank, "and
there's another thing I had to tell you, I am to be put in possession
of Gürlitz at midsummer "--"Oh ho! Then Mr. Pomuchelskopp's going at
last."--"Yes. But now listen. I am going to build a house there for the
widows of the parish clergymen, and I want it to be exactly the same as
the parsonage, and to be as near the church-yard as it is. So make out
your plans tomorrow."--"I needn't do that, for I've two plans already,
one which I took from my own measurements, and the other from the
measurements Miss Hawermann took with her tape measure."--"All
right," said Frank with a smile, "build according to the last you
mentioned."--"But it wasn't right."--"That doesn't matter! I wish you
to follow Miss Hawermann's measurements. Order what wood you need
to-morrow, hire carters here in Rahnstädt and engage a good master
builder to do the masonry; but above all things, hold your tongue. When
you want money you can apply to Moses."--And having said this he went
away. Old Schulz stood in the doorway looking after him and muttering:
"These nobles, these nobles!--What mad notions they have!--Tape
measure!--Apron strings!--But Pomuchelskopp: Out! out!--That's real
good news!"

Frank set off for Hohen-Selchow accompanied by Hawermann and Mr.
Bremer, the bailiff Alick had engaged. Alick then removed there bag and
baggage, and he was followed by the mayor of Rahnstädt, who was to make
out the deed of exchange; Bräsig went with him as assessor. It took
three weeks to complete the arrangements there and to take over the
Pümpelhagen inventory, after that everything was settled

Meanwhile Mrs. Behrens was making preparations for the marriage. I will
say nothing descriptive of this wedding; it was solemnized quietly, and
so I will let it pass quietly from my book.

The day after the marriage, Louisa, Frank, Mrs. Behrens and Hawermann
got into a large carriage, and Bräsig went on the box beside the
coachman, and so they set off for Pümpelhagen. When they went through
Gürlitz they saw a house being built and a number of men busily working
at boards and planks and oaken posts, to say nothing of one great beam
which was lying on the ground ready to be used as a support to the
roof. Schulz, the carpenter, was hard at work in his shirt sleeves
directing his men, and seeing that they did as he desired. Frank made
the coachman stop, and called to the old man: "Is all going on well,
Mr. Schulz?"--"All's going on well."--"You may say what you like now,
Mr. Schulz."--"Here goes then," said Schulz, "but Miss Haw--, I mean to
say, Madam, what trouble you have given me to be sure! When I thought I
had it all right I found it would never do. I had to get another of
those great beams after all."--"What?" asked Louisa, looking at
Frank,--"Nothing, dear child," he answered, putting his arm round her
waist, "but that I have bought Gürlitz, and am having a house built for
the widows of Gürlitz clergymen, and it's to be as nearly as possible
the same as the parsonage."--"For me?" cried little old Mrs. Behrens,
and the tears that had been in her eyes, ever since she first caught
sight of the churchyard in which her husband was sleeping, now fell
down her cheeks, and seizing Frank's hand, she wept tears of joy over
it. Her tears of sadness were thus changed to those of heartfelt
happiness in like manner as with many another child of man.--"And I
thought," continued Frank with quiet kindness, "that my father-in-law
and Bräsig would still live with you. I thought, father, that you would
perhaps undertake the management of this place for me, and that you and
Bräsig would sometimes come and overlook my farming at Pümpelhagen to
see that I am getting on all right."--"Whenever you like," cried Bräsig
from the box. "Didn't I tell you, Charles, that he would turn out
well?"--And Hawermann's eyes sparkled with delight. To be able to
farm again! To lead an active, useful life once more! To do, and
live!----Louisa laid her head on Frank's shoulder, saying: "How dear
and good you are, Frank."--The carriage drove on, and they soon arrived
at Pümpelhagen. There was no triumphal arch this time. But in every
heart there was an arch of gratitude to the Lord God of Heaven.

I have now come to the end of my story, and might stop here, but I know
so well what will happen. Many of my readers will want to know what has
become of the people about whom I have been writing since the year
1848, so I will tell them that.

                             CHAPTER XVII.

A year before I left Mecklenburg to go and live in Thuringia, I went to
see the old homesteads where I had spent so many happy days when I was
young; I went to Rahnstädt, and without stopping there, set out for
Gürlitz on a lovely Sunday afternoon in the month of June. I intended
to visit Hawermann, Bräsig, and Mrs. Behrens, whom I had known from my
boyhood, and whom I had often visited afterwards in Rahnstädt. Godfrey,
I had also known in his most methodistical days, and--strangely
enough--we were very good friends, although he knew that I had quite a
different faith from what he had, perhaps he liked me because I was a
very quiet young fellow.

When I got to Gürlitz I went straight to the house that had been built
for the widows of the parish clergymen. I took hold of the handle, but
the door was locked. "Hm!" said I to myself, "it's Sunday afternoon,
and very hot weather; I daresay that they're having a nap." I went to
the window, and getting on tip-toe was about to look in, when a voice
behind me, said: "You won't see anything there, Sir, for no one lives
there now."--"Doesn't Mrs. Behrens live here?"--"She is dead."--"And
Hawermann?" I asked. "He has gone to live with his daughter, Mrs. von
Rambow, at Pümpelhagen."--"Is the parson at home?"--"Yes, he's at
home," said old George, the parson's man, for it was he, "yes he's at
home, and so is Mrs. Baldrian, they are at coffee just now."

I went into the parsonage and knocked at the parlour door. "Come in!"
cried a fat voice. I entered, and--well I've seen many a strange thing
in my life, many a thing that has quite taken my breath away with
surprise, but I never was so much astonished, so much taken aback
before--there sat Godfrey with his hair cut short like a reasonable
mortal, and that part of his body one had formerly thought like the
hollow of Mrs. Nüssler's baking trough was now well rounded, and
evidently on the increase; his cheeks which were pale and hollow when I
first knew him were now sleek and rosy, and his full red lips seemed to
say: "We always find our dinner a pleasant thing, and the teeth behind
us have done their duty well." The man looked as if he liked good
eating, but still one could see that he was one who did his duty to the
uttermost. There was nothing untidy about him, everything was as neat
and trim as possible, and in short, one saw in Godfrey a specimen of
hard work followed by quiet rest and good meals. Well, well. There's
very little to be said about Mrs. Lina's personal appearance. She had
evidently taken Mrs. Behrens as an example of what a clergyman's wife
should be. "Hm!" said I to myself, "there must be something fattening
in the air here."

When we had all expressed our pleasure in meeting again, we sat down,
and I began to ask questions. It was from Bräsig that I got to know of
the story I have been telling, but Hawermann also told me a little, for
he was always very kind and affectionate to me, and other things I
learnt from different people whom I questioned; I wrote it all down at
the time when it was fresh in my memory, and as this happened in my
youth or strom, I have called the book: "Ut mine Stromtid."

Godfrey gave me a great deal of information, and his wife Lina every
now and then helped him with some little incident he had forgotten;
when I rose to go on to Pümpelhagen--for I had also known Frank in the
days of my youth--Godfrey said: "Yes, go; you'll find everyone
assembled there to-day, and we shall soon follow you with our three
girls, the eldest of all, a boy, is at school."

I walked along the path leading from Pümpelhagen to Gürlitz church,
thinking of all that I had heard. It was the old old story that has
been told ever since the earth was created: Joy and sorrow, birth and

The first of our friends who died was Bolster, and he did not die a
natural death--I do not mean that he killed himself--no indeed! One day
Rührdanz, the weaver, came to Rexow with a loaded gun; he put a string
round Bolster's neck, and led him away to the garden. The new "crown
prince" followed them unnoticed, and as was afterwards said, behaved
very badly, by running about yelping. A shot was fired, and then
Rührdanz came back to the house and told his employers that Bolster had
had a Christian death, for he had shot him in the shoulder instead of
through the head, thinking it would be less of a shock to him. When
Mrs. Nüssler had given him a glass of schnaps, the weaver took up the
glass slowly and drank the contents sadly; then he said, that he and
the other Gürlitz labourers had been before the Rahnstädt court of
justice that morning, and that they were all condemned to a year's
imprisonment, besides which he was to have six months extra, for he was
looked upon as the head or ring-leader of the rebellion. He left the
room, but came back again to say: "Ah, Mrs. Nüssler, don't forget my
old woman. All the mischief comes from our having had no papers."

The next to die was Joseph himself. Ever since he had given up his
farm, he had led a much busier life than before. He spent the whole day
walking about the fields, generally going to the places where no work
was going on, and there he would stand for a long time shaking his head
and saying nothing. One Sunday, between Christmas and new year's day,
when the snow was lying a foot deep over the fields, he went out to
walk round the farm, and while doing so fell into one of the deep
ditches. He came home quite numb with cold. Mrs. Nüssler administered
bucketsful of camomile tea, which he drank obediently, but next morning
he said: "What can't be, can't be, mother. What must be, must be. It
all depends upon circumstances, and no one can do anything in this
case," and soon after that he slept away quietly. He had worked himself
to death, and Mrs. Nüssler thought the following words the most
suitable that could be found for his epitaph: "He died at his post."

Then Moses died. The old man had lived a just and upright life, and he
died as he had lived. He died true to his faith, and when he was dead,
he was honoured as one of the tribe of Judah, for he was one of that
tribe. David went to the funeral with a torn coat and with ashes on his
head, and many Christians followed the old Jew to the grave, and saw
him laid in the tomb he had made ready for himself. I firmly believe
that he is now in Abraham's bosom, even though Christians also go
there. Three people visited his grave the day after he was buried, and
these were Hawermann and the two Mrs. von Rambow--Frida was paying a
visit at Pümpelhagen--Hawermann dried the tears from his eyes as he
looked down at the resting place of the old Jew, and the two ladies
each put a garland of fresh flowers on it. When they were walking
thoughtfully through the town meadows to Rahnstädt, Hawermann said: "He
was a Jew in religion, a Christian in practice."

And now it was Henny's turn--our brave old Henny! Pomuchelskopp had
gone to live in Rostock, taking with him his whole family in the blue
glass coach with the coat of arms on the panel, and a string of wagons
full of furniture. When trade grew better again he gained a nickname
for himself. He was called 'much too cheap,' for he never lost an
opportunity of telling every one who would listen to him, how sad had
been his fate in selling Gürlitz, as he had done, and he always ended
his story by heaving a tempestuous sigh and saying: "Much too cheap;
very much too cheap!" His brave old Henny looked after the house
strictly, and kept up discipline; but the devil seemed to possess all
the Rostock maid servants, they would not submit to the treatment, that
the Gürlitz maids had had to bear. No servant would remain for more
than a week, except the cook, a Päsel, and even she turned restive, and
worthless creature that she was, rebelled after being in the house
three months. Henny was exasperated with such conduct, and seizing the
tongs, knocked her on the head with them. The cook made no answer, for
she fell down senseless on the hearth. A doctor came and talked a great
deal about suffusion, &c., but the end of it was that the poor woman
had to be taken to the hospital. The doctor was an honest man, so he
made the case known to the authorities, and Henny had to undergo trial
for her misdeeds. She could not have been touched if she had used a
stick of the same length and thickness as the tongs she had handled so
courageously! But tongs are not mentioned in Mecklenburg law books, so
Henny was condemned, besides paying costs, and damages to the injured
servant, to six weeks imprisonment. Muchel protested, appealed,
supplicated, but it availed him nothing; Henny had to suffer
imprisonment because of the great courage she had shown. Pomuchelskopp
told everyone he could get to listen to him how unjustly his wife had
been treated; he reviled the judges, and unfortunately for him, these
great personages heard what he had said and gave him four weeks in jail
for his evil speaking. He tried to buy himself off, but in vain; even
senator Bank said: no, they would see how the coward liked his
quarters. So the husband and wife occupied different parts of the same
prison during the Christmas and New Year's holidays of 1852--1853; when
they had been there for a fortnight, the jailer went to his wife, and
said: "What a difference there is between these two people, Sophie; he
walks restlessly up and down his room cursing God, and the whole world,
while she sits stiff and straight in the same place and attitude as
when she first came here." Meanwhile Mally and Sally gave a large
tea-party to their gentlemen and lady friends in honour of their
parents' misfortunes, and Mr. Süssmann who had taken another place as
shopman somewhere in Mill Street, of course out of compassion for his
employer, was one of the guests.

As soon as our two old friends were once more free, Pomuchelskopp went
to the parlour and bewailed his fate to his two daughters, and Henny
made her way straight to the kitchen where she found a charwoman in
command, for while she had been out of the house, a great indignation
meeting had been held in Slepegrell's dancing room, when all the
Rostock maid servants entered into a solemn covenant with each other,
that none of them should take the Pomuchelskopp's place. That was the
reason of the charwoman being there. "What do you get a day?" asked
Henny. "One and four pence," was the answer. Henny snatched up the
tongs, but presently bethought herself of what had happened on the last
occasion. The effort of restraining herself was too great; she was
taken ill upon the spot; in three days she was dead, and in other three
days she was buried. Neither Pomuchelskopp nor his two daughters know
where she lies, and whenever they are asked their invariable answer is:
"Over there,--she is buried over there." Gustavus, who is now a farm
bailiff, and who often goes to town on business, is the only one who
knows the place. He sometimes takes one of the little ones with him,
and showing him the grave, he says: "Look, Chris; that's where our
mother lies."

I have been obliged to relate a great many sad events, and am not
nearly done yet; but why should I not tell some of the pleasant things
I also heard at the parsonage. For many a long year there was much
happiness in the house that had been built for the widows of the
clergymen of Gürlitz. Mrs. Behrens would sit at the window in the
evenings looking at her husband's grave, and ah, how often she longed
to go to him; then, when Dorothy brought in the lamp, she turned away
from the window, and seeing the old furniture, the old pictures, and
even the duster lying in its old place, she would recall to her memory
how she and her pastor used to sit under those pictures and look at the
homely objects she saw around her, and she was glad to live. Hawermann
worked and laboured diligently; no longer for strangers, but for his
children and his children's children, for Louisa had several pretty
little girls. Once he had a pleasant surprise. Fred Triddelfitz came to
see him--of course he was dressed in a blue surtout--accompanied by the
little member of the women's council, and told him that he had a good
estate in Pomerania, and that he was engaged to little Anna. He talked
a great deal to Hawermann that evening about his arrangements, and when
he was gone, Bräsig said: "You were right again, Charles--but who
would have thought it? Your grey hound has become a sensible man, but
don't you crow over that as your doing, it was Anna not you who
reformed him," As for Bräsig himself, he employed himself in going
about the country and picking up news. Now he was at Rexow, now at
Pümpelhagen, and now at Rahnstädt, but his favourite place of resort
was Hohen-Selchow. He went there nearly every three months, and when he
came home he said: "All's going on well, Charles, he has quite given up
farming, and spends his day in the barn inventing. His inventions are
no good of course; but Bremer says that he couldn't wish for a better
master, and Mrs. von Rambow's as happy and contented as a blessed angel
in Paris. But Charles, Mr. von Rambow's by no means stupid. He has
invented something that I mean to adopt. This is it. Take an old hat,
cut a good sized hole in the front of it and put a small lantern
inside, and then you may ride as safely by night as by day." Bräsig was
as good as his word, and really made use of Alick's discovery, the
effect of which was to terrify all the people he happened to meet. But
once when he was at Hohen-Selchow he had an attack of gout that would
have been of little consequence, but which seized both legs and then
mounted into his stomach, because of a chill he got on his journey
home. And that caused his death.

Mrs. Behrens, Mrs. Nüssler, and his old friend Charles Hawermann came
round his bed, and Mrs. Behrens asked: "Dear Bräsig, shall I not send
for the young parson."--"No, don't, Mrs. Behrens. You've called me an
old heathen all my life long; perhaps I was wrong in acting as I have,
but oh, how I always hated methodistical twaddle..... It's better to
leave me alone, and I like it better so. Charles, remember that my
sister's child, Lotta, is to have £300, and the rest of my money is to
go to the Rahnstädt school; for, Charles, Mrs. Behrens has enough to
live on, and so have you, but my heart aches for the poor little
school-children. Mrs. Nüssler has to live, my god-child Mina has to
live, you have to live, Charles, and you all have to live, while I have
to die." Soon after that he became delirious, and his mind went back to
the time of his boyhood; he thought he was herding his father's sheep,
and that an old ram was giving him great trouble, so he called Mrs.
Nüssler to help him, and she seated herself on his bed and supported
him in her arms. He then began to talk of his three sweethearts, and
Mrs. Nüssler, saying over and over again that it was she alone he had
really loved, and Mrs. Nüssler, kissed the words away from his mouth:
"I know that, Bräsig; my dear old Zachariah, I know that," she said.
His delirium grew worse, and he spoke of his having been appointed
assessor--of the law of evidence--of young Mr. von Rambow and Lake
Lauban, and of his having thrown the pistol into the water, and of
having lost four pence on a wager. And then a wonderful light came over
his face as he told his dear old love, Mrs. Nüssler, stories about the
twins, especially Mina, and of Charles Hawermann and Louisa, but all
confusedly and mixed up together. He held Mrs. Nüssler's hand tight all
the while. Suddenly he raised himself and said: "Mrs. Nüssler, please
put your hand on my head; I have always loved you. Charles Hawermann,
will you rub my legs, they're so cold." Hawermann did as he was asked,
and Bräsig said very slowly with one of his old smiles: "In style I was
always better than you." That was all.

Our dear little Mrs. Behrens was not long in following him.--There are
very few people who are happy here on earth, and who are yet quite
happy to die. She was one of the few, she was perfectly satisfied with
her lot here below, but whenever she thought of the world above, a
picture of old times came into her mind, and the happy sound of old
days rang in her ears, for she always imagined Heaven to be like a
pretty little village church, where the angels sang and her pastor
preached. She is now with him once more, and let us think of her as
putting on his gown and bands for him and singing with him in the
heavenly quire; not "songs for the dying," as of yore, but "songs of
the Resurrection."

As I was thinking over all of these events, I turned the corner of the
path at the arbour where so many of the Pümpelhagen family had sat in
their hour of sorrow, and I saw three little girls of from four to
eleven years old playing on the grass. A lady with a kind, gentle, and
happy face was seated in the arbour sewing, she let her work fall into
her lap, and smiling at the little girls threatened them with her
finger, saying: "There can be too much of a good thing." Beside her was
a strong active looking man reading a newspaper. He put the paper down
and shook his head as much as to say that he could not attend to it
just then. A little further off sat an old man with a small maiden of
twelve years old leaning against his knee, he interrupted her childish
chatter to say to the lady: "Let them make as much noise as they like,
Louie, they'll be only too apt to grow steady and wise before their
time."--When I got quite round the corner the old man exclaimed: "Bless
me! Isn't that?"--And Frank and Louisa came forward to welcome me, and
Frank said: "That's right, Fritz, I am glad that you've come to see
us."--I said: "My Louisa," for my wife's name is Louisa, "wishes to be
very kindly remembered to you, Mrs. von Rambow."--And then there was a
great deal of talk amongst us for a little while, but our pleasure did
not last long, for suddenly there was noise and rushing in the garden
as if the wild huntsman and his pack had broken loose, and I saw
running towards us four boys with brown eyes and brown cheeks, grey
trousers and grey jackets. A tiny little lad of six rushed up to Frank,
threw his arms round his knees, and shouted over his shoulder: "I'm
first!"--"Yes," said another, who might perhaps be twelve years old, "I
should think so, for you ran through the meadow; but I say what a mess
you're in! Won't mother scold you!"--The little fellow looked down at
his trousers, and certainly if his mother was satisfied, he might be so
too.--"Won't your parents be here soon?"--"Yes," said the eldest,
"They're just behind us. Our grandmother's coming too, and Mrs. von
Rambow, who arrived at our house yesterday evening."--"What, Frida!"
cried Louisa. "I'm so glad!"--A few minutes later, Rudolph and Mina
came in sight, and they might be said to resemble the noontide of a
beautiful day, when the sunlight is brightening the landscape far and
wide, when the shadows are short, and when men pull off their coats
that they may work better and more easily. Rudolph is now a man of
weight amongst his colleagues, for he has not only given up the old
system of farming, which in many respects was a mistaken one, but makes
money by the change for himself and teaches others to follow his
example, thus benefitting the whole land. Behind them came Mrs. Nüssler
and Frida. Mrs. von Rambow looked round her half sadly when she reached
the arbour, and after the first words of welcome, Louisa said to her
eldest daughter: "Frida, bring your aunt a chair," for she remembered
that Mrs. von Rambow had once said that she disliked sitting on
the bench where she had been so miserable.--Mrs. Nüssler went to
Hawermann and asked: "How are you, brother Charles?"--"Very well, thank
you," shouted Hawermann, for his sister had grown very deaf. "And
you?"--"Very well except for my deafness. You say that must have been
caused by a chill. But, how did I get a chill without knowing it? I'll
tell you, Charles, it comes from Joseph's having talked so much during
the last years of his life, that he must have strained my ears. He
couldn't help it you know, it was his nature to talk."--Parson Godfrey
now arrived with Lina and three children. The children all played
together while their parents talked. Towards evening tables were spread
in the open air, one for the parents alone, and one for the children.
Louisa's eldest daughter managed everything at the children's table,
and grandfather Hawermann looked after the other, and they both acted
on a different plan from that of our old acquaintance Henny. How kind
and gentle they all were that day at Pümpelhagen.--While we were all
enjoying ourselves at supper we saw some one coming up the garden path.
It was Fred Triddelfitz accompanied by his little wife. Everybody
jumped up to welcome them, and for a few minutes there was a regular
fire of questions and answers. Suddenly that monster Fred Triddelfitz
caught sight of me, and asked: "How did you get here, Fritz?"--"And how
did you get here?" I asked in my turn.--"Why, Fritz, I hav'n't seen you
for seven cold winters," he said.--"Nor I you, Fred," I replied.--And
so we went on Fritzing and Fredding each other till everyone was
laughing at us.--"Fritz," he asked, "do you still write books?"--"Yes,
Fred, I've got a whole heap of my books now."--"Well then, Fritz,
do me a favour; I entreat of you _not_ to bring me into one of your
books."--"Ah," I said, "I can't gratify you there, Fred, for I've
got you in one already."--"What am I doing in it?" he asked
quickly.--"You're at the '_randyvoo_' in the great ditch, you
know."--"What's that?" asked Louisa, who was sitting opposite
me.--Frank laughed heartily and said: "I'll tell you afterwards."--"No,
no," cried Fred.--"What's the meaning of all this?" asked Anna,
looking first at me, Fritz Reuter, and then at her husband, Fred
Triddelfitz.--I was silent, and he said: "I'll tell you another time."
Old grandfather Hawermann laughed aloud. When we were alone together
after supper, Fred laid his hand on my arm, and asked: "Who told you
about the rendez-vous?"--"Bräsig," I answered.--"So I thought," he
said, "well, Bräsig was the chief actor in the whole story."--"You're
right there," I replied.

Perhaps I may be asked: Where are Pümpelhagen, Gürlitz and Rexow? You
will look for them in the map in vain, and yet they are in Germany;
indeed I hope that they may be found in more than one district of our
fatherland. Pümpelhagen is wherever a nobleman lives who thinks no
higher of himself than of his fellowmen, who looks upon the lowest of
his labourers as his brethren, and who works with and for them. Gürlitz
is wherever a clergyman is to be found who preaches what he believes to
be the truth, but who is not self-sufficient enough to expect that his
people should hold the faith exactly as he holds it; who makes no
difference between rich and poor, and who is not contented with
preaching alone, but who works amongst his people, helping and
counselling them whenever it is needful. Rexow is wherever a
middle-class man labours to increase the knowledge and usefulness of
others, as well as his own, and who thinks more of the good of those
amongst whom he lives than of heaping up riches. Wherever these three
places are bound to each other by the love of sweet tender-hearted
women and merry children, the three villages may be found close


[Footnote 1: _Translator's note_. Muschüken (from monsieur) is the
Mecklenburg name for rusks.]

[Footnote 2: _Translator's note_. One of the Chauffeurs who infested
the Rhineland.]

[Footnote 3: _Translator's note_. A corruption of "injuriarum."]

[Footnote 4: _Translator's note_. Wer niemals einen Rausch gehabt, das
ist kein braver Mann, &c. &c.]

[Footnote 5: _Translator's note_. Bowl is made of wine, water, herbs
and fruit highly iced.]

                                THE END.

                           *   *   *   *   *
                           *   *   *   *   *

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