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Title: In the Year '13 - A Tale of Mecklenburg Life
Author: Reuter, Fritz, 1810-1874
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Notes:

   1. Page scan source:
      http://www.archive.org/details/inyearatalemeck00reutgoog



                               COLLECTION

                                   OF

                             GERMAN AUTHORS


                                VOL. 4.


                           *   *   *   *   *


                    IN THE YEAR '13 BY FRITZ REUTER.


                             IN ONE VOLUME.



                           TAUCHNITZ EDITION.

                          By the same Author,

                AN OLD STORY OF MY FARMING DAYS  3 vols.

                               *   *   *



                            IN THE YEAR '13:


                                   A

                        TALE OF MECKLENBURG LIFE


                                   BY

                             FRITZ REUTER.



                   TRANSLATED FROM THE PLATT-DEUTSCH

                                   BY

                           CHARLES LEE LEWES.



                         _Authorized Edition_.



                              LEIPZIG 1867

                          BERNHARD TAUCHNITZ.

       LONDON: SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE & RIVINGTON, Limited.
          ST. DUNSTAN'S HOUSE, FETTER LANE, FLEET STREET, E.C.
   PARIS: C. REINWALD & CIE, 15, RUE DES SAINTS-PÈRES; THE GALIGNANI
                      LIBRARY, 224, RUE DE RIVOLI.



                         TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.


In presenting to the public this, the first English translation of one
of Reuter's works, it may not be superfluous to say a few words
concerning their author.

Though his name is unknown in England, in Germany he is one of the most
popular authors of the day. His stories and poems are written in
_Platt-deutsch_, and are read wherever that dialect is spoken, that is
to say throughout Northern, or Lower, Germany,--extending from Memel in
the extreme North East to Aix-la-Chapelle in the South West,--and even
the Germans of the more southern and higher-lying States, where
Platt-deutsch is unknown, now frequently learn it for the sole purpose
of reading Reuter's works.

The following story, called in the original "Ut de Franzosentid", was
published in 1860, and rapidly passed through several editions. It is
one of a series to which Reuter has given the name of "Olle Kamellen"
literally "old camomile-flowers", by which he means "old tales, old
recollections, useful as homely remedies." It is one of the most
popular of his works, and perhaps also the most translateable. Hence
the reason for bringing it first before the English public.

The scene of the story is laid in Stavenhagen, or Stemhagen as it is
called in Plattdeutsch, Reuter's native town. The characters introduced
were all real people; and even their names have been retained.

The story opens at the moment when the German people was at length
beginning to rise against Napoleon, and it gives a vivid picture of the
state of feeling which then prevailed in Germany towards the French.
The Germans were in the galling position of being forced to treat the
French as allies, whilst hating them with an intense and unconquerable
hatred. And this hatred, wide-spread over the whole country, is shown
in the expressions of detestation ever bursting forth at the mention of
the French name.

The language in which the story is written is closely allied to the
Saxon, and has much more resemblance to English than High German has;
but it is nevertheless a dialect, and bears the same relation to the
High German as the child's language does to the man's; and my aim has
been, while endeavouring to make the translation read like an English
work, to adhere as closely as possible to the form and simplicity of
the original.

Hampstead, _June_ 1867.



                            IN THE YEAR '13.



                               CHAPTER I.

    Showing why Miller Voss could not be made a bankrupt, and how he
            helped the Amtshauptmann in a great difficulty.


I was baptised, and had godfathers: four of them. And, if my godfathers
were still alive, and walked through the streets with me, people would
stop and say: "Look, what fine fellows! you won't see many such." They
were indeed godfathers! And one of them was a head taller than the
others, and towered above them as Saul did above his brethren. This was
the old Amtshauptmann Weber. He used to wear a well-brushed blue coat,
yellowish trousers, and well-blacked boots, and his face was so marked
by the small-pox that it looked as if the Devil had been threshing his
peas on it, or as if he had sat down upon his face on a cane-bottomed
chair. On his broad forehead there stood written, and in his eyes too
you could read, "Not the fear of Man but the fear of God." And he was
the right man in the right place.

About eleven o'clock in the morning he might be seen sitting in an
arm-chair in the middle of the room, whilst his wife fastened a napkin
under his chin, put the powder on his hair, tied it behind and twisted
it into a neat pigtail.

When the old gentleman walked up and down under the shade of the
chestnut-trees at noon, his little rogue of a pigtail wagged merrily,
and nodded over the collar of his blue coat as if it wanted to say to
any one who would listen: "Yes, look old fellow! What do you think of
me? I am only the tip of his hair, and if I can wag so comically out
here, you may fancy how merry it must be inside his head."

When I took him a message from my father, and managed to give it
straight off, he would pat me on the head, and then say: "Now, away
with you, boy. Off, like a shot! When you pull the trigger the gun
mustn't hang fire, but must go off like a flash of lightning. Run to
Mamsell Westphalen, and ask her for an apple."

To my father he would say: "Well, friend, what do you think? Are not
you glad that you have a son, boys are much better than girls; girls
are always fretting and crying. Thank God, I have a boy too, my
Joe.--What say you, eh!"

My father told my mother. "Do you know," said he, "what the old
Amtshauptmann says? Boys are better than girls." Now, I was in the room
at the time and overheard this, and of course I said to myself: "My
godfather is always right, boys _are_ better than girls, and every one
should have his deserts." So I took the large piece of plumcake for
myself and gave my sister the small one, and thought not a little of
myself, for I knew now that I was the larger half of the apple. But
this was not to last; the tables were to be turned.--

One day--it was at the time when the rascally French had just come back
from Russia, and everything was in commotion--some one knocked at the
Herr Amtshauptmann's door. "Come in," cried the old gentleman, and in
came old Miller Voss of Gielow, ducking his head nearly down to the
ground by way of a bow.

"Good afternoon, Herr Amtshauptmann," said he.

"Good morning. Miller."

Now, though the one said "good afternoon" and the other said "good
morning," each was right from his own point of view; for the Miller got
up at four o'clock in the morning, and with him it was afternoon, while
with the Amtshauptmann it was still early in the morning, as he did not
rise till eleven.

"What is it, Miller?"

"Herr Amtshauptmann, I've come to you about a weighty matter.--I'll
tell you what it is:--I want to be made a bankrupt."

"What, Miller!"

"I want to be made a bankrupt, Herr Amtshauptmann."

"Hm--Hm," muttered the Amtshauptmann, "that's an ugly business." And he
paced up and down the room scratching his head. "How long have you been
at the Bailiwick of Stemhagen?"

"Three and thirty years come Midsummer."

"Hm--Hm," again muttered the Amtshauptmann, "and how old are you,
Miller?"

"Come peas-harvest five-and-sixty, or may be six-and-sixty; for as to
our old Pastor Hammerschmidt he wasn't much given to writing, and
didn't trouble his head about parish registers, and the Frau Pastor,
who made the entries--I' faith she had a deal to do besides--only
attended to them every three years, so that there might be enough to
make it worth while; and then some fine afternoon she would go through
the village and write down the children's ages, but more according to
height and size than to what they really were; and my mother always
said she had cut off a year from me, because I was small and weakly.
Bat less than five-and-sixty I'm not. I am sure of that."

During this speech the Amtshauptmann had kept walking up and down the
room, listening with only one ear; he now stood still before the
Miller, looked straight into his eyes, and said sharply: "Then, Miller
Voss, you're much too old for anything of the kind."

"How so, Herr?" exclaimed the poor Miller, quite cast down.

"Bankruptcy is a hard matter; at your age you could not carry it
through."

"Do you think so, Herr?"

"Yes, I do. We are both too old for it. We must leave such things to
younger people. What do you think folks would say if I were to get
myself declared bankrupt? Why, they would say, of course, the old
Amtshauptmann up at the Schloss has gone quite mad! And," added he,
laying his hand gently on the Miller's shoulder, "they would be right,
Miller Voss. What say you, eh?"

The Miller looked down at the toes of his boots and scratched his head:
"It's true, Herr."

"Tell me," said the old gentleman, patting him kindly on the shoulder,
"where does the shoe pinch? What is troubling you?"

"Troubling! say you, Herr Amtshauptmann," shouted the Miller, clapping
his hand to the side of his head as if a wasp had stung him.
"Troubling! Torturing, you mean. Torturing!--That Jew! That cursed Jew!
And then the lawsuit, Herr Amtshauptmann, the cursed lawsuit!"

"Look you, Miller, that's another of your follies, entangling yourself
at your age in a lawsuit."

"True enough, Herr; but when I began it I was in my prime and thought
to be able to fight it out; now, I see clear enough that your lawsuit
has a longer breath than an honest Miller."

"But I think it's coming to an end now."

"Yes, Herr Amtshauptmann, and then I shall be hard up, for my affairs
are in a bad way. The lawyers have muddled them, and as for my uncle,
old Joe Voss, why his son who will soon get possession of all is a
downright vagabond, and they say he's sworn a great oath to oust me
from the Borcherts Inn at Malchin. But I have the right on my side,
Herr Amtshauptmann. And how I got into this lawsuit I don't know to
this day, for old Frau Borcherts while she was still alive--she was
the aunt of my mother's sister's daughter--and Joe Voss--he was my
cousin...."

"I know the story," interrupted the Amtshauptmann, "and if you would
follow my advice, you would make it up."

"But I can't, Herr, for Joe Voss's rascally son wouldn't be satisfied
with less than half the money, and if I pay that, I shall be a beggar.
No, Herr Amtshauptmann, it may go as it will, but one thing I'm
resolved on, I won't give in though I go to prison for it. Is a ruffian
like that, who struts about with his father's money in his pocket,
spending it right and left, and who doesn't know what it is to have to
keep up a house in these hard times--and who's never had his cattle
carried off by those cursed French, nor his horses stolen out of the
stable, nor his house plundered,--is such a rascal as that, to get the
better of me? By your leave, Herr, I could kick the fellow."

"Miller Voss, gently, Miller Voss," said the old gentleman, "the
lawsuit will come to an end sometime or other. It is going on."

"Going, Herr Amtshauptmann? It's flying, as the Devil said when he tied
the Bible to his whip and swung it round his head."

"True, true. Miller Voss; but at present you're not much pressed."

"Pressed? Why, I'm fixed in a vice--in a vice, I say! That Jew, Herr
Amtshauptmann, that thrice cursed Jew!"

"What Jew is it?" asks the Herr Amtshauptmann. And the Miller twirls
his hat between his finger and thumb, looks cautiously round to see
that no one is listening, draws closer to the old gentleman, and,
laying a finger on his lip, whispers: "Itzig, Herr Amtshauptmann."

"Whew!" said the old Herr. "How came you to be mixed up with that
fellow?"

"Herr Amtshauptmann, how came the ass to have long ears? Some go to
gather wild strawberries, and get stung by nettles. The sexton of
Gägelow thought his wheelbarrow was full of holy angels, and when he
had got to the top of the mountain and expected to see them fly up to
heaven, the Devil's grandmother was sitting in the wheelbarrow, and she
grinned at him and said: 'Neighbour, we shall meet again!' In my
troubles, when the enemy had taken everything I had, I borrowed two
hundred thalers from him, and for the last two years I have been
obliged to renew the bill from term to term, and the debt has crept up
to five hundred thalers, and the day after to-morrow I shall be forced
to pay it."

"But, Miller, did you sign?"

"Yes, Herr Amtshauptmann."

"Then you must pay. What's written is written."

"But, Herr Amtshauptmann, I thought...."

"It can't be helped, Miller; what's written is written."

"But the Jew?..."

"Miller, what's written is written."

"Then, Herr Amtshauptmann, what shall I do?"

The old gentleman began again to walk backwards and forwards in the
room, tapping his forehead. At last he stopped, looked earnestly in the
Miller's face, and said: "Miller, young people get out of such
difficulties better than old ones; send me one of your boys."

The old Miller looked once more at the toes of his boots, and then
turning his face away, said in a tone which went straight to the old
Amtshauptmann's heart: "Sir, whom shall I send? My Joe was ground to
death in the mill, and Karl was carried off to Russia by the French
last year, and he's not come back."

"Miller," replied the old Amtshauptmann patting him on the back, "have
you then no children at all?"

"I have," said he wiping a tear from his eye, "a little girl left."

"Well, Miller, I am not particularly fond of girls myself, they are
always fretting and crying."

"That's true, sir, they _are_ always fretting and crying."

"And they can be of no use in a matter like this, Miller."

"But what will happen to me then?"

"The Jew will put in an execution, and will take away everything."

"Well, Herr Amtshauptmann, the French have done that twice already, so
the Jew may as well try it now. At any rate he will leave the millstone
behind.--And you think I'm too old to be made bankrupt?"

"Yes, Miller, I fear so."

"Well, then, good day, Herr Amtshauptmann." And so saying he went away.

The old gentleman stands still a while and looks after the Miller as he
goes across the courtyard of the Schloss, and says to himself: "It's
hard for one old man to see another gradually going to ruin through the
bad times and bad people. But who can help him?... The only thing is to
give him time.--Five hundred thalers!! Who in these days can pay down
five hundred thalers?... Take away old Roggenbom of Scharfzow, and I
think you might set the whole bailiwick of Stemhagen, town and all, on
its head, and no five hundred thalers would fall out.... And Roggenbom
won't do it.... Possibly at Easter it might be done; but the Jew will
not wait as long as that.--Yes, yes, they are hard times for
everybody."

But while he thus stood and looked out of the window, the courtyard
became full of life, and seven French Chasseurs rode in at the gate.
One of them got down, and fastened his horse to the door of Mamsell
Westphalen's hen-house, and went straight into the Amtshauptmann's
room, and began swearing and gesticulating at him, while the old
gentleman remained standing, and stared at him. But as it grew more
serious, and the Frenchman began to draw his sword, the Amtshauptmann
stepped towards the bell and called for his factotum Fritz Sahlmann,
who used to run his errands for him, and "Fritz," said he, "run down to
the Herr Burmeister[1] and see if he cannot come up here a little
while, for I have come to the end of my Latin."

And Fritz Sahlmann now comes down to my father and says: "Herr
Burmeister, come quickly to the Amtshauptmann's help, or, by my life,
things will go badly."

"Why, what's the matter?" asks my father.

"There are six rascally French Chasseurs in the courtyard at the
Schloss,--and the Captain of them,--he is in with the Herr,--and has
forgotten his manners,--and has drawn his sword, and is brandishing it
before the eyes of the Herr, and the Herr stands fixed to the spot, and
doesn't move an inch; for he knows about as much of French as the cow
does of Sunday."

"The devil!" said my father and jumped up, for he was a quick,
determined man, and did not know what fear meant.

When he entered the room, the Frenchman was rushing about like a wild
beast, and the words came sputtering out of his mouth like the beer
from a barrel without a bung. The Amtshauptmann was standing quite
still, and had his French pocket dictionary in his hand, and whenever
he caught a word the Frenchman said, he turned over the leaves to see
what the dictionary made of it, and when my father came in, he asked:
"My friend, what does the fellow want? Eh!... Ask the fellow what he
wants."

My father thereupon began to speak to the Frenchman, but he was so loud
and vehement, shouted and gesticulated so much, that the old
Amtshauptmann asked: "What is he so excited for, friend?" Well, at last
my father got out of the Frenchman what it was he wanted:--"fifteen fat
oxen, and a load of corn, and seven hundred ells of green cloth, and a
hundred louisd'ors;"--and a great deal "doo vang," (as my father told
the Amtshauptmann) for himself, and his men besides. "My friend," then
said the old Herr, "tell the fellow he is a scound...."

"Stop!" cried my father, "don't say that word, Herr Amtshauptmann, he
will often have heard it lately, and maybe he understands it. No, I
advise that we should give him plenty 'doo vang' now, it will be time
enough to think of the rest afterwards." And the Herr Amtshauptmann
agreed, and ordered Fritz Sahlmann to get glasses and wine from Mamsell
Westphalen, "but not the best."

Well, the wine comes, and my father fills the Frenchman's glass and the
Frenchman fills my father's, and they drink and fill alternately, and
my father soon says: "Herr Amtshauptmann, you must sit down too and
help me, for this fellow is a cask without a bottom."

"My friend," answered the Amtshauptmann, "I am an old man and the chief
justiciary in his Grace's bailiwick of Stemhagen; it is not fitting
that I should sit and drink with this fellow."

"Yes," said my father, "but Necessity knows no law, and besides, this
is for our country."

And so the old Herr sat down and did his best. But after some time my
father said: "Herr Amtshauptmann, the fellow is too many for us; what a
mercy it would be if we could get hold of some one with a strong head."
And as he said this, there came a knock at the door. "Come in."

"Good day," says old Miller Voss of Gielow, coming in, "good day, Herr
Amtshauptmann."

"Good day, Miller, what is the matter now?"

"O! Herr, I have come again about my lawsuit."

"There's no more time for that to-day; you see the position we are in."

But my father cried out: "Voss, come here, and do a Christian deed.
Just seat yourself by this Frenchman and drink him down." Miller Voss
looked first at my father and then at the Amtshauptmann, and thought to
himself: "I've never been at a session like this before;" but
nevertheless he soon found himself at home in it.

My father now goes to the Amtshauptmann, and says: "Herr Amtshauptmann,
this is our man; he will finish the fellow, I know him."

"Good," said the old Herr, "but how are we to get rid of the six
fellows out there in the courtyard?"

"They are but a band of ruffians and marauders," replied my father,
"only let me do as I like, and I will soon get rid of them," and he
called Fritz Sahlmann and said: "Fritz, my lad, go down through the
Schloss-garden,--mind no one sees you,--and run to Droz the watchmaker;
he is to put on his uniform and his black leggings and bearskin and
sword and gun, and slip across the garden through the little green gate
to the corner window, and then cough."

Now as concerns Droz the watchmaker, he was by birth a Neufchatelois;
he had served under many flags, amongst them the French, and at last
had come to a halt in my native town, where he had married a widow and
settled. He had hung up his French uniform, and in the evening twilight
when it was too dark to see to mend watches, he used to put it on and
strut up and down his little room, but with his head bare, as the
ceiling was too low for him to wear his bearskin. And then he would
talk about "la grande nation" and "le grand Empereur" and command the
division: Right wheel: Left wheel: Right about face: till his wife and
children crept behind the bed for fear. But he was a good man and would
not hurt a fly, and the next day "la grande nation" would be safe in
the cupboard, and he mending away at his watches and eating Mecklenburg
dumplings dipped in the fat of Mecklenburg bacon.

Well, while the watchmaker was buttoning on his leggings and putting on
his bearskin. Miller Voss sat drinking with the Frenchman, both working
well at the Amtshauptmann's red wine, and the Frenchman clinked glasses
with the Miller and said: "A vous!" and the Miller then took his glass,
drank and said: "Pooh, pooh!" and then the Miller clinked glasses with
the Frenchman, and the Frenchman thanked him and said: "Serviteur," and
then the Miller drank again and said: "Rasc'lly cur!" And in this way
they went on drinking and talking French together.

Gradually they became more and more friendly, and the Frenchman put his
sword in its sheath, and before very long they were in each other's
arms. At this moment a cough was heard under the corner window, and my
father stole out and gave the watchmaker directions what he was to do.
But the Herr Amtshauptmann kept walking up and down, wondering what the
Duke would say to all this if he were to see it, and said to the
Miller: "Miller, don't give in, I will not forget you." And the Miller
did not give in, but drank sturdily on.

Meanwhile the watchmaker went stealthily back again through the
Schloss-garden, and when he came on to the road leading up to the
Schloss, he slapped himself on the breast and drew himself up to his
full height, for he was now "grande nation" again, and he marched in at
the Schloss-gate in military style which suited him well, for he was a
fine-looking fellow. The six Chasseurs who were standing by their
horses, looked at him and whispered together, and one of them went
after him and demanded whence he came and whither he was going. But
Droz looked scornfully over his shoulder at him and answered him
sharply and shortly in French that he was the quartermaster of the
seventy-third Regiment, and that it would be up from Malchin in
half-an-hour, and he must first of all speak to "Monsieur le Baillif."
The Chasseur turned pale, and as Droz began to talk about marauders and
related how his Captain had had a couple shot the day before, first one
and then another jumped on to his horse, and although a few did chatter
together for a moment or two and pointed to the Schloss, yet none of
them felt inclined to stay any longer, and almost before you could lift
your finger, the courtyard was empty. And we boys stood at the
Brandenburg gate and watched the six French Chasseurs as they
floundered about in the mud, for it was just the season for the
Mecklenburg roads, being the spring and the thaw having just set in.



                              CHAPTER II.

   What Mamsell Westphalen and the watchmaker talked about; why
     Friedrich wanted to cut the buttons off the Frenchman's trousers;
     how he put him to bed in the Stemhagen Wood; and why Fieka
     did not accept the Malchin Merchant.


As soon as the courtyard was clear, the watchmaker marched with sword
and gun into Mamsell Westphalen's pantry; and Mamsell Westphalen dried
her eyes and said: "Herr Droi, you are an angel of deliverance." She
always called him Droi instead of Droz because she thought Droi was
better French and that people did not pronounce it properly.--The angel
of deliverance now put his musket down beside the soap-tub, hung up his
sword on the meat hook, threw his bearskin on a chair, and seated
himself on the table; he then drew forth a checked handkerchief, laid
it on his knees and folded it neatly, passed it twice slowly under his
nose, and then pulled out his large round snuff box and offered it to
Mamsell Westphalen saying: "Plait i'?"

"Certainly," said Mamsell Westphalen, "it platee's me; for, Herr Droi,
my eyes are very bad, and they have been getting weaker ever since last
autumn,--it was then I had my great illness, and the doctors gave
it a long name, but, Herr Droi, I said it was nothing but the common
hay-fever, and I hold to that still."

So saying she set before Herr Droi a delicious roast duck and a bottle
of wine, of the Amtshauptmann's best, and made a little bobbing
curtsey, and said in her turn: "Platee?"

Well, it "plaiti'd" the watchmaker very much, and it seemed to him as
if he _were_ an angel of deliverance, and Mamsell Westphalen's pantry a
paradise after his dumplings and bacon; and when he was at his second
bottle, he talked a great deal about the "vin de Vaud" and "ze
beauteeful Suisse." "Ah!" said he, "je suis fier de mon pays, it must
zat you come one time to my pays, zere zing ze birds and zere murmurent
ze brooks."

Darkness had gradually crept upon them, when all on a sudden Fritz
Sahlmann burst into the room and said: "Well, here's a pretty business!
The Herr Amtshauptmann is striding up and down the garden without any
hat on, talking to himself; the Herr Burmeister has made off without
saying a word to anybody; Miller Voss's Friedrich has been standing at
the gate for the last hour swearing away at the 'cursed patriots' and
the 'gallowsbird Dumouriez,' and the Miller is holding his fist in the
Frenchman's face, and asking what the French have done with the four
horses and six oxen which they robbed him of; and the Frenchman is
sitting there and not moving an inch, only rolling his eyes about."

"Fritz Sahlmann," asked Mamsell Westphalen, "doesn't he move at all?"

"No, Mamsell."

"I know you're a bit of a coward, and that you don't always speak the
truth. Tell me, Fritz, on your conscience, are you sure that he does
not move?"

"No, Mamsell, he does not move or stir a bit."

"Well then, Herr Droi, let us go upstairs; we will soon set him to the
right about; but take some of your instruments for cutting and stabbing
with you, and if you see he is going to do me any harm, you must
protect me. And you, Fritz Sahlmann, run to the Miller's Friedrich and
tell him that he is to put up his horses and come in here, for better
_is_ better, and 'what one can do easily won't be difficult for two.'"

So Friedrich now comes in, and gets a huge dram, and shakes himself, as
is the custom after a good draught, and the procession moves forward
towards the Amtshauptmann's room: Friedrich in front, then Mamsell
Westphalen, who had taken the watchmaker's arm, and finally Fritz
Sahlmann in the rear.

As they entered the room, the Miller sat at the table, a broad grin on
his round face, and before him two glasses which he clinked together,
first the one against the other, and then the other against the one,
drinking for himself and the Frenchman too. He had taken off his coat,
the work having made him warm. On his head he had got the Frenchman's
helmet with the long horse-hair plume; and round his huge body, as well
as it would go, the Frenchman's sword. The latter lay stretched on the
sofa, arrayed in the Herr Amtshauptmann's white cotton nightcap and
flowered dressing-gown; and the rogue of a Miller had given him,
instead of his sword, a long quill pen, which he silently waved about
in the air, for he could not speak a word.

When Mamsell Westphalen got to the door and beheld this spectacle, she
set her arms a-kimbo, as every right-thinking elderly person would
naturally do under such circumstances, and asked: "Miller Voss, what is
this? What do you call this? What do you mean by this?"

The Miller tried to answer, but burst out laughing, and could with
difficulty and only after some time, bring out, "Fun."

"What!" exclaimed Mamsell Westphalen. "Is that a proper answer for a
man with wife and children? Do you call _that_ respect for your
superiors, to play such tricks in the Amtshauptmann's study? Herr Droi,
follow me!" So saying, she went over to where the Frenchman lay,
snatched the nightcap from his head, gave him a couple of boxes on the
ear, said merely: "The poor innocent nightcap!" and, "You pig!" and
turned round and cried out to Friedrich: "Friedrich, come here and help
me take off the Herr's dressing-gown from this fellow; and you, Herr
Droi--for you will understand such things--take the soup-dish off that
stupid Miller's head, and unbuckle his sword."

When that was done, she said: "Fritz Sahlmann, you chatterbox, mind you
don't say a word to the Herr Amtshauptmann about what has happened to
his things, for he would be sure to burn them, and how could the
innocent nightcap and dressing-gown help it if grown-up men will behave
like schoolboys?" As she said this, she looked sharply at the grinning
Miller, replaced the cork in the half-finished bottle, put her arms
once more a-kimbo, and said: "Well, what's to be done now?"

"I know," cried Friedrich; and he pulled his clasp-knife out of his
pocket, and opened it with a snap, then walked up to the Frenchman,
tore open his coat, and was proceeding to insert the knife, when
Mamsell Westphalen rushed in between them, crying:

"Good heavens, Friedrich! Is the devil tempting you? Surely you would
not murder him?"

"Diable," said Herr Droi, and caught hold of Friedrich's arm; and Fritz
Sahlmann threw up the window and shouted: "Herr Amtshauptmann, Herr
Amtshauptmann, it's beginning now." Smack! He got a blow on the mouth.
It seemed, however, to come quite naturally to him, for Mamsell
Westphalen gave him daily three--more or less.

Friedrich remained where he was, and said coolly: "What do you mean? Do
you think I'm a cannibal? I was only going to cut the buttons off his
trousers. We used always to do it when we took any prisoners when I
served in Holland under the Duke of Brunswick against the cursed
patriots and the gallowsbird Dumouriez in the year '90;" and, turning
to Mamsell Westphalen, he added "You see, Mamsell, then they can't
escape, for if they tried, their trousers would fall down over their
knees."

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Friedrich, for saying such a
thing. What have I got to do with the Frenchman's trousers? Our
business is to think what we are to do with this fellow!"

"Do? Do, indeed?" cried Miller Voss, "What do you mean? Where I go, he
goes; and we have sworn eternal friendship; and he's a jolly Frenchman,
and I'm a jolly Mecklenburger, and whoever wants to know about it, let
him come here." And he looked at them all, one after another. As nobody
said anything, he clapped the Frenchman on the shoulder and said:
"Brother, you shall go with me."

"That will be best," said Mamsell Westphalen; "then we shall be rid of
both of them. Herr Droi, take hold of him." And the one "grande nation"
took the other "grande nation's" legs, and Friedrich took his head;
Fritz Sahlmann carried the light, Mamsell Westphalen commanded the
whole, and the Miller stumbled along after her.

"Now," said Friedrich, "in with him into the waggon under the straw!
That's it. Now lie there! Fritz Sahlmann, put the horses to. And you,
Herr Droz, help me up with the Miller; but take care he does not lose
his balance, for I know him, and he slips over if you're not careful."

When the Miller was seated, Friedrich asked: "Well, is everything on
board?"

"Everything," replied Mamsell Westphalen.

"Well then, gee-up," said Friedrich. But scarcely had they gone a
couple of paces when the watchmaker cried out, "Halte, halte, Fréderic!
you have forget ze camerade's horse, it stop in ze logis for ze leetle
poules."

"Yes," said Fritz Sahlmann; "it's standing in the hen-house."

"Well, then, wo!" cried Friedrich; "fasten it to the tail of the
waggon."

They set about doing so; but before it was done, the old Amtshauptmann
came back from his walk in the garden, and asked what the matter was.
"Oh! nothing, nothing!" said Mamsell Westphalen; "only Miller Voss has
invited the Frenchman to go home with him and spend the night up at the
Gielow Mill."

"It's all right then," said the old Herr. "Good-bye, Miller. I shall
not forget you."

The Miller muttered something in his teeth about fine weather, and
Mamsell Westphalen whispered to Fritz Sahlmann to run up in advance and
take the Frenchman's helmet and sword out of the Herr Amtshauptmann's
room, so that he should not see them. "Take them into my room," said
she, "and put them behind my bed." Friedrich now applied his whip to
the horses, and drove down the hill into the Malchin road, and said to
himself: "This'll be the proof; if the Miller remains sitting on his
sack with all this jolting, he will be able to get down from the waggon
alone to-night." But when they had got as far as the Barns, and he
turned round to look, the Miller lay between the foremost and the
hindmost sack, and Friedrich thought: "He won't get down without help
to-night, that's clear." And he threw a couple of sacks over the Miller
to prevent his getting cold.

And so they passed through the Barns, and the horses trotted along at
an even pace through the heavy roads and the dark night; and all kinds
of thoughts came into Friedrich's head. First of all, he thought of the
Miller's wife, and what she had said once before when the Miller had
come home in this state; but _then_ he had been alone--what would she
say to-night when there were two of them? and what would the Miller's
daughter, Fieka, say to it? and he shook his head: "It can't go well
anyhow." And then he remembered how it was just about this time of year
and in such a night that he had run away from the Prussians at
Prenzlow, ten years before, and how until he got to Stemhagen he had
been obliged to sleep in the open air, and had covered himself over
with hawthorn boughs. And then, too, he recollected--and as the
remembrance came back upon him he gnashed his teeth--the time when he
was in France under the Duke of Brunswick, and had no clothes and
nothing inside him except craving hunger, and how the French had hunted
and pursued them, and how many of his comrades had fallen dead by the
roadside, amongst them his best friend, Kristian Krüger, and how the
people had had no pity for him. "And my two beautiful bays," he added
to himself, "which they took away from me, and here I must drive two
lame old broken-winded jades. It's a shame they should be tormented
drawing a harpy of a marauder along these heavy roads--a fellow who's
not a real soldier, even. Cursed patriots! Gallowsbird Dumouriez!"
These were his oaths when he was angry. "Wo!" he cried, jumped down
from the waggon, went round to the back of it, raised up the straw,
drew the Frenchman half out by his leg, then laid him across his
shoulders, carried him into the Stemhagen Wood, and laid him down under
a beech-tree. "Yes," said he, as the Frenchman moved rather uneasily,
"it's rather damp, no doubt, but then you're damp inside; so why
shouldn't you be damp outside too?" And he looked up at the sky and
said, "For the end of February it's a nice warm night, and if the
cuckoo isn't singing just now, I heard him singing in this beech-tree
last summer, and he'll sing here again this year, please God." And, on
the Frenchman giving a slight shudder as though he were cold, he added:
"It's a bit cool, camerade, isn't it? I might cover you with a good
three foot of clay and nobody be the wiser, but I'll show you that I
have a Christian heart." With that he went to the waggon, fetched a
couple of armfuls of straw, and threw it over the Frenchman and said:
"Now adieu! I can't take you with me; for why should the Miller's wife
and Fieka be troubled with you?"--climbed into the waggon again and
drove off.

When they were near the mill, he woke up the Miller and said: "Miller,
sit up straight on the sack. I'll help you down again." Voss sat up and
said: "Thank you, Herr Amtshauptmann;" and stared wildly about to see
where he was, and asked whose horse that was running after the waggon.
When he had a little recovered his senses, he put his hand under the
straw and asked: "Friedrich, where's the Frenchman?" "Yes, where is
he?" answered Friedrich; and drew up before the door, and jumped down,
and helped the Miller off before the women came out with a light. The
Miller scrambled up the steps, and his wife came out to meet him,
"Well, father, how has it gone?" she asked. The Miller stumbled over
the doorsill into the room, laid hat and gloves on the table, and
walked up and down the room a couple of times, fixing his eyes on the
cracks of the floor to steady himself, and at last brought out the
words: "It's very hard work."

"So I see," said his wife. Fieka sat at the other side of the table
mending clothes.

And the Miller walked up and down again proudly and asked: "Don't you
see anything remarkable about me to-night?"

"Indeed I do," replied his wife; "you have been sitting drinking again
with Baker Witte and have forgotten your wife and children, and that we
are all ruined."

"Oh! that's what you think? Well then, let me tell you, even wise hens
sometimes lay outside the nest. No, I have been drinking with the Herr
Amtshauptmann, and the Herr Burmeister, and a French General, or
something of that sort, and the Herr Amtshauptmann has told me, he
won't forget me, for 'this was for our country.'--And Fieka, I say to
you, don't throw yourself away. You needn't do it. I wouldn't mind your
marrying the Malchin Merchant; but you don't want to."

Fieka looked up from her work and said: "Father, don't talk of
that,--at least not this evening."

"Very well. You are right, my child.--Remember, you are my only one
now, for where are Karl and Joe? Ah! merciful heaven!--But I only said,
don't throw yourself away; that was all I said.--And, Mother, about the
money, think of what the old Herr Amtshauptmann said. 'Miller Voss, I
will not forget you!'--But the Frenchman, where is he? Donnerwetter!
where's the Frenchman? He was lying in the straw. Friedrich must know,"
and he threw up the window and shouted: "Friedrich, Friedrich, don't
you hear me?"

Friedrich heard him well enough, but he winked to himself and said:
"Yes, yes, cry away as long as you like. Why should I go and blurt out
what the Miller's wife can see for herself plainly enough? I'm not
going to burn my fingers." So saying he fastened up the Frenchman's
horse and took off the saddle, and as he took down the valise he said:
"The Devil, isn't this heavy!" and laid it in the oat bin, gave his
horses their last feed, lay down on his bed, and slept as if nothing
had happened that day.

As the Miller was beginning to fume because Friedrich did not come, his
wife said: "Father, never mind him; you are tired and wearied with the
jolting of the waggon--come to bed; Fieka shall warm a little beer for
you to drive out the night air."

"Mother," he answered, "you're right as usual, I am dreadfully tired,
for money business is so wearying. Well, it's in order now--as good as
in order at least--for the Herr Amtshauptmann said: 'Miller Voss, I
shall not forget you.' I must be in again at Stemhagen early to-morrow
morning."

So saying, he went to bed, and was asleep and snoring in five minutes.

Mother and daughter sat up a while longer, Fieka lost in thought and
knitting away rapidly. "Fieka, you are industrious," said her mother at
last; "and I don't fold my hands and lay them in my lap either; and
Father has worked and done what he could all his life. But what is the
use of it all? The bad times come and what the French have left, the
Jews and lawyers take; the day after to-morrow we must pay Itzig five
hundred thalers, and we haven't a shilling."

"But Father speaks as if it were all right now?"

"Don't trust what he says this evening; a red sky in the morning and a
red sky in the evening are very different things; but he was right
about one thing this evening; if you had only accepted the Malchin
Merchant!"

"Mother dear," said Fieka and laid her hand gently in her mother's and
looked up into her face, "He was not the right one."

"Few people are able to marry exactly as they would like now-a-days,
daughter; there is always something. The Merchant is well off and if
your father and I knew that you were well provided for, it would take a
great stone off our hearts."

"Mother, dear mother, don't talk so. Would you have me leave you when
you're in trouble, and in a dishonest way?"

"Dishonest, Fieka?"

"Yes, dishonest, mother," she answered, "for when the Merchant sought
me, he thought we were rich, and therefore he wished to have me, but I
would not deceive him. I knew we were poor, for though you and father
in your goodness have tried to keep it from me that we had lost our
money, I have seen it for a long while. Now, pretty nearly every one
knows it, so if any one comes and wants to marry me, he will want me
and not my money; and perhaps he will be the right one."

Then she got up, and put her knitting things away and kissed her
mother. "Good night," she said and went into her bedroom.

The Miller's wife, after sitting thinking some time longer, sighed:
"She's right, and we must trust in God, who orders all for the best."

She too went to bed, and everything lay in deep quiet. Only the Mill
went working on without ceasing or resting, grinding and groaning,
flinging its arms about like a man in sore trouble striving and
struggling to rise above the toil of daily life. And from the wheel the
water ever drips like bitter sweat; and deep down below the stream
rushes on with its monotonous chant: "Nought avails it, nought avails
it. I am thy heart. As long as I flow wave upon wave, wish upon wish,
so long hast thou no rest. But when autumn comes and the corn is ripe,
my stream will slacken; and then the miller will close his mill, and
everything be standing still,--and then 'tis Sunday."



                              CHAPTER III.

   Why Fritz Sahlmann got a box on the ears, and the watchmaker spent
     the night fighting with Mamsell Westphalen's four-post bed, and
     why the French Colonel paid a visit to the watchmaker in a red
     blanket.


When the Miller's waggon had driven off, the Amtshauptmann began to
walk towards the house, but suddenly turning round again, he went up to
Herr Droz and asked: "Droz, how much do I owe you?" Droz said as well
as he could that he had been very glad to do it, for "ze Allemagne is
now my patrie and I am tout for ze patrie."

"I don't mean that," said the old Herr, "I meant for my watch which you
set to rights for me?" Droz replied that that was already paid for,
adding "ze leetle boy, Fritz Sahlmann, had make it all right."

"I am quite aware of that," said the old Herr; "but, my dear Droz, a
watchmaker must be paid not only for what he does to a watch but also
for what he does not do, and therefore take this," and he put a couple
of thalers into his hand and went into the house.

"Oh! let him go," said Mamsell Westphalen, "he's a curious old
gentleman, but he means it well. But Herr Droi now come in with me and
stay a bit in my room for this weather is enough to make one's soul
freeze in one's body."

Herr Droi went with her, but they had scarcely sat down when in came
Fritz Sahlmann with the Frenchman's sword in his hand, and the
Frenchman's helmet on his head, and a moustache which he had grown on
the instant with the snuff of a candle. Smack! he had a box on his ears
from Mamsell Westphalen: "Monkey!" and she took the sword and helmet
from him and put them by her bed: "Monkey, have you nothing better to
do than to be playing your tricks on an evening like this when we're
all in such trouble? Go down to Herr Droi's good wife, represent my
compliments to her, and she is not to be anxious; Herr Droi is with me,
and there is no danger."

Fritz Sahlmann goes; and now they both sit down and tell one another
about old times and new, that is to say, they try; but what Mamsell
Westphalen says, Herr Droi does not understand well, and what Herr Droi
says, Mamsell Westphalen understands very badly indeed.

"He are bon," said Droz and chinks the two thalers in his hand.

"Of course, they're good," replied Mamsell Westphalen, "do you think
the Amtshauptmann would give you bad money?"

"Ah! not bad money! I mean _him_, lui-même," and he pointed to the room
above.

"Oh! the Herr Amtshauptmann you mean is bong. Yes, certainly he is
bong, but the older he gets the more whimsical he grows, for he turns
night into day and day into night, Herr Droi. Just think, here have I
to sit up and roast and fry right into the middle of the night because
he won't eat his supper till eleven or even twelve o'clock; and if it
is burnt or dried up, he begins to scold, and then Frau Amtshauptmann
who is very soft-hearted, she begins to cry. Then I say, 'Frau
Amtshauptmann, why do you cry? Can we help it if he will live like a
heathen? Leave off crying, we have a good conscience.' But Herr Droi
it's very hard for me, a lone person, to sit here and listen to the
storm raging round the Schloss, and the rain beating against the
windows, and the owls hooting, and the winds whistling along the
passages, as if all the evil spirits were let loose. Just listen! what
weather it is again!--Herr Droi, are you at all afraid?"

"Oh, non!" replied Herr Droi; but he sat still and listened to the
weather outside and said at last: "Leesten, Mamsell, du tonnerre!"

"What! Pommes de terre?" asked Mamsell Westphalen, "what have potatoes
to do with the weather at this season?"

"I not mean ze leetle boys wid ze brown jack'ts, I mean"--and here he
made a rapid gesture with his hand indicating forked lightning--"I mean
ze bright tsick-tsack wid rumpel, pumpel, rat-tat-te-tah."

"Then you are right, Herr Droi, for it really does go rumpel, pumpel,
rat-tat-te-tah, out of doors."

"Ah!" said Herr Droi, "zat are ze tambours, zat are my camerades, ze
grenadier." And he jumped up and marched up and down with his bearskin
on his head, for here it was high enough; and then he stood still
again: "Écoutez, zey march on ze marché, on ze market, and écoutez, zat
are ze grand canons!"

And Mamsell Westphalen sat there with her hands folded in her lap and
looked at him and shook her head and said: "How his soldiering does
cling to him! He's generally a well-behaved man, what does he want to
be looking so fierce for now? It's just like the old coachmen, when
they can drive no longer, they are still always cracking their whips."

Presently the wife of Stalsch the weaver came in at the door,--she was
Mamsell Westphalen's oracle and newspaper, bringing her the news of the
town, and for every mouthful of news she brought to the castle, she
took away a plateful of food,--she had turned her gown up over her head
and the rain was streaming off her as from the roof of a house. She
shook herself once, twice--

"Br-r-r, what a night it is," she said.

"That it is, Frau Meister," answered Mamsell Westphalen;--she always
called her Frau Meister to show that she was the wife of a _master_
weaver, "not for Stalsch's sake" she would say, "no, for my own sake,
for what would people say if I were to be intimate with a woman of no
standing. I can be proud like other folk."

"Mamsell," said the Frau Meister, "I came up to tell you the
market-place is full of Frenchmen, and they've brought with them ever
so many great cannons, and the Burmeister has sent for my husband, and
has ordered him this dark night and in this weather to the villages
round about to tell the peasants to be here with their waggons at noon
tomorrow, and you see if you don't get some one quartered on you
to-night."

"Heaven preserve us!" exclaimed Mamsell Westphalen, and went to the
door and called to Hanchen and Corlin (the maids) and told them to
light the fire in the blue room next hers, and to put up a couple of
bedsteads for the Devil would soon send a bigmouthed French Colonel and
a chattering ape of an adjutant up to the Schloss, and turning round to
her company: "There they may lie," she said, "and if the ghost in the
blue room is a Christian ghost it's not much sleep they'll get to-night
and that's the best luck I wish them. For, Herr Droi," she went on,
"the next room to this is haunted. Do you believe in ghosts?"

Herr Droi said, no.

Presently there was a noise outside and as Mamsell Westphalen looked
out at the window, yes, there was a French Colonel with his adjutant
coming in at the gate, and a couple of orderlies were following them.
They were taken into the blue room where they put on dry clothes, and
then they went up to the Amtshauptmann's room and had supper.

Herr Droi in the meantime sat deep in thought, muttering over and over
again "Diable" and "Diantre", and on their questioning him it came out
that he was in great fear; it might be his death he said, for if he
were to go out in his uniform and the bearskin and sword and gun, he
might be seen by one of the orderlies or one of the French sentries or
some ruffian or other of a Frenchman and they might ask him where he
came from and where he was going to, and then if he could not give a
satisfactory account of himself, there would be the devil's own work,
and the story of this afternoon might come out, and what would happen
then?

"Herr Droi," said Mamsell Westphalen, "that's a bad business. You
couldn't put on that imp Fritz Sahlmann's things, for if you did manage
to squeeze yourself into them, they would be much too short for you.
And the Herr Amtshauptmann's clothes? No, Herr Droi, you mustn't ask
that of me. It would be just as if I were to set fire to the Schloss
with my own hands. And, heaven be praised, we have no other men here.
But Herr Droi you saved us when we were in danger this afternoon, and
so I will save you in return. Your wife knows that you're up here
amongst Christian folk. You shall sleep to-night in my four-post
bedstead, and I will sleep with the housemaid; I'll put on fresh linen.
Come, Frau Meister." So saying she went out, and presently she came
back again, put fresh sheets on the bed and asked once more: "Herr
Droi, are you not afraid?"

And Herr Droi again replied that he was not.

"That's all right," said she; "for it often goes tap--tap--tap, in a
curious way close by. But it never comes into the room. I have had a
horseshoe nailed over the door.--Listen, just listen! The Frenchmen are
going to bed now. Just listen to the chattering! Herr Droi can you
understand it all?"

"Ah, yes," said Herr Droi.

"I can easily believe it, for the wall is very thin. This was one large
room once, but now it's made into two. Well, good night, Herr Droi.
Come, Frau Meister."

So saying she went out, followed by the Frau Meister, and shortly
afterwards by Herr Droi too, who suddenly remembered he had a message
for the Frau Meister to take to his wife. Scarcely were the three out
of the room, when some one flew along the corridor where the night-lamp
was burning, into Mamsell Westphalen's room. It was that young rogue
Fritz Sahlmann, and under his arm he had a lump of ice as large as a
pumpkin; he climbed up the bedpost like a cat, and laid the lump of ice
on the top of the bed. "Wait a little while, you old termagant, this is
for the box on the ears I got," he said to himself. "It will perhaps
cool you a little." And he slid down again and was out of the door in a
moment.

Herr Droi now came back again, undressed, laid "la grande nation" on a
chair by the side of the bed, blew out his candle, lay down, and
stretched himself out in the nice soft bed and said: "Ah! que c'est
bon;" then listened to the storm outside and the rain pouring down and
the jabbering of the Frenchmen. At last the chattering ceased; and Herr
Droi was half asleep and half awake--when tap--tap--tap. "Haha,"
thought Herr Droi, in French, "that's the ghost in the next room;" and
he listened to hear what his countrymen would have to say to it. They
lay quite still; but tap--tap--tap--it goes again and now it seems to
Herr Droi to be in his room. Yes, it is in his room; and if it's in the
room, it must have come in at the door. How else could it get in? So he
caught up one of his shoes and flung it at the door. Bang! went the
shoe against the door; the noise resounded through the corridor as if a
thunderbolt had fallen. The Frenchmen in the next room began to move
and to speak to one another. All however was soon quiet again, but
tap--tap--tap--it went once more, close to Herr Droi's bed. He raised
himself up and bent over the side of the bed to be able to hear
better,--splash!--fell a drop on his bald head--and splash! another on
his nose, and on stretching out his hands he found the bedclothes were
beginning to get wet through. "Diantre!" he exclaimed, in French,
"there's a hole in the roof, and the rain's coming in through the
ceiling. What's to be done?" Of course he at once thought of moving his
bed as any other sensible person in his place would have done. He
therefore got up and began to drag at the head of the old bed, but
forgot all about the French Chasseur's helmet and sword which were
standing in the corner and which now fell rattling and jangling along
the wall down to the ground. Herr Droi was not a little startled and
stood still and listened and--yes--the two Frenchmen had been awakened
by the noise and were raging and swearing.

"But," thought he, "even this much must have done some good," and he
crept into bed again. But the lump of ice was now nearly melted and the
water of course came streaming through on to the bed; he lay still a
while, but it kept coming faster and faster, and the water came through
the bedclothes, and he got quite cold and he thought, in French, "they
will be fast asleep now, if I can only bring the foot of the bed as far
away from the wall, I shall get rid of this rain," and got up and began
to move the foot of the bed;--crash! fell his musket along the wall on
to the floor; and if there was no noise before, there was certainly
noise now.

The poor watchmaker stood there biting his lip, biting his nails, and
holding his breath as if his very breathing might wake the Frenchmen,
who were already swearing half aloud and crying "_silence_" and tapping
against the wall.

"Que faire?" he said to himself, in French. "The first want must be
supplied, as the old woman said when she burned her kneading-trough to
heat the water for the bread;" crept into bed again and said, "Heaven
be praised at last I'm out of the drip."

But he had got out of the drip to come into the torrent, for--dash!--it
came down from above,--splash! it poured into the bed. He felt cold and
wet, like a frog in spring. It was all of no use. He must get up once
more and turn the bed round again; but softly so as not to throw
anything over. He pulled it into one corner, it had been dry there
before; he pulled it into the other corner, there too it had been dry
before, and in this way he went pulling the bed about the livelong
night always gently, very gently, but wherever he went there was water.

At last he stood still in the middle of the room, and thought and
thought, and finally slapped his forehead, in French, saying: "Fool
that I am!" for a light had flashed across him, that's to say across
his mind, for in the room it was quite dark. But a light in the room he
must have. So he stole out into the corridor--yes--the nightlamp was
still burning; he lighted his candle, and went back, looked up at the
top of the bed and saw something lying there, muttered: "Ah, Canaille!"
and mounted on to the bed, but could not reach. He stretched himself
out as far as he could and tried to get the lump of ice, but it was so
slippery he could not hold it. Parbleu! half an inch more. He leant his
whole weight against the top of the bed when--crack it went, and bed
and ice and Droi all fell in a heap against the wall, and there lay
Herr Droi among the innocent white curtains, helplessly kicking his
feet about, as if they could express the state of their owner's mind.

All at once the door opens, and in comes the French Colonel. In order
not to catch cold he had thrown a red blanket over his shoulders and in
his hand he held a double-barrelled pistol. Behind him stood the
adjutant with a drawn sword. Herr Droi scrambles out from under the
bed-curtains, puts on his bearskin, then draws himself up to his full
height and makes a salute saying: "Bon soir, mon colonel."

The Colonel looked at Droz, and the adjutant looked at the Colonel.
They saw that they had a Frenchman to deal with. They saw the black
leggings and the whole "grande nation" lying beside the bed. They saw
the sword and gun, and--worse and worse--they saw the Chasseur's sabre
and helmet. What's this? What's the meaning of this? Herr Droi stammers
out something. Herr Droi begins to tell them about Jena and Marengo.
Herr Droi begins to tell lies. Herr Droi lies capitally, pity they
don't believe him. In the room and in the corridor there is a fearful
noise; the Colonel calls Herr Droi a deserter and marauder, the
adjutant calls for the orderlies, the orderlies in haste and in scant
apparel,--as if some one had fallen into the water and they wanted to
jump in after him without wetting their trousers,--rush in from one
side of the corridor, while from the other side advances Mamsell
Westphalen with the cook and the housemaid. In her hand she has a large
stable lantern, but otherwise she is not well off as to clothes. She
holds one hand up to her eyes as if the light of the lantern blinded
her, and the housemaid looks over her (Mamsell Westphalen's) shoulder
and says to the cook "Good heavens, Corlin, do look."

"For shame," says Mamsell Westphalen, "what is she to look at? what
have you got to look at? and what is there here to look at? We have
come here on account of this heathenish noise at a time when every one
ought to be asleep, and because we heard Herr Droi's voice crying out
in terror and trouble. And now turn about." The two women and Mamsell
Westphalen turn their backs on the Frenchmen and Mamsell says: "Herr
French Colonel, what is this? what do you call this? and what is the
meaning of this? Why don't you let Herr Droi sleep in peace in my room?
This is a christian house and a quiet house, and we are not accustomed
to such ways." And she added to herself half aloud "one of them will be
sure to understand me."

The French Colonel looked at himself, as he stood there in his red
blanket, and Herr Droi with the bearskin on his head, and his
thin-legged adjutant skipping about in his zeal, and Mamsell
Westphalen's broad back; and the whole scene looked so comical, he
burst out laughing and said in good German that she was only to go on,
he could understand her well enough, for he was a German, a Westphalian
(Westphalen).

"That's my name," said Mamsell Westphalen.

The Colonel laughed and said he was only a Westphalian by birth, his
name was "von Toll."

Mamsell Westphalen dropped a low curtsey, backwards. "Begging your
pardon, are you perhaps a relative of Toll our postmaster and innkeeper
down in the town?"

The Colonel said that he had not the honour, but that he was almost
freezing; that the orderlies were to remain with Herr Droi, for he must
be a French deserter, and they were also to search for the French
Chasseur to whom the helmet and sabre belonged.

Herr Droi now began again to lie, and Mamsell Westphalen felt quite
ashamed of him and turned round in anger and said: "For shame, Herr
Droi, to be stuffing the easy chair that ought to make you comfortable
in your old age with wickedness, you're making a hard pillow for your
conscience." Then making a little curtsey, she said to the colonel, "My
compliments, Herr Colonel von Toll," and marched off with the two
maids.

The others also went; and soon all was still again, and the Herr
Amtshauptmann had no suspicion of what was passing in his house for he
slept the sleep of the just.



                              CHAPTER IV.

   How the Miller felt next morning; why Friedrich appeared to the
     Miller's wife like the serpent in the Garden of Paradise; and why
     Fieka thought Joe Voss's son was sent to them by Providence.


The next morning Miller Voss felt as if he had half-a-dozen sparrows in
his head, which were pecking away at flies. It was not, he said to
himself, because of last night's deep drinking. No, it was chiefly
because of the Frenchman.

"Mother," said he as he pulled on his boots,--and he nodded his head
and looked knowingly into their wide tops, "red wine is a fine thing in
the evening, but, in the morning, it seems to me it's no better than
brandy or beer. However, if you jump over a dog you jump over his tail
too. But where is the Frenchman? He lay in the straw, and Friedrich
must know what has become of him."

"Father," said his wife, "never mind that now. Friedrich must come soon
you know, for it's time for the first breakfast."

The Miller went into the room, sat down at the table where the large
bowl of barley-broth was standing and helped himself; then the mother
helped herself and then Fieka and, lastly, the two maid-servants; for
such was the custom in those days; and no miller had yet heard of
coffee.

The Miller ate, then laid down his spoon: "Where can Friedrich be?" He
began eating again, then went to the window and shouted across the
yard; "Friedrich." Still no Friedrich.

The bowl of broth was empty; the servants took away the things, and the
Miller said: "When I have hired a servant, I'm not going to have him
play the fine gentleman!"--and was just setting out to look after him,
when Friedrich came in, carrying something under his arm.

"Where have you been, you vagabond?" asked the Miller?

"Miller," said Friedrich, and drew his clasp-knife out of his pocket
and stuck it under the door-latch, "don't speak like that; it's not fit
for you, nor yet for me. When wild geese are in the air it's ill sowing
peas, and when gossiping women are in the room it's best not to say
what you don't wish everybody to know. So I waited till the maids had
left the room. Here!" and he threw something on to the table so that it
rang again. "Here, Miller Voss. I've not brought you the fox himself,
nor yet his skin, but here's his leather bag."

"What does this mean?" exclaimed the Miller, and hastily seized the
valise and began unbuckling the straps.

"What does it mean?" said Friedrich "You must find that out for
yourself; it's no business of mine. I have taken my share already."

The Miller shook the valise over the table, and a packet of silver
spoons fell out and a quantity of silver coin, and beautiful, round,
yellow gold--and a little box came to light, and when the Miller's wife
opened it, there lay rings and broaches with gold chains coiled in
amongst them like serpents among brilliant flowers.

"Heaven preserve us!" she cried, and let the box fall.

Fieka had stood there looking on, her hands pressed to her bosom and
her eyes getting larger and larger. She now threw herself, pale as
death, across the table, laid her arms over the gold and silver
treasure and cried:

"It is the Frenchman's! It is the Frenchman's. It is not ours."

When she lifted up her head, and glanced at her father, she looked as
if some one had stabbed her with a knife, and the anguish of death was
in her face as she said "Father, father."

And the old Miller sat there fidgeting about with his night-cap, and he
looked at his child in her anguish and then again at the glittering
money. All at once he sprang up, nearly overturning the table, and
cried:

"God in Heaven! I know nothing about it. I don't know what has become
of him; he lay in the straw, that I know," and added in a feeble voice,
"Friedrich must know the rest."

Fieka left the money, and darted towards Friedrich. "Where is the
Frenchman?" she screamed.

Friedrich, with his old iron face, stood quietly looking at her. "God
save us!" he said at last. "Is this to be a court of justice then? Why,
Fieka, Fieka! Do I look like a robber and murderer? I laid the
Frenchman with my own hands under a beech-tree in the Stemhagen wood,
and, if the night air hasn't been too cool for him, he'll be lying
there now--still as a rat--for he was dead drunk."

"That he was," said the Miller.

Fieka looked first at Friedrich and then at her old father, who was
listening to what Friedrich was saying, "Friedrich," she said, "how
could I help thinking it. You are always talking about killing and
murdering Frenchmen." And she put her apron up to her eyes, threw
herself down on the bench behind the large, tile-covered stove, and
began to cry bitterly.

"Dumouriez! That I am," said Friedrich, "and if I could wring the necks
of those d--d patriots I'd do it. But a man who could not defend
himself?--And for his money too!" ... muttered something in his beard
and went to the door; he took his knife from under the latch, and then
turned round and said:

"Miller, the air is clear again, for the two girls are gone to their
work. I have given you the things; consider well what you do with them.
If you wish to keep them--well and good. I have nothing to say against
it, for, according to my poor wits you've a right to them. The French
have taken more than this from you; and, if you don't wish it to be
talked about, I, for my part, can be silent. But if you are going to
deliver it up to the Amtshauptmann, and have to swear that nothing has
been taken out of it, just say that I have taken my share."

"Friedrich, Friedrich," said the Miller's wife, "do not be bringing
yourself into trouble, nor us either.--At this moment you seem to me to
be like the serpent in the Garden of Paradise."

"Frau," replied Friedrich, "everybody knows best what _he_ ought to do
himself. Two years ago when I had been taking salt to the Inn at
Klaukow for Rathsherr Krüger of Malchin, and was going to pay my bill,
and put an eight-groschen piece down on the table, an infamous rascal
of a Chasseur pounced upon it, and when I tried to get it back, three
of them fell upon me and nearly beat me to death. I have taken the
eight groschen, but the blows I keep in store for them. And if this
fellow did not do it himself, perhaps his brother did, or his
comrade--the account remains in the family. The eight groschen I shall
certainly keep." And so saying he went out at the door.

The Miller, meanwhile, had been walking up and down the room, and had
rubbed his head, and had scratched his head, had stood still and looked
at the money, and when Friedrich went out, he walked up to his
cupboard, brought out Adler Erben of Rostock's Calendar, and looked for
that which he had looked for a hundred times before, and sighed "Yes,
it is tomorrow." His wife stood with her back against the clock,
wringing her hands.

"Yes," said the Miller, "if we keep it, we shall be out of our
troubles."

"O God, Father!" groaned his wife, and looked up anxiously in his face.

"And the fellow has stolen it," he went on; "the silver spoons have a
crest; but even if it can be found out who they have belonged to, the
money is from all sorts of places and won't easily find its way back to
the right pockets."

"Father," said his wife, "you risk your neck if the fellow accuses you
publicly of having taken them from him."

"He won't open his mouth, for if he has to tell where the money has all
come from, they won't quite feed him on raisins and almond cakes.--And
after all, have we taken it? They fastened the horse to the tail of the
waggon up at the Schloss, and the horse brought the leather bag into
the stable to Friedrich last night. Who can say I took it?"

Thereupon he began to count the money, and sort it into heaps.

"Yes, but it does not belong to us," said his wife.

"Who does it belong to, then?" asked the Miller. "It doesn't belong to
the Frenchman either; and, if we wanted to give it back to him, where
is he?"

"Why, Friedrich tells you he is in the Stemhagen Wood."

"Indeed!" said the Miller scornfully. "Do you think then that he would
lie there in this weather from eight o'clock in the evening till nine
o'clock in the morning? He will have gone on his way long ago; and who
is to order me to run after him with his money?"

He began to count again, and his wife sat down and folded her hands in
her lap, and sighed. "You know who orders it."

Fieka was still sitting on the bench crying by herself. The Miller went
on counting the money, but looked up so frequently at Fieka that it
seemed as if he must certainly miscount. At last he had finished, and
leaning with his two hands on the table, he looked once more over the
treasure, and said,--"A third of this gold and silver would make more
than seven hundred thalers in Prussian money. Now, we are out of our
troubles."

Then Fieka stood up and dried her eyes; her face was pale and
quiet;--"Our troubles are only just beginning," she said in a low
voice.

"Don't talk like that, Fieka," said her father, and turned his head
away from her.

"From this time forward we shall eat unblessed bread, and sleep
unblessed sleep, and you can bury the money and bury your own good name
with it.

"There is no question of burying," said the Miller, "No indeed! I shall
pay my debts with it honestly."

"Honestly, Father? And if it were so--which it is not--would not the
old Herr Amtshauptmann ask you what money you had paid the Jew with?
And would not the French ask where you got the horse from? And how can
you be sure that Friedrich will not tell?"

The Miller looked half taken aback and half angry, and was just going
to burst out as people do when any one catches them in some stupid or
dishonest act. They try to silence their conscience by bluster, as
children in the dark try to keep away the ghosts by whistling and
singing. But Fieka did not let the storm come; she flung her arms round
her father, looked straight into his eyes, and cried--"Father! Father!
Take the money to the bailiwick; give it to the Herr Amtshauptmann. You
know he said he would not forget you. How often you have told me about
your old father, and about your mother, how she honestly earned her
bread to the end of her life by spinning; and how often you have told
me about when you were an apprentice, and your finding the other
apprentice's purse, and how you gave it back to him, and how glad he
was, and how glad you were."

"That was quite a different thing," said the Miller. "I knew who that
money belonged to, but I don't know whose this is, and I haven't either
taken or stolen it. I have a clear conscience."

All at once the Miller's wife jumped up from her chair, and cried,
"Good Heavens! A strange man has just passed the window and he is
coming in."

"Bolt the door!" shouted the Miller, and turned sharply round towards
the money; knocked up against the table, and shook down some of the
gold pieces which went rolling along the floor.

"Is that your clear conscience?" asked Fieka, and looked at her father
and mother, and said: "Mother, unbolt the door. The man is sent by
Providence; he brings a blessing upon the house."

Her mother unbolted the door, and stood with her eyes cast down, while
the Miller grew very red, and turned hastily round, and looked out at
the window.

A knock came. "Come in," said Fieka, and in stepped a fine young fellow
of about two-and-twenty. He glanced round the room rather curiously as
if he had long been wishing to know how it stood with them; made a
proper bow with a little scrape of the foot, and said--

"Good morning."

"Good morning," returned Fieka.

The Miller did not move, and his wife stooped down and picked up the
gold pieces which had fallen on the floor. As the two elders did not
return his greeting, and he became aware of the money on the table, the
young man said--

"I am afraid I am in the way?"

"Oh, no!" said Fieka and put a chair for him by the tile-stove, "Father
will soon have done his business."

"Yes, directly," said the Miller, and he opened the window, and called
out "Friedrich, get out the little cart, and put the horse to, and
fasten the Frenchman's horse behind. We are going to the bailiwick." He
shut the window, and said, turning to his wife and daughter: "Well!
That's done. Now, pack the things into the leather bag, and Friedrich
can put it into the cart"--went up to the stranger and said "welcome."

"Miller Voss," said the young man, rising and giving the Miller his
hand, "don't let me disturb you. I can wait; for, though the matter I
have come to you about is important, there is no great hurry.--In fact
what I chiefly came for was to see my relations."

"Relations?" said the Miller, and looked at him doubtingly.

"Yes," said the other, "I am Joe Voss's son, your twin-brother's
child;" and as the Miller was silent, and drew back his hand, he added:
"a fortnight ago, I came of age, and then I thought to myself, 'I have
no brother or sister or any relation hereabouts, I must drive over to
Stemhagen and see if there is no one there who will care to know Joe
Voss's son.'" And, so saying he went up to the Miller's wife, and gave
her his hand, and then to Fieka; and, as the miller still stood
pondering and looking as if the mice had taken the butter off his
bread, he added: "Uncle, the lawsuit is weighing on your mind; let it
be, we can be friends all the same."

"The devil we can!" said the Miller. "And you've been boasting to
people that you would oust me from the Borcherts Inn."

"Whom have I said it to?" asked Heinrich. "People will talk. Can I help
it? My father began the quarrel;--he thought he was in the right--my
guardian has gone on with it; and I have stood by. But a pretty sum of
money has slipped through my fingers, I honestly confess, and it shall
not be my fault if we don't come to an understanding."

"You want to beat the bush; your lawyer has advised you to come here."

"I advise myself, uncle," said the young man, and took up his hat,
"for, if I were to listen much longer to the lawyer's advice, the water
would run short and my mill would stop. It's very different for you.
Any one who can lard his leather bag like that, can fry a long time
without burning." And he pointed to the valise which was just packed.

"What the devil does that matter to you?" thundered the Miller, and
turned hastily round quite black in the face. "That money ... that
money is not mine."

Fieka went up to her father, and stroked his cheek. "Father, he did not
mean anything wrong."

"No," said Heinrich, "I came with good intentions, and I will not go
away in anger if I can help it. So I wish you good morning. My waggon
is standing out there before the yard gate only a couple of paces off."

"Stop," said Fieka, "Cousin Heinrich, do not be in such a hurry.
Father's head is full of business that must be attended to this
morning. It would vex him very much if you were to leave us in ill
will."

"Fieka," said the old Miller, and turned round, and kissed his daughter
on the forehead, "you have been twice right and I twice wrong, this
morning; you are a darling child," and he gave his hand to the young
man.--"Heinrich, it shall never be said that I drove Joe Voss's son out
of my house with hard words. You want to go away without having
anything to eat or drink? No, my son, you must stay here till I come
back, for I must be off now to the bailiwick, I have pressing business.
Look, Friedrich is waiting. Well, goodbye! and if you are really in
earnest about coming to an understanding, something may be done.
Goodbye, mother; goodbye, Fieka." And he went out and mounted into his
waggon.



                               CHAPTER V.

   In which Friedrich translates the Prussian motto "suum cuique" for
     the Miller's benefit, and goes on a wild-goose chase after the
     Frenchman: and the Miller finds he has sat down on a swarm of
     bees.


"Miller," said Friedrich as they left the mill and came out into the
high road, "have you ever seen an old woman break her pitcher and then
put the pieces together and say 'that's how it was?'"

"Why?" asked the Miller.

"Oh! nothing," said Friedrich, and he waved his whip vacantly over the
horses as if it were the season for flies. The Miller sat lost in
thought.

After a time Friedrich asked again--"Miller, have you ever seen a boy
out of whose hand a sparrow has just escaped, look into his empty hand
and say 'O!'?"

"Why?" asked the Miller.

Friedrich simply repeated "Oh! nothing."

The Miller sat still again, and all sorts of things passed through his
mind, and he puzzled over some such rule-of-three sum as: "What will
the bushel of oats come to next Easter if I don't pay the Jew
to-morrow?" and was soon lost in the fractions.

They drive on and on. At last Friedrich turns half round and
asks--"Miller, do you know the proverb: 'don't pour your dirty water
away till you have got clean'?"

The Miller began to get angry, and after thinking for some time what
Friedrich was driving at with these questions, he said: "Are you
chaffing me?"

"Chaffing?" said Friedrich. "No, heaven forbid!--I didn't mean
anything.--But I know another saying, and that is, 'If you have a
thing, you've got it.' And we Prussians have an eagle for our crest,
and underneath is a Latin verse which fits that saying as close as your
finger and thumb when you nip a pig's tail. And the sergeant of my
company--he was a runaway student--he understood the verse and
translated it: 'Hold fast what you've got, and take what you can get.'
Now, this proverb is handy at times, 'specially in time of war."
Turning round again he went on. "Miller Voss, cursed be the shilling I
steal from my neighbour, and cursed be the wheat, oats, or barley I
cheat my master of; but in time of war it's quite different. The Turks
and the French are the country's enemy, and the country's enemy is not
better by a hair than the arch-enemy. What said old Captain von
Restorp? 'Injury must be done to the enemy in every way!' Now, Miller
Voss," and he pointed to the valise, "that would be an injury."

"Hold your tongue," said the Miller sharply, "the thing is settled.
I'll have nothing to do with the money, I'll take it to the
bailiwick,--and I wish I could take the Frenchman along with it. Fieka
thinks some bad end will come of the business."

"As you please," said Friedrich, "Gee up," and he touched the horses
with his whip. "Some listen to men, and some listen to women; for my
part I don't hold by women's advice."

"Nor I neither generally," said the Miller.

They drove on silently again till at length Friedrich asked--"Miller,
who was that young fellow who came to the mill this morning?"

"That was Joe Voss's son; it's him I have the lawsuit with. Do you like
him?"

"I only saw his back. Well--yes he'd make a grenadier."

"He says he wants to come to an understanding," said the Miller.

"Then I like him still better; a lean compromise is better than a fat
lawsuit."

"He is going to wait for me till I come back."

"Is he?" said Friedrich, and turned half round again, "Miller, I tell
you what, it would be better if he came to an understanding with
Fieka."

"What do you mean by that?" asked the Miller.

"Oh! nothing," said Friedrich.

Presently he bent down and looked sharply along the road, then gave the
reins into the Miller's hand, jumped off the waggon, unfastened the
Chasseur's horse and, before Voss knew what was going to happen, was in
the great Kolpin dyke, had turned round a corner and bound the horse to
a thorn-tree in the dyke, so that he could not be seen.

"What is the matter?" asked the Miller, when he came back.

"What's the matter? Why, two men are coming along on horseback, out
yonder by the Stemhagen fields, and just now when the sun came out, I
saw a bright flash. Those are Frenchmen, and if they were to catch a
Chasseur's horse here with bridle and saddle, they would have something
to say to us;--take my word for it."

"True," said the Miller.

When they came to the Stemhagen wood. Friedrich pointed with his whip
to the beech-tree where the straw still lay, and said: "That's where I
laid him."

"If he were only there now!" sighed the Miller.

"You can't expect it, Miller. For it rained in torrents last night, and
a beech-tree is not quite waterproof at this time of year."

"True," said the Miller again.

Whilst they were still talking, the two Frenchmen rode up, and asked
the way to the Gielow mill; for several roads met here. Before the
Miller could answer, Friedrich pointed to the right, the way to
Cumrowsch wood, and on their asking how far it was, he said "a little
_lieu_," whereupon they rode off.

"Are you possessed by the devil?" asked the Miller. "If they go on
riding that way, they may look at the Gielow mill with their backs all
their lives. But what was it for?"

"Those sorts of fellows leave a house cleared out, and I have no wish
to eat warmed-up cabbage for the first breakfast every morning."

"What do you mean?"

"Oh, I only mean--look here, Miller; who knows but what those two, if
they had gone to the mill, might have fallen in love with our Stiena.
And perhaps they might have followed her into the cowhouse, and the
cowhouse might have seemed a little crowded, and they might have led
out our two milch-cows; and when they had got them out, it might have
come into their heads to drive them away, and then we should have no
more boiled milk for breakfast, and the cabbages would have come on in
their turn and I can't bear cabbages."

"Yes, that is possible," said the Miller.

"But maybe they weren't after cows at all," Friedrich went on after a
short pause. "They were a couple of your mounted Gensdarmes, and they
are no doubt looking for something very different. I think it's a mercy
we are not at the mill, for--Miller, we must look out--they are after
the Frenchman or perhaps after you. Who knows what has happened in
Stemhagen. Something may have come out. Perhaps Fieka was right after
all. I should be glad myself now, if we had the Frenchman with us."

"That's what I said, that's what I said," cried the Miller.

"Hm," said Friedrich, "he lay here, and he's got up, and he has gone
down here, these are his marks in the mud; and look--he has dragged the
straw along with him a little way, and he's gone towards Gülzow. Now,
I'll bring you back the horse, and then you can drive to the bailiwick
and deliver up bag and horse together, and I will go after the
Frenchman and stop him."

So the horse was fastened to the waggon once more, and Friedrich
started off towards Gülzow, and said to himself:

"Dumouriez! I've brought the Miller into a pretty mess, and our Fieka
is, after all, a clever girl. But if the Frenchman is to be found
between here and Gripswald, I'll find him."

The Miller drove towards Stemhagen. "Lord of my life!" he said, "If it
had not been for my little Fieka, most likely I should be sitting in
irons now. And I'm many miles from safe yet, for the devil's only just
beginning his work.--It's raining, too, and pretty heavily!"

The first person he met when he reached the Stemhagen Barns was Witte,
the baker, standing before his barn by a waggon of straw:

"Good morning, neighbour," said Witte. "What the thunder! How came you
by that French horse?"

"Well, I'll tell you," replied Miller Voss; and he briefly narrated the
story.

"That's ugly," said the baker, "for the whole town is filled with
French, and you couldn't get the horse through without being seen. I
advise you to leave him here in my empty barn."

This was done. Old Baker Witte drew his crooked brass comb through his
hair several times, shook his head and said:

"Neighbour, you have let yourself in for a scrape you won't get out of
easily, and up at the Schloss things don't seem to be quite right; for
this morning the Herr Amtshauptmann sent for the roll he takes with his
coffee, at eight o'clock instead of eleven. And Fritz Sahlmann says
Mamsell Westphalen has disappeared--not a soul knows where she is to be
found--and the watchmaker has been thrown into prison--that I saw with
my own eyes; and people are talking about court-martials and
executions."

"Lord, save us!" cried the old Miller. "What a swarm of bees I have sat
down on! But it can't be helped; I must take the bag up to the Schloss.
And, neighbour, I'll drive round the town till I get near the green
gate of the Schloss garden, and then I'll fasten up my horse. You
follow to take care of him and the cart, and if I am carried off to
prison, drive over to the mill and break the news gently to my wife and
Fieka; and tell the young man you'll find there to do his uncle the
favour of looking after the house and mill, and not to leave the
women."

Baker Witte promised, and the Miller drove round, as they had agreed,
tied up his horse, and was proceeding on his way on foot, when Farmer
Roggenbom's waggoner, Johann Brummer, dashed through the gate, lashing
his four greys till they struck out behind and bespattered the Miller
with mud.

"Better mud in my face than your lashes across the back," cried the
Miller.

"Hmm! It only wanted this. Robbers!" grumbled old Zanner of Gielow, as
he drove full gallop with his cream-coloured horses through the gate
after Brummer.

"Yes," said Adler of Stemhagen, who had thrown a sack over his
shoulders (the only waterproof coats known in those days), giving his
black saddle-horse a dig in the ribs; "it would be nice work for us to
be drawing cannons, wouldn't it, old fellow? No! I'll take you to the
Stemhagen wood, and fasten you to a tree by the sand-pit. It's all one
here or there, for there's nothing at home for you to eat--confound it,
how it's raining!"

When the Miller entered the garden, he found it all alive--peasants
hustling and bustling about, hiding their carts and waggons, some
behind the bushes and some behind the ramparts.

"Miller Voss," said the son of the Schult Besserdich of Gielow, "hide
your horse. Everyone who is wise is taking advantage of this rain, for
the French have all crept under cover."

But the old Miller went steadily on, and took the valise to the
Schloss.



                              CHAPTER VI.

   The sight which met Mamsell Westphalen's eyes when she went into her
     room; and the reason why she let Corlin slap her twice on the
     back. How Fritz Sahlmann smashed the Herr Amtshauptmann's
     pipes, and the French Colonel nearly drew his sword.


If you wish to tell a story properly, you must do as the husbandman
does when he tills a field: you must keep the furrows straight,
clearing everything as you go along, and leaving no stubble standing.
But do this as carefully as you may, there will always be some few bits
left untouched here and there, and you must go back and finish them
off. Even so must I go back a little way in my story to finish off Herr
Droi's and Mamsell Westphalen's ends, that I may be able once more to
work straight on.

On the same morning that the Miller, with his headache, looked into his
boot-tops, Mamsell Westphalen dressed herself, and was just going to
put on her cap, when she saw it was rather out of shape; so she went
into her room to get a fresh one, but tapped first at the door and
asked, "Herr Droi, are you quite dressed?" The watchmaker said he was.
She opened the door--merciful heavens, what a sight! Anything like it
she had never seen in her life; for in the night she had only been as
far as the door, and had not even glanced into the room. The top of the
bed was broken in, and right across the door lay one of the Frenchmen
rolled up in the white bed-curtains, and smoking a clay pipe, with her
beautiful red-and-white-striped pillow under his head; the other was
sitting in her easy chair, and had wrapped his feet up in her new
gingham gown; Herr Droi sat at the foot of the bed, and from under his
bearskin peered a face that spoke only of sorrow and woe. What a sight
her poor room was! It had been her pride, her jewel-box; here she had
reigned supreme; here she had sat with everything round her clean and
in order. She had dusted and polished everything with her own hands. No
one else had dared to touch or alter anything--not even her oracle the
Frau Meister. "No," she had said, "the Frau Meister is all very well in
her way, but since she let my amber earrings fall, I cannot trust her
any more."

And now everything was turned upside down, the room was blue with
tobacco-smoke, her clothes had been taken out of the closet and were
lying beside Herr Droi's gun, and the French Chasseur's helmet; and her
bed--her beautiful bed--stood out in the middle of the room. The bed
was her own; her godfather, the joiner Reuss (the old Reuss, not the
young one) had made it for her from the same block of wood from which
he made her coffin; she had spun the yarn for the sacking herself, and
the Meister Stahl had woven it "pretty well," she said, "but two inches
too small each way, and that was stupid of him, for I am a well-grown
woman, and _that_ he might have known." The Frau Amtshauptmann had
wished to make her a present of the feathers, but she had not accepted
the offer, and had paid for them herself; "for, Frau Meister," she
said, "it's my pride to earn my earthly and my heavenly rest." And when
the bed was so far on, she bought two sets of snow-white curtains, and
put them up, and then she drew back a few paces, and, nodding her head
complacently, said, "Frau Meister, 'the last touch crowns the work.'"
And now the bedding lay scattered about in disorder, and the crown lay
levelled in the dust.

At first she stood as if thunderstruck, and looked through the
tobacco-smoke like the full moon through the evening mist; then she
advanced a couple of paces towards Herr Droi, her face as red as the
inside of the great copper washing-kettle in her kitchen, and her cap
shaking with anger; but she merely said, "What's this?" Herr Droi
stuttered and stammered, and stammered and stuttered; but, looking him
sharply in the face, she said, "Lies, Herr Droi. You lied last night,
and you are lying again this morning. I gave up my room and my own bed
to you out of pity, and this is the thanks I get." So saying, she went
to her chest of drawers, and took out a clean cap, and then, without
casting another glance at Herr Droi, she sailed out of the room like
Innocence going to the block. The two Frenchmen laughed and joked, but
she paid no heed to them.

As she passed down the corridor, the Colonel stepped out of the blue
room in full uniform, with his adjutant, and made her a polite bow. She
was not exactly in the mood for civilities, but if you are asked a
question you must give an answer; and, besides, man is a creature that
must have his sausages cooked, so she answered him with a low curtsey,
"Good morning, Herr Colonel von Toll," and walked on.

But the Colonel stopped her. "I beg your pardon," he said, "but I must
speak to the Herr Amtshauptmann. Where shall I be likely to find him?"

Mamsell Westphalen felt as if she should go into a fit. "_What_ do you
want?" she asked, quite dumbfoundered.

The Frenchman repeats his question.

"Is it possible," exclaims she, "that you want to speak to the Herr
Amtshauptmann--_our_ Herr Amtshauptmann at half-past seven o'clock in
the morning?"

Finding he was not to be shaken, she said: "Herr Colonel von Toll,
everything was turned topsy-turvy in my room last night. Unfortunately
I must put up with it as well as I can, but no one shall ever say of me
that I lent a hand to overturn the laws of nature. And, though it's no
Christian sleep that the old gentleman takes, still he is a gentleman,
and can sleep like a gentleman, and do as he pleases. No king, no
emperor--no, _not even our Duke_ Friedrich Franz himself shall drag me
into a conspiracy against the laws of this house."

"Then I will do it myself," said the colonel, and politely put her on
one side and went up-stairs.

"Lord, save us!" said Mamsell; and her hands fell down helplessly by
her side. "I do believe he'll do it;" and when she heard him go into
the old Herr's room, "He has!" said she.

The adjutant went into her room to Herr Droi. "You long-legged donkey!"
thought Mamsell Westphalen, "Must you poke yourself in there too;" and
she went into the kitchen and said to the two maids, "Corlin and
Hanchen, this God-given day has begun badly; and if it goes on so,
Heaven only knows how it will end. We will put the clothes in soak
to-morrow--I have my reasons for it; to-day we'll go about our work
just as if nothing had happened."

And, so saying, she took the coffee-mill and turned and turned, and the
mill rattled and rattled; but when she came to take the drawer out,
there was nothing in it; for she had forgotten to pour any coffee-beans
in at the top.

Up stairs, in the old Herr's room, the sound of loud talking was now
heard, and that silly boy, Fritz Sahlmann, who was filling the
Amtshauptmann's long pipes, must of course want to tell them what was
going on, and rushed in at the kitchen-door with the pipes in his hand;
but Hanchen had that moment put her ear against the door-post to hear a
little of what was being said, and--bang! he went up against her,
and--smash! went the pipes as they fell clattering on the floor.
Mamsell Westphalen's hand was not raised this time; her hands lay on
her lap, and she said meekly:

"It's not to be wondered at! If everything is going to rack and ruin,
of course clay pipes will be amongst the first; and 'if the heavens
fall the sparrows will all be crushed!' It would not surprise me now if
some one were to come in and throw the whole of the crockery out at the
window."

The quarrel upstairs became louder; the voices resounded over the house
and the Amtshauptmann came down stairs into the hall with the Colonel.

The old Herr said, in short, sharp sentences, that he must allow what
he could not prevent. The Frenchman must do as he chose, for the power
was in his hands.

The Colonel said he knew that. But before he made use of his power he
should inquire into things, for there could be no doubt events had
happened which there was an attempt to conceal.

_He_ had nothing to conceal, the old Amtshauptmann said. If there was
_anything_ to be concealed it was on the part of the French. And was a
vagabond like the Chasseur really held in such high esteem and regard
by them? For his own part, he knew nothing further than that the fellow
had come to him like a robber, had behaved like a pig, and that his
servants and the watchmaker Droz had told him the Gielow Miller had
taken him away in his waggon.

But where did the watchmaker get his French uniform from, the Colonel
asked?

That did not concern him, was the old Herr's reply; the man was not in
his district. He had, however, heard it said, that the fellow sometimes
put the uniform on for his amusement.

The Colonel said those were merely excuses.

At that the old Herr fired up, and drawing himself to his full height,
he looked in his dignified way at the Frenchman, and said--"Excuses are
the cousins of lies. You forget my age and rank."

The Colonel became more violent, and said: "In short, the whole story
is incredible."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the Amtshauptmann, and from under his grey eyebrows
there shot a look full of scorn and anger, like a flash of lightning
darting from out of a cloud over a peaceful landscape. "You think it is
incredible?"--And he half turned his back upon the Colonel.--"Why
mayn't a Frenchman wear the French uniform for his pleasure when so
many Germans wear it for theirs?" he added, looking over his shoulder
at Colonel von Toll.

The Frenchman turned red as fire, then pale as death; he stepped back a
couple of paces and clutched at his sword. The ghost of a fearful deed
haunted him for a moment and guided his hand; but, overcoming the dark
thought, he turned hastily round and went with long strides down the
hall, and Hanchen, who saw it all through a chink in the door, said,
ever after, that she had never in her life seen anything like it. "He
was a handsome man, and had a pleasant face," she would add, "but when
he came striding down the hall, I don't know why, but it reminded me of
how once, when I was herding geese, on a fine day in the middle of
summer, suddenly there came a fierce wind, and in the twinkling of an
eye, all the leaves were blown off from the beautiful oak at the back
of the Convent garden and were flying about."

The Colonel turned round again, went up to the Amtshauptmann, and said
in a quiet cold voice, that they would _discuss_ the point at a future
time; but his duty required that the matter should be probed to the
bottom without delay. "Why had the watchmaker slept at the Schloss last
night?"

"He did not sleep here," said the old Herr.

"Yes," said the Colonel, "he did sleep here, he slept in that room,"
and he pointed to Mamsell Westphalen's room.

"Impossible," cried the old Herr, raising his voice as if to defend
Innocence before the whole world, "that's Mamsell Westphalen's room.
She has been in my house twenty years, and do you mean to say she would
let a man be in her room?"

"Corlin;" said Mamsell Westphalen in the kitchen, "give me a couple of
blows in the neck, for I feel as if I were going to faint; and my head
swims round."

The Colonel threw open the door, and there stood the watchmaker before
them. The adjutant had just been examining him, and he had told the
adjutant everything--except the truth.

The old Amtshauptmann was quite aghast when he saw the watchmaker
before him. "This is inexplicable!" he cried.

The Colonel laughed scornfully, and said he hoped it would not long
remain inexplicable; then he whispered a few words to the adjutant and
asked for the keys of the state prison.

"I cannot give them out for this prisoner," said the Amtshauptmann,
"for he has no right to the state prison; he is a citizen and must go
to the town gaol."

"So much the better," replied the Colonel, "for there will be less
opportunity there for connivance."

So Herr Droi was marched off between a couple of soldiers--for
gradually the courtyard had got filled with French--and was transported
to the Rathhaus.

The Colonel also went; but, when he reached the door, he turned round
and said that, strictly according to duty, he ought to have the Herr
Amtshauptmann arrested, but because the Herr was an old man, and more
especially because of the hard words he had used, he should be left in
peace. The Colonel would keep himself clear from the slightest
suspicion of having wished to revenge himself for those bitter words;
but if the presence of the Amtshauptmann or Mamsell Westphalen were
necessary at the examination, they must come before him. The old Herr
coldly acquiesced, and the Colonel went, but ordered a couple of
gensdarmes off to the Gielow Mill, and looked sharply at the
Amtshauptmann as he gave the order.

When they were gone, the old Herr went towards the kitchen, and Hanchen
started back from her chink in the door, for she thought her master was
coming in. But all at once he stood still, turned round and said to
himself: "What did the fellow say about 'connivance' and 'keeping
himself clear of any appearance of revenge.' What a French Colonel can
only talk about, the Amtshauptmann Weber can surely do. I too will keep
my name clear. There shall be no appearance of connivance on my part."
And he went into his room.



                              CHAPTER VII.

       My uncle Herse, what he was and what he did; and why Fritz
                        Sahlmann had to whistle.


When the watchmaker was led off to prison, Fritz Sahlmann must of
necessity go too, merely to see what would happen to the prisoner, and
whether he would escape; but, in this last he was disappointed. The
procession moved but slowly down to the Rathhaus, for they had to wind
their way through all the carts and waggons which had been ordered up
from the town and neighbouring villages for the transport of the
baggage and cannon, and were now collected in the courtyard and along
the road leading to the Schloss. They were surrounded by French
soldiers, that they might not escape, for our old peasants had got
wonderfully clever at that. The watchmaker marched along with his two
guards, through the crowd, as quiet and patient as a lamb; for though
at first he had been dreadfully frightened, and though the affair of
last night looked decidedly awkward, yet during the interview with the
adjutant, he had fallen into a state of apathy, in which he had seemed
to say--"Talk away as long as you like; you may go on talking all day
for what I care," and his answers had been few and far between. And,
though he was not one of those wild spirits that fly at once at
everything, he had been too long in the world, and had been in too many
scrapes before, to lose heart immediately now. He made up his mind for
whatever might come. "What's to be the end of this I wonder?" he
thought, as he was pushed in at the Rathhaus door.

"Fritz Sahlmann," said Rathsherr Herse, as the boy was about to return
to the Schloss, "what's the meaning of this?"

Fritz now related with immense importance all that had taken place
yesterday, how Droz had slept in Mamsell Westphalen's room and turned
everything, upside down; and how he himself had smashed the Herr
Amtshauptmann's pipes--he couldn't help it, though--it was Hanchen's
fault;--and how the Colonel had been going to run the Herr
Amtshauptmann through the body with his sword; and how Mamsell
Westphalen was sitting in the kitchen, like a picture of woe. But he
said nothing about the lump of ice.

Now, my uncle, the Rathsherr Herse, was an ardent patriot, but he kept
it a profound secret. And he had his reasons. For, as he whispered to
me many years afterwards when Buonaparte had long been dead, he
belonged at this time to the secret society of the "Tugendbund." And I
can believe it, for when he was in company he was always playing with a
long watch-chain made of light-coloured hair--and Aunt Herse's was
black--and he wore a large dangerous-looking iron ring on his finger,
with which he once struck Höpner the locksmith's apprentice nearly
dead, when he was behaving rudely in court. "Fritz," he said to me
later on, "this light hair is that of an heroic virgin who had her head
shaven for the Fatherland in the year thirteen, and the iron ring cost
me my gold one. But don't talk of it; I don't like it spoken about." He
was rightly therefore much given to secrets about the time of this
story.

And it is possible, too, that his habit of looking at life from a
commanding point of view and seizing everything as a whole without
regard to details had something to do with his secret brotherhood, for
while my Father had to plague himself day and night with the smallest
squabbles and quarrels, in order that the government of the little town
might not lose what small amount of life it had, Rathsherr Herse
commanded Kutusoff to march to the right and Czeruitcheff to the left,
and praised York, and blamed Bülow because he didn't understand his
business; for he ought not to have gone to Berlin, he ought to have
marched to the right of Stemhagen and fallen on Buonaparte's flank.--In
short Uncle Herse was just the man to make a thunderstorm out of a
sunshower. In every innocent French corporal he saw the Corsican
monster, and if Luth, the Town Messenger, happened to get a blow in a
peasants' row on Blue Monday, he made as much fuss as if the Duke of
Mecklenburg himself had been struck.

"Hold your tongue, boy," he whispered impressively. "Do you want to
scream out your sentence of death in the public market-place! I
wouldn't give a groschen for the watchmaker's chance of life, for it is
certain that the Miller and his Friedrich have murdered the French
Chasseur."

"Not the Miller," interrupted Fritz, "the Miller was made up of brandy
and good-nature yesterday."

"Well, then, his Friedrich has. He's a Prussian. Do you know what a
Prussian is? Do you know what the meaning of Prussian is? Do you
know...? Blockhead! What are you staring at me for? Do you think
I'm going to tell you all my secrets? But what I was going to say
is--they'll send the old Amtshauptmann to Bayonne in France, where they
also sent Graf Ivenacker's white horse, Herodotus; and Mamsell
Westphalen--as far as I know the French laws--will simply be strung up,
and you, my lad, will get a good flogging for coming down here."

Fritz Sahlmann now saw a sad prospect before him, and made a wry face
accordingly.--

"But, Herr Rathsherr, not in a public place?" he asked.

"Wherever they can catch you. Though, if the matter is taken up in the
proper quarters, everything may still be made right.--Can you be
silent?"

Fritz Sahlmann replied that he could be most modestly silent.

"Well, then, come here, and put both your hands in your trowsers'
pockets, and whistle. That's it. And now look quite unconcerned as you
do in summer time when you are knocking down the apples from the tree
in the Schlossgarden, and you see Mamsell Westphalen coming. Yes that's
right. And now, observe every word that I say; go with this face and
with this look of child-like innocence through the French and peasants
up to the Schloss into the kitchen, and take Mamsell Westphalen aside
into a corner and then say to her just these words--'_help is near_.'
If she is not satisfied with this you can break to her gently what I
have told you about hanging, and, if she's at all frightened at that,
say she is to keep up her heart, for I, Rathsherr Herse, have taken the
matter in hand. But first of all, she must at once shut and bolt the
kitchen-door and the back-door leading to the garden, and she and the
two maids and you must each arm yourselves with weapons, and on no
account let any Frenchman in, and you must defend yourselves to the
last man till I come. I will go at once and will come through the
Schlossgarden to the back-door--I'll only get my cloak first for it's
raining desperately, and my pass-word will be '_All's well_' and my
war-cry 'York.' But no! She won't understand that. What do you say?
It's all the same--it's all the same. Well, my war-cry will be 'Pickled
pork.' She'll understand that. So when some one comes, and calls it
out, she is to open the back-door. Have you understood it all?"

"Yes, Herr Rathsherr."

"Well, then, now be off; and don't let anyone,--not even the Herr
Amtshauptmann--know a word about it."

Fritz went, and the Rathsherr too.

My uncle Herse had, of course, had the blue Rathsherr uniform with red
and gold collar made, as soon as he had become Rathsherr; and, as he
was a fine, tall man he was very fond of putting it on, in order to
command proper respect, whenever an opportunity presented itself, such
as, for example, when the fire-engines were to be tried, or when the
cows were first driven to pasture in the spring, or foreign troops were
quartered in the town. Then, too, when my father was sitting in his
grey coat at the court table writing till his fingers ached, Rathsherr
Herse would march up and down in front of the table, keeping up the
official pomp and dignity by the splendour of his appearance, and it
pleased him mightily when a Frenchman by mistake addressed him as
"Monsieur le Maire." My father had nothing to say against this, for
there was generally a good deal of disputing to be done, and he gave
this over, with the pomp and dignity, to the Rathsherr, taking the real
business upon himself. In this way, they had divided the work fairly
between them, and what with Rathsherr Susemihl, who on days when the
court was sitting performed the onerous duty of assessor, and what with
the zeal of Dohmstreich the Recorder, and the exertions of Luth the
Town Messenger, and the firemen who every month took out their engines
to try them, and Panner Hirsch, who used to drive the boys out of the
peas-fields, I should like to know where you could have found a town or
parish in better trim than my native town of Stemhagen. And all because
my uncle Herse was fond of wearing his uniform!

When my uncle Herse reached home, he looked in his clothes-closet for
his grey cloak,--for it was still pouring with rain,--and he caught
sight of his uniform. "Ah," thought he, "now, to-day will be a good
opportunity for me to put it on; and, who knows, perhaps it may be of
use in this enterprise." So he put it on, and also the fine cocked hat
that we boys used afterwards to make a boat of and sail on old
Nahmaker's pond. At this time it was in its best days, and, as the
Rathsherr stepped out at the door, he drew the cape of his cloak over
it so that it should not get wet; and then he looked like a French
General when he reconnoitres the enemy's post by night. "Well," he
said, "no one will know me now."

He went across the market-place, and then by a little roundabout way
across the timber yard, where Farmer Nahmaker was looking after his
horses, which the French had taken out of the stable and were now
driving away.

"Good morning, Herr Rathsherr," said the farmer, "what times these
are!"

"Hush!" said my uncle and went on.

Behind the timber-yard barns, Swerdfeger, the joiner, met him.

"Good morning, Herr Rathsherr."

"Hold your tongue!" said my uncle angrily, and went round outside the
Schlossgarden.

"Good morning, Herr Rathsherr," said the son of old Harloff the actor.

Smack! The boy had a blow with the back of the hand on his mouth.
"Blockhead! Don't you see that I do not wish to be known?"

So saying, he entered the Schloss-garden and said angrily: "The devil
take it! A public position lies on one as heavy as a curse."



                             CHAPTER VIII.

   How my uncle Herse came with pass-word and war-cry; and Mamsell
     Westphalen refused to hide in the peat bog. How the Herr
     Rathsherr got into Miller's cart, and how he got out of it again.


In the meanwhile, Fritz Sahlmann had made his way to the Schloss with
his hands in his pockets, whistling, with an unconcerned face, as
directed by the Rathsherr; but, when he came into the kitchen, he
forgot his orders and made a face like Balaam's when his ass began to
speak, and he stammered into Mamsell Westphalen's ear,--

"Oh! I'm to say there's help near."

"Boy! Fritz Sahlmann," cried Mamsell Westphalen, "what is this? What do
you mean? What do you _mean_ I say?"

Fritz now told her what she was to do; that she was to hold out the
kitchen to the last man and let no Frenchman in, and that Rathsherr
Herse would come with pass-word and war-cry and take the command.

"Heavens! What shall I do?" exclaimed Mamsell Westphalen, "I can't let
myself be seen by the Herr Amtshauptmann after what has passed. Well, I
suppose I had best trust to the Herr Rathsherr and follow his counsel;
it must be right, for else what would be the good of his being a
councillor. Hanchen and Corlin, you look after the back-door, Fritz
Sahlmann and I will take the front. Now, mind, and be sure you don't
miss the war-cry."

The doors were locked; Hanchen armed herself with a broom, Corlin with
a poker, Fritz Sahlmann with a long brass ladle; and Mamsell Westphalen
took up a pestle; but she quickly let it drop again, exclaiming--

"No, merciful heavens! I have done enough harm already without slaying
and killing besides. No, I know what will do better;" and she fetched
the box in which the peat-ashes were carried away, and set it down
before her on the table--from this point she could command both front
and back-doors.--"Now let them come when they like," she said, "but
whoever gets a volley in the face from me may rub his eyes for a long
time before he'll be able to see again."

It was not long before they heard a voice at the back-door crying:
"All's well;" and presently the same voice said half aloud through the
keyhole "Pickled pork."

"That's the Rathsherr," said Mamsell Westphalen, "Corlin, open the door
just wide enough for a man to pass, and, as soon as he is inside, shut
it fast again."

So Corlin opens the door a little way, and the Rathsherr proceeds to
squeeze through; but in the process the cape of his cloak falls back,
and reveals the cocked hat and the red uniform collar.

"Ah! Ah!"--screamed Corlin, and held the Rathsherr fast in the door. "A
Frenchman! The French!"

"Pickled pork," cried Rathsherr Herse. "Don't you hear? Pickled pork."

But it came too late; Hanchen had knocked the hat off his head and the
skin off his face with her broom, and Mamsell Westphalen had thrown two
hands full of ashes into his eyes.

My uncle Herse now stood in the kitchen, puffing, and blowing, and
snorting and groping with his hands out, as if he were playing at
"blind man's buff,"--his heart full of rage, and dark night before his
eyes. His whole plan had turned out a nest of addled eggs; for what is
there in a secret that becomes a kitchen scene! what can an imposing
face do when it is battered about by a broom! and what becomes of the
splendour of a Rathsherr's uniform when peat-ashes lie on it like
blight on a flower!

The first who recovered her senses, and became aware who it was that
they had been treating in this fashion, was Hanchen. With one bound she
was out of doors in the rain. Corlin followed and said to her--"I'd
rather be wet through, than get one of Mamsell Westphalen's scoldings."

"By George! It's the Herr Rathsherr," cried Fritz Sahlmann.

Mamsell Westphalen stood there like Lot's wife--only that she was
perhaps stouter--and looked at the Rathsherr as if he were Sodom and
Gomorrah.

"Merciful heavens! We are all wandering in the dark," she said in a
feeble voice.

"It's very well for _you_ to talk of wandering in the dark," sputtered
my uncle Herse. "You can see, but I can't open my eyes. Get me some
water."

Now began a scene of washing, and rubbing, and pitying, and wondering,
and scolding, and consoling; but my uncle was still angry, and said
that all the women in the Schloss might be hanged for what he cared, it
would be a long time before he was caught entering into secret
conspiracies with women again. Mamsell Westphalen held her apron up to
her eyes and began to cry:

"Herr Rathsherr," she said, "tell me what I ought to do. I have no
father or mother left and, I after last night, I couldn't let myself be
seen by the Herr Amtshauptmann. You are the only one I can look to for
help now."

My uncle Herse had a heart, a soft heart; my uncle Herse had a soul, a
tender soul; and, when he had quite got the ashes out of his eyes, and
Mamsell Westphalen had rubbed cold cream on the scratches in his face
till it looked like a red and white toadstool, he said kindly:

"Leave off crying. I will help you. You must take to flight."

"Take to flight!" she exclaimed and looked in a puzzled way at her
figure from head to foot; "Do you mean _me_ to take to flight?"

And she thought of the pigeons up in her pigeon-house; and if the
matter had not been too serious for her, she would almost have laughed.

"Yes," said my uncle. "Do you think that with these roads and in this
weather you could walk three or four miles at a stretch, for no
conveyance is to be had--and besides it would not be secret enough?"

"Herr Rathsherr," she said, and all desire to laugh entirely left her,
"look at me for a moment. Is it likely I could? Why, it's hard work for
me now to go upstairs."

"Can you ride then?"

"What?"

"I ask, can you ride?"

Mamsell Westphalen now got up, set her arms a-kimbo and said: "What
respectable woman ever rides? I have known one female in my life who
did; she was a young lady, and the rest of her conduct was of a piece
with it."

Rathsherr Herse now also got up, and walked once or twice up and down
the kitchen, lost in thought, and at last asked--"Do you think you
could sit for twenty-four hours in the town peat-bog?"

"But, Herr Rathsherr," said Mamsell Westphalen, and put her apron up to
her eyes again and wiped away the tears, "I'm now over fifty, and I had
my great illness last autumn and...."

"Then that won't do either," broke in the Rathsherr. "There are only
two ways left, one upstairs, the other down below. Fly you must, either
on to the roof or into the cellar."

"Herr Rathsherr," cried Fritz Sahlmann, and he crept from behind the
stove, "I know a place."

"What _you_ here!" exclaimed Rathsherr Herse.

"Yes," said Fritz quite abashed.

"Well then it's all over again with secrecy, for what three know, the
whole world knows."

"I promise faithfully I won't tell, Herr Rathsherr," said Fritz. "And,
Mamsell, I know a capital place. There's a plank loose in the garret
where you hang your hams and sausages to smoke, and, if you make
yourself small, you can squeeze through, and behind there by the
chimney there's a little place where you can hide and no one would ever
find you."

"You young scoundrel," said Mamsell Westphalen, forgetting all her
sorrows and woes, "then it's you who are always stealing the sausages
from up there; and, Herr Rathsherr, I have always suspected the
innocent rats."

My uncle, having threatened Fritz Sahlmann with a sound thrashing, said
it was now high time and they must fly, and it would be the very place.
So they all set off up to the garret, and when Fritz Sahlmann had shown
them the loose plank and the hiding-place, my uncle Herse said--

"Well, Mamsell, now sit down on the floor. There's no help for it. I
will lock the door of the garret; and if you hear anyone coming, creep
softly into the hole, and mind you don't sneeze or cough."

"You may well say that, Herr Rathsherr--in this smoke," she replied.

"Oh, we will soon manage that," said he, and opened the dormer window.

They were going away when she said, "Fritz, my lad, don't forsake me;
and bring me word how things are going on."

"Under no circumstances must he come up here," said the Rathsherr, "he
might be seen, and then everything would be discovered."

"Leave it to me, Mamsell," said Fritz, and made her a side wink, "I'll
manage it."

They went; and Mamsell Westphalen sat alone in her sadness under her
flitches of bacon and hams and sausages.

"Of what use are all these blessings," she said to herself, "when a
person of my years has to take to flight."

After seeing Mamsell Westphalen into her place of safety, my uncle
Herse went down again to the kitchen and cautioned Fritz Sahlmann once
more against letting out anything, impressing his warning well on Fritz
by a box on the ears. He then pulled the cape of his grey cloak over
his cocked-hat and embroidered uniform collar, and crept cautiously out
at the back-door like a cat out of a pigeon-house.

Scarcely had he put his head out of doors, when a screeching and
yelling arose; and Hanchen and Corlin, who were going back into the
kitchen, thinking that the coast was once more clear, flew asunder like
two white doves when a hawk pounces down upon them.

"Hold your tongues! I am not going to do anything to you," cried my
uncle Herse.

But what was the use of his saying that? The peasants, who had remained
in the garden with their horses, looked round at the noise; and, seeing
the disguised French officer, that is my uncle Herse, they all made for
the green gate, and in a few moments not a man nor a hoof to draw the
cannon was to be seen.

The Rathsherr now struck into a little side-path among the bushes, and
whom should he meet but old Miller Voss with the valise under his arm.

"Good morning, Herr Rathsherr."

"The devil take you!" exclaimed Rathsherr Herse. "Don't you see, Miller
Voss, that I don't wish to be known?"

"Well, that's my case too," said the Miller. "But, Herr Rathsherr, you
would do me a great favour if you would see my horse and cart into a
place of safety. I have fastened it up near the green gate. I'll do you
a good turn in exchange. As soon as the perch in the mill-pond begin to
bite, I'll let you know."

"I will see to it," said the Rathsherr.

He went on to the green gate, and when he had found the Miller's cart
and unfastened it, he got into it, and was just driving off, when up
came a party of French soldiers, and at their head the colonel of
artillery by whose command all the horses and waggons had been sent for
from the surrounding villages.

My uncle Herse was now forthwith arrested, and pulled down off the
cart; and, what with his uniform and his keeping on crying out that he
was "_conseiller d'état_"--for he could not at the moment find any
better word for a Stemhagen Rathsherr--the French thought they must
have made a good catch, and that they had now got the head of the
conspiracy to rob them of their waggons and teams.

The colonel of artillery cursed and swore in the most unchristian
French; he would make an example of the Rathsherr; four men should take
him between them.

And so my uncle Herse, who had come in the greatest secrecy, to do a
good work to others, was led back into the town a public spectacle, to
suffer martyrdom for his good intentions.

When this happened, Witte the baker was standing close by, behind the
great chestnut-tree; for he, too, had come to take the Miller's cart
into a place of safety.

"That can't hurt the Herr Rathsherr," he said to himself; "he buys his
white bread of Guhlen, why doesn't he buy it of me? Well, he must judge
for himself, and he can do it too, he's clever enough; but the
unreasoning cattle can't, and so one of us must look after them." And,
so saying, he got into the cart, and, following the French at a
distance, drove slowly towards his barns, and put the horse in his
stable.



                              CHAPTER IX.

   Why the Herr Amtshauptmann had to read Marcus Aurelius, and was
     not allowed to wash his face; and why he did not think the
     Miller's Fieka was, like other girls, always fretting and crying.


The Amtshauptmann walked round and round his room, and fumed inwardly,
for, though not naturally of a hasty temper, still he was an old man,
and accustomed to command and have his own way; and was he now to be
ordered about by others? He had been obliged to get up at eight o'clock
in the morning--a thing which went against all his feelings--and he had
not got his coffee; and when he had wanted to smoke a pipe, to comfort
himself a little, no pipes were there. He rang the bell once--no Fritz
Sahlmann; he rang twice--no Hanchen; he pulled his snuff-box out of his
pocket and took a pinch slowly and thoughtfully, as people do when they
want to prepare themselves for all the possible evils that may come;
then he drew out his eyeglass and looked at the weather. Outside, it
was raining in torrents, and the crows sat still and hunched-up in the
high bare branches of the elm-trees with their wings drooping--looking
as if they were stuck together, and dripping like old peasant Kugler,
when he had been soused one evening up to the brim of his hat in the
village pond.

"No comfort out there either," said the old Herr to himself; "but where
is there comfort in Germany now? It's a very strange thing is the
government of this world. The Almighty lets a miserable hound like that
Buonaparte bring ruin on the whole earth. It's difficult for Christian
people to understand. The high ducal cabinet often issues orders and
decrees that no Christian or official can make out; but the high ducal
cabinet ministers are, after all, only poor sinners, and stupidity is
one of their high qualities, and we know that, and make up our minds to
it, though not perhaps without just a little anger and vexation. But to
Christians who believe in God's Providence, to see the use of the base
cur Buonaparte, is--is--" and he took off the nightcap, which he always
wore until his hair was dressed, and held it about three inches above
his head. "May God forgive me my sins! I have borne hatred to no one,
and have had enmity with no one--not even with the high ducal cabinet
and its confounded admonitions; but I have a hatred now!--" and he
threw his nightcap on the ground and stamped upon it, "I have a hatred
now, and I will keep it."

Probably he said these last words rather loud, for his wife came in,
looking anxious.

"Weber! Weber! what is the matter with you? Has Fritz Sahlmann or
Hanchen...?"

"No, Neiting;" he broke in, and picked up his nightcap. "It's not that.
It's Buonaparte."

"Gracious heavens!" she cried, "at _him_ again. Why must you keep
plaguing yourself about him?" And she walked up to the Amtshauptmann's
bookcase, and took out a book. "There, Weber, read your book."

Now this was Marcus Aurelius, of which the Herr Amtshauptmann used to
read a chapter when he was out of humour; or, if he was angry, two. He
took the book, therefore, and read; and his wife tied the white napkin
round his neck, and combed his grey hair, and twisted it into the funny
little pigtail, and shook the powder lightly and gently over his head.
Marcus Aurelius did its share too, and all the angry wrinkles were gone
from the fine open forehead by the time the Frau Amtshauptmann had
scraped the powder off his face with her little silver knife. "For she
must always scrape it off," said Hanchen, in talking about it; "and he
mustn't wash his face after, or else the flour would paste his eyes
together."

"Neiting," said the Herr Amtshauptmann, when his head was finished,
"just give a look, if you don't mind, to the household down-stairs. I
can't make it out; Hanchen doesn't come, and Fritz Sahlmann doesn't
come. The dam--, I mean to say, the godless Frenchmen have turned the
whole house upside down. What say you, eh?"

The Frau Amtshauptmann was a good little woman; and, though rather
delicate in health, she was not irritable, and was always ready to bear
with the old gentleman's eccentricities. Their only son, Joe, was
abroad, and so the two old people were thrown together quite alone in
the great old castle, and faithfully and honestly they shared their
griefs and joys together; and if ever time began to seem long, it
always so chanced that the Herr Amtshauptmann would, at the right time,
take up some wonderful new whim, and the yawning would be changed into
a sun-shower which freshened up their love again; for it is with love
as with a tree--the more the wind blows in its top and branches, the
faster it throws out roots.

Now, what the Herr Amtshauptmann asked from his wife that morning,
namely that she should look to the household, cannot exactly be called
a whim, and therefore his wife made no objection; though many a well
brought-up wife in these days would have done so.

She had just gone on her way when old Miller Voss entered the room with
the valise.

"Good morning, Herr Amtshauptmann," said the Miller, and made his bow;
"if you'll allow me," and he laid the valise on the table; "here it
is."

"What is it?" asked the old Herr.

"How should I know, Herr? But I do know this much--it's stolen goods."

"How do you come by stolen goods. Miller Voss?"

"How does the hound get into the leash, Herr Amtshauptmann?--All I know
is, this is the chasseur's leather bag, and the devil put him into my
waggon last night, and afterwards Friedrich threw him out again." And
then the Miller told the whole story.

While he was telling it, the Amtshauptmann paced up and down the room,
and muttered every now and then in his beard something about "bad
business." Then he stopped in front of the Miller, and looked him
sharply in the face; and when the Miller had done, he said:

"Well, Miller Voss, then it is certain, is it, that the Frenchman is
still alive?"

"How can I tell, Herr Amtshauptmann? You see, I make my reckoning in
this way. The night could hardly be called cold for this time of year,
but it rained right through the night; and if we two, Herr
Amtshauptmann, you or I, had spent the night there, maybe we should
have been cold and stiff this morning. But then again I reckon, those
sorts of fellows are more used to lying about on the ground than we
are, and if it didn't do anything to him in Russia, maybe it won't hurt
him here. And he went away afterwards, that's certain. Friedrich has
gone to look for him; but if anything has happened to him since, it's
not our fault."

"Miller," said the old Herr--and he shook his head--"this is a bad
business. If your Friedrich doesn't catch the Frenchman again, it may
cost you your head."

"Lord, save us!" cried the Miller; "Into what scrapes am I coming in my
old age! Herr Amtshauptmann, I am innocent; and I haven't kept this
leather bag either, and the horse is in Baker Witte's barn."

"Yes, lucky for you, Miller; that's very lucky for you, I give you my
word. And you say there is nothing but gold and silver in the valise?"

"No," said the Miller; "nothing but gold and silver--Prussian money,
Mecklenburg money, louisd'ors, and silver spoons;" and so saying he
unbuckled the valise, and disclosed its contents.

The Herr Amtshauptmann opened his eyes. "Heavens!" he cried, "why,
that's a treasure!"

"Yes, you may well say that, Herr Amtshauptmann. My wife never says
_much_; but, when she saw this, she clasped her hands together, and
couldn't get out a single word."

"This is all stolen. Miller. Here's the Wertzen crest on the silver
things. I know their arms. The wretch has stolen these spoons somewhere
in the neighbourhood. But this won't make your case better."

The Miller stood there as if petrified. The Herr Amtshauptmann walked
down the room again, and scratched his head; at last, he went up to the
Miller, and laid his hand on his shoulder. "Miller Voss," said he, "I
have always held you to be an honest man; but such honesty--in such
circumstances! Why, you can hardly live from one day to another, and
yet, from pure conscience, you give up a sum of money like that, coming
nobody could have told from where!"

The old Miller turned as red as fire, and looked at the toes of his
boots.

"Yes, Miller," the Amtshauptmann went on, "this conduct of yours is
very strange, for you could not know what has happened here; but thank
God for it;--it is possible this has saved your life."

The danger in which he thought he must be, the undeserved praise which
sorely pricked his conscience; the sight of a small loophole by which,
through God's help, he might yet escape out of this bad business, and
the feeling that he had not deserved all this, came hard upon the
Miller. He stood there with his eyes cast down, and moved about
uneasily,--twirling his hat round more and more fiercely till at last
it quite lost its shape.

"The devil take the whole business and me into the bargain, Herr
Amtshauptmann!" he cried. "But the Lord is merciful to me and will help
me in this trouble, and I won't have anything wrong on my conscience.
No, what is true, is true. And if it hadn't been for my little Fieka,
the cursed Frenchman's money would be lying at home in my cupboard at
this moment, and I should be swinging on the gallows."

And now he told all about it.

"Miller," said the Amtshauptmann when the story was finished, "I'm not
fond of girls myself; boys are better; girls fret and cry too much for
me. But your Fieka is quite different. Miller, it is very much to the
credit of you and your wife that you have brought up such a child. And,
Miller, when you come again, bring your Fieka with you; don't forget;
I--that is my wife--will be very glad to see her. What say you, Eh! And
now take the valise and carry it down to the Rathhaus; the French are
holding a court of justice there--fine justice it will be!--and ask for
the Burmeister, he is a kind man and can talk French too; and I shall
be there in a short time, and will do everything in my power for you."

"Thank you, sir. I'm a good bit lighter now about the heart. And about
that other business, the bankruptcy? You think--"

"That you're an old fool to get into any more scrapes at your age."

"Thank you, Herr Amtshauptmann. Well, then, good day."

And the Miller departed.



                               CHAPTER X.

   How Fritz Sahlmann sat in an apple-tree in the rain without any
     umbrella, and stuffed a roll of papers in under the back of his
     waistcoat; and how Mamsell Westphalen declared herself to be a
     miserable sinner.


After a little while, the Frau Amtshauptmann came back into the room
and said, "Weber, what can be the meaning of this? Fritz Sahlmann is
not there; and Mamsell Westphalen is not there, and her room looks as
if Turks and Infidels had been holding high holiday in it; and the
maids say all they know about it is, that the Rathsherr Herse had
slipped in at the back-door, and Hanchen had pushed her broom in his
face by accident, and Mamsell Westphalen had thrown a lot of peat-ashes
in his eyes, also by accident, and afterwards Mamsell Westphalen and
Fritz Sahlmann had gone away; and they don't know where they are."

"This is a very strange thing," said the old Herr. "What has the
Rathsherr Herse to do in the kitchen? I like the man well enough,
Neiting, he's a pleasant fellow; but he must poke his nose into every
hole, and I never heard of anything sensible coming of it. Tell me,
Neiting, which of the maids do you consider the most sensible?"

"Weber, what are you talking about? As if you could expect _sense_ from
that class."

"Well then, the quickest, the sharpest?"

"Oh, then certainly Hanchen Besserdich, for her eyes take in everything
at once, and her tongue goes even faster than her eyes."

"Call her to me," said the Herr.

It was done, and Hanchen came. Hanchen Besserdich was a smart little
damsel, as sharp and wide-awake as only a Gülzow Schult's[2] daughter
can be,--at that time it was the custom for the daughters of the
village Schults to go into service.--But now she stood before the Herr
Amtshauptmann, and played with her apron-strings, with her eyes cast
down, for she felt as if she were in a court of justice.

"You are now before me to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing
but the truth," said her master. "Hanchen Besserdich, what do you know
of Mamsell Westphalen? Begin by yesterday evening."

Hanchen told him what she knew, and what we know.

"So she slept with you, and not in her own room?" said the old Herr.

"Weber, what can you mean by asking such questions?" broke in the Frau
Amtshauptmann.

"Neiting, every circumstance is of importance, if innocence is to be
brought to light. And you don't think," he went on, turning to Hanchen,
"that she has run away with the Herr Rathsherr Herse?"

"No, Herr; I think she has run away, but not with the Rathsherr; for I
met him alone at the back-door when I came back from seeing my brother
who was in the garden, Herr Amtshauptmann, with our horse to draw the
French cannons; but--" and here she raised her eyes from the ground,
and there was a roguish look in her fresh round face,--"but, Herr
Amtshauptmann, he has got away from the French."

"Indeed!" said the old Herr. "Your brother has got away, has he?"

"Yes," said Hanchen, smiling again roguishly, "and he was the first to
begin the running-away, and he showed the others the little green
gate."

"That was a foolish prank of his; and if the French catch him, they'll
make him smart for it. You Besserdichs are a saucy lot.--Neiting,
remind me of that young rascal, Fritz Besserdich, another time.--And,
Hanchen, where is Fritz Sahlmann?"

Hanchen was cowed again, and what followed, came only by fits and
starts. "Why, Herr Amtshauptmann, he smashed all your pipes to pieces
this morning and then said I had done it. And, indeed, it wasn't my
fault; for I only just wanted to look round the corner when the French
Colonel was raging about, and then he ran at me with the pipes in his
hand, and now the pieces are strewn all over the kitchen."

"And since then you have seen _nothing_ of him this morning?"

"Yes, Herr, when the watchmaker was _transpired_, he ran along with
him, and then, when he came back again, he went talking High German to
Mamsell Westphalen and then they both whispered together."

"High German? Fritz Sahlmann talking High German? What does the rascal
want to be talking High German for? What did he say?"

"He said; '_help is near_.'"

"Oh! and then the Rathsherr came?"

"Yes, Herr Amtshauptmann, and I shoved my broom in his face; but I
couldn't help it."

"This is a very strange thing!" said the old Herr, and walked up and
down, and stroked his chin, and looked up at the ceiling, and looked
down on the floor. At last he stood still and said, "Neiting, I see
clearly what it is. That old fool, Westphalen, has taken fright, and
the Rathsherr has been meddling, and has put her up to some folly. She
has hidden herself--you'll see."

"Well then, let her, Weber."

"No, Neiting, that won't do. She must come to the town and bear witness
for the watchmaker and the Miller, or both their necks may be in
danger. If I only knew where that monkey, Fritz Sahlmann, was! He'll
know all about it. And you don't know where he is, Hanchen?"

"No, Herr."

"Well, then, you may go."

As Hanchen turned round to go, her eyes fell on the end-window, but,
being naturally very clear and wide-awake they took in, not only the
window, but what was passing outside it. She turned quickly round
again, and said--

"Now I know where he is, Herr Amtshauptmann."

"Well, then, where?"

"Out there, sir."

"Where?" answered the old Herr, and he put up his eye-glasses, and
looked everywhere except where Fritz Sahlmann was.

"There, Herr Amtshauptmann, there, in the old apple-tree that stands at
the corner of the kitchen wall."

"So he is! Well, this _is_ a strange thing!--In the winter too! Now, if
it had been autumn when the apples are on the tree, I could have
understood it; but in the winter!"

"Oh! Weber," said his wife, "he is no doubt practising now."

"Hanchen Besserdich, you have good eyes, what is he doing there?" asked
the old Herr fumbling with his eye-glass.

"Why, he has got a long pole, but what he means to do with it I don't
see. He's pointing it towards the smoking-garret."

"Towards our smoking-garret! What can he want there, Neiting?"

"I don't know, Weber; but I should not be at all surprised if some more
sausages were missing tomorrow."

"Bravo, bravo! Why, that is a capital tree for my Fritz. Apples in
summer, and sausages in winter!" And he opened the window and cried:
"Fritz Sahlmann! Fritz, my lad, come down from that tree; you might
catch cold out in the rain."

There is said to be an animal, called the sloth, that takes a week to
get into a tree and a week to get out of it again. Now, Fritz Sahlmann
did not take quite as long as that to come down out of the apple-tree;
but still he was long enough, and it could hardly be for the sake of
his trowsers that he climbed down so cautiously, and when he was down
at the bottom of the tree, it was apparent that he was meditating
deeply whether he should come or make off. But Fritz Sahlmann was an
obedient boy, he came, only every now and then he stopped for a moment.

"Hanchen, what is he doing there behind that gooseberry-bush?" asked
the old Herr.

"He has thrown something down behind it."

"That's it, is it?--Well, Fritz, you can come in at the
back-door.--And, Hanchen, you go down, and take care that he does not
make his escape through the front-door."

Hanchen went, and Fritz came--slowly as Christmas, but he came.

"Fritz Sahlmann, my lad, you must have enough intelligence to see that
it can't be good for your health to be sitting out there in this rain
without any umbrella; another time take one with you when you want to
sit out in the rain. And you must also have sufficient intelligence to
understand that it is not good for your trowsers to be climbing about
trees in the rain; choose a fine day for such work in future. Now, tell
me; what were you doing in the tree?"

"Oh, nothing, Herr Amtshauptmann."

"Hm, hm," said the old Herr; "but what I wanted to ask was: Have you
seen anything of Mamsell Westphalen?"

Fritz Sahlmann who had expected quite a different sort of question,
seemed at once to brighten up and said quite boldly: "No, Herr
Amtshauptmann."

"Well, my lad, you could not be expected to know a thing that nobody
knows. But now just do me the favour to look straight at me."

Fritz Sahlmann did him the favour; but his look was like bad money, and
the old Herr cannot have taken it to be worth much, for he said--"Fritz
Sahlmann, here is a knife, go down and cut me a stick from one
of the hazel-bushes--you know where they are;--let it be as thick
as--as--well, about as thick as your middle-finger; and, my lad, you
have lost something behind the gooseberry-bush, call Hanchen to help
you to look for it. But Hanchen is to go with you, do you hear?"

Fritz Sahlmann now saw a sad prospect opening before him; but he
trusted in two things in which people generally trust in their
difficulties, namely, in Providence,--that it would at the right time
put some stone in the way of the old Herr's plans; and then, secondly,
in his good luck in former difficulties; and besides these he had
another help in need which ordinary mortals know nothing of; viz: a
little bundle of papers which, in serious cases, he used to stuff up
under the back of his waistcoat; and this he did not forget to-day.

He now went into the garden, tolerably quieted, with the secret hope
that Hanchen would miss the right gooseberry-bush; but while he was
busied looking for the right-sized stick, he saw, with inward quaking,
that the girl had gone to the right bush, and picked up something that,
in the distance, appeared to him to be very much like a sausage. He
must try, therefore, to help himself in some other way. So he first of
all cut a couple of imperceptible notches in the stick, which did not
exactly add to its firmness, and then he tried to get the find from
Hanchen. But this did not succeed, for Hanchen had no wish to undergo a
second examination before the Herr Amtshauptmann; and, besides, it
occurred to her that perhaps it had been Fritz Sahlmann, who had one
night, about a week before, strewn her bed with hog's bristles.

So Fritz and Hanchen made their appearance once more before the Herr
Amtshauptmann, the former with the stick, and the latter with a nice
little pork sausage.

"Hanchen," said the Herr Amtshauptmann, taking the sausage from her;
"you can go now. Neiting," he said, turning to his wife and holding up
the sausage before her eyes, "this is what we call a _corpus delicti_."

"It may be, Weber, that it is called so in Latin, but we call it a
'pork sausage.'"

"Good, Neiting. But, tell me, can you swear that this is one of our
sausages?"

"Yes, Weber, I know it by the string."

"Fritz Sahlmann, how did you come by this sausage?"

Now, this was a terrible question for Fritz; Providence was clearly not
interfering on his behalf; his luck was deserting him; the
Amtshauptmann stood before him, in one hand the sausage, in the other
the stick, and the stick was hardly two feet from his back; he was
therefore wholly thrown upon the little bundle of papers for help, and
that too was only so-so, for the Amtshauptmann might discover it by the
noise. So he gave himself up for lost, began to cry and said--"It was
given me."

"That's a story," broke in the Frau Amtshauptmann, "you have stolen it
with the long pole."

"Be quiet, Neiting! No leading questions. Fritz, who gave you this
sausage?"

"Mamsell Westphalen."

"When, Fritz."

"When I was sitting in the tree."

"Was she sitting by your side?"

"No, she was sitting in the smoking-garret, and then she fixed the
sausage on the pole; I had stuck a nail into the end of it."

"But you said just now, you did not know where Mamsell Westphalen was.
Fritz Sahlmann, you have told me a lie."

"Don't beat me, don't beat me, Herr Amtshauptmann. I couldn't help it,
I couldn't really. The Rathsherr Herse made me take a solemn oath not
to tell anybody, not even you, where Mamsell Westphalen was."

"Are you in the Rathsherr Herse's service or in mine? You have told me
a falsehood, Fritz, and when you tell lies you are to be whipped; those
are the terms of our contract."

And, so saying, the Herr Amtshauptmann took Fritz by the collar, and
raised the stick in the air; and, if Providence was to come to his
help, it was now the highest time, and--Providence did come. A knock
was heard at the door, and in walked the Town Messenger--Luth.

"The Herr Burmeister's respects, and things are going hard against the
watchmaker and the Miller, and would the Herr Amtshauptmann be so good
as to come down at once and not fail to bring Mamsell Westphalen with
him, for her evidence was of the greatest importance."

"I will come at once, Luth. Neiting, the matter is pressing. Fritz
Sahlmann, get my coat, and, Neiting, you go up to that old bird of
misfortune and bring her down."

It may be guessed how quickly Fritz Sahlmann fetched the coat, and how
glad he was to get out of sight of the Herr Amtshauptmann!

"Frau Amtshauptmann," said Fritz, "I must come with you, for she won't
open the door for you alone; and she's not really in the garret itself,
but sitting in a place quite near, that nobody knows but me."

So he ran on in front, and the Frau Amtshauptmann followed him softly.
Fritz tapped at the door.

"Mamsell, it's me; open the door." No answer.

"Mamsell, all's well! Pickled pork!" Still no answer.

"Mamsell, the French are all gone." Thereupon, something began to move,
and a piteous voice was heard to say--

"Fritz Sahlmann, you are a story-teller. Don't tempt me to come out."

Presently the Frau Amtshauptmann also cried out: "Open the door,
Westphalen. It is I--your mistress."

"I cannot let myself be seen," cried the voice, "I am a sinner, a
miserable sinner."

"Only open the door. It will all come right again."

After long preliminaries, Mamsell Westphalen at length opened the door;
and now stood there, red in the face, and the tears running down her
cheeks. But, to this day, nobody knows whether it was from emotion or
whether it was from the smoke; enough, the tears ran down, and, if it
can properly be said of a stout elderly female, she looked like a
broken reed.

"Frau Amtshauptmann," said she, "I cannot appear before you; I have
sunk too low. For more than twenty years I have lived in your house,
and in all that time I have never taken the smallest thing that did not
belong to me; and now, in an evil hour, I have taken what was yours."

"Come, come, Westphalen, never mind. Only come down now."

"Not a step, Frau Amtshauptmann, till I have made a clean breast of
it.--Look here, you must know I am in hiding; Rathsherr Herse and this
imp, Fritz Sahlmann, helped me to hide. And while I was sitting here in
sorrow and anguish thinking about Herr Droi and his fate and all the
rest, and expecting this urchin would bring me word how things were
going, I heard a cough outside and then my name was called, and when I
stole to the window to see who it was I thought I was going to have a
fit; for, just think, Frau Amtshauptmann, there was that wicked boy had
climbed up into the old apple-tree and slid along one of the branches
and was hanging like a crow over the abyss.--'Boy,' I said, 'do you
want to tumble out of the tree?' But he only grinned at me. 'Boy,' I
cried, 'I can't bear to see you in such danger.' And, do you know, Frau
Amtshauptmann, the boy actually laughed at me and said, 'I only came to
bring you news that the watchmaker has been hanged, and that the French
have seized the Rathsherr Herse, and he is lying in chains; and a whole
battalion has been sent to find you out!' That was not comforting news,
Frau Amtshauptmann, and I was terribly alarmed; but I assure you I was
more alarmed about the boy. 'Fritz,' I cried again, 'get down out of
the tree.' Then he grinned at me, like an ape at a camel, and said:
'Yes, if you'll give me a sausage!' And then he began playing all sorts
of tricks, and jumping about in the branches like a rabbit in a
cabbage-garden, till everything before my eyes seemed green and yellow.
Then, Frau Amtshauptmann, then I thought--What is a pork sausage? And
what is a human life? And in my terror, I took your property. He pushed
in the pole, and I stuck a sausage on it.--Then he was called in by the
Herr Amtshauptmann, and, as he clambered down, he said just loud enough
for me to hear, that he had been chaffing me, and that it was all
untrue. So I say he's a liar, Frau Amtshauptmann, and that's my last
word."

"Never mind now, Westphalen, my husband has a rod in pickle for him. He
won't escape punishment."

It was with great difficulty that the Frau Amtshauptmann succeeded in
getting the old dame downstairs, and when they reached the hall, the
Herr Amtshauptmann was pacing up and down with his stately tread, quite
ready and waiting for them.

It was hard work now to get Mamsell Westphalen to consent to go with
the old Herr to the Rathhaus "into the Lion's jaws," as she said. She
would bear what she had brought on herself by her ignorance, although
she had acted honestly and with good intentions; but to stand before
all the foreigners and to defend herself about Herr Droi, that was
beyond her strength as a respectable woman, and, if the Herr
Amtshauptmann insisted upon it, Hanchen and Corlin must go too, for
they must bear witness that she had passed the night with them. On this
point the Amtshauptmann had to give way, and while Mamsell Westphalen
was gone to her room to get her cap and shawl, he walked up and down
with long strides lost in thought and waving about his Jena stick,
without which he never went out. At length he said--

"Neiting, she is right; the maids can do no harm. But, Neiting," and
here he sniffed about in the air a little, "there's a smell here of
smoked eels. Has old Neils of Gülzow been here with his eels?"

"What are you talking about, Weber? Why, it's from Mamsell Westphalen,
she has been sitting, you know, in the smoking-garret for the last hour
or so."

"That's another thing," said the old Herr.

His wife then called the two maids. As soon as Mamsell Westphalen came
back and they were all together, they set off, after Mamsell Westphalen
had taken an eternal farewell of the Frau Amtshauptmann.

No one spoke a word, only, when they reached the Schloss-gate, Mamsell
Westphalen looked back and said--"Hanchen, when we get to the
market-place, run over to Doctor Lukow, and let him be present at my
misery. Something may happen to me--I may faint."



                              CHAPTER XI.

   How Witte the baker was drawn into the conspiracy through his
     meerschaum pipe; why Mamsell Westphalen regarded the Herr
     Amtshauptmann as a white dove and Hanchen Besserdich as an angel;
     and what she thought of the French Judge.


If there was confusion up at the Schloss, there was still greater
confusion down in the town. To be sure one cannot expect the quiet of a
churchyard when a troop of soldiers is quartered in a little town, and
the peasants of the neighbourhood and the townspeople are called
together, by roll of drum, to help with hand and horse; when misery and
woe cry aloud and complain on the one hand, and insolence struts about
unpunished on the other.

But, in 1806, when Murat, Bernadotte and Davoust were pursuing old
Blücher--and he showed them his teeth at Speck and Waaren--when that
famous proclamation: "Order is every citizen's first duty," came from
Berlin, it was certainly quieter than now; for it was then only a
question of command and obedience. At that time "Messieurs les
Français" levied contributions and plundered to their heart's content;
and the people crouched down, one behind another; and meanness and
baseness were seen on every side, for every one thought of himself and
of his own interest; like Meister Kähler of Malchin who said to his
wife and children: "I must save myself. You can stay here. If the
French come----" and he ran off to the brink of the Eller and hid
himself among the reeds.--Everything was foul and reeking from top to
bottom.

The times changed. Distress teaches men to pray, but it also teaches
them to defend themselves. Schill and the Duke of Brunswick started
forth; the whole of Low Germany began to stir; no one knew where the
movement came from; no one knew where it would lead to.

Schill marched straight through Mecklenburg to Stralsund. By
Buonaparte's command the Mecklenburgers resisted his passage at
Damgoren and Tribsees. They were beaten, for they fought wretchedly. A
whole company of tall Mecklenburg grenadiers were taken prisoners by
one of Schill's Hussars. "Boys," he cried to them, "are you already
prisoners." "No," said their brave corporal, "no one has said anything
to us." "Well then, come along with me." And they went along with him.
Was it cowardice? Was it fear? Whoever saw my fellow-countrymen in 1813
and in 1814; whoever has heard anything of the Strelitz regiment of
Hussars, will judge otherwise. No, it was not cowardice; it was
unwillingness to fight against that which, in their secret hearts, they
hoped and longed for. A movement was beginning in Mecklenburg; and when
Prussia broke forth, Mecklenburg was the first state in Germany that
followed its example. Thus it was and thus it must ever be.

And times changed again. Providence had stripped the French of their
shining snake-skin during their winter in Russia, He, who before had
gone about like a master, now came back like a beggar, and implored
pity from the Germans; and this noble gift of God's, pity, was stronger
than our bitter hatred. No one would raise his hand against him whom
God had stricken--pity made us forget his offences. Hardly however was
the stiff and frozen snake thawed again in his warm German bed, than
his sting once more appeared, and oppression began anew. But the
spectre in Germany had become a shadow, and the shadow had got flesh
and bone, and had got a name, and the name was shouted out in the
streets. "Down with the man-butcher!"--that was the war-cry.

But the war-cry was no passing cry. Not a pack of ragged young
fellows--not the orators of the streets first took it up. No! the best
and wisest met together; not for conspiracy with knife and poison, but
for confederacy with hand and deed against committed wrong; the elders
spoke, the young ones got the weapons. Not in the open street did the
first fire shoot up to heaven--we Low Germans suffer no bonfires to be
lit in our streets; but each one lighted a fire at his own hearth, and
neighbour came to neighbour and warmed himself at its glow. Not from a
fire made of fir-wood and straw, that leaves behind it only a heap of
ashes, did the smoke rise towards the sky--we Low Germans are a hard
wood that burns slowly, but that gives out heat; and in those days the
whole of Low Germany was one huge charcoal furnace, that smouldered and
glowed--quiet and silent--till the charcoal was one red-hot mass; and,
when it was free from smoke and flame, we threw our iron into the
glowing embers, and forged our weapons by its heat. And hatred of the
French was the whetstone on which we sharpened them. What followed is
known to every child; or, if there is one to whom it is not known, it
is the duty of his father to impress it upon him, so that he may never
forget it.

In our parts, too, the charcoal-furnace smouldered and smoked, and the
French scented it in the air; they felt, at every step, that the ground
on which they marched shook beneath their feet like a quicksand. They
had to learn that the officials and magistrates, formerly so humble,
were beginning to oppose and assert themselves; they saw that the
townspeople and peasants were becoming refractory, and they laid their
hands still more heavily on the country. This was not the best way to
soothe the rebellious spirit; the people became more and more
fractious, the commands of the French were purposely misunderstood, and
where things had gone smoothly before, there was now a mere mockery of
obedience. The people defended themselves by all manner of devices, and
the French, who must assuredly have felt that their rule was soon
coming to an end, carried off all they could get. The soldier knew that
his officer was doing no better.

But when their rule actually ended, they were far from expecting an
open revolt. If, however, they could have read what was written on all
faces--for example, on the face of Witte the baker, who, after putting
the Miller's horse and cart into his barn, was now leaning over his
half-door smoking his tobacco-pipe, and spitting, and looking, with his
teeth set, in the direction of the French--they would have taken care
not to bend the bow too far. At any rate, the Frenchman who at that
moment passed by the baker and snatched the silver-topped meerschaum
pipe out of his mouth, and, in his insolence, walked on quietly smoking
it as if nothing had happened; at any rate he would have made off a
little faster. For the baker had scarcely felt it snatched from his
mouth, when he rushed out at the door, picked up a stone as big as his
fist, and hurled it with such force at the Frenchman, that, striking
him at the back of the neck, it levelled him with the ground.

And, when the Herr Amtshauptmann arrived with his troop of women at the
market-place, a fight was going on between the baker's assistants and
the French, and the French and the neighbours, with weapons both sharp
and blunt, which was not stopped till an officer came and separated
them.

The baker was dragged off to the Rathhaus with a broken head, for
having dared to raise his hand against "la grande nation;" and whatever
he might say as to the "grande nation's" having raised its hand against
his pipe, it was of no use--they dragged him along all the same.

At the Rathhaus the French judge was sitting hearing Miller Voss's case
about the lost Frenchman; the valise with the money was lying on the
table; the colonel, von Toll, and my father as Burmeister, were
present. My father had told the story as far as he knew it quite
truthfully, only he had been silent as to the watchmaker having
frightened the French chasseurs away at his command; for he thought,
"Why should I mention it? The watchmaker will tell it himself, or, if
he does not, it will come out in Mamsell Westphalen's evidence." But
with the Miller things were going badly; he, of all those who were
concerned, was the last who had seen the Frenchman; he had wanted to
take the Frenchman to the mill with him, and the fellow was no longer
to be found. What spoke well for him was, that he had been very drunk
at the time, that he had delivered up the money of his own accord, and
that he had at once said that the chasseur's horse was in the baker's
stable. When he had done this, and guessed from my father's questions
that the fact of his having been drunk might be of use to him, he made
the very most of it, and to all questions he only replied that he knew
nothing further, for he had been dead drunk; but if they chose to ask
Friedrich, he would know all about it.

So stood the matter, when the fight with Witte the baker began out in
the market-place. My father was just rushing out at the door to set
things to rights, when Witte was dragged in. He still exchanged
occasional blows with his guards, mingling "_bougres_" and "_sacrés_"
with "rogues and vagabonds." His entrance into the court did not
increase its stillness; he cursed, he swore, and my father had enough
to do, only to get him a little quieter.

"My pipe, Herr Burmeister! It was a legacy from my father. And to have
it snatched out of my mouth before my very eyes! Am I a Stemhagen
burgher or not?"

The French chattered and jabbered away together; Colonel von Toll had
gone out, and the judge commanded that the baker should be bound,
thrown into a waggon and taken along with the army. What more should be
done with him would easily be determined; he had raised his hand
against the French, that was quite enough.

Then my father stepped up to the Judge and explained that the baker was
a well-conducted man, that he had always borne his share of the burden
of the war-taxes and levies, and that he had not attacked the French
power but had only attacked a thief; or did the French regard a
silver-topped pipe as contribution of war?

This exasperated the Frenchman; he snorted at my father, and gave him
to understand that he himself was not by any means too safe.

My father was a brave man, and, when he once saw that a thing was
right, he was as obstinate as only a real Mecklenburger can be. He
knew, he said, that no honest man was now safe in his own country; but,
for his part, he held it to be his duty to stand by his fellow-citizens
in a just cause, and he would do so even if there were so many French
in the country that one could feed the pigs with them.

The judge foamed with rage, and sputtered out the command to arrest my
father at once and lead him out of the room.

As this command was about to be carried out, old Witte sprang towards
the judge shouting, "thieves and villains;" and Miller Voss too was
ready in a moment to aid with fist and tongue. At this moment Colonel
von Toll came back again; and, when he had learned what was the meaning
of the tumult, he said that the baker was in the right about the pipe;
he had himself inquired into the matter, but that it was quite a
secondary affair. This baker was the same man who had got the
chasseur's horse standing in his stable, and it seemed to him that
there had been a conspiracy to commit a murder,--and, as he said that,
he looked very sharply at my father--and the truth must come out, he
would pledge his life; and, if it could not be got out here, he knew a
place where it could--and that place was Stettin.

My father, Miller Voss, and the baker were now told to go out, and were
placed under guard in another room, and the Herr Amtshauptmann was
called up. The old Herr came in at the door, with his stick in his
hand, as upright and stately as befits a chief magistrate and a good
conscience. One of the French wanted to shut the door after him, but
that would not do--Mamsell Westphalen forced her way in, and, in her
broad wake, followed Hanchen and Corlin; for, as they said, they "did
not want to stay outside to be stared at by those horrid Frenchmen;"
and Mamsell Westphalen said as she squeezed through, "Pardong Monsoo
Frenchmen, where Herr Amtshauptmann is, I must be too; he is my
protector." When the old Herr entered, the colonel turned round and
looked out of the window.

The judge now asked the Herr Amtshauptmann, through the interpreter,
who he was and what was his name.

"I am chief magistrate here in the bailiwick of Stemhagen, and my name
is Joseph Weber;" and he laid his hat and stick on a chair.

At the name of Joseph Weber, the French colonel turned half round, and
looked at the Amtshauptmann as if he were going to ask him some
question; but he seemed to give it up again, and looked out at the
window once more. It was now signified to the Herr Amtshauptmann that
he should take a seat.

"I thank you," he said, "but I did not come here to take my ease, and I
am not enough accustomed to giving evidence to be able to do so
sitting." He then, on being questioned, related how the chasseur had
first come to him, and everything that he knew about it. And he ended
his speech by saying that, if it was to be reckoned as a sin that the
Miller had drunk down the chasseur, he himself must bear the blame of
it, for it was at his request that the Miller had done it, and the
Miller was his subordinate.

At this the judge began to laugh scornfully; the idea that the
Burmeister should interfere on behalf of his baker, and the
Amtshauptmann on behalf of his miller, seemed too ludicrous.

"And you laugh at that?" said the old Herr calmly, as if he were
dealing with Fritz Sahlmann. "Is not that the custom in France? Are
officials in your country appointed only to fleece people? Don't you
stand by them when they are in difficulties and in the right? And is it
not right for one to rid oneself of a rogue and vagabond by a few
bottles of wine?"

Well, here was another hard hit for the French judge. "Rogue and
vagabond" and a French chasseur were things that could in no way be
coupled together, or rather should not be. The judge burst out in a
torrent of invective.

The Herr Amtshauptmann remained unmoved, but went to the table and drew
out of the Frenchman's valise one of the silver spoons. This he held up
to the judge and said,--"Do you see this crest? I know it, and I know
the people to whom it belongs. They are not people who would sell their
silver spoons; and besides, according to my ideas, an honest soldier
has something else to do than to be bargaining for silver spoons."

There was not much to be said against this, so the judge cleverly
shifted his ground, and asked the Amtshauptmann how the watchmaker had
come to be wearing a French uniform, and what he had been doing up at
the Schloss at night?

"There you ask me too much," said the Herr Amtshauptmann; "I did not
tell him to come, I only just saw him for a moment when the Miller was
taking the chasseur away with him; and his spending the night at the
Schloss was against my knowledge and against my will."

The judge soon saw that he could not make much of the Herr
Amtshauptmann; he broke off the interview and told the old gentleman he
could go, but that he must not leave the Rathhaus.

"Very well," said he, and he turned to leave. "Good day, then, till the
matter is settled."

As the Amtshauptmann was about to take his hat and stick, he found the
French colonel, who had left the window and was standing close by him,
intently engaged in scanning the names which had been cut in the stick
in Weber's student days. He looked as eager and as curious as if he
were seeking his number in the newspaper advertisements to see whether
he had drawn the great lottery prize.

The Herr Amtshauptmann looked at him for one moment, then made him a
deep bow,--"By your leave, Herr Colonel, my stick."

The Colonel started and looked rather confused, then handed him the
stick, and, as the old Herr went out of the room, he followed him.

Mamsell Westphalen also wanted to follow, and Hanchen and Corlin were
preparing to go too, when "Halte, halte!" cried the Judge;--and they
who did not get out, were the three women.

Many a time afterwards did Mamsell Westphalen relate this trial and
what she had felt during it, but she always began in the same
way,--that it had been as if she were standing in the Stemhagen belfry,
and all the bells, great and small, were ringing in her ears, and, when
the Herr Amtshauptmann went away from her, it was as if a white dove
had flown away from the belfry and she must follow him to life or
death; but the fellow whom they nick-named a judge had held her fast by
the skirt of her gown. "And, Frau Meister," she would then add, "I have
seen many a dozen of judges in my life, and they were all bad enough,
but such a gallows-bird as this French Judge I never did see. For, look
you Frau Meister, he had on a yellow livery and 'gallows' was plainly
written in his face."

It was with Mamsell Westphalen as with many honest souls who have a
great terror of danger that threatens in the distance, but who are no
sooner in the middle of it than they play with it; being like gnats,
which cannot bear smoke but are attracted by fire. When she saw that
the bridge behind her was broken away, and that she was going to be put
on oath, she set her arms a-kimbo, walked forward and stood on the same
place on which the Amtshauptmann had stood. "For," she said afterwards,
"I had seen that he had stood proudly there, and his spirit came over
me."

The Judge now asked what she knew of the watchmaker.

"I know nothing about him except that he speaks broken German, that,
for bread, he says '_doo pang_' and for wine, '_doo vang_;' that's all
I know."

How was it that he was in a French uniform?

"I don't know how he gets into it and I don't know how he gets out of
it again. I suppose he does like all other men."

Why had he come up to the Schloss last night?

"A great many people come to the Schloss--all honest people, except
those whom the gensdarmes bring,--and if I am to bother myself with
what they all want, the duke had better make me Amtshauptmann, and the
Herr Amtshauptmann can then look after the kitchen."

Why had not the watchmaker gone home?

"Because the weather was so bad that one could not have had the heart
to drive a dog out of the house, much less a Christian. I hold the man
for a Christian, though he's not too good a one, for, as I have heard
say, he goes hunting hares by night--and why doesn't he go in the
daytime like other folk?--and then he uses a stool with one leg, which
he straps on to himself behind, and every other Christian sits on a
stool with three legs; and he wanted to mislead our Corlin into this
outlandish mode for milking, but she told him plainly that if that
was the fashion in his country, he might run about with the stool
tied to him if he liked, but she was not going to make herself the
laughing-stock of the place."

But why had she hidden the watchmaker with her in her room?

At this Mamsell Westphalen was silent, the blood rushed into her face
at the impertinence of the French fellow; that was the very question
that had driven her into flight up in the garret. But while in her
distress she was seeking for an answer, help came. Hanchen Besserdich
and Corlin pressed forward to her side and burst out "Those are lies;
those are foul lies!" They would take their oath of it. Their Mamsell
had slept with them; and they should tell the Herr Amtshaup-mann.

The noise became dreadful, and scarcely had the Judge succeeded in
restoring quiet, when they broke out again, and at last the Judge
ordered them all three to be turned out.

"Frau Meister," said Mamsell Westphalen afterwards to the weaver's
wife, "you know I've always been against Hanchen Besserdich's sharp
tongue, but no angel could have helped me better at that moment than
she with her chatter. Frau Meister, Man must not despise what, at
times, is disagreeable to him; who knows of what use it may not be. And
a sharp tongue is one of those things. That's what I say and that's
what I hold to. And I shan't forget the girl."



                              CHAPTER XII.

   Tells how the Amtshauptmann and the French Colonel nearly embraced
     each other; how my Mother pulled the Amtshauptmann by the tail of
     his coat; and how the Corsican dragon carried off my Father and
     my uncle Herse.


When the Herr Amtshauptmann left the Court of Justice, he went straight
across to the other side of the hall to a place where he had often been
before and often came afterwards, namely my mother's room--for we lived
in the Rathhaus.

My mother sat knitting, and we children were playing about her; for
what do children know of cares? But she was sad and anxious; she sat
there silent and perhaps did not even hear the noise which we were
making round her. She probably still knew nothing of the difficulty in
which my father was, for it was not his custom to tell all his little
troubles; but there is a curious fact about women--a man may see at
once which way the wind blows, but a woman will have known a long time
before that a change was at hand.--Well, the old Herr came into my
mother's room and said,--

"Good morning, my dear friend. How are you? Much troubled with all
these Frenchmen? What say you, eh?"

My mother held out her hand to him. She was very fond of the fine old
man who used to come and sit by her side for many an hour, pouring out,
in his simple and open-hearted way, the experience of his grey hairs.
Not but what he was merry and lively enough when he related the
exploits of his Jena student-days, and what he and his brother, Adolph
Diedrich,--"The Professor _juris utriusque_ at Rostock, my friend--"
had done in their students-society, the "amici." My mother held out her
hand to him, for she could not get up; she had become lame during a
severe illness, and I never saw her otherwise than,--when she was at
her best,--sitting on a chair knitting away as industriously as if her
poor, weak hands were strong and well; or,--at her weaker times,--lying
in bed, in pain, reading her books. What the books were which she read,
I know no longer; but novels they were not; I only remember this much,
that the Herr Amtshauptmann's Marcus Aurelius was sometimes amongst
them, for I had to carry it backwards and forwards.

It was not the Amtshauptmann's habit needlessly to alarm women, and so
instead of talking about the troubles in the Court of Justice, he began
about the bad weather, and he was just giving a short description of
the pools in the Stemhagen market-place--for it was not paved in those
days,--when the door opened and the French colonel came in. He made my
mother a stiff bow, and advanced towards the Amtshauptmann.

We children left our playthings and crept, in a little knot, into the
corner behind the tile-stove, like chickens when a kite is overhead,
and wondered what this meant. Probably my mother also wondered, for she
gazed anxiously at the old Herr in whose face there was a cold, haughty
look that she had never seen before.

But the Colonel did not take it ill, and there was a friendly
politeness in his tone as he said to the old gentleman, "I beg your
pardon. I heard just now in the court the name of 'Weber.' Is your name
'Weber?'"

"Joseph Heinrich Weber," replied the Amtshauptmann shortly and stood as
erect as a pillar.

"Have you not a brother named 'Adolph Diedrich?'"

"Adolph Diedrich, professor at Rostock," answered the old Herr without
moving a limb.

"Herr Amtshauptmann," said the French officer and stretched out both
hands towards him, "let what passed between us this morning be
forgotten. You are dearer to me than you think. I have read a name on
your stick that is engraved deeply in my heart. Look here 'Renatus von
Toll!'"

"And you know that man?" asked the old Herr, and it was as if the sun
had risen over his face.

"How should I not?" said the Colonel, "why, he is my father."

"What!" exclaimed the Amtshauptmann. "What say you, eh? What say you,
eh?" And he held the colonel out at arm's length and looked into his
eyes. "You the son of Renatus von Toll?"

"Yes, and he has often spoken to me of his two best friends, 'the
Webers,' 'the tall Mecklenburgers.'"

"My friend," cried the old Herr, turning to my mother, "of whom have I
talked to you oftenest? What say you, eh? Of the fine Westphalian,
Renatus?"

My mother nodded her head; she could not speak, for there was something
in the old gentleman's delight that brought the tears into her eyes;
and we silly youngsters came out from behind the stove and grew bolder,
and it all seemed to us as happy as if one of our cousins had come.

"My boy, my boy!" cried the Amtshauptmann, "I ought to have known you,
if the damned French uniform.... No, no, I did not mean to say that,"
he added quickly as he saw the blood rush into the Colonel's face.
"Tell me, my boy, has your father still the clear brown eyes? What say
you, eh? Has he still the curly brown hair?--Such a splendid man he
was, my friend!" said he to my mother, "God has written the word 'man'
on his forehead."

The Colonel now said that the brown eyes were still there, but that the
hair had turned white.

"True, true," said the Amtshauptmann, "of course. It must be so; Adolph
Diedrich's is quite grey too. But now, friend, you must come up to the
Schloss with me and stop there awhile. God knows, this is the first
time that I ever invited a French officer to stay with me. But you are
not properly a French officer, you are a German.--The son of Renatus
von Toll can only be an honest German, my friend," he said turning to
my mother. "What say you, eh?"

My mother had seen that the Colonel turned hot and cold alternately
during this speech of the Amtshauptmann's, and she had made all manner
of signs to him, but in vain; and, on his coming nearer to her, as he
asked the last question, she plucked him gently by his coat-tail as a
sign to him to be quiet. At this, the old Herr turned sharply round and
asked--

"Why are you pulling me?"

It was now my mother's turn to be red. But, in the meanwhile, the
colonel had recovered himself; he made a sort of half-bow to my mother,
and said firmly and earnestly to the old Herr,--"I must refuse your
invitation, Herr Amtshauptmann, for we march in half an hour. And, as
concerns this uniform which does not please you,--and cannot please
you, I grant it--I cannot dishonour it by taking it off in the hour of
danger. You say that I am a German, my father's son must be a
German--you are right--but, if you regard it as a crime that I am on
the other side, you must lay the blame on my sovereign and not on me.
When I became a soldier, the Elector of Cologne was in league with the
Emperor; and when I went to Spain four years ago the whole of Germany
and all her princes lay at his feet. I returned from Spain three weeks
ago, and I find Germany quite changed. What I have felt concerns myself
alone, and if there is any human soul to whom I can speak of it, it can
only be my father. For my father's oldest friend this must be enough;
it is more than I have said to any other human being."

The old Herr had been standing at the beginning of this speech, looking
the Colonel straight in the face, and every now and then giving a shake
of his head; but, as he became aware that there was a sad earnestness
in the young man's face, his eyes sought another place to rest on, and
when the Colonel had ended, he said, "That's quite another matter;" and
he leant towards my mother and said, "My friend, what say you, eh? He
is right, is he not? Renatus von Toll's son is right. Pity, that he
_is_ right!" and he took the Colonel by the hand: "My dear young
friend,--and so you cannot stay here?" And, on the colonel's assuring
him that it was not possible, he cried out to me, "Fritz, boy, you can
run an errand for me; run to Neiting--to the Frau Amtshauptmann,--and
tell her to come down here, something joyful has happened. Do you hear?
Say something _joyful_. She might else be anxious, my friend," he added
to my mother.

Well, away I ran as fast as I could up to the Schloss, and it was not
long before the Frau Amtshauptmann was walking along by my side slowly
and quietly as was her wont, and I hopped round about her like a little
water-wagtail, so that she had enough to do to keep me from under the
waggons and from the horses' feet.

As we crossed the market-place the French were fast getting ready to
march. The guns stood there with the horses fastened to them; the
battalion was formed into line; and one could see that they were on the
point of starting.

The Frau Amtshauptmann went into the Rathhaus, but she did not get far,
for she was seized upon in the hall by Mamsell Westphalen and the two
maids; and, before she knew where she was going, she was in the midst
of complaints, about "murder and killing," from Witte the baker, and
Droz, and Miller Voss, each one telling her his story; and round them
and their complaints, gathered Herr Droi's wife and children, crying
and entreating; and the Frau Meister Stahl caught Mamsell Westphalen by
the skirt of her gown, as if Mamsell were going to spring into the
water, and she must save her from suicide. Witte still every now and
then fired off a "robbers," but there was not more than half a charge
of powder left in him, and, when he saw the grief of the watchmaker's
wife, he thought of his own family, and called to me;--

"Fritz, will you run over to my house, my boy? You shall have a bun for
it,--and call to my son Johann and my daughter Strüwingken, and tell
them they are to come over here, for the rascally French are going to
take me to their God-forgotten country as they have already done my
brown five-year-old."

I gave the message, and when I came back again with Strüwingken and
Johann and the bun, there were Miller Voss's cousin Heinrich and the
Miller's wife and Fieka in Heinrich's cart before the Rathhaus; for,
after all, the mounted Gensdarmes had found their way to the Gielow
Mill at last and had cleared out the nest. Now the sobbing and crying
began again, and the only one who remained quiet was Fieka. She asked
her father softly,--

"Have you given up the money?"

The Miller pointed towards the court of justice, and said, "It lies
there."

"Then be of good heart, father; God will not forsake us."

During the whole of this time, my father had been walking up and down
the hall wrapped in his own thoughts. He cannot have been easy in his
mind, for he constantly stopped for a moment and passed his hand
through his hair when he heard the wailing of the women, and once he
went up to Herr Droi and told him he need not be alarmed as things did
not look badly for him.

Herr Droi nodded his head and said, "Bon!" became a whole inch taller,
planted one leg out in front of the other, and put one arm confidently
akimbo.

It seemed now as if everything was ready for marching, for the Adjutant
called the colonel out of my mother's room. When the colonel came out
his face had become pleasant again, and he went, with the
Amtshauptmann, towards the prisoners and ordered that Mamsell
Westphalen and the two maids should be set free; and Mamsell Westphalen
ducked three times by way of curtseying and said--"I thank you, Herr
Colonel von Toll."

The Herr Amtshauptmann caught sight of his wife in the crowd, and set
her also free and, scarcely had he introduced her to the Colonel and
told her what had happened, when the Adjutant gave the commands to
march and Miller Voss, Witte the baker and Herr Droz to bring out.

Fieka had taken her father's arm, and would not let it go. They forced
her away from him, but she remained quite quiet and said, "Father, I
shall stay by you wherever they may take you."

For the baker it was easier work; he spat three times, let off at
random a few "rogues and vagabonds," told Johann shortly what he was to
do, and went out. But, with the watchmaker the case was very sad: his
wife and children hung about him, and cried, in French and German, till
it would have moved the very stones to pity.

My father could now stand it no longer; he stepped forward, and asked
upon what ground the watchmaker was to be led away prisoner. The man
was a naturalised citizen, and had never in his life committed any
crime. No one could reckon it as a crime that he had slept up at the
Schloss, for the Herr Colonel and the Herr Adjutant had also slept up
there. As to his having on the uniform, why that was natural, seeing
that he had served under the French, and his still putting it on now
and then could not be taken ill by them, for the man showed by doing so
that he still thought with pleasure of the time when he had worn it in
their ranks.

"He has abused the uniform!" shouted the Adjutant.

My father cried back that it was not true; that it was no abuse, when
anyone got rid of a pack of thieves and rascals by an innocent trick;
and the proof that they had had to deal with fellows of that sort was
to be found in the Chasseur's valise.

The Adjutant looked at my father savagely and spitefully, as if he
would have liked to run him through the body, the colonel stepped up
with a face in which a thunderstorm was gathering, and made a sign with
his hand to lead away the watchmaker; but my father sprang forward and
cried,--"Stop! The man is innocent, and if any one here is guilty, it
is I, for it was at my command that he acted. If anyone is to be
arrested for it, you must arrest me."

"Be it so," said the colonel coldly, "let that man free, and take this
one here."

"My friend," cried the Herr Amtshauptmann, "what are you doing?"

"My duty, Herr Amtshauptmann," said the Colonel and gave him his hand.
"Farewell, Herr Amtshauptmann, my time is up," and so saying, he went
out of the house.

The whole thing was done so quickly that the greater number of those
who were there did not know what the question was. I least of all, for
I was still but a little mite then; but I understood enough to see that
my father had got himself into danger. Naturally, I now began to cry,
and just as the little Droi's were drying their tears, mine were
running down my cheeks. I followed close on my father's heels as he was
pushed out into the street; the Amtshauptmann also followed.

"Herr Amtshauptmann," said my father, "comfort my poor wife. And you
Fritz," he said to me, "go and fetch my hat."

I ran in, and got the hat, and when I brought it to him, he lifted me
up and kissed me and whispered in my ear, "Tell your mother I shall
soon be back again."

The procession now set off, two men in front and two behind and, in the
middle, Miller Voss, Witte the baker, and my father. As they passed by
the engine-house, the door opened, and who should come out, but my
uncle, the Rathsherr Herse, also with two men; for the colonel of
artillery had had him locked up there on account of the escape of the
peasants with their teams.

"Why, Herr Rathsherr, what has happened to you?" said my father.

"It's for the Fatherland, Herr Burmeister," cried my uncle Herse, "I
entered into a conspiracy with Mamsell Westphalen; and now the Corsican
dragon has got me in his claws; but it really is because of Miller
Voss's horse and cart and the stupid old peasants."

They now briefly told each other their stories, and my uncle Herse
marched down the street, with his cocked hat and red collar, so
majestically that he looked almost as if he were commanding the whole.
My uncle Herse was no coward; he was not afraid; he regarded this as a
day of the greatest glory to him and, looking as if he had grown a
couple of inches taller from the rain during the night, he walked along
the Brandenburg road, greeting right and left, Christians and Jews. He
winked to the Captain of the Fire Brigade not to betray what he knew;
and put his finger to his lips as he passed by Solomon's the Jew as a
sign that he was to be silent. And scarcely was he outside the gate
when old Stahl, the weaver, began telling everybody that the French had
taken the Herr Rathsherr with them; they were going to make him a
general,--but the others would all be hanged.



                             CHAPTER XIII.

   Why Fritz Sahlmann fell in the mud; why Bank, the shoemaker, got a
     blow with the butt-end of a musket; why Rathsherr Herse wished
     to set fire to all the mills in the country; and why the King of
     Prussia always kept a place at his table for the Rathsherr.


When our prisoners got outside the Brandenburg gate, they marched with
their two men in front and two behind, across the bridge, along the
Brandenburg lane,--for, though called a road it was only a lane, there
being in those days no high roads in Mecklenburg,--and when they came
to the narrow pass leading up to the Windmill hill to which the
Stemhagen folk have given the names of, "Killhorse" and "Break-neck,"
the guard commanded "Halt," for they could go no further.

The whole of the artillery lay in the pass, and had sunk so deep
in the mud that, if all the horses of the neighbourhood had been at
hand--which they were not--they could not have pulled this heap of
misfortune out of it. There lay the French now, and cursed and swore.
Labourers were fetched from the town with spades and shovels, and fresh
horses were sent for from Jürnsdorf and Klaukow, and all the while it
rained so heavily that no one could keep a dry thread on his back.

"Neighbour Voss," said baker Witte "what do you say to this rain?"

"Fine weather for late barley," replied the Miller, "if folks have sown
any."

"My shirt is wringing wet," said the baker!

"And my boots are filling with water," said the Miller.

"Herr Burmeister, come behind me; my cloak will give you some shelter,"
said my uncle Herse, and he made himself a little bit broader than
nature had already made him. "I am only glad that these 'slaves of the
tyrant' will get a wetting through and through."

My father got under the cloak, but said nothing, for something had
caught his eye.

Above, on the edge of the narrow pass a group of people were standing:
labourers, servants and Stemhagen burghers, who had followed the
procession in spite of the rain and bad weather, partly from curiosity
and partly from sympathy, and amongst these people Fritz Sahlmann was
slipping in and out, telling the whole story first to one and then to
another of those who did not yet know it. When my father first caught
sight of him, he was standing close by Inspector Bräsig of Jürnsdorf,
who had come on horseback, and had to ride alongside of the French
army, lest he should never see his team-horses again.

The Inspector was an old friend of my father's, and my father could
clearly see that old Bräsig nodded to him and whispered something in
Fritz Sahlmann's ear, when the boy told him of the scrape. Fritz
Sahlmann now stuck his hands in his trowsers' pockets, and began
whistling; whistled himself along the edge; whistled himself down the
bank; when nearly at the bottom cleverly caught his foot in the root of
an old willow; stumbled quite naturally towards the prisoners; and,
when close to my father, fell in the mud as if he could not help it in
the least.

My father bent down and raised him up.

"Watch the horse," whispered Fritz.

He could say no more for he was at once driven off by the French, and
he climbed up the bank again.

If, before, my father had paid attention to the movements of the
Inspector and the lad, he now did so doubly. He watched old Bräsig get
down from his horse, crack his riding-whip and give it into Fritz
Sahlmann's hand; the boy now began to lead the horse up and down, but
always a little lower on the bank, till at last he stood still under a
willow-tree as if he were seeking shelter there from the rain. From
this place he made a sign to my father, and my father, who stood under
the cover of my uncle Herse's broad back, waved his hat three times as
if he were shaking the rain from it.

Presently, a coach-and-four came round the corner where the Brandenburg
Lane meets the Ivenack Lane and, in it, sat a general who had been
quartered on the Graf of Ivenack the night before. It, too, drove up
the pass and, when it came to the place where the transport had stuck
fast, some confusion arose amongst the soldiers in getting out of the
way, and no sooner did my father observe this, than he flew, as if shot
out of a pistol, from behind the Herr Rathsherr's cloak, up the bank on
the other side of the coach, to the willow-tree, snatched whip and
bridle out of Fritz Sahlmann's hands, jumped on to the horse,
and--quick as lightning--was down the hill.

"_Feu_, _feu!_" shouted the French; "click, click," went the hammers,
but no response came from the old firelocks, for the powder was as
wet--as Stahl the weaver's coffee grounds.

For one short instant, it seemed as if the Stemhagen burghers, when
they saw their Burmeister riding over hedge and ditch, were going to
give him three cheers; and Bank the shoemaker was just beginning "Our
Burmeister viv ..." when the butt-end of a French musket applied
between his shoulders clearly hinted to him that he had better be off.
His example was followed by the others and, in a twinkling, the place
was clear of everybody except Inspector Bräsig, who had stationed
himself against a tree and was smoking a pipe with the greatest
calmness.

Now, whether no one had observed that he had come on horseback, or
whether the French had distinctly seen that he had had nothing to do
with my father's escape, he having stood a long way off from his
horse--whatever it was, nothing was said to him.

The other three prisoners, however, got a double guard, and were
brought away out of the pass into an open field, and thence, to the old
windmill from which the hill took its name, as it was a little drier
there. Here they sat back to back on a millstone and talked together.

"It's a good thing for the Burmeister," said old Witte, as he combed
his wet hair with his brass comb, "that he has got away, but it's bad
for us. We are now like a swarm of bees without a queen. He would have
been sure to have got us all off sooner or later."

"Well, neighbour, it can't be helped," said Miller Voss, and he nodded
his head to Inspector Bräsig who had also taken shelter in the mill.

"Hm! Meister Witte," broke in my uncle Herse, "he is well up in town
matters, I don't deny it; but as to war-matters--to what concerns
military affairs--why he has never in his life given the least
attention to them, and he knows about as much of them as ... as ..."

"As you or I, Herr Rathsherr," said the Miller innocently.

"Miller Voss," said the Rathsherr and he drew himself up, making
himself an inch taller, "speak for yourself, if you please, and not for
others. What you know of such matters has all been learned since
yesterday afternoon; for you and the Amtshauptmann and the Burmeister
have brought us into this mess, and, if I had not come to the rescue,
Mamsell Westphalen would be sitting here too, with her teeth
chattering. What _I_ know, I will soon give you a proof of. Do you know
Jahn?"

"Do you mean old Jahn of Peenhäuser, who mends pots for my wife?"

"Bah! I mean 'Gymnast-Jahn,' who is now in Berlin, the brother-in-law
of Kolloffen of Lukow."

"No, I don't know the man."

"Well then, listen. One day this 'Gymnast-Jahn' was walking along the
streets of Berlin with a student when they came to the Brandenburg
Gate--for the Berliners have got a Brandenburg Gate just as much as the
Stemhageners,--and he pointed to the place where the Goddess of
Victory, which the French had carried off, had formerly stood;
and he asked the student what thought came into his head at the
sight.--'None.'--Smack! he gave him a sound box on the ear."

"That was cool," said the Miller.

"Yes, Herr Rathsherr," said old Witte, "my hand is pretty ready,
but ..."

"Let me finish first, will you?" said my uncle Herse. "'Master
Good-for-nothing,' said Gymnast-Jahn, seeing the student's
astonishment, 'that will teach you to think in future. You should have
thought on seeing that place that we must get the Goddess of Victory
back again from Paris.'"

"Yes but ..." said Witte.

"That's all very well but ..." said the Miller.

The Herr Rathsherr however did not let them get possession of the
field, but turned to the Miller and said,--"Now I ask you, Miller Voss,
when you see this mill, what idea comes into your head?"

"Herr Rathsherr," said the Miller, and he got up and stood a little
distance off, "I hope you don't mean to treat me in that manner?"

"I only ask you, Miller Voss, what idea comes into your head?"

"Well," said the Miller, "what idea ought to come? I think it's a rusty
old thing, and that, in Spring, it ought to have new sails; and that,
if the stones above are no better than these down here, the Stemhagen
folk must get a devilish lot of sand along with their flour."

"And you're right there, neighbour," said the baker.

"And he's wrong there!" cried my uncle Herse. "If he had answered
properly he would have said that it must be set fire to. And it will be
set fire to; all the mills in the whole country must be set fire
to." And he stood up and walked, with long strides round about the
mill-stones.

"Lord save us!" said Miller Voss. "Who is to do this wickedness?"

"I," said my uncle Herse, and he slapped himself on the breast and went
nearer to the two, who wondered what could be coming next, and said, in
a low voice: "When the Landsturm[3] rises, we must set fire to all the
mills as a signal;--that's called a beacon, and the best proof you know
nothing about war-matters is, that you don't even know what a beacon
means."

"Herr Rathsherr," said Miller Voss, "it's all the same to me whether
it's a beacon or a deacon, but, whoever sets fire to my water-mill, had
better look out."

"Watermill? Windmills I mean. Miller Voss; who ever said anything about
watermills? Watermills lie in the ground and don't burn. And now, I ask
you, has the Burmeister as much knowledge and courage to act in time of
war as I have?"

"He's never said he would set mills on fire," said the baker, and
looked at the Herr Rathsherr rather doubtfully as if he did not quite
know whether he was in fun or earnest.

"My dear Witte, you look at me like a cow at a new gate. You are, no
doubt astonished and thinking what does a Stemhagen Rathsherr like me,
know of war and stratagems? My dear Witte, you knead your dough with
your hands, in the baking-trough; I knead mine in my head by thought.
If I were where I ought to be, I should be in the presence of the King
of Prussia, talking with the man. 'Your Majesty,' I should say, 'you
are rather in difficulties, I think?' 'That I am, Herr Rathsherr,' he
would say, 'money is devilish scarce just now.'--'Nothing else?' I
say. 'That's a mere trifle. Only give me full power to do what I
like'--_licentia poetica_ that is called in Latin, Miller Voss,--'and a
regiment of Grenadier Guards.'--'You shall have them, my dear
Rathsherr,' says the King; and I have all the Jews from the whole of
Prussia assembled in the palace-yard at Berlin. I surround the palace
with my grenadiers, place myself at the head of a company and march
with them into the palace-yard. 'Are you all there?' I ask the Jews.
'Yes,' say they. 'Now, are you willing,' I say to them, 'to sacrifice
the half of your possessions on the altar of the Fatherland?'--'We
can't do that,' says one, 'for we should be ruined.'--'Will you, or
will you not?' I ask. I give the word of command 'Attention.'--'Herr
Rathsherr,' says another, 'take a quarter.'--'Not a groschen less than
half,' say I; 'Make ready!'--'We will!' scream the Jews--'Good,' say I,
'then let each one go singly up to the Presence Chamber where his
Majesty is sitting on the Throne, and let each one lay his money on the
steps at his feet.' When they have all been up, I go. 'Well,' I say,
'how is it now your Majesty.'--'Capital, my dear Herr Rathsherr,' says
he, 'would that the other business were going as well.'--'We'll soon
manage it,' say I; 'only give me twenty regiments or so of infantry,
ten of cavalry and as much artillery as you have by you.'--'You shall
have them,' says the King.--'Good,' say I, and march off with my
soldiers away through field and flood, my flanks always covered. I
throw myself upon Hamburg, and surprise the Prince of Eckmühl; he is
brought before me. 'Build a good high gallows,' say I.--'Mercy,' says
he.--'No mercy,' say I; 'this is for trying to become Duke of
Mecklenburg.'"

"In Heaven's name, Herr Rathsherr," said Miller Voss, "don't talk like
that; just think if those fellows were to understand you."

"That would be the very Devil!" said my uncle Herse, and he looked at
the Frenchmen one after another, but, when he saw that they were paying
no heed to him, he said, "You're an old coward. Miller Voss, the
fellows cannot understand Platt-Deutsch;--Well, so I have him hanged,
and march, to the left, into Hanover, and fall on the rear of the
Corsican--you know whom I mean.--You must always fall upon the enemy's
rear, that is the chief thing, everything else is rubbish. A tremendous
battle! Fifteen thousand prisoners! He sends me a trumpeter: 'A
truce.'--'No good,' say I, 'we have not come here to play.'--'Peace,'
he sends me word.--'Good,' say I; 'Rheinland and Westphalia, the whole
of Alsatia and three-fourths of Lothringen;'--'I can't,' says he, 'my
brother must live.' Forward then again! I march to the right and quiet
Belgium and Holland; all at once I wheel to the left.--'The Devil
take it!' says he. 'Here's that confounded Rathsherr again in my
rear.'--'First regiment of Grenadiers, charge!' I command; the battery
is taken. 'Second regiment of Hussars to the front!'--He ventures
too far forward with his staff. Swoop, the Hussars come down upon
him.--'Here is my sword,' says he.--'Good,' say I, 'now come along with
me. And you, my boys, can now go home again, the war is at an end.' I
now lead him in chains to the foot of the Throne.--'Your Majesty of
Prussia, here he is.'--'Herr Rathsherr,' says the King, 'ask some
favour.'--'Your Majesty,' say I, 'I have no children, but, if you wish
to do something for me, give my wife a little pension when I leave this
life. Otherwise, I wish for nothing but to retire to my former position
of Stemhagen Rathsherr.'--'As you like,' says the King; 'but remember
that whenever you may happen to come to Berlin, a place will be kept
for you at my table.'--I make my bow, say 'Good day,' and go back again
to Stemhagen."

"That's fine of you," said baker Witte. "But what is the good to us of
all this grand military art? This time the thing has begun at the wrong
end; you haven't got him, he has got you--and us into the bargain; and,
if anyone is to be brought bound to the foot of the throne, it will be
us. After all, the Burmeister was the cleverest of us, for he's now on
the other side of the hill, and sitting in a dry place, and our teeth
are chattering with cold like nuts in a bag."

"Pooh, pooh!" said my uncle Herse, "what art is there in running away
before everyone's eyes? No, my advice is that we should do it more
delicately with a stratagem of war. Let us each think of one, and then
we can choose the best."

The Miller had not spoken a word all this time. He was looking, as well
as the rain would let him, down the hill-side to the road. "Good God!"
he said at last. "Why it's sheer impossible; why it's my Fieka and Joe
Voss's Heinrich, who are coming along in that waggon!"

And so it was.



                              CHAPTER XIV.

   How the Herr Amtshauptmann stood beside my Mother with an empty
     bowl in his hand; what Fieka and Heinrich had come for; and how
     Fritz Sahlmann lost his chance of glory.


This was the saddest day that I can remember in all my childhood. What
a scene it was in my mother's room!

My mother had, for some time past, seen clearly that things were going
on which should not be; but, though she had a very excitable mind and a
lively imagination, which brought everything in a strong light before
her eyes, pain and illness had accustomed her to restrain her feelings
and to bear with resignation whatever might come. But uncertainty at a
time like that was hard to bear, and what made it still harder was,
that it was impossible to procure certainty. When she heard my father's
raised voice in the hall, and the violent tone of the adjutant, and the
colonel's short, sharp commands, she guessed what was happening without
being able to understand what was said. She became alarmed; and not a
soul was near her, not a soul attended to her bell. Her helpless state,
and the bitter sense that she could be of no use, that she did not
stand there where she ought to stand,--at my father's side,--overcame
her; and when the Amtshauptmann came back into her room she had
fainted, and was lying as if dead in her armchair.

He had entered with the most consoling passage he could think of from
Marcus Aurelius on his lips; but, as soon as he saw the state my mother
was in, he forgot everything he had meant to say, and began to cry
out--"Why, what is the matter, my friend? What is the matter? What say
you, eh?"

The old man, who did not usually lose his presence of mind, was
altogether confused and bewildered, and had retained only an indistinct
feeling that something must be done; and when I rushed in, with the
tears streaming down my cheeks, he was standing before my mother with a
bowl in his hand with no water in it, and saying--"This is a very
strange thing!"

At last my screams brought the Frau Amtshauptmann and Mamsell
Westphalen to the rescue. I had thrown myself on my mother's neck, and
cried over and over again, "Mother, dearest mother, he will come back;
he told me to tell you he should soon be back again." At last, at last
her consciousness returned; and, if we had been anxious before, we were
miserable now.

To console is the easiest thing in the world for those who are
satisfied with offering the stereotyped phrases of politeness to one in
sorrow; but for anyone whose heart is overflowing with love, which he
longs to pour into another's sorrowing heart, and who at the same time
feels that all the love he can give is insufficient to awaken fresh
hopes in this poor heart, it is most difficult, and becomes indeed
impossible if he does not believe in the words of comfort which he
utters. Heaven be praised! This was not the case here. The most
faithful of friends stood by us, and the old Herr and his wife by
degrees succeeded in quieting my mother's grief; and when she was
recovered enough to understand his reasons, there was no lack of them,
for if there was anyone in the world who had reasons to give for
everything, it was the Amtshauptmann, and he did not spare them to-day.

Reasons were of little use to me; but, all the same, I was comforted
before my mother was. Mamsell Westphalen had taken me on her lap, and,
while the tears were rolling down my face, she gave me delightful
descriptions of the apples I should have, and this did its work. A
child's heart is soon consoled; the tree requires heavy rain, but a
drop of dew refreshes the blade of grass.

The first burst of grief was over, when Luth, the town-messenger, came
in, and told the Herr Amtshauptmann that Miller Voss's Fieka was
outside, and wished to speak a few words to him.

"My friend," said the old Herr, "she is a good girl, I know it for
certain; and she is no doubt anxious about her father. We may as well
have her here, I think, and see what she wants. What says Horace? '_Est
solamen miseris socios habuisse malorum_.' I will translate that to you
by-and-bye. Luth, go and fetch the girl."

Fieka came in. She was a slender little damsel, but her fresh round
cheeks were health itself, and though just now her eyes looked sad, yet
you could see that they would be able to laugh merrily enough at other
times. Her whole appearance showed that she was a resolute girl, who
would not be easily turned aside from her purpose; and her true simple
face plainly told that she would engage in no undertaking which she did
not feel to be right. She had tied a coloured handkerchief over her cap
to keep it safe from the rain, and looked so neat in her red and green
striped woollen petticoat as she stood there before the old Herr, that
he could not help turning to his wife and saying half aloud, "Eh,
Neiting, what say you?"

When Fieka had made her curtsey to the Amtshauptmann, she went round
towards the Frau Amtshauptmann and my mother and Mamsell Westphalen,
and made a curtsey to each of them, and shook hands with them,
according to the fashion of those good old times.

"Herr Amtshauptmann," said Fieka, "my father and the neighbours have
told me so much good of you that I have made bold to come to you in my
trouble."

"What have you got on your mind, then, my daughter?" asked the old Herr
kindly, and he laid his hand on her head. "What say you, eh?"

"My father is innocent," she replied, looking up in his face with
perfect trust.

"That he is innocent I know, my child," said he, and he nodded his
head.

"And so I've no fear but he'll be set free soon," continued Fieka.

"Hm? Yes. That's to say it would be no more than right. But, in these
days, might counts as right; and if it's difficult, in quiet times and
with the best intentions, to pick out the innocent from the guilty, it
is harder still in war-time, especially if the good intentions are
lacking."

"I am not at all afraid," said Fieka quickly, "he must be set free, and
that soon. But my father is an old man, something might happen to him,
and there would be nobody about him then; so I want to go and be near
him."

"My daughter," said the old Herr, shaking his head, "you are young, and
soldiers are rough hosts. It would be no comfort to your father to know
you were in their company."

"I am not going alone, Herr; my cousin Heinrich, Joe Voss's son, is
going with me; and we thought if you would give us some writing, as a
sort of pass, nothing would happen to us."

"A pass?" said the Amtshauptmann, shaking his head still more
seriously. "Much those fellows will heed a pass from a Stemhagen
Amtshauptmann! And yet, my friend," he added, turning to my mother, "if
I were to give her a letter to Colonel von Toll--what say you, eh? He
could not be the son of Renatus von Toll if he were to leave this girl
without protection. And you say," he added, turning to Fieka, "that
your cousin Heinrich is going with you?"

"Yes, Herr Amtshauptmann; he is waiting in the hall outside."

"Call him in to me."

Heinrich came in. He was a fine fellow, broad in the shoulders and
narrow across the hips, with blue eyes and light hair; one of those men
whom you may see any day in harvest from six o'clock in the morning
till nine o'clock in the evening handling the scythe as lightly as if
it were a feather.


"I hear, my son," said the old Herr, "that you wish to go with Fieka?"

"Yes, Herr Amtshauptmann."

"And you will protect her, and will not leave her?"

"Yes, Herr Amtshauptmann; and I have got my horse and waggon here, and
I thought if the French had nothing against it, the prisoners might
drive along with Fieka, and I could walk by the side."

"Herr Amtshauptmann!" cried my mother. "Help him to do what he
proposes; perhaps it will be the only opportunity I shall have of
sending anything to my husband. He was carried off just as he was--and
in this weather too!"

"True, true, my friend. Yes, Fieka, I will give you a letter. And,
Neiting, the old Miller was also carried off unprovided for; get
something for him. My cloak, Mamsell Westphalen, and a nightcap, for I
know he wears one. And, my friend," and here he turned once more to my
mother, "anyone who is used to wearing a nightcap would very much miss
it if he hadn't one."

"Fritz," said the Frau Amtshauptmann to me, "run over to Baker Witte's
and see if his daughter would not like to send something to him."

Now began the packing. In a few minutes it was done; and, just as
everything was in the cart, Strüwingken appeared, carrying an immense
basket of milk-rolls and sausages. Fieka had now taken her seat in the
waggon, and the Herr Amtshauptmann had finished his letter; as he gave
it to Fieka he called Heinrich aside, and said to him--"So you are Joe
Voss's son, who has been so long at law with the Miller?"

"Yes, Herr, but do not take it ill. My father was somewhat obstinate
and had set his heart upon it; but it's about that I came over here. I
have already spoken of it to the Miller and to Fieka, and if I have my
way it will all be settled soon."

"My son," said the Amtshauptmann, and shook him by the hand, "I will
tell you something;--you please me. But I will tell you something
else;--you have taken upon yourself to protect the Miller's Fieka. If
you let a hair of her head be touched, never dare to appear before my
eyes again." So saying he turned round, and went into my mother's room
again, and said to her--"A splendid girl that, my friend!"

"What did the Herr Amtshauptmann say to you?" asked Fieka after
Heinrich had seated himself, and they had set off.

"Oh, nothing particular," said Heinrich. "But you will catch cold," he
added wrapping her up in the old Herr's cloak, and then driving rapidly
down the street.

They had not gone far, when they were met by the Stemhagen folks who
had been following the French and the prisoners. Fritz Sahlmann, of
course, was foremost of all. What a picture he looked! Just as if he
had been working all day long in brick-maker's clay.

"The Burmeister has escaped," he shouted out to them down the street.
"The Burmeister has made off across the country on old Bräsig's brown
mare. _I_ gave him the signal and off he went."

"What are you talking about, boy?" said the shoemaker's wife, who was
looking out over her half door watching for her husband.

"Yes, neighbour," said Tröpner the captain of the fire-brigade who now
approached; "the Burmeister's off, but they have given your husband
something to remember. You had better make him a poultice of saffron
and rye-flour, and lay it between his shoulders where the Frenchman
tickled him with the butt of his musket."

The news ran through the town like wildfire: "The Burmeister has got
out of the hands of the French on Bräsig's brown mare;" and Luth burst
into my mother's room looking as if Easter and Whitsuntide had fallen
on the same day, and he had been ordered to have the pleasure that the
Stemhagen folk allowed themselves at these seasons all at once.

"Frau Burmeister," he cried, "don't be alarmed--Good news, Herr
Amtshauptmann;--good news Frau Amtshauptmann! Our Herr Burmeister has
escaped from the French--"

Heavens! what an uproar followed. My mother trembled from head to foot,
the Herr Amtshauptmann forgot his age and position, and seized Luth by
the collar and shook him with all his might. "Luth, man, recollect
yourself! We are not in a mood for jesting here."

The Frau Amtshauptmann went up anxiously to my mother. Mamsell
Westphalen sat upright and stiffly in her chair and said--"If you will
let me say so, Herr Amtshauptmann, he is a clown."

"Herr Amtshauptmann, Herr Amtshauptmann," said Luth letting himself be
shaken; "you may believe me; Fritz Sahlmann saw it all and told me
about it."

"Fritz Sahlmann? My Fritz Sahlmann?" asked the old Herr, and let Luth
go.

"It looks like our Fritz Sahlmann, Herr Amtshauptmann," said Mamsell
Westphalen, quietly; "Fritz Sahlmann and truth are as far asunder as
the cuckoo and the Seven Stars."

"Where is the boy?" asked the Amtshauptmann.

"He is standing outside in the Hall," said Luth.

The old Herr strode with long steps to the door and called
out,--"Fritz, Fritz Sahlmann, come in here."

Fritz Sahlmann came. Two forces were struggling in his breast, the
desire to recount his valorous deeds and the fear of a sound rating on
account of his appearance; the one drew him forward and the other held
him back; and, at the same time perhaps, one pulled him to the left,
and the other to the right, for he came in at the door askew, with his
good side first. But he had reckoned without his host, for he had not
taken into account that coming in, in this way, his natural centre of
gravity, on which he had sat down in the mud, would at once catch the
eyes of the Frau Amtshauptmann and Mamsell Westphalen.

"Fritz Sahlmann," asked the old Herr, "what is the meaning of all
this?"

Fritz Sahlmann who had marched in with a sort of pride, now let his
head drop and looked down at his clothes:

"Oh, nothing, Herr Amtshauptmann. It's only a little mud."

"Heaven preserve us," cried the Frau Amtshauptmann; "what does the boy
look like? Who is ever to get him clean again?"

"Hanchen and Corlin must go all over him with the kitchen brooms," said
Mamsell Westphalen.

"Boy!" cried the Herr Amtshauptmann; "now tell me at once the pure
truth. Has the Burmeister escaped or not?"

"Yes, Herr Amtshauptmann," said Fritz, and looked up again; "he's
scuttled."

"That's a lie," burst out Mamsell Westphalen; "how can pure truth come
from an unclean vessel?"

"Proceed, Fritz," said the old Herr. And Fritz proceeded.

It often happens in this world that in seeking to carry off an undue
share of honour, people lose even that amount which they really
deserve. This happened to Fritz. When he came to his own share in the
story he made it so full of details, described the naturalness of his
fall so minutely, and made so much of everything, in order to place his
deeds in a conspicuous light, that he was still a long way from the
end, when Luth came in with the Captain of the Fire-Brigade; and
the Herr Amtshauptmann turned to the latter, and said in High
German--"Tröpner, my man, what do you know of the matter." Tröpner
felt, from this question being put in High German, that the Herr
Amtshauptmann looked upon him as an educated man, and so he determined
to behave like one, and replied in as good High German as he could
muster, "I saw it from beginning to end." He now began the whole story
over again, entirely left out Fritz Sahlmann's part and concluded with
these words: "And thereupon the Herr Burmeister sprang from behind the
Herr Rathsherr's cloak, dashed right round the _eclipage_, scrambled on
all fours up the bank to the hollow willow-tree, snatched the bridle
out of Fritz's hands by main force, swung himself into the saddle, and
no sooner did he feel the brown mare under him, than off he went like a
bolt straight towards the Pribbenow fir-wood."

"And the French?" asked the Amtshauptmann.

"Oh, Herr Amtshauptmann, they were half-frozen and, when they wanted to
fire, their guns would not go off because of the wet, and so they threw
themselves in their rage upon us, who were innocently looking on; and
gave Bank the shoemaker who lives in the Brandenburg road, a touch of
the butt-end of a musket between the shoulders, and then all of us made
off and ran down the hill."

"My friend," cried the Amtshauptmann, "this Burmeister of ours _is_ a
fellow; he is as quick as a gun."

But she for whom this speech was meant could not hear it. My mother lay
back in her chair, crying bitterly. At the talk of shooting she had
pressed the arm of the good Frau Amtshauptmann tightly, as if she were
holding to it as a safeguard against the giddiness that came over her;
but when at last it was certain that my father had got off safe and
sound, the tears started from her eyes, she covered her face, and gave
way to silent tears.

Were they tears of joy?--Who can tell?--Who can say where joy begins
and sorrow ends? They are so wonderfully interwoven in the human heart;
they are the warp and the woof, and happy is he who weaves them into a
firm web. The tear which is born of sorrow has as much its woof of hope
as the tear of joy its woof of fear. The past anguish about my father
and the fear as to his future wove themselves into my mother's joyful
feeling of thankfulness, and the tears which fell were not tears of
pure joy. Does any tear of pure joy ever fall on this earth?

It had become quite quiet; an angel flew through the room--; for a
short time only: angels do not stay long here below; I know it for I
stood with my head against our tall brown clock and cried and listened
to the ticking of the pendulum--a short time! I looked up: the old
Amtshauptmann was looking out of the uppermost window at the grey
heavens, my mother and the Frau Amtshauptmann were crying, Mamsell
Westphalen too; she had taken Fritz Sahlmann by the hand, and at the
last stroke of the angel's wing she said;--

"Go up to the Schloss, Fritz, and put on dry clothes; Hanchen can give
you your Sunday suit."

"I will be off to Gülzow, Herr Amtshauptmann," said Luth, "and Tröpner
can go round to Pribbenow, and then we can't both miss the Herr
Burmeister."

The Amtshauptmann nodded his head, walked up to my mother, against
whose knees I had laid myself, and said,--"You and the boy, here, have
good cause to thank God to-day, my friend."



                              CHAPTER XV.

   How the Colonel was obliged to turn away at Fieka's words, and Fieka
     at Heinrich's. Why the Herr Rathsherr cursed all thin people;
     and the Miller wished he were a crow.


When Fieka and Heinrich arrived at the Windmill-hill, she looked round
on all sides, and, in a few moments, caught sight of her father as he
sat with his companions under the mill-shed.

"There's my father," said she to Heinrich.

"Well, then," he replied, "we'll turn up here to the right of the pass,
towards the ploughed field. It will be hard work; but there's no
getting through 'Breakneck.' We shall get to the mill this way, and you
can speak to your father then."

"Stop," cried Fieka, "don't turn up to the right towards the mill; turn
down to the left, away from it; I don't want to speak to him.--Look
there now! He has seen us; he's making signs to us!"

"Fieka," said Heinrich, doing as she told him, "what are you doing this
for? Why do you want to get out of your father's way?"

"Because I can't help him till I have given the Colonel the letter. Who
knows, how the French might take it, if I spoke to him? There might be
some dispute, and if we were taken before the Colonel so, it's not
likely he would look on us with much favour. And then too, why should I
be holding out hopes to my old father, when they are so far off? It's
enough for the moment that he knows we are near him."

The cannon were now gradually got out of their bed of mud, and the
procession began to move on once more. The prisoners were led along one
side of the pass; and Heinrich drove along the other--as well as he
could over old Nahmaker's ploughed field. Fieka looked out for the
Colonel.

"I shall know him again when I see him," she said to Heinrich. "He has
a kind face for all that it looked hard when he commanded them to take
the Burmeister."

Thus talking, they passed by the cannon and many a knot of French
plodding heavily through the deep mud. At last, close to the sign of
the "Bremsenkranz" they saw the Colonel on horseback slowly making his
way onwards, side by side with some of his officers.--

"Drive on a little way past them, Heinrich," said Fieka, "and stop at
the edge of the bank, and I will get down."

This was done. As the Colonel approached, Fieka stood in the foot-path
in his way, advanced a couple of steps towards him and said--"Herr, I
have a letter for you."

The Colonel stopped, took the letter, and looked at Fieka, rather
astonished: "From whom is it, my child?"

"From our Herr Amtshauptmann Weber."

The Colonel broke the seal and read; his face gradually softened with
pity; but when he had finished reading, he silently shook his head.
Fieka had watched him with the greatest anxiety; she read the answer to
the letter in his face; and when he so sorrowfully shook his head, the
tears started to her eyes: "Sir, it is my old father, and I am his only
child," she cried.

She might have said anything in the world,--the finest speech or the
most beautiful text from the Bible,--nothing would have made so deep an
impression upon the strong man as these few words in the Platt-Deutsch
tongue. He too had an old father and was his only child. His father
lived in a high castle in Westphalia; but in loneliness,--discontented
with his countrymen and his country. Time and the world had rolled many
a stone between father and son, until a broad wall had grown up between
them, above which it was only with difficulty that they could
understand one another. Discord and dissension had arisen, and where
_they_ are, conscience makes its voice heard in quiet hours. How often
had this inner voice said to him: "It is your old father, and you are
his only child!" Happiness and misery, the thunder of the cannon and
the roar of battle had, indeed, at times been able to overpower it;
but the wound in his heart always opened afresh like the indelible
blood-stain reappearing on a room-floor. Now, for the first time, did
he hear these words uttered by stranger lips,--for the first time in
the language of his childhood. It seemed to him as if there were no
longer any reproach contained in them; they were spoken so gently, they
sounded as softly in his ears as if they were words of forgiveness;
and, when he saw the poor girl standing there before him with her pale,
anxious face, it was too much for him,--he was obliged to turn away,
and it was some time before he could speak to her again. At last he
recovered himself, and said to her with all the warmth of manner which
such a moment calls forth: "My dear child, it is not in my power to set
your father free; but he will be soon. You and your love to him shall
not, however, have appealed to me in vain; you shall stay near him, and
he can go in the waggon with you. And when we get to Brandenburg, come
and speak to me again."

Thereupon he gave the necessary orders, and rode on with the other
officers.

Heinrich now approached a little nearer with his waggon, jumped down,
and asked: "How has it gone, Fieka?--But I need not ask you that. You
look as if your heart were on your tongue; he has set your father free,
has he not?" And he put his arm round her: "Come, Fieka, get up into
the waggon, here's a lot of Frenchmen coming,--we must get out of their
way."

"They won't hurt us," said Fieka, mounting higher up the bank and
looking along the road. "He hasn't set him free, but he's promised that
he will. I am to stay near father, and all the prisoners are to come in
our waggon; and, Heinrich; you can go home now to the mill and help
mother."

Heinrich made the reins fast to a willow-tree, and bent down to buckle
some strap in the harness, and then patted and stroked the smooth
glossy neck of the near side-horse.--

"You are right, Heinrich," said Fieka, "you do not like to leave your
horses and waggon behind you; but old Inspector Bräsig will take them
back for you,--he will willingly do us that favour."

"Fieka, I was not thinking about the horses and waggon," said Heinrich,
"I was thinking about you and what the old Herr Amtshauptmann said to
me."

"What was that?" she asked.

"If I let a hair of your head be touched, I was never to dare appear
before his eyes again. And, Fieka, I promised him I would stay by you
at all times, and when I made him that promise," and he went up to her
and took her hand in his, and looked earnestly into her eyes--"there
were two present listening, though no one knew it, but I alone; Fieka,
they were--God, and my own heart."

Fieka blushed red as a rose, but when he put his arm round her,
she gently freed herself from his embrace and said--

"Not here, Heinrich!--Not to-day, Heinrich!--Good heavens, why there is
my old father!"

So saying, she left him, and went to meet her father; and Heinrich
stood there like a tree in the winter-time when the green leaves have
all fallen off, and the birds no longer sing of love and joy in its
branches. But when she turned round; came back to him again, cried:
"Heinrich, Heinrich," and the tears welled up into her eyes; and then
hastily set off again towards her father, leaf after leaf burst forth,
and songs of joy and love sounded in the air, and spring arose in his
heart, the Spring of Love,--the only Spring which can, through a whole
lifetime, survive summer's heat, and autumn's storms and winter's
cold;--can survive, if the Spring be real; the life true.

"Why, Fieka," cried old Miller Voss, "where do you come from?" And when
Fieka threw herself on his neck, and told him all about it, with the
tears standing in her eyes, the old man scolded her, and said that
Heinrich could have come alone quite well, and these were affairs with
which women should not meddle. But Rathsherr Herse declared that the
Miller understood nothing whatever about such matters, and that Fieka's
idea about the waggon was so good, he could not have thought of a
better one himself; for his patent-leather boots had been made by Bank
the shoemaker expressly for the Council-Chamber, and not for four miles
of the Mecklenburg roads at this time of year. And when baker Witte
heard of the basket of sausages and milk-rolls, he patted himself on
the stomach and said that Fieka was his "dear god-child," and that
though he was one of those people who carry a good provision-chest
inside them, yet circumstances alter a case, and in weather like this
"the best oven must sometimes have extra fuel."

The French sergeant had now brought the Colonel's orders to the guard,
and the company mounted into the waggon, and made themselves as warm
and comfortable as they could. My uncle Herse appropriated to himself
the wraps intended for my father, because as his colleague he had the
next best right to them; and he swore at lean-bodied people in general,
and my father in particular. About height, he said, he would say
nothing, for that was a thing which no one could give or take away from
himself, but every reasonable man could in time obtain the proper
amount of breadth.

"Look here, Meister Witte, this is supposed to be a coat for a full and
well-grown man!" And so saying, he held up my Father's coat in the air,
as a public spectacle.

"Herr Rathsherr," said baker Witte, "put your arms through the sleeves
with the coat hind part before, so that the Burmeister's back-piece
comes upon your breast; and here is another coat, which I'll hang over
your back for you, and so we shall make one good coat out of two little
ones; 'necessity is the mother of invention!'"

Well, this was done, and my uncle Herse looked like a fine fat oyster,
sent on a long journey; behind and before he had a firm shell, but at
the sides it gaped open from time to time. Baker Witte had got a silk
cloak that had belonged to his late wife, and he put it on with the
rabbit-skin lining outside, because he said the rain would spoil the
silk, but it could not hurt the skin, for as far as he knew, rabbits
always ran about with the furry side of their skin turned outwards.

The dressing-up of these two went on pretty quickly; but with the
Miller it was a long affair, for when he heard that the great-coat with
the seven capes which was intended for him, belonged to the Herr
Amtshauptmann, he was first of all overwhelmed with respect and made
bow after bow to it, as if the old gentleman were standing before him
and wished him to enter first; and then he was overcome with feeling at
the idea of the Amtshauptmann having thought of him in his trouble, and
said he was not worthy of it; and when Fieka had got one sleeve on, the
thought struck him that he might be taken for some one of high rank.

"And, neighbour," he turned to Witte, "supposing I were to begin to
speak now, and the ass's ears were to show above the seven capes!"

"Yes, neighbour," replied the baker, "you're right there; you can't
make a silk purse out of a sow's ear; but you _can_ hold your
tongue;--or else speak High German. You can, you know."

"Yes, I can--after a fashion," said the Miller, and seated himself on
the foremost sack.

They were now all seated except Heinrich.

"Why, Heinrich," said Miller Voss, "there's surely room for you on your
own waggon! Come a little nearer, Fieka, and make room for your
cousin."

But Heinrich would not have it so; he put the horse-cloth round Fieka's
feet, and said he would walk on in front. This he did, now jumping over
a ditch and then back again, and always keeping where he could watch
Fieka's face.

"Herr Rathsherr," said the Miller, "that's my cousin, Joe Voss's son,
he's a fine fellow, isn't he?"

And Rathsherr Herse said: "That he is, Miller, he's a handsome young
fellow."

And baker Witte said: "He's a jolly fellow."

Fieka said nothing, but she thought to herself: "He's a good and
faithful fellow," and she might perhaps have gone on thinking about
him; but all at once Heinrich was at her side, looking at her lovingly,
and asking whether she were not cold. Thinking was of course at an end
now, and she gave him her hand: "Just feel how warm I am."

Witte now dived into the sausage-and-roll basket, and gave everyone his
share; and, on hearing the Herr Rathsherr praise the milk-rolls, the
old baker said to himself: "Now look at the fellow! And yet he goes and
buys his bread of Guhle; but an owl is a bird, when you have got no
other."

The Herr Rathsherr leant over towards the baker and whispered in his
ear: "Look, Meister Witte, there is the 'Bremsenkranz' Inn just before
us; and if the minions of the Corsican monster have a trace of human
feeling left in them, they won't mind our getting a drop to wash down
our rolls with." But while saying this, he had neglected his bread, and
had let it and the sausage dangle a little over the side of the waggon.
All at once he felt a slight tug at his fingers, and on his looking
round he beheld one of the Corsican's "minions" quietly biting into his
sausage and roll, and as he was about to lift his voice up against such
a manifest act of pillage, another of the Frenchmen put his arm over
the back of the waggon and seized the whole basket.

"Confound it!" cried my uncle Herse, "I did not think that things had
come to such a pass as this."

Old Witte burst out afresh with a "cursed thieves;" and the Miller, who
was driving, so thoroughly forgot his position, wrapped up as he was in
the Amtshauptmann's warm overcoat, that he raised his whip, and was
just going to lay it about the Frenchmen's shoulders, when Fieka caught
him by the arm:

"For God's sake, father, what are you doing?"

"Hm--yes--" said the Miller, recollecting himself, "you are right
again, Fieka," and he turned to the Frenchmen: "Don't take it ill, I
did not mean anything."

Well, they evidently were not going to take it ill at all, for they ate
away at the rolls and sausages with such apparent relish, that the Herr
Rathsherr was filled with spleen and gall. And now the whole party
became once more conscious of their position, which they had for a time
forgotten in the warmth and comfort of the waggon. They drove thus
towards Brandenburg far into the grey evening, and where the basket of
rolls had stood, were now only sorrow and care and thought, which
whispered into their ears all manner of dreadful stories; and once,
when a flight of crows passed over them, my uncle Herse said:

"Yes, _you_ can laugh--you have no cares."

And the baker said: "No, and they pay no taxes and no duties." And the
Miller sighed and said: "I wish _I_ were a crow."

But in two hearts care found no place; love had entered into them with
its princely company of Secret Wishes and Hope and Trust; and the
Secret Wishes flew through the whole household of the heart and into
all its recesses, like active bridesmaids,--pushed aside all that stood
in the way, and wiped the dust from table and chair, and cleaned the
windows, so that one could see far out into the beautiful country
called Life; and they spread the table in the bright room, and made the
bed in the quiet room, and hung fresh garlands of flowers and
evergreens over windows and door, and beautiful pictures on the walls.
And Hope lit her thousand wax-lights, and then sat down quietly in a
corner as if it had not been at all she who had done this, but her
step-sister, Reality. And Trust stood at the door and let no one in who
had not on a wedding-garment; and she said to Care, when she asked
after Fieka: "Begone, the old Miller will dance at her wedding;" and to
Doubt, when she asked after Heinrich: "Go thy way, it is all right."



                              CHAPTER XVI.

   Why I send the Miller's Friedrich and not a princess through the
     Gülzow Wood; why Friedrich called the Bailiff Besserdich,
     "Father-in-law;" how he "decoyed the dog from behind the
     stove;" and how Luth, the messenger, could not help laughing at
     his own Burmeister.


If any little Miss who reads this book should feel angry with me for
beginning this chapter with a miller's man and not with a princess, she
must remember that there could be no princesses at all, if there were
no millers' men, and that sometimes a miller's man is of more value
than a princess--for example, to me at this moment. For, if I want to
catch the French chasseur, I must not send a princess, with a crinoline
and satin shoes, through the Gülzow Wood in such weather and along such
roads,--but a miller's man. And, best of all, the Miller's Friedrich.

"Dumouriez!" said Friedrich, as he followed the chasseur's track, "if
the Frenchman is to be found between here and Gripswold, I'll have
him."

Friedrich traced the chasseur through the Stemhagen Wood, and through
the Gülzow Wood, and at last reached the Gülzow road; but there he came
to a standstill--an owl would have been puzzled; there was nothing to
serve as a guide. Had the fellow turned to the right or to the left?

For a while Friedrich stood there--like Matz Fots of Dresden; but soon
a bright thought flashed across him, and he said to himself,--"If the
rascal has taken the road to Stemhagen, it must have been through sheer
stupidity. No, the fellow has gone towards Gülzow." And he went that
way accordingly.

At Gülzow, Freier, an old peasant, was standing by his hedge, throwing
stones, as big round as the brim of your hat, into the holes in the
road. In some places in Mecklenburg this is what they call "mending the
roads."

"Good morning, Freier; have you seen a Frenchman pass by here this
morning?" said Friedrich.

"A Frenchman?" asked Freier.

"Yes," said Friedrich; "a French chasseur."

"A chasseur?" asked Freier.

"Yes, in a green uniform," said Friedrich.

"On horseback?" asked Freier.

"No, on foot," said Friedrich.

"What does he want?" asked Freier?

"What does he want?" asked Friedrich. "_He_ doesn't want anything; but
_I_ want to speak to him."

"What have you got to speak about to a Frenchman?"

"Dumouriez!" said Friedrich. "What business is that of yours, you
blockhead? I only ask you if you have seen such a fellow?"

"In a green uniform?" asked Freier.

"Yes," said Friedrich.

"With a shako?"

"No, with his head bare."

"With his head bare! And this morning in the rain?"

"Yes, you hear, I tell you so," cried Friedrich, angrily. "Just answer
me simply: have you seen the fellow or have you not?"

"Wait a moment. Isn't to-day Thursday?"

"Yes," said Friedrich.

"Well, then it was not to-day; it was last Monday, and there were a lot
of them, but in blue uniforms, and on horseback; and my boy, Zamel, has
gone to-day to Stemhagen with our team for them."

"Freier," said Friedrich, "you should not have sent your team to
Stemhagen; you can make a better use of it yourself, especially when
you've got to give answers to people."

"How so?" asked Freier.

"And Freier," pursued Friedrich; "I know what would be a good
employment for you--driving crabs to Berlin; a fellow like you would
get on well at that."

"What do you mean?" asked Freier, more and more mystified.

"Oh, nothing," said Friedrich. "And now, good-morning, Freier. And if
the Frenchman I am looking for should come by, just tell him, that I
said, that you said, that your great grandmother had told you, when he
said what he said, that you should say, that I had said he was not to
call you an ass. And now good-bye, Freier."

"What?" said Freier, following him with his eyes as he went along the
village, and turning round in his hands a stone of some thirty pounds
weight; "What? _He_ said, that _I_ said, that _you_ said, that _I_
should say, he should not call me an ass? The cursed Prussian rascal!
That's the way he always does." And he took the stone and threw it,
with all his might--amongst the rest.

Friedrich goes further. Bailiff Besserdich looks out at his doorway.
"Bailiff, have you seen a Frenchman pass by here this morning?"

"A Frenchman?" asked the bailiff. "Well, they are not so rare just now
as all that; but this morning, do you say?"

"What, are _you_ going to begin asking questions now?" said Friedrich.
"I would rather tell you the story at once; it's the quickest plan." So
he told him the story. "And," he concluded, "I must have him."

"That you must, Friedrich," said the bailiff. "And I will go with you;
in fact it's what I'm appointed for; and our Herr Amtshauptmann said to
me lately--'Besserdich,' said he, 'on you depends everything in
Gülzow,' and he gave me a bundle of papers, and said, 'the matter is
_pressing_.' Well, I got the summoner to read them to me, and when he
had done, he said: 'The matter requires the greatest speed, bailiff.'
'No,' said I, 'I know better; the Herr Amtshauptmann told me the matter
was _pressing_, and whenever he's said that to me before, I have always
waited a full month first, and been ready in good time all the same!'
And so I was that time. But, Friedrich, your business is not
_pressing_, it 'requires the greatest speed.' I will just fetch my hat
and then we will go."

This done, they set off. As they came out on the road at the other end
of the village, the bailiff said--

"Friedrich, my Hans--you know the boy; he's now in his sixteenth year,
but I thought I would have him at home for a year or so longer--he's
keeping the sheep here in the rye-field; for, you see, I thought to
myself my fodder has run short, and at this time of year they can get
a meal for themselves in the fields, so I'll turn them out here;--he
has perhaps seen the fellow."

They now asked Hans. Yes, the boy had seen him; he had gone to Pinnow.
At Pinnow they passed the schoolmaster's, and asked whether he had seen
a Frenchman.

The schoolmaster's name was "Sparrow," but he was always called
"Bullfinch;" some said, because he could sing so well; others, because
he hopped about and poked his nose everywhere, and was always chaffing.
The Bullfinch found it easy to lead the bailiff by the nose, but
Friedrich soon saw what was going on; and, when he saw that the
Bullfinch made a sign to his wife to row in the same boat with him, he
thought to himself--"Wait a moment, I'll make you look blue presently;"
and he got up, and said he wished to go and light his pipe at the
kitchen fire.

The Bullfinch now began to overwhelm the bailiff with all sorts of
stories; and when Besserdich succeeded in getting in a word, and asked
whether they had not seen the Frenchman, the Bullfinch said no, and his
wife also said, no.

Whilst they were going on in this way. Friedrich came in again, and
said: "Something must have happened to your chimney, for the stick with
the sausages has fallen down on to the ground."

The wife jumped up, ran out to the kitchen, and then came hack with the
stick in her hand--"Look there now! This is the thanks we get! That
shameless fellow has stolen one of our sausages."

"What fellow?" asked Friedrich.

"Why, the French fellow you were asking about."

"Oh! so he has been here then, has he?" said Friedrich.

"I should think so! And Sparrow gave him some brandy and some
bread-and-butter, and showed him the way to Demzin!"

"Well, good-bye, then," said Friedrich. "Come along, bailiff; we know
all we want now."

"Bailiff," said Friedrich, when they were some way from Pinnow and
the Bullfinch, "you are a sort of man of law, and must needs know
this--what is the punishment for stealing a sausage?"

"Well, Friedrich," replied the bailiff, "I don't know about sausages,
but I know very well the punishment for stealing a flitch of bacon; for
when the lame shoemaker took one of mine out of the smoke, the Herr
Amtshauptmann gave him a fortnight in prison and a dozen on his jacket
into the bargain."

"Well, that's not dangerous," said Friedrich; "and, if you reckon
according to that, it would be precious little for one sausage."

"How do you make that out?"

"Well now, bailiff, tell me; when you kill seven pigs, how many
flitches of bacon do you get?"

"Fourteen," said the bailiff.

"That's not true," said Friedrich; "you only get thirteen. One is taken
for the sausages."

"Yes, you're right," said the bailiff.

"Well then, how many sausages does your wife make out of seven pigs?
About thirty, doesn't she? Then one flitch makes thirty sausages; and
so, for one sausage, there would be, at most, half a day and half a
blow; and that I consider is a righteous and merciful punishment; you
may at once give me the half-blow on my back, and the half-day I will
spend next Sunday afternoon in your house, in the corner behind the
stove. For, look here--_I_ took the Bullfinch's sausage."

"What Devil tempted you to do that?"

"No Devil, only hunger," said Friedrich, and he drew the sausage out of
his pocket, and cut off a piece. "Here Bailiff! The sausage is good,
you can eat it without bread."

"No," said the Bailiff, "I'll have nothing to do with stolen goods."

"How, Stolen?" asked Friedrich. "This is merely 'forage' as we used to
say under the Duke of Brunswick. And, Bailiff, surely you have climbed
up into the priest's apple-tree often enough before now."

"The Devil only knows what is the matter with you this morning!" said
Besserdich. "Yes, I have when I was a silly youngster; but now I have
grown-up children, and must set them a good example."

"That's true," said Friedrich; "what one may do, another
mayn't.--Bailiff," he added, after a while, "how old is your daughter
Hanchen?"

"Well, Friedrich," said the Bailiff, and his eyes began to twinkle,
"she's not old, she is only just eighteen; but I tell you, she's as
sharp as a needle."

"I know that," said Friedrich; "I sat by her side yesterday evening up
at the Stemhagen Schloss, and I can fully say she pleased me so well
that I should be ready to change my state to please her."

"Come, come, you are going too fast," said the Bailiff, and he looked
at Friedrich from top to toe.

"Yes," said Friedrich, "and I thought you might find some other farm
for your Fritz; and, as you are getting old you might lay yourself on
the shelf, and could give us your land; and then Hanchen and I should
have a nice home, and you would have a deal of pleasure in us.

"By Heaven!" cried the Bailiff, "are you really in earnest?"

"Why not?" said Friedrich; "do I look as if I were joking?"

"What?" cried Besserdich; "An old beggar like you want to marry a
Bailiff's daughter! _My_ daughter! A young girl of eighteen!"

"Mind what you're saying. Bailiff," said Fritz. "Old, say you? Just
look at me, I am in my prime,--between twenty and fifty. A beggar, say
you? I have never asked you for so much as a pipe of tobacco. It's true
your Hanchen is, on the whole, younger than I am, but I don't object to
that. I'll take her all the same, for she is clever, and knows that a
fellow like me who has seen the world, is worth more than one of your
young peasants with red cheeks and flaxen hair, who makes a bow like a
clasp-knife and spits about in folk's rooms."

"Have you been putting these notions in the girl's head?" shouted the
Bailiff, raising his stick against him.

"Put down your stick, Bailiff," said Friedrich; "what would people say
if they heard that I had been fighting with my father-in-law, in the
open country, before the wedding?"

The Bailiff let his stick drop.

"No, I could take a sausage from a fellow like the Bullfinch,"
Friedrich went on; "but I could not cheat a pretty, young thing like
that of her happiness; I put no notions into your Hanchen's head."

The Bailiff looked at him out of the corner of his eye as if he would
say, "The Devil may trust you!" but he said nothing. They now went on
again,--but the egg was broken.

When they arrived at Demzin, Friedrich went up to a young clerk who was
standing near them and said: "I beg your pardon, have you seen a
Frenchman pass by?" And so on, and so on. The young man said yes; that
rather less than an hour before, such a fellow had passed.

They walked through the village, and, at the other end an old woman had
also seen the Chasseur. "We shall soon have him now," said Friedrich.

But a little further on they met, in the fields, an old man who was
cutting willows near the path and he knew nothing of any Frenchman, and
said the fellow had not passed since six o'clock in the morning.

What vas to be done now? Follow the road straight on? That would be a
regular wild-goose chase. But the fellow had certainly gone out of the
village; where had he stopped?

The Bailiff scratched his head; Friedrich looked all round and surveyed
the country. At last he said;--"We can go no further, Bailiff; the
trace is at an end here; so we must think the matter over. But the wind
is cold, let us go and sit down by that oven yonder."[4]

Well, they did so. "What a fool I was," said the Bailiff, "to go
running after a Frenchman in this weather!"

"Father-in-law, leave the Frenchman alone," said Friedrich; "we shall
get him yet."

"Are you going to begin again with your 'fathers-in-law,' you Prussian
knave?"

"What you are not, you may become. Bailiff.--I have known many people
who have given their daughters and plenty of money into the bargain,
for that name."

"Yes, but then they got rather different sons-in-law."

"Now, just look at me, Bailiff," said Friedrich, and he placed himself
before the Bailiff as erect as he could make himself; "I'm not a
lawyer, nor yet a doctor, but I have sound bones, and my hands speak of
work. And if you don't trust your own eyes you can ask my Miller."

"Yes, and do you know what he'll say? He'll say you are steady enough
and understand a thing or two, but that your sayings are not the sort
to 'tice a dog away from a warm stove (oven)."

"I'll soon show you whether they are. But now, Bailiff, will you give
me your Hanchen?"

"Damnation!" cried the Bailiff. "I thought at first it was only a joke.
But now I do believe you're in earnest."

"I _was_ joking about the farm and your laying yourself on the shelf,
Bailiff," said Friedrich, "for your Fritz must of course have the farm.
But I am in earnest about Hanchen, and I shall easily get a farm."

"You boaster!" said the Bailiff; "there now, that's one of your
sayings, which, as I said, will 'tice no dog away from a stove."

"I will show you if they can or not," said Friedrich.

"You braggart!" said the Bailiff, getting up; "I shall go home, and you
can go and catch your Frenchman by yourself."

"I have got him," said Friedrich.

"You sack of lies!" again cried the Bailiff.

"Bailiff," said Friedrich; "if the Frenchman stands before you in three
minutes, and so my sayings entice a dog away from an oven, will you
give me your Hanchen?" And he held his hand out to him.--"Shake hands
upon it."

"There's my hand," cried the Bailiff; "just to show you that you are
nothing but a boasting braggart."

And they shook hands on it. Friedrich gave a broad grin and stooped
down to the mouth of the oven:

"Mossoo, allong ici--allong ici."--And what should creep out into the
light but the Frenchman!

"Eh! Damn...!" cried the Bailiff.

"_Pardon, Monsieur_," said the Frenchman.

"Who has won the bet now, Bailiff?" asked Friedrich. "Here is the
Frenchman and the dog too. Who is to have your Hanchen now?"

"Prussian vagabond," cried the Bailiff, and raised his stick again, "Do
you think you can fool me into this? _You_ have my Hanchen...! I would
rather ..."

"Put down your stick, Bailiff, you frighten the Frenchman. Better come
over here and help me to secure him; we can talk about the bet
afterwards."

"_Pardon_," threw in the Chasseur.

"Pardong here, and pardong there," cried Friedrich; "what do you mean
by running away from the beech-tree where I had laid you comfortably.
This time I'll treat you in my fashion; Mamsell Westphalen is not here
now," and, so saying, he cut the buttons off the Frenchman's trowsers:
"And now, allong, avang!"--And in this way, they set off back through
Demzin towards Pinnow.

The Bailiff walked by their side in the heavy rain, silent--and angry,
though chiefly with himself; for whenever he tried to throw the blame
on Friedrich's shoulders, he could not help saying to himself: "He is a
rascal,--but he's a devilish clever fellow too. How could he know, I
wonder, that the Frenchman was lying in the oven. And then his cutting
off the buttons, what could he mean by that? I must make a note of the
trick."

When they came to Gülzow, Friedrich said:--"Why, Bailiff, who is that
coming hunting along over your field? What is he riding like that for?
He cannot ride faster than the rain."

"Heavens!" said the Bailiff; "why that is Inspector Bräsig's brown
mare, and the man on it is the Stemhagen Burmeister."

My father approached, and when he saw the Frenchman and Friedrich he
said: "Now it's _all_ right."--"But," he added, "first to your house,
Bailiff, for my soul is freezing in my body, and I am wet to the skin."

"I see you are, sir; and we are pretty much in the same state."

Arrived at the Bailiff's house, all sorts of clothes were brought to
light by the Bailiff's goodwoman, but it was hard work to provide for
all three, for the bad times had made sad havoc in the Bailiff's
wardrobe, and they were glad enough to find anything that would even
half fit them. The Bailiff could get no other covering for himself than
his own trowsers, Friedrich made himself look very fine in Fritz's
Sunday coat, and my father, as the smallest, had to content himself
with Hans's jacket, which of course the Bailiff did not wish, and made
all sorts of excuses for. But when a person finds himself in safety
after being in an unpleasant predicament, and in a dry place after
being out in the rain, mirth readily gets the upper hand, and my
father, on seeing himself in his costume, laughed till the tears rolled
down his cheeks.

"But," said he, suddenly checking himself, and becoming quite grave,
"here are we laughing when there is a fellow-being amongst us,
shivering, not only with cold but with fear; and we ought to do what we
can for him. Dame, you must help the Frenchman to some dry things."

But that was not so easy, and when they had hunted up everything else,
they had to make up with the Bailiff's wife's old grey skirt.

"Eat heartily, comrade," said Friedrich, as they sat round the table
eating the afternoon meal, and he pushed a piece of salt meat of some
three pounds weight towards the Frenchman,--"Eat, comrade, for as long
as you eat, you will live."

My father took pity on the fellow, and spoke a few words to him in
French in a comforting tone, and the poor sinner answered so humbly and
dejectedly that it quite moved the Bailiff, though he understood not a
word of what was said, and he leant over to my father: "Shall we let
the fellow go, Herr Burmeister?"

My father said, no; that would not do. The Miller and the Baker were in
trouble, and had done no wrong; the Frenchman was also in trouble, but
he had done wrong; and right was right and what was fair to one was
fair to another.

The Bailiff's Fritz just then came riding into the yard with the team,
and came into the room.

"Good evening, father," said he; "I have got off from the French," and
he shook hands with the Bailiff, and then went up to my father, whose
back was turned to him, and gave him a stout cuff: "Good evening, Hans,
can't you speak to your brother?"

My father started and turned round; Fritz stood fixed to the spot like
Lot's wife.

"Lord save us!" cried the Bailiff. "He comes in here and goes and
strikes the Stemhagen Burmeister under my own roof. And the rascal is
to be a bailiff some day!"

"Never mind," said my father. "However, as a punishment he shall have
no rest yet; he shall drive us over to Stemhagen this very night."

"Through the whole world, if you like, Herr Burmeister," said Fritz.

"But how is it you are so late home?" asked the Bailiff.

"Why, father, I thought it might be ugly if they were to catch me and
so I led the horses into the Wood, and stood on the watch; and I meant
to stay there till evening, but while I was waiting, Luth came along
and told me the French had been gone a long time, and that the
Burmeister had escaped from them and that he was looking for him.

"Where is Luth, now, then?" asked my father.

"He'll he here directly," said Fritz, "he only stopped to make
inquiries at the schoolmaster's."

Luth came in presently, and when he asked for my father and saw him in
the short jacket, he lost all control over himself, forgot everything
that he had meant to say, and burst out laughing.

My father got angry at this, for he was not thinking of the jacket
now, but of my Mother and all at home, and he caught Luth by the
collar:--"Luth, are you gone mad?" he cried; "What are my wife and
children doing?"

"They are quite well, Herr Burmeister--ha, ha, ha! And the Herr
Amtshauptmann is reading out of a book to the Frau Burmeister, and
Mamsell Westphalen is stuffing Fritz with buns and apples; but, ha, ha,
ha!--don't take it ill, Herr Burmeister; I can't help laughing."

Friedrich also began to laugh, and the Bailiff, and Fritz; and the
Bailiff's wife said: "The Herr Burmeister does look very funny!"--My
father's heart was light again now, so he could join in the laugh.

"You may laugh now, Luth," he said, "but make haste, for I have some
pressing business for you. The French took away the valise with the
gold and silver, did they not?"

"Yes, I saw it when they were dragging it off."

"Be quick then. You will find Inspector Bräsig's brown mare in the
stable; take it and ride as fast as you can to Kittendorf to the Herr
Landrath von Uertzen--for it was there the Chasseurs came from
yesterday, and they no doubt got the silver spoons there;--and then
tell the Herr Landrath how things stand in Stemhagen, and ask him to
send a trusty man back with you who can swear to the spoons. By that
means he may, perhaps, be able to recover his property. And now, away
with you. And, Fritz, put the horses to, quickly."

They were all seated in the waggon in no time, except indeed the
Bailiff, for his wife would not let him go: "You have nothing to do
there; you can stop at home," she said.

"Wife" said the Bailiff, placing one foot on the wheel and the other on
the shaft, and looking down at her, "that's against our agreement; you
are mistress in the house and I am master in my bailiff's duties; and
to take charge of a prisoner is a bailiff's duty."

And so saying he squeezed himself in between Friedrich and the
Frenchman on one sack.

"Now Fritz," he cried, "off with you."



                             CHAPTER XVII.

   Proves that Friedrich was not really a thief; and relates how the
     Emperor Napoleon would have nothing to do with the Rathsherr;
     and how the Colonel had secrets with the Rathsherr.


Before the Stemhagen Rathhaus, the waggon drew up, and, at one bound,
my Father was down from his sack, and telling the others to stay in the
waggon till he called them.

As he came into the Hall, he was met by Marie Wienken with a light, for
it had gradually got dark. Marie, who was our housemaid, on seeing my
Father in Hans's jacket was very near letting the light fall, and was
just going to scream, when he pushed her quickly into his room, and
said "Hold your tongue, Marie! You are generally a sensible girl."

Marie was really stupid; but nothing brightens stupid people more than
to hear themselves called clever.

"Is the Herr Amtshauptmann still here?" asked my Father.

"Yes, Herr."

"Then set down your light, and go into the room--don't let my wife
suspect anything--and say to the Herr Amtshauptmann that there is some
one outside who wishes to speak to him; and then bring him in here."

She did so and the old Herr came in.

"Good evening, my son, what is it you want, and what are you doing here
in the Burmeister's room?"

"Herr Amtshauptmann, what are my wife and children doing?"

"What do I know of your wife and children, my lad?--You're young to
have a wife and children."

"A thousand devils!" cried my father; "don't you know me then? Why I'm
the Burmeister."

"What say you, eh?" cried the old Herr; "that's quite another thing.
That's a very strange thing!--_Consul Stavenhageniensis_ in a boy's
jacket! But what says Horace? _Nil admirari_--above all in these times,
my friend."

"My wife, Herr Amtshauptmann?"

"She knows you are free and will be delighted to see you back."

"But?"----

"Well, it won't do her any harm if she does see you in a short jacket.
Come along!"

All sudden surprises, even pleasant ones, are painful. When joy sounds
in our ears, as if, all at once two dozen trumpets had been blown close
behind us, we feel as if our head and heart were split, and the most
beautiful music becomes mere pain. No! I love joy when it comes like a
singing bird in a cool wood, coming nearer and nearer from twig to
twig, till at last it sings its song full in my ears from the nearest
bush.

Joy had come to my mother rather too hastily at first; but she had got
over the shock. Now it came to her from twig to twig; and, as my father
entered the room, it sang its song full in her ears; the bird had come
to her at last in a short jacket, and it seemed as if it were making
all manner of bobbings to her out of the bush; she laughed with all her
heart. The memory of this day was preserved amongst us down to the
latest times, and whenever my father happened to return home from his
work and cares in a particularly happy mood, we used to say: "father
has got his short jacket on to-day."

When the first burst of happiness was somewhat over, the old Herr
began: "And so you have brought the French Chasseur along with you, my
friend?"

"Not _I_," said my father; "the Miller's Friedrich has done the greater
part of the business; the Gülzow Bailiff helped him."

"This Friedrich must be a clever determined fellow," said the
Amtshauptmann. "Eh, what say you? Let us have him in."

Friedrich came and the Bailiff too.

"Was it you, Friedrich, who threw the Frenchman out of the waggon?"

Friedrich thought to himself--"What? Is another court of justice going
to be held?" And since he must needs answer the Amtshauptmann's
question with a "_yes_," he planted himself firmly, with one leg
advanced, and stood ready prepared for whatever might come: "Yes, Herr
Amtshauptmann," said he.

"And are you aware that you have brought the Miller into great
trouble?"

"Trouble? He's pretty well used to troubles, and one more won't hurt
him."

"Was it you who took the valise from the Frenchman's horse?"

"Yes, Herr."

"And did you not take eight groschen of the Frenchman's property?"

"I only paid myself back eight groschen of my own," said Friedrich and
he told them the story.

"You took them contrary to law and right, and what is he called who
does that?"

Friedrich looked boldly at the old Herr, but said not a word.

"Bailiff Besserdich, what is such a man called?"

"By your leave, Herr Amtshauptmann, a thief!" the Bailiff broke out.
"And he is one. Herr, it was only to-day he stole one of Bullfinch's
sausages off the smoking-stick,--and the fellow wants to marry my
Hanchen!"

"What does he want to do?"

"My Hanchen, Herr, who is in your service, he wants to marry her."

"Oh! ho!" said the Herr Amtshauptmann, and he looked at Friedrich from
top to toe; "that's quite another thing.--You can go out now, my son,
but I shall remember you."

Friedrich went, inwardly cursing the Bailiff and the Herr
Amtshauptmann: "What does he want to remember me for?" he said to
himself as he stood in the Hall.

But if he had known what those words meant in the mouth of the old
Herr, he would not have been angry; for it was not the custom of the
Amtshauptmann to remember what was bad; evil passed over his head
without touching him, but if ever a means of doing good came in his
way, he was only afraid lest he should lose the opportunity, and
then it was always "Neiting,--Fritz Sahlmann,--Westphalen,--or
children,--help me remember."

When Friedrich was gone, the old Herr turned round and said, laughing:
"You have lost Fritz Sahlmann's sausage of this morning, Neiting; the
Pinnow Bullfinch must have it, for, if this rascal of a Friedrich is to
marry the Bailiff's Hanchen, we must first make him an honest man
again."

"Yes," cried my father, and laid down an eight groschen piece on the
table; "and here is the money which he took from the Frenchman."

"Well, and now, Bailiff, when is the wedding to be?" laughed the old
Herr.

The Bailiff pulled a long face, and looked as if some one behind him,
had suddenly clapped a pair of leather spectacles over his eyes, so as
to prevent his seeing what was passing around him.--"But, Herr
Amtshauptmann, the fellow is a beggar," he said at last.

"Things may change," said the Amtshauptmann. "In these troubled times
several farms in this parish have become vacant, and who knows what the
High Ducal Cabinet may think of Friedrich's services."

"Yes, but he is a thief as well, sir."

"Do not let me hear you say that again, Bailiff. When he took the eight
groschen out of the valise this morning, could he not have kept the
whole? Who would have known anything about it? And if he had carried it
off across the Prussian frontier, what dog would have barked, or what
cock would have crowed after him? What say you, eh?"

"Well, sir, but the eight groschen and the sausage?"

"The one he looked upon, in his ignorance, as his right, and the other
as a joke."

"Well, Herr," said the Bailiff again, and he scratched his head, "even
if it is so,--still my Hanchen is too young for the old lubber."

"I beg your pardon, Herr Amtshauptmann, for talking, in among law
matters and farm business," Mamsell Westphalen here broke in, "but,
Bailiff Besserdich, that's all stuff and nonsense, for it's right that
a silly young girl like your Hanchen should have an experienced
husband. And, Herr Amtshauptmann, if I may make so bold as to say so,
he is a determined fellow and useful in times like these; and last
night,--I won't say anything against Herr Droi, for he must know when
it is the proper time to go at a man with sword and gun,--but last
night Friedrich went at the Frenchman all alone by himself; and though
his sayings are not quite proper for your room nor yet for my ears,
still I could not help saying to myself, 'That's the man to do a deed!'
And, Bailiff, the two would do well for one another, for what he is for
deeds she is for words; and, Herr Amtshauptmann, she can keep a man at
arm's length, for she has a blessed sharp tongue of her own, and that I
can speak to."

The Bailiff looked at Mamsell Westphalen and then at the Herr
Amtshauptmann;--he was quite dumb. All the objections which he had made
were explained away; he sought for fresh ones but found none, till, at
length, there flashed across him the thought which always did come to
his aid at last, and he scratched his head, and said--"Well, Herr
Amtshauptmann, I must hear first what my wife has got to say to it."

"Right, Bailiff. But, above all you must hear first what Hanchen says
to it. For my part I have only wished to make it clear to you that
Friedrich is no thief."

And so the matter was put off to St. Nobody's day, as we say in
Mecklenburg.

The Frau Amtshauptmann had gone back to the Schloss with Mamsell
Westphalen, and the other part of the company were getting tired, when
Luth came back from his ride to Kittendorf, and said from the Herr
Landrath--his compliments to the Herr Amtshauptmann, and he had sent
his own valet-de-chambre about the silver.

Everything was now ready: The Herr Amtshauptmann had only to write a
letter to the French Colonel. My father told Luth exactly what he was
to do and say. Friedrich and Luth took the Chasseur between them in the
waggon. The valet and Fritz Besserdich took their seats in front, and
off they went through the dark night and muddy lanes towards
Brandenburg.

"Yes," said the Bailiff, as he walked home alone in the dark towards
Gülzow, "it's all very well for you to talk. The Amtshauptmann and
Burmeister and Mamsell up at the Schloss are grand folks, and have
nobody over them, but everybody commands a poor bailiff like me. Yes,
if it were not for my wife,--and the fellow were not a thief,--and he
were some ten years younger--and he had a farm of his own,--and Hanchen
would have him, yes, then--then--no; then he would still not get the
girl, for her mother would not have it...."

Now, no one can take it ill, if in telling an amusing tale I have no
wish to mix up horrible stories with it, and so I shall not say more
than necessary touching the French Chasseur. I shall say nothing about
how he felt when he got to Brandenburg, or how he was brought before
the Court-martial, and nothing about how the anguish of death came
nearer and nearer, until he met the fate his evil deeds had brought
upon him. And I could not do so, even if I wished; for I only write of
what I know and _this_ I don't know. I have never in my life hardened
myself so far as to be able to look on a poor sinner led out for the
last time, and to see how one sinner, by warrant of a human court,
sends another sinner, before his time to the Tribunal of the Almighty.
But let me say shortly that it happened; it was so.--And when his
bleeding body lay on the sand, probably no one thought that the bullets
would strike much deeper in another heart, far away in France. I mean
his old mother's.

I will therefore only say that, through the Frenchman's being given up
safe and sound, the Miller and the Baker were acquitted of the murder;
and that, through his confession and through the evidence of Inspector
Bräsig and the valet-de-chambre, the Landrath von Uertzen came to his
own again; and the Colonel von Toll, when the Judge was going to keep
back the money, as unclaimed property, got up, and said severely, that
his regiment should not be branded with robbing and thieving. And so
saying he took the valise and said to Luth:--

"You seem a sensible man; take this sealed valise and give it to the
Herr Amtshauptmann Weber; he is to do with it what is right according
to the practice of the country." Luth received a paper with it, and
thus the matter was settled.

But now there arose a difficulty which no one had thought of
before:--what was to be done with my uncle Herse. When the Miller and
the baker and all the others had gone out of the court and away from
him, my uncle remained there, like a fine old oak which the forester
has left in a clearing, alone in its grandeur.

The Colonel looked at him and asked: "Why are you still here?"

My uncle Herse stirred his branches as it were, and from the look in
his dusky-red face, it was clear that a storm of wind was beginning to
agitate the head of the old tree: "That's what I was going to ask you,"
was his answer.

If a stranger had entered the room at that moment, he would hardly have
been able to say which was the Rathsherr and which the colonel. Both
had imposing uniforms on, both had proud aristocratic faces, and both
had these from the habit of command; if the Colonel was a couple of
inches taller, my uncle Herse was half a foot broader; and if the
Colonel had hair on his upper lip, my uncle had it all over his face,
for he had not been shaved for the last two days: old Metz the barber
had forgotten to shave him the day before yesterday, and the day before
yesterday's, yesterday's and to-day's growth, weighed fully as much as
the French officer's moustache.

"Who are you?" asked the Colonel.

"I am a Rathsherr, a Stemhagen Rathsherr," replied my uncle.

This seemed to take the Colonel by surprise. He walked up and down and
at last stood still before my uncle and said: "I do not see any
advantage for the Emperor Napoleon in my dragging you about the country
any longer. You can go."

Now this was not the sort of thing my uncle was used to.--"Sir!" he
cried: "this treatment...."

"I am truly sorry," interrupted the Colonel, "that you should have been
put to such inconvenience. You must have been taken up entirely by
mistake."

This was a little too strong for my uncle. All along the road and
through the wintry night, he had comforted himself with the reflection
that he was the chosen victim of the "Corsican dragon," and now it was
all said to be a pure mistake. He had, in his innocence, reckoned at
the very least on a public apology before a whole French regiment, and
here was he being, as it were, kicked out and told--"he might go!"

"To take up a man like _me_ by mistake!" cried he.

"You may think yourself fortunate," said the Colonel, tapping him on
the shoulder and smiling pleasantly, "worse things than that often
happen in war; many a one gets shot by mistake. Look upon this as a
trial sent by God."

"If this is to be called a trial," said my uncle, "it's a very stupid
one."

The Colonel laughed and passed his arm under the Rathsherr's: "Come
with me, Herr Rathsherr. I am right glad the matter has ended thus and
that I have been able to do what the Herr Amtshauptmann asked. And I
have a few words to say to you in secret."

'In secret,' those were two words that my uncle Herse could not resist,
so he went with him.

"Herr Rathsherr," said the Colonel, when they were out in the
market-place, and stood before the door of the "Golden Button," which
was the Colonel's head quarters; "Herr Rathsherr, tell the good old
Herr Amtshauptmann, with my kindest regards, that I have fortunately
been able to comply with his request; and beg him in return to comply
with mine,--which is that, if it can be done with justice, he should
give the money that finds no owner to the young girl who brought me his
letter yesterday on the road, here. And you will yourself see, Herr
Rathsherr, that this must be kept secret, as else the Herr
Amtshauptmann might be suspected."

My uncle Herse was now, once more, in his element--: "You mean Fieka?"
he asked eagerly; "Miller Voss's Fieka who is standing out there?" and
he pointed to Fieka, who was standing a little way off with her
father,--her arm round his neck and crying for joy.

"Yes, I mean her," said the Colonel and he went up to the two.

Fieka drew her arm from round her father's neck, but she could not
prevent the tears from flowing, and as the Colonel came nearer, she
felt as if she must cry all the more; when he gave her his hand she
curtseyed silently, for she could not bring out a word. As long as
anxiety, like a dark night, had lain upon her, she had gone steadily on
her way without looking either to right or left,--trust in God her sole
guiding-star; but now that the sun had risen, she stood still; her
heart opened like a beautiful rose to the light; as the fresh morning's
breeze plays in its leaves, so her thoughts could now wander hither and
thither, to the right and to the left, behind her and before her, and
her tears fell like the morning dew.

The old Miller, too, stood silent before the Colonel; but when he was
asked if he was the father of the young girl, the words came out in a
torrent.

"Yes, sir," said he. "And though it's true what our Herr Amtshauptmann
says, that boys are better than girls, girls are always crying--for
they _are_ that, sir, as you can see in Fieka"--and, as he spoke, he
wiped the tears from his own eyes--"still I don't know what better I
can wish you, for your goodness to us, than that God may some day send
you a little daughter like my Fieka."

The Colonel no doubt thought so too, though he did not say so. He
turned quickly towards Fieka, and asked: "Can you write?"

"Yes, Herr," said Fieka, and made a curtsey.

"She can do everything," said the Miller; "She can write and read
writing like a schoolmaster, for she has to do all my writing."

"Well, then, my little one," said the Colonel, "write your name and the
place where you were born, in here; but in Platt-deutsch, mind."

And Fieka wrote in the Colonel's pocket-book, "Fieka Voss, born at the
Gielow Mill in the parish of Stemhagen." The Colonel read it, shut up
his pocket-book, gave her and her father his hand, and went away with
the words: "Good-bye! We may perhaps meet again some day."



                             CHAPTER XVIII.

   How Witte's pint-pot was always running over; why the Town of
     Stemhagen had raised a fir-plantation; why neighbour Rickert rang
     the alarm-bell; and why the portrait of Julius Caesar always
     reminds me of my uncle Herse.


Rather less than half an hour afterwards, two waggons drove out of the
Treptow Gate of Brandenburg towards Stemhagen. In the first were the
elders, the Herr Rathsherr and the baker and the Miller, and, as a mark
of respect, the valet-de-chambre; in the second sat, on the foremost
sack, Fritz Besserdich and Luth, and on the hind sack, Fieka and
Heinrich. Friedrich lay behind in the straw. After they had gone along
some way, my uncle Herse began to talk:

"So we are out of his claws at last," said he.

"Yes, Herr Rathsherr," answered the Baker, "and we have to thank the
Herr Amtshauptmann and our Burmeister and, above all, the Miller's
Friedrich for it."

"That's according as you look at it, Witte," said my uncle. "For my
part I have nothing to say against those three, and there is no doubt
the Chasseur's being brought there did us good service, but it by no
means set us free. Did you not notice how the French Colonel talked to
me aside before the door of the Inn?"

"Yes, Herr Rathsherr."

"Well, then, let me tell you, that, if he had not employed me to take a
secret message for him, we might have left Brandenburg by a very
different gate from this."

"The Devil we might!" cried the old Baker, and he looked at the
Rathsherr out of the corner of his eye.

My uncle said nothing; he only opened and shut his eyes importantly,
and then turned away, and looked over the cornfields, as if he meant to
let his words have due effect on the Baker. But this did not succeed.
Old Baker Witte's head was like the pint measure in which he sold milk;
when it was full to the brim, it would hold no more, and whatever more
was poured in, ran over into the room. And, just now, his head was
brimming full of all he had gone through, so that the Rathsherr's words
made it run over, and he said nothing.

"I wish I was in Stemhagen," said the Rathsherr, after a while.

These drops went into the baker's pint measure, he said, therefore: "So
do I, for it will be a precious long time before we get there."

"I don't mean that," said the Herr Rathsherr. "I mean as to our
reception."

The baker's pint measure was running over again: "What?" he asked.

"Our reception with a triumphal arch."

The contents of the pint measure were now running over very
fast:--"Reception! Triumphal arch! What? Is our Duke coming then?"

"No, Witte, _he_ is not coming, but _we_ are coming."

It was now just as if some one had given Witte's arm a jerk, while he
was pouring the milk into the measure, so that half of it went on to
the floor. This was lucky, for now there was room for the Herr
Rathsherr's explanation.

"I say, Witte, that _we_ are coming. Ought not the burghers of a town
like ours to erect a triumphal arch for their fellow-burghers and
officers of state, who have suffered for the Fatherland, just as much
as for a Duke?--But who is to do it? The old Amtshauptmann? The
Burmeister? They won't be thinking of such a thing. Or do you think the
old Rector, because he once made a thing of a '_transparency_?' That
was a fine thing!--Or old Metz? There's as much sense in his talk,
baker Witte, as in a squirrel's tail.--Or old Zoch? He can blow his
horn on the watch tower, nothing else.--Ah! if _I_ were there!"

"But, at this time of year, Herr Rathsherr," said the Baker, "where
could you get flowers and evergreens from?"

"Flowers? What do old Heimann Kasper, and Leip, and the other Jews,
sell red and yellow ribbons for? Evergreens! For what purpose has the
town of Stemhagen raised a fir plantation in the State Forest?"

"That's true," said old Witte, for the pint measure was now full again.

"What do you say, Miller Voss?" asked the Herr Rathsherr.

"I say nothing, Herr Rathsherr," said the Miller, turning towards him a
face so full of wrinkles that it looked like a puckered tobacco-pouch
rising above his shoulder, "I say nothing; I only think: yesterday when
I was driving towards Brandenburg I didn't feel exactly comfortable,
and now to-day, when I am driving away from it, I feel as if I had got
a stomach-ache in my head."

"How's that?" asked my uncle Herse; and the Miller told him his
difficulties with Itzig.--"Hm!" said my uncle, and he passed his hand
slowly down his face as far as his chin where it remained fast caught
in the stubbly beard. With his chin in his hand and his mouth wide
open, he gazed fixedly for a while into vacancy. He tried the same
thing over again once or twice, but his hand never got over his beard.
Now, though my uncle Herse had a bristly beard, he had a tender soul;
and if his mouth opened wide, his heart opened wider still; and, as he
was taking a last look into the grey sky, his eyes fell on a blue
place, and a ray from the blue sky passed through his eyes into his
open heart. He must do a good work.

"Baker Witte," said he, "let the Miller come and sit here, and you take
his place on the front seat,--I have something to say to him."

This was done, and Baker Witte talked on the front seat to the
valet-de-chambre in a very loud voice, and the Herr Rathsherr talked on
the hind seat with the Miller in a very low one.

"Miller Voss," said my uncle, "I will help you out of the bog. I will
send for Itzig to-morrow--and then observe how servile he will be, for
I know something about him,--a secret!--that does not concern anybody
else;--but it's nothing very good you may be sure.--The fellow shall
give you time till Easter, and I will be surety for you; and I'll come
out to-morrow, and look through all your papers and take the matter
into my own hands. For, look here," and as he spoke he drew out the
seal at the end of his watch-chain, "I am appointed to do such things.
Here it stands. Perhaps you can't easily read Latin backwards?" The
Miller said he could not read it either backwards or forwards.--"Well,
it does not matter. Here it stands: _Not. Pub. Im. Cæs_., that's to
say, I'm Notarius Publicus, and _Im. Cæs_. means--I can be consulted in
every lawsuit. So, Miller, I'll help you.--But upon one condition
only: that you tell no one of my being surety for you, or of our
agreement,--above all not the Herr Amtshauptmann. The affair must
remain a profound secret."

The Miller promised.

In one way things were going on in the second waggon in the same manner
as in the first. On the front sack the voices were very loud, and on
the hind sack, on which Heinrich and Fieka were sitting, they were very
low. I need not tell what they were saying to each other, for
Friedrich, you know, was lying close behind them in the straw, and
heard every word they said, and he will come out with it in good time.

About three hours after this, that young rascal Fritz Sahlmann
was running through the streets of the good town of Stemhagen,
shouting--"They are coming! They are coming!"--He had been watching for
a couple of hours on the Windmill-hill, and, during that time, the Herr
Amtshauptmann had rung his bell seven times for him, and had, at last,
come down to my mother out of sheer vexation.

"They are coming!" cried the young wretch.

"Is it true, boy?" asked old Rickert the bell-ringer.

"Yes, neighbour Rickert, they are just at the bridge."

And old Rickert said to himself: "It can't be helped: I must do my
duty;" went to the bell-tower, and as he could not manage the whole
peal, rang the alarm bell. At that sound all were on foot, and at their
house-doors. "They are coming!"--"Who is coming?"--"The Rathsherr, and
baker Witte, and the Miller, and all the others."

"Hurrah!" shouted Shoemaker Bank waving his arm in the air,--forgetting
he had got a boot on it.

"Hurrah!" cried Locksmith Tröpner, rushing into the street with his
leathern apron on. "But let us have everything quiet and orderly, good
people"--and he knocked the jug out of Frau Stahl's hand, which she was
carrying down from the Schloss.

"Hurrah!" cried Herr Droi, running out into the street with his
bearskin on, but otherwise in plain clothes; and behind him trooped his
little French children and shouted "Vive l'Empereur!" as the Rathsherr
passed through the crowd in the first waggon.

He sat bolt upright on his sack, and held his hand to his hat all along
the street, and turned his dignified face to right and left; and with
his dignity was mixed some emotion, as he whispered to the Miller:
"Voss, this makes me forget the triumphal arch."

"Yes, and me Itzig," said the old Miller, who, on seeing what the
Rathsherr did, began to do the same. The valet-de-chambre kept on
bowing away at his side of the waggon, treating his hat most cruelly
and from the other side old Witte kept up a fire of: "Good day
neighbour. Good day Bank, how's your back. Good day Johann. Good day
Strüwingken--Is all right? How are the pigs?"

When they came to the market-place, they saw Aunt Herse waving the
bottom half of one of the white curtains out at the window, and such a
storm-wind arose in my uncle Herse's heart that his feelings rolled in
great waves and sent the water up to his eyes:--"Aunt," he said half
aloud to himself, "Aunt,"--for he always called his wife "Aunt" and she
called him "Uncle" in return,--"Aunt, I cannot obey your signal, for
both these last days have concerned me in my public, and not in my
private capacity--have concerned me as Rathsherr and not as Uncle, and
they must end in the same way as they have begun.--To the Rathhaus,
baker Witte!" he cried, and as he said it, he pulled his cocked hat
down over his eyes. The Rathsherr had won the victory over the "Uncle"
and father of a family.

O, what a merry evening it was at the Rathhaus! Everything in kitchen
and cellar that had been hidden away from the French was brought out,
and whatever was wanting was fetched from the Schloss. Marie Wienken
laid the cloth on a long, long table, and to the table added leaf after
leaf, and, when there were no more leaves, she joined on small tables,
and when there were not enough of them, the chairs were spread for us
children. Mamsell Westphalen stood at the corner-cupboard, and squeezed
lemons on to sugar, and poured the contents of all sorts of bottles
over it; and the kettles went backwards and forwards, from the kitchen
into the room, and from the room into the kitchen; and the Herr
Amtshauptmann stood by, and kept tasting and shaking his head, and then
pouring in something himself; and at last he nodded and said: "Now
Mamsell Westphalen it's right; this is quite another thing;" and he
turned round to my mother, and said:--"You must let me have my way in
one thing, my friend, I will make the punch." My father managed the
corkscrew, Luth the pouring out, and the valet-de-chambre stood by the
stove, and shook his head at all these arrangements; and he showed Luth
how he ought to wait; and, as Luth tried to imitate him, he spilled a
glass of punch into Mamsell Westphalen's lap.--Yes, it was a merry
evening!

Friedrich stood at the door, upright as a grenadier, and not moving or
stirring a limb except to drink; Fritz Besserdich stood at his side,
not moving or stirring either, except, too, when he drank. And Fieka
Voss sat next to my Mother, and my Mother pressed her hand, and stroked
her soft cheek, and when I came up to her side, she stroked mine too
and said: "Shall you love me as much as Fieka loves her father?"

The Herr Amtshauptmann called Heinrich Voss into a corner, and talked
to him aside. What had the Herr Amtshauptmann got to say in secret to
Heinrich Voss, and why did he keep patting him on the shoulder? Old
Miller Voss asked himself this, and when he had made out that it must
be about the lawsuit, he said to Witte:--

"Well, I have finished with the lawsuit now, the Jew's the only thing
remaining, and I'll drown him to-night in punch."

"By the way that reminds me ..." said the baker going out.

After a time he came back again, holding a basket in one hand and
Strüwingken by the other:--"By your leave, Herr Burmeister, perhaps I
may bring something towards the feast; here are a few sweet cakes; and
here, Frau Burmeister, is my daughter Strüwingken; pardon the liberty,
but she wished so much to see the company."

But what was all this to the splendour and pomp which surrounded my
uncle Herse. He had taken off his cloak, and now stood there in full
uniform; and everyone came round him, and thanked him; my father
because he had taken him under the shelter of his cloak; My mother
because he had thereby helped my father to escape; Mamsell Westphalen
curtseyed three times, and said she should never forget what he had
done for her; and Miller Voss said that, strictly speaking, they had
only been set free at Brandenburg owing to the Herr Rathsherr; and when
old Witte confirmed this, Strüwingken secretly promised herself that
she would send the Rathsherr an immense tea-cake. His fine, full face
beamed with pleasure and delight, and he bent down to my Mother and
said:--"I can't at all make out why 'Aunt' does not come."

At the Miller's words, he suddenly recollected the French Colonel's
message and turned to the Herr Amtshauptmann:--"I have two words to say
to you, Herr Amtshauptmann, on a very secret matter," and so saying he
drew him into a corner. We know what it is he is going to say, but if
the corner could speak, and were to tell us what the Rathsherr had said
there, we should be obliged to pretend that we had known nothing about
it.

My father was obliged at length to free the old Amtshauptmann. He took
my uncle and placed him in the post of honour at the head of the table,
and never was anyone put in the right place more at the right time;
for, hardly was he seated, when the door opened and in came Aunt Herse
in a black silk dress, and behind this dress stood old Metz the father
of the present old Metz, and the present rich Joseph Kasper who was
then a little Jew boy. Aunt Herse had a wreath of green laurel in her
hand picked from old Metz's laurel-tree, from which he generally picked
the leaves only when his wife cooked bream; and the wreath was bound
with a long red ribbon; Joseph Kasper had furnished this, and so Aunt
Herse had brought him with her. She went up to uncle Herse, gave him a
kiss, placed the wreath on his head with the ends of ribbon hanging
down his back, and made a pretty little speech which nobody heard, for
baker Witte broke out the same moment with: "Hurrah!" and the Miller
with "Long live!" and every one joined in and clinked glasses.

Yes, it _was_ a delightful evening! And a long time afterwards, when I
saw a picture of Julius Cæsar it put me in mind of my uncle Herse, for
he looked exactly like it in his laurel wreath, only my uncle was a
good deal stouter and more genial than the crabbed dried-up Roman. And
a long time afterwards whenever I had specially nice cakes before me I
thought of Baker Witte's. And I can still praise them; for you may eat
a great many, and yet not be made ill.



                              CHAPTER XIX.

   Why the Miller again looked into the tops of his boots; how a pint
     became a bushel; why Heinrich said good-bye, and why Friedrich
     considered that women were getting cheap.


The next morning, when the Miller had got out of bed, he again sat
resting his head on his hands and looking thoughtfully into the tops of
his boots.

"Mother," asked he at last, "did I quarrel with Heinrich last night, or
did I dream it?"

"Why, father," replied his wife, "you kept embracing him and calling
him your dear son, and you promised Friedrich he should have plenty of
money when you became a rich man, and said it would not be so very long
either before that time came."

"Then, mother, I was a fool."

"That's what I told you last night, but you would not believe it."

"Lord save me!" cried the Miller; "there is no end to these stupid
tricks of mine!"

Friedrich came in.--"Good morning, Miller; good morning, Dame. I only
came in to tell you, Miller, I had thought over the matter. I will let
the money which you promised me yesterday evening stay with you at
interest for some time longer, till I want it."

"Hm!" said the old Miller, moving uneasily on his chair.

"Yes," said Friedrich; "but there was another thing I wanted to ask
you: will you let me leave at Easter? I know it's rather before my
time."

"Why? What do you want to do?"

"I want to get married."

"What? You marry?"

"Yes, Miller, I am going to marry Bailiff Besserdich's Hanchen, who is
now in service at the Schloss; and I thought if Heinrich Voss marries
our Fieka, and our fathers-in-law have nothing against it, we could be
married on the same day."

This was too much for the Miller: "You rascal...!" He jumped up and
seized one of his boots.

"Stay, Miller;" said Friedrich, drawing himself up, "that word's
neither fit for you nor fit for me. How things stand with me, I have
known for three days, and how they stand with Heinrich and our Fieka I
came to know yesterday afternoon; I was lying behind them in the waggon
and heard everything they said."

"It would be a good thing, father," said the Miller's wife.

"You don't understand anything about it," cried the Miller, and strode
about the room savagely.

"Well, Miller," said Friedrich, and he went to the door, "think the
matter over; _my_ father-in-law has been going about thinking of it
ever since the day before yesterday."

"I will give you your character at once," cried the Miller after him,
"but you are not to leave before midsummer."

Why was the old Miller so angry? He liked Heinrich very well; he had
himself often thought during the last few days, that Heinrich and Fieka
might do for one another; and he had called him his "dear son" only
last night. But that was just it. Last night the punch had made him a
rich man, and this morning he was looking into the tops of his boots--a
beggar; even if Itzig would be put off till Easter, it would be but a
short reprieve.

"Father," said his wife, "this is the best thing that could happen to
us and to our Fieka."

"I tell you, mother," cried the Miller, and it was fortunate he had not
got his boot on or he would have stamped on the floor with rage, "I
tell you, you don't understand anything about it. What? I am to give my
child to Joe Voss's son, who is at law with me, and who travels about
the country with a great bag of money,--my best, my dearest child--and
I am to say to him: 'there she is, but I can give you nothing with her
for I am a beggar?' No, wife, no! Why, I should have to borrow the very
clothes in which my only child,--my little Fieka,--was married.--No,
no! I must get right again first."

It often happens so in the world. Some piece of good fortune hangs
close before our eyes, and when we stretch out our hand to seize it,
our arm is held by a chain, forged, without our having been aware of
it, in times long past, the ends of which are fastened far behind us,
so that we cannot get it off. The Miller's chain was his law-suit and
his bad management in former years, and now when he tried to seize the
good fortune which seemed within his reach, it held him back; and he
fretted and fumed in vain. He might perhaps cut the chain in two, but
then he would be obliged to drag about one end of it all his life like
a runaway convict, and his honour would not suffer this. One cannot
help pitying the old man. He avoided everybody, and worked alone in the
mill and the stable, as hard as if he thought he could, in this one
day, make good all the neglects of past years.

At last he was freed from his toil. My uncle Herse arrived,--but in the
dress of a plain burgher to-day: "Good day, Voss; well, our affairs are
all right."

But the Miller was not to be so easily satisfied to-day, and he said
shortly: "Yes, for whoever thinks so, Herr Rathsherr."

"When I say it, Miller Voss," said the Herr Rathsherr, as he fetched a
packet of papers from his carriage, and went with the Miller into his
room, "when I say it, you may believe it, for I am here to-day as a
Notary Public."

"Mother," said the Miller, "leave us by ourselves; but give us a light
first, Fieka."

Now, there was no exact necessity for this, seeing, that it was broad
daylight; but the Miller had noticed that, when a court of justice was
being held, the Herr Amtshauptmann always had a wax-light burning by
him, and so he determined to have a light, thinking it was safer,
because it made everything more complete. And he went to his cupboard
and fetched out a pair of spectacles and put them on, which was also
unnecessary, for he could not read writing; but he thought he should be
able to pay better attention in spectacles. Finally, he drew a table
into the middle of the room, and brought forward a couple of chairs.

When they were alone and seated before the table and the light, the
Herr Rathsherr read aloud, in a clear voice, a paper in which the Jew
promised to wait till Easter, the Herr Rathsherr being bail for the
Miller. And, when he had read it, he laid the paper by his side and
looked at the Miller with a face which seemed to say, "What do you
think of _that_?"

The Miller hummed and hawed, and scratched his head.

"Miller Voss," said my uncle angrily "what do you mean with your 'hms'
and 'haws'? There is my seal underneath. Do you see, it's a stalk of
_hirse_. because my name is 'Herse'; I could also have a portcullis on
it, if I liked, because in French that's 'herse'--but I am not fond of
the French. And here, round it, is my authority: 'Not:Pub:Im:Cæs.', and
here is the Jew's signature 'Itzig', and what is written is written."

"That's what the Herr Amtshauptmann says," said the Miller and he
looked a great deal more cheerful, "what's written is written."

"It's of no consequence to me what _he_ says. It is I, Miller Voss,
_I_, who am, through my office appointed to make written writing fast
and secure by my seal. And this paper frees you from all difficulties
till Easter."

"Yes, Herr Rathsherr, and I thank you for it;--but then?"

It was now my uncle's turn to hum and haw: "Hm, what
_then_?--Well--Yes--Well, Miller," and his good old face threw its
official look out of window and put on human kindness for spectacles,
and looked benevolently at the Miller and the whole world: "Well,
Miller Voss, I have procured you breathing-time till Easter, and,
maybe, I can give you further help; I have come on purpose to set
matters right. But, in order for me to do so, you must tell me exactly
how you stand, and show me all your papers."

So the Miller told and told, and went on till any other head than my
uncle Herse's would have been quite lost in the maze; and he brought
out so many papers that anyone else would have been alarmed; but my
uncle was very thorough in business matters and was fond of solving
riddles and mysteries. He listened to, and read, everything with
patience, though not with much profit to his undertaking.

"Is this all, Miller Voss?" he asked at last.

"Yes," said the Miller, and he looked as down as a potatoe-field when
the night frost has gone over it; "and this is my contract with the
bailiwick of Stemhagen."

My uncle took the contract, and read it through, looking, in his turn,
like a parsnip-field that has been cut up by the hail. But, all at once
he jumped up:--"Why, what is this? Miller, your difficulties are at an
end. In a couple of years you will be a _millionaire_. The whole town
and bailiwick of Stemhagen is bound to have its corn ground at your
mill; here it is in paragraph four. And what says paragraph five? 'For
every bushel that the Miller grinds he has a right to take one bushel
as payment.'"

"A pint, Herr Rathsherr," cried the Miller; and he, too, jumped up now.
"For every bushel one pint."

"No, a bushel. Here it is: for every bushel one bushel as payment; and
what is written is written, and here is the Amtshauptmann's seal."

"Herr Rathsherr, my head is swimming. Herr, that is only a mistake."

"Mistake or no mistake, what is written is written; the old
Amtshauptmann said so himself."

"That he did," said the Miller; "yes, that he did, I can swear to it."

And now the Miller saw before him a prospect of deliverance from the
Jew's clutches, and of many, many bushels of corn and of many, many
bright thalers; for was not the whole bailiwick obliged to bring corn
to his mill?

"This is a good thing, Herr Rathsherr," he cried; "but----but----"

"What do you mean with your buts, Voss?" cried my uncle indignantly.
"The thing is plain and clear."

"Yes, Herr Rathsherr, I only mean, what is to be done with the sacks?"

"With the sacks?--What sacks?"

"Why, the sacks in which the corn is brought to me. I get all the corn,
but who gets the sacks?"

"Hm," said my uncle, "that's a difficult question in law, Miller. I did
not think of it, and there's nothing about it in the contract, but, if
you'll follow my advice, you'll keep them yourself for the present, for
what says the Lubeck law: '_beati possidentes_,' that is in German,
'what a man has, that he's got.' Now, Miller, I have helped you out of
everything. But one thing I insist upon: silence!--Not a soul must be
spoken to about this matter. Do you hear?--not a soul. I will speak to
Itzig. He must take corn, instead of money, and by Easter the debt will
all be cleared off, and then, Miller Voss...."

"And then, Herr Rathsherr?..."

"Then--it will all be overplus--But, Miller, the affair remains a
secret."

The Miller promised, and the Herr Rathsherr set off home again, and
Heinrich and Fieka saw him nod from his carriage to the Miller, and lay
his finger on his lips.

"Keeping secrets is not one of my gifts, Fieka," said Heinrich: "I
shall go to your father and speak to him."

"Do so," said Fieka. But if she had known the state the Miller was in,
she would certainly have told him to wait.

The old Miller was in a strange mood. That morning he had been a
beggar, and had been unwilling to give his child away, because he had
no dower for her. Now he was a rich man, and his only daughter had no
need to take the first who came; she might become a fine lady as well
as anybody else. The change had come too quickly, he did not rightly
know what had happened to him; and there now arose, too, a secret fear
in him, lest all might not be as it ought to be, and great anxiety lest
what he was going to do might not be right. "But," said he to himself,
"the Amtshauptmann himself said 'what is written is written;' and the
Rathsherr must know better than me what is right."--If it was difficult
for him, in ordinary times, to come to a decision, it was quite
impossible at a moment like this.

When Heinrich made his offer therefore, the Miller began to talk about
the lawsuit, and said Heinrich was not at all to suppose that he was a
ruined man. Many had tried to drown him, but he still swam at the top.

Heinrich then said that he had no evil intentions, that he had thought
to himself that the Miller would give him his Fieka, and would sell him
his lease, and that his father and mother-in-law might live with him in
peace and quietness for the rest of their lives.

But at this the old Miller fired up: yes, Heinrich would like that; he
could readily believe it. But nobody should cry "Fish" before they had
caught any; he was not going to let himself be taken in by anyone, let
alone a young man like Heinrich. His lease, indeed! His lease! he would
keep it himself, though a king should come and court his Fieka!

For such a speech Heinrich was not at all prepared after what had
already passed. The blood mounted into _his_ face also, and he said
sharply, that the Miller must say "yes" or "no," would he give him his
daughter or not.

The Miller turned round abruptly and looked out of window, and said
"No."

Heinrich also turned round, and went out of the room, and half an hour
afterwards Friedrich drove into the yard with Heinrich's waggon; and,
at his call, Heinrich and Fieka came out of the garden. Fieka looked
very pale but also quite firm, and said: "Heinrich, what I have said I
will keep to, and you too will keep to it."--He nodded his head, and
pressed her hand, stepped up to the Miller's wife who was standing at
the door, said a few parting words to her, got into the waggon, and
drove slowly away.

When he was some little distance from the Mill, he heard some one
calling after him, and on turning round to look, he saw Friedrich
coming towards him across the corner of a rye-field: "Where are you
driving to, Heinrich?"

"To Stemhagen."

"Shall you stop the night there?"

"Yes, I thought I would stay for the night at Baker Witte's, for I have
something to speak to the Herr Amtshauptmann about."

"I must say, that's a good idea of yours, Heinrich, and I have
something to do at the Schloss this evening too; and, maybe, I shall
have something to say to you, so don't drive off from Witte's till I
come. I shall not be there till late, however, when everything is quiet
here."

Heinrich promised he would wait for him, and drove on again towards
Stemhagen. On the road he met Baker Witte who was driving with corn to
the Mill and said:--"Well, Heinrich, put up at my house, I shall be at
home again by evening, and then we can have a bit of a chat together."

Evening had long since set in, and the baker had been some time at
home, but Heinrich was still up at the Schloss with the old Herr.
Friedrich, too, had arrived and had gone up to the Schloss, and old
Witte said to Strüwingken, "Something has happened at the Mill, you'll
see. I don't think much of the Miller's wife sitting crying, for her
tears run easily, but I don't at all like to see Fieka going about so
quiet and saying nothing to all the fooleries and scoldings of the old
Miller; and he has got one of those queer fits upon him this morning
which you can make nothing of. When I asked him how soon I should come
for the flour, he said he must first look at his lease; and when I said
I wanted it next week, he said it was all the same to him, he should
act according to his lease; and when I was driving away, he called out
after me that, if anything strange should happen to the flour, I was
only to go to Rathsherr Herse, and he would explain the matter to
me,--that is if he thought proper."

"Why he must be mad," said Strüwingken.

At that moment Heinrich came in, looking calm and indifferent; and on
the baker beginning to talk about the flour, and of the queer reception
he had met with, Heinrich abruptly broke in with: "Will you do me a
favour, Witte?"

"Why not?" said the baker.

"Look here, many people come to your place; and you have room in your
stable. I want to sell my horse and waggon, will you help me with it."

"Why not?" said Witte again; "but, Heinrich," added he after a while,
and you could almost imagine you saw how he was collecting his thoughts
together inside his brain, and weaving them into a long chain so as to
spin out the conversation. "But, Heinrich, there's no hurry about
it.--Horses--horses--you see they are cheap now. Why?--Well--what do I
know?--Why, because no one feels sure that the French won't take them
out of the stables overnight. But, you'll see, they'll get dear; for,
you'll see in a few weeks we shall all be marching against the French."

"I have just heard the same from a man who must know much more about it
than you or I. But it's just for that reason I want to be rid of them."

"Yes," said Friedrich, who had come into the room during the Miller's
speech; "horses will get dear and women cheap. There will be a great
call for horses when the war begins, and little for women; and when
it's over, and half the young men are killed, there'll be still less.
And it's going to begin. Yesterday, at Brandenburg, a fellow took me
aside, who looked as if he had tried the blue beans,[5] and he said to
me that from my appearance I must have carried a musket, and, if I
liked, he knew of a place for me. I said I would think about it; but
to-day is not yesterday, and today I don't need to think about it. I
deserted from the Prussians, but only because I had to rock the cradle
for my Captain's children; and yesterday I only wanted to think it
over, because I expected I should soon have to rock children; of my
own. But to-day I need think no more; I shall enlist against the
French. And, Witte, I have no one in the world to look after my things,
so when you hear that I have left the Mill, will you see about my box?
And now, good-bye. I must go back to the Mill this evening." So saying
he departed.

Heinrich followed him: "Friedrich, what does this mean?"

"What does it mean?" said Friedrich. "I will tell you. 'What the one
looks the other feels.' The same thing has happened to us both, only
your Fieka cries and my Hanchen laughs. I am not young enough for her.
Well, it doesn't much matter; I was not too old for that fellow at
Brandenburg, but what is one man's owl is another's nightingale."

"Don't speak so loud, Friedrich," said Heinrich in a low voice. "You
are going to turn soldier and so am I."

"What! You?"

"Hush! Yes, I. I have no friends or relations far and wide, and stand
alone in the world. I have spoken to the Herr Amtshauptmann, and he has
promised to keep an eye on my property. I can let my Mill at Parchen
any day, and I am going to sell my horse and waggon."

"Hurrah!" cried Friedrich, "your hand, comrade! Dumouriez! The very
first morning, I said you had the making of a soldier in you."

"Yes, that's all very well," replied Heinrich. "I have got the will,
but how about carrying it out?"

"When anyone has it in his mind to do something wrong, comrade," said
Friedrich, "the Devil is always at hand to show him the way. And the
Almighty will not do less. He will show us the right way, now, for this
is for our country. Look,--_I_ can't, I must stay till Easter--but do
you drive over at once to Brandenburg, and ask at the Inn, where we
were, for a tall man with a grey moustache and a scar across the right
cheek, you will be sure to find him. Present yourself to him and report
me as 'Friedrich Schult;' say that I have served, but you need not say
that I deserted once from rocking children. And, when all is settled,
let me know, and then I'll come."

"So let it be!" cried Heinrich. "And, Friedrich, greet Fieka from me,
and tell her she's not to be surprised at what I may do. I will keep to
what I said."

"I'll give your message. And now, goodnight."

"Good-night." And as Heinrich still stood there listening to
Friedrich's footsteps, he heard round the corner "Dumouriez! Accursed
patriots!"



                              CHAPTER XX.

   How everything went head over heels--in the world, in Stemhagen,
     and in the Miller's house; why the Miller and Friedrich drove to
     Stemhagen; and why Fieka followed them.


The French came no more into our part of the country; but, all the
same, it did not get any quieter. The Landsturm (levy en masse) was
called out; the Herr Amtshauptmann commanded in chief, and, under him,
Captain Grischow; but their men had only pikes,--except the
Schoolmaster who had had a halbert made for himself by the locksmith,
Tröpner. My uncle Herse raised a corps of sharpshooters of
one-and-twenty fowling pieces, and the young peasants sat on horseback
with their long swords at their sides.

It is a thing to laugh at, say the would-be wise. I say, it is a thing
to weep at that such a time comes so seldom in Germany, and that such a
time should have had no other result than that which the last forty
years have to show.

A single French regiment would have driven the whole pack like chaff
before the wind, say the would-be wise. It may be so, say I, but they
would not have driven away the spirit; one may laugh at the individual
signs; no one then, not even Buonaparte himself, laughed at the whole.
On one and the same day the cry went through the whole of Lower Germany
from the Vistula to the Elbe, from the Baltic to Berlin "The French are
coming!" They say now that this cry was raised on purpose to see what
Lower Germany would do. If that is true, then they had their wish:
Lower Germany stood the test. Everywhere, far and wide, the alarm-bell
sounded, not a village remained at home; everywhere there was marching
hither and thither, and the "single French regiment" must have had long
legs to crush the movement in all places at once.

The Stemhagen folk marched on Ankershagen; the French were said to be
in Ankershagen. The Malchin folk marched on Stemhagen; the French
were said to be in Stemhagen. Yes, it was a queer medley. In the
market-place at Stemhagen the pike-men were divided into companies;
Droz and the Miller's Friedrich were to manage them because they were
the only ones who understood anything about war; but the burghers would
not obey their commands, because the one was a Frenchman and the other
a Miller's man. Nobody would stand in the rear rank. Deichert, the
shoemaker, objected because Bank stood in the front; Groth, the
taxgatherer, because Stahl the weaver, who was in the front, always
sent the reverse end of the pike into his ribs in levelling bayonets,
and he could not put up with it.

My uncle Herse drilled his one-and-twenty fowling pieces in the
horse-pound, always making them fire off all together. His chief
command was "At 'em! At 'em!" They were then all to fire off at once,
first with blank cartridges, and afterwards with "ball," that is to
say, shot; but as, at the first volley, Dr. Lukow's white cow was
wounded, this shooting with "ball" had to be given up. They all said
afterwards that the tailor, Zachow, had done it, but it was never
proved. At last, they were all beautifully in rank and file, and when
Captain Grischow commanded "left wheel," out they came into the
Brandenburg road, and marched on in a splendid heap of confusion; and
when they were outside the town-gates, every one looked for a dry path
for himself, and they marched one behind the other, like geese among
the barley. A halt was made at the Owl Hill to wait for their
commander, the Herr Amtshauptmann. The Herr Amtshauptmann was too old
to walk, and he could not ride, so he drove to battle; stately he sat
in his long basket-carriage with his sword lying by his side. When he
arrived, he received a "Vivat" from his troops; and then he made them a
speech and said: "My children! We are not soldiers, and we shall make
plenty of blunders, but that will do no harm. Whoever likes to laugh,
may do so. But we will do our duty, and our duty is to show the French
that we are at our post. It's a pity that I know nothing about the art
of war, but I will look out in good time for a man who does--Herr Droz,
come up here by my side, and when the enemy comes, tell me what I am to
do. I will not forsake you, my children. And now forward, for the
Fatherland!"

"Hurrah!" cried his people, and away they went against the enemy. The
Pribbnow peasants and the labourers of Jürnsdorf and Kittendorf came,
with pitchforks and such things, and joined them.

"Hanning Heinz," said my uncle Herse to his adjutant, "these are our
Irregulars. At times, these sorts of troops are of great use,--as we
have seen in the Cossacks; but they easily bring the regular troops
into disorder; so keep yourselves well in a mass together, and when the
attack begins, then 'At 'em!'"

The cavalry was sent out to reconnoitre, and rode in front, and
Inspector Bräsig and the Ivenack town clerk had pistols; these they
fired off every now and then,--probably to frighten the French; and in
this way they reached Ankershagen;--but they did not meet the French.
When this was reported to the Herr Amtshauptmann, he said:

"Children, it seems to me that we have done enough for to-day, and if
we go back at once, we shall be home again by daylight. What say you,
eh?"

The idea was good. Captain Grischow commanded "Right about face,"
and they all went home except half a company of pikes, and two
fowling-pieces who fell upon the Kittendorf public house and there did
wonders.

As they were marching back, Stahl came up to the Amtshauptmann and
asked: "By your leave, Herr Amtshauptmann, may I lay my pike in your
carriage for a little while?"

"Certainly."

And Deichert came, and Zachow came, and many came, and at last all
came, with the same request; and by the time the Herr Amtshauptmann
drove into the town, his innocent basket-carriage looked like an engine
of war, like some scythe-chariot out of the Persian and Roman times.

Rathsherr Herse just let them fire "At 'em" three times more in the
market-place, and then everyone went home quite satisfied. My uncle
alone was dissatisfied: "Hanning Heinz," said he again to his adjutant;
"there's no good in all this. Why does not the old Amtshauptmann let me
set fire to the windmills first?"

If things went head-over-heels in the great world, they did not go
differently at the Gielow Mill. People brought corn, and got no flour;
the Mill stood still, and the corn was poured out on to the floor.
Itzig came and received sack after sack, and every time that he drove
away from the Mill, the Miller said: "Heaven be praised! There's
another thirty--or forty--thalers paid," according to the quantity.
But, all the time, he was not cheerful; he rather got despondent, and
it was only after Rathsherr Herse had been with him, and had given him
fresh courage, that he could ride his high horse, and talk about the
great Christopher. When his wife sat and cried, and he felt Fieka near
him with her quiet, calm face, he would get uneasy again, and he was
obliged to talk in a loud voice to keep off fear; and when Fieka, as
often happened, took his hand, or fell upon his neck, and said
earnestly, with the tears in her eyes: "What is it, father? Tell me
what you are doing this for?" he would answer according to the mood he
was in. If it was his rich mood, he would kiss his child and tell her
she had only to wait, things would come all right for her; but if he
was despondent, he would push her away from him and say, coldly and
harshly, that his affairs were not women's affairs, and he must know
best what he had to do.

On all sides, there was secret torment and secret fear. However the
whole thing could not but come out at last, when Baker Witte insisted
on having his flour. He had sent for it, he had written for it, he now
came for it himself, and there was noise and wrangling; and as the
Baker drove away he shouted out "You thief!" and threatened the Miller
with the arm of the law.

Fresh troubles came every day. Easter was at hand: large quantities of
corn came from the neighbouring farms and villages to be ground for the
feast-day; the Miller's corn flourished, but there was much, much weed
with it. The Sheriff's officer came to the Mill to inquire into the
matter. The Miller droned out unintelligible stuff about his lease and
his right.

The day before Easter Itzig fetched the last load of corn, and the
Miller came in to dinner to his wife and Fieka, and said: "At last we
are rid of him. He has got his money!"

His wife and Fieka were silent, and the Miller did not pass a joyful
Easter; for, do what he would, no happy belief in a sure future would
rise within him.

And the next day the Sheriff's officer came again, and ordered the
Miller to appear the following day before the Amtshauptmann. He asked
for Friedrich, and when he came, told him he was also to appear.

"If I like," said Friedrich, and he turned on his heel, for he
remembered that the Amtshauptmann had said to him: "I will not forget
you."

"If you do _not_ come," said the officer, "it will be at your peril."

"You gentlemen always imagine," laughed Friedrich, "that when your
plums are ripe, one of us is to pick them. However, I shall be going to
Stemhagen to-morrow in any case, for my time with the Miller is up."

"Nothing of the kind!" growled the Miller. "I have hired you till
Midsummer."

The next day, the Miller drove with Friedrich to Stemhagen. Neither
spoke a word; when they reached the market-place, Friedrich wanted to
turn down to baker Witte's.

"Stop," cried the Miller; "I am not going there, I shall put up at
Gruhle's."

"Then, Miller," said Friedrich, and he jumped down off the waggon, and
threw the reins to him, "you can drive yourself there, I shall stay at
Witte's." And with these words he went off.

In better days, the Miller would not have put up with this, but would
have taught his man a lesson, even though that man were Friedrich. But
now he said nothing. He was no longer the same Miller. He sighed
heavily, drove up before Guhle's door without going in, and went to the
Herr Rathsherr's over the way.

Scarcely had the waggon left the Mill, when Fieka came down, dressed in
her best, to her mother, who was sitting by the stove crying.

"Mother," she said, "do what I can, I cannot get rid of the thought
that everything depends on to-day; to-day will show whether we are to
remain at the Mill or not. Father has done something and what it
is...."

"It's stupid of him to have done it," interrupted the Miller's wife.

"And so I want to follow him," Fieka went on. "I will ask the Herr
Amtshauptmann or the Frau Amtshauptmann or some one else--I don't know
whom exactly yet.--God will show me the way, and put the words in my
mouth."

"Go, Fieka," said her mother.

Fieka went. She could still see the waggon in the distance. She reached
Stemhagen, and went, as usual, to Witte's house: she asked for the
baker, he was at the Schloss; she went into the room,--there was
Friedrich sitting talking to a soldier who had on a red jacket, and had
got his back turned to her.

Friedrich jumped up: "Dumouriez! Fieka! How did you come here?"

The soldier also jumped up. Good heavens! What is this? Can that be
Heinrich!--Yes it was. He threw his arm round her.

"Fieka, my darling little Fieka," he cried, "don't you know me again?"

Alas! she knew him well enough. She screamed out loud: "What, Heinrich?
Heinrich, you turned soldier?"

"Well," said Friedrich, "and what should a brave fellow turn now but a
soldier?"

Fieka paid no heed to the question, she had enough to do with her own
thoughts, and they broke out from her lips:--"O, God! and this, too, is
my old father's fault. What can be the matter with him?"

"He need not reproach himself about me, Fieka," said Heinrich.
"Although at first when I wanted to go away, it was all the same to me
where I went to, it is different now. Now, for the first time I know
what I have turned soldier for, and for what cause we go to battle.
Now, I know what it means when comrade stands by comrade, and a whole
regiment enters the field with heart and soul for the Fatherland. You
know how I love you; and yet if you would give me your hand to-day, I
could not take it. I must go, but I take your heart with me."

"Spoken like a man!" cried Friedrich.

"You are right, Heinrich," said Fieka. "Go. But, when you come hack,
you must not expect to find us here any longer. Misfortunes are coming
over our heads, and who knows how long the Mill may shelter us."

"Eh, what, Fieka?" said Friedrich, "the Miller has got somewhat into a
pickle, he has got up to his neck in water; but, for all that, the
waves need not close over his head. He has still got good friends who
can stretch out a hand to him."

"Who can help him?" said Fieka, and sat down and let her hands fall in
her lap. "Nobody knows what he has got into his head."

"O, Heinrich knows something about it," said Friedrich. "He heard a
little bird sing this morning.--Make him tell you what it said, for I
must now be off to the Schloss."



                              CHAPTER XXI.

   How the Miller holds to it that 'what is written is written'; why
     the Amtshauptmann pulls Fritz Sahlmann by the ear, and my uncle
     Herse loses all command over himself. How too this story comes to
     a happy end.


He went; and Heinrich and Fieka remained alone.--Up at the Schloss the
old Amtshauptmann sat on his chair with the white napkin round his
neck. He was peevish.

"Neiting," he said, "the string is cutting me."

"Why, Weber, how can it cut you?"

"It cuts me, Neiting; and I'm not a Turkish Pasha, trying how it feels
when you strangle yourself with a silk cord."

"Well, is it right now?"

"Hm! Yes;--but it's a very troublesome thing."

"What is, Weber?"

"About the old Gielow Miller. The old man has gone quite mad; at least
I try to think so, though his conduct savours strongly of knavery."

"What has he done?"

"Why, he has kept all the corn which people have brought him to grind,
and he's said to have sold it afterwards to Itzig.--What are you
looking at, Neiting?"

"O, I just caught sight of him coming up with Rathsherr Herse."

"With Rathsherr Herse?" cried the old Herr, also getting up and looking
out at the window. "What does Rathsherr Herse want, Neiting?"

"Why, he's talking with the Miller."

"And most busily, too, he is talking, Neiting," said the old Herr, and
his face looked bright, and a merry smile spread over it. "Thank God! I
must acquit the Miller of all knavery now; it will turn out to be some
folly, for the Rathsherr is mixed up in it."

"But surely the Rathsherr is a good honourable man?"

"He is, Neiting, but he plays pranks--sad pranks!" So saying the Herr
Amtshauptmann went into the justice-room.

At the door of the room stood Farmer Roggenbom, and Baker Witte, and
Schult Besserdich, and a dozen more, all of whom had accused the
Miller. And now when he came in amongst them with the Rathsherr, and
saw his best friends against him, his heart sank into his boots; and
when they all shrank from him, and he read his dishonour in their
faces, his courage broke down; he was obliged to hold by the Herr
Rathsherr's arm, and said in a low voice: "Herr Rathsherr, I feel very
uncomfortable."

A feeling like this is catching. My uncle Herse also began to feel
uncomfortable; for the first time in the whole course of the affair a
faint misgiving, a dim foreboding, arose in him that he had perhaps sat
down in a bed of nettles. Everything that he had meant to say for the
Miller became blurred and confused, and when Voss was called into the
Justice-room, and he went with him, everything had vanished except his
dignified appearance, and that, too, began to totter terribly when the
old Herr came upon him with a grave: "To what do I owe this honour,
Herr Rathsherr?"

My uncle Herse was very good at answers--if one gave him time. He had
always to make a great round before he came to the point. This question
was too direct for him, and the old Herr's face too stern, and he could
only stammer out something about "Notary Public" and "legal assistance
for the Miller."

"Assistance?" said the old Herr, and a curious light flickered over his
face. "Good, Herr Rathsherr, be pleased to seat yourself and listen."

So my uncle Herse sat down, and this was a piece of good luck for him;
for he could recover himself and think better when sitting. And
accordingly he recovered himself and reflected.

"Miller Voss," asked the old Herr, "have you had corn to grind from
him, and him? What say you, eh?"

"Yes, Herr Amtshauptmann."

"What have you done with it?"

"I've sold it to Itzig; but the sacks are lying at the Mill. I will
deliver them up to justice."

"Indeed! that is very kind of you; but do you also know that you have
been doing very wrong, and that it looks very much like cheating?"

"I've only done what I've a right to do, Herr Amtshauptmann," said the
Miller, and he wiped the sweat of care from his forehead, with the back
of his hand.

"Yes," said my uncle Herse, and he got up, "we are...."

"Herr Rathsherr," said the Amtshauptmann, "I have my own ways of going
on in my justice-room. I beg you will sit down and listen."

But why had my uncle got up at all? Now he was out of countenance again
and must sit down and collect himself afresh.

"What do you mean by talking about your right, Miller Voss?"

"Why, Herr, you've told me yourself: 'What is written is written,' and
in my new lease of last year it stands, that for every bushel I grind I
am to have a bushel in payment."

"Where's your lease!"

"Here," answered the Miller, giving it to him. The old Herr read it,
and shook his head: "Hm! hm! This is a very strange thing!" he took up
his bell and rang: "Fritz Sahlmann is to come down to me."

Fritz came.

"Come here, Fritz,--nearer!"

Fritz came nearer.

The Herr Amtshauptmann took him by the ear and led him to the table
where the lease was lying open.

"Fritz, what have I often told you? That you would do some terrible
mischief one day with your flightiness! And now it's come to pass. You
have led two old people into follies that would have cost them dear, if
I did not know that they were nothing more than follies. Take your pen
and strike out 'bushel' here and write 'pint' above."

Fritz did so. The Herr Amtshauptmann took the lease and gave it back to
the Miller: "There, Miller Voss, it's all right now."

"But, Herr Amtshauptmann...." cried the Miller.

"I will speak to your creditors," said the old Herr, "that they may
give you a week's respite; but you must get the corn or the money in
that time, else it will go ill with you."

"But, Herr Amtshauptmann...." cried my uncle Herse, getting up. The
Herr Amtshauptmann looked at him. My uncle had clearly lost command
over himself.

"Seat yourself, Herr Rathsherr, and listen to me," said the old Herr
very earnestly. "You have no children and you have got enough to live
upon. Give up your Notary Publicship, or, if you cannot, then do not
exercise it within my district. No good will ever come of your doing
so." So saying, he turned his back upon the Rathsherr, rang his bell,
and said: "Let the Miller's man, Friedrich Schult, come in."

The old Miller had gone towards the door quite broken down and humbled.
My uncle had followed him; and anyone could see that all was whirring
and buzzing inside his head. At the door, he stopped and stretched out
both arms, but said nothing. But now Friedrich came in and pushed him a
little on one side and out of the door; he threw one hasty glance at
Friedrich; the old beadle, Ferge, shut the door; and that was the last
look my uncle ever gave into law matters, for after that he hung the
Notaryship on a nail.

"Come a little nearer, my son," said the Herr Amtshauptmann to
Friedrich, "come a little nearer.--It is you who want to marry my
Hanchen, is it not?"

"No," said Friedrich.

"Eh!" said the old Herr, looking more sharply at him, "are not you in
the Miller's service then?"

"No," said Friedrich, without moving.

"What! Are not you the Miller's man, Friedrich Schult, whom I once said
I would remember? What say you, eh?"

"1 am Friedrich Schult, Herr; but I'm no longer in the Miller's
service. I've left him, and I don't wish for the girl any longer, for
she let me go. And I'm not a Miller's man any more. I enlisted about
half an hour ago."

"Well, you've chosen the right thing, I think. But, my son, I have a
rod in pickle for you. Was it not you who first took the valise from
the chasseur's horse?"

"Yes."

"And you opened it and took money out of it, and knew therefore that
there was money in it?"

"Yes, I did," said Friedrich boldly. "I don't deny it."

"Well, then, listen attentively to what I am going to say to you. The
money is now ownerless property, for the French have given it up. But
there is a fellow whom they call 'Exchequer.' He's a rapacious fellow.
He swallows everything he can lay hold of, and he's especially hard on
'treasure-trove,' and he has got all this, so to speak, in his jaws.
But sometimes he has also kind fits, when he sees a rare piece of
honesty and somebody brings it clearly before his eyes. I have done
this last with all my might, and this Mr. Exchequer has given up his
claim to the money, in your favour. And here is the rod I had in pickle
for you." And he threw back a cloth, and the Frenchman's valise
appeared. "Friedrich Schult, the valise and the money are yours!"

Friedrich stood still and looked at the Herr Amtshauptmann and at the
valise and then again at the valise and the Herr Amtshauptmann, and at
last began to scratch his head in a determined way, behind the ears.

"Well!" said the Amtshauptmann, and he laid his hand on Friedrich's
shoulder. "What say you, Friedrich, eh?"

"Hm! Yes, Herr Amtshauptmann, I thank you very much, but it doesn't
exactly suit me."

"What! The money does not suit you!"

"O, yes, the money suits me well enough, but not just now. The girl
won't have me, and I've enlisted, and I can't take it with me."

"Hm!" said the old Herr, and he paced up and down the room with long
strides, "this is a very strange thing!" At last he stood still in
front of Friedrich, and looked at him with a peculiar look in his eyes:
"Money is very scarce just now, and I know where there is a father of a
family wringing the very skin off his fingers, and his wife and child
sit in tears."

Friedrich looked up. He looked into the Amtshauptmann's face, and it
seemed to him as if a beam of light came from it and fell warmly upon
his heart.

"Dumouriez!" he cried and he snatched up the valise and put it under
his arm.--"I know what to do with it," he said, "Good-day, Herr."

He was going. The old Herr followed him to the door--"My son," and he
took his hand, "when you come back again from the war let me see you,
and hear how things have gone with you."

The Justice-room was empty. The Herr Amtshauptmann was sitting with his
wife in her room.

"Neiting, when this Friedrich, this Miller's man, comes back again I
think I shall be better pleased than if a Princess were to come and see
us."

As the Miller and my uncle Herse went down the Schloss Hill, they did
not speak a word; but for opposite reasons: the Miller was silent
because he was wrapped up in himself, my uncle because he was quite
_out_ of himself. At last my uncle broke out:--

"And so that's what they call a court of justice! That's what they call
a verdict? The rude old fellow won't let a man bring in a single word.
We'll go further, Miller Voss; we'll go to a higher court."

"I'll go no further, Herr Rathsherr,"' said the old Miller, feebly, "I
have gone far enough already!"

"Neighbour," said old Baker Witte, who had followed them and had heard
what the Miller said, "don't let that worry you too much, things may
get better. And now come home with me; your Fieka is there."

"My Fieka!----"

But the Baker would not let him say anything more, and the old Miller
followed him into his house like a helpless child. Poverty not shame
pressed him down.

My uncle Herse did not go in with them. He walked up and down before
the door and all sorts of thoughts came into his head. My uncle had
always plenty of ideas and generally they trotted about in his brain
like pretty little blue-eyed children, and though they would often run
about and tumble over each other in play at blind-man's-buff, and do
all sorts of perverse things, yet they were always dressed in their
Sunday best, and nice and neat for him to look at; but the thoughts
which came to him at Witte's door were a parcel of ragged beggar
children who would not be driven away, but stretched out their hands as
it were, and cried with one voice: "Herr Rathsherr, Herr Rathsherr
Herse, help the Miller. You brought him into this scrape--now get him
out of it again."--"Leave me, leave me, for God's sake, leave me,"
cried my uncle. "I will help him, I will mortgage my house; but who
will take it! Where is the money to come from?" And the little beggar
children drove him so hard into a corner, that he was obliged to take
refuge inside Witte's stable to get out of their way.

Heinrich was standing there, saddling and bridling his two horses,
which were not yet sold, and, just as my uncle had found out who it was
in the red jacket and with "_war_" on his upper lip, Friedrich came in
and threw the valise into the crib so that it rang again.

"Heinrich," cried he, "the first step is always the hardest, as the
Devil said when he began to carry millstones, but----" here he became
aware of the presence of the Rathsherr and broke off--"Good morning,
Herr Rathsherr; excuse my asking you, but you could do me a great
favour. You see, the Miller hired me till Midsummer, and, by rights, I
ought to stay; but I terribly want to go; so will you tell him that if
he'll let me go, I'll lend him the Frenchman's money till I come back.
For they gave it me to-day up at the Schloss, and it's lying here in
the crib."

Away were all the little beggar boys, and back came the nicely arrayed
little children into my uncle Herse's brain-box, and jumped about and
threw somersets, and he himself nearly threw a somerset over a halter
as he sprang towards Friedrich: "Friedrich, you are a--a--you are an
angel."

"Yes, a fine old angel," said Friedrich.

"We'll put it on paper at once, Friedrich" cried my uncle

"No, Herr Rathsherr," said he, "we will not do that, there might be
another slip of the pen, and then there would be fresh misery; what is
spoken from mouth to mouth--that counts. Heinrich," he went on, turning
to the latter, "have you settled your affairs, and everything with
Fieka?"

Heinrich was standing behind one of the horses, looking over it, with
both his arms across the saddle; he nodded his head, for he could not
speak.

"Well, then, let us be off," cried Friedrich, and he took hold of the
bridle of the lame horse.

Heinrich snatched it from him, sprang into the saddle, and threw him
the bridle of the beautiful brown gelding: "The best one is not good
enough for you, comrade," he said.

"But the Miller and Fieka," cried my uncle "won't you say good-bye then
and----"

"It's all right," cried Friedrich. "Good-bye, Herr Rathsherr." And off
they rode out at the Brandenburg Gate.

We children stood at the gate and watched them. "Those are no
Frenchmen," said Hans Bank.

"They are our people," said Fritz Risch, and it seemed as if a pride in
ourselves had suddenly sprung up.

"God grant they may come back again!" said old Father Richart.

                               *   *   *

They did come back again. In a year and a day, and again a year and a
day, a spring had burst forth for Germany. Battles had been fought,
blood had flowed on hill and dale; but the rain had washed it away, and
the sun had dried it up and the earth had let grass grow over it, and
the wounds of the human heart were bound up by Hope with a balm called
"Freedom." Many of the wounds broke open afterwards. It was perhaps not
the real Heaven-sent balm. But, in this beautiful springtime, nobody
was thinking of that future, and in my little native-town the gardens
and fields were green and blooming, and men's anxious hearts heaved
with the breath of relief, for over the world lay peace.

My uncle Herse's corps of sharp shooters had laid their twenty-one
fowling pieces on the shelf, and he had turned them into a corps of
musicians, and his having taught them in time of war all to fire off at
once, came to be of great use now, for they struck up with their
fiddles and flutes, and clarionettes exactly together quite naturally.
In the evenings, they used to serenade us, and I can hum the tune to
this day, for they always played the same piece, and my uncle told me
afterwards that it was variations upon the beautiful air: "Cousin
Michael was here last night."

When the battle of Leipzig was won, bonfires were lighted on the Owl
Hill and the Windmill Hill, and the town was lighted up. There was no
firing, it is true; for we had no cannon, but we had as much noise as
if we had had a whole battery, for the Rathsherr Herse's adjutant,
Hanning Heinz, and old Metz hit upon a splendid idea; they laid some
hundred-weights of stone on a cart, and shot them with all their might
against gouty old Kasper's gateway, so that they got a thunder as of
real cannon, and the gateway lay in pieces.

And what joy and delight it was, when one mother could tell another:
"Neighbour, my Joe was there too, and he's written that he got off
safe."

Heinrich had written, and Friedrich had sent greetings to everyone, and
when this was known in Stemhagen, it passed from mouth to mouth: "Ay,
our old Friedrich! Just think of it! He's a brave fellow." Everybody
talked about Friedrich, and so it happened that the story gradually got
about in Stemhagen that the corporal, Friedrich Schult, had really won
the battle of Leipzig: he had told his Colonel, Warburg, how the thing
ought to be done, and the Colonel had told it to old Blücher's
Adjutant, and old Blücher's Adjutant had told it to old Blücher, and
old Blücher had said "Friedrich Schult is right."

But this time, full of jubilee, full of doubt, full of fear, and full
of hope, had passed away, and the beautiful spring which I have before
mentioned had come, when, one day, a handsome coach drove up to the
Schloss. People said there were grand doings there, and one day Fritz
Sahlmann came down, and told us that it would soon be all over with
Mamsell Westphalen, for, if things went on at the present rate for a
week longer, she would be nothing but skin and bone; and the guests, he
said, were going to stop another week. The next day he came down again,
and told us that the Herr Amtshauptmann had got up as the clock struck
nine, and had opened his window, and had sung--had sung with his own,
natural voice!--and the Frau Amtshauptmann had stood behind him, and
had clapped her hands over her head, and he, Fritz Sahlmann, was to
present their compliments to my father and my mother, and would they
come, if possible, to dinner. The third day, I was nicely dressed and
sent up to the Schloss; my father's and mother's compliments to the
Herr Amtshauptmann and to the Frau Amtshauptmann and the strange lady
and gentlemen, and would they come to tea and supper, and Mamsell
Westphalen too; and my mother duly impressed upon me that I was always
to say to the lady--"Your Ladyship."

When I got there and delivered my message, the Herr Amtshauptmann was
sitting on the sofa, and, by him, an old gentleman who looked very
grave; and the Amtshauptmann said to him: "This, my friend, is my
little godson, the Burmeister's Fritz. What say you, eh?"

The strange gentleman looked more friendly, and I had to "shake hands
with him," and then he asked me about this and that. And while I was
still standing talking to him, the door opened and in came--the Herr
Colonel Von Toll, and on his arm a beautiful young lady--that was her
Ladyship.

I looked at the Colonel, and it seemed to me that I had seen him
before. Now, people, when in doubt do not make the most sensible faces
in the world, and it is probable that mine looked rather puzzled, for
they both laughed, and when I had stammered out my message from my
father and mother, they said they would come, and the strange lady
patted me on the head, and said I had stubborn hair, I must have a
stubborn character, and the Herr Amtshauptmann said: "You are right
there, my friend; he has; and what his hard head is guilty of, his back
has to suffer for."

That evening was a merry one at the Rathhaus, though not so merry as
the one when my uncle Herse was Julius Cæsar; there was no punch this
time, but Marie Wienken had to bring out the Langkork, which was then
considered the best wine; for, in those days no one had heard of
Château Margaux and Champagne. The men talked about the late war, and
the women about the wedding which was to take place the next day at the
Gielow Mill; and when the guests were going away, the Colonel turned to
my father and said: "But, Herr Burmeister, everybody must be at the
wedding who took part in the 'conspiracy.'"

My father promised. The next day the wheels of the Amtshauptmann's
scythe-chariot were greased, and he and his old friend, Renatus Von
Toll, set off in it, and went out at the Malchin Gate.--"There they
both sat in the chaise, Frau Meister, looking as good and innocent as a
pair of new-born twins," said Mamsell Westphalen, afterwards: "And in
the foreign glass-coach her ladyship Von Toll, and the Frau
Amtshauptmann, and the Frau Burmeister, and I, had the honour to ride,
and the Frau Burmeister had taken her boy, Fritz, with her, and the
young rascal sat on my knee the whole time, and gave me pins and
needles in my feet, and if it had not been for the corporal of Hussars,
Friedrich Schult, I should have fallen off the step in getting out.
That comes from having children, and I say it."

And baker Witte and Strüwingken, and Luth, and Hanchen, and Fritz
Sahlmann, and Droz went to the wedding in a large hay-cart, and at the
back lay a heap of arms and legs that, on inspection, proved to be Herr
Droi's little French children. My Father and the Colonel rode on
horseback.

"But where's the Rathsherr?" asked the Colonel.

"He's coming," said my father, "but how and when Heaven only knows,
for, when he promised me he would come, he winked and put on a look of
his I well know, and that I call his 'secret' look."

When the Herr Amtshauptmann arrived, the Miller stood at the door with
a black velvet cap on his head, and his wife stood by his side in a new
black dress, and he bowed and she curtsied, and the Herr Amtshauptmann
said: "Well, Miller Voss, how are you to-day?"

"Quite well, thank you, Herr," said the Miller, letting the step down.

The old Herr leant over to his friend and said: "The Miller is all
right again; he has grown wiser, and has resigned the management of his
affairs, and given it into Fieka's hands."

Now came the coach. The ladies got out, and Friedrich carried my mother
into the room: he had often to carry her afterwards.

The hay-cart pulled up. Everybody jumped down and entered, I amongst
them; but the little Droi's ran into the garden first, and fell at once
upon the unripe gooseberries.

The minister was in the room waiting to perform the marriage ceremony,
and close to him stood Heinrich and Fieka. How pretty Fieka was! How
pretty a bride looks! The minister read the service, and his best
address; he knew three, each one better than the other, and the price
was arranged accordingly. The "Crown" address was the finest and the
dearest, it cost one thaler sixteen groschen; then came the "Ivy
Wreath," it cost one thaler; and lastly the "Periwinkle Wreath," which
was for the poor, and cost only eight groschen. To-day he read the
"Crown" address, for the Miller would have it so. "My Fieka," he had
said, "wishes to have a quiet wedding and she shall have her way; but
we must have everything of the best that is proper for a wedding." And
so it was. And when the address was over, the beautiful lady went up to
Fieka, and gave her a kiss, and threw a gold chain round her neck with
a locket hanging from it, and on the locket was engraved the day when
Fieka had begged the Colonel to set her father free.

The Colonel had gone up to Heinrich, and when he pressed the
bridegroom's hand, his father's eyes rested upon him so affectionately
that the Herr Amtshauptmann took his old friend's hand and said: "Eh,
my friend, what say you?" He probably knew more of what had happened
than we did.

The feast now began. Strüwingken helped the soup, and Luth the roasts;
Hanchen and the Miller's two maid-servants waited. Scarcely had the
Miller swallowed his first plate of chicken broth, when he got up, and
made an impressive speech to the company, but looking all the time only
at the Herr Amtshauptmann. "He had, he said, asked the company in a
homely way to a wedding without music; his Fieka had wished it so, and
he hoped the ladies and gentlemen would not take it amiss, but although
they had not got any music----"

Here his speech was suddenly brought to an end for all at once there
burst forth outside "Cousin Michael was here last night, was here last
night, was here last night"--and when the door was opened, there stood
uncle Herse with his band; he had got the Miller's walking stick, and
was beating time with it on a sack of flour, so that they all looked
like a band of angels fiddling and piping and trumpeting behind a
beautiful white summer cloud.

The Colonel jumped up and greeted my uncle, and made him sit by his
side, and the Herr Amtshauptmann whispered in his friend Renatus's ear,
loud enough for the whole table to hear: "That's the Rathsherr, of whom
I told you that story about the lease this morning; he's otherwise a
good pleasant fellow."

The Miller brought the whole band into the room, and St. Cecilia was
put in the corner, and was relieved by chicken broth; and then Cousin
Michael came again, and was relieved by roast meat, and so it went on
alternately. And, when evening came, my uncle Herse had got another
secret. He and his Adjutant, Hanning Heinz, worked and busied
themselves in the garden in the dark, and at last we were all told
to come out--a firework was going off. It might have been very
beautiful--but alas! alas!--Something was too weak, they must blow at
it; that was too strong; it flew into the air, and it was a mercy
Friedrich happened to be in the barnyard, when it began to burn, or it
might have been serious.

But my uncle Herse was bent on carrying the plan through, and he had
got a fresh firework nearly ready, when the Amtshauptmann went up to
him, and said there had been enough now, and it had been very fine, and
he thanked him very much for it. The next day however the old Herr sent
a sheriff's officer through the whole district of Stemhagen to say that
whoever ventured to let off fireworks there would be punished.

                               *   *   *

Thus ended the day, and thus, too, ends my story. The day was merry,
and everyone was pleased. May my story be equally fortunate.

                               *   *   *



                               EPILOGUE.


But where are they all now, all the merry simple-hearted people who
have played in this story? They are all dead! All dead! They have all
said Farewell; they sleep the long sleep. Baker Witte was the first,
and Luth was the last.--And who have remained? Well, we two boys, Fritz
Sahlmann and I, and Hanchen Besserdich. Hanchen married Freier's
flaxen-headed boy, and is now well off. She lives at Gülzow, in the
first house on your left hand. Fritz Sahlmann has grown a fine fellow,
and we have always been very good friends, and, should he take it ill
that I have told all these tales about him, I will hold out my hand to
him and say: "My friend, what is written is written. It cannot be
undone now. But you won't be angry with me for it? What say you, eh?"



                               FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: The Burmeister is the chief magistrate or mayor of a town,
while the Amtshauptmann is the chief magistrate of a bailiwick or whole
district.]

[Footnote 2: The Schult (Bailiff) is in a village what the Burmeister,
or Mayor, is in a town.]

[Footnote 3: Levy en masse.]

[Footnote 4: In Mecklenburg there are no bakers in the villages; but
each village has one or two ovens where the whole community can do
their baking. These ovens stand by themselves out in the open fields,
and look at a little distance like small hillocks. They are covered
with grass, and are lined inside with large stones. They are so large
that a man can get in at the mouth with ease, and lie there in hiding.
As there is no chimney, the heat naturally remains in them a long
while.--_Translator_.]

[Footnote 5: Been under fire.--_Transl_.]



                                 FINIS.



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                   GERMAN AUTHORS TAUCHNITZ EDITION.


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