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Title: Seed-time and Harvest - A Novel
Author: Reuter, Fritz, 1810-1874
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Seed-time and Harvest - A Novel" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES:

   1. Page scan source:
      http://www.archive.org/details/seedtimeandharv00reutgoog

   2. Compare the "Authorized Edition" issued in Leipzig (1878) under
      the title "An Old Story of My Farming Days (_Ut Mine Stromtid_)".

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



                         SEED-TIME AND HARVEST



                               _A NOVEL_.



               TRANSLATED FROM THE "UT MINE STROMTID" OF


                             FRITZ REUTER.



                             PHILADELPHIA:

                         J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.

                                 1878.



                           *   *   *   *   *

       Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by

                             LITTELL & GAY,

        In the Office of the Library of Congress at Washington.

                           *   *   *   *   *



       *   *   *

  Lippincott's Press.
    _Philadelphia_.

       *   *   *



                         Seed-Time and Harvest;


                      "DURING MY APPRENTICESHIP."



                               CHAPTER I.


In the year 1829, on St. John's day, a man sat in the deepest
melancholy, under an ash-tree arbor, in a neglected garden. The estate,
to which the garden belonged, was a lease-hold estate, and lay on the
river Peene, between Anclam and Demmin, and the man, who sat in the
cool shade of the arbor, was the lease-holder,--that is to say, he had
been until now; for now he was ejected, and there was an auction to-day
in his homestead, and all his goods and possessions were going to the
four winds.

He was a large, broad-shouldered; light-haired man, of four and forty
years; and nowhere could you find a better specimen of what labor could
make of a man than she had carved from this block. "Labor," said his
honest face,--"Labor," said his firm hands which lay quiet in his lap,
folded one upon another as if for praying.

Yes, for praying! And in the whole broad country of Pomerania, there
might well have been no one with greater need and reason to speak with
his Lord God, than this man. 'Tis a hard thing for any one to see his
household goods, which he has gathered with labor and pains, piece by
piece, go wandering out into the world. 'Tis a hard thing for a farmer
to leave the cattle, which he has fed and cared for, through want and
trouble, to other hands that know nothing of the difficulties which
have oppressed him all his life. But it was not this which lay so heavy
on his heart; it was a still deeper grief which caused the weary hands
to lie folded together, and the weary eyes to droop so heavily.

Since yesterday he was a widower, his wife lay upon her last couch. His
wife! Ten years had he striven for her, ten years had he worked and
toiled, and done what human strength could do that they might come
together, that he might make room for the deep, powerful love which
sung through his whole being, like Pentecost bells over green fields
and blossoming fruit-trees.

Four years ago he had made it possible: he had scraped together
everything that he had; an acquaintance who had inherited from his
parents two estates had leased one of them to him,--at a high rent,
very high--no one knew that better than himself,--but love gives
courage, cheerful courage, to sustain one through everything. Oh, it
would have gone well, quite well, if misfortunes had not come upon
them, if his dear little wife had not risen before the daylight and ere
the dew was risen, and got such feverish red spots on her cheeks. Oh,
all would have gone well, quite well, if his landlord had been not
merely an acquaintance but a friend--he was not the latter; to-day he
allowed his agent to hold the auction.

Friends? Such a man as the one who sat under the ashen arbor, has he no
friends? Ah, he had friends, and their friendship was true; but they
could not help him, they had nothing either to give or to lend.
Wherever he looked, there seemed a gloomy wall before his eyes, which
narrowed around him, and pressed him in, until he must needs call upon
the Lord to deliver him out of his distresses. And over him in the
ashen twigs sang the finches, and their gay plumage glittered in the
sun, and the flowers in the neglected garden gave out their fragrance,
all in vain,--and the fairest bridal pair in the world might have sat
there, and never have forgotten either the place or the day.

And had he not often sat under these shade trees with a soft hand in
his hard one? Had not the birds sung, had not the flowers been
fragrant? Had he not under the ash-trees dreamed of their cool shade
for his old age? And who was it that had brought to him here a
refreshing drink after a hot day's labor? Who was it that had shared in
and consoled all his cares and sorrows?

It was gone--all gone!--Here was care and trouble about the auction,
and the soft, warm hand was cold and stiff. And so it is much the same
to a man as if the birds sang no longer, and the flowers had lost their
fragrance, and the blessed sun shone for him no more; and if the poor
heart keeps on beating it reaches out, beyond birds and flowers and
beyond the golden sun, higher up after a Comforter, in whose presence
these earthly joys shall fade and fall, but before whom the human soul
shall stand forever.

So sat Habermann before his God, and his hands were folded, and his
honest blue eyes bent to the ground, and yet there shone in them a
clear light, as from God's sun. Then came a little maiden running to
him, and laid a marigold blossom on his lap, and the two hands unfolded
themselves and clasped the child,--it was his child,--and he rose up
from the bench, and took her on his arm, and from his eyes fell tear
after tear, and he kept the marigold flower in his hand, and went with
the child along the path through the garden.

He came to a young tree which he had planted himself; the straw-rope
with which it was bound to its prop had loosened, and the tree was
sagging downwards. He reached up and bound it fast, without thinking
what he was doing, for his thoughts were far away, but care and helping
were part of his nature.

But when a man's thoughts are in the clouds, were it even in the blue
heavens, if his daily duties come before his eyes,--the old accustomed
handiwork,--and he does them, he helps himself in so doing, for they
call him back from the distance and show him what is near by, and what
is in need of help. And it is one of our Lord's mercies that this is
so.

He walked up and down the garden, and his eyes saw what was around him,
and his thoughts came back to earth; and though the black, gloomy
clouds still overspread the heaven of his future, they could not
conceal one little patch of blue sky,--that, was the little girl whom
he bore on his arm, and whose baby hand played with his hair. He had
thought over his situation, steadily and earnestly he had looked the
black clouds in the face; he must take care that he and his little one
were not overpowered by the storm.

He went from the garden toward the house. Good Heavens, how his courage
sank! Indifferent to him, and absorbed in their petty affairs, a crowd
of men pressed around the table where the actuary was holding the
auction. Piece by piece the furniture acquired by his years of industry
was knocked down to the highest bidder; piece by piece his household
gear had come into the house, with trouble and anxiety; piece by piece
it went out to the world, amid jokes and laughter. This sideboard had
been his old mother's, this chest of drawers his wife had brought with
her, that little work-table he had given her while she was yet a bride.
Near by stood his cattle, tied to a rack, and lowing after their
pasture; the brown yearling which his poor wife herself had brought up,
her special pet, stood among them; he went round to her, and stroked
her with his hand.

"Herr," said the bailiff Niemann, "'tis a sad pity"

"Yes, Niemann, 'tis a pity; but there's no help for it," said he, and
turned away, and went toward the men who were crowding around the
auctioneer's table.

As the people noticed him, they made room for him in a courteous and
friendly manner, and he turned to the auctioneer as if he would speak a
few words to him.

"Directly, Herr Habermann," said the man, "in a moment. I am just
through with the house-inventory, then-- A chest of drawers! Two
thalers, four shillings! Six shillings! Two thalers eight shillings!
Once! Twice! Two thalers twelve shillings! No more? Once! Twice!
and--thrice! Who has it?"

"Brandt, the tailor," was the answer.

Just at this moment, a company of country people came riding up the
yard, who apparently wished to look at the cattle, which came next in
order in the sale. Foremost rode a stout, red-faced man, upon whose
broad features arrogance had plenty of room to display itself. This
quality was very strongly marked; but an unusual accompaniment was
indicated by the little, crafty eyes, which peered out over the coarse
cheeks, as if to say, "You are pretty well off, but we have something
to do to look after your interests." The owner of these eyes was the
owner also of the estate of which Habermann had held the lease; he rode
close up to the cluster of men, and, as he saw his unhappy tenant
standing among them, the possibility occurred to him that he might fail
of receiving his full rent, and the crafty eyes, which understood so
well how to look after their own interests, said to the arrogance which
sat upon mouth and mien, "Brother, now is a good time to spread
yourself; it will cost you nothing;" and pressing his horse nearer to
Habermann he called, so that all the people must hear, "Yes, here is
your prudent Mecklenburger, who will teach us how to manage a farm!
What has he taught us? To drink wine and shuffle cards he might teach
us, but farming--_Bankruptcy_, he can teach us!"

All were silent at these hard words, and looked first at him who had
uttered them, and then at him against whom they were directed.
Habermann was at first struck, by voice and words together, as if a
knife had been plunged into his heart; now he stood still and looked
silently before him, letting all go over his head; but among the people
broke out a murmuring--"Fie! Fie! For shame! The man is no drinker nor
card-player. He has worked his farm like a good fellow!"

"What great donkey is this, who can talk like that?" asked old Farmer
Drenkhahn, from Liepen, and pressed nearer with his buckthorn staff.

"That's the fellow, father," called out Stolper the smith, "who lets
his people go begging about, for miles around."

"They haven't a coat to their backs," said tailor Brandt, of Jarmen,
"and by all their labour they can only earn victuals."

"Yes," laughed the smith, "that's the fellow who is so kind to his
people that they all have nice dress-coats to work in, while he does
not keep enough to buy himself a smock-frock."

The auctioneer had sprung up and ran towards the landlord, who had
heard these remarks with unabashed thick-headedness. "In God's name,
Herr Pomuchelskopp, how can you talk so?"

"Yes," said one of his own company, who rode up with him, "these folks
are right. You should be ashamed of yourself! The poor man has given up
everything that he had a right to keep, and goes out into the world
to-morrow, empty-handed, and you go on abusing him."

"Ah, indeed," said the auctioneer, "if that were all! But his wife died
only yesterday, and lies on her last couch, and there he is with his
poor little child, and what prospect has the poor man for the future?"

The murmur went round among the people of the landlord's company, and
it was not long before he had the place to himself; those who came with
him had ridden aside. "Did I know that?" said he peevishly, and rode
out of the yard; and the little, crafty eyes said to the broad
arrogance, "Brother, this time we went rather too far."

The auctioneer turned to Habermann. "Herr Habermann, you had something
to say to me?"

"Yes--yes--" replied the farmer, like a man who has been under torture,
coming again to his senses. "Yes, I was going to ask you to put up to
auction the few things I have a right to keep back,--the bed and the
other things."

"Willingly; but the household furniture has sold badly, the people have
no money, and if you wish to dispose of anything you would do better at
private sale."

"I have not time for that, and I need the money."

"Then if you wish it, I will offer the goods at auction," and the man
went back to his business.

"Habermann," said Farmer Grot, who came with the company on horseback,
"you are so lonely here, in your misfortunes; come home with me, you
and your little girl, and stay awhile with us, my wife will be right
glad----"

"I thank you much for the good will; but I cannot go, I have still
something to do here."

"Habermann," said farmer Hartmann, "you mean the funeral of your good
wife. When do you bury her? We will all come together, to do her this
last honor."

"For that I thank you too; but I cannot receive you as would be proper,
and by this time I have learned that one must cut his coat according to
his cloth."

"Old friend, my dear old neighbor and countryman," said Inspector
Wienk, and clapped him on the shoulder, "do not yield to
discouragement! things will go better with you yet."

"Discouragement, Wienk?" said Habermann, earnestly, pressing his child
closer to himself, and looking steadily at the inspector, with his
honest blue eyes. "Is that discouragement, to look one's future
steadily in the face, and do one's utmost to avert misfortune? But I
cannot stay here; a man avoids the place where he has once made
shipwreck. I must go to some house at a distance, and begin again at
the beginning. I must work for my bread again, and stretch my feet
under a stranger's table. And now good-bye to you all! You have always
been good neighbors and friends to me. Adieu! Adieu! Give me your hand.
Wienk,--Adieu! and greet them all kindly at your house; my wife----' He
had still something to say, but he seemed to be overcome, and turned
almost quickly and went his way.

"Niemann," said he to his bailiff, as he came to the other end of the
farm-yard, "Tell the other people, to-morrow morning early, at four
o'clock, I will bury my wife." With that, he went into the house, into
his sleeping-room. It was all cleaned out, his bed and all the
furniture which had been left to him; nothing remained but four bare
walls. Only in a dark corner stood an old chest, and on it sat a young
woman, the wife of a day-laborer, her eyes red with weeping; and in the
middle of the room stood a black coffin in which lay a white, still,
solemn face, and the woman had a green branch in her hand, and brushed
the flies from the still face.

"Stina," said Habermann, "go home now; I will stay here."

"Oh, Herr, let me stay!"

"No, Stina, I shall stay here all night."

"Shall I not take the little one with me?"

"No, leave her, she will sleep well."

The young woman went out: the auctioneer came and handed him the money
which he had received for his goods, the people went away from the
court-yard; it became as quiet out of doors as in. He put the child
down, and reckoned the money on the window-seat. "That pays the
cabinet-maker for the coffin; that for the cross at the grave; that for
the funeral. Stina shall have this, and with the rest I can go to my
sister." The evening came, the young wife of the laborer brought in a
lighted candle, and set it on the coffin, and gazed long at the white
face, then dried her eyes and said "Goodnight," and Habermann was,
again alone with his child.

He raised the window, and looked out into the night. It was dark for
that time of year, no stars shone in the sky, all was obscured with
black clouds, and a warm, damp air breathed on his face, and sighed in
the distance. From over the fields came the note of the quail, and the
land-rail uttered its rain-call, and softly fell the first drops on the
dusty ground, and his heart rose in thanks for the gift of sweetest
savor known to the husbandman, the earth-vapor in which hover all
blessings for his cares and labor. How often had it refreshed his soul,
chased away his anxieties, and renewed his hope of a good year! Now he
was set loose from care, but also from joy; a great joy had gone from
him, and had taken with it all lesser ones.

He closed the window, and, as he turned round, there stood his little
daughter by the coffin, reaching vainly toward the still face, as if
she would stroke it. He raised the child higher so that she could
reach, and the little girl stroked and kissed the cold, dead cheek of
her silent mother, and looked then at her father with her great eyes,
as if she would ask something unspeakable, and said "Mother! Oh!"

"Yes," said Habermann, "mother is cold," and the tears started in his
eyes, and he sat down on the chest, took his daughter on his lap, and
wept bitterly. The little one began to weep also, and cried herself
quietly to sleep. He laid her softly against his breast, and wrapped
his coat warmly about her, and so sat he the night through, and held
true lyke-wake over his wife and his happiness.

Next morning, punctually, at four o'clock, came the bailiff with the
other laborers. The coffin was screwed up; the procession moved slowly
toward the church-yard; the only mourners himself and his little girl.
The coffin was lowered into the grave. A silent Pater Noster,--a
handful of earth,--and the image of her who had for years refreshed and
comforted him, rejoiced and enlivened, was concealed from his eyes, and
if he would see it again he must turn over his heart like a book, leaf
by leaf, until he comes to the closing page, and then,--yes, there will
the dear image stand, fair and lovely before his eyes once more.

He went among his people, shook hands with every one, and thanked them
for this last service which they had rendered him, and then said
"Good-bye" to them, gave to the bailiff the money for the coffin, cross
and funeral, and then, absorbed in thought, started on his lonely way
out into the gloomy future.

As he came to the last house in the little hamlet, the young laborer's
wife stood with a child on her arm before the door. He stepped up to
her.

"Stina, you took faithful care of my poor wife in her last
sickness,--here, Stina," and would press a couple of dollars into her
hand.

"Herr, Herr," cried the young wife, "don't do me that injury! What have
you not done for us in good days? Why should we not in hard times make
some little return? Ah, Herr, I have one favor to ask; leave the child
here with me! I will cherish it as if it were my own. And is it not
like my own? I have nursed it at my breast, when your poor wife was so
weak. Leave me the child!"

Habermann stood in deep thought. "Herr," said the woman, "you will have
to separate from the poor little thing, sooner or later. See, here
comes Jochen, he will speak for himself."

The laborer came up, and, as he heard of what they were speaking, said,
"Yes, Herr, she shall be cared for like a princess, and we are healthy,
and well to do, and what you have done for us, we will richly repay to
her."

"No," said Habermann, lifting himself from his thoughts, "that won't
go, I can't do it. I may be wrong to take the child with me upon an
uncertainty; but I have left so much here, this last thing I cannot
give up. No, no! I can't do it," cried he hastily and turned himself to
go, "my child must be where I am. Adieu, Stina! Adieu, Rassow!"

"If you will not leave us the child, Herr," said the laborer, "let me
at least go with you a little way, and carry her for you."

"No, No!" said Habermann, "she is no burden for me;" but he could not
hinder the young woman from stroking and kissing his little daughter,
and ever again kissing her, nor that both these honest souls, as he
went on his way, should stand long looking after him. She, with tears
in her eyes, thought more of the child, he, in serious reflection, more
of the man.

"Stina," said he, "we shall never again have such a master."

"The Lord knows that," said she, and both went sadly back to their
daily labor.



                              CHAPTER II.


About eight miles from the place where Habermann had left his wife in
her quiet grave, lay in Mecklenburg a farm of less than medium size,
which was tenanted by his brother-in-law, Jochen Nüssler. The
farm-buildings had never been very substantial, and were now much in
need of repair, and moreover things were very disorderly; here a little
refuse heap, and there another, and the wagon and farm implements stood
here and there, and mingled together, like the people at a fair, and
the cart said to the wagon, "Brother, how came you here?" and the rake
laid hold of the harrow and said, "Come, dear, we will have a dance."
But the music was lacking, for it was all still in the farm-yard, quite
still. This lovely weather, all were in the meadow, haying, and even
from the little open windows of the long, low, straw-roofed farm-house
came no sound, for it was afternoon; the cook had finished her baking,
and the housemaid her cleaning, and both had gone together to the
meadow; and even the farmer's wife, who usually had something to say
for herself, was nowhere visible, for she also had gone from the
farm-yard with a rake in her hand; the hay must all be gathered into
great stacks before night-fall.

But there was yet life in the house, though of a little, quiet kind. In
the room at the right of the porch, in the living-room, where the
blue-painted corner-cupboard stood,--the _schenk_, they called it, and
the sofa covered with black glazed linen, which was freshly polished up
with boot-blacking every Saturday and the oaken chest of drawers with
gilt ornaments, sat two little maidens of three years, with round
flaxen heads, and round rosy cheeks, playing in a heap of sand, making
cheeses with mother's thimble, and filling the damp sand into two
little shilling pots, which they turned upside down, laughing and
rejoicing if the lump stood firm.

These were Lining and Mining Nüssler, and they looked, for all the
world, like a pair of little twin apples, growing on one stem; and they
were so indeed, for they were twins, and one who did not know that
Lining was not Mining, and Mining was not Lining, would be puzzled from
morning to night, for their names were not written in their faces, and
if their mother had not marked them with a colored band on the arm,
there would have been grave doubts in the matter, and their father,
Jochen Nüssler, was even yet in some uncertainty; Lining was properly
Mining, and Mining Lining, they had been as it were shaken up together
at the outset of their little lives. At present, there was no occasion
for such perplexity, for the mother had tied a blue ribbon in Lining's
little flaxen curls, and a red one in Mining's; and if one kept that in
mind, and observed them carefully, one would see plainly that Jochen
Nüssler was wrong, for Lining was half an hour older than Mining, and,
slight as the difference was, the seniority made itself quite evident,
for Lining took the lead in everything; but she comforted her little
sister also, when she was in trouble.

Besides this little, unmistakable pair of twins, there was yet another
pair of twins in the room; but an old, experienced, circumspect couple,
who looked down from the chest of drawers on the children, and shook
their heads hither and thither, in the light breeze which came in at
the open window; these were grandfather's peruke, and grandmother's
state-cap, which were paraded on a pair of cap-stocks, and which
to-morrow,--Sunday,--would play their part.

"Look, Lining," said Mining, "there is grandfather's puk." She could
not get the "r" quite right yet.

"You always say 'puk;' you must say 'p-u-k,'" said Lining, for she also
was not quite up to the "r;" but being the eldest she must needs direct
her little sister in the right way.

With that the little pair of twins got up and stood before the chest of
drawers, and looked at the old pair of twins on the cap-stocks, and
Mining, who was still very thoughtless, reached after the peruke stock,
and took down grandfather's peruke, turned it over on her head as
seemed well to her, and, placing herself before the glass, performed
just as grandfather did on Sundays. Now was the time for Lining to
exercise her authority, but Lining began to laugh, and catching the
joke took down grandmother's cap from the other stock, and imitated
grandmother's Sunday performances, and then Mining laughed, and then
both laughed, and then took hold of hands and danced "Kringelkranz,
Rosendanz," and let go, and laughed again and joined hands again and
danced.

But Mining was quite too thoughtless, she had the little pot still in
her hand, and as they were in the midst of their fun--crash! she let it
fall on the floor, and there was an end of the pot, and an end of the
sport also. Now began Mining to cry and lament over her pot, and Lining
cried with her, like a little echo; but when that had lasted a while,
Lining began to console:--

"See here, Mining, the wheelwright can mend it."

"Yes," said Mining, crying more quietly, "the wheelwright can mend it;"
and upon that the two little mourners started out of the door, quite
forgetting that they had grandfather's and grandmother's sacred Sunday
gear upon their heads.

One may wonder that Lining should go to the wheelwright with such an
affair, but anybody who has known a regular wheelwright in that region,
will understand that such a man can do everything. If a sheep is sick,
they say, "Call the wheelwright!" If a window-pane is broken, the
wheelwright must nail on a board to keep out wind and weather; has an
old chair dislocated its leg, he is the doctor; if one wishes a plaster
spread for a sick cow, he is the apothecary; in short, he can mend
everything, and so Lining showed herself a little maiden of good sense
in going with her pot to the wheelwright.

As the little girls went through the yard, in at the gate came a little
man, with a red face and a right stately red nose, which he carried in
the air; on his head he had a three-cornered cap, with a tassel in
front of no particular color; he wore a grey linen coat with long
skirts, and his short legs, which turned outward as if they had been
screwed into his long body the wrong way, were stuck into short
blue-striped trowsers, and long boots with yellow tops. He was not
exactly stout, but certainly not lean, and one might see that he was
beginning to grow a little pot-bellied.

The little girls must meet him on their way, and as they came near
enough for the Herr Inspector--for the man with the little legs held
such a post--to perceive their approach, he stood still, and raised his
yellow bushy eyebrows so high that they went quite up under the visor
of his cap, as if these eyebrows, being the finest of his features,
must first of all, under such dangerous circumstances, be placed in
security. "God bless us!" cried he, "Where are you going? What sort of
doings are these? What! you have the entire Sunday finery of the two
old people upon your heads!" The two little girls quite patiently
allowed themselves to be despoiled of their finery, and showed the
broken pieces of the pot, saying that the wheelwright would mend it.
"What!" said the Herr Inspector Bräsig, for that was his name, "Who in
the world would have believed in such stupidity? Lining, you are the
oldest, I thought you had more sense; and Mining, don't cry any more,
you are my little god-child, I will give you a new pot at the next
fair. But now, along with you! into the house!"

As he entered the living-room, and found no one there, he said to
himself, "To be sure! All are gone after the hay. Yes, I ought to be
looking after my hay; but the little madcaps have left these things in
such a state, that they would be in sad disgrace if the two old
grannies should see them as they are now; I must try to repair damages
a little." With that he drew out a little pocket-comb,--which he kept
by him because he was growing bald, and must needs comb forward his
back hair,--and began to labour at the peruke. That did very well; but
now came the cap. "How the mischief, Lining, have you contrived to do
it? To make it look decently again is not a possible thing! No, I must
try to recollect how the old lady looks of a Sunday afternoon. In front
she has a comely bunch of silken curls, and the front part of the old
toggery hangs over about three inches, so the thing must be set forward
more. On top she has nothing in particular, her bald head always shines
through; but behind she always has a puff, which she staffs out with a
bunch of tow; that the little girl has quite disarranged; that must be
pulled out better;" and with that he stuck his fist in the cap, and
widened out the puff.

But in the back part of the puff there was a drawing-string, and as he
was doing his work thoroughly the cord broke, and the whole puff flew
out. "Now there, stupid!" cried he, and his eyebrows went up again.
"How? This isn't fastened worth a snap! With yarn! And one can't tie
knots in it. God bless my soul! What do I know about millinery? But
hold on! We will fix you yet." And with that he pulled from his pocket
a handful of strings--every good inspector must have such on hand--and
began to disentangle them. "Pack thread is too coarse; but this here,
this will do well enough." and he began to put a nice stiff cord
through the hem. But the job was a slow one, and before he was half
through, somebody knocked at the door. He threw his handiwork down on
the nearest chair, as if ashamed of it, and cried, "Come in!"

The door opened, and Habermann, with his little daughter on his arm,
stepped in. Inspector Bräsig started up. "May you--keep the nose on
your face," he was going to say, but when anything serious happened to
him he had an unfortunate habit of falling into Platt-Deutsch,--"Karl
Habermann, where do you come from?"

"Good day, Bräsig," said Habermann, and put the child down.

"Karl Habermann," cried Bräsig again, "where do you come from?"

"From a place, Bräsig, where I have now nothing more to look for," said
his friend. "Is my sister not at home?"

"They are all in the hay; but how shall I understand you?"

"That it is all over with me; day before yesterday all my goods were
sold at auction; and yesterday morning"--here he turned to the
window--"yesterday morning I buried my wife."

"What? what? Oh, dear Lord!" cried the kind-hearted inspector.
"Your wife? your dear, good wife?"--and the tears ran over his red
face--"Friend, old friend, say, how did that happen?"

"Yes, how did it happen?" said Habermann, and seated himself, and
related his misfortunes in few words.

Meanwhile, Lining and Mining went slowly and shyly toward the strange
child, saying nothing, but ever drawing a little nearer, till Lining
mustered courage, and took hold of the sleeve of her dress, and Mining
showed the fragments of her pot: "Look my pot is broken." The little
new-comer however looked around shyly with her large eyes, and fixed
them at last closely upon her father.

"Yes," Habermann closed his short story, "it has gone hard with me,
Bräsig, and you still hold my note for two hundred thalers; but don't
press me, if God spares my life, you shall be honourably paid."
"Karl Habermann,--Karl Habermann," said Bräsig, and wiped his eyes, and
blew his stately nose, "You are--you are a sheep's-head! Yes," said he,
and stuffed his handkerchief fiercely into his pocket, and elevated his
nose again, "You are just the sheep's-head you always were!" And as if
it occurred to him that his old friend should be diverted to other
thoughts, he picked up Lining and Mining like a couple of dolls, and
set them on Habermann's knee,--"There, you little rogues, that is your
uncle!"--exactly as if Lining and Mining were playthings, and Habermann
a little child, who might be comforted by them in his trouble; and he
himself took Habermann's little Louise on his arm, and danced with her
about the room, and all this time the tears were running down his
cheeks, and for a happy ending he put the child down in a chair,
and, as it happened, exactly the chair on which he had deposited his
half-finished millinery.

By this time the house-people were coming back from the hay-field, and
a loud, clear, female voice was heard without, urging the maids to
hasten. "Hurry, hurry, come out with your milk-pails, the sun is going
down, and this year the pasture is so far off; we shall have to milk to
night in the twilight. Girl, where are your trenchers? Quick, run in
and fetch them. Go right along; I must look after my little ones
first." And into the room came a tall young woman, of seven and twenty
years, full of life and energy in face and figure, her cheeks red with
health and labor and the heat of the summer day, hair and eyes light,
and forehead white as snow, so far as the chip hat had sheltered it
from the sun. At the first glance one saw the likeness between her and
Habermann, but his features and demeanor seemed reserved, and hers
quite fresh and open; her whole appearance showed that she was as
active a worker from temperament as he was from honor and duty.

To see her brother, and to fly toward him was all one. "Karl, my
brother Karl, my other father!" cried she, and hung about his neck;
but, as she looked more closely into his eyes, she held him back from
herself: "Tell me what has happened, tell me what dreadful thing has
happened! what is it?"

Before he could answer, her husband entered the door, and going up to
Habermann gave him his hand, and said slowly, as if with an effort;
"Good day, brother-in-law; take a seat."

"Let him tell what has happened to him," cried his wife, impatiently.

"Yes," said Jochen, "sit down, and then tell. Good day to you also,
Bräsig; sit down too, Bräsig," and with that Jochen Nüssler, or as he
was generally called young Jochen, sat down himself in a corner by the
stove, which piece of furniture he had bought with his own separate
money. He was a long lean man, who carried himself with stooping
shoulders, and it seemed as if all his limbs had particular objections
to being put to the ordinary use. He was well on toward forty, his face
was pale, and as dull as his speech, and his soft sandy hair hung in
front and behind of equal length, over his forehead and the collar of
his coat, and never had known any fashions of parting or curling; his
mother had from his childhood up combed the hair over his face, and so
it had stayed, and when it looked rather tangled his mother would say:
"Never mind, Joching, the rough foal makes the smartest horse." Whether
it was because his eyes must always peer through this long hair, or
from his nature, his glance had something shy, as if he could not see
things clearly or make up his mind positively, and though he was
right-handed, his mouth was askew. This came from tobacco-smoking, for
that was the one business which he followed with perseverance, and as
he kept the pipe hanging in the left corner of his mouth, it had drawn
it down in that direction, and, while looking at him from the right it
seemed as if he could not say "zipp," from the left he appeared like an
ogre who would devour children.

Now he sat there in his own especial chimney-corner, and smoked out of
his peculiar mouth-corner, and while his impulsive wife for sorrow and
compassion lamented over Habermann's story as if it had all happened to
herself that very day, and now it was her brother, and now his little
daughter that she kissed and comforted, he sat and looked over at the
chief actors, from the side next Bräsig, and with the tobacco smoke
came now and then a couple of broken words from the left side of his
mouth: "Yes, it is all so, as you say. It is all as true as leather.
What shall we do about it?"

The Herr Inspector Bräsig was the exact opposite of young Jochen; now
he ran about the room, now he sat down on a chair, and now on a
table, and worked his little legs with jumping up and down, like a
linen-weaver, and when Frau Nüssler kissed and stroked her brother, he
kissed and stroked him also, and when Frau Nüssler took the little
child in her arms and patted her, then he took her up afterward, and
carried her about the room, and sat her down again in a chair, but
always on grandmother's cap.

"God bless me!" cried the house wife suddenly, "have I clean forgotten
everything? Bräsig, you should have thought of it. All this time you
have had nothing to eat and drink!" and with that she ran to the
cup-board, and brought fair, white, country bread, and fresh butter,
and went out and brought in sausages and ham and cheese, and a couple
of bottles of the strong beer brewed especially for grandfather, and a
pitcher of milk for the little ones; and when all was neatly arranged
on the white table-cloth, she drew her brother to the table, and taking
up the little girl, chair and all, sat her down to the table also, and
cut bread, and served them, and all so nimble with hand and foot, and
as nimble with mouth and speech. And so bright were knife and fork, and
as bright mien and eye; and so pure and white apron and table-cloth,
and as pure and white her good heart!

"You shall have something next," said she to her little twin-apples,
and stroked the little flaxen heads. "Little cousin comes first.
Bräsig, sit up to the table. Jochen, you come too."

"Yes, I may as well," said Jochen, took a long, last pull at his
pipe, and brought his chair and himself to the table.

"Karl," said Bräsig, "I can recommend these sausages, your sister has
an uncommon knack at them, and I have many a time told my housekeeper
she should get the recipe, for the old woman messes all sorts of
unnatural things together, which don't harmonize at all; in short there
is no suitability or connection, although the ingredients are as good
as a swine fed exclusively on peas can furnish."

"Mother, help Bräsig," said Jochen.

"Thank you, Frau Nüssler; but with your leave I will take my drop of
Kümmel. Karl, since the time when you and I and that rascal
Pomuchelskopp were serving our apprenticeship under old Knirkstädt, I
have accustomed myself to take a little Kümmel with my breakfast, or
with my bit of supper, and it suits me well, thank God! But, Karl, how
came you to get in with that rascal Pomuchelskopp? I told you long ago
the beggar was not to be trusted; he is such an old snake, he is a
crafty hound, in short, he is a Jesuit."

"Ah, Bräsig," said Habermann, "we won't talk about it. It is true he
might have treated me differently, but still I was to blame; why did I
fall in with his proposal? Something else is in my head now. If I could
only have a place again!"

"Of course, you must have a place again. My gracious Herr Count is
looking out for a competent inspector for his principal estate; but,
Karl, don't take it ill of me, that wouldn't suit you. Do you see,
you must be rigged every morning with freshly blacked boots and a
tight-fitting coat, and you must talk High-German to him, for he
regards Platt-Deutsch as uncultivated, and then you have all the women
about your neck, for they rule everything there. And if you could get
along with the boots and the dress-coat, and the High-German,--for you
used to know it well enough, though you may be a little out of practice
now,--yet the women would be too much for you. The gracious Countess
looks after you in the cow-stable and in the pig-pen. In short it is a
service like--what shall I say? like Sodom and Gomorrah!"

"Look here!" cried the mistress of the house, "it just occurs to me
that the Pumpelhagen inspector is going to leave on St. John's day;
that will be the place for you, Karl."

"Frau Nüssler is always right," said Bräsig. "What the Herr
Kammer_rath_ von Pumpelhagen is,"--for he laid the emphasis in the man's
title always upon _rath_, so that it seemed as if he and the Kammerrath
had served in the army together, or at least had eaten out of the same
spoon and platter,--"what the Herr Kammerrath von Pumpelhagen is,
nobody knows better than I. A man who thinks much of his people, and
gives a good salary, and is quite a gentleman of the old school. He
knew you too, in old times, Karl. That is the right place for you, and
to-morrow I will go over there with you. What do yow say to it, young
Jochen?"

"Yes," said Herr Nüssler, "it is all as true as leather."

"Bless me!" cried the young wife, and an anxious look overspread her
handsome face, "how I forget everything to-day! If grandfather and
grandmother knew that we were sitting down to supper with company, and
they not called, they would never forgive me. Sit a little closer
together, children. Jochen, you might have thought of it."

"Yes, what shall I do about it now?" said Jochen, as she was already
out of the room.

It was not long before the two old people came back with her, shuffling
in with their leathern slippers. Upon both their faces lay that lurking
expectation and that vague curiosity which comes from very dull
hearing, and which quite too easily passes into an expression of
obstinacy and distrust. It has justly been said that married people,
who have lived long together, and have thought and cared and worked for
the same objects, come at last to look like each other; and even if
that is not true of the cut of the features, it holds good for the
expression. Both looked like people who never had allowed themselves
any pleasure or satisfaction which would be in the least expensive;
both looked shabby and dingy in their clothing, as if they must still
be sparing and tug at the wheel, and as if even water cost money. No
look of comfort in their old age, no pleasure sparkled in their eyes,
for they had had but one pleasure in their whole lives,--that was their
Jochen and his good success; now they were laid aside and heaviness lay
on their natures, and on their only joy, for Jochen was quite too
heavy; but for his success they still cared and toiled,--it was the
last goal of their lives.

The old man was almost imbecile, but the old woman still kept her
faculties, and her eyes glanced furtively into all the corners, like a
pair of sharpers watching their opportunity.

Habermann rose and gave his hand to the two old people, and his sister
stood by, looking anxiously in their faces to see what they thought of
the visit. She had already told them the occasion of her brother's
coming, and that might have been the reason why their faces looked
sourer than usual; or it might have been on account of the luxurious
supper with which the table was spread.

The old folks sat down to the table. The old woman looked sharply at
Habermann's little girl. "Is that his?" she asked.

The young woman nodded.

"Going to stay here?" she asked further.

The young woman nodded again.

"So!" said the old woman, and prolonged the word, as if to indicate all
the damage which she expected her Jochen to suffer on that account.
"Yes, times are hard," she began, as if she must have a fling at the
times, "and one has enough to do to carry oneself through the world."

The old man all the time was looking at the beer bottles and Bräsig's
glass. "Is that my beer?" asked he.

"Yes," shouted Bräsig into his ear, "and it is fine beer, which Frau
Nüssler has brewed, a good cordial for a thin, weak person."

"Too extravagant! Too extravagant!" muttered the old man to himself.
The old woman ate, but kept looking away, over the table, toward the
chest of drawers.

The young wife, who must have studied attentively the old woman's
behavior, looked in the same direction, and perceived with horror that
the cap was missing from the stand. "Good heavens! what had become of
the cap?" She had herself that very morning plaited it and hung it up
on the stand.

"Where is my cap for to-morrow?" asked the old woman, at last.

"Never mind now, mother," said the young woman, bending toward her, "I
will get it for you by and by."

"Is it all plaited?"

The young woman nodded, and thought surely now grandmother would be
satisfied; but the old woman glanced her eyes sideways about the room,
as, fifty years ago, she had been used to look at young men. The Herr
Inspector Bräsig called his sins to mind, as they began to talk about
the cap, and tried, in a couple of hasty glances, to ascertain what had
become of the affair; but he had not much time, for there shot over the
old woman's face such a bitter-sweet, venomous grin, that she reminded
one of the dry bread steeped in poisonous syrup with which one catches
flies.

"Are you sure you plaited it?" said she, and pointed to Habermann's
little Louise.

"Good heavens, what is that!" cried the young woman, and sprang up and
perceived an end of the cap-string hanging out under the child's little
dress. She lifted the child, and would have taken the head-gear, but
the old woman was quicker. Hastily she seized her disordered finery,
and, as she perceived the burst-out puff and Bräsig's half-inserted
drawing-string, the venom broke out, and, holding up the cap,
"Mischievous child!" cried she, and made a motion as if she would box
the child's ears with it.

But Bräsig caught her arm, and cried, "The child knows nothing about
it;" and to himself he muttered, "The old dragon!" And behind
grandmother's chair began a great crying, and Mining sobbed, "Won't do
it again! Won't do it again!" and Lining sobbed also, "Won't do it
again! Won't do it again!"

"Bless my soul!" cried the young woman, "our own children have done the
mischief. Mother, it was our own children!" But the old woman had all
her life understood too well what was for her own advantage, not to
know in her old age how to profit by her grievances; what she would not
hear, she did not hear, and she would not hear this. She called and
beckoned to the old man: "Come!"

"Mother, mother," begged the young woman, "give me the cap, I will make
it all right again."

"Who is up in the pasture?" asked the old woman, and went with old
Jochen out of the door.

Young Jochen lighted his pipe. "God bless me!" said the young woman,
"she is right, I must go to the pasture. Grandmother will not think
well of me for the next four weeks."

"Gruff was an old dog," said Bräsig, "but Gruff had to give in at
last."

"Don't cry any longer, you poor little things," said the mother, drying
her children's tears. "You didn't mean any harm, but you are too
heedless. And now behave well, and play with little cousin. I must go.
Jochen, look after the children a little," and with that she put on her
chip hat and went to the pasture.

"Mothers-in-law are the devil's claw!" said Bräsig. "But you, young
Jochen," turning to the man, who sat there as if his mother and his
wife were no concern of his, "you should be ashamed of yourself to let
your wife be so abused by the old woman."

"Yes? what shall I do about it, being her son?" said young Jochen.

"You cannot beat her, to be sure, since they are unfortunately your
parents; but you might give a filial admonition, now and then, like a
dutiful son, that the devil in her must be cast out, if she will not
keep peace in the family. And you, Karl Habermann, don't take this
little quarrel too much to heart; for your dear sister has a good
temper and a joyous heart. She soon gets over it, and the old termagant
must give in at last, for they can do nothing without her. The young
woman is the mainspring of the house. But"--here he drew out from his
pocket an immense double-cased watch, such a thing as one calls a
warming-pan--"really, it is close upon seven! I must hurry, for my
people need looking after."

"Hold on," said Habermann, "I will go part way with you. Good-bye for
so long, Jochen."

"Good-bye, also, brother-in-law," said Jochen, and remained sitting in
his corner.

As they came out of doors, Habermann said, "But, Bräsig, how can you
speak so of the old people, in their son's presence?"

"He is used to it, Karl. No devil could endure those two old
dogs-in-the-manger. They have embroiled themselves with the whole
neighborhood, and as for the servants, they run miles to get out of
their way."

"Good heavens," said Habermann, "my poor sister! She was such a joyous
child, and now in such a house, and with such a lout of a man!"

"There you are right, Karl, he is an old lout (Nüss), and Nüssler is
his name; but he does not treat your sister badly, and, although he is
an old blockhead and has no sort of smartness about him, he is not yet
so dull that he cannot see how your sister manages the whole concern."

"The poor girl! On my account, that she might not be a burden on me, as
she said, and that our old mother might see one of her children settled
before her death, she took the man.

"I know all about it, Karl, I know it from my own experience. Don't you
remember? It was in rye-harvest, and you said to me, 'Zachary,' said
you, 'your activity is a disadvantage to you, you are carrying in your
rye still damp.' And I said, 'How so?' For on Sunday we had already had
Streichelbier, and your sister was there also, and with such weather
why shouldn't I get in my rye? And then I told you, unless I am
mistaken, that of my three partners I would marry no other than your
sister. Then you laughed again, so mischievously, and said, she was
still too young. 'What has her youth to do with it?' said I. Then you
said again my other two partners had the first chance, and laughed, not
believing I was in earnest; and so the matter dawdled along for awhile,
for my gracious Herr Count would not give his consent, and allowed no
married inspectors. And next thing it was too late, for young Jochen
had spoken for her, and your mother was on his side. No, it was not to
be," said the honest old fellow, looking pensively along his nose, "but
when I see her little rogues of twins, and think to myself that they
ought rightly to be mine, listen to me, Karl, then I feel as if I could
trample the old woman and old Jochen and young Jochen into the ground
together. But it is a real blessing to the old Jesuits that your sister
has came into the house, with her kind heart and cheerful disposition;
for if they had had a daughter-in-law of a different sort, they would
long since have been dead and buried."

With these words, they had come out of the hamlet, and as they turned
by the farm-garden Habermann exclaimed, "Good heavens, can it be that
the two old people are standing on that hill?"

"Yes," said Bräsig, with a scornful laugh, "there is the old pack of
Jesuits again at their place of retirement."

"Retirement!" exclaimed Habermann. "On a hill-top!"

"It is even so, Karl. The old reptile trusts nobody, not her own
children, and if she has something to say which her ordinary gestures
and pantomime will not suffice for, then they always come here to this
steep hill, where they can see all around if any one is within hearing,
and then they shout their secrets in each other's ears. Yes, now they
are in full conclave, the old woman has laid a dragon's egg, and they
are setting on it together."

"She is so hasty and passionate," said Habermann. "Just see how the old
woman gesticulates! What would she have?"

"I know right well what they are deliberating and ruminating upon. I
can understand a hundred paces off, for I know her of old. And Karl,"
he added, after a little thought, raising his eyebrows, "it is best you
should know all, that you may hold yourself ready; they are talking of
you and your little one."

"Of me, and my little girl?" asked Habermann, in astonishment.

"Yes, Karl. You see if you had come with a great bag of money, they
would have welcomed you with open arms, for money is the one thing
which they hold in respect; but in your temporary embarrassment they
look upon you and your little girl as nothing better than a couple of
intruders, who will take the bread from their mouths, and from their
old blockhead of a Jochen."

"God bless me!" cried Habermann, "why didn't I leave the child with the
Rassows? What shall I do with the poor little thing? Do you know any
expedient? I cannot leave her here, not even with my own sister can I
leave her here."

"But naturally, you wish to have her near you. Now I will tell you,
Karl, tonight you must stay with the Nüssler's; tomorrow we will go to
the Herr Kammerrath at Pumpelhagen. If that goes well, then we can find
a place for the child here in the neighbourhood; if not, we will ride
to the city, and there we must find some opening,--if not otherwise,
with the merchant Kurz. And now good-bye, Karl! Don't take the matter
too much to heart,--things will improve, Karl!" whereupon he departed.

"Yes, if all were like you," said Habermann, as he went back to his
sister's house, "then I should get over the steep mountain; but get
over it I must, and will," and the cheerful courage, which had been
nurtured by labor and his feeling of duty, broke through the gloom,
like the sun through a mist. "My sister shall suffer no inconvenience
on my account, and I will take care of my child myself."

In the evening, when the milk had been cared for, Habermann walked with
his sister along the garden-path, and she spoke of his, and he of her,
troubles.

"Eh, Karl," said she, "don't fret about me! I am used to it all now.
Yes, it is true, the old folks are very selfish and irritable; but if
they sulk at me for a week, I forget it all the next hour, and as for
Jochen, I must own that he lays nothing in my way, and has never given
me a hard word. If he were only a little more active and ready,--but
that is not to be looked for in him. I have enough to do in my
house-keeping, but I have to concern myself with the out-of-door work,
too, which is not a woman's business, and there Bräsig is a real
comfort to me, for he has an eye to the fields and the farm-yard, and
starts Jochen up a little."

"Does the farming go well on the whole, and do you come out right at
the year's end?" asked the brother.

"It does not go as well as it ought. We are too sparing for that, and
the old folks will not allow us to make any changes or improvements. We
come out right, and the rent is always paid promptly, but there are
Jochen's two old brothers-in-law, the merchant Kurz, and the Rector
Baldrian--they made quite a stir about it, and set the old people and
us by the ears because they wanted their share of the property. The
Rector doesn't really need it, but he is such an old miser; but Kurz
could use his money, for he is a merchant, and will yet have a large
business. But the two old people wish to give almost everything to
Jochen, and with that which they have kept back for themselves they
cannot part, and the old woman has an old rhyme, which she always
quotes, if one touches on the subject:--


           'Who to his children gives his bread,
            Himself shall suffer need instead,
            And with a club be stricken dead.'


But it is wrong, all wrong, and no blessing can come of it, for one
child is as good as another, and at first I said that right out to the
old people. Oh, what an uproar there was! They had earned it, and what
had I brought into the family? Upon my knees I ought to thank God and
them, that they would make a man of Jochen. But I have persuaded
Jochen, so that to Kurz at least he has from time to time given upwards
of fifteen hundred thalers. The old woman has noticed it, to be sure,
and has reckoned it all up, but she does not know yet the truth of the
matter; because, since Jochen is rather slow, and is not used to
reckoning, I keep the purse myself, and there I positively will not
allow grandmother to interfere. No, grandmother, I am not so stupid as
that! If I have a house of my own, I will have my own purse. And that
is their great grievance, that they can no longer play the guardian
over Jochen; but Jochen is almost forty, and if he will not rule
himself, then I will rule him, for I am his wife, and the nearest to
him, as our Frau Pastorin says. Now, tell me, Karl, am I right or am I
wrong?"

"You are right, Dürten," said Habermann.

With that they said good-night, and went to bed.



                              CHAPTER III.


The next morning came Bräsig in good season, to go with Habermann to
Pumpelhagen. The young wife sat in the living-room, and was paying off
the work-people; Jochen sat close by her, and smoked tobacco,--he
attended to that business. The old people were not yet visible, for
grandmother had said to her daughter-in-law, she at least could not go
out to-day, since she had nothing to put on her head; and grandfather
had said that merry-making would go on better without him.

"It is really considerate of the old people," said Bräsig, "not to
spoil our dinner; for, Madam Nüssler, I am going to stay here to dinner
to-day, with Karl. But, Karl, we must go. Good-bye, little rogues!"

As they went through the farm-yard, Bräsig all of a sudden stood still.
"Just see, Karl, doesn't it look like the desert of Sahara? Here a
dung-heap and there a dung-heap! And yet, see, old Jochen has had these
ditches opened, so that all the dirty water can run off, in a body, to
the village pond. And then the roofs!" said he, walking on. "They have
straw enough for new roofs,--it is merely that the old folks grudge
the expense of repairing them. I come here properly only from two
motives,--one relates to my health, the other to my heart; for I find
that it agrees with me, when I have eaten too hearty a dinner, to get
comfortably angry, and, on account of my heart, I go for the sake of
your sister and the little rogues, since I can be of some assistance to
her. For young Jochen behaves usually quite too much like a wheel on a
baggage-wagon, in the winter, between here and Rostock. If I could but
once have him before a cart, with three or four on top of the load, and
then lay on the whip!"

"See," said Habermann, as they went through a field, "they have some
fine-looking wheat there."

"Oh, yes, it has a good color; but what do you think they sow here?
Rye! And why so? Because old Jochen, for twenty-five years, has always
had rye in the winter field."

"Does this field extend over the hill yonder?"

"No, Karl, the old lynx is not so fat as that; fry lard in butter, and
eat it with a spoon! No, Karl, that field over the hill happens to be
mine."

"Eh, how one can forget, in a couple of years! So your land comes thus
far?"

"Yes, Karl, for Warnitz stretches out finely in length; on this side it
comes to this point, and on the other it turns round toward Haunerwiem.
But see here, from this rising-ground I can show you the whole region.
Where we stand belongs to your brother-in-law, and his land goes on the
right up to my wheat, and on the left to that little clump of firs, for
Rexow is quite small. He has also a small field on the other side of
the hamlet. The land to the right, behind my wheat field, also belongs
to Warnitz, and before us, where the ploughed ground begins, lies
Pumpelhagen; and here on the left, behind the fir-trees, is Gurlitz."

"Warnitz is then the largest?"

"No, Karl, not so either. Pumpelhagen has eight lasts more, and is a
first-class estate also in value,--two-and-forty lasts natural wheat
land. Yes, if the rest were all of a piece! No, the Kammerrath is a
good man, and a good countryman; but you see, there he sits in
Schwerin, and cannot trouble himself about Pumpelhagen, where he has
often had _such_ inspectors! And he bought the property in dear times,
and a crowd of leeches stand ready to drain the last drop from his
veins; and then his lady, the Kammerräthin, rides grandly in her
carriage visiting and entertaining. But he is the right sort of man,
and is good to his people, and although the von Rambows are of old
descent,--for my gracious Herr Count often invites him to dinner, and
he thinks a great deal of ancestry,--yet he carries himself quite
pleasantly and without any formality."

Habermann had listened attentively to this information, for these
things might by a fortunate chance have some connection with his
future; but, interested as he was, his thoughts still recurred to his
present difficulty. "Bräsig," said he, "have you any idea in your head
about my little girl?"

"What wouldn't I do for her, Karl! But--the devil knows! I believe we
must after all go to the city to Kurz, the merchant. She, Frau Kurz, is
a good sort of woman, and he--well, he is in the vocative, like all
shop-keepers. Just think, last summer the rascal sold me a piece of
stuff for breeches, for Sunday wear; it was a kind of chocolate-colour.
And, think, when I went one morning in the dew, through my clover, they
turned up to the knee, like a mess of crabs, pure scarlet! And he sent
me some Kümmel, the Prussian kind, the old sweet-meats, tinkered up
with all sorts of drops. But I sent it back to him again, with a good
scolding; the breeches, however, he would not take back, and sent me
word he didn't wear breeches. No, did the rascal think I was going to
wear red ones! And Karl, see, here at the left is Gurlitz.

"Is that the Gurlitz church-tower?" asked Habermann.

"Yes, Karl,"--and Bräsig stood still, turned up his nose, sent
his eyebrows up under his cocked hat,--for he wore a hat on
Sundays,--opened his mouth wide, and stared at Habermann with a pair of
eyes which seemed to look him through and through, and then lose
themselves in the distance.

"Karl!" he cried finally, "since you speak of the church-tower,--God
bless you! the Gurlitz pastor must take your little girl."

"Pastor Behrens?" asked Habermann.

"Yes, Pastor Behrens, who was our private instructor at old
Knirkstädt's."

"Ah, Bräsig, I will confess I have thought of it almost the whole
night, whether that would be possible, if I should remain in the
neighbourhood."

"Possible? He must! He would like nothing better than to have a little
child growing up near him, since he himself has no children; and he has
rented his farm, and now has nothing to do but to read and study his
books, which it would make another man turn green and yellow merely to
look at from a distance. That is what he enjoys! And she, the Frau
Pastorin, is so fond of children, that all the girls in the village tag
after her; and she is an excellent, kind-hearted woman, and always
cheerful, and the best of friends with your sister."

"Ah, if that might be!" exclaimed Habermann. "You and I owe everything
to that man, Zachary! Do you remember, when he was still a candidate,
at old Knirkstädt's, how he gave us private lessons in the winter
evenings, and taught us writing and arithmetic, and what a friend he
was to us two stupid youngsters?"

"Yes, Karl, and how Zamel Pomuchelskopp used to lie and snore of an
evening, till the beams shook, while we were in the pursuit of
learning. Do you remember, in the arithmetic, when we came to the Rule
of Three,--you seek the fourth unknown quantity, and first get the
ratio, and then it goes! In quickness I was your superior, but you were
mine in accuracy, and also in orthography. But in letter-writing and in
High-German, then I was better again; and these last I have ever since
studied diligently, for every man has his favorite pursuit. And when I
go to see the Pastor, I always thank him for his assistance in my
education; and then he laughs, and says he is more indebted to me,
because I have rented his farm for him, and he is now sure of a good
contract. He thinks something of me, and if you stay here, we will go
over to him, and you shall see he will do it."

By this time they had arrived at Pumpelhagen, and Bräsig quite
impressed Habermann by his distinguished manners, as he sailed up to
the old servant, and inquired if the Herr Kammerrath was at home, and
could be spoken with.

He would announce the gentlemen the man said; wasn't it the Herr
Inspector, Bräsig?

"Yes," said Bräsig. "Do you see, Karl he knows me, and the Herr
Kammerrath knows me too. And, did you notice? regularly announcing us!
The nobility don't do things meanly. My gracious Herr Count always has
people announced to him by three servants; that is, one announces to
the other, until the valet finally announces to him, and by this custom
we sometimes have amusing occurrences,--as, the other day, with the
kammerjäger. The first announced to the second, instead of kammerjäger,
oberjäger, and the second added a meister, and the third announced to
the Herr Count an oberjägermeister; and, as my gracious Herr Count
prepared to receive the strange gentleman with proper ceremony, it was
the old rat-catcher Tibaul."

The servant came back, and led them into a spacious room, which was
very comfortably but not splendidly furnished. In the centre stood a
large, plain table, covered with papers and accounts. Behind the table
stood, as they entered, a rather tall, thin man, who had on his face a
thoughtful expression, and in his whole appearance an air of quiet
reflection; and in his dress, although it was quite suited to his
circumstances, there was the same simplicity as in the furnishing of
the room. He might have been about fifty, and his sandy hair was
thickly sprinkled with gray; also he was evidently quite shortsighted,
for, as he came around the table to receive the two guests, he reached
after an eye-glass, which, however, he did not use, but went up close
to his visitors. "Ah, Herr Inspector Bräsig," said he quietly. "What
can I do for you?"

Uncle Bräsig was so put out in his elaborate address, that he could not
collect himself of a sudden; not to hurry him, the Herr Kammerrath
looked quite closely at Habermann. "You want---- But," he interrupted
himself, "I ought to know you. Wait a moment,--were you not for ten or
twelve years in service with my brother?"

"Yes, Herr Kammerrath, and my name is Habermann."

"Right, right! And to what do I owe the pleasure of seeing you here?"

"I have understood that the Herr Kammerrath was looking for an
inspector; and as I am in search of such a place----"

"But you have a farm in Pomerania, as I think I have heard,"
interrupted the proprietor.

But now it was high time for Bräsig, if he had anything of importance
to say, to charge into the midst. "That he had, Herr Kammerrath von
Rambow, he _had_ it, but the Jews will give nothing for it now. He,
like many another farmer, got into difficulties, and the pitiful
meanness and baseness of his landlord have ruined him. What do you say
to that, Herr Kammerrath?"

Behind the old fellow's back at these words sounded a hearty laugh, and
as he looked around he saw the bright face of a ten or twelve years'
old boy, which seemed to say, "Wait a bit, there is more coming." The
Kammerrath also turned his face away to laugh a little; but happily for
uncle Bräsig, it never occurred to him that the laughing was from any
other cause than natural pleasure at his well-chosen language. He
concluded therefore, quite seriously. "And so he has gone head over
heels."

"I am heartily sorry," said the Kammerrath; "Yes," he added with a
sigh, "these are hard times for the countrymen; but we must hope that
they will improve. As regards your wish,--Axel, go out and see if
breakfast is ready,--your supposition is correct. I have just dismissed
my late inspector,--I will tell you, because of carelessness in his
accounts,--and I am looking for a suitable man to fill his place. But,"
said he, as his son appeared at the door, and announced that breakfast
was ready, "if you have not yet breakfasted, we can arrange the matter
best at the breakfast-table."

With that, he went to the door, but stood there, and made a motion with
his hand for them to pass out first. "Karl," whispered Bräsig, "didn't
I tell you? Just like one of us!" But as Habermann quietly passed on,
accepting the invitation, he threw up his eyebrows, and stretched out
his hand as if he would draw his friend back by the coat-tails, then
stood with his little twisted legs turned out, and bowed like a
clasp-knife.

"Eh, how could I! I beseech you! Herr Kammerrath should always have
precedence!" And his waiting was not of a bad order, for he had a long
body and short legs, and they belong properly to waiters.

The Herr Kammerrath had to take himself out of the way of his
compliments, that the old fellow might not dislocate his spine. At the
breakfast-table the business was discussed and decided; Habermann was
engaged on a good, sufficient salary, which was to be increased every
five years; and the only condition which the Kammerrath insisted upon
was that he should occupy the place at once.

The new inspector agreed to this, and the day was set for his entering
on his duties, so that the Kammerrath before his departure could go
with him about the place and tell him what he wanted done; and Bräsig
having concluded a brief sketch of the troubled life-career of the
fifteen years' old full-blooded Wallach, which he had cared for in his
business at the farm,--how he had "had the honor to know the old
carrion ever since it was born;" how the creature in its younger
years had been "such a colt as you read of in books," but afterward
"with shying and spavin and all manner of devilish tricks had so
disgraced himself that he was now punished by being harnessed to the
dung-cart,"--the two inspectors took their leave.

"Bräsig," said Habermann, when they were outside, "a stone, has been
taken from my heart. Thank God, I shall be employed again! And that
brings me to other thoughts. Now for Gurlitz! Ah, if we may only be as
fortunate there!"

"Yes, Karl, you may well say fortunate; for--don't take it ill of
me--you don't understand the way of life and the fine etiquette of
noble society. How could you do such a thing! How could you go through
the door before the Herr Kammerrath?"

"Bräsig, when he invited me I was his guest, and he was not yet my
master; now, I should not do it, and, rely upon it, he would not do it
either."

"No, Karl, so I think; but at the Pastor's leave the business to me;
there some finesse will be needed."

"Yes, Zachary, gladly. Were, it not for my poor little girl, I should
not have the courage to ask so great a favor of any man. If you will
undertake it for me, I shall consider it a real piece of friendship."

As they came toward the Gurlitz church, they knew by the singing that
the service was not yet over; and, as they went into the Pastor's
house, and into the living-room, they were met by a little, quick,
round woman, upwards of forty years of age. Everything about her was
round,--arms and hands and fingers, head and cheeks and lips; and the
eyes looked so round and bright out of her soft round face, as if the
eyelids had never been pressed down with trouble and sorrow, and such a
cheery life over flowed from her mien and motions, that one believed he
could almost see how the fresh, red blood throbbed through the warm
heart.

"Good-day, Herr Bräsig, sit down! Sit down, also! Yes, that is right,
my Pastor is still in church; he would scold well if you had gone away.
Pray sit down, Herr--what shall I call you? Yes, I would gladly have
gone to church to-day, but just think, last Sunday the Pastor's pew was
broken in halves. Bless me, how every body crowded around, and we
couldn't say 'No.' And our old cabinetmaker Prüsshawer was going to
mend it, and he is sick with a fever."

The round little mouth rolled out the words as if they were round,
smooth, white billiard balls, which a playful child shoots here and
there over the green cloth.

Bräsig now introduced Habermann as the brother of Frau Nüssler.

"You are her brother? Her brother Karl? Now sit down, sit down! How
glad my Pastor will be! When Frau Nüssler is here, we always talk about
you; something good you may be sure,--the Herr Inspector knows. Bless
you, Bräsig, what are you doing with my hymn-book? Let me put the book
away! you don't want to read it, you are an old heathen. Those are
funeral-hymns, and what have you to do with funeral-hymns? You will
live forever! You are no better than the Wandering Jew! But, dear
heart! one must think sometimes about dying, and so, since our
church-pew is broken, and the old cabinet-maker has a fever, I have
been reading a couple of hymns 'On preparation for death.'" And with
that she flew round like quicksilver, and laid the books on one side,
and whisked off a little dust here and there, where none was visible,
and rubbed and polished about in the room, which was as neat as a
dressing-box. All at once she stood still, listened toward the kitchen
and cried, "Just so, I must go and look after the soup!" and was gone.

"Didn't I tell you, Karl?" said Bräsig. "There's a temperament for you!
And what splendid health! Now leave me alone; I will manage it all,"
and he went out after the Frau Pastorin.

Habermann looked around him in the room. How neat and comfortable every
thing was, so homelike and so full of peace. There hung, above the
sofa, a beautiful head of Christ, and around and beneath it were the
portraits of the parents of the Herr Pastor and the Frau Pastorin, and
their relations, some in colors, some in crayon, some large, others
small; and the Lord Jesus had his hands raised in blessing, and the
Frau Pastorin had arranged under their shadow all her relations,
putting them the nearest, that they might have the best of the
blessing.

Her own picture, painted in early years, and that of her Pastor, she
had in humility hung by the window, a little further off; but the sun,
which looked in through the snow-white curtains, and gilded the
other portraits, touched these two pictures first. There was a small
book-case full of religious and secular books, a little mixed together,
but still making a fine appearance, for they were arranged more with
reference to their bindings than their contents. And if any one
supposed, because she talked Platt-Deutsch, that she had no
appreciation or enjoyment of High-German literature, he needed merely
to open a book, where a mark lay, and he would find that the marked
places had been read with heart and feeling,--that is to say, if he had
as much heart and feeling as the Frau Pastorin; and, had he opened the
cookbook, he would have seen that the Frau Pastorin was as good a
student as the Herr Pastor, for she had just like him her notes written
on the margin, and where nothing was written one might understand that
those were the Herr Pastor's favorite recipes,--"And by those," said
she, "I don't need to make any marks, for I know them by heart."

And here in this peaceful abode, in this pretty, comfortable nest,
shall Habermann, if God in mercy grant it, leave his child to pass her
early years. These hands of the Saviour shall be stretched out in
blessing over her, this blessed sun shall shine upon her, and the noble
thoughts, which great and good men have written in books for the world,
shall awaken her young soul out of childhood's dreams, and give it life
and joy.

He was getting very soft-hearted. But, as he still sat between hope and
fear, the Frau Pastorin came in at the door, her eyes red with weeping.
"Don't say a word, Herr Habermann, don't say a word! Bräsig has told me
everything, and Bräsig is an old heathen, but he is a good man, and a
true friend of yours,--and my Pastor thinks just as I do, that I know,
for we are always one,--and that dear little thing! God bless you, yes!
The old Nüsslers are a hard-hearted set," and she tapped the floor
briskly with her foot.

"The old woman," said Bräsig, who was by this time close beside them,
"the old woman is a real horse-leech."

"Right, Bräsig, she is that, but my Pastor shall talk the old people
into reason; not on account of the little girl, she shall come here, or
I don't know my old Pastor!"

While Habermann was expressing his heart-felt thanks, her Pastor came
in,--she always called him "her" Pastor, because he was truly hers,
body and soul, and her "Pastor," on account of his own dignity, and
because the title belonged to him from his office. He came bare-headed
across the church-yard and parsonage-yard, for these high soft-hats,
which make our good Protestant ministers look like Russian priests,
were not then in fashion, at least not in the country; and, instead of
the great ruff, as broad as the white china platter on Which the
daughter of Herodias presents the head of John-Baptist to her
step-father, he had a pair of little innocent bands, which his dear
wife Regina had, with all Christian reverence, stitched, stiffened,
pressed and tied around his neck with her own hands. She held correctly
that these little simple things were the distinctive ministerial
uniform, and not the little four-cornered cape which was worn over the
coat-collar. "For," said she, "my dear Frau Nüssler, our sexton wears
just such a little cape, but he dare not wear bands; and when I see my
Pastor, with the ornaments of his office, standing in the chancel, I
don't know, they seem to me, the two little things, as they rise
and fall with his words, now one, now the other, like a pair of
angel-wings, on which one might rise directly to Heaven,--only my
Pastor has his wings in front, and the angels have theirs behind."

No, he wasn't an angel, this good Pastor of hers, and he was the last
person to set himself up for one. But with all the sincerity that shone
from his face, and seemed to know no dissimulation, there was such a
friendly forbearance, such a quiet, kindly expression, that one must
hold him at the first glance for a brave man, and although his whole
life had been given up to self-denying labor, yet he could--naturally
after the Frau Pastorin had taken off his cape and bands--show in his
eyes his joyous heart, and utter innocent jests with his lips; and,
when he put off the ecclesiastic, he stood forth as a man who, in
worldly matters also, could give sensible counsel, and reach forth a
helping hand.

As he stepped into the room, he recognized Habermann immediately, and
went right up to him. "My dear friend, do I see you once more! How are
you? Good-day, Herr Inspector!" And as Habermann returned the greeting,
and Bräsig began to tell the reason of their visit, the Frau Pastorin
sprang between them, and seized her Pastor by his ministerial gown, and
cried, "Not a word, Herr Habermann; Bräsig, will you be so good? You
shall know it all from me," said she to her husband, "for, though the
story is a sad one,--yes, Herr Habermann, quite too sad,--yet there
will be a pleasure for you. Come, come!" and with that she drew him
into his study. "For I am the nearest to him," she called back from the
door, in apology.

After a while the Pastor came back with his wife into the room, and
went, with a determined step and resolved expression on his face, up to
Habermann. "Yes, dear Habermann, yes! We will do it, and, so far as in
us lies, do it gladly,"--and he pressed his hand--"but," he added, "we
have no experience in the care of children, yet we can learn. Isn't it
so, Regina, we can learn?" as if with this little joke he would help
Habermann over the deep emotion which struggled in his face and in his
whole being.

"Herr Pastor," he broke out, finally, "You have long ago done a great
deal for me, but this--" And the little Frau Pastorin reached after her
means of consolation and implement of all work, which she took in hand
at every surprise of joy or sorrow,--after her duster,--and dusted here
and there, and would have wiped away Habermann's tears with it, if he
had not turned aside, and she called out at the door after Frederica:
"Now, Rika, run quickly over to the weaver's wife, and ask her to lend
me her cradle,--she doesn't use it," she added, to Bräsig.

And Bräsig, as if it devolved on him to sustain the honor of the
Habermann family, said to her impressively: "Frau Pastorin, what are
you thinking of? The little girl is quite hearty!"

And the Frau Pastorin ran again to the door, and called back the
maiden. "Rika, Rika, not the cradle,--ask her to lend me a little crib,
and then go to the sexton's daughter, and see if she can come this
afternoon,--God bless me, to-day is Sunday! But if your ass has fallen
into a pit, and so forth,--yes, ask her whether she can help me stuff a
couple of little beds. For it is not heathenish, Bräsig, it is a work
of necessity, and quite another thing from your Herr Count having his
wheat brought in Sunday afternoon. And, my dear Herr Habermann, the
little girl must come to us to-day, for Franz," said she to her
husband, "the old Nüsslers would not give the poor little thing even
her dinner if they could help it, and, Bräsig, bread which is not
freely given----" here she was a little out of breath and Bräsig went
on: "Yes, Frau Pastorin, one may grow fat on grudged bread, but the
devil take such fatness!"

"You old heathen, how can you swear so, in a Christian Pastor's house?"
cried the Frau Pastorin. "But the long and the short of the matter is,
the little girl must come here to-day."

"Yes, Frau Pastorin," said Habermann, only too happy, "I will bring her
to-day. My poor sister will be sorry, but it is better for her, and for
the peace of her family, and also for my child."

He went up to the two worthy people, and thanked them so warmly, from
the depths of his grateful heart; and when they had taken leave, and
were outside, he drew a long breath, and said to Bräsig, "How gloomy
the world looked this morning, but now the sun shines in my heart
again! I have yet a disagreeable business to attend to; but it is a
lucky day, and that may go well also."

"What have you got to do now?" asked Bräsig.

"I must go to Rahnstadt, to old Moses. I gave him, six months ago, my
note for six hundred dollars; I have not heard from him since my
bankruptcy, and I must try to make some arrangement with him."

"That you must, Karl; and I would do it at once, for old Moses isn't
the worst man in the world, by a long way. Now I will tell you what
shall be our order of battle for to-day: we will both go back to Rexow,
and eat our dinner; after dinner young Jochen must lend you his horses,
and you can take your little one to Gurlitz; go from there to the city,
and come back in the evening to me, at Warnitz, and stay over night;
and to-morrow you can go over to Pumpelhagen, since the Herr Kammerrath
depends on your speedy coming.

"Right," said Habermann, "it shall be so."

They arrived, the dinner was eaten, and Bräsig asked of young
Jochen the loan of his wagon and horses. "Of course," cried Frau
Nüssler,--"Yes, of course," said Jochen, and went out himself
immediately, to order the horses harnessed.

"Karl," said the sister, "my dear brother, how glad, how heartily glad,
I should be, if---- But you know the reason; Bräsig has told you. But,
dear heart, if one could only keep peace in the family! Don't believe
that Jochen thinks differently from me, only he hasn't the energy to
stand up for his rights. But I will look after your child as if she
were my own, though it will not be needful at the Parsonage."

The wagon drove up. "What the devil!" cried Bräsig, "young Jochen, you
have got out your state-equipage, the old yellow coach!"

"Yes, Herr," said Christian, who sat up in front. "May we only get safe
home again with the old thing, for it is fearfully crazy in the box,
and the wheels clatter as if one were spinning flax."

"Christian," said Bräsig, "you must first drive a little way through
the village pond, and then through the Gurlitz brook; and then, before
you get to Rahnstadt, though the frog-pond. That will tighten the
wheels."

"Eh!" said Christian; "one might as well go a sea-voyage!"

As Habermann had taken leave, and put his little girl in the wagon,
young Jochen pressed out through the company in such haste that all
made way for him, and his wife cried out, "What is the matter now?"
"There," said he and placed in the hand of the little Louise a pound of
Fleigen Markur, for he smoked no other tobacco; but it was only in
outward appearance, for, as Habermann looked closer, he found a great
piece of white bread, which young Jochen had merely wrapped up in
tobacco-paper, because he had nothing else at hand.

The equipage started. Christian took the pond and the brook on his way,
as Bräsig had recommended; the little one was given up at Gurlitz, and
I will not try to describe how the pretty little dear was handed from
one to the other, with kisses and petting, and seemed in her
uncomprehending innocence to find herself at home with the good people.
Habermann drove on Rahnstadt, to see Moses.

Moses was a man of about fifty. He had large, wise-looking eyes, under
strong, black eyebrows, although his head was nearly white; heavy
eyelids and dark lashes gave him an aspect of mildness; he was of
middle size and of comfortable fulness; his left shoulder was a little
higher than his right, and that was in consequence of his grip. When he
got up from his stool, he stuck his left hand in his left coat pocket,
and took hold of his breeches on the left side, which was always
slipping down; for he wore but one suspender, and that was on the right
side. "What's the use?" said he to his Blümchen, when she would
persuade him to wear a second suspender. "When I was young and poor and
had no money, I managed my business with one suspender, and courted my
Blümchen with one suspender; and now that I am old and rich, and have
money, and have Blümchen, why do I need two suspenders?" And then he
would pat his Blümchen, give a grip at the left coat-pocket, and go
back to his business.

As Habermann entered he sprang up. "O heavens! it is Habermann. Haven't
I always told you," turning to his son, "Habermann is good, Habermann
is an honest man?"

"Yes, Moses," said Habermann, "honest truly,--but----"

"Stand up, David, give the seat to Herr Habermann; sit here by me. Herr
Habermann has something to say to me, and I have something to say to
Herr Habermann. Do you see?" he added to his son, "David, what did you
say? 'I should declare myself before the Prussian Justice.' What did I
say? 'I will not declare myself before the Prussian Justice; Herr
Habermann is an honorable man.' I declared myself once, it was in a
business with a Prussian candidate. I had reminded the fellow of his
debt, and he wrote me a letter, saying I should read a verse out of the
Christian hymn-book,--David, what was it?"

"It was an infamous verse," said David.


          "'Moses cannot accuse me.
              My conscience knows no fears,
            For He who has pronounced me free
              Will pay all my arrears.'"


"Yes," cried Moses, "that was what he said. And when I showed the
letter, the Prussian Justice laughed, and when I showed my note, he
shrugged his shoulders and laughed again. 'Ha, Ha! I said, you mean the
paper is good, but the fellow is good for nothing.' Then they said I
had the right on my side. I could have him locked up, but it would cost
something. 'Do you take me for a fool? should I pay the fees and costs
and summons, and the whole lawsuit, merely to give that swine his
fodder? Let him run!' said I. No, Herr Habermann is better for me than
the Prussian Justice."

"Yes, that is all very good, Moses," said Habermann, anxiously, "but I
can't pay you, at least not at present."

"No?" said Moses, and looked at him in a questioning way. "You must
have kept something over?"

"Not a red shilling," said the farmer with emotion.

"Thou just Heaven!" cried Moses, "not a red shilling!" and he sprang up
and began ordering his son about. "David, what are you standing there
for? What are you looking at? Why are you listening? Go and bring my
book!" With that he began to walk restlessly up and down the room.

"Moses," said Habermann, "only give me time, and you shall have
principal and interest to the last farthing."

Moses stood still, and listened with deep attention. "Habermann,"
said he at last, in Platt-Deutsch,--for these old-fashioned Jews,
when anything goes to the heart, talk Platt-Deutsch, just like
Christians,--"Habermann, you are an honorable man." And as David came
back with the book, the old man said, "David, what do we want of the
book? Take the book away. Now, what is it?" turning to Habermann. "I
began with nothing, you also began with nothing, I had my business, you
had yours, I had good luck, you had bad luck. I was industrious, you
were industrious too, and you understood your business. What we can't
do to-day may be done to-morrow; to-morrow you may again have a
situation, and then you can pay me, for you are an honest man."

"A situation?" said Habermann, with a much lighter heart, "I have that
already, and a good one, too."

"Where?" asked Moses.

"With the Kammerrath, at Pumpelhagen."

"Good, Habermann, good! He is a good man. Though he has had some
experience of the hard times, he is yet a good man; he does no business
with me, but he is a good man, for all that. Blümchen!" he cried at the
door, "Herr Habermann is here. Bring in two cups of coffee!" and as
Habermann would have declined the coffee, he added, "Allow me, Herr
Habermann, allow me! When I was young, and went about the country with
my pack, and it was cold weather, your mother has often given me a hot
cup of coffee; when you were inspector you have given me many a ride
for nothing. No, we are all human beings. Drink! Herr Habermann,
drink!"

So this business also came out right, and as Habermann went back to
Bräsig that evening his heart was lighter, much lighter; and, as he
that evening in bed thought over the events of the day, the thought
came to him whether a beloved voice had not prayed for him, up above,
and whether a beloved hand had not smoothed out the tangled skein of
his future, that it might run henceforth with a clear thread.

The next morning he reported himself at Pumpelhagen; and when the
Kammerrath and his little son rode away, two days after, he found
himself already acquainted with his new duties, and in full activity.
And so he remained in quiet content for many years. Grief had
withdrawn, and the joy he had was of the kind that a man does not enjoy
alone, which he must share with his fellow-men.



                              CHAPTER IV.


In the field by the mill there was wheat again this year, as in the
year in which Habermann took charge of the estate. The property was
divided into eleven fields; and eleven years had passed since that
time. The inspector came out of the church, for it was Sunday, and he
had been to hear the Pastor's sermon, and to visit his little daughter.
He went on foot along the path from the church, for the way was short,
and the day was fine, the finest of midsummer weather; he went through
his wheat-field, and one of the purest joys came over him, this, that
one sees the visible blessing of God on what in human hope, but also in
human uncertainty, his hands have sown. He was not enriched by the
blessing,--that belonged to his master; but the joy was his, and it
made his heart light and his mind clear, and in the clear mind, joyous
thoughts darted, like fish in a limpid brook. He whistled a merry tune
to himself, and almost laughed when he heard his own whistling, for
such an outburst of mirth rarely happened to him.

"So," said he, "this is the eleventh year I have been over that field,
and the worst is over; yet once more! then the overseeing shall be done
by other eyes."

He took the way through the garden, which lay on high ground, and
joined a little grove of oaks and beeches, where the drive and
foot-path had been freshly cleared and raked out, for the Kammerrath
and his family were coming to-day, and had sent word that they might be
expected by the middle of the afternoon. As he came up the ascent he
stood still and looked back over the wheat-field, and laughed to
himself. "Yes, it doesn't look much as it did eleven years ago, when I
let them mow it. This is something like! This time we have had a better
year. What will the old Herr say? Between now and harvest, there is
some time yet, but the rape is now as good as sure. If he only hasn't
sold it all beforehand, again!" sighed he. "The cuckoo knows!" and he
recalled the sums which had been borrowed during these eleven long
years. "The old Herr will go no farther, and will go no farther; but,
God bless him, there are his five daughters, and two sons-in-law who
drain him, and then the gracious lady, who believes because money is
round that it must run away, and then the son--it must be very
expensive in the Prussian cuirassiers! Yes, the times are better than
they were in my day; but if a man once gets into a tight place--it is
hard, and he looks too old altogether."

He had time to spare. To-day they were waiting dinner for the Herr
Kammerrath, although he had not given orders to that effect. "It was
proper to do so," Habermann had said. "Yes," said he once more, and
seated himself in the cool shade, "he will rejoice over the wheat, and
it will be a help to him, for it is worth something, and times are
better than they were."

Yes, the times were tight again, for what are "the times," for the
North German people, and for all mankind, but long, long threads
stretched far out over England and America and all the world, and
knotted at the ends, and so managed that they lie sometimes quite
slack, and whatever is fastened to them--and that is for our people
almost the whole country--cannot move itself; and then again they are
stretched tight, so that everything dances merrily back and forth, and
all are shifted about, even in the remotest corners.

In this little corner of the world also, the thread was stretched
tight, and young Jochen's porcelain pipe-bowl, and leaden tinder box,
and his blue-painted corner-cupboard, and the waxed sofa, were all
cleared out of the house, and the old crazy yellow coach out of the
carriage-house; and in their place he had a meerschaum pipe adorned
with silver, and a mahogany secretary, and an immense creature of a
divan, in the living-room, and in the carriage-house there was a
vehicle which Bräsig always called the "phantom," because in looking at
the bill he had taken an "e" for an "n," and an "n" for an "m:" and he
was not far wrong, for the thing was almost of the kind one sees in a
dream.

And the same thread had also guided the hand of Bräsig's Herr Count, so
that finally, after almost twenty years, he had given him in writing
the desired permission to marry, and also a bond promising "a suitable
pension for his old age."

And upon this thread, when it was slack, the little Frau Pastorin had
caught herself, like a top which the boys rig up, and now that it was
stretched she buzzed about her Pastor, and hummed daily in his ears;
when the minister's meadow should be rented again, it would bring as
good as double. And as Moses, at the close of the last year, added up
his sum-total, and wrote underneath a little one and four great
ciphers, the thread caught him by the arm, and the four ciphers changed
to six. "David, lay the book away," said he, "it balances."

But while these threads, as to how far apart the knots are, and how
lightly they are stretched, are governed a good deal by human
instrumentality,--even although the Lord is above, and superintends the
whole, so that the slack-lying and the tight-stretching happen in
moderation, and mankind are not left to lie still on a hillock and
stick there, or get tangled and run wildly together, as when a sack
full of peas is shaken about,--a single human being has as much
volition on these threads as the chafer has on his, when the children
play with it; it can buzz about, here and there. Another thread,
however, governs the world: it reaches from the highest to the lowest,
and God himself has fastened the ends; no chafers buzz on it, nor is it
in any sense a game. This thread was twisted a little, and Zachary
Bräsig got a touch of the gout. It was stretched a little tighter, and
the two old Nüsslers lay on their last couch; and then the knots at
their end of the thread were cut, and they were buried.

Zachary Bräsig, indeed, scolded and fretted terribly when he felt the
twitching, and in his ignorance did not understand, but blamed the new
fashion of sewed dress-boots, and the damp, cold spring, for what he
should have laid to the account of his hearty dinners and his usual
little drop of Kümmel. He was snappish as a horse-fly, and Habermann
would rally him, whenever he visited him in such a temper, about the
writing in his possession which he had received from the Herr Count,
granting him permission to marry and a pension, and then Bräsig would
be angry, terribly angry, and would say, "Now just think, brother, in
what an outrageous dilemma that paper of the gracious Count places me!
If I want to marry, then says my gracious Count I am too young to need
a pension, and if I ask for the pension, then I must say to myself, I
am too old to marry! Oh! my gracious Count is not much better after all
than a regular Jesuit; he says the words and you see them under your
eyes, but virtually he has put all sorts of mocking paragraphs in the
paper, that a man who for eight and twenty years has worn out his bones
in his service cannot request a pension without depreciating himself
personally, or that a man who could have had three brides twenty years
ago, now that he is fifty years old cannot marry one. Oh, I laugh at
the gracious paragraphs and at the gracious Count!"

One man's owl is another man's nightingale. Bräsig was spiteful over
the twitching of the thread; but in young Jochen's house, after the
knots were cut a guest entered, whom the young wife indeed had many
times invited at the door, but who had never before crossed the
threshold, and that was Peace. Now he had established himself
comfortably on the new divan, and ruled over the whole establishment.
The young woman cared for him, as if her nearest relative had come to
the house, and the two little twin-apples did everything to please him,
and young Jochen himself invited the guest in, and said it was all as
true as leather, and did his duty as the head of the family. He
continued to be monosyllabic, to be sure, and desired no other tobacco
than Fleigen Markur, and did not trouble himself about the oversight of
the farm. For, after the death of the old people, Habermann and Bräsig
had taken the charge of out-door affairs quite out of his hands, and
had changed the crops, and had introduced improvements, and because the
old people had stowed away under the pillows, and in the stocking-box,
and about the stove, and here and there in other places, many a bag of
gold which they had forgotten to take with them, the business went very
quickly and without much ceremony; and as it was all dispatched young
Jochen said, "Yes, what shall I do about it?" and let things take their
course.

But the comfort and prosperity which surrounded him roused him up a
good deal, and his natural kind-heartedness, which had so long been
repressed by the avarice of the old people, became evident; and, if he
was a little rough about the head, it was no matter,--as the
schoolmaster with the red vest said at the funeral: "It is no matter,
Herr Pastor, since the heart is not bad!"

And how was it now with the Frau Pastorin and her Pastor? There the
Lord had touched the thread very lightly; he had done like young
Jochen, he had said: "What shall I do about it; let things take their
course!" And if the Pastor now and then perceived a little light touch
on his arm, and looked around, it was only his little friendly wife who
stood behind him, always with her dusting cloth, and polished away at
his arm-chair, and asked whether he would have the perch fried or
boiled; and if his sermon happened to be about Peter's wonderful
draught of fishes, or the evangelist's story of the meal of fish on the
shore, then all sorts of foolish, unchristian thoughts would dart
across his mind, of fried fish, and horse-radish, and butter to eat on
it, so that he had some trouble in going on with his sermon, and
sustaining the dignity of his office. But what were these little
troubles, to which his Regina had accustomed him from the first, in
comparison with his great joy?

God bless me! I have just received from my friend the gardener, Juhlke,
of Erfurt, a beautiful lily-bulb; and now in the March sun the first
leaves are sprouting, and my first thought in the morning is to see how
much the leaves have sprouted during the night; and I give it a little
pull to find out how the roots are striking, and I move it away from
the cool window to the warm stove, and back from the dark stove to the
light window, in the blessed sunshine, and it is as yet only a green
shoot springing out of the earth, with no sign of a flower-bud, and it
is but a plant, and not a human life, and yet how I rejoice over its
sprouting and growth and greenness! And the pastor had received also a
beautiful lily-bulb from his friend the Gardener, the Lord in heaven,
and he and his little wife had tended and watched it, and now a
flower-bud was growing, a human flower-bud, and the warm May sun shone
upon it, and the Frau Pastorin ran to her darling the first thing in
the morning, and buzzed about her at noon, and rejoiced over her
healthy appetite, and heaped another spoonful on her plate; "For," said
she, "life must have something to live on." And at evening, under the
lindens before the door, she wrapped the little maiden under the same
sheltering mantle with herself, on the side toward the warmth; and when
it was bedtime, then she gave her a good-night kiss: "God bless you, my
daughter; to-morrow morning early, at five o'clock, you must be up
again!"

And the Pastor's first thought was also of her; and he watched and
waited as leaf after leaf was growing green, and gave her a prop at her
side, and bound her to it that she might grow right up toward heaven,
and kept away all weeds and noxious insects. And when he went to bed at
night he would say, as full of hope as a child, "Regina, she must
blossom soon."

And so it came about, without the consciousness of the dear old people,
or of the child herself, that she became the angel of the household,
about whom everything turned, turned joyfully, without grumbling or
snarling, without clashing or force. As she in her simple dress, with a
little silk handkerchief tied around her neck, her fresh cheeks, and
unbound, floating hair, went dancing up and down in her glee, she was a
living spring of joy to the whole house; and when she sat still beside
her foster-father, and learned, and looked at him with her great eyes,
as if there must be something still more beautiful to come, and at last
with a deep sigh closed the book, as if it were a pity that it was all
done, and yet at the same time good that it was all done, because the
little heart could hold no more,--then the Frau Pastorin stole up
behind her, in stocking feet, with her dusting-cloth under her apron,
and her slippers lying at the door. "For," said she, "teaching children
is a different thing from making sermons; the old people are only
affected now and then when one hits them right hard with hell-torments;
but a child's soul,--one must touch that merely with a tulip-stalk, and
not with a fence-pole!"

Habermann's little daughter was always fair, but she looked the fairest
when, a step in advance, she held her father by the hand, and brought
him into the parsonage yard, where the good people sat under the great
linden; then shone out all the virtues which usually sleep quietly in
the human heart, and only now and then come to the light of day,--love
and gratitude, joy and pride,--from her sprightly face; and, if
Habermann walked beside her silent and half-sad that he could do so
little for his child, one could read in her eyes a sort of festal joy,
as if she thought to discharge all the debt of gratitude which she owed
her good foster-parents, by bringing to them her father. She was just
entering her thirteenth year and her young heart took no reckoning of
her feelings and actions, never in her life had she asked herself why
her father was so dear to her. It was otherwise with the Pastor and his
wife, there she was daily conscious how kind and good were their
intentions toward her, and she had daily opportunities of repaying
their love by little acts of duty and friendliness. But here--she knew
merely it was her father; he spoke often to her words that must come
from his heart, and he looked at her with such quiet, sad looks, that
must go to her heart. Reckoning up all they had done, these good people
had deserved more from her; but yet--the Lord must have knit these
human threads very closely together, up above, they run into each other
so, and cannot be separated.

To-day, as Habermann sat in the cool shade, it had been again a
festival day for his child, and it was one for him also. He overlooked
the whole region. The spring was over, the summer sun shone warm
through the light, fleecy clouds; a light breeze cooled the air, and
lifted the green corn into the sunlight, as if the earth were waving a
green, silken banner before her commander, the sun. The regimental
music, from the band of a thousand birds, had ceased with the spring,
and only the cuckoo's cry and the call of the quail still echoed, as if
a puff of wind bore with it out of the distance the sound of drums and
cymbals. But instead of music and singing the wind brought over the
fields a sweet odor which came indeed from a field of slaughter, where
thousands and thousands of slain lay in rows and heaps, who knew
nothing of bloody misery, however, and were a pleasure to mankind: the
hay-harvest had begun, and Habermann sat on the hill in the cool arbor,
and overlooked the fields, far and near. How beautiful is such a
region, where the fields in a thousand green and yellow stripes and
bands stretch to the summits of the hills, and shine far around like a
many-colored garment which industry has woven for the earth! But it
seems restless and anxious, when we tear the turf and the soil with
digging and scratching, and every one has his own task, and troubles
himself solely about the miserable profits he is to dig from his own
little piece of earth,--and all these green and yellow bands and
stripes only bear witness to our poverty. I know well it is not so, but
it seems so. Here it is otherwise: far out to the blue forest extend
the fields of one kind of grain; the rape fields stretch themselves out
like a great sea in the golden morning sunlight; broad pastures and
slopes harbor the bright-colored cattle, and over the green meadows
stretch in an oblique direction the long rows of mowers in white
shirt-sleeves; everything is of a piece, all works together; and
wherever one casts his eyes, he sees rest and security as the result of
riches. I know right well it is not so, but yet it seems so. But that
is an afterthought. The eye sees merely the riches and the rest, and
these, in the cool shade, with the humming of bees and the playing of
butterflies, sink softly into the heart.

So was it to-day with Habermann; he was in such a quiet, happy mood,
and thankfully he thought over the last eleven years. All was good and
growing better. He had paid his debts to Bräsig and Moses, with his
employer he stood on the best footing. His intercourse with him was
almost confidential, for, although the Kammerrath was not at all in the
habit of discussing his private affairs with every body, Habermann's
behavior was so perfectly sure, he knew so exactly how to keep himself
in his place, that the Kammerrath often talked over matters with him,
which pertained more to himself than to the farm; of his family
affairs, however, he had never spoken. It was to happen otherwise
to-day.

When the inspector had been sitting a little while, he heard a couple
of carriages drive up before the door. "Good heavens, they are coming!"
he cried, and sprang up to go and receive the company.

The Kammerrath came with his wife and three daughters and his son; they
were to stay six weeks on the estate, and enjoy the country air. "Dear
Herr Habermann," said he, "we have come upon you a little sooner than
you expected, but my business at Rostock was dispatched more quickly
than I believed possible. How is it here? Is everything prepared for
the ladies?"

"All is in readiness," said Habermann, "but I fear the dinner may be a
little late."

"No misfortune! The ladies can be making their toilet meantime, and you
can show me our wheat. And," turning to his son who stood at his side,
a stately young man, in handsome uniform, "you can take your mother and
sisters into the garden, by and by, for in matters of domestic
economy," here he made a sickly attempt to laugh a little, "you take no
interest."

"Dear father, I----" said the son, rather uneasily.

"No, let it go, my son," said the father, in a friendly tone. "Come,
Herr Habermann, the wheat stands close behind the garden."

Habermann went with him. How old the man had become in so short a time!
And it was not age merely which seemed to weigh upon him, he seemed
oppressed by some other burden. As he caught sight of his wheat, he
became a little enlivened, and cried, "Beautiful, beautiful! I never
thought to have seen such wheat in Pumpelhagen."

That pleased Habermann, but, as is the way with these old inspectors,
he did not let it be noticed, and because he was laughing inwardly, he
scratched his head and said, "If we can make sure of this on the hill,
and it will be worth a good deal, and that down there by the meadow,
the devil may have his game with the rest."

"We cannot prevent what may still happen," said the Kammerrath. "It is
a real pleasure that you have given me to-day, dear Herr Inspector.
Ah," added he, after a little while, "why didn't we know each other
twenty years ago? It would have been better for you and for me!"

Habermann no longer scratched his head; the trace of humor, which
sometimes lightened his serious disposition, was gone, and he looked
anxiously at his master. They had come to the boundary of Gurlitz. "The
wheat over there doesn't look so well as ours," said the Kammerrath.

"No," said Habermann. "The soil is quite as good as ours, however; that
is the Gurlitz Pastor's field, but he has not received his due for it."

"Apropos," went on the Kammerrath, "do you know that Gurlitz is sold? A
few days ago it was sold in Rostock for 173,000 thalers. Farms are
rising, isn't it so, Habermann, farms are rising considerably. If
Gurlitz is worth 173,000 thalers, Pumpelhagen would be a good bargain
at 240,000 thalers;" and with that, he looked impressively at
Habermann.

"That it would, Herr Kammerrath; but the sale of Gurlitz means
something else for you; by contract, the Pastor's field falls out of
the estate, upon its sale, and it runs like a wedge into our land,--you
must rent the Pastor's field!"

"Ah, dear Habermann, don't talk of my renting!" cried the Kammerrath,
and turned about, and went slowly back, as if he might not look at the
beautiful piece of land, "I have already too much on my shoulders. I
have no desire for new trouble."

"You should have no trouble about it. If you will give me authority, I
will arrange the matter with the Herr Pastor."

"No, no, Habermann, it won't do! The expenditure, the advance of rent,
the increased inventory! I have besides so many expenditures, my hair
stands on end!" and with that the man moved so wearily up the ascent,
and stumbled so at every stone, that Habermann sprang toward him,
and offered him his arm; close by the garden the Kammerrath had an
attack of dizziness, so that Habermann was obliged to hold him up, and
could scarcely get him into the arbor. Here, in the cool shade, he soon
recovered from his attack; but his appearance was so altered that the
inspector in this weak-spirited, broken man could hardly recognize his
tranquil, decided friend of former years. The man became talkative, it
seemed as if he must unburden his heart. "Dear Habermann," said he, and
grasped his hand, "I have a favor to ask; my nephew Franz,--you used to
know him,--has finished his studies, and is going to undertake the care
of his two estates. He will follow my advice,--my deceased brother
appointed me his guardian,--he means to become a practical farmer, and
I have recommended you to him as his instructor. You must take the
young man here, he is an intelligent youth,--he is a good fellow."

"Yes," said Habermann. That he would do gladly, and so far as in him
lay it should not fail; he had known the young man from a child, he was
always a dutiful boy.

"Ah," cried the Kammerrath, "if my own boy had gone the same way! Why
was I weak enough to yield to my wife against my better judgment?
Nothing would do but he must be a soldier. But now it comes, now it
comes, my old friend, we have got into debt, deeper than I can tell,
for I see by his oppressed and shy manner, that he has not confessed
all to me. If he would only do so, then I could know where I stood, and
I could save him out of the hands of usurers. And if I myself should
fall into those hands!" he added gloomily, after a little, in a weak
voice.

Habermann was frightened by the words and the tone, but still more by
the appearance of his master. "It will not be so bad as that," he said,
for he must say something, "and then the Herr will yet have the
receipts from about fifteen hundred bushels of rape; for so I reckon
the crop."

"And for seventeen hundred bushels, which I have sold, I have already
received the money, and it is already paid out; but that is not the
worst, we could get over that. Ah, what a torment!" cried he, as if he
must shoulder his burden again. "My business at Rostock is not all
wound up, as I said to you before my family; I have taken a debt for
one of my sons-in-law, of seven thousand thalers, and cannot raise the
money in Rostock, and in three days it must be paid. The money is
promised to the purchaser of Gurlitz, and he is to pay the purchase
money day after to-morrow. Give me your advice, old friend! You have
been in similar circumstances, you know how you helped yourself--don't
take it ill of me! you were always an honest man. But I cannot bear not
to feel sure in my possessions or in my honourable name."

Yes, Habermann had been in such a condition, and he had failed for a
couple of hundred thalers; and this was seven thousand.

"Have you spoken with the purchaser of Gurlitz?" he asked, after some
thought.

"Yes," was the reply, "and I told him the plain truth about my
difficulties."

"And what was the answer?" said Habermann. "But I can imagine, he was
in pressing need of money himself."

"It was not that, as it seemed to me; but the man seemed to have a
spite against me, he was too short and abrupt, and when he noticed my
embarrassment his offers were too crafty, so that I broke off the
negotiation, because I still hoped to procure the money elsewhere. But
that is at an end, and I find myself more embarrassed than ever."

"I know of but one immediate resource," said Habermann, "you must go
and see Moses, at Rahnstadt."

"The Jew money-lender?" asked the Kammerrath. "Never in the world!"
cried he. "I could not bear to feel myself in such hands. No, I will
rather bear the insolence of Herr Pomuchelskopp."

"Who?" shouted Habermann, as if a wasp had stung him.

"Why, the purchaser of Gurlitz, of whom we were speaking," said the
Kammerrath, and stared at him as if he could not interpret his
behavior.

"And he is a Pomeranian, from the region on the Peene, short and stout,
with a full face?"

"Yes," said the Kammerrath.

"And he is going to be our neighbor? And you would enter into business
relations with him? No, no, Herr Kammerrath, I beg, I implore you,
don't allow yourself to get involved with that man! you most bear me
witness that I have never made mention, for good or for evil, of the
man who has ruined me; but now that you are in danger, now I hold it my
duty,--this man is the cause of my misfortunes," and with that he had
sprung up, and from his usually tranquil, friendly eyes shot such a
flash of hatred, that even the Kammerrath, absorbed as he was in his
own affairs, was terrified.

"Yes," cried the inspector, "yes! that man has driven me out of house
and home, that man has heaped all sorts of tormenting anxieties upon me
and my poor wife, and she has gone to her grave in consequence! No, no!
Have nothing to do with that man!"

The warning was too impressive to be disregarded by the Kammerrath.
"But who will help me?" asked he.

"Moses," said Habermann, quickly and decidedly. The Kammerrath would
make objections, but Habermann placed himself before him, and said
still more impressively, "Herr Kammerrath, Moses. After dinner we will
ride over there, and if I know him, you will have no reason to repent."

The Kammerrath stood up, and took Habermann's arm; he leaned not merely
upon that--no, evidently he was also sustained by the resolute advice
of the inspector. For a quiet man, when he is once aroused from his
repose, exercises a great influence upon another human being, even if
he be not so ill and in such perplexity as the Kammerrath; and
difference in rank goes down at the double-quick, in such an emergency,
before personal merit.

The conversation at dinner was but feebly sustained,--every one was
occupied with his own affairs; Habermann thought of his new, suspicious
neighbor, the Kammerrath of his money affairs, and the lieutenant of
cuirassiers looked as if he had lost himself in a calculation of
compound interest, and could not find the way out; and if the gracious
mama had not mounted her high horse a little, and talked of the visits
she must make to people of rank in the neighborhood, and the young
ladies had not revelled in the prospect of country delights and
unlimited grass and flowers, it would have been as silent as a funeral.

After dinner the Kammerrath drove with his inspector to Rahnstadt. As
they stopped at the door of Moses' house, the Kammerrath felt in much
the same mood as if he had dropped a louis-d'or in the filth, and must
stoop to pick it out with his clean hands. A musty odor met them, at
the entrance, for a "produce business" does not smell like otto of
roses, and the wool, when it has just left the mother-sheep's back, has
quite a different smell from that which it has after it has been about
the world a little, and got aired, and lies as a bright-colored carpet
on a fine lady's parlor, sprinkled with perfume.

And how disorderly it was in the passage and in the room! For Blümchen
was a very good wife, to be sure, but she did not understand how to
ornament an entry and a counter with a cow's head and a heap of
mutton-bones; for Moses said shortly, that belonged to the business,
and David was constantly bringing in new treasures and turned the house
into a real rat's paradise, for those pleasant little beasts run after
the smell of a regular produce business, like doves after anise-seed
oil.

In the room, the Kammerrath did not find himself more agreeably
disposed, for Moses was orthodox, and on the Christian Sabbath, unless
his business demanded the contrary, he wore his greasiest coat, in
order to keep himself quite opposed to the customs of the dressed-up
Gentiles; and as he now, with his grip at his left coat-pocket, sprang
up and ran toward the Kammerrath,--"O heavens! the Herr Kammerrath! the
honor!" and shouted to David, who was improving the Sunday-afternoon
quiet in the "produce business" by napping a little on the sofa,
"David, where are you sitting? Where are you lying? What are you
lounging there for? Stand up! Let the Herr Kammerrath sit down," and as
he now endeavoured to force the Kammerrath into the place already
warmed by David, then would the Kammerrath gladly have left the
louis-d'or lying in the dirt; but--he needed it quite too pressingly.

Habermann threw himself into the breach, and set a chair for the
Kammerrath by the open window, and undertook the first introduction of
the business; and as Moses observed what the talk was to be about, he
hunted David about till he got him out of the room,--for although he
let him do a good deal in the produce business, he did not consider him
quite ripe, at six and thirty years, for the money business,--and when
the air was free,--that is to say, of David,--he exclaimed once and
again, what a great honor it was for him to have dealings with the Herr
Kammerrath. "What have I always said, Herr Habermann? 'The Herr
Kammerrath is a good man, the Herr Kammerrath is good.' What have I
always said, Herr Kammerrath? 'The Herr Habermann is an honest man; he
has toiled and moiled to pay me the last penny.'"

But as he perceived of what a sum they were speaking, he was startled,
and held back, and made objections, and if he had not held Habermann in
such high esteem, and read plainly in his looks that he seriously
advised him to the business, then indeed nothing might have come of it.
And who knows but the matter might still have fallen through, if it had
not been mentioned casually that the money was to go for the purchase
of Gurlitz, and that otherwise the Kammerrath must enter into
negotiations with Pomuchelskopp. But as this name was uttered, Moses
made a face, as if one had laid a piece of tainted meat on his plate,
and he cried out, "With Pomuffelskopp!" for he pronounced the name in
that way, "Do you know what sort of fellow he is? He is like that!" and
with that he made a motion as if he would throw the bit of tainted meat
over his shoulder. "'David,' said I, 'don't have anything to do with
Pomuffelskopp!' But these young people,--David bought some wool of him.
'Well!' said I; 'you will see,' I told him. And what had he done? There
he had smuggled in with the washed wool the tangles, the wool from dead
animals, he had smuggled in dirty wool from slaughtered sheep, he had
smuggled in two great field-stones. _Two great field-stones_ had he
smuggled in for me! When he came to get his money--'Good!' said I--I
paid him in Prussian treasury notes, and I made little packets of a
hundred thalers, and in the middle of each packet I smuggled in some
that were no longer in circulation, or counterfeit, and in the last
packet I laid in two played-out lottery-tickets--'Those are the two
great field-stones,' said I. Oh, but didn't he make an uproar? When he
came with the Notary Slusuhr,--he is such an one to look at,"--here he
again threw the bit of tainted meat over his shoulder,--"like one of
David's rats,--his ears stand out, and he lives so well, he lives just
like the rats, feeds on rubbish and filth, and gnaws open other
people's honest leather. Oh, but they made a disturbance, they would
bring a lawsuit against me! 'What is a lawsuit?' said I; 'I don't have
lawsuits. As the ware is, so is the money.' And do you know, gentlemen,
what else I said? 'The Herr Notary, and the Herr Pomuffelskopp and I
are three Jews, but four might be made of us if the two gentlemen could
count for three.' Oh, they made an uproar! They abused me all over the
city. But the Herr Burgomeister said to me, 'Moses, you do a great
business, but you have never yet had a law-suit, let them work!' Herr
Kammerrath, you shall have the money to-day, at your offer, of
commission and interest, for you are a good man, and you treat your
people well, and you have a good name in the land, and you shall not
have to deal with Pomuffelskopp."

To borrow money is a hard piece of work, and he who writes this knows
it by many years' experience, and can speak of it accordingly; but it
makes a difference whether one appeals to the kindness of an old
friend, or turns to a man who makes a business of this business. The
Kammerrath had debts on his estate, quite a number of debts; but they
were not significant bills of exchange, and his money affairs had
usually been arranged by writing, or through the medium of lawyers or
merchants; he was now for the first time not in a situation to raise
money easily, in the old way, he had been obliged to go himself to a
money-Jew--for so he called this sort of people; the repulsion which he
felt for this course, the very different place, and manner, and
disposition which he found here, the anxiety caused by the objections
of Moses at the outset, and now at last the speedy help which relieved
him from his pressing emergency, had overpowered the sick man; he
turned pale and sank back in his chair, and Habermann called for a
glass of water.

"Herr Kammerrath," cried Moses, "perhaps a little drop of wine, I can
have half a pint brought from the merchant, in a moment."

"No, water! water!" cried Habermann, and Moses ran out of the door, and
nearly upset David,--for David had been listening a little to the money
business, in order that he might finally become ripe,--"David what are
you doing, why don't you bring some water?"

And David came, and the Kammerrath drank water, and recovered himself,
and Moses told out the louis-d'ors on the table, and the Kammerrath
picked them out of the dirt, and looked at his hands, and they seemed
quite as clean as before; and as he got into the carriage, and looked
back from it into Moses' entry, it seemed to him as if among Moses'
pelts and mutton bones, there was a great bundle, and that was his own
trouble. And Moses stood in the door, and bowed and bowed, and looked
round at his neighbors to find whether they saw that the Herr
Kammerrath had been to him.

But for all the great honor, he did not sink under it. He held up his
head, and got Habermann aside, and said, "Herr Inspector, you are an
honest man; when I agreed to this business, I did not know the man was
so sick. You must promise me that the money shall be secured on the
estate. It is a matter of life and death. What am I doing with a sick
man and a note!"

The Kammerrath was relieved from his embarrassment; his agitation
subsided, his health improved, he looked at the world with quite
different eyes; and as Habermann, a few days later, again mentioned the
renting of the Pastor's field, he listened, and gave Habermann
permission to talk with Pastor Behrens. He did so, and during the
interview the little Frau Pastorin bustled about in the room, and it
sounded in the ears of the Pastor and Habermann continually,--"A higher
sum! A higher sum!"

"Yes," said Habermann, "that is understood. Frau Pastorin, the rent
must be raised; times are better, but there will be no difficulty in
the matter,--the advantage lies on both sides."

"Regina," said her Pastor, "it occurs to me that the flowers at the end
of the garden have not been watered."

"Ah, my dear life!" cried the Pastorin, and bustled out of the door,
"the flowers!"

"So," said the Pastor, "now we can soon settle it. I must confess to
you, that I prefer to have a renter from outside, rather than one
belonging to the place; there are so many little differences which
spring from such immediate neighborhood, and make such a relation so
doubtful and annoying, as it ought not to be between landlords and
ministers. And the Kammerrath is personally much dearer to me than the
new owner,--I have known him so many years. And you think I may demand
a higher rent?"

"Yes, indeed, Herr Pastor, and I am authorized to offer you the half
more. If I wished to rent the land myself, I could offer you still
more; but----"

"We understand each other, dear Habermann," said the Pastor, "we are
agreed in the matter."

And when the Frau Pastorin again bustled in with the little Louise, and
cried out, "It was not necessary! Louise had already attended to the
matter!" then was her Pastor's business all settled, and the dear
little Louise hung around her father's neck: "Ah, father, father, that
is so good!" Why should she hang about her father's neck? What had she
to do with rent-contracts? Much, much! Her father would now be a little
nearer to the Pastor's garden, ploughing and harvesting, and she should
see him the oftener.

As Habermann went back through the church-yard, he met Zachary Bräsig,
who had passed happily, out of his dreadfully unphilosophical stage of
the gout, into the philosophical, as generally happened when his
troubles were over. "Good-day, Karl," said he, "I have been in your
quarters a while waiting for you. But the time seemed long, so I made
my compliments, meanwhile, to the Herr Kammerrath. He was very glad to
see me, and treated me with the greatest kindness; but how the man
looks!"

Yes, said Habermann, his master had--God bless him--grown very old and
weak, and he for his part feared he was soon to lose the friend he
esteemed so highly.

"Yes," nodded Bräsig, "but what is life, Karl? What is human life? See
here, Karl, turn it over and over, like a leather money-bag, and not a
shilling falls out."

"Bräsig," said Habermann, "I don't know what other people think about
it, but it seems to me as if life and labor were one and the same."

"Ho, ho, Karl! now I hear you run on; you got that sentence from Pastor
Behrens. He has sometimes talked with me on this subject, and he has
given me a description of human life, as if here below it was merely
the manuring time, and the Christian belief was the sun and the rain,
which made the seed grow, and there above, in the upper regions, came
the harvest; but man must work, and take pains and do his part. But
Karl, it don't agree, it goes against the Bible. The Bible tells about
the lilies of the field; they toil not, and they spin not, and yet our
Heavenly Father cares for them. And if our Lord takes care of them,
then they live, and they don't labor, and when I have this infamous
gout and do nothing,--nothing at all but hunt away the cursed,
tormenting flies from my face,--is that labor? and yet I live under the
good-for-nothing torture. And Karl," said he, and pointed to the right
across the field, "see those two lilies, that are picking their way
over here, your gracious Herr Lieutenant, and the youngest Fräulein,
have you ever heard that the lieutenant of cuirassiers troubled himself
with labor, or that the gracious Fräulein did any spinning? And yet
they are both coming, with living bodies, over your rape-stubble."

"Will you wait a moment, Zachary?" said Habermann; "they are coming in
this direction, possibly they wish to speak to us."

"For all me!" said Bräsig. "But just look at the Fräulein, how she
wades through the rape-stubble with her long skirts and her thin shoes!
No, Karl, life is trouble! And it begins always with the extremities,
with the legs, and you may observe that with me from my confounded
gout, and in the case of the Fräulein by the rape-stubble and her thin
shoes. But what I was going to say, Karl--you have had your best time
here, for when the Herr Kammerrath is dead, there look out! You will be
astonished at the gracious lady, and the three unmarried daughters, and
the Herr Lieutenant. Karl," he began again, after a little thought, "I
would hold to the crown-prince."

"Eh, what! Bräsig, what are you talking about?" said Habermann,
hastily, "I shall go right on my way."

"Yes, Karl, so should I, and so would every body who was not a Jesuit.
But look at the gracious Fräulein once more! She goes right on her way
too, but through the rape-stubble. Karl----" But the young people were
too near, he could say no more; only in an aside he added, "A Jesuit?
No! But he is a vocative."

"I thank you, Herr Habermann, that you have waited here for me," said
Axel von Rambow, as they came up. "My sister and I are bound on two
different expeditions; she is seeking corn-flowers, and I colts; she
has found no corn-flowers, and I no colts."

"Gracious lady," said Bräsig, "if you mean by corn-flowers our common
field blossoms,--but," he interrupted himself, "how this infamous
stubble has ruined your pretty dress, all the flounces torn off!" and
with that he bent down as if he would render the young lady the service
of a maid.

"No matter!" cried the Fräulein, drawing back a little, "it is an old
dress. But where are the corn-flowers?"

"I will show you,--it is a real pleasure,--here close by, near
Gurlitz, corn-flowers, and scarlet-runners, and white-thorn, and
thistle-blows,--in short, a whole plantation."

"That will do nicely, dear Fidelia," said the lieutenant. "You go with
the Herr Inspector Bräsig for the corn-flowers, and I beg Herr
Habermann to accompany me to see the colts. For, do you know," said he
to Habermann, "my good old papa was in such a good humor this morning,
that he has given me permission to select the best of the four-year-old
colts for my own use.

"I will show you the animals with pleasure," said Habermann, "there are
some fine fellows, among them."

So the two companies separated, and Habermann only heard further how
Bräsig said to the Fräulein Fidelia he was very glad to make her
acquaintance, because he had once had a dog which was also named,
"Fidèle," and she was a famous rat-catcher!

Habermann went with the Herr Lieutenant toward the colt-paddock. They
talked together, naturally about farming matters,--the lieutenant was a
lively young fellow, and Habermann had known him from childhood,--but
the man had learned nothing about them, all his views were too far
beyond, and none of his questions were to the point, so that Habermann
said to himself, "He is good natured, very good-natured, but he knows
nothing, and yet--God bless him--when the old Herr is gone, he must
take the estate, and make his living off it!"

As they were come to the paddock, and had mustered the colts, the
lieutenant placed himself before Habermann, and asked, "Now, what do
you say? which shall I take?"

"The brown," said Habermann.

"I would rather choose the black. Look at the beautiful neck, the fine
head!"

"Herr von Rambow," said Habermann, "you don't ride on head and neck,
you ride on back and legs; you want a horse for use, and the brown is
worth three of the black."

"There seems to be English blood in the black."

"That is true, he is descended from Wildfire; but there is old
Mecklenburg blood in the brown, and it is a shame that one should let
that go,--that one should not value the good which the fatherland
offers, and exchange them for English racers."

"That may be true," said Axel, "but in our regiment my comrades have
only black horses,--I decide for the black."

That was a reason which Habermann did not rightly understand, so he was
silent, and as they went back, the conversation was a little one-sided;
but as they were near the house--right before the door, as if he had
spared himself to the last moment--the lieutenant held back the
inspector, and with a deep sigh, as if he would shake off a burden from
his heart, he said, "Habermann, I have long wished to speak to you
privately. Habermann, I have debts,--you must help me! It is nine
hundred dollars that I must pay, I must have it."

That was a hard request for Habermann, but in truly serious business,
age makes itself respected; he looked the young man of three-and-twenty
full in the face, and said shortly, "Herr von Rambow, I cannot do it."

"Habermann, dear Habermann, I have such pressing need of the money."

"Then you must tell your father."

"My father? No, no! He has already paid debts for me, and now he is
sick, it would vex him too much."

"Still you must tell him. Such business must not be done with strange
people, it should be settled between father and son."

"Strange people?" asked Axel, and looked him so beseechingly and
affectionately in the eye, "Habermann, am I then so strange to you?"

"No, Herr von Rambow, no!" cried Habermann, and grasped after the young
man's hand, but did not reach it. "You are not strange to me. Anything
that I _could_ do for you, I would do quickly. The matter itself is a
little thing, and if I could not do it alone, my friend Bräsig would
help me out; but dear Herr von Rambow, your father is your natural
helper, this step ought not to be delayed."

"I cannot tell my father," said Axel, plucking at a willow-bush.

"You _must_ tell him," said Habermann as impressively as he could. "He
suspects that you have concealed debts from him, and it troubles him."

"Has he spoken to you about it?"

"Yes, but only in consequence of his own great embarrassment, which is
known to you."

"I know," said Axel, "and I know also the spring at which he has
pumped. Well, what my father does, I can do also," added he coldly and
shortly, and went in at the court-yard gate.

"Herr von Rambow," cried Habermann, and followed him hastily, "I
beseech you, for heaven's sake, not to take this course; it will be in
vain, or it will only plunge you into greater difficulty."

Axel did not listen.

A couple of hours later, the Lieutenant von Rambow stood with
Moses among the woolsacks and the hides in the entry of the Jew's
house,--where David had his pleasure among the mutton-bones, like a bug
in a rug,--and was making apparently a last, despairing attack upon
Moses' cautious money-bags; but Moses held firmly to the decision:
"Really and truly, Herr Baron, I can not. Now, why not, then? Why
should I not? I can still serve you, I can still serve you well in the
business. See, Herr Baron, there stands David. David where are you,
what are you staring at? Come here, David. You see, Herr Baron, there
he stands,--he stands before you and he stands before me. I will not
wink, I will not blink, I will go into the other room; now you
may ask David." And with that, he shoved himself with his right
suspender-shoulder, back into the room.

The poor lieutenant's business must stand a bad chance if he had to
settle it with David, for if he looked in his shining uniform as if he
were riding before the king's carriage, David's outside looked as
shabby as if he had been in the marl and dirt-cart. But this business
depended less on a stately outside, than on who could best get the cart
out of the mud, and at that David was terribly expert. He had three
things in and about himself which stood him in good stead; in the first
place he had a particularly gorgeous Jew-lubber face, and as he stood
there before the lieutenant, and chewed cinnamon-bark, which he stole
out of his mother's pantry, on account of the evil odor of the
business, and with his head askew, and his hands in his pockets, stared
at him, he looked as impudent as if the spirits of all the dead and
gone rats, through the long years of the produce business, had entered
into him; and then, in the second place, his feelings were tough, much
tougher than his father's, and they were not softened by his daily
intercourse with the toughest business in the world, with wool, and
hides, and flax; and, thirdly, he could make himself as repulsive as he
pleased to any one, thanks to this same business.

With such a happily gifted being, the lieutenant could not pull at the
same rope. He went very shortly, with a heavy heart, out of the door;
and David was so rejoiced over his own style and manners, that he
became really compassionate, and he gave him on his way the Christian
advice that he should go to the Notary Slusuhr. "He has it," said he,
"and he can do it."

Scarcely was the young man out of the door, when Moses sprang out of
the room; "David, have you a conscience? I will tell you some news; you
have none! How could you send that young man among those cut-throats?"

"I have only sent him to his own people," said David, churlishly; "if
he is a soldier, he is a cut-throat himself. If the notary cuts his
throat, what do you care? And if he cuts the notary's throat, what do I
care?"

"David," said the old man, and shook his head, "I say, you have no
conscience."

"What is a conscience?" muttered David to himself; "when you are doing
business, you drive me away; when you won't do business, you call me
in."

"David," said the old man, "you are still too young!" and went into the
room.

"If I am too young now," said David spitefully, "I shall always be too
young; but I know a place where I am not too young."

With that, he put on another coat, and went the same way that the
lieutenant had gone, to the Notary Slusuhr's.

What he had to do there, and what else was done there, I know not. I
know merely that the young Herr von Rambow, the same evening at
Pumpelhagen, wrote a number of letters, and sealed up money in them;
and that when he had finished, he sighed deeply, as if he had thrown
off a burden. The first necessity was met; but he had done like the old
woman in the story, he had heated water in the kneading-trough.



                               CHAPTER V.


A couple of days later, the sun looked down in the morning right out of
a rain-cloud, over the landlord's garden at Gurlitz. Her daughter, the
Earth, had been having a great washing, and now she would help her dear
child a little with the drying. It was, as it is always, a great
pleasure to see the old mother settle herself to the task, and with her
broad, friendly face peer out, now here, now there, from the white
cloud-curtain, and again grasp the sprinkler, to dampen the bleached
clothes a little more. On such an occasion she was always very
sportive; she had the drollest fancies, and played as many tricks in
her old age as the youngest girl, when she is beloved for the first
time,--now she was sad enough to cry, and again she laughed heartily.

To-day, moreover, the old woman had reason to laugh, as she looked down
into the Gurlitz garden. "Now, just look there!" cried she, and smiled
right goldenly over the meadow and the green corn, "how strangely
things go on in this crazy world! For long years I have always seen
down there that pretty, white fellow standing, and holding out a staff
to me, that the poor hungry creatures of the human race might be able
to know when it was mid-day, and time for their dinners; and now there
stands in his place a stout, malicious-looking beast, with green
breeches, smoking tobacco. Nowhere do things go on so strangely as in
the world!" And with that the old woman laughed from the bottom of her
heart over the landlord Herr Pomuchelskopp, who stood in his yellow
nankeen coat and green plaid trowsers, by the sun-dial, in the very
place where the handsome heathen god, Apollo, had stood, only instead
of a lyre he had a short pipe in his hand; and yet a shadow often
passed over her face when her eyes fell on her handsome, friendly
secretary, who had for so many years recorded her doings with his
pencil, and now lay among burdocks and nettles in the grass. But she
had to laugh again, for all that.

Pomuchelskopp laughed also; there were no indications of mirth in his
face, but, whenever, from the height which his short stature allowed,
he looked around him, he laughed in his heart: "All mine! All mine!"
The sunbeam which brightened the world was not noticed by him, it
touched neither his face nor his heart; the sunbeam which shone for him
was properly a sum in arithmetic, which warmed his heart, but there
were no signs of it in his face; there must be a joke, an actual joke,
to make him laugh outwardly, and that was not wanting at the present
moment.

His two youngest children, Nanting and Philipping, had come out, and
Philipping had made a rod of burdocks and nettle stalks tied together,
and was flogging the poor, white heathen god, so that Father
Pomuchelskopp laughed heartily; and Nanting ran into the kitchen and
brought a coal, to give him a pair of moustaches, but his father would
not allow this. "Nanting," said he, "let that go, it might disfigure
him, and we may possibly be able to sell him yet. But you may beat
him,"--and they did beat him, and Father Pomuchelskopp laughed as if he
would shake himself out of his green trowsers.

Meanwhile the "Madam" also walked out, the dryer half of Pomuchelskopp.
She was of an extremely tall figure, and as dry as the seven lean kine
of King Pharaoh. Her eyebrows were always puckered up into wrinkles, as
if the cares of the whole world weighed o'er her mind, or her forehead
was drawn into peevish lines above her nose, as if all the crockery
broken by the maid-servants in this world, during a whole year, had
belonged to her; and her mouth looked as sour as if she had drank
vinegar and fed on sorrel all her days. She wore in the morning at this
warm season of the year, a black merino over-sack, which she had once
bought in a time of mourning and still wore; and through the day,
cotton garments dyed olive-green with alder-bark, and to make up for
the extravagance of Pomuchelskopp's new blue dress-coat with bright
buttons, she bundled up her head with old bandages and caps, out of
which her anxious face peered like a half-starved mouse out of a bunch
of tow; and about the rest of her body she heaped one old thing above
another, till her poor little legs looked like a couple of pins lost in
a bundle of rags. However, I would advise every servant to keep out of
her way, for even when her poor bones flew around frivolously on velvet
and silken wings, her troubled soul was anxiously reckoning the expense
and the wearing out.

She was such a mother as one reads of in books,--she planned day and
night how she might make over Malchen's coat into an under-jacket for
Philipping; she loved her children according to the Scriptures, and
chastened them in like manner, and Nanting could often show for one
spot on his jacket two on his back, and for every one on his trousers
two on the flesh they covered. Yes, she was strong against herself and
against her own flesh and blood, but she could rejoice also, according
to the scriptures, with moderation; and, as she came out to-day, and
saw the joyous activity of her youngest offspring, there flew over her
face such a hopeful light as when the February sun looks down on the
fast-frozen soil, and says, "Patience! there will be a good crop of
potatoes here this year."

And she was also such a wife as one reads of in books; no neighbor
could charge her with neglecting her duties a hair's breadth in
thought, word or deed, all her days, although Pomuchelskopp was in her
opinion quite light-minded, because often when joking was going on he
would laugh right out loud, which she thought unbecoming in the father
of a family, and she feared he would at length ruin his fortunes and
bring herself and her children to beggary. She did another thing, which
the minister had not inculcated at her betrothal,--she condemned his
failings, and gave him daily of her own vinegar to drink and of her
sorrel to eat. She tutored him--that is to say when they were alone--as
she did her youngest child, her Philipping, and as if Pomuchelskopp
still wore his green plaid trousers fastened behind; in short, she
drove him just as she pleased. She did not beat him--God forbid! all
was with dignity. Merely by her manner of speaking, she knew how to
express her opinion of him: if he was unusually frivolous, she called
him sharply and shortly by the last syllable of his name, just "Kopp!"
ordinarily she called him by the middle syllable, "Muchel," and when he
was quite after her own heart, and sat sulkily in the sofa-corner
striking at the flies, she called him by the first syllable, and in an
affectionate tone, "Pöking."

She did not call him "Pöking" to-day. "Kopp!" said she, on account of
his light-minded behavior with the children, "Kopp, why do you stand
there smoking like a chimney? I think we should call at the Pastor's."

"My Klücking," said Pomuchelskopp, reluctantly taking the pipe from his
mouth, "we can go. I will put on my dress-coat directly."

"Dress-coat! Why so? Do you think I shall dress up in black silk? It is
only our Pastor." She emphasized the "our," as if she had spoken of her
shepherd, and as if she considered the Pastor merely their hired
servant.

"Just as you please, my Häuhning," said Pomuchelskopp, "I can put on my
brown overcoat. Philipping, let the beating go; Mama doesn't like it."

"Kopp! let the children alone, attend to yourself. You can keep on your
nankeen coat, it is clean and good."

"My Klücking," said Pomuchelskopp, "always noble, my dear Klücking! If
we owe nothing to the Pastor's family, we owe something to ourselves.
And, if Malcheh and Salchen are going too, they must dress themselves
up, and then we will set out."

This argument gained Pomuchelskopp the permission to array himself in
his brown overcoat. He was so rejoiced at having carried his point, a
thing which did not often happen, that in his gratitude he desired to
confer some pleasure upon his Klücking, and make her a sharer in his
own satisfaction; for no one must do Pomuchelskopp the injustice to
suppose that he was overbearing in his own house,--no! there he was
rather humble and depressed. He pointed, therefore, across the fields
and said, "Just look, that is all ours!"

"Muchel, you point too far," said the lady shortly; "all that over
yonder belongs to Pumpelhagen."

"You are right, that is all Pumpelhagen. But"--he added, and the little
eyes looked greedily towards Pumpelhagen, "who knows? If God spares my
life, and I sell my property in Pomerania at a good bargain, and times
continue good, and the old Kammerrath dies, and his son gets into
debt----"

"Yes, Muchel," interrupted his wife, and across her face flitted that
derisive gleam, which was the only approach to a smile ever seen on it,
"yes, just as old Strohpagel said: 'If I were ten years younger, and
hadn't this lame leg, and hadn't a wife--you should see what a fellow I
would be!'"

"Häuhning," said Pomuchelskopp, making a face as if he were grieved to
the heart, "how can you talk so? As if I wished to be rid of you!
Without the thirty thousand dollars, which your father left you, I
never could have bought Gurlitz. And what a fine estate Gurlitz is!
See! this is all Gurlitz!" and he pointed again over the fields.

"Yes, Kopp," said his wife, in a hard tone, "all but the Pastor's
field, which you have let slip out of your fingers."

"Ah, Klücking," said Pomuchelskopp, as they left the garden,
"always the Pastor's field! what can I do? See, I am an honest,
straight-forward man; what can I do against such a pair of sly old
fellows as Habermann and the Pastor? But the day is not over yet,
Monsieur Habermann! We shall have something to say to each other yet,
Herr Pastor!"

At the Pastor's house, this morning, three pretty little girls were
sitting in the Frau Pastorin's neat parlor, busy as bees, their fingers
sewing and their tongues chatting at the same time, and looking, amid
the white linen, as fresh and red as ripe strawberries on a white
plate; these were Louise Habermann and the little twins, Mining and
Lining Nüssler.

"Children," said the little, round Frau Pastorin, as she now and then
looked in from the kitchen, "you cannot think what a pleasure it is to
one in my old age, when I put away my clean linen in the linen-trunk,
and think with every piece when it was spun and when it was sewed! And
how prudent it makes one, to know for oneself how much pains it has
cost! Mining, Mining, your seam is crooked! Good heavens, Louise! I
believe you are looking off half the time, yet you sew right along, and
get no knots in your thread. But now I must go and take up the
potatoes, for my Pastor will be here soon," and with that she ran out
of the door, looking back, however, to say, "Mining and Lining, you
must stay here to dinner to-day!" And so she flew from the kitchen to
the parlor, and from the parlor back to the kitchen, like the pendulum
of a clock, and kept everything in running order.

But how came Lining and Mining Nüssler to be in the Frau Pastorin's
sewing-school? It happened in this way.

When the little twins had got so far that they could speak the "r"
plainly, and no longer played in the sand, and ran after Frau Nüssler
all day long, saying, "Mother, what shall we do now?" then Frau Nüssler
said to young Jochen that it was high time the children went to school;
they must have a governess. Jochen had no objections, and his
brother-in-law, the Rector Baldrian, undertook the task of procuring
one. When she had been six months at Rexow, Frau Nüssler said she was a
cross old thing, she scolded the little girls from morning to night and
made them so skittish that they did not know how to behave; she must
go. Thereupon Kaufman Kurz looked up another; and one day, when nobody
in Rexow dreamed of impending evil, a sort of grenadier walked in at
the door, with heavy black eyebrows, and sallow complexion, and with
spectacles on her nose, and announced herself as the new "governess."
She began to talk French to the little twins, and as she observed that
the poor little creatures were so ignorant that they could not
understand her in the least, she turned, in the same language, to young
Jochen. Such a thing had never happened to young Jochen in his life; he
let his pipe fall from his mouth, and as they were drinking coffee he
said, in order to say something, "Mother, ask the new school-ma'am to
take another cup."

This one was a "governess" over the whole house, and Frau Nüssler stood
it bravely for a while; but finally she said, "Stop! This won't do; if
anybody is to command here it is I, for I am the nearest, as Frau
Pastorin says;" and she gave the grenadier her marching orders. Then
uncle Bräsig offered his assistance, and engaged a teacher,--"A smart
one," he said, "always in good spirits, and she can play you dead on
the harpsichord." He was right; one evening in the winter, there
arrived at Rexow a little blue-cheeked, hump-backed body, who, after
the first ten minutes, attacked the new piano, which Jochen had bought
at auction, and belaboured it as if she were threshing wheat. When she
had gone to bed, young Jochen opened the piano, and when he saw that
three strings were broken, he shut it up again, and said, "Yes, what
shall we do about it?"

There were lively times in the house now; the girl-governess ran and
romped with the little girls, until Frau Nüssler came to the conclusion
that her oldest, Lining, had really more sense than the mamselle. She
wished to inform herself how the mamselle managed the children in
school-hours; she requested, therefore, to be shown a plan of their
studies, and the next day Lining brought her a great sheet of paper
with all the "branches" marked out. There was German and French,
Orthography and Geography, and Religion, and Biblical History, and
other History, and also Biblical Natural History, and then to conclude
with, music, and music, and music.

"Eh!" said Frau Nüssler to Jochen, "she may teach them all the music
she wants to, for all me, if the religion is only of the right sort.
What do you say, Jochen?"

"Yes," said Jochen, "it is all as true as leather!"

Well, she might have stayed, if Lining had not let out, accidentally,
that mamselle played jack-stones with them in the Biblical History; and
as Frau Nüssler heard one day, during the "Religion" hour, such a
romping in the school-room that she opened the door suddenly, to see
what kind of religion was going on, behold! Mamselle was playing
"Cuckoo" with the children. Madam Nüssler could not approve of this
lively sort of religion, so Mamselle "Hop-on-the-hill" hopped after the
grenadier.

It was very inconvenient, because it was now the middle of the fourth
quarter, and if Frau Nüssler complained that the children were running
wild, Jochen only said; "Yes, what shall I do about it?" But he began
to study the Rostock "Times" with uncommon interest; and one day he
laid aside the "Times," and ordered Christian to get out the "phantom."
His good wife was considerably astonished, for she had no idea what he
was thinking of; but as she looked at the pipe side of his face, and
noticed that his mouth was stretched wider than usual, which
represented a friendly smile, she gave herself no more anxiety, and
said, "Let him go! He has something good in his head."

After three days Jochen returned with an elderly, almost
transparent-looking lady, and it went through the whole region like a
running fire: "Only think! young Jochen has got a governess himself."

Bräsig came the next Sunday to see her; he was tolerably contented with
her, "But," said he, finally, "look out, young Jochen, she has nerves."

Bräsig was not only a good judge of horses, but a judge of human
nature; he was right,--Mamselle was nervous, very nervous indeed. The
poor little twins went about on tiptoe, Mamselle took away Lining's
ball, because she had accidentally thrown it at the window, and locked
up the piano, so that Lining could no longer play, "Our cat has
nine kittens," the only piece which she had learned from Mamselle
"Hop-on-the-hill." Before long Mamselle added cramps to her nerves, and
Madam Nüssler must run with sundry bottles of "drops," and both Fika
and Corlin must sit up with her nights, because either one alone would
be afraid. "Send her away," said uncle Bräsig; but Frau Nüssler was too
good for that, she sent rather for the doctor. Dr. Strump was summoned
from Rahnstadt, and after examining the patient, he pronounced it a
very interesting case, the more so that he had lately been studying
"the night-side of Nature."

Young Jochen and his wife thought nothing worse from that than that the
doctor had lately been a good deal out of his bed o' nights, but he
meant something quite different.

One day, when the doctor was with the mamselle, Corlin called from the
stairs:--

"Frau, Frau! there is mischief going on. The doctor has been stroking
her over her face, and now she is asleep, and talking in her sleep. She
told me I had a lover."

"God bless me!" cried Bräsig, who happened to be there, "what sort of
business is the woman carrying on?" and he went up-stairs with Frau
Nüssler. After a while he came down, and asked, "Now, what do you say
to, it young Jochen?"

Jochen reflected awhile, and then said, "Yes, that doesn't help the
matter, Bräsig."

"Jochen," said Bräsig, going up and down the room with great strides,
"I said to you before, 'send her away;' now I say, don't send her away.
I asked her if it would rain to-morrow, and she said to me, in her
somnambulic state, that it would rain torrents. If it rains torrents
to-morrow, then take down your barometer from the wall,--barometers are
of no use, and yours has stood there two years, always at fair
weather,--and hang her up there; you can benefit yourself and the whole
region."

Young Jochen said nothing, but when next morning it rained torrents, he
was silent indeed, and his astonishment kept him dumb for three days.

The rumor spread in the neighborhood, that young Jochen had a
fortune-teller at his house, and that she had prophesied the great rain
on Saturday, and also that Corlin Kräuger and Inspector Bräsig would be
married within a year. Dr. Strump naturally did his share toward
setting this interesting case in a clear light, and it was not long
before Frau Nüssler's quiet house became a kind of pilgrim's shrine, to
which resorted all who were curious, or scientific, or interested in
physical science; and, because Frau Nüssler would have nothing to do
with it, and Jochen was incapable, Zachary Bräsig undertook the
business, when the doctor was not there, and ushered troops of visitors
into the mamselle's room, and explained her somnambulic condition; and
before the bed, by the mamselle, sat Christian the coachman, who was
not afraid of the devil himself, for Corlin and Fika would no longer
watch by her, even in the day time, having taken it into their heads
that she was not respectable; because they translated Bräsig's
expression, "sonnenbuhlerisch" (somnambulic), into Platt-Deutsch, and
said the mamselle was "sünnenbuhlerisch" (no better than she should
be).

Among the visitors, who came to see this wonder, was the young Baron
von Mallerjahn of Gräunenmur, who came daily to investigate the
physical sciences and thought no harm of going into mamselle's room
without Bräsig. Frau Nüssler was disturbed by the impropriety of the
thing, and requested Jochen to put a stop to the nuisance, upon which
Jochen replied that they might put Christian up there; but when
Christian came down one day, and said the Herr Baron had sent him away,
because he smelled too strong of the stable, then Frau Nüssler's
annoyance broke out in a flood of tears, and, if Bräsig had not arrived
just then, she would herself have treated the Herr Baron to a scolding;
but Bräsig, like a true knight, took the business upon himself.

He went up-stairs, and said very courteously and decidedly, "Gracious
Herr Baron, will you have the kindness to step the other side of the
door for a moment."

It was possibly too fine for the Herr Baron's comprehension, he laughed
rather confusedly, and said he stood for the moment in magnetic
_rapport_ with the mamselle.

"Monetic apport!" said Bräsig. "We need none of your money here, and
none of your apporters either; Christian was put here on purpose to
prevent such doings."

Bräsig himself stood in magnetic _rapport_, without being conscious of
it, for when Frau Nüssler wept he fell into a passion, and in great
wrath he cried to the baron, "Herr, be off with you, out of the house!"

The baron was naturally astonished at this speech, and inquired rather
haughtily whether Bräsig was aware that he was growing rude.

"Do you call that rudeness?" cried Bräsig, taking the baron by the arm.
"Then I will show you something else!"

But the disturbance awoke the mamselle out of her sleep; she sprang
from the sofa and grasped the baron by the other arm: she wouldn't stay
here, nobody here understood her, he alone understood her, she would go
with him.

"The best thing you can do," said Bräsig. "Don't let us detain you! Two
birds with one stone!" and he assisted her down stairs.

The carriage of the Herr Baron was all ready, and drove up to the door;
the Herr Baron himself was in great perplexity, but the mamselle held
fast.

"Yes, there's no help for it," said young Jochen, as he watched their
departure.

"Young Jochen," said Bräsig, as the equipage left the yard, "she is
like leather, she is tough. And you, madam," said he to Frau Nüssler,
"let the man go, now he can see as much as he likes of his monetic
treasure."

Habermann had been absent a good deal of late, on business for his
master, and, when he came home for a day or two, he had so much to
attend to on the estate that he could not trouble himself about other
people's affairs. He had been at his sister's however, and had
comforted her about the mamselle, that it was merely sickness and would
pass over; but as he came home this time, the report was all over the
neighborhood that young Jochen's sleeping mamselle had gone off with
the Baron von Mallerjahn, but that she had previously infected Bräsig
with prophesying, and Christian with sleeping. Bräsig prophesied
wherever he went, and Christian fell asleep even on his feet.

Habermann went to Pastor Behrens, and inquired what he knew of the
story, and asked him to go with him to his sister's.

"Willingly, dear Habermann," said the Pastor; "but I have not troubled
myself much about this matter, for good reasons. I know very well that
in our good fatherland many of my brethren in Christ have occupied
themselves in healing the possessed, and casting out devils; but I
think such cases belong rather to the department of the physician,
or"--with a rather peculiar laugh--"to that of the police."

When they came to Rexow, the cheerful, active Frau Nüssler, who could
usually shake off easily the worst misfortune, or the most annoying
vexation, seemed quite another person.

"Herr Pastor," said she, "Brother Karl, that crazy woman has gone, and
I had trouble enough about her, and so have they all gone, that I have
had; but that is no matter, I shall get over that. What troubles me is
my poor little girls, who know nothing and learn nothing. And when I
think how the poor little dears will seem among their elders and equals
like a couple of fools, knowing nothing that is talked about, and not
even knowing how to write a letter--no, Herr Pastor, you, who have
learned so much, you cannot know how one feels, but I know, and, Karl,
you can understand it too. No, Herr Pastor, even though my heart should
break, and I should go about alone with Jochen in this great house,
like one in a dream, I will give up my little girls to go away to
school, rather than have them remain stupid all their lives. You see,
when Louise comes here, she is intelligent; one can talk with her, and
she can read the newspaper to Jochen. Min can read too, but if she
comes to a strange word, she begins to stammer. For instance the other
day Louise read 'Burdoh,' and the place is called so,--and Min read
'Bo-ur-de-aux.' What is the good of 'Bo-ur-de-aux,' when the city is
called 'Burdoh?'"

The Pastor had risen during this speech, and walked thoughtfully about
the room; at last he came to a stand before Frau Nüssler, looked at her
observantly and said, "My dear neighbor, I will make you a proposition.
Louise is a little more advanced, to be sure, but that makes no
difference; you shall not be separated from your little ones,--let me
instruct them."

Frau Nüssler had never thought of such an offer, and it seemed to her
like drawing the great prize in the lottery, or as if she had stepped
out of shadow into sunshine. She stared at the Pastor with her
wide-open, blue eyes; "Herr Pastor!" she cried, springing up from her
chair, "Jochen, Jochen, did you hear? The Herr Pastor offers to teach
the children himself."

Jochen had heard, and was also on his feet, trying to say something; he
said nothing, however, only fumbled and grappled for the Herr Pastor's
hand, until he grasped it, then pressed it warmly, and drew him to the
sofa, behind the supper table, which was spread; and when Frau Nüssler
and Habermann had fully expressed their pleasure, he also had become
capable of expression, and said, "Mother, pour out a cup for the Herr
Pastor."

So Mining and Lining were now daily guests at the Gurlitz parsonage.
They were as clearly a pair of twins as ever; only that Lining as the
eldest was perhaps half an inch taller than Mining, and Mining was a
good half inch larger round the waist, and--if one looked very
closely--Mining's nose was a trifle shorter than Lining's.

And so on the day when Pomuchelskopp set out to make his first call at
the parsonage, the twins were in the Frau Pastorin's sewing-school, for
the Frau Pastorin also meant to do her duty by the children, when the
Pastor was occupied with the business of his calling.

"God bless me!" exclaimed the Frau Pastorin, running into the room,
"children put your work aside; take it all into the bedroom, Louise;
Mining, pick up the threads and scraps; Lining, you put the chairs in
order! Here come our new landlord with his wife and daughters, across
the church-yard, right up to the house,--and, bless his heart! my
Pastor has gone to Warnitz to a christening!" And she grasped
unconsciously her duster, but had to lay it aside directly, for there
was a knock at the door, and upon her "Come in!" Pomuchelskopp with his
wife and his two daughters, Malchen and Salchen, entered the room.

"They did themselves the honor," said Pomuchelskopp, endeavoring to
make a graceful bow, which on account of his peculiar build was
rather a failure, "to wait upon the Herr Pastor, and the Frau
Pastorin--acquaintance--neighborhood----"

Frau Pomuchelskopp stood by, as stiff and stately as if she had that
morning been plated with iron, and Malchen and Salchen, in their gay
silk dresses, stared at the three little maidens in their clean cotton
garments, like a goldfinch at a hedge-sparrow.

The Frau Pastorin was the most cordial person in the world, to her
friends; but when she met strangers, and her Pastor was not present to
speak for himself, she took his dignity also upon her shoulders. She
drew herself up to her full height, looking as round and full as a
goose on the spit, and with every word that she spoke the cap ribbons
under her little double chin wagged back and forth with a dignified
air, as if they would say, "Nobody shall take precedence of me!"

"The honor is quite on our side," said she. "Unfortunately my Pastor is
not at home. Won't you sit down?" and with that she seated the two old
Pomuchelskopps on the sofa, under the picture-gallery.

Meanwhile, as the older people were discussing indifferent topics with
an appearance of interest, as the custom is, and now one and now
another advancing opinions to which the rest could not assent, Louise
went, in a friendly way, as was proper, to the two young ladies, and
shook hands with them, and the little twins followed her example, as
was also proper.

Now Malchen and Salchen were just eighteen and nineteen years old. They
were not handsome; Salchen had a gray, pimpled complexion, and Malchen,
though she was not to blame for it, bore too striking a resemblance to
her father. But they were _educated_--save the mark! and had recently
attended the Whitsuntide fair and Trinity ball, at Rostock, so there
was really a great difference between them and the little girls, and
since they were not very kindly disposed, they looked rather coldly on
the little maidens.

These, however, either did not notice it, or took it as a matter of
course that their advances should be received with coolness, and Louise
said with great admiration to Malchen, "Ah, what a beautiful dress you
have on!"

Even an educated young lady might be pleased at that, and Malchen
became a little more friendly, as she said, "It is only an old one; my
new one cost, with the trimming and dress-making, all of ten dollars
more."

"Papa gave them to us for the Trinity ball. Ah, how we danced there!"
added Salchen.

Now Louise had heard in sermons about Sundays before and after Trinity,
but of a Trinity ball she knew nothing; in fact she had no definite
conception of a ball itself, for though the Frau Pastorin in her youth
had taken pleasure like other people, and had occasionally set foot in
a ball-room, yet, out of consideration for her present dignified
position, she always answered Louise's questions what a ball was
like,--"Mere frivolity!"

As for Lining and Mining they would have known nothing of balls, for
though their mother danced in her younger days, it was merely at
harvest feasts, and young Jochen had indeed once gone to a ball, but
upon reaching the door of the saloon he was so frightened that he beat
a retreat,--but Uncle Bräsig's descriptions had given the children a
confused idea of many white dresses with green and red ribbons, of
violins and clarionettes, of waltzes and quadrilles, and many, many
glasses of punch. And as Uncle Bräsig had described it all, he had also
given an illustration, with his short legs, of the sliding step, and
the hop step, so that they laughed prodigiously; but what a "ball,"
such a ball as the last governess had taken away from Mining, had to do
with it all, they had never comprehended. So Mining asked quite
innocently, "But, if you dance, how do you play with a ball?"

Mining was a thoughtless little girl, and she should not have asked
such a question; but, considering her youth and inexperience, the
Misses Pomuchelskopp need not have laughed quite so loud as they did.

"Oh dear!" cried Salchen, "that is too stupid!"

"Yes, good gracious! so very countrified!" said Malchen, and drew
herself up in a stately attitude, as if she had lived under the shadow
of St. Peter's tower in Rostock from her babyhood, and the first
burgomeister of the city had been her next door neighbor.

Poor little Mining turned as red as a rose, for she felt that she must
have made a great blunder, and Louise grew red also, but it was from
anger. "Why do you laugh?" she cried hastily, "why do you laugh because
we know nothing about balls?"

"See, see! How excited!" laughed Malchen. "My dear child----"

She went no further in her wise speech, being interrupted by hasty
words from the group on the sofa.

"Frau Pastorin, I say it is wrong; I am the owner of Gurlitz, and if
the Pastor's field was to be rented----"

"It was my Pastor's doing, and the Kammerrath is an old friend, and one
of our parishioners, and the field joins his land as well as it does
yours, and Inspector Habermann----"

"Is an old cheat," interrupted Pomuchelskopp.

"He has already done us an injury," added his wife.

"What?" cried the little Frau Pastorin, "what?"

But her dear old heart thought in a minute of little Louise, and she
overcame her anger, and began to wink and blink. It was too late; the
child had heard her father's name, had heard the slander, and stood now
before the arrogant man, and the cold, hard woman.

"What is my father? What has my father done?"

Her eyes shot fiery glances at the two who had spoken evil of her
father, and the young frame which up to this time had known constant
peace and joy, quivered with passion.

People tell us that sometimes the fair, still, green earth trembles,
and fire and flame burst forth, and showers of gray ashes bury the
dwellings of men, and the temples of God. It seemed to her that a
beautiful temple, in which she had often worshipped, had been buried
under gray ashes, and her grief broke forth in streaming tears, as her
good foster-mother put her arms around her, and led her from the room.

Muchel looked at his Klücking, and Klücking looked at her Muchel; they
had got themselves into trouble. It was quite another thing from having
one of his laborer's wives come to him, in tears, and a pitiful tale of
sorrow and distress--he knew what to do in such cases; but here he had
no occasion for reproaches or advice, and, as he glanced about him in
his confusion, and saw upon the wall the hands of Christ stretched out
in blessing, it seemed to him that the flashing eyes of Louise had
turned appealingly toward them, and he remembered how Christ had said,
"Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of
Heaven." He did not feel exactly comfortable.

His brave Klücking also, was quite disturbed. She had heard her own
children screaming many a time under her vigorous discipline, but this
was a different matter; Malchen and Salchen had often shot fire from
their eyes, and stamped their feet, but this was a different matter.
She recovered herself soon, however, and said,--

"Kopp, don't make such a stupid face! What did she say about her
father? Is Habermann her father?"

"Yes," answered Mining and Lining, through their tears, "that is Louise
Habermann." And they followed their little friend into the next room,
to cry with her; for though they did not know how deeply her heart was
wounded, they reckoned themselves one with her, in joy and sorrow.

"I did not know that," said Pomuchelskopp; the very words he had used
years before, when Habermann's wife lay in her coffin.

"A foolish girl!" said his Häuhning. "Malchen and Salchen, come, we
will go; the Pastor's wife won't come back again."

And so they went off, like the year 1822, of which Häuhning represents
the 1, on account of her leanness, and because she would always be
number 1, Pomuchelskopp the 8, on account of his size and rotundity,
and the two daughters the two figure 2's,--for such a 2 always looks to
me like a goose swimming on the water.

As they stepped out of the door, the Pastor was just returning from his
duties at Warnitz, and had brought Uncle Bräsig home with him. He knew
by their appearance that they had been making a ceremonious visit, and
sprung hastily from the carriage, that he might be in time for a part
of it.

"Ah, good day! How do you do? But," he added in surprise, "where is my
wife?"

"She went off and left us," said Frau Pomuchelskopp, stiffly.

"Eh, there must be some mistake! Do come in again, I shall be back
directly," and he ran into the house.

Meanwhile Bräsig had gone up to his old comrade Pomuchelskopp: "Good
day, Zamel, how are you?"

"Thank you, Herr Inspector, very well," was the reply.

Bräsig elevated his eyebrows, looked him square in the face, and
whistled square in his face. If Frau Pomuchelskopp wished to make him a
courtesy, she might do so, but only to his back, for he turned about
and went into the house.

"Come, Kopp," said she sharply, and the procession moved off.

As the pastor entered the house, he found nobody there; he went through
into the garden, and called, and it was not long before he saw the
little twins sitting under a raspberry hedge, with red eyes, and they
pointed to the birch-tree arbor, with anxious looks, as if to say he
must go there if he would find out what the trouble was. He went to the
arbor, and there sat his Regina, with the child in her lap, trying to
comfort her. When she saw her Pastor, she put the child gently down on
the bench, drew him out of the arbor, and told him the matter.

Pastor Behrens listened in silence; but as his wife repeated the wicked
word that the Herr Landlord had used, there flashed over his
intelligent, quiet face a look of bitter anger, and then his clear eyes
shone with the deepest compassion. He said to his wife that she might
go in, and he would speak to the child. So it had come at last! his
lovely flower had been pierced by a poisonous worm; the pitiless world
had grasped this soft, pure heart with its hard, coarse hand, and the
finger-marks could never be effaced; now it had entered upon the great,
never-ending struggle, which is fought out here on earth until hearts
cease to beat. It must come, yes, it must come, he knew that well
enough; but he knew also that the greatest art of one who would train a
human soul lies in keeping away, as long as possible, the hard hand
from the tender heart, until that also had become harder, and then, if
the evil grip should be even worse, the black fingers will not leave
such deep marks upon the heart, until then innocent of the never-ending
struggle. He went into the arbor. Thou art still happy, Louise; well is
it for one who in such an hour is blessed with a faithful friend!

Frau Pastorin, meanwhile, went into the parlor, and found Bräsig.
Bräsig, instead of sitting down on the comfortable sofa, under the
picture-gallery, or at least in a reasonable chair, had seated himself
on a table, and was working like a linen-weaver, in his excitement over
Pomuchelskopp's ceremonious behavior. "There you see me, there you have
me!" he cried angrily. "The Jesuit!" As the Frau Pastorin came in, he
sprang from his table, and cried,--

"Frau Pastorin, what should you say of anybody you had known forty
years, and you meet him, and you speak to him, and he calls you
"Sie?"[1]

"Ah, Bräsig----"

"That is what Pomuchelskopp has done to me."

"Let the man alone! He has done worse mischief here;" and she related
what had happened.

Bräsig was angry, exceedingly angry, over the injury which he had
received, but when he heard this he was angry beyond measure; he
stormed up and down the room, and made use of language for which the
Frau Pastorin would have reproved him severely, had she not been very
angry herself; at last he thrust himself into the sofa corner, and sat,
without saying a word, looking straight before him.

The Pastor entered, his Regina looked at him inquiringly.

"She is watering the flowers," he said, as if to compose her, and he
walked in his quiet way, up and down the room, finally turning toward
Bräsig. "What are you thinking of, dear friend?"

"Hell-fire! I am thinking about hell-fire, Herr Pastor!"

"Why of that?" asked the Pastor.

But instead of replying, Bräsig sprang to his feet, and said:

"Tell me, Herr Pastor, is it true that there are mountains that vomit
fire?"

"Certainly," said the Pastor.

"And are they good or bad for mankind?"

"The people who live in the neighbourhood consider the eruptions a good
thing, because then the earthquakes are not so violent."

"So? so?" said Bräsig, apparently not quite satisfied with the answer.
"But it is true, isn't it," he went on, "that such mountains send forth
flame and smoke, like a chimney?"

"Something so," said the Pastor, who had not the slightest idea what
Bräsig was driving at.

"Well," said Bräsig, stamping with his foot, "then I wish that the
devil would take Zamel Pomuchelskopp by the nape of his neck, and hold
him over one of those fire-spouting holes till he got his deserts."

"Fie, Bräsig!" cried the little Pastorin, "you are a heathen. How can
you utter such an unchristian wish in a minister's house!"

"Frau Pastorin," said Bräsig, going back into the sofa-corner, "it
would be a great benefit to mankind."

"Dear Bräsig," said the Pastor, "we must remember that these people
used the disgraceful expression without any intention of hurting us."

"It is all one to me," cried Bräsig, "with or without intention. He
provoked me with intention, but what he did here without intention was
a thousand times worse. You see, Herr Pastor, one must get angry
sometimes, and we farmers get angry regularly two or three times a
day,--it belongs to the business; but moderately, what I call a sort of
farm-boy anger. For example, yesterday I was having the fallow-ground
marled, and I had ordered the boys to form a line with their carts.
Then I stood in the marl-pit, and all was going nicely. Then, you see,
there came that lubber, Christian Kohlhaas,--a real horned-beast of a
creature,--there he was with his full cart coming back to the pit. 'You
confounded rascal!' said I, 'what under heaven! are you going to bring
the marl back again!' Do you believe, that blockhead looked me right in
the face, and said he wasn't quite ready to empty the cart, and would
go into the line. Well, I was angry, you may be sure; but there are
different sorts of anger. This was a proper farm-boy anger, and that
kind agrees with me, especially after dinner; but here--I can't scold
Pomuchelskopp as I do the farm-boys. It all stays here, I can't get rid
of it. And you will see, Frau Pastorin, to-morrow I shall have that
cursed gout again."

"Bräsig," said the Frau Pastorin, "will you do me a favour? Don't tell
Habermann anything of this."

"Eh, why should I, Frau Pastorin? But I will go to little Louise, and
comfort her, and tell her that Samuel Pomuchelskopp is the meanest,
most infamous rascal on the face of the earth."

"No, no," said the Pastor, hastily, "let that go. The child will get
over it, and I hope all will be well again."

"No? Then good-bye," said Bräsig, reaching for his cap.

"Surely, Bräsig, you will stay to dinner with us?"

"Thank you kindly, Frau Pastorin. There is reason in all things. One
must be angry sometimes, to be sure; but better after dinner than
before. I had better go and work in the marl-pit; but Christian would
do well not to come back today with his full cart to the marl-pit. So
good-bye, once more." And with that he went off.



                               CHAPTER VI.


Habermann heard nothing of this occurrence. His child said nothing to
him about it, only treated him with increased tenderness and reverence,
if that were possible, as if with her greater love to make up to him
the wrong which had been done him. Frau Nüssler, who had heard the
whole story from her little girls, could not find it in her heart to
say a word to her brother which could grieve him, or make him
suspicious of others. The Pastor and his wife had the same reason for
silence, and also the wish that the whole matter should be forgotten by
Louise.

Jochen Nüssler said nothing of consequence, and Bräsig also held his
peace, that is toward Habermann. It happened, however, through
his feeling of injury at this self-restraint, and the attack of
gout,--which came as he said it would the next day,--that he excited
the whole neighborhood against Pomuchelskopp; and as the latter made no
special efforts towards friendship and sociability, it was not long
before his intercourse with his neighbors was like my wife's kitchen
floor at Pentecost, so naked and bare was he left in this respect.

Pomuchelskopp looked upon social intercourse as a garden merely, in
which he could plant his pride-beans; whether the garden gave him
shade, or produced flowers, was of little importance to him provided
that he had room for himself and what belonged to him to spread and
grow. He had come into Mecklenburg, in the first place, because he
could buy Gurlitz at a good bargain; but, secondly because he had a
vague idea of his future prospects as a landlord.

"Häuhning," said he to his wife, "here in Pomerania, every body rules
us, and the landrath says, 'It shall be so and so,' but in Mecklenburg
we shall be law-givers ourselves, I among others. And I have heard it
is customary there for rich burghers, who live like the nobility, to
become ennobled in time. Think, Küking, how it would seem to be called
'my gracious lady von Pomuchelskopp!' but one must not throw himself
away!"

And he took pains not to throw himself away, giving up, for that
purpose, one of his chief pleasures, the boasting and bragging of his
money, in order not to associate too familiarly with the farmers and
inspectors of the neighborhood. For that purpose, he had greeted old
Bräsig with "Sie," and had honored only Bräsig's Herr Count with a
formal visit. He went in his blue dress-coat, with bright buttons, and
the new coach with four brown horses, and was as welcome there as a hog
in a Jew's house. When he came home, he sat out of humor in the
sofa-corner, and struck at the flies; and as his wife who always became
affectionate when he was cross, said, "Pöking, what is the matter?" he
grumbled, "What should be the matter? Nothing is the matter, only these
confounded nobility, who are friendly to look at, and when you come
nearer it is good for nothing. Oh, yes, he asked me to sit down, and
then he inquired very politely how he could serve me. I don't want
anything of him, I am better off than he; but I could think of nothing
to say, at the moment, and then there was such a silence that I must
needs go."

But for all that, Pomuchelskopp would not throw himself away,--by no
means! He trailed after the nobility like the tail after a sheep, and
although he would never advance a penny of wages to his own people, and
the poor tradesmen in the city had to wait till the year's end for
their hard-earned pay, he had money for any spendthrift young
gentleman. And, while every poor devil of a fellow who went through his
fields was fined without pity, for trespassing, Bräsig's gracious Herr
Count had permission, even in harvest time, to go over them with the
whole hunt; and while he cheated the Pastor shamefully in his
Easter-lamb, the Herr Count's hunter could shoot the roe-buck before
his very door, and he made no complaint. No! Zamel Pomuchelskopp did
not throw himself away!

Habermann kept out of his way. He was not a man for strife and
contention, and was too well satisfied with his situation, to be
looking here and there after other things. He was like a man, who,
after being out in a storm, sits warm and dry in the chimney-corner;
and his only trouble was his anxiety about his good master. He had some
time before received a letter from him, in a strange hand, and with a
black seal, which said that he had had a stroke of paralysis, and had
not yet recovered the use of his right hand; but the greatest
affliction which had befallen him was the loss of his wife, who had
died suddenly, in full health. And it said also that his nephew Franz
would arrive at Pumpelhagen, at Michaelmas, in order to learn farming.
"It is his own wish to handle the spade and learn everything for
himself. I also think it best." These words were written in the
Kammerrath's own hand. A couple of weeks later he received another
letter, in which the Kammerrath informed him that he had resigned his
post in Schwerin and intended, after the next Easter, to reside at
Pumpelhagen, with his three unmarried daughters; through the winter, he
must remain in Schwerin, on account of his health. Habermann should
however retain complete management of everything.

This would be a change, which would have some effect upon his
situation; and, though he had no occasion to dread the eye of the
master, and would gladly exert himself to do anything for his comfort,
yet he could not help saying to himself that the quiet peace and
simplicity of his life were over, and how long would it be before
greater changes must come?

Michaelmas came, and with it came Franz von Rambow. He was not what is
called a handsome young man; but he was healthy and strong, and upon
nearer view one was struck by the earnestness of his manner, and the
good-nature in his eyes. A shadow of sadness sometimes fell upon his
face, which may have been owing to the fact that he lost his parents in
early youth, and had since stood as an orphan, alone in the world. As
one might infer from his appearance, he was no fool; he had good
natural talents, which had been developed at the school in which he had
fitted for the university, and he had also learned a more important
lesson, how to labor. He was a young tree, raised in a nursery in a
hard soil, and the wood had grown slowly, but firmly; he had shot out
no rank shoots into the air, his branches were low, but wide-spread,
and when he should be transplanted he would need no prop. "Let him be,"
the gardener would say, "he is tough and strong, he can stand alone."

At present, he was twenty years old, and the three years' child whom
Habermann recollected had become a steady young man, with future
prospects such as few young men in the country were possessed of. He
owned two fine estates, which had become freed from debt by prudent
management during his minority. It was before his recollection, to be
sure, that Habermann had served as inspector with his father; but he
had been told how friendly the inspector had always been toward him,
and when a good, simple-hearted man knows that another has carried him
in his arms, as a child, confidence easily glides into his heart, and
he seems to see the little pillow in the cradle, and the tired head
lies softly down, and the dreams of childhood return once more.

Habermann returned this confidence, heartily and gladly. He cautiously
and quietly led the young man along, in the new and unaccustomed path;
he instructed him in matters of the farm-yard and of the field; he told
him the reasons why such a thing should be done, and why it should be
done just so, and not in a different manner. At the same time, he
endeavored to spare him; but as he noticed that his scholar had no wish
to be spared, and desired faithfully to fill his post, he let him have
his way, saying to himself, like the gardener, "Let him alone, he needs
no prop."

But to these contented companions another was to be added, who would
bring life into the house, and that was Fritz Triddelsitz.

The little Frau Pastorin had a brother-in-law, the apothecary
Triddelsitz, at Rahnstadt, and when he heard that Habermann had taken a
pupil to be instructed in farming, he took it into his head that his
Fritz, who was a foppish stripling of seventeen, should learn how to
manage an estate under Habermann's tuition. "Merely the higher
branches," said Fritz; "I know all about common things already, for I
have been twice in the dogdays at the miller's in Bolz, and helped
about the harvesting."

The little Frau Pastorin was not quite pleased with the proposal, for
she knew her greyhound of a nephew, and did not wish that Habermann
should be troubled with him; but her brother-in-law persevered, and the
matter was brought forward. Habermann would have gone through fire and
water for the Pastor and his wife; but he could not decide such a
question on his own responsibility. He wrote to his master about it:
young Triddelsitz wanted to come in as a third, he had many crotchets
in his head, but was good-hearted; his chief recommendation was that he
was the Frau Pastorin's nephew, to whom Habermann was under great
obligation, as the Herr Kammerrath was aware. For the rest, his father
would pay, for two years, a hundred dollars for board. Would it be
agreeable to the Herr Kammerrath, that Fritz Triddelsitz should come to
Pumpelhagen, to learn farming?

The Herr Kammerrath answered by return post; there was no question of
board, the hundred dollars were for tuition, and with that he had
nothing to do, that was Habermann's business; if he thought best, let
him take the young man, and welcome.

This was a great joy to Habermann; nothing more was said of board or
tuition money, for he could now discharge a small portion of the great
debt which he owed to the Pastor and his wife.

So Fritz Triddelsitz came, and in such a way! He was his dear mother's
only son,--to be sure she had a couple of daughters,--and she fitted
him out for his new place, so that he could represent an apprentice, a
travelling agent, an inspector, or a farmer and landlord, according to
the occasion, or as the whim took him to play at farming, in this
manner or that. He had dress-boots and working boots, laced boots and
top-boots; he had morning shoes, and dancing shoes, and fancy slippers;
he had button-gaiters, and riding-gaiters, and other gaiters; he had
dress-coats, and linen frocks, and cloth coats and pilot-coats;
overcoats and under-jackets, and rain-coats, and a variety of long and
short trousers, too numerous to mention.

This outfit for a gentleman farmer arrived at Pumpelhagen one fine day,
in several large boxes, with a fine, soft bed, and a great clumsy
secretary; and the carrier volunteered the news that the young
gentleman would soon be there, he was on the way, and was merely
detained by a struggle with his father's old chestnut horse, who would
come no further than the Gurlitz parsonage, because that had been the
limit of his journeys hitherto. How the contest terminated he did not
see, because he came away; but the young gentleman was coming. And he
came, and as I said before, in what a guise! Like an inspector over two
large estates belonging to a count, and who has the privilege of riding
to the hounds with his gracious Herr Count, in a green hunting-jacket,
and white leather breeches, top-boots with yellow tops, and spurs, and
over the whole a water-proof coat, not because it was likely to rain,
but it was new, and he wanted to hear what people would say about it.
And he came upon his father's old chestnut, and, from the appearance of
both, it was evident that their present relations were the result of a
contest. The horse had come to a stand in the middle of the great
puddle before the Pastor's house, with a fixed determination to go no
further, and Fritz had exercised him for a good ten minutes with whip
and spur, to the great dismay of the little Frau Pastorin, before he
could persuade him to advance; so when he dismounted at Pumpelhagen,
his rain-coat looked as if he had been pelted with mud.

The old chestnut stood before the house, and he pricked up his ears,
and said to himself, "Is he a fool, or am I? I am seventeen years old,
and he is seventeen years old. He has had his way this time, next time
I will have mine. If he treats me so with whip and spur and kicks, next
time I will lie down in the puddle."

When Fritz Triddelsitz came into the room where Habermann, and young
Herr von Rambow, and Marie Möller, the housekeeper, were sitting at
dinner, the old inspector was struck dumb with astonishment, for he had
never seen him before. In his green hunting-jacket, Fritz looked like
one of those long asparagus stalks which spring up in the garden, and
he was so thin and slender that he looked as if one could cut him in
two with his riding-whip. He had high cheek bones and a freckled face,
and something so assured, and yet awkward in his whole demeanor, that
Habermann said to himself, "God bless me! am I to teach him? He feels
above me already."

His reflections were interrupted by a burst of laughter from Franz von
Rambow, in which Marie Möller secretly joined, holding her napkin
before her mouth.

Fritz had begun, "Good-day, Herr Inspector, how do you do?" when he was
interrupted by the laughter; he saw his old schoolmate at Parchen,
shaking with fun; he looked at him rather doubtfully? but it was not
long before he joined in the laugh himself, and then steady old
Habermann could refrain no longer, he laughed till his eyes ran over.
"Man!" said Franz, "how you have rigged yourself up!"

"Always noble!" said Fritz, and Marie Möller disappeared again behind
her napkin.

"Come, Triddelsitz," said Habermann, "sit down to dinner,"

Fritz accepted the invitation--the fellow was in luck, for he had come
at the best season for good living, in the roast-goose season, and as
it happened, a fine, brown bird stood before him, and this beginning of
his study of farming might well be agreeable. He was not at all sparing
of the roast goose, and Habermann reflected silently that if he sat on
horseback as well as at table, paid as much attention to farm-boys as
to roast goose, knew as much about horses' fodder as of his own, and
cleared up business as completely as he did his plate, something might
be made of him in time.

"Well, Triddelsitz," said Habermann, when dinner was over, "now you
can go to your room, and change your clothes, and put this smart
riding-suit away where the moths will not get at it, for you won't need
it again this two years. We don't ride much here, we go on foot, and if
there is any riding to do, I do it myself, by the way."

Before long, Fritz re-appeared, with a pair of greased boots, short
breeches, and a grass-green pilot-coat.

"That will do," said Habermann; "now come, and I will give you some
instructions to begin with."

They went over the farm, and next morning Fritz Triddelsitz stood with
seven of the farm laborers in the Rahnstadt road, and let the water out
of the puddles,--an agreeable business, especially in November, with a
drizzling rain all day long. "The devil!" said Fritz Triddelsitz,
"farming isn't what I took it for!"

A couple of weeks after his arrival, Bräsig came riding into the yard,
one Sunday noon. Fritz had by this time become so far subdued by
Habermann, his monotonous work, and the everlasting rainy weather, that
he began to comprehend his situation as an apprentice, and his natural
good-heartedness made him ready for little services. So he started out
of doors, to assist Bräsig down from his horse, but Bräsig screamed,
"Don't come near me! Don't touch me! Don't come within ten feet of me!
Tell Karl Habermann to come out."

Habermann came: "Bless you, Bräsig, why don't you get down?"

"Karl--no, don't touch me I just get me a soft chair, so that I can get
down by degrees, and then bring a blanket or a sheepskin or something
soft to spread under it, for I have got this confounded gout."

They did as he asked, spreading mats under the chair, and Bräsig
crawled down from the horse, and hobbled into the house.

"Why didn't you send me word you were ill, Bräsig?" said Habermann. "I
would gladly have gone to you."

"You can do nothing for me, Karl; but I couldn't stay in that
confounded hole any longer. But what I was going to say is--I have
given it up."

"Given what up?"

"Getting married. I shall take the pension from my gracious Herr
Count."

"Well, Bräsig, I would do that, in your place."

"Eh, Karl, it is all very well to talk; but it is a hard thing for a
man of my years to give up all his cherished hopes, and go to a
water-cure; for Dr. Strump is determined to send me there. I don't
suppose Dr. Strump knows anything about it, but he has had the accursed
gout himself, and when he sits by me and talks so wisely about it, and
talks about Colchicum and Polchicum, it is a comfort to think that such
a learned man has the gout too."

"So you are going to a water-cure?"

"Yes, Karl; but not before spring. I have made my plans; this winter
I shall grumble along here, then in the spring I will go to the
water-cure, and by midsummer I will take the pension, and go to live in
the old mill-house at Haunerwiem. I thought at first I would go to
Rahnstadt, but there I should have no house rent-free, and no village,
and they would take me for a fat sheep and fleece me and skin me; it
would be contemptible, and also too expensive."

"You are right, Bräsig; stay in the country, it is better for you; and
stay in our neighborhood, for we should miss you sadly, if we did not
see your honest old face, every few days."

"Oh, you have society enough; you have these young people, and, I was
going to say, old Bröker at Kniep, and Schimmel of Radboom would be
glad to send you their boys also. If I were you I would put on an
addition to the old farm-house, to have plenty of room, and establish a
regular agricultural school."

"That does very well for a joke, Bräsig. I have enough to do with
these."

"Yes? How do they get along."

"Well, Bräsig, you know them both, and I have often thought I should
like to ask your opinion."

"I can't tell, Karl, till I have seen how they go. Young farmers are
like colts, one can't judge merely by looking at them, one must see
them put through their paces. See, there goes your young nobleman; call
him a little nearer, and let me examine him."

Habermann laughed, but complied with Bräsig's request, and called the
young man.

"Hm," said Bräsig, "a firm gait, not too rapid, holds himself together
well, and has his limbs under control. He'll do, Karl. Now the other
one!"

"Herr von Rambow," said Habermann as the young man came up, "where is
Triddelsitz?"

"In his room," was the answer.

"Hm," said Bräsig, "resting himself a little."

"I don't know."

"Tell him to come down," said Habermann, "and come back yourself.
Coffee will be ready presently."

"Karl," said Bräsig, when they were alone, "you will see, the
apothecary's son has been taking a nap."

"No harm if he has, Bräsig; he is young, and has been at work all the
morning, giving out corn for fodder."

"But he oughtn't, Karl; it isn't good for young folks to sleep after
dinner. See, there he comes! Now send him somewhere, past the window,
so that I can see how he goes."

"Triddelsitz," called Habermann from the window, "go to the stables,
and tell Jochen Boldt to be ready to take Herr Inspector Bräsig home,
by and by. He may take the two fore-horses----"

"Bon!" said Fritz Triddelsitz, and skipped vivaciously along the
causeway.

"God preserve us!" cried Bräsig, "what an action! Just look how awkward
he is! See the weakness of his ankles, and the thinness of his flanks!
It will take you a good while to fat him up. He is a greyhound, Karl, a
regular greyhound, and, mark my words, you will make nothing of him."

"Eh, Bräsig, he is so young, he will outgrow these peculiarities."

"Outgrow them? Sleeps in the afternoon? Says 'Bong' to you? And now
look here--for all the world he is coming back again, and hasn't been
near the stables."

Fritz was coming back again, to be sure; he came to the window and
said, "Herr Inspector, didn't you say Jochen Boldt should go?"

"Yes," said Bräsig snappishly, "Jochen Boldt shall go, and shall not
forget what he is told. You see now, Karl, am I right?"

"Bräsig," said Habermann, a little annoyed by Fritz's stupidity, "let
him go! we are not all alike; and, though it may cost a good deal of
trouble, we will bring him through."

Vexation was an infrequent guest with Habermann; and, whenever it came,
he showed it the door. Thought, anxiety, sorrow of heart, he admitted,
when they overpowered him; but this obtrusive beggar, which borrows
something from each of the others, and lies all day at a man's ears,
with all sorts of complaints and torments, he thrust out of doors,
headforemost. So it was not long before the conversation became lively
and pleasant again, and continued so until Bräsig departed.



                              CHAPTER VII.


The winter passed away without any special incidents. Habermann was
accustomed to a uniform life, and desired no other, for himself; but
the young people were sometimes wearied by it, and by their seclusion,
especially Franz von Rambow. Fritz Triddelsitz had his aunt, the Frau
Pastorin, close by, and a little farther off, his dear mother at
Rahnstadt and, nearer than either, Marie Möller the house-keeper, who
often comforted him with a bit of roast goose, or a morsel of sausage,
so that they soon came into friendly relations. Sometimes they were
together like mother and child, for Marie was seven years older than
Fritz,--she was four and twenty; sometimes they seemed more like
lovers, for four and twenty is no great age, after all; and Fritz
instead of learning his Latin at school, had fed upon romances, and had
been a regular customer at the circulating library, so that he was
quite well informed about such matters, and as his father had advised
him to study human nature, and Habermann often repeated the advice, he
thought it a good opportunity to improve his knowledge of love-affairs;
but don't be alarmed, there is nothing serious coming--nothing more
tender than roast goose and sausage.

Habermann had no occasion to trouble himself about Fritz; it was only
for Franz he felt anxious. He had taken him already once to the
parsonage, and when Christmas time came, they were invited there to
spend Christmas eve. The young Herr accepted,--Fritz had gone home to
Rahnstadt for the holidays--and as they drove up in the sleigh--for
it was fine sleighing--to the front door, which opened into the
living-room, there stood the little, plump Frau Pastorin, motioning
with both hand and foot:--

"No, Habermann, no! you mustn't come in here! Herr von Rambow, if you
will have the kindness, just go round to my Pastor's study."

And, as they entered the study, Louise sprang towards her father, and
kissed him, and whispered in his ear what presents she had made, and
how she had arranged them, and who was to knock the Yule raps, and had
scarcely time to give Herr von Rambow a hasty courtesy. But the Pastor
made up for her neglect; he shook the young man's hand, and said that
he was heartily glad that he had come to celebrate this joyous feast
with them. "But," he added, "we must be under subjection; my Regina
takes the rule to-day, and her head is never clearer and brighter than
on Christmas eve."

He was right in that; for every few moments her head was thrust in at
the door: "Wait just a minute longer! Sit perfectly still! The bell
will ring directly." And once she whisked through the room, with a blue
package peeping from under her apron, and then in the next room they
heard her merry laugh.

At last, at last, the bell rung, and the door flew open, and there
stood the Christmas tree, in the centre of the room, on the round
table, and under the tree were as many dishes full of apples and nuts
and ginger-bread as there were members of the family, and two more, for
Habermann and the young gentleman. The Frau Pastorin fluttered about
the tree, and then taking Habermann and Herr von Rambow by the hand,
she led them up to the table. "This is your dish, and this is yours,
and Louise and my Pastor have already found theirs!" then turning
around, she cried, "Now all come in!" for the Pastor's man, George, and
the two maids, Rika and Dürten, were all standing at the door, waiting
for their Christmas boxes,--"now all come in! Where the bright dollars
are sticking in the apples, those are your dishes, and the red cloth
lying here is for the two maids, and this red vest is for George. And
Louise--yes, yes, yes!" She could go no further, for Louise had grasped
her about the neck, and was kissing the words from her lips, and in her
hand she held a bright cherry merino dress: "This is from you, mother!"

Here it must be confessed, the Frau Pastorin so far forgot herself as
to equivocate, not in words, to be sure, but by shaking her head, and
nodding towards her Pastor, and Louise sprang upon him: "Then it is
you!"

But he also shook his head, and professed to know nothing about it, and
Louise grasped her own father by the arm, and cried: "No, no! It is
from you!"

The good old inspector was much affected at receiving from his child
the thanks which were due to others; he stroked her soft hair, and his
eyes grew moist, as he took her hand and led her back to the Frau
Pastorin, saying, "No, darling, no! Your thanks belong here."

But the Frau Pastorin had no time now to receive thanks. She was
busy with her Pastor, whom she had drawn aside to see how his new
dressing-gown fitted. It was fortunate that it did not happen to be a
pair of pantaloons, for in the joy and excitement of this evening, the
impropriety would never have occurred to her mind. The gown fitted
well, and looked finely, and she drew back a couple of steps and looked
at her Pastor, like a child when it has set up a new doll in the
sofa-corner, and as she turned round she saw a package lying on her
dish, which her Pastor had secretly placed there. Hastily she untied
the string, and took off the wrappings, chattering all the while. What
could it be? How strangely it felt! Somebody was surely playing a joke
on her,--and at last, there was a beautiful black silk dress. Now the
joy was at its height. Habermann had found a new pipe on his plate, and
held it in his mouth, puffing contentedly, although it was quite cold,
the Pastor lay back in the sofa-corner, like the new doll, and the Frau
Pastorin and Louise walked up and down the room holding up the stuff
for their new dresses, and looking down at them, as if the dresses were
already finished.

And Franz! Franz sat a little aside, and a slight sadness stole over
him, at the thought of the joys he had missed since his childhood. He
rested his head on his hand, and the Christmas eves of his life passed
before him; kind friends and relatives brought him their greetings, but
the two faces which hung in his room, under the wreath of immortelles,
were missing. He felt that he did not belong here, but he would not
disturb their joy; he recalled his thoughts, and as he raised his head
he looked into a pair of great, beautiful, childish eyes, full of
thought and compassion, as if they had read his heart.

"Yule rap!" cried Rika's loud voice, and a package flew in at the door,
"For the Frau Pastorin." It was a nice roller, and nobody knew where it
came from. "Yule rap!" again; and this time it was a new stuffed
cushion for the Pastor's arm-chair; but nobody had made it. Oh, what
fibs they told that evening at the parsonage! "Yule rap!" There was a
letter for the Frau Pastorin, and in it a ticket with a number,
referring to another ticket up-stairs, and when she had got this, it
referred her to another down in the cellar, and that to another, and
another,--and if the Frau Pastorin wanted the pretty embroidered collar
designed for her, she must chase it all over the house, to find it, at
last, close by, in her husband's boot-leg. Another "Yule rap!" All,
that was a great package! "To the Herr Pastor," it was addressed, but
when the first wrapper was taken off, it was for the Frau Pastorin, and
then for George, and then for Rika, and finally for Louise, and when
the last paper had been taken off, there was a little work-table,
exactly such a work-table as her father had given years ago to her dead
mother. He knew where it came from, no one else.

Then another "Yule rap!" Books for Louise. "Yule rap!" again--an
embroidered foot-cover for Habermann. All this time Rika had not been
visible. Now she came in and gathered up the wrapping paper and string.
Then the door opened once more, a clear bell-like voice cried "Yule
rap!" and, as the package was examined, it was found to be "For the
Honourable Herr Franz von Rambow," and while they were looking, a
little maiden crept softly in on tip-toe, a great joy beaming in her
face.

Franz was taken by surprise, but when he opened his package, he
found a letter from his youngest cousin Fidelia, and the three
unmarried daughters of the Kammerrath had sent him their Christmas
gifts--Albertine a smoking-cushion, and he never smoked on a
sofa,--Bertha a saddle-cover, and as yet he had no horse,--and Fidelia
a cigar-case, and in fact he never smoked at all. But what of that?
Whether one can use them or not, it is all one; not the gift, but the
giver, and the good-will is the important thing at Christmas time.
Franz no longer felt so lonely; and as he saw the pleasure in Louise's
face, when she returned, he laughed and joked with her about his
presents, and, whether she liked it or not, she must receive his
thanks, because he had recognized her voice.

Rika came in again, saying, "Frau Pastorin, they are all here."

"So? Then we will go out."

"No, dear Regina," said the Pastor, "let them come in."

"Oh, Pastor, they will bring in so much snow on their feet!"

"Never mind! Rika will get up early to-morrow morning, and clean it all
up. Eh, Rika?"

To be sure, Rika would do it gladly; so the door was opened, and in
came head after head, flaxen heads and dark heads, all the little
people in the village, and they stood there rubbing their noses, and
opening their eyes wider and wider, and stared at the apples and
ginger-nuts, with their mouths also wide open, as if to invite the
dainties to walk in.

"So!" said Frau Pastorin, "now let the godchildren come first.
Habermann," added she, "we are next to their parents, my Pastor and I,
in fact we are nearest to our godchildren." And more than half of the
company pressed forward, for the Pastor and his wife had stood
godparents to at least half the village children. One boy, who wanted
to deceive, pushed forward with the others, that was Jochen Ruhrdanz,
who had said last year that the godchildren got more than the others;
but Stina Wasmuths noticed him, and pushed him back, saying, "You are
not a godchild," so that his impudent attempt was unsuccessful.

Then the Herr Pastor came forward, with a pile of books under his arm,
and all the godchildren, who had during the winter come to him for
instruction, received every one a hymn-book, and the others received
writing-books and slates and primers and catechisms, according as they
needed them, and all the children said, "Thank you, godfather!" but
those who had hymn-books said, "Thank you very much, Herr Pastor." That
was an old custom.

Then came the Frau Pastorin. "So! I will take the nuts; Louise, you
take the ginger-nuts, and, Herr von Rambow, will you take the
apple-basket? And now, each in his turn! Come, children, put yourselves
in rows, and hold your dishes ready."

It was not a very quiet proceeding, there was some pushing and shoving,
for each one wished to be in the front row, and each held out whatever
he had brought, to receive his Christmas gift. The little girls had
their aprons, but the boys had brought anything they could lay hands
on; one had a platter, another a peck-measure, a third his father's
hat, and one a great corn-sack, which he evidently expected to get
almost if not quite full. Now began the dividing.

"There, there, there--hold!" said the Frau Pastorin, as she came to a
mischievous rogue of a boy. "Herr von Rambow, that boy is to have no
apples, because he helped himself from the garden, last summer."

"Oh, Frau Pastorin----"

"Boy, didn't I see you myself, up in the great apple-tree by the wall,
knocking off the apples with a stick?"

"But, ah, Frau Pastorin----"

"Not a word! Boys who steal apples can't expect to have any at
Christmas." So she went on, but stopped again when she came to Jochen
Ruhrdanz. "Didn't I see you, last week, fighting with Christian
Rusborn, before the parsonage, so that my Rika had to go out and
separate you?"

"Yes, Frau Pastorin, but he said----"

"Hush! Louise, he gets no ginger-nuts."

"Yes, Frau Pastorin, but we made it all up again."

"Ah! Then you may give him some, Louise."

So they went through the rows, and then the children went off with
their Christmas boxes, saying only, "Good evening!" for thanks were not
the custom, at this stage of the proceedings.

When they were gone, quite a different set of people came coughing
and limping in at the door; these were the old spinning-women, and
broom-tyers, and wooden-shoemakers, out of the village, and also some,
who were no longer capable of any work. With these the Pastor spoke a
few friendly, Christian words, and the Frau Pastorin gave each one a
great loaf of plain, wholesome cake, and they went away, wishing God's
blessing upon the Pastor and his wife.

About nine o'clock the Pastor's George brought Habermann's sleigh to
the door, and the two guests said "Good night!" and, as Habermann came
out, he went up silently to the horses, and took off their bells, for
up in the church-tower other bells were ringing which rung for the
whole world.

They drove slowly through the village. Here and there burned a
Christmas candle in the cottages of the poor laborers, and up in the
heavens God had lighted up his great Christmas tree with a thousand
shining lamps, and the world lay stretched out beneath like a Christmas
table, and winter had spread it with a cloth of whitest snow, that
spring, summer and autumn might cover with Christmas gifts.

As they came out of the village, Franz noticed the lighted windows of
Pomuchelskopp's house; "They are keeping Christmas there, too," said
he. They gave presents; but it was not a real Christmas after all.

Pomuchelskopp had bought nothing at Rahnstadt; everything came from
Rostock. "Always noble!" said he. He told also how much Malchen and
Salchen's clothes had cost, and when Malchen heard that Salchen's dress
was two dollars dearer than her's, she felt badly, and Salchen thought
herself quite superior to her sister. And Philipping and Nanting began
to quarrel about a sugar doll, and when Pomuchelskopp said that his
favorite, Philipping, should have it, Nanting was angry, and threw a
toy-box at Philipping, which unfortunately hit the great looking-glass,
and broke it into a thousand pieces. Then their mother took the
government into her hands, and got the strap out of the cupboard, and
punished Nanting first for his misdeeds, and then Philipping, and
afterwards the other boys for company. And not once in the whole
evening did she say "Pöking" to her husband; not even when he brought
out the new winter hat with great feathers, that he had bought for her;
she said only, "Kopp, do you want to make me look like a scarecrow?"

As Franz went to bed that night, he said to himself that he had never
spent so pleasant a Christmas eve, and when he asked himself the
reason, the joyous face of Louise Habermann appeared before his mind's
eye, and he said, "Yes, yes, such a joyous child belongs properly to
Christmas time!"

Between Christmas and New Year's, a very unusual event occurred. Jochen
Nüssler's blue cloak with seven capes drove over to Pumpelhagen in the
"phantom," and when Habermann went out there sat Jochen himself inside
the coat. He could not get out,--Oh, no!--he had been from home an hour
and a half already; but he had been at the parsonage, and they were all
coming to spend St. Sylvester's eve, and Bräsig also, and he wanted his
brother-in-law to come, and bring the two young people with him, and he
would do what he could to entertain them with a big bowl of punch.

Having uttered this long speech, he stopped abruptly, and when
Habermann had accepted the invitation, and Christian had turned the
horses' heads, a murmur came out of the seven capes, which sounded
like, "Good-bye, brother-in-law!" but Christian looked back and said,
"You must all come to coffee, Herr Inspector! The Frau told me so
expressly."

Franz forwarded the invitation to Fritz, who was still at Rahnstadt,
and wrote him that, as his vacation would be over, he could come to
Rexow the last day of the year, and go home with them to Pumpelhagen.

As Habermann and Franz drove up to the Rexow farm house, at the
appointed time,--it was a wet day,--there stood Jochen in the door, in
his new black dress-coat and trousers, a Christmas present from his
wife, and the red smoking-cap which Mining had given him, looking for
all the world like a stuffed bullfinch.

"Look alive, Jochen," called Bräsig from within, "and do the
'honneurs,' that Karl's young nobleman may have some opinion of your
manners."

After Jochen had received them, and the greetings with the family and
the Pastor and his wife were over, Frau Nüssler began to talk to her
brother about her domestic affairs, the Pastor engaged in conversation
with the young Herr von Rambow, the Frau Pastorin asked the little
girls about their Christmas presents. Jochen sat silently in his old
corner by the stove, and Bräsig in his great seal-skin boots which came
nearly up to his waist, went from one to another, as if it were
Christmas eve over again, and he were playing St. Nicholas, to frighten
the children.

The sun looked in at the window now and then, the room was warm and
comfortable, the coffee-steam rose in little clouds and mingled with
the smoke-wreaths from the Pastor's pipe, till it seemed like a summer
day, with light, feathery clouds floating in the sunshine. Only, near
the stove, it looked as if a thunder-shower was coming up, for there
sat Jochen, smoking as if for a wager. His wife had taken away the
"Fleigen Markur" from his tobacco-pouch, and filled it for the occasion
with "Fine old mild," and he could not get the strength of the "Markur"
from this more delicate quality of tobacco, without using a double
portion.

But a cloud was coming up outside, not exactly in the heavens, nor yet
from the earth beneath,--which would disturb the repose of this quiet
room.

One of Frau Nüssler's maids came in to say that there was a man outside
with a cart, who had brought a travelling trunk from the apothecary at
Rahnstadt, and where should it be put?

"God bless me!" cried the Frau Pastorin, "that is Fritz's trunk. You
will see, Pastor, my brother-in-law is so inconsiderate, he has let the
boy come on horseback again. Nobody ought to ride that wild horse,
Habermann."

"Oh, don't be troubled, Frau Pastorin," said Habermann, laughing a
little, "the horse is not so bad----"

"Ah, Habermann, but I saw him before, when he first came to
Pumpelhagen; the creature would not stir a step."

"Frau Pastorin," said Bräsig, "it is not so bad if a beast is balky as
when the rascal takes to running; then the Latin riders used to fall
off."

But the little Frau Pastorin could not rest; she opened the window, and
asked the man who had driven the cart whether Fritz was riding, and was
the horse very vicious?

"Like a lamb," was the reply. "If he does nothing to the horse, the
horse will do nothing to him. He will be here directly."

That was comforting, so the Frau Pastorin seated herself again on the
sofa, saying, with a sigh,--

"My poor sister! I tremble for her, whenever I set eyes on the boy. He
plays too many stupid jokes."

"He will be up to something of the sort, now?" said Bräsig.

Bräsig was right. In the time between Christmas and New Year's Fritz
had accomplished a great deal of folly, all the time in his wonderful
inspector suit; for, though the weather had been cold and disagreeable,
he had worn the green hunting-jacket, white leather breeches, and
yellow top-boots, not merely in the day-time, but occasionally through
the night. Once, at least, after he had come home late from a lively
company of young farmers, the maid-servant found him next morning lying
in bed in his boots and spurs. He had met an old friend that evening,
Gust Prebberow by name, who went round half the year in yellow
top-boots, and the pleasure of seeing him, together with the lively,
agricultural conversation, had been a little too much for Fritz. Gust
Prebberow had given him all sorts of useful advice, how to manage "the
old man," as he called Habermann, and to pull the wool over his eyes,
and had told incidents from his own experience in the management of
farm-boys; and, after discussing these branches of agriculture, they
came to the subject of horses. Fritz related his adventures with the
old chestnut, who was naturally a very gifted horse, and good-natured,
for the most part, but like his own father the apothecary, old Chestnut
had always been suspicious of him, and on the look-out for mischief. He
had evidently made up his mind that Fritz knew nothing about the
management of horses, although Fritz had made repeated efforts to bring
him to a better way of thinking. His greatest fault was that he
positively would not stir a step farther than he pleased, neither kicks
nor kindness, whipping nor spurring, could alter this determination
when once he had taken it into his stupid head.

"And do you allow that?" said Gust Prebberow. "Now, brother, I will
tell you what to do. See, next time you mount him, take a good sized
earthen pot full of water, and ride gently along just as usual, till
you come to the place where he balks, and then give it to him with the
spurs in the ribs, and break the pot over his head,--all at once!--so
that the fragments of the pot will clatter down, and the water will run
into his eyes."

Fritz paid close attention to this advice, and when he started to-day
in his smart inspector suit, he took the bridle in his left hand, the
riding-whip under his left arm, and in his right hand a great jar full
of water. He could not ride fast, without spilling the water, and old
Chestnut had no desire to run away, so they jogged along very peaceably
until they reached Rexow farm.

Here Fritz wished to ride up to the house in a brisk trot, so he drove
the spurs into old Chestnut's ribs, but Chestnut, having a bad
disposition and still bearing Fritz malice, on account of his adventure
in the Pastor's mud-puddle, all of a sudden stood still. Now was the
time. A stroke of the whip behind, spurs in his ribs, and crash! the
pot between his ears. "Uff!" grunted Chestnut, shaking his head, in
token that he would not stir a step, but the blow must have stunned him
a little, for he lay down directly. Fritz went too, of course, and
though he had sense enough to fall clear of the horse, he could not
prevent himself from lying at his side.

The company in Frau Nüssler's parlor had witnessed the scene, and at
first the little Frau Pastorin had lamented her poor sister's
misfortune, but as she observed old Chestnut's quiet behaviour, and saw
Fritz safely landed upon the soft and somewhat cold "bed of honor,"
which the rain and dew of heaven and Jochen Nüssler's dung-heap had
prepared for him, she was compelled to join in the general laughter,
and said to her Pastor, "It is good enough for him!"

"Yes," said Bräsig, "and if he takes cold, it won't hurt him. What
business has he to behave so with that old creature!"

Fritz now approached, looking on one side like a plough-boy, black and
muddy, on the other still smart and shining.

"You are a dainty sight, my son," cried the Frau Pastorin, from the
open window. "Don't come in here like that! Fortunately, your trunk has
arrived, and you can change your clothes."

He followed her advice, and entered the room, before long, in his most
distinguished apparel, a blue dress-coat and long black trousers, like
a young proprietor, but in great vexation, which Bräsig's jokes and his
aunt's observations did not tend to diminish. Franz, on the contrary,
was in the most cheerful temper. He joked to his heart's content with
the three little girls, and looked at their Christmas gifts, laughing
himself half dead as the little twins finally dragged forward a great
foot-sack, which Uncle Bräsig had given them, "that the little rogues
might keep their toes warm, and not get the cursed Podagra." Franz had
never in his life enjoyed opportunities of intercourse with little
girls younger than himself, and this confidential chatter and contented
mirthfulness, making merry over things which in his eyes seemed nothing
at all, made such an impression upon him, that when they sat down to
supper, he kept among the little folks, decidedly refusing the pressing
invitations of Frau Nüssler, who wished him, as a nobleman, to take a
higher place.

That was a joyous evening meal; talk went briskly back and forth, every
one taking his share except Fritz and Jochen. Fritz could not get over
his annoyance, and was vexed that he could not enjoy himself as Franz
was doing. Jochen said nothing to be sure, but he laughed continually;
if Bräsig merely opened his mouth, Jochen stretched his from ear to
ear, and when the punch was brought in, and Lining, as the most
judicious of the little ones, undertook the task of serving it out, he
found a voice, and endeavored to discharge his duties as host, saying
now and then very quietly, "Lining, help Bräsig!"

The punch helped Fritz, also, to the use of his tongue. He was still in
ill-humor, especially at Franz's undignified behavior. The little girls
had hitherto seemed to him very small fry, but if one talked to them at
all, one should employ a higher style of conversation. Accordingly he
took up the _rôle_ which he had played at the Rahnstadt ball, when he
had danced with the burgomeister's daughter, aged twenty-seven, and
addressed Louise as "Fräulein Habermann." The child looked at him in
astonishment, and as he again uttered his "Fräulein," she laughed
innocently in his face: "I am no Fräulein, I am only Louise
Habermann,"--and Franz could not help laughing also.

That was annoying for Fritz, but he knew what was proper, and how one
should converse with ladies; he refused to be snubbed, and went on
relating his experiences at the ball, what he said to the
burgomeister's daughter, and what she had said to him, "fräulein" ing
also the little twins, right and left. And as this caused a great
tittering and giggling among the little folks, he naturally talked
louder and louder, in order to be heard, till at last the whole company
were looking at him in silence. Jochen, who sat next him, had turned
round and stared at him, as if to see how it were possible that one
human being could talk so much. Bräsig looked over Jochen's shoulder
with an uncommonly happy face, rejoicing at his own knowledge of human
nature, and nodding now and then to Habermann, as if to say, "You see,
Karl, didn't I say so? A good-for-nothing puppy!"

Habermann, annoyed, looked down at his plate, Frau Nüssler was in great
perplexity to know what she ought to do as hostess, in such an
emergency, the Pastor gently shook his head back and forth; but the
most excited of all was the little Frau Pastorin. She bent down her
head till the cap-strings rustled under her chin, and moved uneasily on
her chair, as if the place were too hot for her, and as Fritz finally
attempted to give a visible illustration of the schottische, how the
gentleman embraced the lady, she could no longer contain herself. She
sprang up and cried, "All keep still! As his aunt, I am the nearest to
him! Fritz, come here directly!" And as he slowly rose, and very coolly
and politely walked round to her, she took hold of his coat and pulled
him along: "My dearest boy, come out here a moment!" With that, she
drew him out of the door. The company inside heard fragments of a short
sermon, which was interrupted by no reply, and then the door opened and
the Frau Pastorin led Fritz back again, and, pointing to his place,
said, "Now sit down quietly, and behave like a reasonable being."

Fritz followed her advice, that is to say the first part of it; the
second was not so easy, and ought not to have been expected. After
fashionable talk, reasonable talk seemed to him very tame, and why
should he spoil a good beginning by a bad ending?

As Franz and the little girls gradually resumed their lively chatter,
and the older people travelled on in the country road of reasonable
talk, with a jolt now and then, when Bräsig drove against a stone,
Fritz sat and grumbled to himself, feeding his anger with punch, which
served as oil to the flame, and inwardly called Franz "a crafty
rascal," and the little girls, "foolish children," who understood
nothing of polite conversation.

In spite of this, and of the contempt which he felt for such childish
intercourse, his anger was mingled with a little jealousy at not being
himself "cock of the walk," and as he perceived that Franz seemed most
taken with Louise Habermann, he vowed secretly that _that_ should come
to an end; he himself, Fritz Triddelsitz, would see what he could do,
provided, that is, that his aunt would keep out of the way.

By this time it was growing late, but no one thought how late it was,
until suddenly a strange figure appeared in the room, wrapped from
top to toe in all sorts of warm garments, and he blew a horn, which
was fearful to hear, and then began to sing, which was more fearful
still. It was Gust Stöwsand, who was not more than half-witted,
and, because he was fit for nothing else, Jochen Nüssler had made him
night-watchman. And the boys and girls looked in at the door, to see
how Just would manage his business, and they laughed, and pushed and
pulled one another back and forth. Then congratulations began, and all
wished each other "Happy New Year!" and after all was quiet again, the
Herr Pastor made a little speech, which began quite playfully but ended
seriously, how with every year one came a step nearer to the grave, and
one must comfort oneself by this, that with every year new knots were
tied, and friendship and love bound more closely together. As he
finished his good words, he looked around the circle; the little Frau
Pastorin had slipped her arm in his, Jochen stood by his wife,
Habermann and Bräsig held each other by the hand, the two little
twin-apples had their arms around each other, and Franz stood by Louise
Habermann. Fritz was nowhere to be seen, he had gone off in his
vexation.

So ended the year 1839.



                             CHAPTER VIII.


When Easter came, Bräsig set out for the water-cure, and the Kammerrath
arrived at Pumpelhagen, with his three daughters, Albertine, Bertha,
and Fidelia.

"He will never go away again, he is near his end," said Habermann to
himself, and Franz thought the same, and they spoke sadly of it to each
other as they sat together the evening after his arrival. Franz
naturally took his meals after this with his uncle and cousins, and
Habermann found himself very lonely in the old farm-house, he had
become so accustomed to the young man's society, and found it so
pleasant.

During the first week the Kammerrath had a visitor. Pomuchelskopp came,
in his blue dress-coat with bright buttons, and in his new coach, which
was rendered more splendid than ever, since it was adorned with a coat
of arms, which he had ordered from Vienna for half a louis-d'or. It
represented a haddock's head (Dorsch Kopp) on a blue field (Fell),
which the stupid laborers, who understood nothing about haddocks and
blue fields called "a block head (das Kopp) in a blue coat" (Fell);
having possibly discerned a personal resemblance between the escutcheon
and their master.

He had given up the idea of intercourse with Bräsig's Herr Count, and
no other families of nobility lived in the neighborhood, so he found
the Kammerrath's arrival quite apropos. But the man was unfortunate. As
he made known his errand to Daniel Sadenwater, the Kammerrath's old
servant, in a melancholy tone--that he felt constrained to make
personal inquiries after the Herr Kammerrath, and added that he had
known the Herr Kammerrath very well at Rostock,--old Daniel went off
with a peaceful face to announce him, but came back with a face quite
as placid to say that the Herr Kammerrath regretted he was not in a
state of health to receive callers. That was truly vexatious for
Pomuchelskopp, and he sat all the afternoon sulking in the sofa-corner,
and his dear wife, who always became so cheerful and affectionate on
such occasions, called him "Pöking" incessantly, which certainly should
have amply compensated for his disappointment.

The Kammerrath, in his illness, felt the need of no other society than
he found at home. His two oldest daughters thought of nothing else from
morning to night but to amuse and comfort him, and the youngest, who
was the pet child of the whole family, and who continued a little too
young to suit her elder sisters, and perhaps prided herself a little
upon her childlike joyousness, sought for means to enliven him. Franz,
in the kindness of his heart, had assumed the office of secretary to
his uncle, and took upon himself all the little annoying cares, which
are not wanting in a household where sickness has entered; but the
Kammerrath took especial pleasure in the society of Habermann, and
consulted him not only about farming matters, but in all his affairs
and perplexities.

Habermann had little time, now, to visit at the parsonage, and if
Louise wished to speak to her father, she must seek him in the fields,
or at noon in the farm-house. So it happened that she often came in the
way of the Fräulein Fidelia, and as it is an old story that young girls
who are growing to be rather old girls, hovering on the line between
youth and age, always incline to the youthful side, and enjoy the
society of those younger than themselves, it was quite natural that
Fräulein Fidelia should take a great fancy to Louise, and in a little
while they were the closest friends.

It is generally a good thing for a young girl to have such a friend,
older than herself, but I would not say it is always so. It depends
greatly upon the circumstances of the older lady. Louise took no harm
from the intimacy, for Fräulein Fidelia was very kind-hearted; she was
also a little tired of the frivolity and ceremony of high society, and
when her blessed mama--the gracious old lady, as Daniel Sadenwater
called her,--had endeavored to make her more ceremonious and dignified,
the Kammerrath had always taken his darling's part. He was a little to
blame for her childishness; she had always frolicked with him, from her
babyhood, and had laughed away his cares and troubles, and she kept on
doing so from force of habit.

She spoke of this daily task of amusing her father in such a manner
that Louise thought of nothing but how to comfort and assist her; and
what might have been dangerous under different circumstances became now
rather a preventive of contagion. Louise had too much good sense to
look among Fräulein Fidelia's little fripperies of behavior for manners
suitable to herself. But she not only received benefit, she gave it. If
Louise had little knowledge of the world of fashion, Fräulein Fidelia
had as little of the world in which she lived and moved--and there
Louise could give the best instruction.

But a vexatious thing was first to occur, which gave Fräulein Fidelia
great annoyance. It happened in this way. The Kammerrath had sent to
Schwerin for a beautiful dress, for her birth-day present, Fräulein
Albertine had given her a new summer hat, and Fräulein Bertha, a pretty
shawl, and when the presentation was over, the two elder sisters had
arrayed their pet in the new finery, and stood looking at her right and
left, admiring her fine appearance, and Fräulein Bertha exclaimed, "She
is a little fairy!" (fée).

Corlin Kegels, one of the maids, was going through the room at the
moment, and had nothing better to do than to say in the kitchen: "What
do you think, girls? Fräulein Bertha says that our little Fräulein
looks like a little cow (vieh)." The joke took, and Fräulein Fidelia was
soon known among the servants only as "the little cow." Of course it
must come to her ears, sooner or later, and then there was a great
uproar and a great investigation, and Corlin Kegels, in spite of her
weeping and begging, was turned out of doors. Louise came in just then,
and met Corlin crying on the door-steps, and found Fräulein Fidelia
crying in the parlor. One word led to another, and when Louise knew the
whole affair, she said, placing her hands compassionately on the
Fräulein's shoulders, "Ah, the poor things didn't mean any harm."

"Yes, indeed they did," cried the Fräulein, hastily. "The rough,
unmannerly common people!"

"No, no! Don't say that!" exclaimed Louise, really distressed. "Our
people are not rough; they have as much feeling as distinguished
people. My father says one must learn to know them, and that is not so
easy, their language separates them from their masters."

"Very likely," said Fidelia. "I call 'little cow' a rough, coarse
expression."

"It was a misunderstanding," said Louise. "The word 'fée' is unknown to
them, and this sounds like it, and seemed comical to them. They had no
idea of offending you. Dear Fräulein, you are the idol of all your
servants."

This last sugar-plum, which Louise administered with no thought of
flattery, pacified the Fräulein, and at last, in the kindness of her
heart, she resolved upon a nearer acquaintance with her people, and
Corlin Kegels was taken again into favor.

The Fräulein made inquires of Franz, and he praised the Pumpelhagen
people highly, the Kammerrath, also, gave them a good character, and
said that their ancestors had lived on the estate since the memory of
man. "The first Herr von Rambow of whom we have intelligence," said he,
"bad two servants, one of whom was called 'Asel' and the other 'Egel.'
These had many namesakes, and in time a great confusion arose among the
different 'Egels' and 'Asels.' One Egel would take home the bushel of
wheat, which another Egel should have had, and one Asel would get the
load of hay which properly belonged to another. This confusion had
reached such a point under one of my forefathers, who--I am sorry for
the family to confess--had a very short memory, that the Frau von
Rambow, who was a good deal quicker-witted than her husband, undertook
to remedy matters. She had an idea, and as she had the rule she could
carry it out. All the fathers of families in the village were called
together, One Sunday morning, and every one must tell his christened
name and his father's name, and she wrote them down,--for she knew how
to write,--and then took the first letter of the christened name, and
the father's name together, and baptized the whole village. So 'Karl
Egel' became 'Kegel,' and 'Pagel Egel' 'Pegel' and 'Florian Egel'
'Flegel,' and 'Vullrad Asel' was changed to 'Vasel,' and 'Peter Asel'
to 'Pasel,' and 'David Asel' to 'Däsel,' and so on. And, it is a thing
to be noted, the old story said the ancestor of the Egels was a
flax-head, and that of the Asels a black-head, and so it is among their
namesakes to this day. And the resemblance was not merely external,
they inherited mental peculiarities as well; for the first Egel was
greatly skilled in cutting spoons and ladles, and making rakes and
wooden shoes, while the first Asel was an uncommonly fine singer, and
the gifts have remained in the families,--the night-watchmen have
always been chosen from the Asels, and the wheelwrights from the Egels;
you know at this day, Fidelia, David Däsel is the watchman, and Fritz
Flegel is the wheelwright."

Fräulein Fidelia was excessively pleased with this story, and in her
restless and frolicsome humor she ran about to all the laborer's
cottages, chatting with the housewives by the hour, and keeping them
from their work, and bestowing cast-off finery upon the children. If
Louise Habermann had not been with her, she would have given Pasel's
eleven-year-old Marie a riding-hat with feathers and veil, and Däsel's
Stina, who watched the goslings in the duck-pond, would have got a
gorgeous pair of light blue satin slippers. The old fathers of the
village shook their heads over such doings; but the old mothers
defended her, saying that if she were not so sensible as she might be,
yet she meant well; and instead of calling her merely "little cow," as
before, they called her "a nice good, pretty little cow."

Pastor Behrens shook his head, also, when he heard of this new sort of
beneficence. The Pumpelhagen people were the best in his parish, he
said, and they had good reason to be, in having such a good old master,
the Gurlitz people had suffered greatly from the change of proprietors;
but nothing was so bad for people as indiscriminate and unmerited
beneficence,--he must talk to the Fräulein about it.

He did so at the next opportunity; he told her that the Pumpelhagen
people were so situated that unless in case of sickness, or the death
of a cow, or some other misfortune, an industrious fellow and a tidy
housewife could take care of themselves, and that unnecessary favors
only taught them to look too much to others for assistance. These
people must go their own, free way, just like others and one must be
careful of intruding into their concerns, even to benefit them.

I am glad to say that Fräulein Fidelia saw the justice of these
remarks, and limited her benefactions in future to the people who could
no longer help themselves, to the old and the sick, and for these she
was changed from a little "vieh" to a little "fée." Louise helped her
in these Good-Samaritan labors, and as Franz now and then met them in
the cottages, he saw to his surprise that the little maiden had a good
deal of experience, and was both wise and skilful in action, and that
the lovely eyes rested with as much sweetness and compassion upon a
poor old sick laborer's wife, as upon him, that Christmas eve. He
rejoiced at this, without rightly knowing why.

The spring was over, summer had come, and one Sunday morning Habermann
received a letter from Bräsig, at Warnitz, saying that he must stay at
home that day; Bräsig had returned from the water-cure and was coming
to see him in the afternoon. So it happened; Bräsig came on horseback,
and dismounted with a spring, as if he would send both feet through the
causeway.

"Ho, ho!" cried Habermann. "How active you are, you are as quick as a
bird!"

"Freshly sharpened, Karl! I have made a new beginning."

"Well, old fellow, how did it go?" asked Habermann, when they were
established on the sofa, and had started their pipes.

"Listen, Karl! Damp, cold, soaking wet, that is only the beginning.
They make a man into a frog, and before human nature changes to
frog-nature a man suffers so much that he wishes he had come into the
world as a frog, to begin with; but it is good, for all that. You see,
the first thing in the morning is generally sweating. They wrap you up
in cold, wet cloths, and then in woolen blankets, so tightly that you
can move nothing but your toes. After that they take you into a bathing
room, ringing a bell to keep the ladies away, and then they put you
into a bathing-tub, and pour three pailfuls of water over your bald
head, if you happen to have one, and then you may go where you please.
Do you think that is the end? You may think so, but it is only the
beginning; but it is good, for all that.

"Well, then you go walking, for exercise. I have done a good deal of
walking in my time, raking and harrowing and sowing peas, and so forth;
but I always had something to do. Here, however, I had nothing at all.
And then you drink water from morning to night. It is just like pouring
water through a sieve, and they stand there and groan, and say, 'Ah,
the beautiful water!' Don't you believe them, Karl, they are
hypocrites. Water is bad enough, outside, but inside it is fearful; it
is good, though, for all that.

"Then you take a sitz-bath--can you imagine how that feels, four
degrees above freezing point? Just as if the devil had got you on a
red-hot iron stool, and kept putting fresh fire under; but then it is
good for you. Then you walk again, till noon, and then you eat your
dinner.

"But you have no conception, Karl, how people eat at a water-cure! The
water must sharpen the stomach famously. Karl, I have seen ladies, as
slender and delicate as angels, who would eat three great pieces of
steak, and potatoes--preserve us! enough to plant half an acre! The
water-doctors are to be pitied, for one must eat them out of house and
home. After dinner, you drink water again, and then you can talk with
the ladies; for in the morning they won't speak to you, they go about
in strange disguises, some with wet stockings, as if they had been
crabbing, others with their heads tied up in wet cloths, and their hair
flying. You can talk to them as you please, but you will find it hard
to get answers, unless you inquire about their diseases, whether they
have had an eruption, or swellings or boils, for that is polite
conversation at a water-cure. After you have amused yourself in this
manner, you must go to the 'Tüsche,'[2] but don't think that it is
black,--no, nothing but clear cold water; it is good, though. You must
take notice, Karl, everything that is particularly disagreeable and a
man's especial horror, is good for the human body."

"You should be cured of your gout, then, Bräsig, for you have a special
horror of cold water."

"One may see very well, Karl, that you have never been at a water-cure.
You see, the doctor explained it to me at length, this confounded
Podagra is the chief of all diseases,--it is the mother of all
mischief,--and it comes from the gout-stuff that lodges in the bones
and ferments there, and the gout-stuff comes from the poison stuff that
you swallow by way of nourishment, for example, Kümmel and tobacco, or
the things you get from the apothecary. And if you have the gout you
must be sweated in wet sheets, till all the tobacco which you have ever
smoked, and all the Kümmel you have ever drank, is sweated out. So you
see the poison-stuff goes away, and then the gout-stuff, and then the
cursed Podagra itself."

"Was it so with you?"

"No."

"No? why didn't you stay longer, then? I would have held out till the
end."

"Karl, you may talk. Nobody holds out,--no human being could. They had
one man there who was sweated till he smelt so strong of tobacco that
the doctor called the patients in, that their own noses might testify,
and it was put down in the books; but it came out afterward that the
rogue had been smoking a cigar, which is forbidden,--and Kümmel is
forbidden also. But to go on with the daily life. After the Tüsche, you
walk again, and by that time it is evening. You may still walk about in
the twilight, if you please, and many of the gentlemen and ladies do
so, or you may amuse yourself in the house, with reading. I used to
read the water-books which a certain Russian has written, his name is
Frank, one of the chiefs of the water-doctors. Karl, there is
everything in those books, everything in brief. But it is hard for a
man to understand, and, on that account, I did not get beyond the
second page. That was quite enough for me, for after I had read it I
was as dizzy as if I had been standing on my head half an hour. Do you
think, Karl, that fresh air is fresh air? Not a bit of it! And do you
think that water out of your pump is water? You are quite mistaken! You
see, fresh air is composed of three parts, oxygen and nitrogen and
carbonic acid gas. And the pump water is composed of two parts, oxygen
and hydrogen. The entire water-cure system is founded upon fresh air
and water. And you see, Karl, how wisely nature has provided; we go
about in the open air, and we breathe in the black carbonic acid,
and the nitrogen, for they cannot be separated, and then comes the
water-cure and turns these ugly things out of doors, for the oxygen of
the water unites with the carbonic acid, and the hydrogen drives out
the nitrogen from the body, in the sweating process. Do you understand,
Karl?"

"No," said Habermann, laughing heartily, "not a word of it."

"You shouldn't laugh at things that you don't understand, Karl. You
see. I know the nitrogen is driven out, I have smelt it myself; but
what becomes of the black carbon? That is the point, and I never could
get beyond it, in my water-cure science, and do you suppose Pastor
Behrens understands it? I asked him yesterday, and he knows nothing at
all about it. But you will see, Karl, the black carbonic acid is still
in my body, and so I shall have the cursed Podagra again."

"But, Zachary, why didn't you stay a little longer, until you were
thoroughly cured?"

"Karl," said Bräsig, dropping his eyes, with a confused expression, "it
wouldn't do! Something happened to me, Karl," looking Habermann in the
face again. "You have known me since I was a child, have you ever
noticed any disrespectful behavior to the ladies?"

"No indeed, Bräsig, I can testify to that."

"Well, then, just think how it must have troubled me! A week ago this
last Friday, I had an infamous grumbling in my great toe,--for it
always begins at the extremities,--and the water-doctor said, 'Herr
Inspector, you must have an extra packing. Dr. Strump's confounded
Colchicum is doing the mischief, and we must have it out.' So he packed
me himself, and bandaged me up so tight that I could scarcely draw
breath, saying I did not need air so much as water, and upon that he
was going to shut the window. 'No,' said I, 'I understand enough to
know that I must have fresh air; leave the window open,' and he did so,
and went off. I lay there quietly, thinking no harm, when suddenly I
heard a humming and a buzzing, and as I looked up, a whole swarm of
bees came in at the window, and the leader,--for I knew him, Karl, you
know I am a bee-master, I went out one spring at Zittelwitz with the
schoolmaster, and took seven and fifty hives--and this leader made
straight for the blanket which the doctor had drawn over my head. Well,
what was I to do? I could not stir,--I blew and blew at him, till I had
no breath left; not the slightest use. The beast fastened himself on my
bald head,--for I always left off my peruke, in order not to injure
it--and the whole swarm came hovering over my face. I rolled myself out
of bed, fell on the floor, struggled out of the blankets and wet
sheets, and ran out of the door, with the devils after me, and cried
for help. God be praised, the assistant of the water-doctor--the man's
name is Ehrfurcht,--met me, and took me to another room, and got me
necessary clothing, so that after resting awhile I could go down into
the dining-room, that is to say, with half a score bee-stings in my
body. I began to talk to the gentlemen, and they laughed. I turned to
one of the ladies, and made a friendly remark about the weather, and
she blushed. Why should the weather make her blush? I don't know, nor
you either, Karl. Why do you laugh? I turned to another lady, who was a
singer, and asked her very politely to sing a song, that she had sung
every evening. What do you think she did, Karl? She turned her back on
me. As I stood there wondering what it all meant, the water-doctor came
to me, and said, 'Herr Inspector, don't take it ill, but you made
yourself quite noticeable this afternoon.' 'How so?' said I. 'Yes,' said
he, 'when you sprang out of the door, Fräulein von Hinkefuss was
crossing the corridor, and she has told it in confidence to all the
rest.' 'And on that account, am I to be deprived of all pity? Shall the
gentlemen laugh, and the ladies turn their backs on me? I did not come
here for that! If Fräulein von Hinkefuss had got half a score of
bee-stings in her body, I should inquire after her every morning, with
the greatest interest. But let her go! One cannot buy sympathy in the
market. But now come, Herr Doctor, and take the bee-stings out of me.'
If you believe me Karl, he couldn't do it. 'What,' said I, 'not take a
bee-sting out of my skin?' 'No,' said he, 'I _could_, to be sure, but I
dare not, it would be a surgical operation, and according to the
Mecklinburg laws I am not qualified for it.' 'What?' said I, 'you can
drive the poison out of my bones, and not draw the stings out of my
body? You dare not touch the skin of the outer man, and you clear out
his inside with your confounded water? I am obliged to you!' and from
that moment, Karl, I lost confidence in the whole concern, and without
that it could do me no good, they say so themselves to everybody, when
he first arrives. So I came away, and had the stings taken out by old
Surgeon Metz, at Rahnstadt. And so ends my story of the water-cure. It
is a good thing, though; one gets quite a different view of things, and
even if the cursed Podagra is not cured, one gets an idea of what a
human being can endure. And, Karl, I brought you home a water-book, you
can study the science in the winter evenings."

Habermann thanked him, and the conversation turned to farming matters,
and so, by degrees, to the apprentices.

"How does your young gentleman get along?" inquired Bräsig.

"Very well indeed, Bräsig, he is equally good at everything. I am only
sorry that cannot see more of him. He does his duty, wherever he is,
and Daniel Sadenwater tells me that he watches many a night with our
poor, sick master, though he is very tired. He is a model young man. He
has interest in his work, and a kind heart for his friends."

"Well, Karl, and your greyhound?"

"Oh, he is not so bad; he has a good many maggots in his head, but the
youth is not vicious. He does what he is told, when he doesn't forget
it. Well! we were young once ourselves."

"The best of your young folks is that they are so hearty. I was at
Christian Klockmann's, you see, lately, he has a son, fourteen years
old, just confirmed. He is tired all day, falls asleep while he is
walking, when he ought to eat he won't eat, and if he is sent to the
field he perishes with cold."

"Ah, no! my two are not like that," said Habermann.

"And the young gentleman watches at night by the old master?" said
Bräsig. "It is sad for the young man! The Herr Kammerrath is then very
feeble? Give him my respects, Karl, I must say adieu, I have an
appointment to meet my gracious Herr Count." Whereupon Bräsig departed.

The Kammerrath had indeed grown very feeble, of late; he had suffered
another slight shock, but had fortunately retained his speech, and this
evening Franz came to ask Habermann to go over and see his uncle, who
wished to speak with him.

When the Inspector entered the room, Fidelia was there, chattering to
the old gentleman of this and that; the poor child knew not how long
she might be able to talk with her good father. The Kammerrath bade her
leave him alone with Habermann, and when she was gone he looked at the
inspector with deep sadness, and said, feebly, "Habermann, dear
Habermann, when that which has always given us pleasure pleases us no
longer, the end is near." Habermann looked at him, and could not conceal
from himself the sad truth, for he had seen many death-beds; his eyes
fell, and he asked, "Has the doctor been here to-day?"

"Ah, dear Habermann, what good can the doctor do me? I would rather see
Pastor Behrens once more. But I must speak to you first of other
affairs. Sit down here, near me."

He went on hastily, yet with frequent interruptions, as though time and
breath were both growing short for him. "My will is at Schwerin. I have
thought of everything, but--my illness came so suddenly--my wife's
death--I fear my affairs do not stand quite so well as they should."
After a short pause, he resumed, "My son will have the estate, my two
married daughters are provided for, but the unmarried ones--poor
children! they will have very little. Axel must take care of them--God
bless him, he will have enough to do to take care of himself. He writes
me that he wishes to remain another year in the army. Very well, if he
lives carefully, something may be saved to pay debts. But the Jew,
Habermann, the Jew! Will he wait? Have you said anything to him?"

"No, Herr Kammerrath; but Moses will wait; at least I hope so. And if
not, there is a good deal of money coming in from the farm, much more
than last year."

"Yes, yes, and real estate has risen. But what good is it? Axel
understands nothing of farming; but I have sent him books, through
Franz, books about agriculture,--he will study them; that will help
him, won't it, Habermann?"

"God bless the poor old Herr!" thought Habermann. "He was always so
practical and reasonable himself, he wouldn't have said that when he
was strong and well; but let him take what comfort he can," so he said
yes, he hoped so.

"And, dear friend, you will stay with him," said the Kammerrath
earnestly, "give me your hand upon it, you will stay with him?"

"Yes," said Habermann, and the tears stood in his eyes, "so long as I
can be useful to you or your family, I will not leave Pumpelhagen."

"I was sure of it," said his master, falling back exhausted upon the
pillows, "but Fidelia shall write--see him once more,--see you and him
together."

His strength was gone, he drew his breath with difficulty.

Habermann rose softly, and pulled the bell, and as Daniel Sadenwater
came, he took him into the ante-room, "Sadenwater, our master is worse,
I am afraid he cannot last long; call the young ladies, and the young
Herr, but say nothing definite about him."

A shadow fell upon the old servant's face, as when the evening wind
passes over a quiet lake. He looked through the half-opened door of the
sick-room as if it came from thence, and said to himself as if in
excuse, "God bless him, it is now thirty years----" turned away, and
left the room.

Franz and the young ladies came. The poor girls had no idea that their
father was failing so rapidly; they had thought surely the doctor would
be able to help him, and the Lord would spare him a little longer. They
had taken turns in watching by him, of late, and it struck them
strangely that they should all be there at once, with Franz, and
Habermann, and Daniel Sadenwater.

"What is it, what is it?" began Fidelia, to the old inspector.

Habermann took her hand, and pressed it. "Your father has become worse,
he is very ill, he wishes to see your brother---- Herr von Rambow, if
you will write a couple of lines, I am going to send the carriage for
the doctor, and the coachman can take the letter to the post. In three
days your brother can be here, Fräulein Fidelia."

"He will not last three hours," said Daniel Sadenwater, softly, to
Habermann as they came out of the sick-room.

And the three daughters stood around their father's bed, weeping and
lamenting, and would fain hold fast the prop that had upheld them so
long, and each was thinking anxiously for something to alleviate and
help, and the three hearts beat more and more anxiously and quickly,
and the one heart ever more slowly and feebly.

Franz sat in the ante-room, listening to every sound, and now and then
going into the sick-room. He had never before seen the departure of
human life, and he thought of his own father, whom he had always
imagined like his uncle, and it seemed as if his own father were dying
a second time. He thought also of his cousin, who was not here, and
whose place he filled, and thought that he should love him the more,
all his life.

Habermann stood at the open window, and looked out into the night. It
was just such a warm, damp, cloudy night as that in which his heart had
come so near to breaking. Then it was his wife, now his friend; who
would come next? Would it be himself, or---- No, no, God forbid! that
could not be.

And Daniel Sadenwater sat by the stove, and did what he had done every
evening for thirty years; he had a basket of silver forks and spoons on
his lap, and on the chair near him lay a polishing cloth, and a silk
pocket-handkerchief; and he rubbed alternately the spoons and forks
with the handkerchief, and as he looked at his master's name on the
fork which he had polished every evening for thirty years, his eyes
were so dim that he couldn't see whether it were bright or not, and he
set the basket down, and looked at the fork till his eyes ran over with
tears.

Amid all this trouble and sorrow, the pendulum of the old clock moved
steadily back and forth, back and forth, as if old Time sat by a cradle
and rocked his child safely and surely to sleep.

And he slept. Two eyes closed themselves forever, the dark curtain
between Here and Beyond dropped softly down, and this side stood the
poor maidens, lamenting and vainly stretching their arms after that
which was gone, and wringing their hands over that which was left
behind. Fidelia threw herself down by her father's body, and sobbed and
cried until she was taken with spasms. Franz, full of sympathy, lifted
her in his arms, and carried her out of the room, and her two sisters
followed, in new anxiety for their darling, and Habermann was left
alone with Daniel Sadenwater. He pressed down the eyelids of the dead,
and after a little turned away with a heavy heart; but Daniel sat on
the foot of the bed, looking with his quiet face into the still more
quiet face of his master, and he held the fork still in his hand.



                              CHAPTER IX.


Axel arrived three days after, having travelled by extra post, too late
to hear the last words of his father, but not too late to render the
last honors to his remains. The postillion blew lustily on his horn, as
he drove into the court-yard, and at the door of the mansion-house
appeared three pale mourners in black raiment. The young master knew
what had happened. Everything came upon him at once,--thoughts for
which he was, or was not accountable,--God's providence, his own
weakness and frivolity, his sisters' desolate condition and his own
inability to help them, more than all, his father's thoughtfulness and
kindness, which were never wanting in good or evil times. He was quite
beside himself. His nature was one to be easily excited even by less
serious causes than the present. He wept and mourned and lamented, and
kept asking how this and that had happened, and, when he heard from
Franz that the last words of his father had been spoken to Habermann,
he took the old Inspector aside and questioned him, and the latter made
a clean breast of it, and told him that his father's last earthly care
had been about his future, and how he and his sisters might get along
by a prudent management of the estate.

Ah, yes, that should be done! Axel swore it to himself, under the blue
heavens, as he walked alone through the garden; he would turn the
shillings into dollars, he would retire from the world and from his
comrades. He could do it easily; but he would not resign from the army
immediately, and take up the study of farming, as Habermann advised; he
was too old for that, and it did not suit his position as an officer,
and there was really no necessity. When he came by and by to live on
the estate, he should learn about it, naturally; meantime he would live
sparingly, pay up his debts, and study agricultural books, as his
father desired. So a man deceives himself, even in the holiest and most
earnest hours.

The next day was the funeral. No invitations had been sent out; but the
Kammerrath had been too much beloved in the region not to have many
followers at his burial. Bräsig's Herr Count came, and it seemed as if
he thought he was receiving an honor instead of conferring one. Bräsig
himself was there, and stood in the room by the coffin, and while
others bowed their heads and dropped their eyes, he stretched his wide
open, and raised his eyebrows, and as Habermann passed by, he grasped
his coat-sleeve, and, shaking his head, asked impressively, "Karl, what
is human life?" but he said nothing more, and Jochen Nüssler, standing
by his side, said softly to himself, "Yes, what shall we do about it?"
And the laborers stood around, all the Pegels and Degels, and Päsels
and Däsels, and as Pastor Behrens came from the other room, leading the
youngest daughter by the hand, and, standing by the coffin, spoke a few
words which would have gone to the heart even of a stranger, then many
tears fell from all eyes. Tears of thankfulness were they, and tears of
anxiety; the one for what they had enjoyed under the old master, the
other for their unknown future under the new master.

When his remarks were ended, the procession started for the Gurlitz
church-yard. The coffin was placed in a carriage, and Daniel Sadenwater
sat by it, with his quiet old face as stiff and motionless as if he
were set up for a monument at his master's grave. Then came the
carriage with the four children, then the Herr Count, then Pastor
Behrens and Franz, who wished to take Habermann with them, but he
declined, he would go with the laborers; then Jochen Nüssler and
others, and finally Habermann, on foot, with Bräsig and the laborers.

Close by Gurlitz, Bräsig touched Habermann, and whispered, "Karl, I
have it, now."

"What have you, Zachary?"

"The pension from my gracious Herr Count. The last time I was with you,
I went round to see him, and he gave it to me, paragraph for paragraph:
two hundred and fifty thalers in gold, a living, rent free, in the
mill-house at Haunerwiem,--there is a little garden there too, for
vegetables,--and a bit of land for potatoes."

"Well, Zachary, I am glad you have such a comfortable provision for
your old age."

"Eh, yes. Karl, that does very well, and with my interest from the
capital which I have laid up, I shall want for nothing. But what are
they stopping for, ahead?"

"Ah, they are going to take the coffin from the carriage," said
Habermann, and he turned to the laborers, "Kegel, Päsel! you must come
now and carry the coffin." And he went forward with those who should do
this office, and Bräsig followed.

Meanwhile, the people were getting out of the carriages, and, as Axel
and his sisters stepped down, they were met by the little Frau Pastorin
and Louise in mourning raiment, and the Frau Pastorin pressed the hands
of the two older sisters, with the greatest friendliness and
compassion, although she had hitherto held herself rather aloof from
them, on account of the difference in rank. But death and sympathy
bring all to a level, the lofty bow themselves under the hand of God,
knowing that they are as nothing before him, and the lowly are lifted
up, because they feel that the pity which stirs in them is divine. Even
David Däsel might have taken the gracious Fräuleins by the hand to-day,
and they would have recognized his honest heart in his wet eyes.

Louise held her friend Fidelia in her arms, and knew not what to say or
what to do. "There!" she cried, with a deep sob, pressing into her hand
a bunch of red and white roses, as if she gave with it the love and
sympathy of which her heart was full.

All eyes were turned upon the child of fourteen years,--was she still a
child? When the barberry bush turns green after a warm rain, are they
buds still which it bears, or are they leaves? And for the human soul,
when its time has come, every deep emotion is like a warm rain, that
changes the buds to leaves.

"Who is that?" asked Axel of Franz, who looked steadfastly at the
child. "Who is that young maiden, Franz?" asked he again, taking his
cousin by the arm.

"That young maiden?" said Franz, "do you mean that child? That is
Inspector Habermann's daughter."

Habermann had seen his child also, and the thought recurred which had
come to him in the night, when the Kammerrath was dying. "No," said he
again, "the good Lord will not suffer it." Strange! she was not ill;
and yet who could tell? His poor wife had just such beautiful rosy
cheeks.

"What comes now?" said Bräsig, rousing him from these gloomy thoughts.
"Truly! Just look, Karl, Zamel Pomuchelskopp! With a black suit on!"

It was so indeed. Pomuchelskopp came forward and bowed to the young
ladies, the most melancholy bow which it was possible for a man of his
build to achieve, and then, turning to the Herr Lieutenant: "He would
excuse--neighborly friendship--deepest sympathy on this melancholy
occasion--highest respect for the departed--hope for a future good
understanding between Pumpelhagen and Gurlitz"--in short, whatever he
could think of at the moment, and, as the lieutenant thanked him for
his friendly interest, he felt as light as if he had discharged himself
of all the sympathy that was in him. He looked around over the company
and, seeing that there were no proprietors present besides the Count,
he managed in the walk through the church-yard to follow closely behind
him, and tread in his very footsteps, a proceeding to which the
gracious Herr Count was utterly indifferent, but which gave
Pomuchelskopp the liveliest satisfaction.

The body was buried. The mourners stopped for a few moments at the
parsonage, and partook of a little refreshment. The little Frau
Pastorin was quite beside herself, torn into two halves, one part of
her would gladly have remained on the sofa by the three daughters,
endeavouring to comfort them, the other would be fluttering about the
room, offering her guests bread-and-butter and wine, and, when Louise
assumed the latter office, and the Pastor the former, the poor Pastorin
sat down, quite unhappy, in her arm-chair, as if old Surgeon Metz of
Rahnstadt had been putting together her two halves, and she had found
the process a painful one.

Louise filled her office well, for it was not long before the followers
took leave, one after another; Jochen Nüssler was the last, and, when
he had bowed awkwardly to the lieutenant, he went up to the Frau
Pastorin, and took her hand and pressed it as affectionately as if she
had just buried her father, and said very sadly, "Yes, it is all as
true as leather."

The Pastor also had discharged well the office of comforter, but it is
easier to fill an empty stomach with bread-and-butter and wine, than to
fill an empty heart with hope and joy. He began however, in the right
way, touching lightly upon the thought of the love and protection which
they had lost, and turning to what should come next, plans for the
future, what would be most reasonable to do, and where they should
live, so that when the three ladies went back with their brother to the
desolate house, their future lay before them like a piece of cloth,
which they must cut out with the shears, and turn this way or that as
suited the pattern best, and fashion from it such raiment as they
could.

Other people were looking at the future, also, and calculating on what
_might_ happen and what _must_ happen. Out of the Kammerrath's grave
grew not only daisies, but, from the blight upon the fortunes of
Pumpelhagen, burdock and nettles and henbane shot up also, and the
golden daisies bloomed in strange company. Whoever would harvest here
must not be afraid of a little poison, or mind being pricked by the
briars and nettles. He who has to do with nettles must grasp them
firmly, and the man who stood in the Gurlitz garden, looking over
toward Pumpelhagen, had a firm grip, but he could wait till the right
time,--the daisies must go to seed first.

"The stone was out of the way," he said to himself, with satisfaction,
"and it was the corner-stone. What was left now? The Herr Lieutenant?
He would fatten him first, feed him with mortgages and bills of
exchange, and processes and procurations, until he should be fat
enough, and then knock him on the head. Or, could he do better? Malchen
was a pretty girl, or Salchen either,--Herr von Zwippelwitz said the
other day, when he borrowed the money for that chestnut colt, that
Salchen had a pair of eyes like--now, what was it? like fire-wheels, or
like cannon-balls? Well, Salchen would know.

"But no, on the whole, no! He understood the other way best, he would
not meddle with this. To be sure, it might do, in case of necessity;
but safe was safe, better keep the cork in the bottle.

"Then there was Habermann! Infamous, sneaking scoundrel! That very
morning he wouldn't speak to him. Did he think it was for Pomuchelskopp
to speak first? To a servant? What was he but a servant? No, let me
first have the lieutenant well in my clutches, and then I will see to
him.

"Bräsig, too, shall he keep putting stones in my way? The fool doesn't
know that I have got him out of Warnitz; that upon my suggestion
Slusuhr has put a flea in the Herr Count's ear, about the bad
management at Warnitz. Now he must stay at Haunerwiem. And then the
Herr Pastor! Oh, the Herr Pastor! I shall go round to his house
to-morrow, and we shall be so friendly--oh, I know his friendliness!
there lies the pastor's field before my eyes! To pretend friendship
under such circumstances! Well, only wait a little, I will be even with
him yet, for I have it. I have money." And with that, he slapped his
fat hand upon his trowsers' pocket, till the golden seals on his watch
chain danced merrily; but he quieted down suddenly, as he felt a hard
hand on his shoulder, and his Häuning said, "Muchel, you are wanted in
doors."

"Who is there, my Küking?" asked Pomuchelskopp gently, damped as usual
by his wife's presence.

"Slusuhr the notary, and old Moses' David."

"Good, good!" said Pomuchelskopp, throwing his arm around her, so that
the pair resembled a basket embracing a hop-pole,--"but just look over
at Pumpelhagen and that beautiful field. Is it not a sin and a shame it
should be in such hands? But that those two should come to-day, don't
it seem like a special providence, Klücking?"

"You are always dreaming, Kopp! You had better come in and talk to the
people. Such plans as you have in your head take too long to carry out
to suit me."

"Gently, gently, my Klücking, slow and sure!" said Pomuchelskopp, as he
followed his wife into the house.

Slusuhr and David were standing, meanwhile, in Pomuchelskopp's parlor.
David had been suffering torments, for, as ill luck would have it,
he had made himself fine with his great seal ring, and his gold
watch-chain, and, as he entered the room, and stood with his back to
the window, Philipping had spied the ring on his finger, and Nanting
the watch-chain knotted across his vest, and they darted on him like a
couple of ravens, tugging at the ring, and pulling at the chain, and
Nanting trod on poor David's corns, and Philipping, who had got up on
his knees in a chair, kept hitting him in the shins, and David's corns
and shin-bones were tender points, especially the latter, since they
bore the entire weight of his body, and nature had omitted to assist
them with appropriate calves.

Slusuhr stood at the other window, before Salchen, who sat there
embroidering a landscape painting on a sofa cushion for her father.
It represented a long barn and a plum-tree thickly set with blue
plums, and before the barn hens were scratching, and a wonderful
bright-colored cock, while ducks and geese, beautiful as swans, were
swimming in a little pond, and in the foreground lay a fat young
porker.

Old Moses was right about the notary; he did look like a rat. His ears
stuck out like a rat's ears, he was small and lean, like the rats in
Rahnstadt,--exception being made of those who were so fortunate as to
have a share in David's "produce business,"--he had grayish-yellow
complexion and eyes, and also grayish-yellow hair and moustaches; but
Malchen and Salchen Pomuchelskopp said he was "extremely interesting."

_Interested_, Bräsig said; he knew well enough how to talk, only it
must be about himself and his own meannesses. Bat was it not quite
natural for the notary, to prefer talking about his own cunning
craftiness, rather than the stupidity of other people? Was the notary
to blame if his wisdom was too great to be concealed under a bushel? It
had increased to such an extent, indeed, that he was able to
accommodate it only by turning out his entire stock of honesty. We are
not competent judges of such people; rat-nature is rat-nature, David
himself said,--if you spoke of rats, they were too many for him.

To-day, he was telling Salchen, with great enjoyment, about an
uncommonly stupid man, for whom he had promised a rich wife, and how on
every journey to see the lady, he had plucked from the poor cock now a
wing-feather, and now a tail-feather, until the last journey found him
thoroughly stripped. "Extremely interesting," said Salchen, just as
Pomuchelskopp entered the room.

"Ah! Delighted to see you, Herr Notary! Good day, Herr David!"

Salchen would have gone on laughing, but Father Pomuchelskopp motioned
with his hand toward the door, so she gathered up her plums, chickens,
geese and pigs, and saying, "Come, Nanting and Philipping, father has
business to attend to," she went out with them.

"Herr Pomuchelskopp," said David, "I came about the hides, and I wanted
to ask about the wool. I got a letter----"

"Eh, what? wool and hides!" cried the notary. "You can talk about those
afterward. We came for this particular business that you know about."

One may observe that the notary was a cunning business man, who could
dispense with preliminaries, he took the bull by the horns, and that
was what Pomuchelskopp liked,--he knew how to pull up nettles.

He went up to the notary, shook his hand, and motioned him to the sofa.
"Yes," said he, "it is a difficult, far-reaching piece of business."

"Hm? Well, we can make it long or short, as you like. But difficult? I
have managed much harder case's. David has a bill for two thousand five
hundred; I myself lent him last quarter eight hundred and thirty. Would
you like the note? Here it is."

"It is good paper," said Pomuchelskopp, gently and composedly, and he
stood up and took the money for it out of his pocket.

"Will you have mine too?" asked David.

"I will take yours also," said Pomuchelskopp, nodding his head with
dignity, as if he were doing a great work for humanity. "But,
gentlemen," he added, "I take them on this condition. Make out a bill,
in my name, that you are indebted to me for the amount, and keep these
notes and worry him with them. He must be only worried, for if we carry
it too far he will get the money somewhere else, and the right time
hasn't come yet."

"Yes," said the notary, "we understand; we can manage the business; but
David has something else to tell you."

"Yes," said David, "I have a letter from P----, when he has been with
his regiment, from Marcus Seelig, who writes me that he can buy up
about two thousand dollars of the lieutenant's paper, and if you would
like--what do you say?"

"Hm?" said Pomuchelskopp, "it is a good deal to take at one time;
but--yes, you may get it for me."

"But I have a condition, too," said David. "You must sell me the wool."

"Well, why not?" said Slusuhr, slily treading on Pomuchelskopp's toes.
"Let him go and look at it."

Pomuchelskopp understood the sign, and complimented David out of doors
that he might go and examine the wool, and, when he returned and seated
himself on the sofa by the notary, the latter laughed loudly, and said,
"We know each other!"

"What do you mean?" asked Pomuchelskopp, feeling as if he had stepped
out of his coach into the mud.

"My friend," said the notary, slapping him on the shoulder, "I have
known all along what you wanted, and, if you will pull at the same rope
with me, you shall not fail of securing it."

Good heavens, what a sly fox! Pomuchelskopp was frightened.

"Herr Notary, I don't deny----"

"No need of words between us. If things go as they should, you shall
get Pumpelhagen in time, and David shall have his compound interest,
and I--ah, I could manage the business myself, but it is a little too
much for me to undertake,--I will take a mill or a farm, and by and by
set up as a landed proprietor myself. But it will cost you a good deal
of money."

"That it will, God knows, a great deal of money; but that is no matter.
It torments me too much to look over at that beautiful estate; isn't it
a sin and a shame it should be in such hands?"

The notary looked askance at him, as if to say, "Do you really mean
that?"

"Well," said Pomuchelskopp, "what do you look at me so for?"

"Are you sure you are not joking?" said the notary, laughing. "If you
want the end, you must use the means. You don't think that you can
bring such an estate as Pumpelhagen to bankruptcy with a trumpery
thousand thaler note? You must go to work on an entirely different
plan; you must buy up all the mortgages on the estate."

"I will do that," whispered Pomuchelskopp, "but there is Moses, with
his seven thousand thalers not to be got at."

"I have nothing to do with Moses, and desire nothing to do with him;
but there is David, perhaps he can get it for us. But that is not all,
by a great deal, that you must do. You must get on good terms with the
lieutenant; as a friend, you can assist him in some temporary
embarrassment, and then, in a temporary embarrassment of your own, sell
his note,--to me, if you like,--so that I can worry him a little, and,
finally, when the whole concern is ready to smash, then----"

"I will do it," whispered Pomuchelskopp impressively, "I will do it
all; but I must have him here first. You must go to him directly with
the notes, so that he may be obliged to leave the army."

"That is a small thing; if there is nothing more----"

"Yes, yes, but there is something more," said Pomuchelskopp, still
whispering, as if he feared being betrayed by a listener, "there is
that Habermann; and so long as that sly old watch-dog is there, we
cannot get him into our power."

"Oh, how stupid you are!" and the notary laughed in his face. "Did you
ever hear of a young man in pecuniary difficulties making a clean
breast of it to an old friend like Habermann? I take it, the lieutenant
is not different from the rest of the world. No, Habermann may stay at
Pumpelhagen, for all that; but yet, if it is possible, we must get him
away. He is too good a steward, and, if he manages Pumpelhagen as well
as he has so far, the lieutenant can afford to keep us waiting a good
while yet."

"He a good manager! He didn't manage very well for himself."

"Well, let him go! One mustn't undervalue things. But he must go."

"Yes, but how can we bring it about?"

"I can't do anything," laughed the notary, "but you--when you get the
Herr Lieutenant with the bright dollars under his eyes, it will be easy
to get an old, worn-out inspector turned off. The devil is in it, if
you can't."

"Yes, yes," cried Pomuchelskopp, in a tone of annoyance; "but all that
takes so long, and my wife is so impatient."

"She will have to wait," said the notary, very quietly, "such things
are not done precipitately. Only think how long Pumpelhagen has been in
the Rambow family; the change cannot take place in a hurry. But now,
stop! David is coming; not a word of this before David! Do you
understand? Say nothing to him but about his money affairs."

As David entered the room, he saw a couple of remarkably jolly faces.
Pomuchelskopp was laughing as if the Herr Notary had made an uncommonly
witty remark, and the Herr Notary laughed, as if Pomuchelskopp had been
telling the best joke in the world. But David was not so stupid as he
appeared at the moment; he knew very well that he had been made an
April fool of; and that his two colleagues had been discussing
something beside jokes. "They have their secrets," said he to himself;
"I have mine." He sat down by the table, with the stupidest Jew-lubber
face, and nodding to Pomuchelskopp said, "I have looked at it."

"Well?" inquired Pomuchelskopp.

"Well," said David, shrugging his shoulders, "you say it has been
washed, and it may have been washed, for all I know."

"What! Don't you believe me? Do you mean to say it isn't white as
swan's-down?"

"Well, if it is swan's-down it may be swan's-down for all me."

"What are you driving at?"

"Look here! We got a letter from Löwenthal in Hamburg; the great
Löwenthal house in Hamburg--the stone is fourteen dollars and a half."

"I know all that; you are always writing about that nonsense."

"A house like the Löwenthals doesn't write about nonsense."

"Eh, children," interrupted the notary, "this isn't business, this
looks like a quarrel. Pomuchelskopp, let us have a couple of bottles of
wine."

The Herr Notary was extremely familiar with the Herr Proprietor; but
the Herr Proprietor rang, and, as Dürting came, he said in a very
friendly and pleasant way, for he was always pleasant in his own house,
and especially to the women-kind, from his Häuning down to the little
girls, "Dürting, two bottles of wine, from those with the blue corks."

When the wine stood on the table, Pomuchelskopp filled three glasses,
and then emptied his own; but David merely sipped at his. As the notary
finished his glass, he said, "Now, gentlemen, let me tell you
something," and he winked at David across the table, and under the
table he trod on Pomuchelskopp's toes.

"You, David, can have fifteen dollars for the stone, and you,
Pomuchelskopp"--here he trod on his toes again--"you don't care for
ready money at present, if you can get good bonds you would like it all
the better"--

"Yes," said Pomuchelskopp, seeing the drift of the notary's remarks,
"if you can get me the Pumpelhagen bonds from your father, I will give
you up the surplus of the wool money."

"Why not?" said David, "but how about the knots?"

"The knots!" repeated Pomuchelskopp. "We can compromise----"

"Hold on!" cried the notary, "you can settle about the knots, when you
bring the bond."

"Why not?" said David again.

When they had finished their wine, and were getting into their wagon,
the notary said softly and very jokingly to Pomuchelskopp, "To-morrow
David can begin to worry the Herr Lieutenant, and next week I will
tread on his toes."

And Pomuchelskopp pressed his hand as gratefully as if the notary had
saved his Philipping from drowning, and, after they were gone, he sat
down with his Hänning, and cut and clipped contentedly at the web of
the future, and the notary sat in the wagon highly pleased, well
satisfied with himself that he was wiser than the others, and David sat
at his side, and said to himself, "We shall see! You have the secrets,
and I have the knots."

But it was not all right about the knots yet; for when David told the
business to his father, and wanted the bond, the old man looked at him
sideways, over his shoulder, and said, "So! If you have been with that
notary, that cut-throat, and that Pomuchelskopp,--he is another
cut-throat,--and bought wool, you may pay for it with your own bonds
and not with mine. Do business with rats if you like, but I shall have
nothing to do with them."

That was not so favorable for David and the knots.



                               CHAPTER X.


But it was worse for the poor Herr Lieutenant next morning, when David
entered the room. David was never handsome,--nobody could say that, not
even his own mother, but he had not improved since the lieutenant first
made his acquaintance. Then, when he got the money for him at the
notary's, there was something quite friendly in his appearance; but
now, when he wanted the money again, he looked so tough and sour, that
the lieutenant, without thinking what he was doing, drew on his gloves
before speaking to him.

Speak with him he must, however, though David's face seemed to him as
if Moses and all the prophets were looking out from behind it; and when
David said, "Take off your gloves, Herr Lieutenant, and write," he took
off his gloves, and wrote across the note, and David's face became as
friendly as at their first interview.

"Thank God!" said the Herr Lieutenant, "that is done with."

But a few days later a wagon drove into the yard, and in the wagon sat
the notary Slusuhr, and Habermann shook his head, and said, "God
preserve me, with _him_ too?"

And as the notary entered the room, the Herr Lieutenant said also, "God
preserve me, him too?"

But he got on with him a little better than with David; the notary
looked like a man of some cultivation, he always dressed well, and
appeared outwardly like a gentleman, he understood also how to preserve
such an appearance in his language,--that is to say, as long as he
liked. This was the case at present; the lieutenant invited him to a
seat on the sofa, and ordered coffee, and there followed what seemed a
very friendly chat about the weather and the neighborhood and the bad
conduct of people in general, for in the latter topic the Herr Notary
was well posted, because he had cultivated the habit of looking around
him, and never acquired that of looking within. "Yes," said he, telling
about a merchant in Rahnstadt, "Just think, Herr von Rambow, how wicked
men are! There, out of pure kindness,--that is, on account of the
interest which I must pay, for I hadn't so much money lying idle, I had
to borrow it myself,--I lent him the money, and helped him out of his
difficulties, and he was so thankful,--and now--now that I want it
again, must have it, he is rough, he threatens to complain of me for
charging illegal interest."

Of course there was not a word of truth in this story, the notary only
told it to frighten the Herr Lieutenant, and it answered the purpose.
In order to turn the conversation, he asked what sort of business the
merchant was engaged in.

But the notary was not to be diverted; he did not answer the question,
but went on with his story.

"But I have entered a complaint against him, and now let him look out!
His credit is good for nothing,--and then the disgrace! It is not
exactly entered yet, to be sure, but I have written it myself. What do
you say to that?" The poor lieutenant was terribly distressed, the
prospect looked as dark as if this was but the few drops before a heavy
storm. He coughed, and cleared his throat, but said nothing, for he
could think of nothing to say. It made no difference to the notary, he
went on:

"But, thank God! I don't often have to deal with such idiots,
this fellow is an exception. And since we are talking of money
business,"--here he drew out his pocket-book,--"will you allow me to
give you back your note?"

He held out the note for eight hundred and thirty dollars, and the
rat-like ears seemed to erect themselves, and the grey eyes to protrude
from the grayish yellow face, and the dry lips to moisten, like a rat
when he smells bacon. The poor lieutenant took the note, and attempted
to put aside the matter with a semblance of indifference.

Yes, he said, he would send him the money; he had started so suddenly,
and the occasion of his journey had been so sad, that he had not
thought of the matter.

Yes, replied the notary, he believed him, he knew how it was when his
own father died; at such a time, a man thinks of nothing but his
loss,--and he put on such a melancholy face, that the lieutenant took
fresh courage,--but, said the notary, he had thought a great deal of
this note lately, he depended on it, for he was under engagements, and
to meet them,--he must have money.

"But this is such a trifling matter," interrupted Axel.

"Well, yes," said the notary, taking other papers from his pocket-book;
"but then these little matters too!" and he laid on the table the notes
for over two thousand dollars, which David had bought up at the
lieutenant's garrison town.

The lieutenant was startled out of his show of indifference.

"How did you come by these papers?" he exclaimed.

"Herr von Rambow, I believe the name 'exchange' is applied to such
bills because they are transferable by their possessors; you cannot be
surprised that I should take them instead of cash payment, all the more
since I was saved a good deal of writing and postage money."

The lieutenant became more and more perplexed, but the idea that all
this was a concerted game did not yet occur to him.

"But, my dear Herr Notary, I have for the moment no money on hand."

"No?" cried the notary, shrugging his shoulders with an expression
which let one look straight into the black depths of his soul, and
revealed the compact that he had made with the devil. "No?" he
repeated; "I don't believe it." And, in spite of all the lieutenant's
assurances the notary stood before him, hard and cold, saying
insolently, to his face, that he did not believe him; it was only that
he _would_ not pay. Finally, the good old means of prolongation came
upon the carpet, to which Axel would gladly have agreed at the first,
if it had been proposed to him; but that would not have suited the
notary. He wanted more commission than David, and he meant to take his
satisfaction in the business, for he was a man who enjoyed a joke, and
the best of all jokes to him was when he could say to himself, "No one
can match you in craftiness; you set your foot on the necks of high and
low, and it is good sport to watch their struggles."

These were the troubles and distresses in which Axel von Rambow sat, up
to the neck, and they distracted him from his grief about his father.
From a deep sorrow, of God's sending, a soul works itself out fresh and
pure, like a man over whom the waves of the sea have rolled; he may
have had a hard struggle, but when he comes forth he stands on the
beach clean and cool, and ready for new work. But he who has fallen
into trouble through his own temerity, is like one who, having fallen
into a slough, is covered with filth, and is ashamed to meet the eyes
of others. So it was with the young Herr, he was ashamed that he had
lived so thoughtlessly, he was ashamed of having involved himself with
black and with white Jews, he was ashamed that he could not help
himself out of the slough, and that the help which others had given
could only sink him deeper. How easily he might have escaped all this,
if he had but confided in Habermann! How gladly he would assist him
even now, since the reason was gone that had hindered him before, the
Kammerrath! But the human heart is a stubborn and also a perverse
thing, and this perverse thing believes it will find more rest if miles
lie between it and its disgrace; so Axel left his estate much sooner
than his sisters had hoped.

At his garrison he found everything as he had left it, only he himself
was changed; at least he said so to himself, daily; but if one had
asked his comrades they would have said they observed nothing peculiar
about him, and quite naturally, for his good resolutions, which were
the only respect in which he had altered, had not yet come to light. He
meant to be economical, he meant to follow his father's advice, and
study agriculture as well as he could from books, he meant to do well
in all respects. His economy began the first morning; for a week he
drank no sugar in his coffee,--"For," said he, "if a man despises
little things, he will not prosper in great ones,"--and he smoked
cigars at nineteen instead of twenty dollars the box. His servant got a
serious lecture, when he brought the bread and butter for his
breakfast, and received orders to give his two horses each half a
measure of oats less than usual, "For," he said, "times are hard."

The latter was the only enduring retrenchment--probably because he was
not fed at the same crib with his mares; all the others stopped after a
week or so; it was of no use, he said, to begin things that one
couldn't carry through. It was much in the same way with his
agricultural studies. The first three pages of every book, he knew
almost by heart, he had read them so often; for he always began at the
beginning, because, when he had got so far, some thing would divert his
attention from the text. Then, as he felt so sure of these, he would
reward himself for his industry by looking up something interesting in
the books, and as he read a chapter on the breeding of horses, he would
say to himself he knew all that, and more too; there had been great
progress in those matters. After all, what good would it do for him to
read these books, if he could not take hold of the business
practically? he knew very well a farmer should be practical,--nothing
if not practical! So he made the acquaintance of a Herr von So-and-So,
who owned an estate in the neighborhood; he rode with him over the
fields, and asked the inspector what he was doing that day, and when
they returned to the house, he knew as well as the Herr von So-and-So
that in Seelsdorp on the 15th of June, they were carting manure, and
that his gray Wallach was foaled in Basedow from the gray Momus; or he
went with Herr von So and So, with a gun over his shoulder, through the
barley stubble, and got the information by the way that the barley had
been harvested on the 27th of August, shot a brace of partridges, and
when he went to bed at night he knew as well as Herr von So and So how
the partridges tasted.

He found this sort of practical apiculture very agreeable, and as a man
is apt to talk about the things that please him, Axel did not fail to
exhibit his attainments, and was soon known among his comrades as a
shining light, quite an agricultural tallow candle, four to the pound.
Since most of them were the sons of noble landed proprietors, and
destined to the same life, and looking forward with horror to the time
when they must leave their jolly soldier-life, for the hard work of
gentlemen farmers, Axel seemed to them an unusual example of diligence,
and they looked upon him as upon some wonderful animal who out of pure
love for labor had put his head into the yoke. Most of them admired him
accordingly, though a few blockheads turned up their noses, and
insinuated that for a lieutenant his conversation savored too strongly
of the farm-yard.

Having set himself up as an authority in agricultural matters, it was
necessary to sustain his reputation, and to make progress with time.
And that was a period of wonderful progress in agricultural science,
for Professor Liebig had written a famous book for the farmers, which
was brimful and running over of carbon and saltpetre, and sulphur, and
gypsum, and lime, and sal-ammoniac, and hydrates and hydropathy, enough
to drive one crazy. People who wished to dip their fingers in science
procured this book, and sat down to it, and read and read, until their
heads were dizzy; and if they tried to recollect, they could not tell
whether gypsum were a stimulant or a nutriment,--that is to say, for
clover, not for human beings.

Axel bought this book, and it fared with him as with the rest, he read
and read, but kept growing dizzier, and his head turned round as if
there were screws getting loose in it, and he shut the book. It would
probably have stopped here, with him, as with the others, he would have
forgotten the whole concern, if he had not had the fortune to know a
good-natured apothecary, who could let him take all the drugs, of which
the book treated, into his own hands, and smell them with his own nose.
This was the practical way, and from that moment he understood the
business, yes, as well as Liebig himself, so that he had no occasion to
read farther in the book.

The branch of agriculture which gave him particular pleasure was
farming-implements and machinery. He had from a child taken great
delight in all sorts of inventions; as a boy he had made little mills,
he had pasted, and, although his mother had a great dislike to anything
that smacked of handicraft, he had, during his school-days, taken
private lessons in book-binding. These tastes came into exercise now;
he was uncommonly pleased to see a design of a new-fashioned American
rake, or a Scotch harrow, and it was not long before he indulged in the
innocent amusement of cutting little rakes and harrows and rollers
himself.

He did not stop here, however, but went on to design rape-clappers,
flax-bruisers, and corn-shellers. He might possibly have rested in
these achievements,--and it was surely worthy of honor in a lieutenant
to lay aside his uniform and go to work with drawing-knife, auger and
glue-pot,--if he had not made the acquaintance of an old half-crazy
watchmaker, who had wasted his life and his small property in
endeavoring to discover, for an ungrateful world, the secret of
perpetual motion. This old benefactor of humanity led him into his
workshop, and showed him how one wheel must be made to turn upon
another, and this upon a cylinder, and that upon a screw, and the screw
upon a winch, and that upon a wheel again, and so on, over and over; he
showed him machines that wouldn't go, and others that would go, and yet
others which wouldn't go as they should; he exhibited machines which
Axel could comprehend, and some which he couldn't comprehend, and some
which he didn't comprehend himself; but it was all very interesting to
Axel, and he became inspired in his turn with the desire of being a
benefactor to mankind. His idea was to invent a machine, which would do
all sorts of field labor, which should rake, harrow, roll, and pull up
weeds. It was really touching to see the fresh, young lieutenant of
cavalry and the withered, wrinkled old watchmaker, sitting together and
planning with the lever and screws to elevate mankind.

And so it might have gone on, for all me, and for all him, and he might
possibly have elevated mankind, though the constant tugging of
securities and discounts and such matters had a tendency to bring him
down, for he thought nothing about the payment of his debts, and
although there was a good income from Pumpelhagen, according to his
father's will it was I to be applied first to the payment of his own
debts, and the sisters must be supported out of it; and, as for the
rest, he lived without anxiety when his first needs were supplied.

But there are a pair--brother and sister--who shake the most
indifferent person out of his dreams, and drive him, without, ceremony,
out from the warm chimney-corner, into the storm and rain,--these are
hate and love. Hate thrusts one head-foremost out of the door, saying,
"There, scoundrel, away with you!" Love takes one gently by the hand,
leads one to the door, and says, "Come, with me, I will show you a
better place." But it comes to the same thing; one must leave his nice,
warm chimney-corner. Axel made the acquaintance of both; and it
happened quite accidentally, it was none of his doing.

I don't know whether it is so still; but at that time it was the
custom, among the Prussians, for the regimental commanders to send
regular deportment lists of the officers to Berlin, and King Frederic
William was in the habit of looking into the papers himself, in order
to see what his officers were fit for.

Now Axel's good old colonel liked the Herr Lieutenant very much,
because he had once owned an estate himself, alongside Bütow and
Lauenburg, which he had got rid of through his singular methods of
farming; and because he still owned one, on which he could carry out
these methods, one of them being never to enrich the soil, because he
thought it not good for the land. He had a great opinion of his own
methods, and as he was like the old carrier who, when they can no
longer drive, still like to crack the whip, he enjoyed talking about
them, and as Axel listened attentively, and was too polite to
contradict him, the old colonel conceived a high opinion of his wisdom.
For this reason Axel's testimonials were always very good; but
unfortunately the old Colonel paid little attention to orthography, and
so he wrote once, "Lieutenant von Rambow is a thoroughly 'feiger'
officer," when he meant to say "fähiger" (capable). The king himself
saw it, and wrote on the margin, "I have no occasion for a 'feiger'
(cowardly) officer; let him be dismissed at once." It was a stupid
thing in the old colonel; the mistake must be corrected; but he did not
know how to do it without taking his adjutant into counsel. With his
assistance, the orthography and the business were made right; but
the rogue could not hold his tongue, and before long the whole set
were aiming their poor jokes at our innocent Axel. Especially one
thick-headed fellow, of "very old family," who had all along poked fun
at him on account of his agricultural pursuits, not because he managed
them foolishly, but because he took to them at all,--now applied the
screw so insolently that all his comrades observed it; Axel alone took
no notice, because he had not the slightest suspicion of the cause.

There was another matter, in addition. The Herr von So and So, with
whom Axel took practical lessons in farming on horseback and with a
shot-gun, had a wonderfully pretty daughter,--nobody need laugh! she
was really a fine girl,--by whom the Herr Lieutenant of the "old
family" was strongly attracted. She, however, treated him quite coolly,
and was much more gracious to Axel, who also turned his best side out
in her presence. Whether it was that the young lady took no pleasure in
the stupidly forward behavior of the Herr Lieutenant of "old family,"
and if she were going to marry preferred a man gifted with more brains,
or that she was pleased with Axel's good-temper and modesty, it was not
long before Axel was evidently "cock of the walk," and the Herr
Lieutenant of "old family," sat upon the nettles of jealousy.

It happened, about this time, that the officers of the corps gave a
ball, and the Herr Lieutenant of "old family" adorned himself for this
festivity with a pair of false calves. Looking at his legs, his own
comrades scarcely knew him, and as there is always a mischief-maker
among so many frolicsome young people, who in this case happened to be
the adjutant, he converted the cotton-wool calves of Axel's rival into
a pincushion, and stuck them full of butterflies, with which the
unconscious lieutenant hopped about quite merrily. People could not
help looking and laughing, and the Herr Lieutenant, discovering how his
calves were ornamented, became fearfully angry, as he had reason to be,
and his wrath broke loose upon the first laughing face he chanced to
meet, which happened to be Axel's. "If you were not already designated
upon the colonel's conduct list, I should have the satisfaction of
applying the epithet myself!" exclaimed he, in his rage. Axel did not
hear the words distinctly, the insolent tone, however, was not to be
misunderstood; and as he was really no poltroon, and very easily
excited, he turned with equal anger to his rival, saying that "he did
not understand what he said, but the tone he had used made an
explanation necessary;" and with that he went to his captain, with whom
he stood on good terms, and asked an account of the matter, and what he
heard from him did not tend to diminish his anger. He fell into a
terrible passion, and challenged the lieutenant of "old family," and
also the adjutant, because he had brought the matter about, and the
lieutenant challenged the adjutant, an account of the butterflies, and
so the three rode out one fine Sunday afternoon, with a crowd of
seconds and witnesses and impartial observers and doctors and surgeons,
and they cut each other's faces, and shot at each other's limbs, and
then there was peace again. Axel got a scar on his nose, because he was
stupid enough to parry a thrust with his face instead of his sword. If
this did not exactly beautify him, it certainly did him no harm. Herr
von So and So's pretty daughter heard of the matter, she put together
many little pleasantries which she had noted between the rivals, and
who can blame this intelligent girl if she believed herself the
innocent cause of such heroic deeds, and liked Axel afterward better
than before?

Here I might relate the entire love-story of Axel and Frida, and I
leave it to any unprejudiced person if I should not have a pair of
characters for a love-story, such as cannot be found even in the Bible,
a lieutenant of cuirassiers, and a young lady of the nobility; but no,
I will have nothing to do with it. For, in the first place, I never do
more than I am obliged, and who can compel me to give private
instructions to the burghers' daughters, who may possibly read this,
about falling in love with a lieutenant of cuirassiers, or to teach
young mechanics how they may ingratiate themselves with noble young
ladies? Who would give me anything for that? And, secondly, I may as
well say, once for all, I do not write with any regard to young people,
I write merely for the old folks, who lie down of an afternoon on the
sofa, and take a book to drive the flies from their faces, and the
cares out of their heads. Thirdly, I have already three young maidens
to dispose of, and any one who wants to know what a task that is may
inquire of any mother of three unmarried daughters. Louise Habermann
must have a husband, and would it not be a shame to leave the two
little twin-apples to trundle through the world as old maids? Fourthly
and lastly, I am not fitted to describe correctly the love of a
lieutenant of cuirassiers, it is a touch beyond me, it requires the pen
of a Shakespeare or a Mühlbach, and who knows whether Shakespeare
himself were adequate to the task, for so far as I am informed he never
ventured upon it.

In short, they were betrothed, and the wedding was held at Whitsuntide,
1843, and the Herr von So and So gave his blessing as a dowry, because
it was all he had to give. Well, we will treat him like a Christian,
and give him something, to wit a name,--for since he is become our
father-in-law he must have a name,--so he shall be called Herr von
Satrup of Seelsdorp, of which estate he owned still less than Axel of
Pumpelhagen.

Frida von Satrup was an intelligent girl, and understood before her
marriage that a "Herr Lieutenant" was only a large piece of a small
apple, and that a "Frau Lieutenant" would be a small piece of a large
apple; she stipulated, therefore, that Axel should leave the army. Axel
was not unwilling, for the foolery about the "feiger" officer was not
by any means over, although he bore the mark of the old colonel's
blunder in red ink on his face, and he had also a great desire and
purpose to turn his agricultural science into ready money, at
Pumpelhagen, and therewith to pay his debts.

He took his discharge, therefore, packed his uniform, sash and
epaulettes in a box, delivered, with tears in his eyes, a touching
farewell address to his brave sword, laid that also in the box, nailed
and sealed the box, and wrote on the top, "In case of sudden death, to
be opened by my heirs," sent the whole to Pumpelhagen, was married in a
black dress-suit, and started with his young bride for a journey up the
Rhine.

How he made his entrance into Pumpelhagen, in the midsummer of 1843,
shall be told in another place.



                              CHAPTER XI.


The three years which, since his father's death, Axel had spent in
garrison, occupied with agriculture, heroic deeds and love-affairs, had
been passed by the dwellers in Pumpelhagen and the vicinity in much the
same occupations. The agriculture was a matter of course; but the
heroic deeds and the love affairs would have been wanting, if Fritz
Triddelsitz, in his hours of leisure, had not turned his attention that
way. His relations with Marie Möller had slipped gradually out of the
motherly into the brother-and-sisterly, and from thence, on her part at
least, into the tenderly affectionate, and although they were still
based on a foundation of ham and sausage, Marie Möller indulged in all
sorts of uncertain heavenly hopes touching priest and sexton, bridal
wreath, and farming and house keeping for herself, if in process of
time the business should take a serious turn, while Fritz lived in fear
of being discovered by Habermann at some of these private repasts, and
suspected that, if his aunt and is father and mother knew of his
foolish behavior, the business might take a disagreeable turn for
himself. In short, his love-affairs were not altogether satisfactory,
and though he thought no harm of throwing his hook here and there, for
example, to the little twin-apples, and, when his aunt was off duty, to
Louise Habermann, yet he was forced to confess, when he dealt honestly
with himself, that his only success was with Marie Möller.

The heroic deeds of Pumpelhagen were also confined to his department.
He had at first attempted them merely against the farm-boys, and that
in a quiet way, for if Habermann had known of it, the renown which he
achieved upon their shoulders would have been sadly interfered with;
now, however, as all went well, he grew bolder, and in an evil hour
ventured to strike a stable-boy, and the rascal was so insolent
as to forget all the respect due to his station, and gave him such
a thrashing, in broad day-light, and Palm Sunday at that, that
Marie Möller must spend the whole Sunday afternoon cooling his
shoulder-blades. And the most disagreeable of all was that with every
cold bandage that Marie Möller laid on his shoulders she sent a sting
to his conscience, while she reminded him of all her kind deeds, and
inquired about his plans and prospects, trustfully assuring him that
she believed in his affection and would faithfully share his future. It
was very annoying, because, for his part, he believed more in his
appetite for ham and sausage than in his affection, and he preferred
keeping his prospects to himself. He stammered out something which she
did not or would not fully comprehend, and the cooler his blisters
became the cooler became their relations; he tried to change the
subject, she was not disposed to do so; she still applied the wet
cloths, but with a less and less gentle hand.

"Triddelsitz," said she finally, "what am I to think of you?"

With that, she came round from her position behind him, and placed
herself before his face, with arms akimbo.

"Mariken," said he, alarmed and confused, "what do you mean?"

"What do I mean? shall I, speak out more clearly?" exclaimed she, and
the sweet, tender expression was quite gone from her eyes. "Am I a
person to be made a fool of?"

Then she went back again, and slapped a cold bandage on his shoulders,
with emphasis.

"Oh! Thunder!" cried Fritz, "that hurts!"

"So? It hurts, does it? Do you think it doesn't hurt me, to find that a
man for whom I have done so much means to betray me?"

"Mariken, I ask you, what do you mean?"

"What do I mean? I mean"--with another emphatic bandage--"will you tell
me what to think of you?"

"Thunder and lightning! That burns like fire!"

"I hope it does! I should think your conscience would burn you,
deceiving a poor girl with all sorts of promises and prospects and then
backing out in this way!"

"Good heavens, Marie, I am only nineteen years old."

"Well, what then?"

"I must serve somewhere else for a time, and then----"

"Well, and then?" with another wet cloth on his shoulders.

"Good heavens! You might be a little more careful, Marie."

"_You_ might be a little more careful! Well, what then?"

"Then, I must get me a farm; and all that will take ten years or more."

"Well, and then?" pursued Marie Möller, with truly infamous
persistency.

"And then," stammered Fritz finally, in his distress, "by that time,
you will be too old for me."

Marie Möller stood at first as if thunder-struck; poisonous glances
shot from her eyes; then she bent round and threw the cloth that was in
her hand right in his face, so that the water spattered over his ears.

"Too old? Impertinence! Too old, do you say?" and grasping the washbowl
full of water she threw it over his head, and ran out of the room. And
as Fritz stood there, gasping and snuffling, she opened the door again,
and putting her head in, said,--

"Don't let me see you in my pantry again!"

Love had now received its death-blow; there was an end also of the
pantry indulgences; and as Fritz stood there dripping, it seemed to
him, among his confused thoughts, that the whole story did not exactly
harmonize with his ideas of love, still less with the romances he had
read, and he uttered in his vexation the selfsame words he had spoken
at the beginning of his apprenticeship, when he was working on the road
in the November rain: "It is quite different from what I thought! A
good, thing, though, that the old man is not at home," added he, "or he
might have heard the uproar."

Habermann had gone with Franz this morning to the Gurlitz church. He
always took this walk, with still, pious thoughts, but to-day his heart
was brimful of thankfulness to God, whose fatherly hand had led his
child so far on her life journey, for, on this Palm Sunday morning,
Louise was to be confirmed. He walked, silent and absorbed in thought,
along the foot-path, his eye resting on the pleasant landscape, where
the snow still lay in white streaks along side the ditches and under
the shade of the dark fir-trees, and where the green, springing rye in
the bright sunshine told of Easter, and preached the Resurrection. The
chimney-smoke lay over the little villages, and the sun seemed to press
it down, as though this token of human care and labor ought not to
darken the bright world, as if there would not be room enough else for
the joyous sound of the church bells, which echoed, far and wide, over
field and forest.

"Ah, if she had only lived to see this day!" said the old man aloud,
and as if he thought himself alone.

"Who?" asked Franz, a little shyly, as if he feared to be too
inquisitive.

"My poor wife, the mother of my dear child," said the old man, softly,
and looked at the young man with such friendly, honest eyes, that
seemed to say, "Look into our depths and read this simple, true heart!
We will answer all thy questions, and it shall echo long in thy
memory." "Yes," said he, "my good wife! But what do I say? She sees
more, to-day, than I can of her child, and she does more than I can for
her child; for her thoughts are higher than the blue heavens, and her
joys brighter than the golden sun."

Franz walked silent by his side, he was careful not to disturb the
Inspector; this old man, whom he loved, to-day seemed to him so worthy
of reverence,--his white hair lay across his broad forehead, as pure as
the white snow on the earth, his fresh countenance and bright eyes
spoke as trustfully of the resurrection as did the springing rye, and
the whole face shone with such a sunlight of love, that the young man,
after a while, could no longer restrain himself, he grasped his
friend's hand:

"Habermann, my dear Habermann, you have certainly lived through much
sorrow."

"Not more than other people," was the reply, "and yet enough to think
of, all one's life."

"Will you tell me about it? I do not ask from curiosity."

"Why not?" and he told his story; but he did not mention
Pomuchelskopp's name, and he closed his narration with this remark
about his child: "Yes, she was then my only comfort, and she is now my
only joy!"

They came to the parsonage. The little Frau Pastorin had become a
little older, and a little fuller, with time, and could not fly round
quite so quickly as before; and to-day she was unusually quiet, running
in nobody's way, and the duster lay unnoticed in its corner, as lonely
as a dog under the table, for to-day the approaching solemn ceremony
forbade her usual bustling about, for, as the Pastor's wife, she was
the nearest.

But it was impossible for her to keep quite still, if she did not buzz
about, she must at least run a little, now to fasten her Pastor's bands
and bring him a glass of wine, now to Louise, to set her ruffle
straight, and whisper a loving word in her ear; and when young Jochen
and Frau Nüssler and the little twins and Bräsig all arrived together,
she would certainly have forgotten herself, if the sexton had not
exercised his judgment, and commenced ringing for the last time. The
twins were also to be confirmed to-day, and as the company were going
to the church, and the Frau Pastorin looked at the three lovely
children walking together across the church-yard, Louise in the middle,
half a head taller than her little cousins, she said to Habermann,
while tears stood in her friendly eyes, "Habermann, our child has no
gold chain and brooch to wear, as is the foolish custom now-a-days; and
that black silk dress, dear Habermann, is all of thirty years old. I
wore it last the first time I went to church here after I was married,
and a happy heart beat under it, for in that heart dwelt my Pastor; it
was too small for me afterwards, for, you see, I was already growing
rather stout, but it is as good as new, and nobody would know that it
was pieced down. And, Habermann, I put the money that you gave me for a
dress into Louise's money-box. You won't take it ill of me? I was so
glad to see my old dress in use again."

Just before the church door Bräsig pulled Habermann by the coat, and as
he turned round he said, quite moved with emotion, "Karl, it is
remarkable, it is really remarkable, such a confirmation! See, when I
look at those three little girls walking along it reminds me of my own,
and how I had got through the infamous sheep-keeping for my sainted
father, and was going to begin farming. We went along just like the
three little girls, Karl Brandt and Christian Guhl and I, to the
church, only we didn't have black silk dresses on; no, Christian had a
green, Karl a brown, and I a gray coat; and instead of the bouquets of
flowers, that the little girls carry in their hands, we had little
sprigs of green stuck in our buttonholes; and instead of walking three
abreast we went one behind the other, like geese in the barley. Yes, it
was just so."

After a hymn had been sung by the congregation, Pastor Behrens preached
his sermon. He had grown older in his appearance, but his voice was
strong, and his thoughts clear as ever, and a mild and gentle spirit
breathed in every word. It is certain there is no profession in which
age is less of a drawback than in the ministry, when the man who holds
this office has discharged it faithfully. The people do not listen to
his words merely, they look at his long, upright, honorable life, and
he stands before them a living example of the truth which he utters. So
it was with this Pastor.

Then came the examination. The young maidens laid aside their outside
wrappings, Louise embraced, with tearful eyes, her father and her
foster-mother, Frau Nüssler affectionately kissed her little twins,
young Jochen tried to say something, but did not succeed, and the three
children stepped out from the Pastor's seat, up to the altar. "I wonder
if the rogues know their lessons," said Bräsig to Franz, who was next
him; "I believe my godchild--that is Mining--will stumble." And with
that, he blew his nose, and wiped, not his eyes, but his eyebrows.

Franz did not answer; everything around him had disappeared for the
time, he saw only one face, a familiar face, and yet he saw it as for
the first time; he saw but one form, a form which he had seen springing
joyously about, but now a wonderful, solemn thrill trembled through it;
he saw a pair of hands which had been joyfully extended to him, now
reached up to the Most High; and it seemed to him as if the Lord looked
down, and upheld this trembling form, in the simple black dress, in
which a happy heart had once throbbed, and showed him this pure virgin
heart, and said, "Watch thine own, that it may be worthy to unite with
this." He was like a man who had long ago seen a beautiful region, in
bright sunshine, and who had rambled about therein, thinking of nothing
but his own enjoyment, and coming again after a long time saw the same
region under the silent moon, and could scarcely recognize it, because
over hill and forest, over thatched roof and church-tower, lay the
thick veil of the evening mist, upon which rested the silver moonlight,
so that he saw only this, and not the pleasant region that he knew. It
seemed to him as if his soul was stretching out imploring hands, from a
deep abyss, and a profound self-pity came over him, because is own
heart was so poor a gift to bestow. And this deep self-pity, this
secret longing for a better heart, that falls upon us, like a moonbeam
woven out of mist and light, we children of men call "Love."

Bräsig stood near him, and whispered now and then a couple of words,
which Franz did not hear and which, if he had heard, he would probably
have considered very stupid, and might have been annoyed by them; and
yet the old Inspector's remarks had their origin in the same feeling
which had come over himself, only that it was not so heavenly blue and
rosy red as in his case, but old age had given it a tinge of gray.

Bräsig was in the greatest distress lest his godchild, Mining, should
fail; and with every question that she answered properly, such a great
sigh was heard that Pastor Behrens, if he had been of the new-fashioned
style of preachers, must have thought he had brought a great sinner to
repentance in sackcloth and ashes. "God be praised!" said this sinner,
half aloud, "Mining knows it;" and after a while he touched Franz: "Now
it is coming, just listen, now it is coming;" and he punched Habermann
on the other side: "Karl, you will see Mining has got it. Mining has
the great water-question. I knew it, Christian Guhl couldn't say it,
and it came to me; but I have forgotten it all now, except just the
beginning: 'Water indeed avails nothing of itself, but the Spirit of
God'"--and as Mining repeated the answer, without faltering, the old
man whispered after her the whole "water-question," and when the sexton
came round with the poor-box, he put in a silver thaler, as if it were
a relief to his feelings; and he turned round, and pressed Frau
Nüssler's hand, and said almost aloud, "Frau Nüssler, did you hear our
little rogue?" and blew his nose with so much emphasis, that Frau
Pastorin secretly pronounced him an irreverent sinner, for disturbing
the holy ordinance.

If one should follow up the cord which bound Bräsig to little Mining,
and go a little way beyond Mining, he would find the end made fast, in
Frau Nüssler's heart, where it was tied in a great double knot, which
could never be parted. It seemed to be sure, quite another thing, and
much rougher than the delicate, silken, rosy noose, which Franz would
fain have knotted about Louise Habermann's little heart and which
seemed to him too rough and hard for that tender heart. Love is
everywhere, the world over, but she takes strange forms; she flies like
an angel upon rosy pinions, and she shuffles about on wooden shoes; she
speaks with tongues, like the apostles on the day of Pentecost, and she
sits in the corner like a sulky child, whom the schoolmaster has struck
on the mouth with the primer; she gives diamonds and coronets, and old
Inspector Schecker sought to win the hand of my Aunt Schöning, with a
fat turkey.

When the confirmation was over, and the Lord's Supper had been
administered to the young communicants, Pastor Behrens went into his
vestry. Samuel Pomuchelskopp, in his blue dress-coat, followed after
him, for his Gustaving had also been confirmed, and opening the door of
the vestry stood before it, instead of going in,--"so that all the
people may see what a blockhead he is," said Bräsig to Habermann,--and
invited the Pastor to "a spoonful of soup, and a morsel of roast meat,
and a bottle of red wine," in as loud a tone, as if they were at a
fair,--"that everybody may know what a confounded hypocrite he is,"
said Bräsig,--but the Pastor thanked him, and said he was too much
fatigued to-day, and besides he had company at home.

Pomuchelskopp went back, and threw over his left shoulder a glance into
the parsonage-pew, making most elaborate attempts at distinguished
behavior, but they were quite discomfited as he met Bräsig's venomous
face, for Bräsig was such a bad Christian--as the Frau Pastorin would
have said had she seen it--that even in the Lord's own house he could
not keep his wicked feelings from showing in his face. But how quickly
was his old face changed when the three little girls came back, with
happy tearful faces, to give him also their hands, and offer their lips
to be kissed, as they had done to their parents and foster-parents! How
he lifted his eyebrows, and wrinkled his forehead, giving himself a
really paternal expression! This was his manner to Louise and Lining,
but when his little pet Mining came, he looked as comical as if he were
a child himself, he put his arms round her and whispered in her ear,
"You shall see, Mining, you shall see, I will give you something!" And
since he did not know what, at the moment, and chanced to have his
handkerchief in his hand, he said, "I will give you a dozen
handkerchiefs, bright ones!" for he wanted to do the business
thoroughly.

Each of the company had now offered his kind wishes, and each had
taken his thanks in kisses from the fresh, red lips, two only
excepted,--young Jochen never got more than half a kiss, and Franz got
none at all. Young Jochen could, of course, blame no one but himself,
for he need not have squeezed himself into the farthest corner of the
pew, so that the long left side of his mouth was quite out of their
reach, and the little girls must content themselves with the short
right side, which was not quite half of it. And Franz? He never thought
of the matter, he had not yet returned to earth, but was still in
heaven, and it did not occur to him, till they were leaving the church,
and he found himself near Louise at the door, to take her hand and say
something, which he could not recollect a moment after. He was
certainly in love! That beautiful face in deep devotion was imprinted
upon his heart and imprinted for ever-more!

I may be interrupted here, possibly, by some pious lady, or some
experienced maiden,--I do not mean old people here, but also
middle-aged,--who will inquire, "Could not this young man find some
other place to concern himself with such worldly matters as falling in
love?" And I reply, "Honored madame, and especially honored
mademoiselle, this young man was as yet so stupid in a business with
which you are quite familiar from early experience, that he had never
thought of love as belonging to worldly matters. And pray, where should
a young man fall in love? Only in an arbor, in the summer twilight, or
in a cotillion at a ball in winter? Many roads lead to Rome, but many
more to marriage, and he who starts on his bridal journey does better
to begin it in a church than in a ball-room; for he finds the marriage
altar close by, and the path is straight and clean; but between the
ball-room and the altar stretches the long, dusty, dirty street, and
many enter with soiled boots and shoes upon the holy path of marriage.
Is it not true, honored madame? Do you not agree with me, respected
mademoiselle?"

A simple dinner was waiting at the parsonage. Bräsig was very lively,
and smiled like sunshine after rain; the old Pastor was also very
cheerful, for he knew with Solomon that everything has its time, there
is "a time to gather stones, and a time to cast them away;" but they
were all quiet, the church bells still chimed in their hearts, and only
with the hot coffee did Frau Pastorin and Frau Nüssler find their
tongues unlocked.

Immediately after dinner, the old Herr Pastor took a little nap on the
sofa in his study, to rest from the fatigue of the morning. Habermann
had gone out into the fresh air, with his daughter and his two nieces,
that the sweet influences of the secretly awakening spring might
compose these young agitated souls, and Franz had gone with them, also
to enjoy the secretly awakening spring, but the one which was budding
and blooming in his own breast. Jochen Nüssler had found a corner,
which was almost as convenient as his own particular corner, by the
stove, at home. Bräsig went up and down the room, with his short legs
and his long pipe, his feet turned out in an extraordinary manner, for
since he had received his pension his gait had acquired a peculiar,
swing, and he used his little feet broad side out, so that people might
see that no man was his master, and he stood in his own shoes, and that
his long years of farming had not prevented him from appearing what he
was, an elderly gentleman, living on his own income. Frau Pastorin and
Frau Nüssler sat under the picture gallery, upon the sofa.

"Yes, dear Frau Nüssler," said the Frau Pastorin, "thank God! we have
got on so far with our children. Louise is seventeen years old, and
your twins are six mouths older. My Pastor says, and I know it too,
they have learned much; and with a little more help here and there,
they could earn their bread as governesses, any day."

Bräsig stopped, lifted his eyebrows, and blew a cloud of smoke toward
the sofa, and young Jochen also turned himself about, in that
direction.

"Yes, indeed," exclaimed Frau Nüssler, "and the little girls owe it all
to you and the Herr Pastor!" and she grasped the Frau Pastorin's hand,
"my brother Karl said, and I say too, we could do well enough for them
in some respects, we could get them their daily bread and see that they
were neatly dressed, and teach them to tell the truth, and how to take
care of themselves, and keep house; but for all which makes a human
being of real worth, we were not capable. Isn't it so, Jochen?"

From behind the stove came a low, comfortable, assenting growl, such as
a faithful old watch-dog gives, when he has his head scratched.

"You hear, Frau Pastorin, Jochen says so too."

"Oh, I have done nothing," said the little Frau Pastorin, turning off
the compliment, "that is to say, for your two; of course it was
different with Louise, for I was the nearest to her. But--what I was
going to say,--we have never spoken about it,--had you thought of
having your children, or one of them, perhaps Mining, become a
governess?"

"What?" said Frau Nüssler, looking at the Frau Pastorin, as if she had
told her Mining had a prospect of becoming a Papist; and as the Frau
Pastorin was about to explain her project, she was interrupted by a
singular burst of laughter: "Ha, ha, ha! A good joke! Did you hear
that, young Jochen? Our little Mining to teach children! Ha, ha, ha!"

That was Bräsig; but he made a great mistake. The Frau Pastorin sat
there, like a puppet on a wire, her red face grew pale with anger, and
under her little chin the little cap-ribbons fluttered quite
indignantly:

"What are you laughing at, Bräsig? You are laughing at me, perhaps? You
laugh because I thought Mining might be a governess? Oh, Herr
Inspector," and she drew herself up, stiffly, "I have been a governess
myself, and it is quite a different thing to teach children, from what
it is to cudgel farm-boys."

"To be sure! You mustn't mind me, Frau Pastorin, but our little Mining
a school-mistress! Ha, ha, ha!"

But the Frau Pastorin was carried away by her feelings, and went on to
say: "And it makes a great difference whether one has learned
something, or whether one knows nothing at all; a man like you could
never be a governess!"

As she uttered these words, her Pastor entered the room, having been
awaked by Bräsig's laughter, and it struck him as so ludicrous that
they were talking about Bräsig's qualifications as a governess--and,
being short-sighted, he did not notice his wife's anger--that he joined
in the laugh: "Ha, ha! Bräsig a governess!"

The entrance of her Pastor made a singular impression upon the Frau
Pastorin, at first the waves of passion rose higher than ever, but then
it seemed as if oil were poured on the troubled waters; she had indeed
often allowed herself a momentary ebullition of anger in his presence;
but to break out into flaming wrath! that was quite contrary to her
principles, and a droll conflict began in her spirit and gleamed
through her round honest face, like the light through a basket lantern;
the flame of anger blazed up once more, and then sank down into the
deep red glow of shame, that she, a Pastor's wife, and on such a day as
this, had so far forgotten herself, and the glow died out in the gray
ashes of a wholesome anger with herself, and as her own last words,
that Bräsig could never be a governess, recurred to her, and she saw
her Pastor laughing, the ashes were blown away by a little gust of
merriment, but she held her handkerchief before her face, that the
others might not see it.

Frau Nüssler had meanwhile been sitting on thorns, and, as the Pastor
came in, she sprang up and said, quite distressed, "Herr Pastor, I am
the innocent cause of all this trouble. Bräsig, stop your stupid
laughing! Frau Pastorin thinks our Mining should be a governess. Dear
heart, yes! If you and the Frau Pastorin think it best, it shall be so;
you have always advised us for the best. Isn't it so, Jochen, it shall
be so?"

Jochen slowly emerged from behind the stove. "Yes, it is as true as
leather; if she must, she must," and with that, he went out of the
room, probably to get the business through his head, in solitude.

"But what is all this?" asked the Pastor. "Regina, are you really in
earnest?" And Frau Nüssler went up to the little Frau Pastorin. "It
shall be just as you say, Frau Pastorin. Bräsig, for shame! Frau
Pastorin, don't cry any longer!" and she drew away the handkerchief,
and started back in surprise as she met the laughing face. "What does
it mean?" she exclaimed.

"Only a misunderstanding, dear neighbor," said the old gentleman.
"Nobody has thought of Mining being a governess. No! our children shall
not swell the number of poor, unhappy maidens thrust out into the
world, to earn their bitter bread in this hard calling, with weariness
of mind and sickness of body. No, our children shall, with God's
blessing, first become fresh, healthy and skilful housewives, and after
that they may be governesses, if they like,--that is, to their own
children."

"Herr Pastor, dear Herr Pastor," cried Frau Nüssler, as if a stone had
been lifted from her heart, "God bless you for these words! Our Mining
shall not be a governess. Jochen--where are you, Jochen? Ah, he has
gone out in his grief! Yes, Herr Pastor, and they shall learn
housekeeping! You shall see, I will do my best for them."

"Yes," interrupted Bräsig, "and they must learn to cook a good dinner."

"Of course, Bräsig. Ah, Herr Pastor, I have had so much trouble with
governesses, myself; and only last week, I went to see the new Frau
Amtmann,--she was a governess,--you see she totters and staggers, and
sighs and gasps around the house, and looks as pale as a corpse--what
you call _interesting_."

"Interesting people always look as if they needed tying up to a stake,"
said Bräsig.

"But you Bee, Frau Pastorin, she cooks her eggs too hard, and burns her
roast meat. I have nothing to say against learning, a great deal of
learning if one likes--it is very nice to read the papers, and to know
something about old Fritz and such people, and to know where the
oranges and the spices grow; but even if one doesn't know such things,
one can wait till one meets learned people, and then ask them; but
about cooking, Frau Pastorin, you can't wait for that, for you must
have your dinner, and who can you ask about that,--in the country? the
stupid maid-servants? That would be a fine story!"

"You are right, neighbor," said the Pastor, "it is very important that
girls should be well trained in housekeeping."

"So I say, Herr Pastor. To think of that poor little Frau Amtmann! She
has the best will in the world, but knows nothing at all. She asked
questions that my children could answer at seven years of age, whether
the swine were milked, and how the little chickens cut open the shell.
And Louise will not be a governess either, Herr Pastor?"

"No, not with our consent, and Habermann is of the same opinion;
she shall learn housekeeping. Regina is getting a little too lazy,
and--isn't it so?" sitting down by his wife on the sofa, and putting
his arm about her,--"a little too old also, she will be glad of a young
assistant, and could not bear to be parted from her Louise."

"You mean you could not bear it, Pastor! Really, I feel myself quite
set aside; from morning to night, it is, 'Louise, get this!' and
'Louise, bring me that!'"

"Well, we will not quarrel, I should miss the child sorely, if she were
away."

Meanwhile, Habermann had returned, with Franz and the children, and had
met young Jochen wandering about in a state of unusual agitation. He
ran to Mining, took her in his arms and kissed her, saying, "Mining, I
can do nothing to prevent it;" and when Habermann asked what was the
matter, he said only: "Brother-in-law, what must be, must." And as they
took their departure from the parsonage, and he sat in the carriage, he
felt as if he were carrying a lamb to the slaughter, and although his
wife explained the whole matter fully, and told him Mining should never
be a governess, the whole thing had made such a deep impression upon
him, that he ever afterward looked upon Mining as an unhappy maiden,
and treated her accordingly. She must always sit next him at the table,
and, he gave her the best of everything, as if every meal were her
last.



                              CHAPTER XII.


So now, for the first time, the future of the little maidens was marked
out, so far, that is, as one human being can arrange the course of life
for another; but destiny is a strange fellow for a godfather, and he
interferes often in the most quiet and reasonable plans that old,
serious, white-haired people can think out, with some stupid trick that
nobody could dream of. The worst of this plan-making is, that generally
the very wisest prove the stupidest in the end, because the good, old,
white-haired people think merely of their own white heads, and do not
take into account the black ones which they had in their youth.

It had never seriously occurred to the old Herr Pastor that his
foster-child might be taken off his hands by a young man; and the Frau
Pastorin, who, after the fashion of women, had thought much and often
upon this chapter in the woman's catechism, had always comforted
herself with the reflection that Louise was not acquainted with any
young men; since, on account of his nobility, she did not consider
Franz as a young man, and Fritz, with his stupid jokes and her own
motherly authority over him, seemed like a little, undeveloped boy. But
her eyes were to be opened, she was to discover that a young, pretty
maiden, even if she is hid in a parsonage, will attract young people as
surely as a flower the butterflies. The gay-colored caterpillar, which
had crept across her path so often to her annoyance, had popped out of
its chrysalis, a gorgeous, yellow, swallow-tailed butterfly, which
fluttered around the flower in her garden, and settled upon it, and
devoted himself to it, in a way which would have amused her extremely,
if the butterfly had not been her sister's son, and the flower Louise
Habermann.

Fritz came to Gurlitz, a few days after the confirmation, with a great
and righteous hatred in his heart, against the whole race of womankind.

The wash-bowl full of water, which he had got over his head, and the
banishment from his pantry-paradise, had exercised a damp, cold, hungry
influence upon him, and as he had learned from his romances that every
young man in love, when he quarrels with his loved one, has a right to
hate all other women too, he made use of his right. He had not been at
Gurlitz for a long time, because he wished to punish his aunt a little
for the everlasting fault-finding in which she allowed herself toward
him. Now, as he sat in the parsonage, feeding his hatred, and speaking
to no one but the Pastor, the Frau Pastorin rejoiced over his serious
behavior, and said to Louise, out in the kitchen, "Fritz is really
quite sensible. Thank God! he is coming to years of discretion."

Louise said nothing, but she laughed, for though she had not much
acquaintance with young people, she knew Fritz for the scapegrace that
he was. In undertaking to represent a new character, he was like the
donkey who attempted to play the guitar, and, however painful his
efforts had been to assume a strange rôle,--as for example, to-day,
that of a woman-hater,--it was not long before he stripped off the
whole disguise, and appeared in his proper person, as Fritz
Triddelsitz, much to the chagrin of his dear aunt. He had been but a
little while in the society of Louise, before he threw overboard the
whole cargo of hatred of the sex, and painful recollections of Marie
Möller, the washbowl and pantry, and took in, beside the ballast of
romantic ideas, "a fresh, budding love for Louise,"--as he described to
himself his new lading,--and when he had stowed it away under the
hatches of his heart, and taken in his cable and made everything clear,
he set sail. At first he tacked and cruised about, and his aunt,
standing on the shore, could not tell thither he was steering, but that
did not last long, his course became more direct, and as he was now
fairly out on the high sea of "his feelings," and hoisted his topsail,
she saw to her dismay in what direction he was steering, and that her
beloved sister's son was no better than a reckless sea-rover, pirate
and corsair, who was pursuing, in a scandalous manner, the pretty
little brig, in which all her motherly hopes were embarked.

She spoke the strange craft, and asked "whence?" and "whither?"--but
the pirate paid no attention; she hung out signals of distress to her
Pastor, but the matter seemed only to amuse him, probably because he
foresaw no danger for the little brig; he sat there, and laughed to
himself, though he shook his head a little, now and then.

The little Frau Pastorin was disgusted beyond measure, with the
behavior of her nephew; "Stupid fellow, scape-grace, rascal!" she kept
saying to herself,--and when the pirate began to bombard the little
craft with honey-comb speeches, and bonbon verses, she put to sea
herself, and grappled the pirate, and when she had him fast, she sailed
away with him, out of the room. "Come with me, my son, come! I have
something to tell you, Fritz! And take your hat, too!" And when she had
got him into the pantry, she man[oe]uvred him into a corner, from
which, on account of the pots and pans, egress was difficult, and she
seized a loaf of bread and cut off a thick slice, with the words, "You
are hungry, Fritz, you have an empty stomach, my little son, and an
empty stomach leads to all sorts of mischief, see I have spread butter
on it, and here is cheese for you too, now eat!"

Fritz stood there, hardly knowing what had happened; he had designed to
win a heart, and he had got a piece of bread and butter; he attempted
to say something, but his aunt gave him no time: "I know, my boy, what
you would say; never mind, my child! But here,--if you will do me the
favor,--here is a bottle of beer,--Habermann is back of our garden,
sowing peas in the Pastor's field, take it to him, come along! and
greet him from me. I know he will be glad to get some of the
Stauenhagen burgomeister's beer." And with that she had him through the
kitchen, and out of the back-door, and before she shut the door, she
called to him, through the crack, "You will be too busy, Fritz, to
visit us much at present, for seed-time is coming,--no, never mind, my
boy, it is no matter,--but when you do come again, perhaps in the
autumn, Louise will be seventeen then, and you mustn't talk such
nonsense to her as you did to-day, she will be too sensible for such
folly. So, my son, now eat your bread and butter." And she shut the
door, and Fritz stood there, in one hand a great slice of bread and
butter, in the other a bottle of beer!

Fie! It was really infamous treatment on the part of his aunt! He was
very angry, and at first had a great mind to throw the bread and butter
through the kitchen-window, and send the beer-bottle after it, and he
swore never to set foot in the parsonage again; but reflection is a
man's best teacher, and he started at length, along the garden path,
looking alternately at his bread and butter and his beer-bottle, and
grumbling to himself: "The devil knows I am not hungry, and the old man
is not on this side of the field. She only wanted to get rid of me.
Just wait, though; you shall not succeed quite yet! I know when and
where Louise goes out walking. She must be mine! Whatever opposes, she
must be mine!"

Then he sat down on the garden fence, and planned out his new campaign;
but how angry he would have been if he had known that Louise was
watching him, that very minute, from her chamber window!

But he didn't know it, and as the bread and butter might have fallen
into the dirt, if he had laid it down on the fence, he eat it up
leisurely, and when he had finished it he said, "I laugh at my aunt,
and I laugh at Marie Möller. Louise is an angel! She shall be mine! My
relations do not approve of our love, it is evident. Good! Louise
cannot be won without a struggle. I will--well, what shall I do?"

And before he did anything else, he preferred to drink up the beer so
he did that, and when he had finished it he went on, with fresh
courage, across the field, and with every step he stamped into the
soft-ploughed-ground the firm resolve: "She shall be mine!" and when
the seed had sprung up, the old peasants in the region often stopped on
their way, to look, and to say to each other: "The devil has been
sowing thorns and thistles in old Inspector Habermann's peas."

So Fritz was established in a new love, and it had one good effect; he
became very dutiful toward the old inspector, since he looked upon him
as his future father-in-law. He sat with the old man of evenings, and
told him about his expectations from his father, and asked his advice
whether he should rent or purchase a farm, or whether he would think it
better for him to buy a nice little estate in Livonia or Hungary. The
old man tried seriously to dissuade him from such ideas, which were a
little too absurd, but he could not help wondering what had wrought
such a change in his apprentice; formerly the youngster had talked of
nothing but riding, dancing, and hunting, and now he talked entirely
about serious matters, although in a foolish way. He wondered still
more when Fritz, one evening when Franz had gone to Gurlitz, told him
in confidence that if he remained in Mecklenburg, he should look
out for a handsome residence to purchase or to rent, with a park
attached,--"_park_," said he, "not garden,--for the latter he would be
indebted to his future wife, and she should have a good one; her
relations should be the same to him as his own," and with that he
looked at the old inspector so touchingly that the latter had much ado
not to laugh.

"Don't be a goose, Triddelsitz," said the old man. "Have you been
filling your head with love-stories?"

Maybe, said Fritz, maybe not; at all events, his old father-in-law
should live with him, and one wing of the house should be set apart
entirely for him, and if he wanted out-door exercise, either riding or
driving, a pair of horses should always stand ready for his use. And
then he got up, and walked about the room with great strides,
flourishing with his hands, and Habermann, sitting in the sofa-corner,
kept turning his head back and forth like a man with the palsy, to
observe the singular behaviour of his apprentice. As he took leave that
evening, Fritz pressed the old gentleman's hand with the deepest
emotion, and as Habermann cordially returned the pressure, he felt a
warm hand on his white hair, his head was bent gently back and a hot
kiss was pressed upon his forehead, and, before he recovered from his
astonishment, Fritz strode out of the room.

Fritz was a good fellow, he wanted to make everybody happy; his
disposition was good, but his discretion was small. Go to Gurlitz
again to see his aunt, he positively would not. He raged inwardly, and
the grief which he endured, in his separation from Louise, was a
bitter-sweet draught in which he indulged daily. But this bitter was
mingled with another, as if one should add gall to quassia--a draught
for the devil! and the gall was added by whom, of all persons in the
world--Franz! Franz ran over to Gurlitz that spring whenever he had
time, and when the three unmarried daughters came to Pumpelhagen, in
the summer, Louise often came to visit them, and Franz, naturally, was
not far away; but he--our poor Fritz--stood afar off, and could look on
only from a distance, which was a doubtful gratification for him.

I would not say, and nobody who has read this book so far would say,
that Fritz was that sort of a suspicious rascal who ferrets out
something for his purposes from any kind of tokens, but he must have
been a perfect idiot if he had not noticed that something was the
matter with Franz. Even if this had not been the case, a young man in
love must be jealous of somebody, it belongs to the business, and a
young man who is in love, and has no rival, always reminds me of my
neighbor Hamann, when he sits on horseback with only one spur. But it
was the case; Franz was truly his rival, and Fritz treated him as such,
and so before long he was as much vexed with Franz as with Marie Möller
and his aunt, he scarcely spoke to him, and had friendly intercourse
only with his good, old, future father-in-law.

The human heart can hold but a limited measure of woe, what is too much
is too much; there must be some relief, and the only relief, for a
lover, is intercourse with the beloved object. Fritz must contrive
means to this end, and he went craftily to work; he lay in wait
everywhere for Louise. Every hollow tree was a sentry-box, from whence
he watched for his darling, every ditch on the Pumpelhagen estate was a
trench, from which he besieged her, every hill was a look-out, where he
stood on picket-guard, and behind every bush he lay in concealment.

Of course this could not last long without his attaining his desired
end, and frightening Louise out of her wits, for at times when she was
thinking of nothing at all, or perhaps--let us confess it--thinking of
Franz, his long body would shoot out from behind a bush, or he would
thrust up his head, like a seal, out of the green rye, or suddenly drop
down before her feet, from a tree, where he had been lying in wait,
like a lynx for a deer. At first, she soon recovered from her fright,
for she took those for some of his stupid jokes, such as she knew of
old; she laughed, then, and talked with him about ordinary matters; but
she soon became aware that the young man was in an extraordinary
condition. He was so solemn in his manner, he spoke of common things in
such an uncommon tone, he rubbed his head as if the deepest thoughts
were struggling for birth, he laid his hand on his heart, when she
spoke of the weather, as if he were taken with a stitch in his side, he
shook his head sadly, when she invited him to Gurlitz, and said his
honor would not allow him to accept; when she spoke of her father, a
stream flowed from his lips, as when one takes the tap from a barrel:
that was an angel of an inspector, never was such an old man born
before; his father was good, but this father was the father of all
fathers; if she asked after Fräulein Fidelia, he said he did not
trouble himself about the ladies, they were nearly all alike to him,
and as she once, unfortunately, inquired after Franz, lightnings shot
from his eyes, he cried "Ha!" laughed in a fearful manner, grasped her
hand, thrust a paper into it, and darted headlong into the rye, in
which he disappeared, and when she opened the paper she found the
following effusion.


                                "To Her.

           "When with tender, silvery light,
            Through the clouds fair Luna beams,
            When from vanquished shades of night,
            Sunlight o'er the heaven gleams,
            Where the whispering waters dance,
            And the ivy leaves entwine,
            Ah, bestow one loving glance
            On a heart that beats for thine!

           "Where thou goest with joyous tread,
            Only truest love can be;
            Spring flowers twine about thy head,
            I, unseen, still follow thee;
            Love is vanished, sweetest flowers
            Bloom in vain, when thou art gone;
            Ah, a youth has also hours,
            Thou, alas! hast never known!

           "But revenge will I enjoy,
            I will lay my rival low!
            I, who write this poetry,
            Dream of vengeance only, now.

                       "Fritz Triddelsitz.

"Pumpelhagen, July 3rd, 1842."


When Louise read "this poetry" for the first time, she did not quite
understand it, she read it the second time, and understood it still
less, and when she had read it for the third time she did not
understand it at all; that is to say, she could not positively decide
upon whom the unhappy poet intended to execute vengeance, although she
was not so stupid as to be ignorant that the "Her" addressed was
herself.

She would gladly have taken the whole thing for a piece of his usual
buffoonery, and tried to think it nothing but a joke; but as she called
to mind his appearance and language, and his unusual behavior, she had
to acknowledge to herself that this was something beyond a joke; and
she resolved that, as much as possible, she would keep out of his way.
She was innocent enough to think it a great misfortune for Fritz, and
to feel profound compassion for his suffering. Compassion is a bridge
which leads over to love, and Louise stood for the first time, looking
over beyond the bridge into that fair meadow, adorned with rose-arbors
and jasmin-hedges,--and that is for a young maiden of seventeen like
cherries to a bird,--and who knows but she might have gone a little way
beyond the bridge, if she had not, in her mind's eye, seen Fritz, in
his yellow top-boots and green hunting-jacket, riding about, among the
rose-arbors, on old Chestnut, and sitting under the jasmin-hedges, with
a slice of bread and butter and a beer-bottle in his hands, and his
legs dangling. She had to laugh, in spite of her compassion, and
remained on the safe side of the bridge, preferring to contemplate
Fritz from a distance, for old Chestnut might lie down in the mud
puddle a second time, or Fritz might smear her with his bread and
butter.

The most stupid young man can sometimes lead a girl of seventeen by the
nose, and fellows, who carry a puff-ball instead of a heart under their
vests, can captivate such young hearts; only the poor fools, who wear
harlequin jackets, are never successful, for nothing is so fatal to
young love as a touch of the ridiculous. So, finally, she had to laugh
over the poetry, a clear, hearty laugh, and as she finished laughing,
she was startled, for it seemed to her as if a warm hand had pressed
her hand, and a pair of friendly eyes had looked deep into her own, and
the thought of Franz came into her mind, probably because he was that
moment approaching, in the distance. She tore up the vengeance-poetry
into little scraps, and as Franz came towards her, and greeted her, she
blushed, and, becoming conscious that she was growing red, she was
angry with herself, and grew still redder, and as Franz talked with her
about every-day matters, she became embarrassed, gave confused answers,
and, in her absence of mind, strewed the fragments of Fritz's vow of
vengeance upon the air.

"What can be the matter?" said Franz to himself, when he had
accompanied her a little way, and was returning. "She is so different
from her usual self. Is it my fault? Has something annoyed her? What
paper was that, which she was strewing the bits of to the wind?" With
such thoughts he came to the place where she had dropped them, and see!
There lay the fragments of paper, and, without picking them up, he read
on one of them,--"dreams of vengeance!! only now Fritz Triddelsitz," for
Fritz had forgotten to put a period after "now." This excited his
curiosity, for he recognized Fritz's handwriting; he looked further,
but found only a couple of fragments, and, fitting them together, made
out these disconnected words:--

"Entwine--a loving glance--heart that beats for thine--Spring
flowers--I unseen, still follow--Love is vanished--Bloom in vain--Ah, a
youth--But Revenge!--vengeance!! only now Fritz Triddelsitz;" the wind
had carried away the rest.

There was not much to be made out of this; the only thing which after
long reflection he believed himself positively to have arrived at, was
that Fritz Triddelsitz was in love with Louise, that he was upbraiding
her, and threatening her with vengeance. The thing was ridiculous, but
Fritz was a creature as full of stupid tricks as a donkey of gray
hairs, he was quite capable of doing some crazy thing, and giving
annoyance to Louise; so Franz resolved to be on the watch, and if Fritz
went toward Gurlitz, not to let him out of his sight.

Fritz had broken the ice now, he had done his part; now it was the turn
of Louise, she must speak, if anything was to come of the matter. He
waited and watched, but nothing came. "It is very provoking," he said
to himself, "but she knows nothing of such affairs, and it is doubtless
all right; I must show her the way." So he set himself to work, and
wrote a letter in a disguised hand.


Address:--"To One Who Knows."

Superscription:--"Sweet Dream of my Heart!"

"This letter is dumb, it says merely what is necessary, and will be
found on the _third_ rose-bush in the _second_ row; other things by
word of mouth. This by way of preliminary: when a cross is marked with
white chalk on the garden gate, the _contents of my heart_ may be found
under the pot of the third rose-bash in the second row. _Waving a
handkerchief_, from the Gurlitz side betokens thy presence, and desire
for an interview; my response will be three whistles on the handle of
my walking-stick. (Our shepherd taught me that, love is an apt
scholar.)

"Rendezvous: the great water-ditch at the right of the bridge.

                             "Thine ever!!

                       "One Whom thou Knowest.

"P.S. The loved one will excuse me for writing this in my
shirt-sleeves, it is so infernally hot."


This letter fell into the wrong hands; it was the little Frau Pastorin
who found it, as she was watering the flowers, while Louise, who was
learning housekeeping, was preserving gooseberries. She made no scruple
of opening and reading the letter, and when she had made herself
acquainted with its contents, she had no doubt that it was intended for
Louise, and that it came from Fritz, her precious nephew. She said
nothing to Louise of her discovery, that would have been playing into
Fritz's hand; but she alluded in a variety of ways to ridiculous
correspondence, just to ascertain if Louise had found similar epistles
before; it was to no purpose however, the child understood nothing from
her hints, and she then resolved to say nothing of the matter to her
Pastor,--why should he be worried about it? and then it went terribly
against the grain to confess that her own flesh and blood--for so,
unfortunately, she must consider Fritz--should perpetrate such a piece
of nonsense. She would gladly have spoken her mind to _him_, but he
kept out of her way.

She went about with such thoughts in her mind for a day or two, taking,
by the way, the watering of the flowers out of Louise's hands, once for
all, that she might suspect nothing. It was wise in her to do so, for
it was not long before she found a water-soaked letter, under the third
rose-bush in the second row. This spoke more clearly:


Address:--"To the _Only One_, known to me _alone_."

Superscription:--"Soul of my life!"

"Snares surround us; I know that the enemy lies in wait. Cowardly
_spy_, I _laugh_ at thee! Have no fear, my dearest, I can rescue thee.
One bold deed will give _freedom_ to our love. To-morrow afternoon, at
two o'clock, when the DRAGON sleeps, who guards my TREASURE, I will
expect thy signal with the handkerchief, I shall be strewing manure,
behind the water-ditch, three _whistles_ on the handle of my stick will
give thee warning, and though hell itself bursts forth, I have sworn
it. Ever

                                   "Thine."


When the Frau Pastorin read this she was quite off her balance. "That!
That! Oh, the miserable scamp! 'Dragon Sleeps!' The rascal means me by
that! But wait! I will give you a signal, and if hell doesn't burst
forth, something shall crack about your ears, let me only get hold of
you!"

The next day, before two o'clock, the Frau Pastorin rose from her sofa,
and went into the garden. The house-door had creaked, and her Pastor
heard the gate-latch also rattle, so he got up and looked out of the
window, to see what his wife was doing in the garden, at this unusual
hour, for her nap generally lasted until three o'clock. He saw her go
behind a bush, and she stood there and waved her handkerchief in the
air. "She is beckoning to Habermann, perhaps," said he, and lay down
again. She was, however, merely giving a friendly signal to her nephew,
till she might get a little nearer to his ears.

But he did not come, nor did she hear the three whistles. Greatly
disappointed, she went back to the house, and when it was time for
coffee, and her Pastor asked her whom she had been beckoning to in the
garden, she was so much embarrassed, that, I regret to confess, she
fibbed, although she was a pastor's wife, and said she had been so
oppressed by the heat, she was merely waving her handkerchief to get a
little fresh air.

On the third day, she found another letter.


Address: "To MY OWN, destined for me by FATE."

Superscription: "Sun of my darkened Soul!!"

"Dost thou know what _hell-torments_ are? I suffered them yesterday
afternoon, at two o'clock, when I was strewing manure. The air was
free, the enemy was in the clover-field, and thy handkerchief fluttered
like one of my white pigeons in the perfumed air. I was just upon the
point of giving the pre-arranged signal of three whistles, when that
old horned beast of a Bräsig came up to me, and stood talking a whole
hour, about the manure. When he was gone, I rushed down to the
water-ditch, but, vinegar!

"The time had seemed long to thee, and thou wert gone! But now,
_listen_! This evening, punctually at half past eight, when I have
eaten my sour milk, I will be at the _place of rendezvous_; to-day is
Saturday, the Pastor is writing his sermon, and the _dragon_ is
cleaning house; the _opportunity_ is favorable, and the underbrush will
conceal us there. (Schiller.) Wait but a little, thou too shalt rest,
(Goethe) in the arms of thy DEVOTED ONE, who would sell all that is
dear to him, to buy with it something dear to thee.


           "Oh, meeting blest! Oh, meeting blest!
            Awaiting which I calmly rest,
            And all my longing, all my dreams,
            Bury in Lethe's silent stream.
            I shall behold thee, dear, once more.
            When the waves wash me to the shore,
            So farewell, yet not in sorrow,
            We shall meet again to-morrow!


"The _beginning_ is my own, the _middle_ from Schiller, and the _end_
from a certain Anonymous, who has written a great deal; but I altered
it a little to suit my purpose.

                 "With torments of longing,

                                   "THINE OWN."


"Well!" exclaimed the little Frau Pastorin, when she read this patch
work, "This goes beyond everything! Yes, my dear sister, you have
brought up a beautiful plant, and it bears fine fruit. But other people
must trim and prune it, and I think, as his aunt, I am the nearest to
him. And I'll do it!" she cried, in a loud voice, stamping her little
foot, "and I should like to see who will hinder me!"

"I for one would not think of it, Frau Pastorin," said Bräsig, who had
come up, unperceived, behind the bee-hives.

"Have you been listening, Bräsig?" asked the Frau Pastorin, still in an
excited tone.

"Listening?" said Bräsig, "I never listen; I only keep my ears open,
and then I hear something, and I keep my eyes open, and see something.
For instance, I see now that you are provoked about something."

"It is true; but it is enough to drive an angel wild."

"No, Frau Pastorin, the angels have enough to do with their wings; we
need not incommode them about our matters, but if you want to see
something wild, I believe the devil has broken loose here in
Pumpelhagen."

"Good heavens, has Fritz----"

"No, I didn't say so;" said Bräsig; "I don't know what it is; but there
is something going on."

"What is it, then?"

"Frau Pastorin, Habermann is irritable, and when that is the case, you
may be sure there is some disagreeable business in the wind. You see, a
few days ago, I came to Pumpelhagen, when he was busy with the hay and
the rape harvest, and I said, 'Good morning,' says I. 'Good morning,'
says he. 'Karl,' says I, and was going on to say something, when he
interrupts: 'Have you seen my Triddelsitz anywhere?' 'Yes,' said I.
'Where?' asked he. 'Sitting in the great water-ditch,' said I. 'Did you
see young Herr von Rambow anywhere?' asked he. 'He is sitting in the
next ditch close by,' said I. 'What are they doing?' asked he. 'They
are playing,' said I. 'You are joking,' said he, 'playing at this busy
time?' 'Yes, Karl,' said I, 'and I have been playing too.' 'What have
you played then?' asked he. 'Bo-peep, Karl. See! there is your
greyhound peeping over the ditch towards Gurlitz, and your nobleman is
peeping after the greyhound, and I was peeping out of the marl-pit
after both of them, and when one turned his head, the other ducked, and
so we sat there, peeping and ducking alternately, till the thing grew
rather tedious to me, so I went boldly up the nobleman. "Good day,"
said I. "Good day," said he. "Begging your pardon," said I, "what sort
of farm-work are you doing here?" "I?" said he, and stammered, "I was
looking after our peas, whether they were filling out well." "Hem!"
said I. "So?" said I. "Well!" said I, "good morning," and went towards
the greyhound.' You won't mind it, Frau Pastorin, I always call your
nephew so."

Not at all, said the Frau Pastorin, she called him worse names,
herself.

"'Good day!' said I, 'what sort of work are you doing?' 'Oh, nothing
just now,' said he, going off, like a whipped hound, 'I have been
looking after the peas.' 'Karl!' said I to Habermann, 'if your peas
fill up according as they are looked after, you will have a plentiful
harvest.' 'The cuckoo knows,' said he, terribly provoked, 'both of them
are as stupid as possible; I can't make out the young Herr at all, this
summer; he goes about like a man in a dream, forgets everything I tell
him, and is no longer always up to the mark, as he used to be; and the
other stupid fellow is worse than ever.' You don't mind Habermann
calling your Herr Nephew a stupid fellow, Frau Pastorin?"

"God forbid!" said the Frau Pastorin, "Habermann has reason."

"You see, this was, say, a week ago,--now I started out yesterday
morning early with my fishing rod, to see if the perch would bite; what
do I see? Your Herr Nephew, the greyhound, goes slyly down here into
the garden, and after a while comes out again, and behind him creeps
along the nobleman among the bushes, and along side the ditch, as if he
were tracking a fox, and when he has gone past my place of observation,
there comes my good Karl Habermann over the hill, following the other,
and when he had passed, I went on behind him, and so we went in a great
curve, with wide spaces between us, clear down around the village, each
one seeing only the man in front of him, which I found extremely
amusing. They will do it again to-morrow probably, and if you would
like to see the fun, Frau Pastorin, or the Herr Pastor, you can come in
behind me, for Habermann says he shall make thorough work of the
business, and he has been after them three times already."

"Thank you very much for the proposal," said the Frau Pastorin; "I have
had amusement enough already, from this affair. Can you keep a secret,
Bräsig?"

"Like a sieve, with a hole in it."

"No; jesting aside, can you be silent?"

"Utterly," said Bräsig, striking his hand over his mouth.

"Well, then listen," said the Frau Pastorin, and told him what she
knew.

"Why, he really is a stupid fellow, then, your Herr Nephew!" said
Bräsig, and Frau Pastorin read him the letter.

"But, Frau Pastorin, how did this stupid fellow get such a command of
language? He is stupid, to be sure, but his writing is not so stupid,
he writes like a poet." And when Frau Pastorin read about the dragon,
Bräsig laughed merrily: "He means you, Frau Pastorin."

"I know that," said she shortly, "but the horned beast here, in the
third letter, means you; and we have nothing to hold us back. The thing
to be done is simply this; let me get hold of the fellow, and I will
wash his head for him."

"You are right, and nothing is easier. You see, we two, you and I, will
hide here in the garden, about eight o'clock; at half past eight, take
Louise, and seat her in the water-ditch, and you shall see, he will
come, like a bear after honey, and when he has began to lick it, we two
will break loose and catch him."

"Ah, you are not very cunning, Bräsig. If I am to tie the business to
the big bell, I don't need your assistance, It would be a great pity
for Louise to have anything to do with it; Habermann too, and even my
Pastor himself need know nothing of the matter."

"Hm, hm!" said Bräsig, "then--then--hold! I have it; Frau Pastorin you
must make yourself as thin as possible, and put on Louise's dress, and
go to the rendezvous, and when he comes, and sits down by you, and
begins to caress you, you must catch him, so, by the throat, and hold
on until I come;" and with that he laid hold of the Frau Pastorin's
nearest hand, to illustrate his remarks.

"You are imprudent, Bräsig."

"Yes, you say so, Frau Pastorin; but if he doesn't see his dearest
sitting in the ditch, he won't come down, and if we don't take him
unawares, we may whistle for him, for he is a confoundedly long-legged,
thin-ribbed hound, and we can never chase after him with our short legs
and our corpulence."

That was true, to be sure; but no! should she go to a rendezvous?
Bräsig was going quite too far, and, besides, how could she get
Louise's clothes? But Bräsig was not dismayed, he represented to her
that it was merely an interview with her own nephew, and that, if she
sat on the edge of the ditch, she need only wear Louise's shawl, and
her Italian straw hat: "But you must keep sitting, for, if you should
stand up, he will see in a minute that you are a foot shorter than
Louise, and that you are a foot larger round the waist."

Finally,--finally, the Frau Pastorin let herself be persuaded, and as
she went out about eight o'clock that evening, through the back door,
dressed in Louise's hat and shawl, the Herr Pastor, who stood at the
window, in deep thought over his sermon, said to himself, "Good
heavens! where is Regina going, with Louise's hat and shawl? And there
comes Bräsig, out of the arbor. Well, he will come in, if he wants to
see me; but it is very singular!"

The Frau Pastorin went along the garden walk with Bräsig prepared for
any emergency, opened the garden gate, and went through it alone, while
Bräsig remained in the garden, and ensconced himself behind the fence.

"Bräsig," said she, as the thought occurred to her, "you will be too
far off here; come down with me to the ditch, for when I have caught
him, I must have you close by."

"All right!" said Bräsig, and followed het down to the ditch.

Such a ditch, as this water-ditch was, is not often seen now-a-days;
for out modern system of drains has made them unnecessary; but every
old farmer remembers them, how they were dug through a field, sixteen
or twenty feet from bank to bank, but narrow at the bottom, bordered
right and left with thorn-bushes, nearly always dry, only in spring and
fall there was perhaps a foot and a half of water; and occasionally in
summer also, after a heavy rain. This was the case at present.

"Bräsig," said the little Frau Pastorin, "lie down behind that bush,
close by me, so that you can come quickly to my help."

"Why not? all right," said Bräsig. "But, Frau Pastorin, you must think
up some catch-word, upon which I shall break loose."

"Yes, surely. Yes, that is necessary; but what? Wait a moment! when I
cry, 'The Philistines be upon thee,' then you must spring out."

"Good, Frau Pastorin."

"Good heavens!" said she to herself, "I seem to myself like a Delilah
indeed. Seated at a rendezvous, at half past eight in the evening! At
my time of life! How scandalized I should have been when I was a young
girl, at the thought of such a thing, and to be doing it now in my old
age! Bräsig! Don't sneeze so dreadfully! One might hear you a quarter
of a mile off. And all this for that boy, for that miserable boy! God
bless me, if my Pastor knew! Bräsig, what are you laughing at? I forbid
you to laugh!"

"I am not laughing, Frau Pastorin."

"Yes, you were laughing: I distinctly heard you laugh."

"I was merely yawning a little from weariness, Frau Pastorin."

"And can you yawn, over such a matter as this? I am ready to fly, hand
and foot. Ah, you miserable scamp! What have you made of me! And I can
tell nobody, I must fight it out alone. Bräsig is a real godsend."

By and by Bräsig spoke--in a whisper to be sure, but one could hear it
as distinctly as the cry of the quail in the distance:--"Frau Pastorin,
make yourself as long as Lewerenz's child, and as thin as possible, and
put on a lovely, shamefaced mien, for he is coming over the hill, I can
see him against the evening sky."

And the little Frau Pastorin's heart throbbed, and her wrath rose high
against the youth, and she glowed with shame at her own situation, and
now she would certainly have run away, if Bräsig had not laughed again;
but that provoked her, and she meant to show him that she was in
earnest.

This time, Bräsig really did laugh, for, behind the first dark figure
that came over the hill he saw a second, and behind the second a third,
and he chuckled to himself, behind his thorn-bush: "So! There is Karl
Habermann, too; and now the whole inspectorship of Pumpelhagen is on
foot, probably out to see how the peas look in the evening. This looks
like a comedy!"

The Frau Pastorin did not see the others, she saw merely her precious
nephew, who came straight towards her. Now he ran across the bridge,
now he ran along the bank of the ditch, now he sprang forward a couple
of feet, and clasped his dear aunt about the waist: "Beloved angel!"
"Wait, you rascal!" cried she in reply, and with the grip which Bräsig
had taught her she seized him, not exactly by the throat, but by the
coat-collar, and cried with a clear voice, "The Philistines be upon
thee!" and Bräsig, the Philistine, scrambled up. Oh, thunder! his foot
was asleep! but no matter! He hopped on one leg along the ditch, and
almost sprang upon Fritz; but the overtasked leg failed under the
weight of the hundred and eighty pounds it dragged after it; Bräsig
fell backwards into a thorn-bush, lost his balance, and tumbled, a lump
of misfortune, into the foot and a half of ditch-water.

There he sat, for a moment, stiff and stark, as if he were at the
water-cure, taking a sitz-bath. Fritz, also, stood stiff and stark, and
felt as if he were taking a bath, but a shower-bath: he stood fairly
under the stream of his aunt's indignant reproaches, which rushed and
roared about his ears, ever ending with the words: "The dragon has you
now, my son! The dragon has you now!"

"And here comes the horned beast!" growled Bräsig, who had scrambled
out of the ditch, and was close upon them. But Fritz had come to
himself by this time; he broke loose from his aunt, and would have
escaped, if a new enemy had not come upon him, from across the ditch.
This was Franz, and it was not long before Habermann also was there,
and the little Frau Pastorin had scarcely recovered from this shock,
when her Pastor stood before her, asking, "For heaven's sake, Regina,
what does all this mean?"

The little Frau Pastorin was at the last extremity; but Bräsig was not
quite so far gone, although he felt as if he were changed into running
waters, and on the point of dissolving. "Infamous greyhound!" cried he,
giving Fritz a couple of digs under the ribs, "must I go and get my
cursed Podagra again, on your account? But they shall all know what a
confounded Jesuit you are. Habermann, he----"

"For heaven's sake!" cried the Frau Pastorin, catching breath again, in
the gathering storm, and springing between them,--"don't any of you
listen to Bräsig! Habermann, Herr von Rambow, I beg of you! just go
quietly home, the business is over, it is all over, and what isn't
finished, my Pastor will attend to; it is a family affair, merely a
family affair. Isn't it so, Fritz, my son? It is just a family affair,
that concerns only us two. But now come, my son! We will tell my Pastor
all about it. Good-night, Herr von Rambow! Good-night, Habermann. Fritz
shall come back to you soon. Come, Bräsig, we must get you to bed
immediately."

And so she dispersed the company. The two who were not to be
enlightened went off homewards, each by himself, shaking their heads;
Habermann annoyed at the inexplicable behavior of his two young people,
and that he could not penetrate its secret; Franz more than suspicious
of the whole concern, for he had clearly recognized Louise's hat and
shawl, in the half-twilight, and Louise must have some connection with
the affair though he could make no sense of it.

Fritz, quite abashed, followed the Pastor and the Frau Pastorin, while
the latter, in shame and sorrow, related the whole story. The
procession drew near to the parsonage, and the evil-doer had so far
recovered his courage, that he showed signs of running away; but Bräsig
stuck so close to his side that he was compelled to yield outwardly;
but he raged inwardly all the more, and when Bräsig asked the Frau
Pastorin, who it was that had come so opportunely to their aid, and she
mentioned the name of Franz, Fritz stood still, and shook his fist over
the peas, in the direction of Pumpelhagen, and exclaimed, "I have been
betrayed, and it shall be avenged, the Junker shall pay for it."

"Boy!" cried the Frau Pastorin, "will you hold your foolish tongue?"

"Softly, Regina!" said the Pastor, who was getting a tolerable idea of
the matter, "go in and see that Bräsig is put to bed; I will have a few
words with Fritz."

She complied with his request, and as much reason as Fritz was capable
of taking in was then, in all kindness, administered by the old Herr
Pastor; but one can pour only so much clear wine into a full cask, as
the working off of the froth and scum leaves room for, and while the
Pastor gently poured in, Fritz was foaming out of the bung-hole: his
own relations had conspired against his happiness, and thought more of
the rich Junker than of their own sister's child.

Much the same thing was going on inside the house; only the cask,
before which the Frau Pastorin stood, neither foamed nor dripped; this
was Uncle Bräsig, who would not be put to bed.

"I couldn't do it, Frau Pastorin," said he; "that is to say, I could,
to be sure, but I oughtn't, for I must go to Rexow. Frau Nüssler has
written me orders to report myself at Rexow."

The same spirit and leaven which worked in Fritz sending off froth and
scum not of the purest, fermented slowly but strongly in old Bräsig,
although the old cask had stood long in the cellar, and had become
seasoned; and when he at last, out of respect for the Frau Pastorin and
the Frau Podagra, suffered himself to be persuaded into bed, his
thoughts turned the same corner which those of Fritz were turning, as
going through the pease-field, back of the Pastor's garden, he stamped
for the second time his heroic resolutions into the earth: "He would
renounce her! Renounce her! But the devil take the confounded Junker!"



                             CHAPTER XIII.


The next morning--it was Sunday morning--Bräsig awoke, and lay
stretching himself in the soft bed--"A pleasure," he said to himself,
which I have never allowed myself before, but which is very agreeable.
However, it is mainly from the novelty of the thing; one would soon get
tired of it; "and he was on the point of getting up, when Frau
Pastorin's maid-servant whisked in at the door, seized his clothes with
one grasp, and ran off with them, leaving in their place a black coat
and black trousers, and a black vest, lying on the chair.

"Ho, ho!" laughed he, looking at the black suit. "It is Sunday, and
this is the parsonage; can it be possible they think I am going to
preach to-day?" He lifted one garment after another, and said, at last,
"Now I understand! It is only because of the ditch yesterday; because
my own clothes are so wet and dirty, I must make myself comfortable in
the Herr Pastor's. Well, here goes!"

But it didn't go quite so easily, and as for being comfortable that was
out of the question. The clothes were long enough, to be sure, but as
for breadth, he found close quarters in the Herr Pastor's trousers, it
was utterly impossible to button the lower buttons of the vest, and
when he put on the coat, it cramped him dreadfully between the
shoulder-blades, and his arms stood out from his body, as if he were
ready on this Sunday morning, to press the whole world to his honest
heart.

So he went down stairs to the Frau Pastor in, his legs turned outward,
as was his usual manner of walking since he had been pensioned; but his
arms also were turned outward now, and the Frau Pastorin had to laugh
heartily; but retreated behind the breakfast table, as Bräsig came
towards her, with open arms, as if she were to be the first subject of
the world-embrace.

"Don't come near me, Bräsig!" cried she '"If I had dreamed that you
would cut such a ridiculous figure in my good, old Pastor's clothes,
you should have stayed in bed till noon, for it will be as late as that
before yours are washed and dried."

"Ho, ho!" laughed Bräsig, "was that the reason? And I was flattering
myself that you sent me the Pastor's clothes that I might be more
pleasing in your eyes at our rendezvous this morning."

"Just listen to me, Bräsig!" said the Frau Pastorin, with a face red as
fire. "I will have no such joking as that! And if you go round in the
neighborhood--you have nothing else to do now, but carry stories from
one to another--and tell about last evening, and that confounded
rendezvous, I'll have nothing more to say to you."

"Frau Pastorin, what do you take me for?" cried Bräsig, advancing upon
her again, with outspread arms, so that she took refuge a second time
behind the table. "You need not be afraid of me, I am no Jesuit."

"No, Bräsig, you are an old heathen, but you are no Jesuit. But you
must tell something. Oh, dear! Habermann must know, my Pastor says so
himself. But when he asks you about it, you can leave me out of the
story. Only think, if the Pomuchelskopps should get hold of it, I
should be the most miserable woman in the world. Oh, heaven help us!
And I did it only in the kindness of my heart, for that innocent child,
Bräsig. I have sacrificed myself for her."

"That you have, Frau Pastorin," said Bräsig, earnestly, "and therefore
don't worry yourself about it the least in the world; for, you see,
if Karl Habermann asks me what we were doing there, then I can
say--then--then I will say you had appointed a rendezvous with myself."

"With you? For shame, Bräsig!"

"Now, Frau Pastorin, am I not as good as that greyhound? And surely our
years are more suited to each other!" And with that Bräsig looked up as
innocently, as if he had thought of the best excuse in the world. The
Frau Pastorin looked keenly in his honest face, and folded her hands
thoughtfully on her lap, and said, "Bräsig, I will trust you. But,
Bräsig, dear Bräsig, manage it as quietly as you can. And now come, sit
down, and drink a cup of coffee." And she grasped one of his stiff
arms, and turned him round to the table, as a miller turns about a
windmill to the wind.

"Good!" said Bräsig, taking the cup, which he held out with his
stiff arm as if he were a sleight-of-hand performer, and the cup a
hundred-pound weight, and he was holding it before an appreciative
public in the open air; he tried to seat himself also; but as he bent
his knees something cracked, and he sprang up,--whether it was the
Pastor's chair, or the Pastor's trousers, he did not know; but he drank
his coffee standing, and said, "It was just as well; he could not wait
long, for he must go to Rexow, to Frau Nüssler."

All the Frau Pastorin's entreaties that he would wait till his own
clothes were dried were of no avail; Frau Nüssler's least wish was for
him a command, registered in the memorandum book of his conscience, and
so he sailed off,--the long, black flaps of the priestly garment flying
behind him in the summer morning,--toward Pumpelhagen and Rexow, slowly
and heavily, like the crows we used to catch, when I was a boy, and
then let fly again.

He came to Pumpelhagen, and there he was accosted by Habermann, who saw
him over the garden fence. "Good heavens, Zachary, how you look!"

"The result of circumstances, Karl! You know I fell into the mud, last
night,--but I haven't time, I must go to your sister."

"Bräsig, my sister's business can afford to wait better than mine, I
have noticed for some time, there has been a great deal going on behind
my back, which I was to know nothing of. That wasn't so much; but,
since last night, I am sure that the Herr Pastor and the Frau Pastorin
know all about the matter, and if they are keeping anything from me, I
know it can be merely out of kindness."

"You are right, Karl; it is out of kindness," interrupted Bräsig.

"I am sure of it, Bräsig, and I am not disposed to be suspicious, but
for some time it has lain heavy on my heart that this is a matter which
concerns me very nearly. What did you have to do with the business last
evening?"

"I, Karl? I only had a rendezvous with the Frau Pastorin, in the
water-ditch."

"What did the Herr Pastor have to do with it?"

"Karl, we did not know anything about it, he surprised us."

"What had the Herr von Rambow to do with it?"

"He caught your greyhound by the collar, because I had tumbled into the
ditch."

"_What had Fritz Triddelsitz to do with the business?_" asked Habermann
with terrible emphasis. "And what had Louise's hat and shawl to do with
it?"

"Only this Karl, that they didn't fit the Frau Pastorin at all well,
because she is much too large for them."

"Zachary," said Habermann, reaching his hand over the fence, "these are
merely evasions. _Will_ you not tell me,--and we such old friends,--or
_dare_ you not tell me?"

"Karl--the devil take the whole rendezvous business, and the Frau
Pastorin's worry besides!" cried Bräsig, and grasped Habermann's hand
across the fence, and shook it in the tall nettles that grew by the
fence, until both were stung, and drew back. "Karl, I will tell you.
The Pastor will tell you himself--why shouldn't I? Your Fritz
Triddelsitz, the cursed greyhound, loved you, doubtless because you
have been like a father to him, and now his love has gone on to Louise,
for love always goes on, for instance, mine for your sister and
Mining."

"Bräsig, speak seriously."

"Am I not speaking seriously, when I speak of your sister and Mining?"

"I know that," said Habermann, reaching after Bräsig's hand again, in
spite of the nettles, "but what had Franz to do with it all?"

"For all I know, he may love you too, for your fatherly kindness, and
for all I know, his love may have gone on to your daughter."

"That would be a misfortune!" cried Habermann, "a great misfortune! To
put that right again, is more than I can do; the Lord himself must help
us!"

"I don't know about that, Karl: he has two estates----"

"Not a word, Zachary: come in, and tell me all you know."

And when Bräsig had told all that he knew, and was again under way, and
steering toward Rexow, Habermann stood looking after him and talking to
himself: "He is a good fellow, his heart is in the right place; and, if
I found it was really so, I should like it right well,--but--but----"
He did not mean Bräsig this time, however, he meant Franz.

On this Sunday morning young Jochen was sitting, about breakfast time,
in his usual chimney-corner, and in his arm-chair. Lining and Mining
had spread the table for breakfast, and had brought in the dishes of
ham, and sausage, and bread, and butter, and when all stood ready on
the table, Frau Nüssler herself came in, and set down a platter of hot
scrambled eggs, saying: "There, Jochen, don't let it get cold!" and
went out again, to see about some thing or other.

The eggs were still crackling in the dish,--they were really
splendid--but young Jochen did not stir. Whether it was, that he had
not yet smoked out his pipe, and wanted to finish it, or that he was
lost in thought over two letters, which were lying in his lap, he did
not stir, and his eyes remained fastened upon one particular spot. And
on this spot, under the stove, close by him, lay young Bauschan,
looking at his master. Young Bauschan was the latest new-comer of the
whole Bauschan race, which had been brought up and weaned in the house,
since old Jochen's time; when one spoke _to_ him he was called
"Bauschan," but when one spoke _of_ him, he was called the
"Thronfolger" (crown-prince,) not on his own account, but on Jochen's
account, because, so far as anybody could recollect, this was the only
joke he had ever perpetrated.

So, as I said before, these two young people, young Jochen and young
Bauschan, sat and looked at each other, each thinking his own thoughts;
young Jochen's suggested by his letters, and young Bauschan's by the
savory smell which came to his nose. Jochen did not move, but the
crown-prince stroked himself with his paw over his thoughtful face, his
nose grew sharper, and the nostrils quivered, he crept out from under
the stove, put on a courteous mien, and made his compliments to young
Jochen with his tail. Young Jochen took no notice, and young Bauschan
inferring that everything was in its usual condition, went nearer to
the table, looked round sideways, more after Frau Nüssler than for
young Jochen, then laid his head against the table and indulged in
blessed hopes, as young folks will. Hope kept him quiet for a
time, but--one really needs something more substantial, for one's
stomach,--the crown-prince returned to put his two paws--merely the
fore paws--in a chair, and bring himself a little nearer. His nose came
directly over the dish containing the red bacon, and--now, young
folks--Bauschan snapped at it, exactly as we should in our youthful
days, when a pair of red lips smiled up to us; and--just like us--he
was frightened, in an instant, at his wickedness, and crept away,
but--that I should have to say it! with the bacon in his teeth.

"Bauschan!" cried young Jochen, as impressively as the mother, who
keeps guard over the red lips; but for all that, he did not move;
meanwhile Bauschan--whether that as crown-prince he believed himself
possessed of a species of regal right over all the red lips in his
realm, or that he was so spoiled that even such a sweet, clandestine
titbit made no impression upon him--looked Jochen boldly in the face,
licked his chops, and hankered for more. Jochen looked him right in the
eye, but did not stir, and after a little while Bauschan got up again
on a chair, this time with his hind legs, and ate up a plate full of
sausage. "Bauschan!" cried Jochen. "Mining, Bauschan is eating up the
sausage!" but he didn't stir. The crown-prince bestirred himself,
however, and when he had made way with the sausage, he addressed
himself to his chief dainty, the dish of scrambled eggs. "Mother,
mother!" cried young Jochen, "he is eating up the eggs!" But young
Bauschan had burned his moist nose against the hot dish, he started
back, upset the platter, knocked the Kümmel bottle over with his tail,
and disordered the whole table, young Jochen never stirring the while,
only calling from his corner, "Mother, mother! The confounded dog! he
is eating up our eggs!"

"What are you roaring about, young Jochen, in your own house;" cried
one, who just then entered the door, but it was such a singular figure,
that Jochen was frightened. He let his pipe fall from his mouth, in his
terror, put out both hands before him, and cried, "All good spirits
praise the Lord! Herr Pastor, is it you, or, Bräsig, is it you?"

Yes, it was Bräsig, at least one who looked at him near enough, and had
time to consider, would recognize the yellow-topped boots as belonging
to an inspector's uniform, but Jochen had no time to consider, for the
figure which entered the door at once perceived Bauschan's misdeeds,
and ran into every corner of the room, in search of a stout stick for
the crown prince's back, and behind him fluttered in the air two long,
long black coattails, like the wings of a dragon, and out of the high
black coat-collar, and under the high black hat, which had slipped down
half over his eyes, shone a red, angry face, as if a chimney-sweep had
taken a glowing coal in his mouth, to frighten the children. Young
Jochen was no longer a child, to be sure, but yet he was frightened, he
had started up, and held on with both hands to the arms of his chair,
and exclaimed alternately, "Herr Pastor! Bräsig! Bräsig! Herr Pastor!"
and the crown-prince, who was still in his childhood, was terribly
frightened, he also ran into all the comers, and howled, and could not
get out of the room, for the door was shut, and when the black figure
beat him with the yellow stick--necessity works wonders--he sprang
through the window sash, and took half the glass along with him.

This made uproar enough to raise the dead, why, then, should not Frau
Nüssler hear it in the kitchen? and, just as she opened the door,
Bräsig was shoving up his hat with one hand, and pointing with the
other, still holding the stick, to the broken window, while he uttered
the remarkable words, "You can thank nobody but yourself, young Jochen!
For what does the dumb creature of a crown-prince understand? All the
beautiful Kümmel!"

"Good heavens!" cried Frau Nüssler, coming in. "What is all this,
Jochen? Bless me, Bräsig, how you look!"

"Mother," said young Jochen, "the dog and Bräsig--what can I do about
it?"

"For shame, young Jochen," cried Bräsig, going up and down the room
with great strides, his long coat-tails almost dipping in the Kümmel,
"who is master of this house, you, or young Bauschan?"

"But, Bräsig, why in the world are you dressed so horribly?" asked Frau
Nüssler.

"So?" said Bräsig, looking at her with great eyes, "suppose you had
gone to a rendezvous with the Frau Pastorin, last night, and tumbled
into the ditch, so that your clothes were all damp and muddy, this
morning? And suppose you got a letter, that you must come here to
Rexow, to a family council? And what was I to do? Is it my fault that
the Herr Pastor is tall as Lenerenz's child, and as thin as a shadow,
and that his head is so much bigger than mine? Why did the Frau
Pastorin rig me out in his uniform this morning, so that all the old
peasants going to church called out to me, from a distance, 'Good
morning, Herr Pastor!' but that I might come here, out of pure
kindness, to your family council?"

"Bräsig," said young Jochen, "I swear to you----"

"Don't swear, young Jochen! You will swear yourself into hell. Do you
call this a family council, with all the Kümmel running about the room,
and I in the Pastor's clothes, to be made a laughing-stock of?"

"Bräsig, Bräsig," exclaimed Frau Nüssler, who scarcely knew her old
friend in his anger, and who had been picking up the broken fragments
and setting the table-cloth straight, "don't mind such a trifle! Sit
down, it is all right again, now."

Under Frau Nüssler's friendly words, Bräsig quieted down, and allowed
himself to be seated at the breakfast-table, only growling to himself,
"The devil knows, young Jochen, I have always lived in the hope that
you would grow a little wiser with years, but, I see well, what is dyed
in the wool will never wash out. Meanwhile though--what is the matter
here?"

"Yes," said Frau Nüssler--"Yes," said Jochen also, and his wife was
silent, for she thought Jochen was really going to say something; he
said nothing, however, but "It is all as true as leather." So Frau
Nüssler began again: "Yes, there is Rector Baldrian's Gottlieb,
Jochen's sister's son, a right good fellow, and well-educated, and has
studied his Articles as a Candidate--you have seen him here a great
many times."

"Yes," nodded Bräsig, "a right nice young fellow, a sort of Pietist,
combed his hair behind his ears, and instructed me that I did wrong to
go fishing Sunday morning."

"Yes, that is the one. And he has got through with his schooling, and
the Rector wants us to take him here, for a while, till he studies some
last things into his head, and we wanted to ask you what we should do
about it."

"Why not? The Pietists are quiet people, their only peculiarity is
their love of instructing; and you, Frau Nüssler, are likely to give
them opportunity for it, and young Jochen, too,--God be praised!--since
he will not allow himself to be instructed by Bauschan and me."

"Yes, that is well enough, Bräsig, but there is something else; there
is Kurz's Rudolph, he has studied for the ministry, too, and he also is
Jochen's nephew; he heard that the other wanted to come here, and he
wrote yesterday, saying he had wasted his time dreadfully at Rostock,
and he would come here to Rexow, and review what was necessary. Just
think of it! there in Rostock he has all the learned professors, and
here at Rexow only Jochen and me."

"Oh, I know him," cried Bräsig, "he is an exceedingly fine fellow! When
he was first beginning to study, he caught me half a dozen perch out of
the Black Pool; the very smallest weighed a good pound and a half."

"Eh! How you remember everything! And he was the one who got Mining,
when she had climbed up on the ladder to the old stork's nest, and
stood there clapping her hands for joy, and we down below frightened
out of our wits, and he brought her down, safe and sound. Yes, he is
bright enough about such matters, but not so good at his books, and
Rector Baldrian says, there at Rostock he is always getting into
fights. Just think, they fought with bare swords, and he was in the
midst of it all, and it was all on account of a rich merchant's pretty
daughter."

"May you keep the nose on your face!" cried Bräsig. "In a real, regular
fight, and about a pretty merchant's daughter! Well, young Jochen, all
the troubles come from the women!"

"Yes, Bräsig, you may well say so; but what shall we do about it?"

"Why, where is there any difficulty? If you don't want the two young
ecclesiastics, write and say so, and if you do want them to come, write
and say so; you have room enough, and plenty to eat and drink, only
look out for the expenses for the books, for those make fearful holes
in the pocket. And if you wish to take only one, take the fighter, for
I, for my part, would much rather fight with the one, than be
instructed by the other."

"Yes, Bräsig, that is all very well," said Frau Nüssler, "but we have
already written to Gottlieb Baldrian, and now we cannot refuse to take
Rudolph, without affronting the Kurzes."

"No? Well, then, take both."

"Yes, Bräsig, it is easy to say so; but our two little girls--they have
just been confirmed--there, Jochen, you tell him!"

And Jochen really began to speak: "It is all as true as leather,--you
see, Bräsig. Mining is just like--you know all about it--educated just
like a governess, and my old mother used to say, a governess and a
candidate in the same house--that would never do."

"Ho, ho! Young Jochen! Now I understand you. You are afraid of
love-affairs. But that little rogue and love-affairs!"

"Well, Bräsig," said Frau Nüssler, hastily, "it is not so improbable!
I, as a mother, should know that. Why, I was not so old as they are,
when----" Frau Nüssler stopped suddenly, for Bräsig had pulled a
terribly long face, and was looking very keenly in her eyes.
Fortunately, Young Jochen took up the conversation, and said;
"Bräsig,--mother, fill Bräsig's glass,--Bräsig, you can understand
something about it, and now, what ought we, as parents, to do?"

"Let them alone, young Jochen! Why has the Lord put young people into
the world, and what else have they to do but make love to each other?
But that little rogue!"

"You are jesting, Bräsig," interrupted Frau Nüssler. "You ought not to
talk so about such a serious matter, for out of a smooth egg many times
crawls a basilisk."

"Let him crawl," cried Bräsig.

"So?" asked Frau Nüssler. "Do you say so? But I say otherwise. Jochen
is not accustomed to trouble himself about such things; for all he
cares, every one of our servant-maids might fall in love. Idle about,
and get married; and I--God bless me! I have both hands full of work,
and enough to find fault with before my eyes, without looking after
what goes on behind my back."

"What am I for, then?" asked Bräsig.

"Oh, you!" said Frau Nüssler, off hand, "you have no experience in such
matters."

"What!" exclaimed Bräsig. "I, who once had three sweethearts----" He
went no further, for Frau Nüssler put on a long face, and looked at him
with so much curiosity, that he covered his embarrassment by drinking
the Kümmel in his glass.

"A miserable piece of business!" he cried, standing up, "and who is to
blame for it all? Young Jochen!"

"Eh, Bräsig, what have I to do with it?"

"You let the crown-prince eat up the breakfast, under your very nose,
and take two ministerial candidates into your house, and don't know
what to do about it! But, never mind, Frau Nüssler, take the two young
fellows in, and don't be afraid. I will look after the little rogue,
and the two confounded rascals shall catch thunder and lightning. The
fighter, the duel-fighter--I will take care of him; but you must keep
an eye on the proselyter; they are the slyest."

"Well, we can't do otherwise," said Frau Nüssler, also rising.

And at Michaelmas the two clerical recruits arrived at head-quarters,
and Franz went away to the agricultural college at Eldena, and as he
went out of the Pastor's garden, there looked after him, over the
fence, in the same place where Fritz had sat, with his bread and butter
and his beer-bottle, a dear, beautiful face, and the face looked like a
silken, rose-red purse, out of which the last groschen had been given
for a dear friend.

When Louise came back into the parlor, in the twilight, that evening,
the Frau Pastor in took the lovely girl upon her lap, and kissed
the sweet mouth, and pressed the pure heart to her own. Well the
women-folks can't help doing such things!



                              CHAPTER XIV.


The evening before St. John's day, 1843, David Däsel's oldest boy was
sitting with Johann Degel's youngest girl, in the pleasure-garden at
Pumpelhagen, enjoying the moonlight, and Fika Degel said to Krischan
Däsel, "Say, did you see her, that time, when you took the horses to
the young Herr?"

"To be sure I saw her; he took me into the parlor, and shewed her to
me, and said, 'See, this is your gracious lady!' and she filled me a
glass, that I should drink there."

"What does she look like?"

"Well," said Krischan, "it is hard to describe her; let me see, she is
about your size, and has such light hair as yours, and just such a pink
and white face, and she has grey eyes also, as you have, and just such
a little, old, sweet, pouting mouth," and with that, he pressed a
hearty kiss on the red lips.

"Gracious, Krischan!" cried Fika, freeing herself from his arm, "then
does she look just like me?"

"Child, have you no more sense than that?" said Krischan. "No, don't
flatter yourself to that extent! You see, that sort of people have
always a something about them, quite different from our sort. The
gracious lady might sit here with me, till she were frozen to death in
midsummer, it would never come into my head to give her a kiss."

"So?" said Fika Degel, standing up, and tossing her pretty head, "then
you think I am good enough for you?"

"Fika," said Krischan, throwing his arm round her again, though she
made a show of resistance, "that sort are too slender-waisted, and have
too weak bones for us, if I should hug her as I do you, I should always
be afraid of dislocating her spine, or knocking her down. No," said he,
stroking her soft hair, "like must mate with like." And as they
separated, Fika was quite gracious again towards her Krischan, and
looked as friendly as if she were his gracious lady.

"Well, I shall see you to-morrow," said she, "I am going to help the
girls tie wreaths, in the morning."

And so she did. Yes, they were tying wreaths in Pumpelhagen, and a
great gate of honor was constructed, and while Habermann was overseeing
the preparations, and Marie Möller was running hither and thither, with
greens and flowers, and Fritz Triddelsitz, as a volunteer of the first
class, in his green hunting-jacket, and white leather breeches, and
yellow top-boots, and a blood-red neck-handkerchief, strutted about
among the farm-boys and day-laborers, there arrived upon the scene
Uncle Bräsig also, neat as wax, in light-blue, tight summer trousers,
and a brown dress-coat, of unknown antiquity, which covered his back
very well, down to the calves, but in front he looked as if the
lightning had struck him, and torn off his brown bark, leaving exposed
a long strip of yellow wood, for he wore under it a fine, yellow piqué
vest. On his head he had, of course, a silk hat, three-quarters of an
ell high.

"Good morning, Karl! How are you getting on? Ha, ha! There stands
already the whole concern. Fine, Karl! The arch should be a little
higher, though, and right and left you should have a couple of towers;
I have seen them so in old Friedrich Franz's time, at Gustrow, when he
came home in triumph. But where is your flag?"

"Flag?" said Habermann, "we have none."

"Karl, bethink yourself! How can you celebrate without a flag? The Herr
Lieutenant is a military character, of course he must have a flag.
Möller!" he went on, without hesitation, "go into the house, and bring
me out two sheets, and sew them together lengthways; Krischan Päsel,
bring me a nice, smooth, straight beanpole; and you, Triddelsitz, get
me the brush that you mark bags with, and an inkstand!"

"What under heaven are you going to do, Zachary," said Habermann,
shaking his head.

"Karl," said Bräsig, "it is a mercy he was in the Prussian army, if he
had been in the Mecklenburg, we couldn't have got the colors; but the
Prussian--black ink, white linen, and there are your colors!"

Habermann would have entered a protest, but he thought: "Well, let him
work, the young Herr will understand that it is all meant well."

So Bräsig worked away, and painted a great "Vivat!!!" with the brush.
"Hold it tight!" he cried to Marie Möller, and Fritz Triddelsitz, whom
he had pressed into the service as assistants, "so that the 'Herr
Lieutenant' and 'Frau Lieutenant' may come out nice and clear on the
flag!" for he had decided upon these words to put under the "Vivat,"
instead of "A. von Rambow" and "F. von Satrup" which had been his first
thought: for these were merely a couple of names of the nobility, and
having lived among noblemen all his life he held them for nothing
remarkable; but he had not had so much to do with lieutenants, and
considered the title a very high one.

When he had finished his flag, he ran up to fasten it on the highest
point of the manor-house, then puffed down stairs again, to see the
effect from outside, and placed himself at the door of the granary, and
then at the sheep-barn, but nowhere did it seem to satisfy him.

"It don't look right, Karl," said he, much annoyed; but, after a little
reflection, he placed himself before the green archway, and called out,
"Karl, what am I thinking of? _This_ is the right spot, from which they
will perceive it!"

"But, Bräsig," remonstrated Habermann, "it would cover our triumphal
arch entirely, and under the tall poplars there wouldn't be a breath of
air for the flag, and the two heavy old sheets would hang down on the
bean-pole like a great icicle."

"I'll make it all right, Karl," and Bräsig pulled out from his pocket a
long string, which he proceeded to fasten to the upper, outer end of
his flag. "Gust Kegel," he called to one of the swineherds, "are you a
good climber?"

"Yes, Herr Inspector," said Gust.

"Well, my dear swine-marquis," said Bräsig, laughing at his own joke,
and all the men and boys and girls laughed with him, "just take this
end of the string, and climb into that poplar, and draw it tight." And
Gust did the business very skilfully, and drew the string tight and
hauled up the sail, as if all Pumpelhagen were making ready to sail off
and Bräsig stood by the bean-pole, as if he were standing by the mast
of his ship, an admiral commanding a whole fleet: "They may come now,
Karl, whenever they like; I am ready."

But Fritz Triddelsitz was not ready yet, for he had appointed himself
commander of the land-forces, and wished to draw them up in military
array, by the sheep-barn, on one side the old day-laborers, and
the servants, and farm-boys, and on the other, the house-wives,
servant-maids and little girls. After much instruction, he had got his
breeches-company about half-drilled, but with the petticoat-company he
could do nothing at all. The house-wives' carried, instead of a weapon,
a baby each, upon the left arm, that little Jochen and Hinning might be
able to see too, and man[oe]uvred with them in a highly irregular
manner; the maid-servants declined to recognize Fritz as their
commander, and Fika Degel called out to him that Mamselle Möller was
their corporal, and the light-troops of young girls skirmished behind
poplars and stonewalls, as if the enemy were in sight, and they in
danger of being taken prisoners. Fritz Triddelsitz struck fiercely at
his troops with his cane, which he carried as a staff of command, and
told them they were not worth their salt, and, going up to Habermann,
vowed he would have nothing more to do with the concern; but if
Habermann had no objections he would take his gray pony, and ride off
to see how soon the Herr lieutenant and his lady would arrive.
Habermann hesitated, mainly out of consideration for the old Gray; but
Bräsig whispered quite audibly, "Let him go, Karl, then we shall be rid
of the greyhound, and it will be much nicer."

So Fritz rode off on the Gray, towards Gurlitz; but a new annoyance
intruded itself in Bräsig's plan, that was schoolmaster Strull, who
came marching up with the school-children, descendants of Asel and
£gel, with open psalm-books in their hands. The order which Fritz had
not been able to accomplish with an hour's training, Master Strull had
held for a whole year; he advanced his troops in two divisions, in the
first stood the Asels, whose singing could always be relied upon, in
the second, were the Egels, of whom he was--alas! but too well aware,
that each one had his own idea of time and melody.

"Preserve us, Karl, what is all this?" asked Bräsig, as he saw the
schoolmaster approaching.

"Now, Zachary, Master Strull wishes to show honor to the young Herr, as
well as the rest of us, and why shouldn't the children have a chance to
show what they have learned?"

"Too ecclesiastical, Karl; altogether too ecclesiastical for a
lieutenant? Haven't you got a drum or a trumpet?"

"No," laughed Habermann, "we don't keep that sort of agricultural
implement."

"Very unfortunate," said Bräsig, "but hold! Krischan Däsel, come and
hold the flag a moment! It is all right, Karl," said he, as he went
off. But if Habermann had known what he had in his mind, he would have
called it all wrong. Bräsig beckoned the night-watchman, David Däsel,
to step aside, and asked him where his instrument was. David bethought
himself a little, and finally answered, "Here!" holding up his staff,
for Fritz Triddelsitz had ordered all the day-laborers to bring them
along, "that they might do the honors to the Herr Lieutenant," as he
said.

"Blockhead!" cried Bräsig, "I mean your musical instrument."

"You mean my horn? That is at home."

"Can you play pieces on it?"

"Yes," said David Däsel, he could play one.

"Well," said Bräsig, "bring your instrument, and come out behind the
cattle-stall, and I will hear you play."

And when they were alone, David put the horn to his mouth, and blew, as
if the whole cattle-stall were in flames: "The Prussians have taken
Paris. Good times are coming now,--toot! toot!" for he was very
musical. "Hold!" said Bräsig, "you must blow quietly now, for I want to
give Habermann a pleasant surprise; by and by, when the lieutenant
comes, you can blow louder. And when the schoolmaster is through with
his ecclesiastical business, then keep watch of me; I will give you a
sign, when I wave the flag three times, then begin."

"Yes, Herr Inspector; but the old watch-dog ought to be tied fast in
his kennel, for we are not on good terms of late, and whenever he sees
me with my horn, he flies at me."

"It shall be attended to," said Bräsig, and he went back with Däsel, to
the celebration, and grasped his flag-staff again, just at the right
moment, for Fritz Triddelsitz came riding over the hill, as fast as old
Gray could gallop: "They are coming! They're coming! They are in
Gurlitz already!"

They were coming. Axel von Rambow and his lovely young wife rode slowly
on, in the lovely morning; the chaise-top was down, and Axel pointed
over the wide green fields, full of sunshine, to the cool shadows of
the Pumpelhagen park: "See, dearest Frida, this is our home." The words
were few, but much happiness lay in them, and much pride, that he was
in circumstances to spread a soft couch for the dearest one he had on
earth; if he had said it in a thousand words, she could not have
understood him more clearly. She felt the happiness and pride in his
heart, and a great wave of love and thankfulness broke over her own.
Everything about her was cool, and fresh, and clear; she was like a
cool brook, which, until now, had flowed under green, silent shadows,
aside from the highway, through hills and forests, and now springs
forth suddenly into golden sunshine, and sees in its own depths bright
pebbles and close-shut mussels, treasures of which it had never
dreamed, and bright little fish darting hither and yon, like wishes and
longings for working and waking, and green banks and flowers mirrored
in the clear water, like her joyous future life.

And outwardly, she was cool, and fresh, and clear, and agreed in all
respects with Krischan Däsel's description; but if one had seen her at
this moment, as she looked over toward the Pumpelhagen garden, and back
again into her young husband's face, he would have seen the fresh
cheeks take on a deeper glow, and the clear light that shone from her
gray eyes, a softer, warmer radiance, as when the summer evening bends
over the bright world, and hushes it to sweet sleep with a cradle-song.

"Ah," she cried, pressing his hand, "how beautiful it is here, at your
home! What rich fields! Only see, how stately the wheat stands! I have
never seen it so before."

"Yes," said Axel, happy in her pleasure, "we have a rich country, much
richer than your region."

He might have kept silence, now, and it would have been quite as well;
but she had touched unwittingly upon his favorite province, that of
agriculture, and he must needs show her that he knew something of it,
so he added: "But that must all be altered. We are lacking in
intelligence, we don't know how to make the most of our soil. See!
yonder there, over the hill, where the wheat is growing, that belongs
to Pumpelhagen, wait a couple of years, and we will have all sorts of
commercial products growing here, and bringing us three times the
profit." And he began to harvest his hemp and hops and oil-seeds, and
anise and cummin, and sprinkled among them, like an intelligent farmer,
lucerne and esparcet also, "to keep his cattle in good condition," and
while he was among the dyer's weeds, and selling his red madder, and
blue woad, and yellow weld for a good price, and well in the saddle on
his high horse, up shot a living example of all these bright colors,
close by the turn, on this side of Gurlitz, who was also on a high
horse, that is the gray pony. This was Fritz Triddelsitz, who went up
like a complete rainbow, and disappeared like a shooting star.

"What was that?" cried Frida, and Axel called "Hallo! hallo!"

But Fritz never looked round, he must carry tidings to the
gate-of-honor, and he had barely time, as he galloped through Gurlitz,
to call out to Pomuchelskopp, who stood in his door, "They are coming!
They will be in Gurlitz in five minutes!" and Pomuchelskopp called over
the garden fence, toward the arbor: "Come, Malchen and Salchen! It is
time now!"

And Malchen and Salchen threw down the landscape paintings they were
embroidering, among the nettles by the arbor, and tied on their straw
hats, and fastened themselves one on each side, to Father
Pomuchelskopp's elbows, and Father Pomuchelskopp said, "Now don't look
round, for pity's sake, for it must appear as if we had just gone out
walking, for all I care, to see the beauties of nature."

But misfortune was impending. As Muchel and his young ladies stepped
out of the door, and Axel rode slowly through the village, while his
young wife asked him "who was that lovely girl, who just greeted us?"
and he replied that it was Louise Habermann, his inspector's daughter,
and the house where she stood was the parsonage, the devil of
housekeeping possessed old Häuning to come out, in her white kerchief
and old black merino sacque,--for it still held together, and was
plenty good enough,--to feed the little turkeys with malt grains. When
she saw Pomuchelskopp walking off with his two daughters, she thought
it a great piece of impertinence for her Muchel to go off without her;
she wiped her hands on the old black merino, and hastened after, black
and white, stiff and straight, as if one of the old, mouldering
tombstones, in the church-yard near by, had taken a fancy to go walking
for pleasure.

"Muchel!" she called after her husband.

"Don't look round!" said Muchel, "it must all appear quite natural."

"Kopp," she cried, "will you stop? shall I run myself out of breath for
you?"

"For all I care," said Pomuchelskopp angrily. "Don't look round,
children, I hear the carriage, it must seem quite off-hand."

"But, father," said Salchen, "it is mother."

"Ah, mother here, and mother there!" cried Pomuchelskopp, downright
angry, "she will spoil the whole business! But, my dear children," he
added, upon a little reflection, "you need not tell mother I said so."

And Klücking came puffing up: "Kopp!" but she had not time for fuller
expression of her feelings, for the carriage came opposite, and
Pomuchelskopp stood, bowing: "A-a-ah! Congratulations--best wishes, God
bless them!" and Malchen and Salchen courtesied, and Axel bade the
coachman stop, and said he was very happy to see his Herr Neighbor and
his family looking so well, and Muchel tugged secretly at the old black
sacque, to make Häuning courtesy also, but she stood stiff and
straight, puffing away, as if the reception was too warm to suit her,
and Frida sat there, very cool, as if the thing was not much to her
taste. And Muchel began to speak of the wonderful coincidence, that he
should have just started out walking with his two daughters, but he got
a poke from his Hänning's elbow, and heard a venomous whisper, "So your
wife is of no account, is she?" so that he lost the thread of his
discourse, and went rambling about in a distressed manner, until Axel
bade the coachmen drive on, saying he hoped to see Herr Pomuchelskopp
again soon.

Pomuchelskopp stood in anguish, by the roadside, hanging his head, and
Malchen and Salchen took hold of his arms again, and instead of going
on naturally with their walk they went back to the house. Blind behind
him marched Hänning, and led him, with gentle reproaches, back to his
duty again; but he remembered this hour for a year and a day, and her
reproofs he never forgot while his life lasted.

"Those seem very disagreeable people," said Frida, as they drove on.

"They are, indeed," replied Axel, "but they are very rich."

"Mere riches are a small recommendation," said Frida.

"True, dear Frida, but the man is a large proprietor, and since they
are such near neighbors, we must keep up some intercourse with these
people."

"Do you really mean it, Axel?"

"Certainly," he replied.

She sat a little while, reflecting, and then inquired, suddenly;--

"What sort of man is the Pastor?"

"I know very little of him, myself, but my father thought very highly
of him, and my inspector reveres him wonderfully. But," he added, after
a moment, "that is natural enough, the Pastor has brought up his only
daughter, since she was a little child."

"Oh, yes, that charming girl, at the door of the parsonage; but the
Pastor's wife must have had the most to do with that. Do you know her?"

"Why yes,--that is to say, I have seen her,--she is a lively old lady."

"They are certainly good people," said Frida, with decision.

"Dear Frida," said Axel, drawing himself up a little, "how you women
jump at conclusions! Because these people have brought up a strange
child, and--we will take it for granted that they have brought her up
well--you--" and he was going on, in his shallow wisdom, which he
called "knowledge of human nature,"--for it is an old story that those
who have come into the world as blind as young puppies, and have only
nine days' experience, are the very ones to pride themselves on their
"knowledge of human nature; "--but, unfortunately for the world, he had
no opportunity, for his Frida sprang up suddenly, crying,--

"See, Axel, see! A flag, and a triumphal arch! The people mean to give
us a grand reception."

And Degel, the coachman, looked round over his shoulder, with a grin of
delight: "Yes, gracious lady. I was not to speak of it; but now you can
see it for yourself, and it is a great pleasure. But I must drive
slowly, or else the horses will be frightened."



                              CHAPTER XV.


And now they were come; and Habermann stepped up to the carriage, and
spoke a few words, which sprang from his heart to his lips, and the
clear eyes of the young wife shone on the white hair of the old man
like a sunbeam, full of friendly warmth, and before Axel noticed,--for
with his surprise and his interrupted discourse, he was not prepared
for the occasion,--she reached out her hand to him, and with the grasp
of the hand a friendship was settled, without a word, for each had
looked into the eyes of the other, and had read there clearness, truth
and confidence. And now Axel was ready with his hand, and Schoolmaster
Strull came forward with his Asels, and struck up a song of
"Thanksgiving for particular occasions," No. 545, out of the
Mecklenburg Psalm-book, "After a heavy thunderstorm," beginning, like a
sensible man, with the second verse, because it seemed to him
particularly appropriate,--


           "We praise Thy might, Oh Lord,"--


and Bräsig was trying to wave the flag, but Gust Kegel held it fast.

"Let go of the string, you rascal!" cried Bräsig.


           "We know Thine anger's power,"


sung the schoolmaster.

"Boy, let go the string out of your hand!" screamed Bräsig again.


           "Protect us by Thy grace
               In sorrow's gloomy hour,"--


sung the schoolmaster.

"Boy, when I get hold of you, I'll break every bone in your body!"
roared Bräsig.


           "They who rest within Thy arm,
            Shall be safe from every harm,"


sang the schoolmaster.

"Herr, it sticks fast in the poplar," cried the boy, and Bräsig tugged
at the flag, and brought down with it part of a branch, while the
schoolmaster sung,


           "How it roars and crashes!"


and Fritz Triddlesitz ran for the dinner-bell, which hung in the
door-way, and played a storm, and Bräsig waved the flag, and the men
and women, and servants and maids, and boys and girls shouted "Vivat!"
and "Hurrah!" and David Däsel blew on his horn: "The Prussians have
taken Paris, good times are coming now, toot! toot! toot!" and it was
all so festive that no dog could help howling, and at the last "toot!"
out sprang the old watch-dog, which Gust Kegel had mischievously
unfastened, so that he might enjoy himself with the rest, and made
straight for David Däsel's legs, and the two brown coach-dogs also
began to sniff and howl in such a singular manner that it was really a
piece of good fortune that Degel the coachman had his reins well in
hand, and was prepared for emergencies.

As it was, all passed off well, and the carriage soon arrived safely at
the manor-house, and Axel lifted out his lovely young bride. Inside the
house, there was the same preparation and adornment, with flowers and
greens, as outside, and among the wreaths and garlands, Marie Möller in
a new red jaconet dress, with a fiery red face, moved her fiery red
arms hither and thither, and when she had cooled off a little among the
greens, ran back into the kitchen, to the cooking stove, as if she were
a flatiron-heater, which must be kept constantly red-hot,--and when the
gracious young lady stepped across the threshold, she came towards her,
with her fiery arms outspread, as if she were a priestess of Moloch,
and placed a wreath of bright red roses on the young lady's head, and
then, falling back a couple of paces, and gesticulating with the fiery
arm, as if striking out brilliant flames, she repeated a verse, which
she had been learning for the last three months, under Bräsig's
tuition,--


              "Hail, beauteous lady, sweet and bright,
            Accomplished, virtuous, wise and bland,
              Deign to accept this offering slight,
            From your devoted, humble servant's hand."


And when she had said her lesson, she threw wide open the door of the
dining-room, and there stood a table spread for dinner, in good season,
for it was high noon, and Axel said a word or two to his wife, and she
nodded in a pleased way under her wreath of roses, and turned to the
old inspector: he must be her guest today, and also the schoolmaster,
and the young farmer, and would the old gentleman who had waved the
flag honor them with his company also? Then she went to Marie Möller,
and thanked her for her fine speech and all that she had done to
welcome them, and would she have time to enjoy with them the nice
things she had prepared? And Marie Möller became as red with delight as
if there were a cooking stove in her heart, filled with glowing coals.

Of before long, they all came in. Habermann brought up Bräsig, and
introduced him as his old friend of many years' standing, who had also
been well acquainted with the late Herr Kammerrath, and would by no
means be found wanting in taking his part in the rejoicing at
Pumpelhagen. And Bräsig went to Axel, and got hold of his hand, will
he, nill he, and squeezed it, and, shaking his head back and forth,
assured him of his friendship for life and death: "Herr Lieutenant,
very dear and welcome, as I just said to Karl, how glad I shall be if
you only take after your good father!" And then he turned to the young
lady: "Gracious Frau Lieutenant," and fumbled after her hand, which he
succeeded in grasping, and it looked as if he intended to kiss it; but
he held it for moment, and then said, "No! not that! I always kissed
the hand of my gracious countess, and it was proper, as a token of
service; I will not take that liberty, you are so lovely to look
at; but if you ever need an old man's service--my name is Zachary
Bräsig--just send for me,--a short mile from here--Haunerwiem,--and the
day shall not be too hot for me, or the night too dark."

Bräsig's speeches were peculiar things; honest folks have a way of
talking right out of their hearts, without thinking, at the moment, how
they will be understood. Axel did not take it as it was meant. That
such an one as Inspector Bräsig should presume to hold up an example to
him,--even if it were his own father, to whom he was so deeply
indebted,--did not suit him; he was put out of humor. Frida, who went
to the heart of every thing, took the old inspector's speech in her
hand, like an onion, and shredded off the old, dry skins, one after
another, and found a bright, hard kernel inside, and, as she cut it
across, there was such a sound heart disclosed that she took the old
fellow by the hand, and made him sit next to her at table.

Then came Fritz Triddelsitz, in the guise of a young proprietor, for he
had arrayed himself in his blue coat with gilt buttons, which looked,
for all the world, like a young son of Pomuchelskopp's. And then came
Schoolmaster Strull, a great, strong fellow, whom the Lord had made
fitter to be a hewer of wood than a trainer of children. The old boy
looked, with his big head and his black suit, which was getting rusty,
like a stout wheel-nail, which Fate had shoved to the wall, and which
had quietly rusted there. His face was rather rusty, too, and the only
thing which looked gay about him was his shirt-bosom, which his old
mother, because it was a little yellow, had dipped so generously in the
blueing, that a fine sea-green color was the result.

These two were treated with special attention by Axel, and when he
heard that Fritz's father was an apothecary in Rahnstadt, and could
make chemical analyses (Analysen), he asked Fritz to sit next him, and
as Uncle Bräsig heard the word "Analysen" he snapped it out of the Herr
Lieutenant's mouth, and said, aside to Habermann, "Allelüsen? Allelüsen?
What does he mean by Allelüsen? Some kind of vermin?" and without
waiting for an answer, he said to Axel: "Gracious Herr Lieutenant, for
such stuff you must let the apothecary's son bring you a pot of
'ungewendten Napoleon,'" (unguentum Neapolitarum), which was, naturally,
quite incomprehensible to Axel. But if he had understood it, he had no
time to explain, for as soon as they were fairly seated,--the
schoolmaster not more than a quarter, for he balanced himself on the
edge of his chair,--he launched forth into his favorite subject, the
farming of the estate, and began to enrich the fields with bone-dust,
and Chili saltpetre and guano, and laid out behind the garden a great
plantation of hops; while old Habermann said to himself, he had not
thought the young Herr knew so little about farming, and wondered how
Bräsig could sit there and laugh at it all. But that was very natural,
since Bräsig took all these brilliant plans of Axel's for a good joke,
and when the young Herr had got his hop-field in working order, Bräsig
laughed heartily, and said, "Of course the soil must first be
prepared,--and when we are through with this preparation, we can
fertilize it a little more, and then we can raise raisins and
almonds, to feed the pigs with; you have no idea, gracious Frau
Lieutenant,"--turning to the lady--"how sweet a pig tastes, that is
fatted on raisins and almonds."

This was not pleasing to Axel; he looked down, and knitted his brows in
vexation; but he was too fairly started in his agricultural progress to
be turned back for such a trifle; he began on tillage, and told about
his invention of a machine for a clod-breaker, and with that he turned
graciously to his neighbor, to Fritz Triddelsitz, who gave such
uncommonly intelligent answers that Marie Möller sat listening, with
open mouth, and inwardly smote on her breast, and cried, "God be
merciful to me sinner! Ignorant worm that I am, to stretch out my hand
toward him! No! a goose might as well seek to mate with an eagle."

When the dinner was over, the gracious lady arose, took her leave of
the company, and said to Habermann that Axel and herself proposed going
over the estate, the next morning, and reckoned on his company to show
them the way. Habermann assented with pleasure, and when she had left
the room the bottle went round the table once more, and Daniel
Sadenwater brought cigars.

At Frida's request. Axel had retained the old servant, and Daniel had
put on the old master's knife and fork, and so consecrated them, in his
mind, to the new master, and every time he presented a dish on the
salver to his young Herr, he laid himself with it as an offering, and
his old eyes said clearly, his young master might do with him whatever
he liked, he had given him all.

Bräsig accepted a "Zichalie," as he called them, and informed Herr von
Rambow that he smoked such a thing, now and then, of Köster Bröker's
make, though they were a little strong to be sure. Axel made no reply;
he did not like Bräsig, he thought he had been laughing at him, and did
not appreciate his knowledge of agriculture. Fritz Triddelsitz was a
much more agreeable listener; he had nodded, and shaken his head, and
admired so much, and ah'd and oh'd and wondered, till Axel appeared to
himself a great light in agriculture, set up on a lofty candlestick, to
enlighten Pumpelhagen and the country round about, and, for all I know,
the world itself.

As I have often said. Axel was a good fellow, he liked to make
everything bright and pleasant about him; the good dinner, the costly
wine, the feeling that he was master, had excited benevolent thoughts,
to which he must give expression. He called Habermann to the window,
and asked him how he was satisfied with Fritz. Habermann said, pretty
well; he had learned a good many things, and he hoped, in time, he
might become a skilful farmer. This was quite enough, in Axel's
gracious mood; he asked, farther, how much salary Fritz received, and
whether he had a horse. No, said Habermann, he had neither horse nor
salary, as yet; he gave nothing, and he got nothing.

Axel then turned to Fritz, and said, "Dear Triddelsitz, I am glad to
hear from the Herr Inspector that he is very much pleased with you; I
shall do myself the pleasure of offering you, for the next year, a
small salary of fifty thalers, and the keeping of a horse."

Fritz could not believe his ears; that Habermann was very much pleased
with him was sufficiently wonderful,--fifty thalers, that would be very
nice; but a horse! that took away his breath and his senses, so that he
could scarcely thank Axel. The latter left him little time, however,
but turned back to Habermann, at the window. And now galloped through
Fritz's brain all the old horses of the whole region, black and brown
and gray and chestnut, and he held parley with each one of them, as if
the Rahnstadt horse-market were going on in his head, and Bräsig sat
opposite and grinned.

All at once, this blessed child of fortune cried out, "Herr Inspector,
next month the Grand Duke makes his entry into Rahnstadt, I must have
her by that time, for the reception, for we young country-people are to
receive him."

"_Whom_ must you have?" asked Bräsig.

"The chestnut mare, the Whalebone mare. Gust Prebberow has her."

"I know her," said Bräsig, very coolly.

"Famous horse!"

"An old sch----" he couldn't say schinder (carrion,) he bethought
himself in time that he was in a distinguished house, so he said, "she
is an old shyer, and you can't do anything with her when the Grand Duke
comes to Rahnstadt, for she cannot hear a 'Hurrah!'"

That was fatal, for a great many hurrahs would be necessary on that
occasion; but Fritz knew that Bräsig delighted in contradicting him, on
every opportunity, and he would not let him see his disappointment.

Meanwhile, Axel had favored the old inspector with a brief discourse
upon the progress recently made in the science of agriculture, and at
the close, put into the old man's hand a book, with the words, "I have
the pleasure of giving you this book; it should be the Bible of every
farmer."

Habermann thanked him gratefully, and, as it was now beginning to grow
dark, the company broke up. The two old inspectors and Schoolmaster
Strull, who was invited to accompany them, went to Habermann's house;
Fritz Triddelsitz went to the stables.

What he wanted there, nobody knew, certainly not himself, but a sort of
instinct drew him toward the horses, as if to bring his inner man into
harmony with the outward world, and so he went, in the half-twilight,
up and down behind the old farm-horses, that he had seen a thousand
times, and examined their legs. This one had spavin,--nobody should
sell him a spavined horse, he would take care of that,--bones shaped
like a ship; this one was balky,--he found out what a balky horse was,
two years ago; this had fits,--a man must be a fool to be imposed upon
by such a horse; this had swellings, not dangerous, blistered a little
by the crupper-iron; and then came wind-galls, and other ills which
horse-flesh is heir to; and through all this his thoughts were dwelling
on a friendly smile, and a wonderfully fair face, that of his gracious
lady, with whom, since dinner, he had fallen desperately in love, and
the ungrateful rascal was conspiring against the happiness of the
master who had just been so kind to him.

"Yes," said he, as he stood in the stable-door, and the evening light
sunk softly into darkness, "what is Louise Habermann compared with this
angel! No, Louise, I am sorry for you! But I cannot imagine how I came
to fall in love with you. And then Mining and Lining! A pair of little
goslings! And Marie Möller, to be sure! A lump of misfortune! How she
looked to-day beside the gracious lady, like a wild plum beside a
peach. And when I get the chestnut mare, then--'Gracious lady, any
commands?' Perhaps a letter for the post? or when she is coming home
from some ball at Rahnstadt, and old Daniel Sadenwater is not at
hand--down with the carriage steps, hand her out--'Ah, I have forgotten
my handkerchief,' or 'my overshoes,'--'They shall be sent for
immediately,' and then I mount my chestnut,--hs--hsch--off we
go,--in half an hour I am back again. 'Gracious lady, here are the
overshoes,' and then she says, 'Thanks, dear Triddelsitz, for this
kindness,'--thunder and lightning! the confounded pole!" for as he went
back to the house, in the dark, absorbed in these charming
anticipations, he stumbled over a carriage-pole, left there by his own
negligence, and lay, in all his gorgeous attire, upon something which
felt very soft. What it was, he didn't know, but his nose had a sort of
suspicion, and he thought he should do well to examine himself by the
light, before going into Habermann's room.

Meanwhile the three old men had gone in, and, as they were sitting in
the twilight, Bräsig asked:

"Karl, is the book a story-book, to read in the winter evenings?"

"Eh, Zachary, I don't know. I will light a candle, and we can see."

When it was light, Habermann was going to look at the title; but Bräsig
took the book out of his hand:

"No, Karl, we have a scholar here, let Strull read it."

Strull began to read, all in a breath, as if he were reading the
Sunday's lesson out of the Gospels, stopping only for a strange word:
"'Printed by Friedrich Vieweg and Son in Brunswick Chemistry in its
Relation to Agriculture and Phy-si-o-logy.'"

"Hold!" cried Bräsig, "that word isn't right, it should be
'fisionomy.'"

"No," said Strull, "it is spelled 'physiology.'"

"For all I care, Strull," said Bräsig; "let them spell their outlandish
words as they please, at one time this way, another time another way.
Go ahead!"

"'By Justus Liebig, Doctor of Medicine and Philosophy, Professor of
Chemistry at the Ludwig's University at Giessen, Knight of the
Grand Ducal Hessian Ludwig's Order, and of the Imperial Russian St.
Annen, Order of the Third Class, Corresponding Member of the Royal
Academy of Science at Stockholm,'--now comes some Latin which I cannot
read,--'Honorary Member of the Royal Academy at Dublin----'"

"Stop!" cried Bräsig, "Lord preserve us, what is all this fellow?"

"But that isn't all, by a great deal, there is ever so much more."

"We will give him the rest. Go ahead!"

"'Fifth Revised and much Enlarged Edition. Brunswick published by
Vieweg and Son 1843.' Now comes a preface."

"Let that go, too," said Bräsig. "Begin at the beginning."

"The heading runs in this way: 'SUBJECT' with a line underneath."

"Well!" said Bräsig. "Go on!"

"'Organic Chemistry has for its purpose the investigation of the
chemical conditions of life, and the complete development of all
organisms.' Period."

"What sort of things?" asked Bräsig.

"All organisms," said the schoolmaster.

"Well," exclaimed Bräsig, "I have heard a great many outlandish words,
but 'organisms,' organ---- Hold! Karl, don't you know 'Herr Orgon stood
before his door,' that we used to learn by heart, with Pastor Behrens,
out of Gellert? Do you suppose this organ can be any connection of
his?"

"Let it go, for the present, Bräsig, we don't understand it yet."

"No? why not, Karl?" said his old friend, "We can learn. You will see,
this is a water-book; they always begin with something you can't
understand. Go ahead!"

"'The existence of all living beings is carried on by the reception of
certain materials into the system, which we call means of nourishment;
they are expended by the organism for its own improvement and
reproduction. Period."

"The man is right there," said Bräsig; "Means of nourishment belong to
living beings, and"--taking the book out of Strull's hands, "'they are
expended by the organism,'--now I know what organism means; it means
the stomach."

"Yes," said the schoolmaster, "but then here is 'reproduction.'"

"Ah," said Bräsig, off hand, "production! We have got used to that of
late years; when I was a child, nobody knew anything about production;
but now they call every bushel of wheat and every ox a production. It
is only an ornamental way of speaking, that they may appear learned."

So they went on for a little while, until the schoolmaster went home,
and when he had gone, the two old friends sat together, quietly and
trustfully,--for Bräsig was to spend the night at Pumpelhagen,--until
Habermann gave a deep sigh, and said:

"Ah, Zachary, I am afraid there are hard times coming for me."

"Why so? Your young Herr is a lively, witty fellow; what amusing things
he said about farming!"

"Yes, that is the very thing; you took it for jest, but he meant it for
earnest."

"He meant it for earnest?"

"Certainly he did. He has studied farming out of new-fashioned books,
and they don't agree with our old ways, and though I should be very
glad to understand the new methods, I can't do it, I haven't the
requisite knowledge."

"You are right there, Karl! See, the sciences always seem to me, like
seafaring. When one has been used to it from a child, going up the
mast, and out on the shrouds, he can do it when he is old without being
dizzy-headed, and so a school-boy, who is trained in the sciences from
his youth up, won't be dizzy either and can run out with ease, even in
his old age, on any rope that science stretches out for him. Do you
understand me, Karl?"

"I understand you. But we did not learn in our young days, and for
dancing on such ropes," pointing to the book, "my old bones are too
stiff. Ah, I would not say a word against it, he can farm in the new
fashion, for all me, and I will help him to the best of my power; but
this kind of farming needs a long purse, and that is something we
haven't got. I supposed, at first, he would get something with his
wife; but it couldn't have been much, for even the new equipage and the
new furniture were ordered from Rahnstadt, and the first shilling is
not yet paid for them."

"Well, Karl, never mind; he hasn't made a bad bargain. The lady pleased
me uncommonly."

"She pleased me, too, Bräsig."

"And you can see by your own dear sister, what the right sort of woman
can accomplish, in a family. I must go and see her to-morrow, for the
two confounded divinity students will be getting into all sorts of
mischief. And so, good-night, Karl."

"Good-night, Bräsig."



                              CHAPTER XVI.


Fritz Triddelsitz darted about the Pumpelhagen court-yard next morning,
like a pickerel in a fish-pond, for he had put on his little uniform,
the green hunting-jacket, and gray breeches, to please the gracious
lady,--as he said,--that her lovely eyes might have something agreeable
to look upon. His own eyes, which were usually directed to Habermann's
window like the compass to the north star, wandered this morning over
the whole front of the manor-house, and when a window was raised, and
the young Herr put his head out and called to him, he darted across
the court-yard, like a pickerel, as if Axel in his silver-gray
dressing-gown were a flat-fish, and the red handkerchief about his neck
were the fins.

"Triddelsitz," said Herr von Rambow, "I have decided to make a little
address to my people this morning; get them together here at nine
o'clock, before the house."

"To command," said Fritz, using this form of speech to do honor to the
Herr Lieutenant.

"Where is the inspector? I wish to speak to him; there is no hurry,
however."

"He has just gone out with Inspector Bräsig."

"Very well. When he comes back."

"Fritz made a particularly fine bow, and went off; but turned back
after a little, and asked:--

"Does Herr von Rambow wish the women to come also?

"No, merely the men. However,--wait a moment,--yes, you may tell the
housewives to come."

"To command," said Fritz, and went to the village, and told the
housewives and the men who were at work about the farmyard, to put
on their best clothes. It was eight o'clock already, and if the
farm-laborers who were at work in the fields were to be there by nine,
and also in state, they must be called. So he started for the fields.

Habermann had walked a little way with his old friend, and was now
crossing the field to join the laborers, when Fritz came hurrying over
the hill, as fast as his slovenly gait and the broken ground of the
ploughed field would allow.

"Herr Inspector, you must let them stop work, the people are all to be
at the manor-house by nine o'clock, the Herr is going to deliver an
oration."

"What is he going to do?" asked Habermann, in astonishment.

"Deliver an oration," was the reply, "the laborers have already been
notified, and the woman also. He had forgotten them, but I reminded him
of them in time."

"You might----" have been in better business, Habermann was going to
say, but controlled himself, and said quietly, "then do your errand to
the people."

"You are to come, too."

"Very well," said the old man, and turned, quite out of humor, towards
the house. He had pressing work for his teams, and they would be taken
out of the field for the whole morning; however he could have got over
that, that was not the trouble. His master had issued orders, the very
first day, without taking him into counsel, he had consulted with
Triddelsitz instead, and there could be no hurry about the matter; but
although he felt the slight, it wasn't that so much which annoyed him;
it was the "oration" itself. Why should he talk to the people? Would he
admonish them about their duties? The people were good, they did their
work as simply and naturally as eating and drinking, they had no idea
that they were doing any thing remarkable; and it was a mistake to
lecture such people about their duties. If they were much talked to,
they would begin to grow discouraged. In one sense laborers are like
children, they would soon reckon their duty as a merit. Or was he going
to bestow gifts upon them? He was good-natured enough. But what would
he give them? They had all that they needed, and he could not give them
anything definite, he did not know their circumstances well enough, he
could merely give them fair words and general promises, which each
would fill out according to his own wishes, and which it would be
impossible to make good. And so he would make the people discontented.

These were his thoughts, as he entered his master's room. The young
wife was there, ready for the walk agreed upon the night before. She
came towards him in a friendly manner: "We must wait a little while,
Herr Inspector; Axel will speak to the people first."

"That will not take long," said Axel, who was turning over his papers.
There was a knock at the door. "Come in!" and Fritz entered, with a
letter in his hand. "From Gurlitz," said he.

Axel broke the seal, and read; it was an odious letter, it was from
Slushur, the notary, who announced himself as coming before noon, with
David; they were accidentally at Herr Pomuchelskopp's, and had heard
from him that Herr von Rambow was returned, and since they must speak
with him on necessary business, they begged his permission, etc. The
business was very urgent, however, as was mentioned in a postscript.
Axel was in great perplexity, for he could not decline the visit; he
went out and told the messenger the gentlemen were welcome, and when he
came in again, he seemed so disturbed that his wife asked, "What is the
matter?"

"Oh, nothing. But I think my talk to the laborers may take longer than
I supposed; it will be best for you to go alone with the Herr Inspector
to see the fields."

"Oh, Axel, I was so pleased at the thought of going with you."

"Yes; but it cannot be helped, my dear child. I know the fields well
enough. Go with the Herr Inspector, dear Frida, and--well, as soon as
ever I can, I will follow you."

It seemed to Habermann that he was really in haste to get rid of them;
so he helped him in his design, and the young lady finally started,
upon his invitation, though a little out of humor.

When they were gone, and the whole village had come together. Axel made
his address, although the pleasure of this state occasion was quite
spoiled for him by that infamous letter; for, however he might put it
to himself, his own pleasure, and the importance which he felt as
master, were his chief reasons for the undertaking. As for the speech
itself, it happened much as Habermann had feared. Admonitions and
promises, in lofty words and fine figures of speech, paraded themselves
quite unintelligibly before the old laborers' eyes, and the only things
which they saw clearly, though somewhat dizzied by these, were the
golden wings of the benefits he promised them, saying that his people
were to come to him with every wish; he would care for them like a
father.

"Yes," said Päsel to Däsel, "'father;' I like that. He will do it. I
shall go to him to-morrow, and ask him to let me wean a calf next
year."

"But you had one last year."

"That is no matter; I can sell it to the weaver in Gurlitz."

"Yes," said Kegel to Degel. "I shall go to him to-morrow, and ask him
to let me have twenty roods more of potato land next spring; mine will
not last through the winter."

"Eh! you didn't hoe your potatoes at the right time; the old man gave
you a fine scolding for it."

"No matter; _he_ knows nothing about it, and he is master now, and not
the inspector."

So unrest and discontent were in full progress; Axel himself was
restless and discontented, because he dreaded the coming visit, and the
only being at the Pumpelhagen farm, who, though restless, was yet
contented, was Fritz Triddelsitz, so the young Herr had not altogether
thrown his pearls before swine.

Slusuhr and David came, and what shall I say about their visit? They
sang the same song which they did before, and Axel had to write the
notes for it. This time, he did it readily. Borrowing is certainly a
bad business; but there is not a business in the world, down to
beheading and hanging, so bad that somebody will not pursue it with
satisfaction; I have known people who were not contented till they had
borrowed money of all Judea and Christendom, and if Axel had not gone
quite so far, he was ready enough to improve favorable circumstances;
he added a new debt, to-day, to those he already owed David, that he
might pay for the new furnishing of his house, "in order not to have to
do with so many people, but with one;" but he probably did not reflect
that this one was worse than a thousand others.

Meanwhile Habermann and the young Frau were going through the fields.
The clear summer morning soon drove away the little shadows of
annoyance from her fresh face, and her bright eyes looked at everything
with hearty interest, and desire to inform herself, and Habermann saw,
with great pleasure, that she understood the business. She had been
brought up in the country, and it was natural to her to observe things
that lay a little out of her usual way, and that not superficially, she
must know a reason for everything. Thus she knew enough about farming
to feel quite at home here, although her father's place was a great
sand-hill, and Pumpelhagen was the finest wheat soil, and if she saw
anything unfamiliar which she did not understand, the old Inspector
helped her, with brief, simple explanations. The walk was, for both of
them, a real pleasure, and from a pure, mutual pleasure grows the fair
blossom, Confidence.

They came to the Gurlitz boundary, and Habermann showed her the
Pastor's field, and told her how the late Kammerrath had taken it in
lease.

"And the barley, over yonder?" asked the young Frau.

"That is Gurlitz ground and soil; that belongs to Herr Pomuchelskopp."

"Ah, that is the proprietor who greeted us yesterday, with his family,"
said Frida. "What sort of a man is he?"

"I have no intercourse with him," said Habermann, a little embarrassed.

"But you know him, don't you?" asked the young lady.

"Yes--no--that is, I used to know him, but since he has lived here, we
have nothing to do with each other," said the old man, and would have
spoken of something else; but Frida laid her hand on his arm, and
said,--

"Herr Inspector, I am a stranger in this region,--Axel seems to be
acquainted, though only superficially, with this man; are they suitable
associates for us?"

"No," said Habermann, short and hard.

They walked on, each occupied in thought. The young Frau stood still,
and asked, "Can you, and will you, tell me the reason why you have
broken off intercourse with this man?"

Habermann looked at her thoughtfully.

"Yes," said he, finally, rather as if he were speaking to himself, "and
if you receive my words with the same confidence that the blessed
Kammerrath did, it may be for your profit," and he told her his story,
without heat or anger, but also without restraint. The young Frau
listened attentively, without interrupting him, and when he had
finished said merely:

"I half disliked those people yesterday; I quite dislike them to-day."

They had just come through the Pastor's field, up to the garden fence,
when a clear, joyous voice sounded from the other side: "Good morning,
father! Good morning!" and the lovely young girl, whom Frida had seen
yesterday, came running through the garden gate towards the old
inspector. She stopped suddenly as she saw the gracious lady, and stood
blushing, so that Habermann must help himself to his good-morning kiss,
if he meant to have it at all.

Full of happiness and pride, the old man introduced his dear daughter;
the young Frau spoke to her very kindly, and urged her to come often to
Pumpelhagen, to visit her father and herself; and when Habermann had
sent greetings to the Pastor and the Pastorin, she took leave, and they
continued their walk.

"The Pastor and his wife must be very good people?" said Frida.

"Gracious lady," said Habermann, "you ask this question of no impartial
man. These people have saved for me all that was left out of my
misfortunes; they have given loving protection and nurture to my only
child, and taught her everything good; I can only think of them with
the highest respect and the deepest gratitude. But ask in the
neighborhood, if you will; rich and poor, high and low, will speak of
them with respect and affection."

"Herr Pomuchelskopp, too?" inquired the gracious lady.

"If he would speak honestly, and without prejudice, yes," said the old
man, "but as he is now--he quarrelled with the Pastor, soon after his
arrival here, about this very field, in which we are walking. It was
not the Pastor's fault; I gave the first provocation to his anger,
because I advised the blessed Herr to rent the field. And, gracious
lady," he added, after a moment, "Pumpelhagen cannot spare this field;
the advantage is too great for us to give it up."

Frida asked him to explain it more fully, and, when she understood the
matter, it was easy to see that she said to herself, she would do what
she could to keep the field.

As they came into the Pumpelhagen court-yard Slusuhr the notary and
David were just starting off, and Axel stood before the door taking
leave of them as politely as if Slusuhr were the colonel of his
Regiment, and David a young count.

"Who is that?" asked Frida of Habermann. He told her. Then she greeted
her husband, and asked, "But, Axel, what business have you with these
people, and why are you so uncommonly polite to them?"

"Polite?" repeated Axel, "why not? I am polite to everybody," with a
quick glance at Habermann, who met it quietly and firmly.

"Of course you are," said his wife, taking his arm, in order to go into
the house with him, "but towards a common Jew moneylender and----"

"Dear child," interrupted Axel hastily, to prevent her saying more,
"the man is a produce-dealer, and wool-merchant, I shall often have
business to transact with him."

"And the other?" she inquired.

"Oh, he--he only came along with him accidentally. I have nothing to do
with him."

"Adieu, Herr Inspector," said Frida, giving her hand to the old man, "I
thank you very much for your friendly company."

With that, she went into the house. Axel followed her; at the door he
looked round, the old inspector's eyes rested sadly upon him, and he
turned away. He followed his wife into the house.

In this honest and mournful glance lay the whole future of the three
persons who had just separated.

Axel had lied; he had betrayed, for the first time, the confidence of
his young wife, and Habermann knew it, and Axel knew that Habermann
knew it. Here was a stone in the path, over which every one must
stumble who passed that way, for the path was darkened by falsehood and
dissimulation, and no one could speak to another of the stone, and warn
him against it. Frida went onward innocently and trustfully; but how
long would it be before she would stumble over this stone? Axel tried
to deceive himself, also, he thought he could bring her safely over it,
in the darkness, without her being aware of it, and, beyond, the path
would be smooth. Habermann saw the danger clearly, and could and would
have helped; but if he stretched out his hand to point it out, and warn
them against it, Axel repulsed him with coldness, and secret
resentment. People say that a bad man will, in time, conceive a hatred
for one who has bestowed benefits upon him; it is possible, but that is
nothing to the secret gnawing and boring of resentment, which a weak
man feels towards one who is the only person in the world conscious of
his falsehood. Such a feeling is not developed at once, like downright
hatred, born of open strife and contention, but bores slowly and
gradually into the heart, like the death-worm into dry wood, and eats
deeper and deeper, till the whole heart is full of ill-will and
bitterness, as the wood is full of worm-dust.



                             CHAPTER XVII.


Bräsig went next morning, as he had designed, to Rexow, to see Frau
Nüssler. The crown-prince came to meet him at the door, wagging his
tail in such a Christian manner that one must believe him to be a dog
of good moral principle, since he bore no malice against Bräsig for his
late chasing and drubbing. One would infer, also, from the quiet
content expressed in his yellow-brown eyes, that all was well at Rexow,
Frau Nüssler in the kitchen, and Jochen sitting in his arm-chair.

But it was not so, for when Bräsig opened the door, Jochen was sitting
indeed in his old place; but Frau Nüssler stood before him, delivering
a brief but impressive discourse to the effect that he troubled himself
about nothing, and said not a word to the purpose, and when she caught
sight of Bräsig, she went up to him, quite angrily, saying, "And you,
too, notice nothing, Bräsig; for all you care, everything here may
stand on its head; and it is your fault, too, we never should have
taken those two but for you!"

"Fair and easy!" said Bräsig, "fair and easy! Not quite so fast, Frau
Nüssler! What has happened now with the young candidates?"

"A good deal has happened, and I have said nothing about it, because
they were Jochen's friends, and it is a bad bird that fouls its own
nest; but since the time those two fellows came into my house, there
has been no peace nor rest, and if it goes on so much longer, I shall
quarrel, at last, with Jochen himself."

"Mother," said young Jochen, "what shall I do about it?"

"Keep still, young Jochen," cried Bräsig, "you are to blame. Can't you
rouse up and teach them manners?"

"Let Jochen alone, Bräsig," said Frau Nüssler, hastily, "this time it
is your fault. You promised to have an eye to these young men, and see
that they did not get into mischief, and instead of that, you have let
one go on as he liked, without troubling yourself about him, and you
have put the other up to all sorts of nonsense, so that instead of
minding his books, he goes off with his fishing-pole, and brings me
home at night a great string of perch, as long as your finger. And when
I think I have everything tidy, I must go and dress the horrid things,
and make it all straight again.

"What? Brings home things a finger long, and I showed him the right
place to catch the great fellows! oh, you must--no, hold on!"

"Ah, what!" cried Frau Nüssler. "You should forbid his fishing
altogether, he did not come here for that purpose. He was to learn
something, his father said, and he is coming here to-day, too."

"Well, Frau Nüssler," said Bräsig, "I am very greatly annoyed that he
should do so little credit to my instructions, in his fishing. Has he
done anything else amiss?"

"Ah, yes, indeed! both of them have. But, as I said before, I have said
nothing about it, because they were Jochen's friends, and at first, it
seemed as if everything would go on well. At first, there were merry,
lively times here, and my little girls enjoyed it uncommonly; it was
Mining here and Rudolph there, and Lining here and Gottlieb there, and
they talked with Gottlieb, and romped with Rudolph, and the two old
fellows were very industrious at their work, and Gottlieb sat up stairs
in his room, and studied until his head swam, and Rudolph, too, read in
his books; but it was not long before they got to disputing and
quarrelling about ecclesiastical matters, and Gottlieb, who is much
more learned than the other, told him he did not look at things from a
Christian standpoint."

"Standpoint, did he say?" asked Bräsig.

"Yes, he said standpoint," replied Frau Nüssler.

"Ho, ho!" cried Bräsig, "I can hear him talk. Where other people stop,
at a standpoint, is only the beginning with the Pietists. He wanted to
proselyte him."

"Yes," said Frau Nüssler, "so it appeared. Now the other one is much
cleverer than Gottlieb, and he began to crack all manner of jokes at
him, and got the better of him, and so the strife grew worse and worse,
and, I don't know how it happened, but my little girls began to take a
part in the business, and Lining, as the most intelligent, was on
Gottlieb's side, and talked just as he did, and Mining laughed over
Rudolph's jokes, and carried on with him."

"Yes," interrupted Jochen, "it is all as true as leather."

"You should be ashamed of yourself, young Jochen, to allow such doings
in your house!"

"Come, Bräsig," said Frau Nüssler, "let him alone; Jochen has done
everything he could to keep peace; When Gottlieb talked about the
devil, to frighten one out of his wits, then he believed in the devil,
and when Rudolph laughed about the devil, and made fun of him, then he
laughed with Rudolph. But, when the dispute was at the highest, little
Mining happened on a bright idea; she took their books and changed
them, and put Rudolph's into Gottlieb's room, and Gottlieb's into
Rudolph's, and when they looked at her in astonishment, she said,
merrily, they had better exchange studies for awhile, and they might
possibly learn to agree. Well, at first they would hear nothing of it;
but Gottlieb is always a good-natured old fellow, he soon began to
read, and since it was a winter day, and he could not amuse himself out
of doors, Rudolph finally began also. And then you should have seen
them! It was not long, before it seemed as if they had been exchanged
with their books. Gottlieb made bad jokes, and laughed about the devil,
and the other old fellow groaned and sighed, and talked of the devil,
as if he sat at table with us every day, and eat his potatoes, like
other honest people. Now, my little girls were quite perplexed; Mining
attached herself to Gottlieb, and Lining to Rudolph, for now it was
Rudolph who said Gottlieb did not occupy a Christian standpoint."

"Fie!" said Bräsig, "he should not have said that. And such a fellow as
that cannot catch a good-sized perch!"

"Yes," cried Frau Nüssler quite angrily, "and with your confounded old
perch-fishing, the whole trouble came again, for when it was spring,
and the perch began to bite, Rudolph threw his Christian standpoint
aside, and took up his fishing-rod, and ran off into the fields, and
Gottlieb took up the devil again, for he was going to pass his
examination, and there is no getting through that without the devil.
And my two little girls were puzzled to tell which they should stand
by."

"They are a pair of confounded rascals," cried Bräsig, "but the
proselyter is to blame for it all; why couldn't he let the other alone,
with his devil and his standpoint?"

"Well, never mind! He studied well at any rate and passed his
examination all right, and can be a minister any day; but the other
cousin has done nothing at all at his books, and has made us all this
dreadful trouble!"

"Why, what else has he done? He hasn't been catching whitings?"

"Whitings! He caught a sermon. You see, the Rector Baldrian's wife
wanted to hear her Gottlieb preach, and she asked the pastor in
Rahnstadt about it, and he promised her Gottlieb should preach last
Sunday, and she told her sister, Frau Kurz. She is naturally very much
annoyed that her boy is not so advanced as Gottlieb, and she goes to
the pastor also, and the old pastor is such a sheep that he promised
her Rudolph should preach the same Sabbath. Then they drew lots, who
should preach in the morning, and who in the afternoon, and Rudolph got
the morning. Well, old Gottlieb studied as hard as he could, and sat
from morning till night, out in the arbor, in the garden, and because
he has a bad memory, he studied aloud, and the other went roving about
as usual; but the last two days, he seated himself on the grassy bank
behind the arbor, as if he were making a sermon too. And then Sunday
came, and Jochen let them ride in to town, and we all rode, and were
seated in the pastor's pew, and, I tell you, I was terribly afraid for
Rudolph; but he stood there, as if there were nothing the matter, and
when it was time, he went up into the pulpit, and preached a sermon,
that made all the people open their eyes and mouths, and I rejoiced
over the youth, and was going to say so to Gottlieb, who sat by me; but
there sat the poor creature, fidgeting with his hands and feet, as if
he would like to go up and pull the other out of the pulpit, and he
said, 'Aunt, that is _my_ sermon!' And so it was, Bräsig; the wicked
boy had learned the sermon by hearing it, because Gottlieb must study
it aloud."

"Ha, ha!" laughed Bräsig heartily, "that is a good joke!"

"Do you call that a _joke_?" exclaimed Frau Nüssler, greatly excited.
"Such a trick as that in the house of God, you call a joke?"

"Eh, now," said Bräsig, still laughing, "what would you have? It is a
devil of a joke, it is an infamous trick, to be sure: but I can't help
laughing, for the life of me."

"Oh yes!" said Frau Nüssler, bitterly, "that is the way with you; when
we others are ready to die with shame and anger, you stand by and
laugh!"

"There, don't scold me," said Bräsig, trying to appease her, "tell me
what the proselyter did. I wish I could have seen him!"

"What could he do? He couldn't preach the same sermon over again, in
the afternoon; the old pastor had to warm up an old sermon for the
occasion, but he was fearfully angry, and said, if he should report the
matter, Rudolph might as well hang up his gown on the nearest willow."

"Well, and the proselyter?"

"Ah, the good old creature was so confounded, he said nothing at all;
but his mother talked all the more, and quarrelled so fiercely with her
sister, Frau Kurz, that they have not spoken to each other since. Oh,
what a time it was! I was ashamed, and I was provoked, for Kurz and the
rector came up, too, and Jochen was lingering with them, but
fortunately our carriage drove up, and I got him away."

"But what did the duel-fighter say?"

"Oh, the rogue was clever enough to keep out of the uproar, he made
himself scarce after his fine sermon, and ran off home."

"He got a proper good lecture from you, I will wager."

"No," said Frau Nüssler, "he didn't. I don't meddle in the affair. His
father is coming, to-day, and he is the nearest to him, as the Frau
Pastorin says. And I told Jochen, decidedly, he ought not to talk so
much about it, for he has quite changed his nature, of late, and is
always troubling himself, and talking about things that are none of his
business. Keep still, Jochen!"

"Yes, Jochen, keep still!"

"And my two little girls, I scarcely know them again; after the sermon,
they cried all the way home, and now they keep out of the way so shyly,
and speak so short to each other, and they used always to go about
together arm in arm, and if one had anything on her heart the other
quickly knew it. Ah, my house is all topsy-turvy!"

"Mother," said young Jochen, rising suddenly from his chair, "it is
what I have said before, but I will say it once more; you shall see,
the boys have put something into their heads."

"What should they put into their heads, Jochen?" said Frau Nüssler,
rather sharply.

"Love-affairs," said Jochen, sitting down again in his corner. "My
blessed mother always said: A candidate and a governess in the same
house--you shall see, Gottlieb and Mining.

"Now, Jochen, so you talk and talk! The Lord keep you in your senses!
If I thought that was the case, the candidate should be turned out of
the house, and the other after him. Come out here, Bräsig, I have
something to say to you."

When they were outside, Frau Nüssler took him to the garden, and sat
down with him in the arbor.

"Bräsig," said she, "I cannot listen to this everlasting chatter of
Jochen's; he has got it from Rudolph, who used to talk with him so
much, last winter, in the evenings, and now he has got in the habit of
it, and cannot break off. Now tell me honestly,--you promised that you
would look after them,--have you ever had any idea of such a thing?"

"Eh, preserve us!" said Bräsig, "not the remotest conception!"

"I cannot believe it is so," said Frau Nüssler, thoughtfully; "at
first, Lining and Gottlieb were always together, and Mining and
Rudolph,--afterwards, Mining held to Gottlieb, and Lining to Rudolph,
and after the examination, Lining went back to Gottlieb again; but
Mining and Rudolph are not friends, for since the sermon she will
scarcely look at him."

"Frau Nüssler," said Bräsig, "love is a thing which begins in some
hidden way, perhaps with a bunch of flowers, or a couple say 'Good
morning' to each other, and touch each other's hands, or they stoop, at
the same time, to pick up a ball of cotton, and knock their heads
together, and a looker-on observes nothing more, but after a while, it
becomes more perceptible, the women often turn red, and the men cast
sheep's-eyes, or the women entice the men into the pantry, and offer
them sausage and tongue and pig's head, and the men come to see the
women, dressed up in red and blue neck-ties, or, if it is very far
gone, they go out walking on summer evenings, in the moonlight, and
sigh. Anything of that sort with the little rogues?"

"I cannot say, Bräsig. They have been in my pantry, off and on; but I
soon sent them out, for I won't have people eating in the pantry, and I
never noticed that my little girls turned red, though they have cried
their eyes red, often enough, of late."

"Hm!" said Bräsig, "this last is not without significance. Now I will
tell you, Frau Nüssler, leave it wholly to me, I know how to track
them; I detected Habermann's confounded greyhound, in his love-affairs.
I am an old hunter; I can track him to his lair; but you must tell me
where they have their haunts; that is, where I shall be likely to find
them."

"That is here, Bräsig, here in this arbor. My little girls sit here in
the afternoon, and sew, and the other two come and sit with them; I
never thought any harm of it."

"No harm in that," said Bräsig, and stepping out of the arbor he
looked carefully around, and in so doing perceived a large Rhenish
cherry-tree, full of leaves, which stood close by the arbor.

"All right!" said he, "what can be done shall be done."

"Dear heart!" sighed Frau Nüssler, as went back to the house, "what a
miserable time we shall have to-day! Kurz is coming this afternoon, in
time for coffee, he is bitterly angry with his son, and such a
malicious little toad. You shall see, there will be a great uproar."

"It is always the way with little people," Bräsig: "the head, and the
lower constitution are so close together, that fire kindles quickly."

"Yes," sighed Frau Nüssler, again entering the house, "it is a misery."
She had no idea that the misery in her house was already in full
course.

While these transactions were going on below stairs the two little
twin-apples sat up in their chamber, sewing. Lining sat by one window,
and Mining by the other, and they never looked up from their work, they
never spoke to each other, as in those old times, at the Frau
Pastorin's sewing-school,--they sewed and sewed, as if the world were
coming to pieces, and they, with needle and thread, were patching it
together again, and they looked so solemn about it, and sighed so
heavily, as if they knew right well what an arduous task they had under
their fingers. It was strange that their mother had said nothing to
Bräsig of how their pretty, red cheeks had grown pale, and it must have
been because she had not noticed it herself. But it was so, the two
little apples looked as wan as if they had grown on the north side of
the life-tree, where no sun-beams pierced to color their cheeks, and it
seemed, too, as if they hung no longer on the same twig. At last Lining
let her work drop in her lap, she could not sew any longer, her eyes
filled, and the tears ran down her white cheeks; and Mining reached for
her handkerchief, and held it to her eyes, and great tears dropped in
her lap, and so they sat and wept, as if the fair, innocent world in
their own bosoms had gone to pieces, and they could not patch it
together again.

All at once Mining sprang up and ran out of the door, as if she must
get into the free air; but she bethought herself, she could not run off
without being seen and questioned by her mother, so she stood there, on
the other side of the door, still crying. Lining sprang up also, as if
she should comfort Mining, but she bethought herself that she did not
know how, so she stood on this side the door, crying.

So is often interposed, between two hearts, a thin board, and each
heart hears the other sighing and weeping, and the thin board has on
each side a latch, that one needs merely to lift, and what has
separated the hearts may be shoved aside; but neither will stir the
latch, and the two hearts weep still.

But, thank God! such selfish pride towards each other these little
hearts had not yet learned, and Mining opened the door, and said,
"Lining, why are you crying?" and Lining reached out her hands, and
said, "Ah, Mining, why are _you_ crying?" And they fell into each
others arms, still crying, but their cheeks grew red as if the sunlight
had reached them, and they clung fast to each other, as if they were
again growing on the same stem.

"Mining!" said Lining, "I will give him up to you, and you shall be
happy with him."

"No, Lining!" cried Mining, "he cares more for you, and you are a great
deal better than I am."

"No, Mining, I have made up my mind; uncle Kurz is coming this
afternoon, and I will ask father and mother to let me go back with him,
for to stay here and look on might be too hard for me."

"Do so, Lining; then you will be with his parents; and I will ask
Gottlieb to get me, through his father, a place as governess,
somewhere, far, far away, before you come back; for my heart is too
heavy to stay here."

"Mining," said Lining, pushing her sister back, and looking earnestly
in her eyes,--"with his parents? whom do you mean?"

"Why, Rudolph."

"You mean Rudolph?"

"Yes, of course; whom do you mean, then?"

"I? I meant Gottlieb."

"No, no!" cried Mining, throwing her arms again about her sister's
neck, "how is that possible? Why, we don't mean the same one, after
all!"

"Dear heart!" exclaimed Lining, "and what misery we have made
ourselves!"

"And now it is all right!" cried Mining, dancing about the room, "it is
all right now!"

"Yes, Mining, it is all right now," and Lining also danced about the
room. And Mining fell upon her sister's neck again, this time in joy.

Yes, when one touches the latch, in time, and shoves back the
separating wall, then the hearts come together again, and all is right,
even if there is not such a rejoicing as here in the little chamber.
First they wept, and then they danced about the room, then they sat
down one in the other's lap, and talked it all over, and blamed
themselves for stupidity, that they had not noticed how it stood with
them, and wondered how it was possible that they should not have come
to an explanation before, and then each confessed how far she had gone
with her cousin, and that the young men had not yet spoken openly, and
they were both half inclined to scold them, as the cause of all the
trouble. And Lining said she had been, all along, in great doubt; but
since last Sunday, she had been convinced that Mining cared for
Gottlieb, for otherwise why should she have cried so? and Mining said
she could not help crying, because Rudolph had done such a dreadful
thing, and she supposed Lining was crying for the same reason. And
Lining said that what troubled her was because her poor Gottlieb was
served so. But it was all right now; and when the dinner-bell rang, the
little twin-apples tumbled down stairs, rosy-red, and arm in arm, and
Bräsig, who had seated himself with his back to the light that he might
judge the better of their appearance, stared in astonishment at their
bright eyes and joyous faces, and said to himself: "How? they are shy?
They are in trouble? They are in love? They look just ready for a
frolic."

Upon the ringing of the dinner-bell, entered Bräsig's proselyter, the
candidate Gottlieb Baldrian. Lining grew red, and turned away, not in
ill humor, but on account of the confession she had made upstairs, and
Bräsig said to himself, "This strikes me as a very curious thing;
Lining is affected. How can it be possible? and he such a scarecrow!"

Bräsig had expressed himself too strongly, but Gottlieb was no beauty.
Nature had dealt niggardly with him, and the little that he had he did
not use to advantage. Take his hair, for instance. He had a thick head
of hair, and if it had been properly kept under by the shears, it would
have been good, respectable light hair, and he might have gone about,
without attracting any attention; but he had, in his clerical heart,
set up for his model, St. John the beloved, and he parted his hair in
the middle, and combed it down on each side, though its natural
tendency was to stand upright. Eh, well, I have nothing to say against
it if a little rogue of ten or twelve years runs around with curls
about his head, and the mothers of the little rogues have still less to
say against it, and they turn them about, and stroke the hair out of
their eyes, and comb it smooth, too, when a visitor is coming,--silly
people sometimes go so far as to put it up in curl-papers, and use hot
irons; I should have nothing to say, if it were the fashion for old
people to curl their hair in long curls, for the old pictures look very
fine so; but he who has no calves ought not to wear tight trowsers, and
if a man's hair does not curl, he does better to keep it short. Our old
Gottlieb's incongruous wig hung down, tanned by the sun, as if he had
tied in a lot of rusty lath-nails, and because he had to oil it very
liberally to keep it in its place, it ruined his coat-collar,--farther,
it did not reach. Under this rich gift of nature, looked out an
insignificant, pale face, which usually wore a melancholy expression,
so that Bräsig was always asking him what shoemaker he employed, and
whether his corns troubled him. The rest of his figure harmonized with
this expression, he was long, and thin and angular; but the part
devoted to the enjoyment of the good things of this world seemed quite
wanting, and the place which this necessary and useful organ generally
occupies was a great cavity, like Frau Nüssler's baking-tray, seen from
the inside. He was really a natural curiosity for Bräsig, who ate like
a barn-thresher, and couldn't help it. One would almost have believed
that the Pietist was nourished in some other way than by eating and
drinking. I have known people, and know some people still, whom I never
could rival in this respect. It is true these candidates are often very
thin, as one may see by the best of the Hanover candidates, who are so
plenty among us; but when one gets a fat parish, he often begins to
fill out, and so Bräsig did not give up the hope that Gottlieb might
come to something, in time, though he puzzled his brains over him a
great deal. This was the way Gottlieb Baldrian looked; but the picture
would not be complete, if I did not say that over the whole was spread
a little, little smirk of Pharisaism; it was a very little, but that
Pharisee stuff is like a calf's stomach; with a little, little bit one
can turn a whole pan of milk sour.

They sat down to dinner, and Jochen asked,--

"Where is Rudolph?"

"Good gracious, Jochen, what are you talking about?" said Frau Nüssler
hastily, "you ought to know by this time, that he never in his life was
in season. He has gone fishing; but if people won't come in time, they
may go without their dinner."

The meal was a quiet one, for Bräsig did not talk, he lay in wait, with
all his senses and faculties, and Frau Nüssler wondered in silence what
could have so changed her little girls. They sat there laughing and
whispering lightly to each other, and looking so happy, as if they were
just awaked from a bad dream, and were rejoicing that it wasn't true,
and that the sun shone brightly once more.



                             CHAPTER XVIII.


When dinner was over, Mining, whose turn it was to help her mother, in
clearing up, tidying the room and making coffee, asked her sister,
"Lining, where are you going?"

"I am going to get my sewing," said Lining, "and sit in the arbor."

"Well, I will come soon," said Mining.

"And I will come too," said Gottlieb slowly, "I have a book that I must
finish reading to-day."

"That is right," said Bräsig, "that will be a devilish fine
entertainment for Lining."

Gottlieb wanted to preach him a little sermon upon his misuse of the
word devilish, but restrained himself, since he reflected that it would
be thrown away upon Bräsig; so he said nothing, but followed the girls
out of the room.

"Good heavens!" exclaimed Frau Nüssler, "what has happened to my
children? I don't know what to make of it; they are one heart and one
soul again."

"Keep quiet, Frau Nüssler," said Bräsig, "I will find out all about it,
to-day. Jochen, come out with me; but don't go to talking!"

Jochen followed him into the garden. Bräsig took him under the arm.
"Keep quite still, Jochen, and don't look round, and act as if we were
taking a walk after dinner."

Jochen did so, very skilfully.

When they came to the cherry-tree before the arbor, Bräsig stopped.

"So, Jochen, now stoop over,--with your head against the tree."

Jochen would have spoken, but Bräsig pushed down his head.

"Keep still, Jochen,--put your head against the tree!" and with that he
clambered up on Jochen's back. "So I now stand up! Sure enough, I can
just reach,"--and he caught the lowest boughs, and pulled himself up
into the tree. Jochen had said nothing as yet, but now he broke out:

"Bräsig, they are not ripe yet."

"Blockhead!" cried Bräsig, looking, with his red face among the green
leaves, like a gay basket hung on the branches, "do you think I expect
to pick Rhenish cherries on St. John's day? But you must go away now,
and not stand there looking at me, like a dog that has treed a cat."

"Yes, what shall I do about it?" said Jochen, and left Bräsig to his
destiny.

Bräsig had not long to watch, before he heard a light, quick, step on
the gravel-walk, and Lining seated herself in the arbor, with a great
heap of needle-work. If she meant to do all that to-day, she should
have begun immediately; but she laid it on the table, rested her head
on her hand, and, looking out into the blue heaven through Bräsig's
cherry-tree, sat in deep thought. "Ah, how happy I am!" said the
little, thankful soul, "my Mining is good to me again, and Gottlieb is
good to me, else why did he keep touching my foot at dinner? and how
Bräsig looked at me! I believe I turned quite red. Ah, what a good old
fellow Gottlieb is! How seriously and learnedly he talks, how steady he
is, the minister is clearly written on his face! He is not handsome, to
be sure, Rudolph is much better looking, but he has something peculiar
about him, as if he were ever saying, don't come near me with your
pitiable, lamentable nonsense, I have higher thoughts, I am spiritually
minded. But I will cut his hair for him, by and by."

It is a merciful providence that the little maidens are not all taken
with a fine exterior, else we ugly fellows would be obliged to remain
bachelors, and it would be a sad company, for what can be uglier than
an ugly old bachelor?

In Lining's closing reflection--that she would cut Gottlieb's hair
shorter--was implied such a confident hope, that she blushed to think
of it, and, as she heard the gravel creak under slow, dignified steps,
she seized her needle-work and begun to sew diligently.

Gottlieb came with his book, and seated himself about three feet from
her, and began to read, but often looked off from his book as if he
were turning over in his mind what he had just read, or perhaps
something else. It is always so with the Pietist candidates, that is,
when they have found their right calling, and sincerely believe what
they preach to the people; before their examination they have none but
spiritual thoughts, but after their examination worldly matters claim
their share of attention, and instead of thinking of a parish they
think first of a marriage. It was so with Gottlieb, and because, since
his examination, no other girls had come in his way but Lining and
Mining, and Lining had paid much closer attention to his admonitions
than her light-hearted sister, he had happened upon the worldly thought
of making her a pastor's wife. He was not very expert at the business,
labouring, indeed, under great embarrassment, and had as yet gone no
further than treading on her feet, a proceeding which he was quite as
bashful in attempting, as Lining in receiving. He had decided, however,
to open the matter in proper style, so he said, "Lining, I have brought
this book out really on your account. Will you listen to some of it?"

"Yes," said Lining.

"It will be a tedious story," said Bräsig to himself. He did not lie on
a bed of roses, up in the cherry-tree.

Gottlieb read an edifying discourse upon Christian marriage, how it
should be thought of, and with what feelings entered into, and when he
had finished, he moved a step nearer, and asked:

"What do you say to it, Lining?

"It is certainly very beautiful," said she.

"Marriage?" asked Gottlieb.

"Oh, Gottlieb!" said Lining, and bent lower over her needlework.

"No, Lining," said Gottlieb, moving up another step, "it is _not_
beautiful. God bless you for it, that you have not placed a light
estimate upon this important act of human life. It is terribly hard,
that is in a Christian sense," and he gave her a fearful description of
the heavy duties and troubles and cares of married life, as if he were
preparing her for a residence at the House of Correction, while Bräsig,
up in the cherry-tree, crossed himself, and thanked his stars that he
had not entered on that sad estate. "Yes, Lining," said he, "marriage
is a part of the curse, with which God drove our first parents out of
Paradise," and he took his Bible, and read to the little girl the third
chapter of the first book of Moses, till Lining trembled all over, and
did not know where to go, for shame and distress.

"Infamous Jesuit!" exclaimed Bräsig half aloud, "to distress the
innocent child like that!" and he was almost ready to spring down from
the tree, and Lining would almost have run away, only that the book out
of which he was reading was the Bible, and what was in the Bible must
be good; she covered her face with her hands, and cried bitterly. He
was now full of spiritual zeal, and threw his arm about her, saying, "I
spare thee not, in this solemn hour! Caroline Nüssler, wilt thou, under
these Christian conditions, be my Christian wedded wife?"

Ah, and Lining was in such a dreadful confusion, she could neither
speak nor think, but only cry and cry.

Then resounded along the garden path, a merry song:


           "Little fish in silver brook,
            Swimming off to a shady nook,
                 Little gray fish
                 Seeking a wife."


And Lining made a desperate effort, and started out of the arbor, spite
of the Bible and Christian conditions, to meet Mining, who was coming
out, with her sewing; and Gottlieb followed, with long, slow steps, and
his face looked as wonder-stricken as that of the young preacher, when
in the midst of his long sermon, the sexton laid the church-door key on
the pulpit, saying that when he had finished he might lock up, himself,
for he was going to dinner. And he might well looked astonished, for,
like the young preacher, he had done his best, and his church stood
empty.

Mining was a little, inexperienced child, being the youngest, but she
was sufficiently acute to perceive that something had happened, and to
ask herself whether she would not cry under similar circumstances, and
what sort of comfort would be necessary. She seated herself quietly, in
the arbor, arranged her needle-work, and, reflecting upon her own
unsettled circumstances, began to sigh a little, for want of anything
else in particular to do.

"Preserve me!" said Bräsig, in the tree, "now the little rogue has
come, and my legs are perfectly numb, and the business is getting
tedious."

But the business was not to be tedious long, for soon after Mining had
seated herself, there appeared around the corner of the arbor a
handsome, young fellow, with a fishing-rod over his shoulder, and a
basket of fish suspended around his neck.

"This is good, Mining," cried he, "that I find you here. Of course you
have had dinner long ago?"

"You may well think so, Rudolph," she replied, "it is just two
o'clock."

"Aunt will certainly be very angry with me."

"You may be sure of that, she is so already, without your being late to
dinner; but your own stomach will be the worst to you, for you have
cared for it poorly, to-day."

"So much the better for yours, this evening. I could not come sooner,
it was out of the question, with the fish biting so finely. I have been
to the Black Pool today. Bräsig will never let me go there, and I
understand the reason; it is his private pantry when he cannot find
fish elsewhere; the whole pond is full of tench, just look! See there,
what splendid fellows!" and he opened his basket, and showed his
treasures. "I have got ahead of old Bräsig, this time!"

"Infamous rascal!" exclaimed Bräsig, to himself, and his nose peered
out between the leaves, like one of the pickled gherkins, which Frau
Nüssler was in the habit of putting up for the winter, in these same
cherry-leaves. "Infamous rascal! he has been among my tench, then! May
you keep the nose on your face! what fish the scamp has caught!"

"Give them to me, Rudolph," said Mining. "I will take them in, and
bring you out something to eat."

"Oh, no! no! Never mind.

"But you must be hungry.

"Well, then, just a little something, Mining. A slice or two of bread
and butter!"

Mining went, and Rudolph seated himself in the arbor.

He had a sort of easy indifference, as if he would let things come to
him, but yet, when they touched him nearly, he would not fail to
grapple with them. His figure was slender, and yet robust, and with the
roguery in his brown eyes was mingled a spark of obstinacy, with which
the little scar on his brown cheek harmonized so well, that one could
safely infer he had not spent all his time in the study of dogmatic
theology. "Yes," said he, as he sat there, "the fox must go to his own
hole. I have beaten about the bush long enough; to be sure there has
been time to spare, there was no hurry about settling matters until
now; but, to-day, two things must be decided. To-day the old man is
coming; well for me that mother does not come too, else I might find
myself wanting in courage, at last. I am as fit for a parson as a
donkey to play on the guitar, or Gottlieb for a colonel of cuirassiers.
If Bräsig were only here, to-day, he would stand by me. But Mining! If
I could get that settled first."

Just then, Mining came along, with a plate of bread and butter.

Rudolph sprang up: "Mining, what a good little thing you are!" and he
threw his arm around her.

Mining pulled herself away; "Ah, let me be! What a naughty boy you are!
Mother is dreadfully angry with you."

"You mean on account of the sermon? Well, yes! It was a stupid trick."

"No," said Mining, earnestly, "it was a _wicked_ trick. It was making
light of holy things."

"Oh, ho! Such candidates' sermons are not such holy things,--even when
they come from our pious Gottlieb."

"But, Rudolph, in the _church_!"

"Ah, Mining, I acknowledge it was a stupid trick, I did not consider it
beforehand; I only thought of the sheepish face Gottlieb would make,
and that amused me so that I did the foolish thing. But let it go,
Mining!" and he threw his arm about her again.

"No, let go!" said Mining, but did not push it away. "And the pastor
said, if he should report the matter, you could never in your life get
a parish."

"Let him report it then; I wish he would, and I should be out of the
scrape once for all."

"What?" asked Mining, making herself free, and pushing him back a
little way, "do you say that in earnest?"

"In solemn earnest. It was the first and last time I shall enter a
pulpit."

"Rudolph!" exclaimed Mining, in astonishment.

"Why should that trouble you?" cried Rudolph, hastily. "Look at
Gottlieb, look at me! Am I fit for a pastor? And if I had whole systems
of theology in my head, so that I could even instruct the learned
professors, they would not let me through my examination; they demand
also a so-called religious experience. And if I were the apostle Paul
himself, they would have nothing to do with me, if they knew about the
little scar on my cheek."

"But what will you do, then?" asked Mining, and laid her hand hastily on
his arm. "Ah, don't be a soldier!"

"God forbid! Don't think of such a thing! No, I will be a farmer."

"Confounded scamp!" said Bräsig, up in the tree.

"Yes, my dear little Mining," said Rudolph, drawing her down on the
bench beside him, "I will be a farmer, a right active, skilful farmer,
and you, my little old dear Mining, shall help me about it."

"She shall teach him to plough and to harrow," said Bräsig.

"I, Rudolph?" asked Mining,

"Yes, you, my dear, sweet child,"--and he stroked the shining hair, and
the soft cheeks, and lifted the little chin, and looked full in the
blue eyes,--"if I only knew, with certainty, that in a year and a day
you would be my little wife, it would be easy for me to learn to be a
skilful farmer. Will you, Mining, will you?"

And the tears flowed from Mining's eyes, and Rudolph kissed them away,
here and there, over her cheeks, down to her rosy mouth, and Mining
laid her little round head on his breast, and when he gave her time to
speak, she whispered softy that she would, and he kissed her again, and
ever again, and Bräsig called, half aloud, from the tree, "But that is
too much of a good thing! Have done!"

And Rudolph told her, between the kisses, that he would speak with his
father, to-day, and remarked also, by the way, it was a pity Bräsig was
not there; he could help him finely in his undertaking, and he knew the
old man thought a great deal of him.

"Confounded scamp!" said Bräsig, "catching away my tench!"

And Mining said Bräsig was there, and was taking his afternoon nap.

"Just hear the rogue, will you?" said Bräsig. "This looks like an
afternoon nap! But it is all finished now. Why should I torment my poor
bones any longer?" And as Rudolph was saying he must speak to the old
gentleman, Bräsig slid down the cherry-tree, until his trousers were
stripped up to his knees, and caught by the lowest branches, saying,
"Here he hangs!" and then he let himself fall, and stood close before
the pair of lovers, with an expression on his heated face, which said
quite frankly he considered himself a suitable arbiter in the most
delicate affairs.

The young people did not conduct themselves badly. Mining did like
Lining in putting her hands before her face, only she did not cry, and
she would have run away like Lining, if she had not, from a little
child, stood on the most confidential footing with her Uncle Bräsig.
She threw herself, with her eyes covered, against her Uncle Bräsig's
breast, and crept with her little, round head almost into his
waistcoat pocket, and cried,--

"Uncle Bräsig! Uncle Bräsig! you are an abominable old fellow!"

"So?" asked Bräsig. "Eh, that is very fine."

"Yes," said Rudolph, with a little air of superiority, "you should be
ashamed to play the listener here."

"Monsieur Noodle," said Bräsig, "let me tell you, once for all, I have
never in my life done anything to be ashamed of, and if you think you
can teach me good manners you are very much mistaken."

Rudolph had sense enough to see this, and, although he would have
relished a little contest, it was clear to him that on this occasion he
must yield to Mining's wishes. So he remarked, in a pleasanter tone,
that if Bräsig were up in the tree by chance--he would take that for
granted--he might at least have advised them of his presence, by
coughing, or in some way, instead of listening to their affairs from A
to Z.

"So?" said Bräsig, "I should have coughed, should I? I _groaned_ often
enough and if you had not been so occupied with your own affairs, you
might easily have heard me. But you ought to be ashamed, to be making
love to Mining without Frau Nüssler's permission."

That was his own affair, Rudolph said, and nobody's else, and Bräsig
knew nothing about such matters.

"So?" asked Bräsig, again. "Did you ever have three sweethearts at
once? I did, sir; three acknowledged sweethearts, and do I know about
such matters? But you are such a sly old rascal, fishing my tench out
of the Black Pool, on the sly; and fishing my little Mining, before my
very eyes, out of the arbor. Come, leave him alone, Mining! he shall
have nothing to do with you."

"Ah, Uncle Bräsig," begged Mining so artlessly, "be good to us, we love
each other so much."

"Well, never mind Mining, you are my little goddaughter; though that is
all over now."

"No, Herr Inspector!" cried Rudolph,--laying his hand on the old man's
shoulder, "no, dear, good Uncle Bräsig, that is not over, that shall
last as long as we live. I will be a farmer, and if I have the prospect
of calling Mining my wife, and"--he was cunning enough to add--"and you
will give me your valuable advice, the devil must be in it, if I cannot
make a good one."

"A confounded rascal!" said Bräsig to himself, adding, aloud, "Yes, you
will be such a Latin farmer as Pistorius, and Prætorius, and Trebonius,
and you will sit on the bank of the ditch and read that fellow's book,
with the long title, about oxygen and carbonic acid gas, and organisms,
while the cursed farmboys are strewing manure, behind your back, in
lumps as big as your hat-crown. Oh, I know you! I never knew but one
man who had been to the great schools, and was worth anything
afterward, and that was the young Herr yon Rambow, who was with
Habermann."

"Ah, Uncle Bräsig," said Mining, lifting her head, suddenly, and
stroking the old man's cheeks, "what Franz can do, Rudolph can do
also."

"No, Mining, that he can _not_! And why? Because he is a greyhound, and
the other is a decided character!"

"Uncle Bräsig," said Rudolph, "you are thinking of that stupid trick of
mine, about the sermon; but Gottlieb had teased me so with his zeal for
proselyting, I must play some little joke on him."

"Ha, ha!" laughed Bräsig, "well, why not, it amused me, it amused me
very much. So he wanted to convert you too, from fishing, perhaps? Oh,
he has been trying to convert somebody here, this afternoon, but Lining
ran away from him; however, that is all right."

"With Lining and Gottlieb?" asked Mining anxiously, "and have you
listened to that, too?"

"Of course I listened to it, it was on their account I perched myself
in this confounded cherry-tree. But now come here Monsieur Rudolph.
Will you, all your life long, never again go into the pulpit and preach
a sermon?"

"No, never again."

"Will you get up at four o'clock in the morning, and three o'clock in
the summer-time, and give out fodder grain?"

"Always, at the very hour."

"Will you learn how to plough and harrow and mow properly, and to reap
and bind sheaves, that is, with a band,--there is no art in using a
rope?"

"Yes," said Rudolph.

"Will you promise never to sit over the punch-bowl, at the Thurgovian
ale-house, when your wagons are already gone, and then ride madly after
them?"

"I will never do it," said Rudolph.

"Will you also never in your life--Mining, see that beautiful larkspur,
the blue, I mean, just bring it to me, and let me smell it--will you,"
he continued, when she was gone, "never entangle yourself with the
confounded farm-girls?"

"Herr Inspector, what do you take me for?" said Rudolph angrily,
turning away.

"Come, come," said Bräsig, "every business must be settled beforehand,
and I give you warning: for every tear my little godchild sheds on your
account I will give your neck a twist," and he looked as fierce as if
he were prepared to do it immediately.

"Thank you Mining," said he, as she brought him the flower, and he
smelled it, and stuck it in his buttonhole.

"And now, come here, Mining, I will give you my blessing. No, you need
not fall on your knees, since I am not one of your natural parents, but
merely your godfather. And you, Monsieur Rudolph, I will stand by you
this afternoon, when your father comes, and help you out of this
clerical scrape. And now, come, both of you, we must go in. But I tell
you, Rudolph, don't sit reading, by the ditches, but attend to the
manure-strewing. You see there is a trick in it, the confounded
farm-boys must take the fork, and then not throw it off directly, no!
they must first break it up three or four times with the fork, so that
it gets well separated. A properly manured field ought to look as neat
and fine as a velvet coverlid."

With that, he went, with the others, out of the garden gate.



                              CHAPTER XIX.


Towards the middle of the afternoon, the merchant Kurz, and the rector
Baldrian were approaching the Rexow farm.

Kurz had invited the rector to be his companion, to his own detriment,
for a little man appears to fearful disadvantage beside a long-legged
fellow, and nature, in cheating Kurz of his rightful dimensions,
appeared to have endowed the rector with the surplus. So they walked
along the road, and the rector made a joke; he said that they two
together reminded him of the metre, which the Romans called a dactyl,
long, short, short; long, short, short. That provoked Kurz, since it
was disparaging to his legs and his capabilities as a pedestrian; he
took the longest possible steps.

"Now we can pass for a spondee," said the rector.

"Do me the favor, brother-in-law," said Kurz, angrily, and wholly out
of breath, "to spare me your learned witticisms. They are altogether
too much for me." And he wiped off the sweat from his face, pulled off
his coat, and hung it over his stick.

In his belief, Kurz was properly a materialist, but by trade he was a
mercer. There were always remnants left over, in this business, which
was quite a convenience to a man of his short stature, since he could
use them up for himself. When he had cleared out his old stock last
year, he had a piece of ladies' dress goods left on hand, on which were
represented giraffes plucking at a palm-tree. He could not think of
throwing it away, and he could not get rid of it, so he had it made up
into a summer coat for himself, and he was now marching on the Rexow
farm, with this banner over his shoulder, as if he were the youngest
standard-bearer in the army of a German prince, who bore a giraffe and
a palm-tree in his shield; and rector Baldrian stalked by his side, in
a yellow nankeen coat, like a right file-leader, in the body-guard of
the German prince, who might, for a change, have adopted yellow nankeen
as a uniform.

"Dear me!" sighed Frau Nüssler, "Kurz is bringing the rector with him."

"Sure enough," said Bräsig, "but he shall not incommode us much to-day,
I will cut his speeches short." For they both had, not without reason,
a great terror of the rector's circumstantiality.

The two guests entered, and the rector delivered a long oration upon
his joy in seeing them again, and the happy opportunity of coming with
Kurz; to which Bräsig replied curtly, that long legs were the best
opportunities for one who was going across country, and turned away, so
that the rector, while Frau Nüssler was occupied with Kurz, found his
audience limited to Jochen, who listened in the most exemplary manner
to the whole discourse, and finally said, "Good day, brother-in-law,
sit down a little while."

Kurz was out of temper; in the first place, because he had come to give
his boy a scolding, secondly, because the rector had walked him off his
legs, and, thirdly, because in pulling off his coat he had taken cold,
and got a fit of the hiccoughs. His crossness, to be sure, was nothing
remarkable, for he was angry year in and year out, because he was a
democrat, of course not a state democrat, for they didn't have such
then in Mecklenburg; only a city democrat, since he made it the
particular business of his life to pull public offices from the grasp
of the thick-nosed baker, in the market-place, who was so horribly
favored by the burgomeister. He went puffing and hiccoughing about the
room, and looked, with his red, moist face and his short grizzled hair,
like a fine, red, freshly cut ham, cooked in paste, well sprinkled with
pepper and salt, with the gravy following the knife.

The comparison is not strictly accurate, because the knife was wanting,
but Bräsig took care for that; he ran to the dresser, caught up a long,
sharp carving-knife, marched directly up to the ham and said, "So,
Kurz, now sit perfectly still."

"What is that for?" inquired Kurz.

"Remedy for the hiccoughs. So! Now you must look right at the point of
the knife. Now I come nearer and nearer to you with the point; but you
must be frightened, or it will do you no good. Still nearer,--still
nearer, as if I were going to split your nose open. Still nearer--close
to your eyes."

"Thunder and lightning!" cried Kurz, springing up. "Do you mean to put
my eyes out?"

"Good!" said Bräsig, "good! You are frightened, and that will help
you."

And it did help, truly, that is, as regards the hiccoughs, not as
regards the crossness.

"Where is my boy?" he asked. "He shall get a scolding to-day. Nothing
but vexations, brother-in-law!" turning to Jochen. "Here with the boy,
at the Rathhaus with the public documents, at home with my wife, on
account of that confounded sermon affair, in the shop with that beast
of an apprentice, selling a half ounce of black sewing silk for a
drachm, and here, on the road, with the rector's long shanks."

"Mother," said young Jochen, pushing a coffee-cup towards her, "help
Kurz."

"Eh, brother-in-law," said Frau Nüssler, "there is time enough, let us
talk it over first; to come down on the boy when you are so heated
would be like pouring oil on the fire."

"I'll come down on him----" began Kurz; but he went no further, for the
door opened, and Gottlieb entered.

Gottlieb's step was more than usually dignified, as he walked up to his
father, and greeted him. He was so excessively solemn, and had such an
air of clerical reserve, that he looked as if St. Salbaderus had taken
him under his special tuition, and hung him up by a string every night,
to keep him out of harm's way.

"Good day, how goes it, papa?" said he, and kissed his father on the
cheek, so that the old man kissed in the air, like a carp, when he
comes up out of the water.

"How is mamma?" inquired the son.

Gottlieb had been brought up from a child to say "Papa" and "Mamma,"
because the rector thought "Father" and "Mother," although quite good
enough for ordinary burghers, were not suitable for educated people; at
which Frau Kurz was naturally very indignant, since her children always
said "Daddy" and "Mammy."

"Good day, uncle," said Gottlieb to Kurz, "good day, Herr Inspector,"
to Bräsig, and, turning again to his father, he went on: "I am very
glad you have come to-day, for I wish to speak to you particularly, on
important business."

"Ha, ha," said Bräsig to himself, "it is beginning already."

The rector went out into the court-yard with his son, and Bräsig
stationed himself at the window, and watched them. Frau Nüssler came up
to him: "Bräsig, did you find out anything, this afternoon, about my
little girls?"

"Frau Nüssler," said Bräsig, "don't you be troubled, the business has
settled itself."

"What?" cried Frau Nüssler, hastily, "how has it settled itself?"

"You will soon find out, for if you look out of the window you will see
it is being settled now. Why do you think the rector is shaking hands
with Gottlieb, and embracing him? On account of his Christian belief?
Come, I will tell you why; it is because you, Frau Nüssler, are such a
good housekeeper."

Bräsig had great knowledge of human nature, and could read hearts like
a prophet; but he shared the common failing of prophets, he uttered
dark sayings. Frau Nüssler did not understand a word: "What? He
embraces Gottlieb because I am a good housekeeper!"

Bräsig had another prophet's failing; he gave no answer to a reasonable
question, if it did not suit his humour. "Can't you see how he gives
him his blessing?" he exclaimed. "He knows very well that money
answereth all things, and he knows there is plenty of it here."

"What has that to do with my children?"

"You will soon find out. See! now the Pietist is going away, and now
look at the old man. Lord have mercy on us! he is learning off a speech
by heart; and it will be a long one,--all his speeches are long, but
the ceremonious ones are the longest."

Bräsig had great knowledge of human nature, as was fully proved on this
occasion, for the rector came in, and began immediately:

"Honored friends, a certain wise man of antiquity has uttered the
indisputable truth, that the happiest home is that where quiet peace
dwells, in company with a comfortable, substantial competency. Here, in
this house, this is the case. I have not come here to disturb this
quiet peace; my dear brother-in-law, Kurz can do what he pleases,--I
have come by accident, but accident is a 'casus' or falling out,
whereby important things sometimes fall in a man's way. This is the
case with me to-day. This accident may fall out for good, or it may
fall out for evil; but I will not anticipate, I will say nothing
further about it. Dear Brother Jochen, you as the proper head of this
happily situated family"--Jochen made a face as if his brother-in-law
had said he was the proper autocrat of all Russia, and ought by good
rights to be sitting on his throne in the Kremlin at Moscow, instead of
sitting here in the chimney-corner--"yes," repeated the rector, "you,
as the proper head of the family, will pardon me if I address myself
also to my dear sister-in-law, who has cared for the affairs of her own
family with so much love and circumspection, and with such blessed
results, and also upon the families related--I refer here particularly
to the friendly reception of my Gottlieb--has exerted a highly
beneficial influence. You, my dear brother-in-law Kurz, belong also to
the family, and although our two families, at least the female members,
have been lately a little divided, though--well, on this happy occasion
we will say nothing more about it--I am sure you really feel interested
in my happiness. But now," going up to Bräsig, "how shall I address
you, Herr Inspector? You, though you do not, strictly speaking,
belong to the family, have yet been so helpful in action, so wise in
counsel----"

"Come. I will give you a bit of advice," said the old man; "take a
fresh start or you will never get to the end."

"End?" said the rector, with the authority of the clergyman breaking
through the crust of the pedant. "End?" asked he, solemnly, raising his
eyes to heaven, "will it come to a good or a bad end? Who knows the
end?"

"I know it," said Bräsig, "for I heard the beginning, this afternoon,
up in that confounded cherry-tree. The end of the whole story is, the
Pietist wants to marry our Lining."

Then there was an uproar, "Gracious heavens!" cried Frau Nüssler.
"Gottlieb! our child?"

"Yes," said the rector, snapping out the word, and standing there like
Klein, the head-fireman at Stemhagen, when the engines were being
tried, and the hose burst, and he got the whole stream of water over
himself.

Kurz sprang up, exclaiming; "The rascal! Gottlieb? That is too much!"

And Jochen also got up, but slowly, and asked Bräsig, "_Mining_, did
you say, Bräsig?"

"No, young Jochen, only _Lining_," said Bräsig, quietly. And young
Jochen sat down again.

"And you knew that, Bräsig, and never told us?" cried Frau Nüssler.

"Oh, I know yet more," said Bräsig, "but why should I tell you? What
difference could it make whether you knew it a quarter of an hour
sooner, or not; and I thought it would be a pleasant surprise for you."

"And here he is," said the rector, leading in Gottlieb, who had been
behind the door all the time, "and he wishes to receive his answer from
your kindness."

And now came old Gottlieb, for once with nothing ludicrous about him,
but like any other man. His clerical demeanor, and the exclusiveness of
his Levitical calling, he had quite thrown overboard, since he had no
room in his heart for such folderols. At this moment it was full of
pure human nature, of doubt and hope, of fear and love, and those who
could decide his happiness or misery stood before him as human beings
in flesh and blood--Jochen to be sure was sitting--and real love, with
its proper circumstances of betrothal and marriage, is such a fair,
pure, human feeling, that truly no clerical parade can make it fairer.
At any other time, Gottlieb himself would have been the first to
dispute this assertion, but at this moment he was so overcome by this
tender feeling, and expressed himself with so much warmth and
confidence toward Frau Nüssler and Jochen, that Bräsig said to himself,
"How the man has altered! If Lining has done so much in this short
time, let her go on, in heaven's name! She will make a good fellow of
him yet!"

Frau Nüssler listened to Gottlieb's straightforward story, and indeed
she had always liked old Gottlieb, but the thought of losing her child
overcame her for the moment; she was much agitated; "Good heavens!"
cried she, "Gottlieb, you were always a good fellow, and you studied
your books well, but----"

Here she was for the first time in her life, interrupted by Jochen.
When Jochen understood that they were not talking about Mining, he
became quiet; while Gottlieb addressed him, he was collecting his
thoughts and, as he became aware that all eyes were turned upon him, he
resolved to speak, and so he took the words out of his wife's mouth,
saying, "Yes, Gottlieb, it is all as true as leather, and what I can do
in the matter, as a father, I will do, and if mother is willing I am
willing; and if Lining is willing I am willing."

"Good heavens, Jochen!" cried Frau Nüssler, "what are you talking
about? Just keep quiet! No, I must first speak, to my child, I must
first hear what she will say to it." With that she ran out of the room.

But it was not long before she came back, leading Lining by the hand,
and behind her followed Mining and Rudolph, probably intending to make
a practical use of this occasion; and Lining, red as a rose, dropped
her mother's hand, and threw herself upon Gottlieb's breast, and then
on her mother's, and then went and sat down on Jochen's knee--for he
had seated himself again--and would have kissed him, but could not for
coughing, for Jochen in his excitement was puffing violently at his
strong tobacco, so she only said "Father!" and he said "Lining!" and
when she rose, Bräsig was standing beside her, and he caressed her, and
said; "Never mind, Lining, I will give you something." Then Gottlieb
took her by the hand, and led her up to his father, and the rector bent
so low to give her his fatherly kiss, that the others thought he was
picking up a pin from the floor, and he began on a new oration, but did
not get far in it, for Bräsig stood at the window, drumming "The old
Dessauer," so that nobody could hear a word. The old man was staring
over Jochen's barn-roof, into the clear sunshine, as if there were
something quite remarkable to be seen there. And there was, in fact,
something remarkable to be seen; he saw, far off, an apple-tree, which
had been once covered with rosy bloom; it was his tree, he had propped
and trained it, it was his tree, but Jochen had transplanted it to his
garden, and he had been compelled to suffer it; but for all that, he
had still watched and tended the tree, and the tree had borne fruit,
beautiful red, round fruit; and the fruit had grown ripe, and was fair
to look upon, and now a couple of boys had climbed over the fence, and
one had plucked an apple, and put it in his pocket, and the second was
reaching out his hand for the other. Well, boys will be boys, and
apples and boys belong together; he knew that, and had often said to
himself that it must come; he did not grudge them but it troubled him
that the care of his little twin-apples should pass into other hands,
especially he could not easily give up the care of his little rogue, so
he drummed lustily on the window-frame.

And Kurz, the shop-keeper, blew his nose as fiercely as if he were
playing the trumpet to Bräsig's drumming. It was not from emotion, that
he blew it so impressively, only from anger; for he was the fifth wheel
on the wagon amid all this domestic happiness, and yet he had come on
an important piece of business; but the circumstances demanded that he
should offer friendly congratulations, so with a face like a salt plum
that has been steeped in vinegar, he passed by his son Rudolph without
looking at him, and congratulated, right and left, as if he stood
behind his counter, serving his customers, and must have a friendly
word ready for every one, though he heard clearly all the time, behind
his back, the whole vinegar barrel running out. But when he came to the
rector, and should have poured him out a measure of oil for his
pathetic oration, there was the vinegar, which his boy had left
running, close at his heels, and he could talk to his customers no
longer; he turned quickly on his heel, and cried to Rudolph, "Are you
not ashamed of yourself?" then turning back to the customers, "I beg
your pardon! but this business must be attended to--are you not ashamed
of yourself? Have you not cost me more than Gottlieb his father? Have
you learnt anything? Just tell me!"

"Dear brother-in-law," said the rector, and laid his hand with
friendliness on Kurz's head, as if he had done his Latin exercise
uncommonly well, "what he has learned, he cannot tell you in a moment."

"Eh, what!" cried Kura, twitching out from under the hand, and
stumbling backward, "did you bring me along, or did I bring you along?
I think I brought you along; it is time for my business to be attended
to now. Are you not ashamed of yourself?" he cried, to Rudolph again;
"there stands Gottlieb, has passed his examination, has a bride,--a
fair, a lovely bride,"--with that he endeavoured to bow to Lining, but
in his excitement always made his compliments to Frau Nüssler,--"can be
a pastor to-morrow,"--Bräsig got this bow, instead of Gottlieb,--"and
you, and you--oh, you have fought duels, and what else have you done?
Got into debt; but I won't pay your debts!" and although nobody said
that he should pay them, he kept repeating, "I won't pay them! No! I
won't pay them!" and he placed himself by Bräsig, at the window, and
joined him in drumming.

The poor boy, Rudolph, stood there, terribly mortified. It is true,
nature had given him a pretty tough hide, and he was too well used to
his father's abuse, to take it for more than it was worth, for nobody
must believe that Kurz, in his inmost heart, was angry with his boy,
no, God forbid! quite the contrary! because he cared so much for him,
he was angry that his boy was not so well off as the rector's.

But for all that, and although Rudolph knew right well how much his
father thought of him, he could not bear it this time, for the old man
was too hard on him, and before so many witnesses, and he had a whole
stream of bitter words on the cud of his tongue, when his eye
fortunately fell upon Mining, who this afternoon reckoned herself truly
one bone and one flesh with Rudolph, for her flesh was pale instead of
his, and every bone in her body trembled for him. Rudolph swallowed his
bitter words, and for the first time the feeling came over him, that
his misdeeds could recoil on any other head than his own, and he
resolved to do nothing for the future, without looking into Mining's
eyes first. And, I say, that is a very good sign of a young, honest
love.

"Father," said he, when he had controlled himself, and went, without
troubling himself at the long faces around him, up to his father, and
laid his hand on his shoulder, "Father, come! I have done with stupid
tricks from henceforth."

Kurz kept on drumming; but Bräsig stopped.

"Father," said Rudolph again, "you have reason to be angry with me, I
have deserved it, but----"

"Stop your confounded drumming!" said Bräsig, arresting Kurz's
knuckles.

"Father," said Rudolph, offering his hand to his father, "come, forgive
and forget!"

"No!" said Kurz, thrusting both hands in his pockets.

"What?" said Bräsig, "You will not? I know very well, nobody should
interfere between father and son, but I _will_ interfere, because it is
your own fault that the business has been talked about so openly. What!
You will not forget and forgive this young fellow's follies, and he
your own son? Haven't you always sent me that old, sweet Prussian
Kümmel, and didn't I forgive and forget, and go and trade with you
again, and pay you honestly?"

"I have always served you well," said Kurz.

"So?" asked Bräsig, mockingly. "How about that trousers' pattern? Young
Jochen, you know all about it, you can remember how they looked
afterwards."

"Those stupid old trousers!" cried Kurz, "you have made so much fuss
about them already that----"

"Ha, ha!" interrupted Bräsig, "do you talk like that? Wasn't it pure
wickedness on your part, to let me wear them, and you knowing they
would turn red, and haven't I forgiven and forgotten? Well, not
forgotten, to be sure, for I have a very good memory,--but if you don't
forget what the young fellow has done, you can at least forgive him."

"Dear brother-in-law," began the rector, who believed that, in
consideration of his having formerly been a clergyman, it was his duty
to make peace.

"Do me the pleasure!" cried Kurz, turning short round, "you have a
bride, and will get a parish,--that is to say, your Gottlieb will get
one, and we--we--we have learnt nothing, we have no bride, no parish,
and we have a scar!" and then he ran wildly about the room.

"Father!" cried Rudolph, "just hear me!"

"Yes," said Frau Nüssler, who was heated to the point of boiling over,
and she caught Kurz by the arm; "just hear what he has to say for
himself. If he did do a foolish thing about the sermon,--and no one was
more troubled about it than I,--yet otherwise he is a good boy, and
many a father would be proud of him."

"Yes, yes!" said Kurz, impatiently, "I will hear him, I will listen to
him," and he placed himself before Rudolph with his hands on his sides:
"Come now, say what you have to say, now say it!"

"Dear father," said Rudolph, standing there with a beseeching and yet
resolved expression upon his face, "I know it will grieve you deeply,
but I cannot do otherwise; I shall not be a clergyman, I am going to be
a farmer."

It is said that they teach the bears to dance, in Poland, by putting
them on hot iron plates, where they must keep their legs constantly in
motion, to avoid being burned. In precisely such a manner, did Kurz hop
about the room, at these words of Rudolph's, first on one foot and then
on the other, as if the devil were under Frau Nüssler's floor, toasting
his feet for him. "That is pretty," he cried at every jump, "that is
fine! My son, who has cost me so much, who has learned so much, will be
a farmer! will be a clodhopper, a blockhead, a stable-boy!"

"Young Jochen," cried Bräsig, "shall we suffer ourselves to be called
by such names? Stand up, young Jochen! What, Herr!" exclaimed he, going
up to Kurz, "such a herring-dealer, such a syrup-prince as you, to
despise farmers! Herr, do you know who we are? We are your very
foundation; if it were not for us, and our buying of you, the
shopkeepers might all run about the country with beggars' sacks,--and
you think your son has learned too much for such a calling? He has
learned too much, perhaps, in one way, but he has learned too little in
another. Do you believe, Herr, that a capable agriculturalist--stand up
here by me, Jochen!--needs nothing but a sheep's head and asses' ears?"

"Dear brother-in-law," began the rector, again.

"Will you kill me, with your long speeches?" roared Kurz. "You have
sheared your little sheep; I came out, also, to shear my black sheep,
and now you all seem bent on shearing me."

"Kurz," said Frau Nüssler, "be reasonable. What cannot be, cannot. If
he won't be a pastor, he is the nearest thing to it, as the Frau
Pastorin says; and in my opinion, if he is only an industrious fellow,
it is all the same whether he preaches or ploughs."

"Father," said Rudolph now, as he noticed that his father was
considering, "give me your consent; you do not know how much my life's
happiness depends on it."

"Who will take you for a pupil?" cried Kurz, still angrily. "Nobody!"

"That is my affair," said Bräsig. "I know a man,--that is Hilgendorff,
of Tetzleben,--who understands book-farming, and who has already done
well for his pupils. He had one fellow, who was beside himself with
poetry, which he used to write behind the shed; if he wanted to say
that the sun was risen, he said, 'Aurora had looked over the hedge,'
and when he would speak of a storm coming up, he said, 'It glowed and
towered up, in the west,' and if he would say it drizzled, he said,
'Light drops distilled from heaven,'--and for all that, he has made a
useful man out of him. He must go to Hilgendorff."

"Yes," said Kurz, "but I must speak with Hilgendorff; I shall tell
him----"

"Tell him everything, father," said Rudolph, embracing the old man,
"but I have yet another petition."

"Ha, ha!" cried Kurz, "about your debts, I suppose; but don't come near
me with those to-day, I have enough of this clodhopper business, and I
won't pay them!" and he shoved his son away.

"And you shall not, father," said Rudolph, drawing himself up proudly,
and his whole bearing expressed such cheerful courage and such sure
confidence, that all eyes were attracted towards him. "You shall not do
it!" he cried, "I have incurred debts to-day, and I have given my word
of honor, honestly to pay and discharge them, and I will do it, with my
heart's blood. I have made them here," he exclaimed, going up to
Mining, who all this time, and through all this quarrel, had been lying
on her sister's shoulder, and who felt as if it were the beginning of
the judgment day. "Here!" said he, and laid Mining on his own breast.
"If I am ever good for anything, you have this little girl here to
thank for it," and the tears started from his eyes, "my darling little
bride."

"Confounded rascal!" said Bräsig, rubbing his eyes, and he went back to
the window, and drummed the Dessauer, for he was the only one who was
not surprised at this announcement. The others stood there, confounded.

"Good Heavens!" cried Frau Nüssler, "what is this?"

"What?" cried Jochen, "_Mining_, did he say?"

"Good gracious, Jochen, don't talk so much!" cried Frau Nüssler,
"Mining, what is this, what does this mean?"

But Mining lay on Rudolph's breast, as white and still, as if she would
never raise her head, or speak another word. Kurz had comprehended the
matter at once, he had quickly ciphered out in his head a couple of
examples in arithmetic, of which Jochen's property furnished the
principal items, and he found the result so satisfactory, that he began
to dance again, this time, however, not like the Polish bears, but like
a wild Indian executing a war-dance, and Bräsig drummed the measure.
Rector Baldrian's face was the one quiet point, in all this general
excitement, for it looked as uncomprehensive as mine would, if I were
poring over a Hebrew Bible.

"What is this, what does this mean?" cried Frau Nüssler again, sinking
into a chair. "Both my two! Both my little girls in one and the same
day! And _you_ said," turning upon Bräsig, "that you would look after
them!"

"Frau Nüssler," said Bräsig, "have I not looked after them, till all my
bones were sore? But there is no harm done, so far as I can see. What
do you say to it, Jochen?"

"I have nothing to say; my blessed mother always said: A candidate and
a governess----"

"Jochen," cried Frau Nüssler, "you will talk me dead, and you learned
this very chattering from Rudolph, the rascal!"

"Blockhead!" exclaimed Kurz, dancing about the pair, "why didn't you
tell me that, in the first place? I would have forgiven you anything,
on account of this little--this dear little daughter!" and he lifted up
Mining's head, and kissed her.

"Gracious heavens!" cried Frau Nüssler, "there is Kurz calling her his
daughter, and kissing her, and his boy is nothing at all yet, and
Mining is so inconsiderate!"

"So?" said Bräsig. "You mean because she is the youngest? Now come here
a minute, I want to speak to you privately," and he led Frau Nüssler
into the corner, and the two looked attentively at the old spittoon,
which stood there. "Frau Nüssler," said he, "what is right for one,
must be reasonable for the other. You have given your blessing to
Lining, why not to Mining? Yes, it is true, she is not so thoughtful,
because she is the youngest; but after all, Madame Nüssler, the
difference in years is so little, in a pair of twins, that it is
scarcely to be regarded, and then--you must give your daughter to the
presbyter, and how he will take care of her, the devil knows! we know
nothing about the ways of the clergy, for you and Jochen and I have
never studied theology; but the other, the duel-fighter, you see how he
stands there, as if he could cut his way through the world--a
confounded rascal! well, you see with him, as a farmer, we shall have
the advantage, for you and Habermann and I, and if the worst comes to
the worst, Jochen himself, an look after him, and admonish him, and
Keep him in order. And you see, Frau Nüssler, I always thought Jochen
would improve with age; but does he improve? No, he doesn't improve,
and it may be a real blessing for you to have this youth here, as a
son-in-law, if he does well, for we are getting old, and when I close
my eyes--well, I shall last a little while longer, perhaps--but it
would be a great comfort to me to know that you had some one on hand,
to look after you."

And the old fellow looked down fixedly into the spittoon, and Frau
Nüssler threw her arm around his neck, and kissed him, for the first
time in her life, and said in a quiet, friendly way; "Bräsig, if you
really think it right, then it cannot be against the will of God." Many
an arbor has witnessed a fresher, rosier, more glowing kiss, but the
old spittoon would not exchange with them.

And Frau Nüssler turned back, and went up to Rudolph, and said,
"Rudolph, I say nothing more but, In God's name," and she drew Mining
to her arms, and reached after Lining, and laid the two little twins
alternately upon her breast, as she had done years ago, and hope stood
again at her side, in her freshest, green wreath, as she had done years
ago; yet it was quite different to-day, from that other time. Then she
had given the two little twins, now she would take them away; for hope
is like the bee, she plunger into every flower, and extracts from each
its honey.

And Bräsig went up and down the room, with great strides, and held his
nose in the air, and snuffed about, and elevated his eyebrows, and
turned out his little legs, with as much dignity and importance, as if
he were the rightful father, who should give away the children, and had
made up his mind to the sacrifice, and by him also stood a fair,
womanly image. With a wreath, it was a wreath of moss and yellow
immortelles; but it harmonized well with the still, sad eyes, and she
took him softly by the hand, and led him again and ever again towards
the mother and children, till he laid his hands on her head, and
whispered in her ears, "Be content, you shall have them still."

Rudolph had gone directly up to Gottlieb, and offered him his hand:
"You are no longer angry with me, to-day, are you, Gottlieb?" and
Gottlieb pressed his hand, saying, "How can you think so, dear brother?
Forgiveness is the Christian's duty." And the rector coughed, as if he
were preparing to deliver a brief oration, but Kurz caught hold of his
coat, and begged him, for God's sake, not to spoil the business--and
then all at once, the company became aware that Jochen was missing.
Where was Jochen?

"Good gracious!" cried Frau Nüssler, "where is my Jochen?"

"Good gracious! where is Jochen?" repeated one and another; but Bräsig
was the first who made any efforts to bring him back to his proper
place; he ran out, and screamed out of the front door, across the
court-yard, "Jochen!" and ran back again, and screamed through the
garden, "Jochen!" and, as he came back through the kitchen, he saw a
fiery face puffing and blowing at the coals, under a great copper
kettle, and that was Jochen's face.

The feeling had come over him, that he ought to do something, in honor
of such a special occasion, and his heart became so warm, that five and
twenty degrees (Reaumur) in the shade seemed too cool for him, and
since he wanted to bring his outside into harmony with his inside, and
could think of nothing more suitable to a family festival, he decided
upon punch, and was brewing it in the most energetic manner. Bräsig
assisted, and undertook the tasting, and they came back finally,
bearing in Frau Nüssler's largest soup-tureen, both fiery as a pair of
dragons guarding a treasure, and Jochen placed it on the table, with
the single word, "There!" and Bräsig said to the little twin-apples,
"Go to your father, and thank him; your father thinks of everybody."

As the old fellows gathered about the punch-bowl, and the young people
had something else to think about, Frau Nüssler stole quietly out of
the room; she wished to talk over the matter with an older friend than
Bräsig.

The little twin-apples were hidden in the green arbor of their happy
future; only as Uncle Bräsig's playful jests blew aside the green
leaves, their blushing faces were revealed.

"Yes," said he to Gottlieb, "there are all sorts of people in the
world, and wicked Pietists among them. You wanted to convert me, take
care I don't convert you; I shall convert you by means of Lining." And
as Gottlieb was about to reply, he stood up, and gave him his hand in
the heartiest manner, "Well, never mind, you will have fire enough yet,
and if you are the village pastor, I shall get on well with you, and we
shall be good friends."

And to Rudolph, he said, "Just wait! You have caught my tench out of
the pool, you rascal, but Hilgendorff will make you face the music,"
and he went up to his young fishing-comrade and whispered in his ear:
"It is not so bad! You must always think of Mining, with every bushel
of corn you measure out, and when you are out in the spring, in a stiff
east wind, with a dozen laborers, and the old loam-dust flies in your
nose, and sticks there, as if a swallow had built her nest in your
head, and the sun looks out through the dust, as round and red as a
copper-kettle, then you must think that is Mining's face, looking down
on you. Isn't it so, my little godchild?"

Meanwhile the rector had drank three glasses of punch, one to the
health of each betrothed pair, and one to the health of the company,
and he would allow himself no longer to be hindered, even by Kurz, from
resuming his interrupted speech. He began with the introduction to the
introduction. He stood up, reached after a tea-spoon and after the
sugar-tongs, which had been on the table since coffee was served,
coughed a couple of times, as a sign that he was ready to begin, and
when he was aware that all were looking at him, and Jochen had folded
his hands, he first looked very thoughtfully, now at the spoon, and
then at the tongs. All at once, he thrust the spoon right under
Bräsig's nose, as if Bräsig had stolen it, and must be convicted of the
act: "Do you know that?"

"Yes," said Bräsig, "what of it?" Then he held the sugar-tongs before
Kurz's eyes, and asked if he knew it.

Kurz knew it, it was Jochen's.

"Yes," he began; "you know them; that is, you have a sensible
perception of them, you know how to distinguish them from other objects
by color, shape, and brightness: but the moral conception, which I
connect with them, you do not know."

He looked around, as if he expected some one to contradict him; but
they were all silent.

"No, you do not know it! I must communicate and explain it to you. See,
how long will it be before the careful housewife of this family will
come and take spoon and tongs, and put these, which are now visibly
divided, lying here on the table, into one common tea-caddy, where they
will rest together; in thousands of houses they rest together in one
tea-caddy, and for a thousand years, they rest together in one
tea-caddy. It is a custom honored for ages, that what belongs
together should not be separated. And Adam"--here he held up the
sugar-tongs--"and Eve"--then he held up the tea-spoon--"belonged
together, for they were created for each other,"--here he held them
both up--"and the Lord himself put them together in the tea-caddy of
Paradise. And what did Noah do? He built himself an ark, a
tea-caddy,--if you will, my beloved,--and he called the males and
females, and they followed his call,"--here he marched the sugar-tongs
over the table, alternately pinching them together and letting them
loose again, and shoved the tea-spoon after them--"and they went----"

"Come in!" cried Bräsig, for somebody knocked at the door, and in
walked Fritz Triddelsitz. "Herr Habermann's compliments to Herr
Nüssler, and would he lend him a pair of rape-sifters, as they were
ready to begin harvesting." This made a little disturbance, but the
rector remained standing at his post.

"Yes," said Jochen, he would do so; and Fritz perceiving by the odor of
the punch, and the rector's state of preparation,--which he knew well
enough of old, since he had many a time made his shoulders black and
blue,--that there was something unusual in progress, crossed the room
on tiptoe, and sat down, and Jochen said, "Mining, help Triddelsitz."
Fritz drank, and the rector waited.

"Begin again at the beginning," said Bräsig, "else Triddelsitz cannot
understand it."

"We were speaking, then," began the rector----

"About the sugar-tongs and the teaspoon," cried Kurz, wickedly, "and
that they belonged in the tea-caddy," and he snatched the silver out of
his hand and put it into the caddy, saying, "There, now the males and
females are in Noah's ark, and I think ours will get in there too. You
must know, Triddelsitz, we are celebrating a double betrothal here,
to-day, and that is the principal thing; the rector's sermon is only
the fringe about the garment. What is Habermann doing?"

"Oh, thank you," said Fritz, "he is very well," and he stood up, and
offered his congratulations to the two couples, on their betrothal, in
suitable terms enough, and yet with rather a condescending manner, as
if it were merely a birthday, and the little twin-apples were betrothed
every year. The rector stood waiting, all this time.

"Lining, help uncle rector," said Jochen.

She did so, and the rector drank; but, instead of diverting his
attention, the punch moved and stirred and poked about among the
thoughts which he had collected for his speech, and there was a great
commotion in his brain, and every idea wanted to take the lead, but
they were constantly pushed back by one after another of the company,
now Jochen, now Kurz, and now Fritz, and as he was at last bringing
forward his heavy artillery of "reflections on marriage," Bräsig
observed, in the most innocent way, "You have been very happy, then, in
the married state, Herr Rector?"

He seated himself, with a deep sigh, and to this day, no one knows
whether it was over his marriage or his speech. I incline to think the
latter, for I hold it easier to resign a happy marriage than a happy
speech.

It was now evening, and the rector, Kurz, and Triddelsitz took leave;
Rudolph also was to go with them, for Bräsig and Frau Nüssler had both
given their opinion that he should get into the traces immediately, for
his new business, and not loaf about any longer. Jochen and Bräsig
accompanied the others a little way.

"How does your new master get on, Triddelsitz?" inquired Bräsig.

"Thank you, Herr Inspector, he is quite remarkable, he made a speech to
the laborers this morning, as one might say, extempore."

"What!" exclaimed Kurz, "does he make speeches too?"

"What had he to speak about?" asked Bräsig.

"What did he make?" asked Jochen.

"A speech," said Triddelsitz.

"I thought he was going to be a farmer," said Jochen.

"Why, yes," said Triddelsitz; "but cannot a farmer make a speech?"

That was too much for Jochen; a farmer make a speech? such a thing had
never occurred to him before; he did not say another word during the
whole evening, until, just before he fell asleep, he uttered his
ultimate conclusion: "That must be a confounded smart fellow!"

Bräsig did not give up so easily. "What had he to speak about?" said he
again. "If there was anything to be done about the laborers, there is
Habermann!"

"Herr Inspector," said the rector, falling in, "a good speech is always
in place. Cicero----"

"Who was this Cicero?"

"The greatest orator of antiquity."

"Eh, I didn't ask about that; I mean, what was his business; was he a
farmer, or a shopkeeper, or was he appointed a magistrate, or was he a
doctor, or what was he?"

"I have told you, he was the greatest orator of antiquity."

"Oh, antiquity here, antiquity there! if he was nothing else--I cannot
bear those old gabblers, a man should do something. Let me tell you,
Rudolph, don't be an orator, you may fish, for all me, it is all one,
perch or carp,--but this speaking is as if you should go fishing in a
well. And now, good night! Come Jochen!"

With that, they went off, and Fritz struck off to the right, across the
Pumpelhagen fields, with a medley of thoughts in his head.

The old fellow was not envious, but it went against the grain that his
two schoolmates in Rahnstadt should each have a bride, while as yet he
had none. But he knew how to comfort himself. No, said he, he would not
thank any one for such a bride as they had got; he could have had
either of the little twins, but he wouldn't take them. Louise
Habermann, too, might go to Jericho, for him. He would not be a fool,
to pick the first good plum, for the first plums were always wormy; he
would wait till they were all properly ripe, and then he could take his
choice from the upper or the lower branches; and, meanwhile, all the
little maidens who ran about the world on their pretty feet belonged to
him, and then he was going to have a horse, and the very next day he
would go and buy the Whalebone mare of Gust Prebberow.



                              CHAPTER XX.


A couple of weeks had passed, which Axel, instead of acquainting
himself with his fields, and the management of his estate, spent, for
the most part, with Flegel, the wheelwright, in his work shop. The
model of his new machine had arrived, which was to plough, harrow, and
break clods, all at the same time, and he must set it at work, for
himself and for the world. Letters and accounts, and other business in
the way of writing, incident to a large estate, must naturally be
postponed; and when he came into the house to dinner or supper, he had
an important air, as if he must show his young wife what progress he
was making in husbandry. And who is more credulous than a young wife? a
bride, perhaps? Oh, no! a bride is uncertain, she is feeling and
inquiring round, she wishes to learn to know the man she loves; but
when she believes that she has learned to know him, and has given him
her hand for life, then she becomes secure, and follows him blindly,
until the bandage is forcibly torn from her eyes, and even then, she
turns away, and strives not to see, and thinks it her duty not to
believe what she cannot help seeing. It was nothing wicked which he
concealed from her, it was merely follies, and he himself believed that
in future he should be active and diligent; but it was a pity that he
did not understand, and she did not understand; for, with all her clear
eyes and her clear head, she had no idea but it was the same with him
as with herself, who went about looking into kitchen and cellar, into
milk-house and butter-room, learning how to take the charge of the
housekeeping into her own hands.

But everything has its time, and old Kopf, the shepherd, used to say,
"On the ninth day, puppies got their eyes open." She was walking one
day, towards evening in the garden, under the shade of the high
enclosure which separated it from that part of the farm-yard, where the
work-shop was situated; and, as she went thoughtfully up and down, she
heard, on the other side of the fence, a scolding and disputing, as if
two people were having a quarrel: "So? That doesn't suit you? Do you
think it suits me? Rascal, what lies in my way? What are you doing
here? I would like----" Bang! went something against the door. She
became curious, and peeped through the fence; but saw only one man,
that was the old wheelwright, Fritz Flegel, and there was nobody with
him, at the moment, and he was carrying on the scolding and arguing
with his tools and his work. Such a passion in a person entirely alone
is very amusing, and the young Frau looked on, with laughing eyes as
the old man went on cursing and scolding: "The devil take you, for all
me I shall I go crazy over you?" bang! bang! he threw his tools about
the shop, and through the half-open door, and then thrust his hands
into his hair, and tossed it about his head. Then he stood still again,
staring down at the ground. "Infamous creature! making me so much
trouble and misery!"

"Good evening, Father!" said another voice, and Kegel, the day-laborer,
came in, and stood leaning on his shovel, "what are you working here
for? it is evening."

"Working, do you say? Here is something to work at! Say to torment one,
rather. What? Do you call that a model? I can work very well after a
model, but the devil himself couldn't work after such a model as that."

"Is that the same old beast, you had begun on, the other day?"

"What else should it be? You may ask me next summer, if it is
finished!"

"He must have a clever head, though, to think out such things as that."

"So? Do you think so? let me tell you any blockhead can _think_ out
things, but the difficulty is to _make_ them. You see, there are three
sorts of people in the world; one understands things, but cannot make
them, and the second can make them, but don't understand them, and the
third can neither make nor understand, and he belongs to the last
class,"--here he threw a wedge against the door,--"and that is why he
torments a fellow so!"

"Yes, Father, that is so, he doesn't understand. You know, he said we
were to go straight to him, if we wanted anything; well I went to him,
and told him about the potato-land, how I wanted some more, and he said
he knew nothing about such matters, he would speak to our old man about
it. If he comes to him, I may wait long enough, for he knows that I let
the hoeing go by."

"The old man for me! he stands by his word; he says to me, Flegel, cut
me out a plough-board; and I do it, and he says, Flegel, the wheels
must have new felloes, and I put them on, and I have nothing to worry
about; but with him! You will see, neighbor, he will lie in the
nettles, and we shall lie in the nettles too."

"That is so," said Kegel, "my potato-patch lies in the nettles,
already."

"Yes," said Flegel, shutting the door, and pulling on his jacket, "but
it serves you right! If you have no potatoes it is your own fault,
because you did not hoe them; and if the inspector should give you more
land, it would not help you."

"That is true," said Kegel shouldering his spade, and going off with
Flegel, "it wouldn't help, especially towards filling the children's
mouths, yet I might help myself by means of it."

People say, and it is true, that praise from the mouth of a child, or
the humblest person, is pleasing to the wisest and most distinguished;
but it is just as true that a hard judgment, from the same
insignificant source, is painful, and especially painful when it
concerns one whom we hold dear. And what had happened? It was only the
gossip of laborers, such as often occurs among ignorant people; but the
smile had gone from the young wife's eyes, and a look of vexation found
place there. Her husband's insight, and his good will to carry out what
he had promised in his speech, were called in question, and it all came
from this, that he had not grown up to the business he had undertaken.

She was out of humor, when she came in to supper, and he was gay, so
that their moods were discordant.

"So, dear Frida," said he, "now we are comfortably settled, I think it
is time for us to make our visits in the neighborhood."

"Yes, Axel, but to whom?"

"Well, I think first our nearest neighbors."

"Our Pastor, first of all."

"Why yes, there, too,--later."

"Who else is there, in the neighborhood?" asked the young wife,
reckoning over as if thinking aloud, "the landlord Pomuchelskopp, and
the pächter[3] Nüssler."

"Dear Frida," said Axel, looking more serious, "you must be jesting
about the pächter Nüssler, we can have no intercourse with pächter
people."

"I do not agree with you," said Frida, quietly, "I look more at the
man, than at his rank. It may not be the same here, as with us, in
Prussia; but in my father's house, we were intimate with several
pächter families, why not here? Frau Nüssler seems to be a very nice
woman."

"My inspector's sister. I cannot visit her; it would not be suitable."

"But the landlord Pomuchelskopp?"

"Of course; the man is a proprietor, is wealthy, is a deputy, as well
as myself--"

"And is notorious, in the whole region, and his wife yet more so. No,
Axel, I shall not visit there."

"My dear child----"

"No, Axel. If the pächter Nüssler had bought the Gurlitz estate, would
he be another person, and would you visit him?"

"That has nothing to do with the case. I shall _not_ visit the
pächter," said Axel, angrily.

"Nor I the landlord, I have an aversion to the family," said Frida,
putting down her trump, also.

"Frida!" begged Axel.

"No, Axel," said she, decidedly, "I will go with you to Gurlitz,
to-morrow, but I shall stop at the Pastor's."

That was the conclusion; there was no quarrel about it, but each
remained fixed in the same decision. How readily and gladly would she
have yielded, if she had not sat down to supper with the uneasy feeling
that Axel was lacking in insight to understand a business, and in
firmness to carry it out; and how readily and gladly would Axel have
yielded, and stayed away from Pomuchelskopp's, if it had not been
always in his mind that Pomuchelskopp was a rich man, and he must keep
on good terms with him, because he might be useful; how readily and
gladly he would have called at the Nüsslers', but for the foolish
opinions he had imbibed, in his regiment.

But it was done; and could not be undone, the first beginning of
discord had entered the house, and the door stood half-open for the
rest to follow; for discord is like one of those dragon's tails that
children play with, there is a long thread, and bit after bit is
fastened to it, and though each bit is a mere nothing, it makes a great
bunch, when it is rolled up in a heap, and it is hard to disentangle,
for there is neither beginning nor end to be found.

The next afternoon they walked over to Gurlitz;--in that, Axel had
yielded to Frida, who preferred walking to riding,--and Axel took his
wife to the door of the parsonage, and promised to call for her; he
himself went to the court.

The Pomuchelskopps were just taking coffee, and Philipping and Nanting
and the other little ones were playing their tricks, and standing about
the table, like colts at the rack, and dipping biscuits in the
chicory-coffee, and smearing their faces, and dabbling with fingers and
tea spoons in the cups, after the soaked biscuit, and writing their
beautiful name. "Pomuchelskopp," in the spilt coffee and milk, all over
the table, and shoving and pushing each other, and then looking up
innocently at their mother, as if they were not the culprits; for
Häuning, in her every-day black gown, sat with them at the table, and
kept order.

It was a charming family picture, full of domestic happiness, biscuits
and chicory; and Pomuchelskopp lay in the corner of the sofa, and
smoked his pipe. He had finished his coffee, for father was served
first, with pure coffee, out of a special coffee-pot; but it was a
cheat, after all, for Malchen and Salchen, who took turns in making the
coffee, always drank off the first drawing from father's, and filled it
up with chicory, out of the family pot. He sat in his sofa corner, with
his left leg thrown over the right, quite in accordance with Duke
Adolph von Klewe's direction: "A judge should sit for judgment in this
manner, with the left leg thrown over the right," etc., and if he was
not a judge, he was something more important, at this very moment he
was a law-maker, and thinking about the Landtag, (assembly of
deputies,) which he had positively decided to attend next year.

"Häuning," said he, "next year, I am going to the Landtag."

"So?" said the old woman, "have you no other way to spend your money?"

"My Klücking, it is expected of me; I must show myself, and it will not
be very expensive. The Landtag is held quite near us next year, at
Malchen, and if I take a basket with me----"

"So? and I shall go round in your boots meantime, wading through the
deep mud in the farm-yard, to look after the threshers?"

"My Klücking, Gustaving is here for that, and if I am needed I can be
here again, at any time."

"But, father," said Malchen, who was the only one of the family who
ever looked into the Rostock "Times," and for that reason, and because
she always knew where the Grand Duke and the Frau Grand Duchess were,
at the time being, considered herself to have a great taste for
politics, for Pomuchelskopp read only the prices current, and the rate
of exchange,--"but, father, if something important should come up, for
instance about the red cloak, whether you burgher-proprietors may also
wear red cloaks, or about the convent question, then you couldn't get
away."

For she possibly had a feeling, that the convent question might become
_her_ question.

"Now, you do not really think," said Pomuchelskopp, going up and down
the room with great strides, "that your father would make himself so
common, and run in the same groove with all the burgher proprietors,
and vote with them, and neglect his affairs at home? No, if anything is
wanted here, you must write, and I will come, and if I want the red
cloak, I know a better way to get it--let every man look out for
himself--and it is more honorable for me, if I get it alone, and not
with trumpery landlords, who have perhaps a couple of thousand thalers,
and when I come back sometime, and say, Malchen, I _alone_ have got it!
then you may be proud of your father;" and with that he stalked about
the room, and puffed tobacco in the eyes of his innocent children, till
they looked like trumpeting angels in the clouds, who needed only a
mouth-piece, with which to trumpet his future glory.

"Kopp, are you going daft?" inquired his loving wife.

"Let me alone, Häuning! Always noble! Tell me who you go with, and I
will tell you who you are. If I agree with the nobility----"

"I should think you had got snubbing enough from the nobility."

"Häuning," began Pomuchelskopp, but went no further, for Salchen, who
sat by the window, sewing, sprang up: "Good heavens! there comes the
Herr von Rambow into the yard."

"Häuning," said Pomuchelskopp once more, and there was great reproof in
his expressive eyes, "do you see the nobleman comes to _me_. But now,
out with you! Out!" and he hunted his offspring out of the room.
"Malchen, take the coffee things away! Salchen, a wiping cloth! And
Häuning," folding his hands in supplication, "now go and put on another
dress!"

"What?" said she, "do I go to him, or does he come to me? I am good
enough for him, as he finds me."

"Häuning," begged Pomuchelskopp, abjectly, "I beseech you! you will
spoil the whole thing with your black morning dress."

"Muchel, are you a perfect idiot?" she asked, not stirring from her
seat, "Do you think he comes on your account, or on mine, either? He
comes because he wishes to make use of us, and, for such a beggar, the
old sacque is good enough."

Muchel still petitioned,---vainly. Malchen and Salchen whisked out of
the room, to dress themselves up a little,--the old woman sat there,
stiff as a stake.

Axel came in, and greeted the pair, and the old black sacque received
as much attention as the green checked trousers, for the young Herr
knew how to turn his good manners to account, at the right time, so
that Pomuchelskopp was quite carried away with the friendliness and
graciousness of the young nobleman, and Häuning became so cheerful and
affectionate that she called her dear husband "Pöking;" yes, even the
old every-day black gown grew so ashamed of its own shabbiness, in this
sunshine of courtesy, that even to Frau Pomuchelskopp's eyes, it looked
quite rusty. And now Salchen came in, as if she had forgotten
something, and then Malchen came in, as if she had something to attend
to, and Pomuchelskopp introduced them, and the courteous conversation
took an artistic turn, over Salchen's embroidery, and again a
political, as Malchen happened to take up the Rostock "Times." And
Philipping came in, and placed himself in the corner, behind his
mother, and Narting came in, and stood by Philipping, and the other
little ones all came in, one after another, and crowded up beside them,
till Häuning looked like our old black hen, with all her chickens
huddled about her, when a hawk is in the air. And when mother took the
key of the linen-closet out of the basket, and went out,--for, she said
to herself, one must do something in return for so much courtesy,--the
whole brood followed her, for in that linen-closet were kept the
cookies, which Häuning always kept on hand, and baked fresh, twice a
year. And these cookies were always very fine, only they acquired, in
course of time, rather a soapy taste, as they took the flavor from the
linen; but that didn't hurt them for the children, they were not
fastidious, and had always been accustomed to the flavor, and if Axel
had not been listening to Pomuchelskopp, he must have heard the begging
and whining outside; "Mother, me!" "Mother, me too!" But Pomuchelskopp
had taken possession of him, and was endeavoring to inspire him with a
good opinion of himself and his family.

"You see, Herr von Rambow," said he, "you find here an extremely simple
family, I am very simple, my wife--" here he looked round to see if
Häuning were present--"is extremely simple, as you have seen; my
daughters, my other children, have been brought up very simply. We make
no pretensions, we merely live by ourselves, in a happy family-circle.
Every society does not suit us, thank God, we are sufficient to
ourselves; but," he added, putting on a venerable patriarchal
expression, "every one must pull his own rope, each has his particular
occupation, which he must attend to,--_must_, I say, when he has once
undertaken it, and then the blessing of God will not be wanting."

Axel said, courteously, he believed that must be an excellent
arrangement.

"Yes," said Pomuchelskopp, catching hold of Philipping, who had his
mouth full of eight and ninety per cent cooky, and two per cent fresh
soap, and presenting him to the young Herr: "Make your compliments,
Philipping! You see this little fellow, he looks after the eggs, that
is to say, when the hens lay astray; for every dozen eggs, he gets a
shilling, and the money goes into his saving's box. Philipping, how
much have you collected, already, my little son?"

"Seven thalers, and forty-three shillings,"[4] said Philipping.

"You see, my boy," said Pomuchelskopp, patting his child on the head,
"the blessing of God always accompanies industry; and so," turning
again to Axel, "Nanting has old iron, nails, horse-shoes, etc., he gets
paid for it by the pound, and Marriken and Heining and Stöffing have
the apples and pears and plums, that is, the wind falls; to be sure,
they are mostly unripe, but no matter, the city people buy them. So you
see, Herr von Rambow, each one of my children has his own apartment."

Axel laughed in his sleeve a little, at this conclusion, and Malchen
and Salchen looked at each other, and laughed secretly over their
father's blunder, for Pomuchelskopp slipped occasionally, as well as
Bräsig; but there was a great difference between the two. Bräsig knew
very well that he made queer work of foreign words, but he had fallen
into the habit of using them, and could not leave off, it pleased him,
and injured nobody else; but Pomuchelskopp meant to ornament his
language with them, and when he found that he had said something
ludicrous, he was out of humor. When he saw his daughters laughing
together, he knew this was the case, and it was fortunate that his
Häuning came in, just then, with a bottle of wine, and a plate of
cookies, and, to his joy, without her black sacque, in a yellow silk
gown, and with a stately cap on her head.

"Häuning," said Pomuchelskopp, "not _that_ wine! When we have such a
highly honored guest, let us offer him the best we have!"

"Order it yourself, then," said the old woman, curtly. He did so, and
then resumed the thread of his discourse:

"Yes, and my two eldest daughters have also each her peculiar province.
Salchen is all for art, with her embroidery and piano-playing, and
Malchen cares more for the newspapers and politics." Axel professed to
be astonished at Malchen's taking pleasure in such things, which ladies
usually cared nothing about, and Malchen replied, somebody must trouble
themselves about such things, for father wouldn't, and now he was a
deputy, he ought to know what was going to be done at the Landtag,
adding that, just as Herr von Rambow came in, they were saying that
father must go to the Landtag next year.

"Yes, Herr von Rambow," said Muchel, "I am going, for once; not on
account of the business which my burgher colleagues are moving about,
that does not concern me, and I know the difference between nobles and
burghers, very well; no! I am only going for once, to show people who I
am."

Axel then asked, for sake of saying something, if Pomuchelskopp had any
intercourse with the people in the neighborhood.

"With which of them?" asked Pomuchelskopp. "With the farmer at Rexow?
He is a blockhead. With the inspector? He does not suit me. And there
is nobody else about here."

"Then you don't associate with the Pastor?

"No, not with him either. He has behaved in such a manner from the
first, that I would have nothing to do with him; he has intercourse
with people who do not suit me, and he has adopted the daughter of your
inspector, Habermann, and I should be sorry for my daughters to have
any acquaintance with her.

"I thought she was a very worthy girl," said Axel.

"Oh, yes, I dare say," said Pomuchelskopp. "I don't want to say
anything bad of the girl,--you see, Herr von Rambow, I am a simple old
man,--but I knew Habermann long ago, I will not say that he cheated me
at that time, but--no! I have not been pleased at the way and the
manner in which she and the young Herr von Rambow have been brought
together, by her own father, and the parsonage people."

"With my cousin Franz?" asked Axel.

"Is his name Franz? I mean the one who was studying here, with
Habermann. I don't know him, he never came to my house. But I liked
what I heard about him."

"He is always writing to her," said Häuning.

"No, mother," said Malchen, "you mustn't say that, his letters are
always to the Pastor. Our post-boy always brings the Pastor's letters
with ours," she explained to Axel.

"That is all the same," said Häuning, "I beat the sack, but I mean it
for the donkey."

"This is the first I have heard of the matter," said Axel, looking
annoyed.

"Yes!" said Pomuchelskopp, "the whole region knows it. Under the
pretence of visiting her father and your sisters, she was always
running after him, and when something came between them once, Habermann
and the parsonage people soon made it right again."

"No, father," said Salchen, "old Bräsig was the chief canal, he was
always fetching and carrying."

"Who is this old Bräsig?" asked Axel, now really irritated.

"He is an old beggar!" cried Häuning.

"That he is," said Pomuchelskopp, puffing himself up, "he has got a
little pension from the Herr Count, and now he has nothing better to do
than to run from one to another, and tell tales of people; and then he
is besides----"

"No, father," interrupted Malchen, "let me tell that. Herr von Rambow,
the old fellow is a democrat, an out and out demo-crat!"

"That he is," continued Pomuchelskopp, "and I shouldn't wonder if he
was an incendiary as well."

And this good-for-nothing subject had sat at Axel's own table, and
whose fault was it? Habermann's. These communications having
sufficiently heated the young gentleman's blood, and the cookies not
being very tempting, he took leave and Pomuchelskopp went with him
across the yard, to the gate.

"Is that really true, about my cousin?" asked Axel, as they went out
together.

"Herr von Rambow," said Pomuchelskopp, "I am a simple old man, and at
my age, one does not trouble himself about such stories. I merely tell
you what people say."

"It can be only a passing fancy; 'out of sight, out of mind.'"

"I don't believe that," said Pomuchelskopp, very seriously; "so far as
I know Habermann, he is a crafty old serpent, who always keeps a
definite end in view. Your Herr Cousin is caught."

"The boy must be crazy," said Axel, "but he will be obliged to listen
to reason. Farewell, Herr Neighbor! I thank you for your company so
far, and hope to see you soon. Adieu!" and with that he turned towards
the right, into the street.

"Begging your pardon," called Pomuchelskopp after him, "you are going
the wrong way; you turn to the left to go to Pumpelhagen."

"I know it," said Axel, "I am going to the Pastor's, to call for my
wife. Adieu!"

"Ah," said Pomuchelskopp, going back across the yard, "this is very
nice, this is very pretty! For the young Herr, I am good enough; but
for the gracious lady? Children!" cried he, as he entered the door,
"the gracious lady is at the Herr Pastor's, we are not good enough for
her."

"That pleases me, uncommonly, Pöking," said the old woman, "that the
nobleman has put such a fine pair of leather spectacles on you."

"Is it possible!" exclaimed Salchen.

"Possible indeed!" said her father, "it is certain;" and he gave
Nanting and Philipping, who were running about, the remainder of the
cookies, one apiece: "Out with you, baggages!" and he threw himself
into the sofa corner, and struck at the flies; and the old woman teased
him with invidious remarks about distinguished acquaintances, and
beggars, and the nobility, and said, "Salchen, take that bottle of
costly wine back to the cellar; there is some in it still, father can
treat some highly honored friend with it." And after a while she
called, "Father, come here to the window! See, there goes your
distinguished friend, with his gracious lady--the foolish fellow! and
who have they with them? Your incendiary, that old Bräsig!"

It was really so: Bräsig was walking with the pair, towards
Pumpelhagen, and it did not trouble him in the least that Axel turned a
cold shoulder on him, and gave him very short answers, for he was
taking his delight in the gracious lady, whom he had met at the
Pastor's, and whom he had found still more pleasing to-day than at the
dinner.

And she might well have pleased him, or have pleased any body, as she
came in, so friendly and confiding, to the Frau Pastor's parlor, where
he sat with the old Herr Pastor, who was lying half sick upon the sofa;
as she held back the old gentleman, who would have risen in honor of
her visit, and, laying her two hands on the little Frau Pastorin's
shoulders, asked if she would be mother-confessor to one who was a
stranger, and needed good advice, And then turned to Bräsig, and shook
hands with him as frankly, as if he were an old acquaintance. And then
Louise! came in, and she greeted her also as an old acquaintance, but
kept looking at her, as if there were something new to be read in her
face, and grew thoughtful, as one who reads a beautiful book, and will
not turn the leaf, until he fully comprehends it.

The young Frau had many leaves to turn here, and upon every leaf stood
something lovely and intelligent; on the Pastor's side, stood
experience, and friendliness and benevolence, and on the Frau
Pastorin's stood housewifery, and enjoyment of life, and the kindest
disposition, crossed over each other, and on Louise's stood modesty,
and good sense, and pleasure at meeting a lady who bore that name which
had become so dear to her; and on Bräsig's side, stood at first sight,
only notes on the whole, but they belonged to the matter, and made it
clearer, and the young Frau read these notes with as much pleasure as
we sluggards used, formerly, on the _pons asinorum_, or _ad modum
Minellii_, in Cornelius Nepos. And it all harmonized together, so
sweetly and innocently, and there was such love and joyousness, that
the gracious young lady felt as if she stood among a group of pretty
children, in a lovely garden, under cool shadows of old trees, dancing
Kringelkranz, and Louise stood in the ring, and reached her hand
towards her, saying, "Come, now you must release me!"

Into this lovely peace Axel came, full of annoyance at the story that
had been trumpeted in his ears, and vexed at having to call for his
wife among such people, and Bräsig's greeting, "Good day, Herr
Lieutenant!" quite overflowed the measure of his good temper. He turned
shortly to the Pastor, and made some indifferent remark about the
weather, but so coldly, that his manner struck like an icicle to the
warm heart of his wife, and she sprang up, hastily, to take leave, that
all this warm friendliness should not be chilled, as by a shower of
hail in summer.

They went, but Uncle Bräsig went too, not at all disturbed by the young
Herr's discourtesy; he had done nothing, and he had a good conscience,
and withal he had a great opinion of his ability in entertaining
people, and putting them in a good humour, when they were vexed. He
limped along, therefore, by the young lieutenant, and talked to him of
this and that, but did not succeed in changing the young Herr's short
and cutting replies to more friendly remarks. But as the young Herr
stopped, where the church path joined the street, and asked him which
way he would go, it shot through his head, for the first time, that the
"confounded fool" might think he wished to force himself upon them.

"Listen to me, Herr Lieutenant," said he also standing still, "this
strikes me as very strange. Perhaps you are ashamed to be seen walking
with me, in the public street? Then let me tell you, I was not going on
your account, I was only going with your honored, gracious lady wife,
because she is friendly towards me. In future, I will not incommode
you," and, with a profound bow to the young lady, he started off across
the rape-stubble, to Habermann, who was building a stack of rape-straw,
near by.

"Axel," said Frida, "why have you grieved that good-hearted old man?"

"Your good-hearted old man is nothing but an old tattler and busybody."

"Do you really believe that? and do you think, if he were, our
Habermann would be on such intimate terms with him?"

"Why not, if he is useful to him?"

The young wife looked at him half astonished, half grieved: "Axel, what
is the matter with you? You were always so friendly towards everybody,
and trusted everybody, what has prejudiced you so against these people?
against these, too, who have always been so friendly and honest towards
us?"

"Friendly? Why shouldn't they? I am the master of the estate. But
honest? Time will show, and what I have heard today, does not agree
very well with my conception of honesty."

"What have you heard? From whom have you heard it?" asked Frida,
quickly and meaningly. "Tell me. Axel! I am your wife."

"I have heard a good deal," said Axel, in a derisive tone, "I have
heard, that our Habermann, as you call him, has already been a
bankrupt; and the best thing I heard about him was that he perverted
the influence that he exercised as an instructor, to fasten his
daughter--with the help of the parsonage people and this old
go-between, whom I have just got rid of--to our cousin Franz, and"--he
added, angrily and spitefully, "the stupid dunce has let himself be
caught!"

Frida boiled over with indignation; by this detraction, not merely that
poor child, Louise Habermann, but her whole sex was wounded to the
heart, and put to shame; her eyes kindled, as she grasped Axel by arm,
and made him stand still: "You have been in bad company, and have
yielded to the most unworthy influences!" Her hands loosed their hold,
the anger passed, and a deep sadness came over her. "Oh, Axel," cried
she, "you used to be so good, how can such insinuations disturb your
honest judgment?"

Axel was startled at the heat with which his wife took up the matter,
he would gladly have taken back what he had said; but he had said it,
and if he should make light of it now, he would seem to himself like a
credulous, easily prejudiced man, and he wished to seem a decided one,
so he took nothing back, but said, "Frida, what ails you? There is no
denying the matter. The whole region knows that our foolish cousin has
entangled himself with this girl."

"If you will express this part of your news differently, if you say
that your cousin has fallen in love with this girl, I shall be glad to
believe it, and your cousin, whom I do not yet know, will be so much
the dearer to me."

"What? Shall my cousin, who has a large, independent fortune, marry the
daughter of my inspector?"

"That is the greatest advantage of a large, independent fortune for a
young man, that he is free to choose; and, truly! he has not chosen
unworthily."

"And so I shall be connected with my inspector, in a sort of family
relationship, and this old busybody, who has tied and twisted, and
knotted the match, shall triumph? I will never, never consent to such a
thing!"

"See here!" cried Frida, "it is in this part of your news, that the
lies and calumny are interwoven; how is it possible for you to believe
such an unlikely accusation? How can you--to say nothing of this
lovely, innocent girl--suspect such a simple, old man, such an
affectionate father, who finds his own happiness only in that of his
daughter,--how can you suspect the worthy Pastor and his kind-hearted
wife, or this poor old man, who has just left us, feeling so grieved,
and to whom, in his uprightness, many an inappropriate word may be
pardoned,--how can you suspect these people, of making the darling of
their hearts the object of a speculation!"

"Oh, that is very easily understood," said Axel, "they wanted to insure
her happiness."

"Oh," said Frida earnestly and sadly, "then we differ widely in our
conception of happiness. One never obtains happiness in such ways."

"I was not speaking of my idea of happiness," said Axel, surprised at
the reproach, "I meant only what these people consider happiness."

"Do not deceive yourself in this, Axel, for God's sake, do not deceive
yourself! A higher rank may afford one a wider range in social
relations, but in more modest circumstances, on the other hand, love is
more apt to be the controlling power, which is of far higher value than
mere worldly relations,--and which we must so often do without," she
added slowly, and wiped a tear from her eye, as she thought of her own
youthful years, without a mother, brought up by her father alone, who
could poorly sustain the style of living demanded by his rank, and
consoled himself, for his trouble and pains, in the amusements of
country squires.

They went home, and Axel was kind to her, in his good nature, and she
took the kindness as it was meant, and they were again united,--at
least to outward appearance,--for on the subject of discussion each
retained his own opinion.

Bräsig had gone to Habermann, who was standing by the foundation of his
straw-stack; he was angry, exceedingly angry; this must be
Pomuchelskopp's work; and his irritation could only be put out by a
counter-irritation, he had a real hankering after a little farm-boy
anger.

"Good day, Karl," said he, and pushing by Habermann, he bent his head,
elevated his eyebrows, looked hard at the stack, and without raising
himself up, stalked entirely round it.

"Are you going to bake a pancake, here?" he asked his friend, when he
had completed his journey, and placed himself saucily before him.

"Ah, don't talk to me about it!" cried Habermann, out of humor, "I have
vexed myself enough over it. I said yesterday to Triddlesitz he should
lay the stack twenty paces through-measure, and he has laid it twenty
paces half-measure, and, when I came out to-day, here stood this
monster. Well, let it go; it is nothing but straw, even if it should
get spoiled by the rain; but I cannot help being provoked to see such a
pancake on my field."

"Yes, Karl, and your neighbor Pomuchelskopp will be cracking his jokes
on it."

"Let him! But what to do with my Triddelsitz, I don't know. Since the
time that the young Herr promised him a horse, he is of no mortal use."

"Try giving him a good flogging!"

"Ach, what good would that do? He can think of nothing but horses. He
doesn't consult me, now-a-days, but our young Herr has advised him to
get an English brood mare, and says he will buy the colts. And I sent
him off this morning,--he is not to be talked out of it,--to make an
end of the matter, and get his old mare."

"Gust Prebberow's chestnut mare, the Whalebone mare?"

"Yes, that must be the one."

"Splendid!" cried Bräsig, "Beautiful! And he will exercise about on
this horse, when the Grand Duke enters Rahnstadt? Karl, you have a
great treasure in your greyhound!"

"Yes, Lord knows," said Habermann, looking at his stack.

"I say nothing of him as a farmer, Karl, I speak of him merely as an
agreeable fellow, and if he agrees with his young master----"

"Bräsig, don't speak of my master here, before the laborers."

"I agree with you there, Karl, it is not proper; but come this way!"

And when they had gone a little way towards the street, he stood still,
and said, slowly and impressively, "Karl, this young fellow thought it
something to be ashamed of, to be seen walking with me on the highway.
What do you say now? He gave me a Timothy, in the presence of his
lovely wife;" and he related the circumstances. Habermann tried to talk
him out of his anger, but did not wholly succeed, for Bräsig was too
much provoked. "Karl," said he, "he has shot the arrow, in his
stupidity, but it was pointed by Zamel Pomuchelskopp, for he had been
calling there. And you may say what you will, Karl,--your young Herr is
downright stupid, and when you are hunted away, then I shall amuse
myself coming over here, and place myself on the hill, where I can
overlook the fields, and see what sort of performances your young Herr
and your greyhound carry on together."

"Well," said Habermann, "you can see one of them, at this moment. Just
look round!" and he pointed down the road, near which they happened to
be standing, behind a thorn-bush. Bräsig looked, and stood stiff and
stark with amazement, unable to utter a word; at last he said, "Karl,
your greyhound is cracked. Apothecaries are often crackbrained, and it
is natural their children should inherit it."

It really looked, as if Bräsig were right. Fritz came riding up, on the
famous horse, on a gentle trot. He had taken off his hat, and was
swinging it violently in the air, and shouting with all his might,
"Hurrah! Hurrah!" and all this, entirely by himself; for he did not
perceive the two behind the thorn-bush, until he had ridden up to them,
and Habermann asked if he were clean out of his head.

"They are nothing but lies," said Fritz.

"What are lies?" asked Habermann, sharply.

"That the mare cannot hear hurrahs," and with that he began to cry
"Hurrah!" again. "You see," and he sprang off the horse, and tied it to
a willow, and going off a few steps, again cried "Hurrah!" "You see,
she does not budge an inch. And _you_"--he turned to Bräsig, who was
half dead with laughter, "_you_ told me so; but it isn't true!"

"Yes," said Bräsig, shaking all over, "but it is true, though. What I
said, I say again: she cannot hear it, for the old granny has been,
these five years that I have known her, _stone deaf_."

There stood Fritz Triddelsitz, the old clever, crafty Fritz
Triddelsitz, wearing the most sheepish face imaginable.

"But," said he, at last, "Gust Prebberow is a good friend of mine, and
he never told me that."

"Yes," said Bräsig, "you will know, after this, that friendship goes
for nothing, in a horse trade."

"Well, never mind, Triddelsitz," said Habermann, "one can get along
with a deaf horse; take care not to get a dumb one!"

"Oh!" said Fritz, quite relieved, "no fear of that! Just look at her,
what a model of a horse! Full blood! And Herr von Rambow is going to
buy all the colts, and when I have sold three or four----"

"Then you can buy an estate," interrupted Bräsig. "Yes, we know that,
already. Now ride carefully up to the house, and don't upset your
milk-pails, on the way, like the maiden. Karl, do you remember? In
Gellert?"

Fritz rode off. "Good-for-nothing greyhound!" said Bräsig.

"Well, I don't know," said Habermann, "I cannot help liking the old
fellow, he has such a contented disposition."

"That is because of his youth, Karl," said Bräsig.

"Well, perhaps so," said Habermann, reflectively. "See, there he goes,
quite happy with his deaf, old, brood mare."



                              CHAPTER XXI.


And Fritz was happy, he was the happiest being at Pumpelhagen Court,
for there was not much happiness there, and that which was painted as
such was not in fast colors. Habermann became, from day to day, more
and more conscious that his good times were over, for his young Herr
meddled with business that he did not understand, and that merely by
fits and starts, with a heat and haste, which spoiled the farming, and
confused the people, and when things did not go as they should, and the
cart got into the ditch, then the inspector had to bear the blame. The
young Herr also was unhappy, he was tormented by debts, which he wished
to keep secret from his wife, he was also tormented by letters from
David and Slusuhr,--personally they no longer troubled him, he had
settled that, on account of the secrecy he wished to maintain, and they
were very willing to consent, for the more secret the business was so
much the better could they shear him, and when they had him quietly by
themselves in Rahnstadt, they could use quite other knives and pincers,
than they could at Pumpelhagen, where he was host, and they were
obliged to treat him with some degree of respect.

But, besides this, he was not happy; he wanted to play the master, and
had not the stuff in him, for he who would command must have capacity
as well as knowledge; he had knowledge enough, more than many
people,--"but capacity! neighbor, capacity!" said old Flegel, the
wheelwright, and he had reason; the unhappiest of men is he who will,
and can not. And Frida? She also was unhappy; she observed that her
husband's full confidence was not given to her, she noticed that upon
many serious questions they differed widely in opinion, she noticed
that the business he had taken as his life work was one for which he
had no training, she felt that he was unfair enough to visit his own
failings upon other people, and more than all,--and worst of all for a
sensible wife,--she felt that he made himself ridiculous, and that
Pomuchelskopp, who, against her wishes, came often to Pumpelhagen, must
have other reasons than ordinary civility, for not laughing at the
confused and inconsiderate opinions of her husband. She resolved to
keep watch over him, but such an occupation did not increase her
happiness.

Fritz Triddelsitz was the happiest creature in all Pumpelhagen, and, if
we except the two little twin-apples, in the whole region; but we must
except these, for in happiness and blessedness a bride goes beyond all
other beings, even the bridegrooms themselves, for if old Gottlieb, who
had taken a candidate's place, with a cheerful, brisk, burgher-like old
proprietor, taught and flogged the boys with uncommon pleasure and
fidelity, and if Rudolph also, with Hilgendorf at Little Tetzleben,
strewed manure so that it was a pleasure to see him, and the Tetzleben
soil looked like a velvet coverlid, and went to bed at night singing
and piping, and regularly fell asleep, for weariness, in the middle of
a verse,--in comparison with the little twin-apples' blessedness as
they sat together and sewed, stitching on their trousseuax, and
chatting, and joking with father and mother, and telling Louise, and
showing their letters, all the bridegrooms' blessedness went for
nothing.

But the old fellow was really very happy. The first thing in the
morning, he went to the stable, where the young Herr's two
riding-horses, and Habermann's old Gray stood, together with his
treasure; he fed her, stealing the oats from the very mouths of the
other horses, yes, although he had never been trained to the work, he
groomed her, single-handed, for Krischan Däsel, who had charge of the
riding-stable, did not give him satisfaction. On Sunday afternoons,
when there was nothing else to do, he went to the stable, shut the door
behind him, seated himself on the fodder-chest, folded his hands on his
stomach, and thoughtfully contemplated the dear old creature, as she
munched her oats and straw, and if she groaned from fullness he got up,
stroked her back, and called her affectionately "his good old woman;"
and three times a day he exercised her, for which devotion he should
not be blamed, for upon her depended his future income.

But no happiness is perfect, a little annoyance always creeps in. And
he had his share. In the first place, it went very much against him,
that his chestnut mare should stand next Habermann's stiff old Gray:
the company was not suitable; and secondly, he was in everlasting
conflict with Krischan Däsel, about fodder and grooming.

"Herr Triddelsitz," said Krischan, once as they were disputing, "let me
tell you, I feed the horses all alike, and groom them all alike; but I
have often noticed that you take away the oats from the inspector's old
gray, and give them to your mare. Now, don't take it ill of me, Herr
Triddelsitz, but the gray is just as good a creature as the other, and
has an equal right to a living. And what is this?" he asked, going up
to the rack. "How? this is calf-hay; how comes this calf-hay here? I
will have no vermin getting into the pelts, when the inspector comes
round."

"I know nothing about it," said Fritz, and he really was ignorant.

"Well, it is all the same to me," said Krischan, "but if I catch any
one bringing it into the stable, I will break his bones for him, for I
won't be troubled with such things."

After that Krischan Däsel lay in wait, to catch the bringer of the
calf-hay, and it was not long before he was successful. And who was it,
who transgressed all law and order, for the love of Fritz's chestnut
mare? Who was so hard-hearted as to deprive the innocent calves of
their food, for the sake of Fritz's chestnut mare? Who was so
foolhardy, for the sake of the chestnut mare, as to risk the breaking
of her bones by Krischan Däsel? Who was it? I must tell, but let no one
repeat it. It was Marie Möller, who, every time she came from feeding
the young calves, and passed the riding-stable, brought an armful of
the sweet hay for Fritz's old woman.

Some one may turn upon me here,--hold! here you have blundered! How
came they to have little calves in summer? I reply. Friend, that is my
affair. I can skip over as much time as I please, and am now in the
middle of winter, after the new year 1844. And if any one should
inquire further. How came Marie Möller to do such a thing? I would
answer, that is as stupid a question as the one about the calves; have
I not a right to introduce good-hearted people, who forgive and forget,
into my book, as well as the spiteful and venomous, who bear malice to
all eternity?

Marie Möller could forgive and forget, and, since it was not suitable
for her to throw herself openly upon Fritz's neck, she threw herself
with her affection, and the calf-hay, upon the neck of the old mare,
which was, just then, the dearest thing Fritz had in the world. And it
was quite touching, and Fritz was really affected, when he learned the
occasion of the quarrel between his old sweetheart and Krischan Däsel;
he made his peace with his old love, and the pleasant ham-and-sausage
relationship was resumed.

It was now winter, as I have said, And nothing remarkable had occurred
in the region, only that Pomuchelskopp, late in the autumn, had taken
his journey to the Landtag, causing a great excitement in his quiet,
simple family. Häuning skirmished about the house, threw the kitchen
utensils around,--that is to say, such as were not liable to
break,--banged the doors, and said, openly, the Herr Proprietor had
gone crazy; Malchen and Salchen took the other side,--although
secretly, for they had heard that the lieutenant, who commanded the
Landtag Guards, derived a great part of his income from a splendid ball
which he gave, with tickets of admission a louis-d'or each. They had
been to the Whitsuntide-fair ball, at Rostock, they had been to a
cattle-show; but a Landtag's ball? That must go beyond everything! They
teased their father so persistently, that he took courage to speak out
to his wife.

"Klücken," said he, "I cannot do otherwise, I have promised Herr von
Rambow, and he went yesterday, and will wait on me there."

"So?" said Häuning, "and his peacock of a wife, will she wait on me?"

"Klücking, that has nothing to do with it; and if I lose every
opportunity of showing that I am a man who stands up for the nobility,
how shall I get made a nobleman myself? See, I shall ride away to-day,
with a black coat, we will talk about it again, when I come back with a
red one."

"A pretty figure you will cut in it!" said the old woman, going out of
the door.

"As good as any other nobleman," growled Pomuchelskopp, after her.

"Gracious! father, I know," cried Salchen, and she ran out, and came
back with a scarlet flannel petticoat, which she threw over her
father's shoulders, like a herald's mantle, and placed him before the
mirror; and the Herr Proprietor turned about, and contemplated himself
with great satisfaction, until the old woman came in again, and
snatched off the petticoat: "If you will positively make a fool of
yourself, you may do so at the Landtag, but not here in my house."

The Herr Proprietor took this for full permission to journey to the
Landtag, and journeyed accordingly. But when he arrived at Malchin, and
got down at Voitel's, his troubles began at once, for he had got into
the wrong box; he should have stopped at the Bull, where the
nobility resorted, and here he was among mere burgomeisters and
burgher-proprietors, who could in no way aid his designs. He stood
about in everybody's way, not knowing what to do with himself, and
nobody else seemed to know, till at last he plucked up courage to
inquire if any one had seen Herr von Rambow of Pumpelhagen, for he
meant to pattern after Axel. Nobody had seen him; at last some one said
that the Herr von Rambow had gone off that afternoon, with the Herr von
Brulow, to Brulowshof, to see his blood horses. In his great
embarrassment, he finally went up to a rather large and stately
gentleman, who had something friendly in his appearance, but with a
roguish gleam in his eyes as if he enjoyed a joke, when he had an
opportunity.

"Begging your pardon," said he, "I am the proprietor Pomuchelskopp, of
Gurlitz, and am here, for the first time, as a deputy. You appear to be
a friendly man, and I want to ask you what I have to do here."

"Yes," said the stranger, taking a pinch of snuff, "what have you to do
here? You have nothing further to do; you will have made the necessary
visits already?"

"No," said Pomuchelskopp.

"Well, then, you must pay your respects to the deputy-governor, the
land-marshal, and the landrath. Good evening, Langfeldt, where are you
going?" he interrupted himself, and addressed this question to a man
who was just going out with a lantern in his hand.

"To make the stupid old visits," said he, turning round in the doorway.
"Do you stay here, Brückner? I will come back again, by and by."

"Don't wait too long, then," said the friendly Herr, and turned again
to Pomuchelskopp. "So you have not made your visits yet?"

"No," said the Herr Proprietor.

"You should make them at once, then. The gentleman with the lantern has
to make the same visits, you need only follow behind his lantern. That
will do finely! But be quick, quick!" And Pomuchelskopp snatched his
hat from the nail, rushed out of doors, and ran through the streets of
Malchin, as fast as his stoutness and short breath would allow. The
friendly Herr took a pinch of snuff, with his eyes full of mischief,
and sat down quietly behind the table, laughing to himself, and saying,
"I only wish I could see Langfeldt."

And it would really have been worth his while. When the burgomeister
from Gustrow had gone in, to see the deputy-governor of Schwerin, and
had given his lantern to the footman, something came puffing up the
steps, and Pomuchelskopp made a low bow to the footman, and asked,
"Herr Footman, where is the Herr whom one must visit here?" The man
opened the door for him, and Pomuchelskopp bowed himself in, making his
deepest reverences to Langfeldt, whom he took for the deputy-governor,
for which he should not be blamed, since the Herr Burgomeister from
Gustrow always held his head forward as if he were going to push
through a wall with it, which would suit very well for a Mecklinburg
deputy-governor. He turned Pomuchelskopp round, however, and showed him
the right man, and since he was out of the fight, he went out, and took
up his lantern. Pomuchelskopp feared that he would desert him, he made
a couple of bows, and was off again, after Langfeldt's lantern.

At the land-marshal's, it was just so; the Herr Burgomeister had begun
a courteous speech, when Pomuchelskopp came puffing in, behind him.

"What is that beast coming here again for?" said Langfeldt to himself,
and quickly took leave, thinking to escape him; but the Herr Proprietor
was persistent, the lantern was his only reliance, he rushed after him
again. The performance was repeated at the landrath's; the burgomeister
was getting very angry, and because he was well acquainted with the
landrath, since they had sat together on the select committee, he did
not restrain himself from speaking out:

"Herr, why do you run after me, so?"

"I--I--" stammered Pomuchelskopp, "I can make visits, as well as you!"

"Make them alone by yourself, then," cried the burgomeister.

The landrath endeavored to smooth matters, and Pomuchelskopp grew
supercilious and obstinate; but when the burgomeister took leave, he
followed him again, on account of the lantern. But the burgomeister's
patience was wholly exhausted. "Herr!" said he, turning round on him in
the street, "what are you running after me for?"

Pomuchelskopp, however, was no longer in distinguished company, he had
found that he had only to do with a burgomeister, so he cleared his
throat, and said:

"Herr, I am just as good a Fasan (pheasant) of the Grand Duke's as you
are!" He meant to say Vasall (subject), but got it wrong. Even an angry
man must have laughed at such a speech, and the burgomeister, who was
an honest old fellow, quite forgot his vexation, and, laughing
heartily, said:

"Come along then! Now I know what sort of a fellow you are."

"And where you can go," cried Pomuchelskopp, still in anger, "there I
can go, any day!" and he trotted on again, after the lantern. He should
not have done that, for Langfeldt had finished his visits, and was now
going to his lodgings, to get his latch-key, and a little money for
playing ombre. Pomuchelskopp followed him into his room. The Herr
Burgomeister put down the lantern on the table,--the thing was getting
to be very amusing,--turned round, and asked, laughing:

"Will you be kind enough to tell me what you want?"

"To make my visits as well as you," cried Pomuchelskopp, in great anger
at being laughed at.

"To whom, then, here?"

"That is none of your concern," cried Pomuchelskopp, "the gentleman
will come," and he sat down in a chair.

"Why, this is really a comedy," said the burgomeister, and he called
out of the door: "Fika, bring a light!" and when Fika came he pointed
to Pomuchelskopp, and asked her, "Fika, did you ever see a pheasant?
See, this is a pheasant! This is the Grand Duke's pheasant!" and Fika
shouted and laughed, and ran laughing out of the room, and the
burgomeister's host came in, to take a look at the pheasant, and the
host's children came in, and there was such a frolic, that
Pomuchelskopp finally discovered whom he was visiting. He rushed out of
the house, in great wrath, and the Herr Burgomeister went softly behind
him, with the lantern.

"Langfeldt," inquired the friendly Herr, at Voitel's, taking a pinch of
snuff, "have you made your visits properly?" and his eyes were full of
roguery.

"Let me tell you," cried the Herr Burgomeister, "now I know! I might
have thought that it was you who sent that beast after me." And he told
the story, and so it came about, for the gentlemen at the Landtag will
have their jokes, that Pomuchelskopp was called the pheasant, and Axel,
after whom he was continually trotting, was called the "pheasant's
keeper," and when Malchen and Salchen came up to the Landtag's ball, in
gorgeous array, they were the "pheasant-chickens." When Pomuchelskopp
wrote his assent on a ballot, with a "Jah!" (instead of "Ja," yes,)
there were some who were for calling him the Landtag's donkey; but it
wouldn't go, the "pheasant" had got the start too thoroughly.

No, he did not enjoy himself very much, at the Landtag, for even the
nobility, after whom he dawdled, and with whom he voted, would
have nothing to do with him, lest they should make themselves a
laughing-stock; but when he reached home, his real trials began, for
his Häuning called him "Pöking," continually, and he knew what o'clock
that was, and Malchen and Salchen did not stand by him, as they ought,
for at the Landtag's ball they had sat, as if they were sitting on
eggs. And they pricked and stung the poor, simple man and lawgiver, in
his sofa corner, till a stone would have pitied him: "Pöking, what did
you really do at the Landtag?" and "Father, are you going to be a
nobleman soon?" and "Pöking, what do they _do_, any way, at the
Landtag?"

"Oh, I don't know. They cut at each other."

"Pöking, who did you cut at?"

"Oh, I don't know. One cuts at one, and another at another."

"Father, what did they decide about the convent-question?"

"Oh, I don't know; you will find out soon enough, from the Rostock
'Times;'" and with that he went out to the barn and took refuge among
the threshers.



                             CHAPTER XXII.


But--as I have said--the new year 1844 had come, and the winter was
over, and spring stood at the door, with leaves and grass and flowers,
only waiting a nod from the master of the house to begin her
decorations; and, as the snow and ice disappeared from the earth, men's
hearts were softened, and their eyes grew bright, like the sunshine
that lay upon the world.

Old Habermann's eyes, also, grew clearer, and his heart became lighter,
and as he worked in the fields in the spring sunshine, and sowed the
summer seed in the dark ground, the Lord was sowing his sad heart with
fresh hopes. His master had gone with his young wife to visit her
relatives, so he could govern his realm after his own pleasure, and he
could see his daughter more frequently than in the winter. This very
morning he had spoken with her, when he went to church, and now he was
sitting comfortably in his parlor, in the afternoon, thinking of
various matters; no one disturbed him, for Fritz was in the stable with
his mare, which was very agreeable for the old man, since he always
knew where he was to be found, which, formerly, had not always been the
case.

"Good day, Karl!" said Bräsig, coming in at the door.

"What?" cried Habermann, springing up, "I thought you had the Podagra,
and I was just wishing I could go over to see you to-day; but the Herr
is not at home, and Triddelsitz is not to be depended upon in these
days----"

"No, what ails him?"

"Oh, his old mare is going to have a colt."

"Ha, ha!" cried Bräsig, "and it will be a thorough-bred, and the young
Herr is to buy it."

"Yes, it is so. But have you had the Podagra, or not?"

"Karl, it is impossible to tell, in this confounded disease, whether it
is the proper Podagra, or not. Really, it is all the same, so far as
the torment is concerned; but in respect to the causes there is a great
difference. You see, Karl, you get the Podagra by good eating and
drinking, that is the proper kind; but if you get it only from these
infamous, good-for-nothing, double-sewed wax-leather boots, that is the
improper kind, and that is what I have."

"Yes, why do you always wear the old things, then?

"Karl, I used to wear them because of my relations with the count, and
I cannot throw them away. But what I was going to ask--have you been at
the Pastor's to-day?"

"Yes."

"Well, how is it there?"

"Ah, it looks badly, the old Herr is very weak: when he came out of the
pulpit the sweat ran down his cheeks, and it was a long time before he
got rested, lying on his sofa."

"Hm! hm!" said Bräsig, shaking his head, "I don't like that; but, Karl,
he is getting into years."

"That is true," said Habermann, thoughtfully.

"How is your little girl?" asked Bräsig.

"Thank you, Zachary, she is very well, thank God! She was here last
week,--I had no time to spare, I must be out sowing peas, but the
gracious lady had seen her, and kept her, and she stayed here until
evening.

"Karl!" cried Bräsig, springing up, and walking back and forth, and
biting off in his excitement, the knob from the point of his pipe, "you
may believe me or not,--your gracious lady is the chief production of
the whole human race."

Habermann rose also, and walked up and down, and every time that they
met each other, they smoked more violently, and Bräsig asked, "Am I not
right, Karl," and Habermann replied, "You are right, Zachary." And who
knows how long they would have ruminated upon this topic, if a carriage
had not driven up, from which Kurz and the rector descended.

"Good day! good day!" cried Kurz, as he entered the room, "see there,
see there, there is the Herr Inspector. Well, how goes it, old friend?
Habermann, I came about that clover seed."

"Good day," said Rector Baldrian, to Bräsig, drawing out the word
"day," as if the day were to last forever, "how goes it with you, my
honored friend?"

"Very well," said Bräsig.

"Habermann," exclaimed Kurz, "Isn't it so? Capital seed!"

"Why, Kurz," said Habermann, "the seed wasn't quite ripe. I tried it on
the hot shovel, and if it is the right kind, the kernels will spring
up, like flies, from the shovel, but here many kernels lay still."

"You don't look quite so blooming, my honored friend," said the rector
to Bräsig, "as at the time when we drank punch together, at the
betrothals."

"There is reason for that," said Habermann, throwing his arm over
Bräsig's shoulder, "my old friend has bad a touch of Podagra again."

"Yes, yes," laughed the rector, growing quite merry:


                 "Vinum the father,
                  And c[oe]na the mother,
                  And Venus the nurse,
                  Produce the Podagra."


"The seed is beautiful!" cried Kurz, "you will find no better between
Grimmen and Greifswald."

"Ho, ho, Kurz," said Habermann, "not go fast! I have a word to say----"

"Listen to me!" said Bräsig, across to the rector. "Don't come near me
with your French! I don't understand it. What did you say about Fenus?
What have I, and my cursed Podagra, to do with Fenus?"

"My honored friend and benefactor," said the rector, with unction,
"Venus was, in antiquity, the goddess of love."

"It is all one to me," said Bräsig, "she might be something very
different, for all I care,--now-a-days, every stupid sheep-dog is
called Fenus."

"No, Habermann," cried Kurz, again, "if the clover seed has the right
lustre, and looks so violet-blue, then----"

"Well, Kurz," said Habermann, "yours didn't look like that."

"My benefactor," said the rector again, to Bräsig. "Venus was, as I
have said, a goddess, and as a sheep-dog----"

"Eh, what?" said Bräsig, "you must have imagined all that, about the
goddess, Fenus means a sort of bird. Karl, don't you remember the
stories we read, when we were children, about the bird Fenus?"

"Ah!" said the rector, as light dawned upon his mind, "you mean the
bird Ph[oe]nix, which builds itself, in Arabia, a nest of costly
spices----"

"That is an impossibility!" exclaimed Kurz. "How can the most skillful
bird build a nest out of cloves, pepper-corns, cardamoms and nutmegs?"

"Dear brother-in-law, it is only a fable."

"Then the fable is a falsehood," said Bräsig, "but I don't think you
pronounce the word rightly; it isn't Ph[oe]nix, it is Ponix, and they
are not birds, they are little horses, and they don't come from Arabia,
but from Sweden, and Oland, and I know them very well, for my gracious
lady the countess had two Ponixes, which she used to drive for
pleasure."

The rector wanted to set him right, but Kurz interrupted: "No,
brother-in-law, let it go! We all know that you are better informed
than Bräsig, in such learned matters."

"No," said Bräsig, "let him come on!" standing before the rector, as if
he had no objections to a contest.

"No, no!" exclaimed Kurz. "We didn't come out here, to quarrel about
Venuses and clover-seed; we came merely to have a pleasant game of
Boston."

"We can have that," said Habermann, beginning to clear the table.

"Hold, Karl," said Bräsig, "I don't like to see you doing that, that is
the house-steward's business." And with that he roared across the
court, "Triddelsitz!" and Fritz came running in. "Triddelsitz, we are
going to play Boston, get the table ready, and a sheet of paper to set
down the winnings, and fill the pipes, and make a handful of matches."

And when Fritz had made ready, they sat down, and prepared to begin.
They must first decide how high they would play. Kurz was for playing
Boston grandissimo, for shilling points; but Kurz was always very
venturesome; that was a little too high for the others, and Bräsig
declared that he wouldn't sit down to play, to get people's money out
of their pockets. At last, through Habermann's interposition, they
settled what the game should be, and were ready to begin.

"Who has diamonds?" asked the rector; "he deals."

"Kurz deals," said Bräsig.

So now they could finally begin; but they did not begin, quite yet, for
the rector laid his hand on the cards, and said, looking around the
circle, "It is worthy of note! We are all pretty reasonable men, and we
are going to play a game, namely the game of cards, which, according to
authentic information, was invented for the entertainment of an insane
king. King Charles of France----"

"Come, children," said Kurz, taking the cards out of the rector's,
hand, "if we are going to play, let us play, if we are going to tell
stories, we will tell stories."

"Go ahead!" cried Bräsig, and Kurz dealt,--made a misdeal, however in
his haste, so "Once more!" This time it was all right, and they began
to look at their cards. "I pass," said Habermann, who had the lead.
Then it came to the rector; they had to wait for him a little, because
he had not yet arranged his cards, for he had a superstition that the
cards were better if he took them up, one by one, and because he
improved all his opportunities with great conscientiousness he arranged
all his cards in order of rank and turned the sevens and fives so that
he could see the middle spot, and not mistake them for the sixes and
the fours. Kurz, meanwhile, laid his cards on the table, folded his
hands over them, looked at him and sighed. "I pass," said the rector.

"I knew you would," said Kurz, for he knew that his brother-in-law must
examine his cards closely, before he would commit himself, and, on the
other hand, he was afraid of his assisting, because usually he either
had nothing, or if he had something, he played it the wrong time.

"Pass!" said Bräsig, whose turn came next.

"Boston grandissimo!" said Kurz. "Who assists?"

"Pass!" said Habermann.

"Dear brother-in-law," said the rector, "I--one trick--two tricks--well
I shall find a third--I assist."

"Well," said Kurz, "but we don't pay together. Each pays for himself."

"Come, Karl," said Bräsig, "Out with it! We will break their fiddle in
two."

"Well," said Kurz, "don't talk about it."

"God forbid," said Habermann, and led the ten of hearts: "Duke Michael
fell upon the land."

"Come, Herr Oberförster," said the rector, playing the knave of hearts.

"Herze mich und küsse mich, und krünkle meine krause nich,"[5] said
Bräsig, playing the queen.

"That maid must have a man," said Kurz, playing the king, and, laying
the trick aside, he led a low club (kreuz). "Kreuz Kringel und
Zweibach!"[6]

"Bite, Peter, they are lentils!" cried Bräsig to Habermann.

"Hold!" cried Kurz, "no telling!"

"God forbid!" said Habermann, and played also a low club.

"A fine singer is our sexton," said the rector, playing the nine.

"A cross and strife, a wicked wife, the Lord hath sent upon me," said
Bräsig, and took the trick with the queen.

"Well," said Kurz, "that was a heavy cross, to be sure. What have you
next?"

"Pay attention, Karl, now we begin our journey," said Bräsig. "Herr,"
to Kurz, "I was whist. Here! Pikas was a pointer," and led the pik-as
(ace of spades), and followed with the king,--"Long live the king!" and
then the queen,--"Respect for the ladies!"

"Good heavens!" cried Kurz, laying down his cards, and looking at the
rector, "what a hand! He can't have any more spades."

"Dear brother-in-law," said the rector, "I come yet."

"But too late," said Kurz, taking up his cards, with a deep sigh, as if
the rector had treated him unworthily, but he would bear it like a
christian.

"Karl," said Bräsig, "how much have we in all?

"Four tricks," said Habermann.

"Come," said Kurz, "that is not fair, no telling!"

"Is it telling," said Bräsig, "when I merely ask a question? Now pay
attention, Karl, I shall take one more, and if you take one, then we
are out."

"I shall get mine," said Kurz.

"And I shall get mine, too," said the rector.

After a couple of rounds, Kurz laid his hand over his tricks: "So, I
have mine." Diamonds were on the table, the rector ventured a cut with
the queen, Bräsig followed with the king, and the poor rector had lost
his trick: "How that could happen, I cannot comprehend!"

"It wasn't a whist game!" cried Kurz.

"Karl," said Bräsig, "if you had been careful, they would have lost
another trick."

"You must blame yourself for that, you didn't play after me in hearts."

"Karl, did I have any? I had nothing but the queen."

"No, brother-in-law," cried Kurz, meantime, "you threw away the game,
you had the king of clubs, and you played the nine. It lost the game."

"What would you have?" said Bräsig, with great contempt. "Are you a
dunce? Here I sit with a handful of spades, and a couple of queens
besides; what would you have?"

"Herr, do you think, when I have said Boston, I am afraid of your
trumpery queens?"

"Come, come!" cried Habermann, dealing the cards, "let it go, this old
after-play is disagreeable."

In this fashion, they played on, and it seemed as if they would tear
each other's hair, and yet they had the best feelings towards each
other. The rector won, and he had the best prospect of winning, for he
who loses the first game, as is well known, always wins afterward. Kurz
sat disconsolate at his bad luck; but that also often finds
compensation. "Ten grandissimo!" said he. All were surprised, even he
himself, and he looked his cards through once more. "Ten grandissimo!"
said he again, laid the cards on the table, and walked up and down the
room: "They play like that in Venice, and other great watering places."

In the midst of his greatest triumph, and the greatest distress of the
others, Fritz Triddelsitz came to the door, looking quite disturbed and
pale: "Herr Inspector, Herr Habermann, oh, do come out here!"

"Good heavens!" exclaimed Habermann, "what has happened?" and was
springing up, but Kurz held him back.

"No," said he, "the game must be played first. It happened so to me,
once before, at the time of the great fire, I had just put a grand on
the table, and they all ran away."

"Herr Inspector," begged Fritz, "you must come."

"What is it?" cried Habermann, dropping his cards, and jumping up. "Is
anything on fire?"

"No," stammered Fritz, "I--me--something has happened to me."

"What has happened to you?" said Bräsig, across the table.

"My chestnut mare has a colt," said Fritz, in an anxious tone.

"Well, that has often happened," said Bräsig, "but you make a face like
a funeral; it is rather a joyful occasion, under the circumstances."

"Yes," said Fritz, "but--but--it is so queer. You must come with me,
Herr Inspector."

"Why, is the colt dead?" asked Habermann.

"No," said Fritz, "it is well enough; but it looks so queer. Krischan
Däsel says he should think it was a young camel."

"Well," said Habermann, "we can finish the game afterwards, we will go
out with you."

And in spite of Kurz's remonstrances, they all went with Fritz to the
stable.

"I never saw such a colt," said Fritz, on the way, "it has ears as long
as that," measuring from the wrist to the elbow.

When they came to the stable, there stood Krischan Däsel by the
enclosure, where the mare was looking fondly at her little one, and
whinnying over it, and the little one was making its first attempts at
springing about; he shook his head, and said to Bräsig, who came and
stood by him, "Now tell me, Herr Inspector, did you ever see the like
of that?"

"Yes," said Bräsig, looking at Habermann, and said with emphasis, "I
will tell you, Karl, what sort of an animal it is. Fullblood's colt is
a mule."

"That is it," said Habermann.

"A mule?" cried Fritz, and he sprung over into the enclosure, and
succeeded, in spite of the whinnying of the old mare, in grasping the
colt by the neck, and examined his face and eyes and ears, and as the
fearful truth flashed upon him he exclaimed, in fierce anger, "Oh, I
could wring the creature's neck, and Gust Prebberow's, into the
bargain!"

"For shame, Triddelsitz," said Habermann, seriously, "just see how
pleased the mother is, even if it isn't a thorough-bred."

"Yes," cried Bräsig, "and she is the nearest to it, as the Frau
Pastorin says. But you may wring Gust Prebberow's neck, for all I care,
for he is an out-and-out, double-distilled rascal."

"How is it possible!" said Fritz, as he slowly stepped out of the
enclosure, and his wrath had given place to a great melancholy; "he is
my best friend, and now he has cheated me with a deaf horse and a mule.
I will sue him."

"I told you before, there was no friendship nor honesty in
horse-dealing," said Bräsig, taking Fritz under the arm, and drawing
him out of the stable, "but I am sorry for you, in your just
retribution. You have bought your experience in horse-dealing, and that
is what every one must do, but let me warn you against a horse lawsuit,
for long after the mule is dead such a lawsuit will be far from ended.
You see," he went on, leading Fritz up and down the court, "I will tell
you a story, for an example. You see, there was old Rütebusch, of
Swensin, he sold a horse to his own brother-in-law, who was inspector
here before Habermann's time, an infamous creature of a dapple-gray, as
a saddle-horse. Good, or, as you are in the habit of saying, 'Bong!'
Three days after, the inspector wishes to try his new acquisition, so
he climbs on to the creature, which was very high; but scarcely was he
seated, when the old schinder ran off to the village pond--no stopping
him!--and there he stood, up to the neck in water, and would move
neither back nor forward.

"It was fortunate, both for the dapple-gray and the inspector, else
they might both have been drowned; the inspector roared mightily for
help, for he couldn't get down there, and he couldn't swim, and old
Flegel the wheelwright had to come to his rescue in a boat. Well, then
the lawsuit began, for the inspector said the horse was a stupid, what
we farmers call a studirten (scholar), and Rütebusch must take him
back, for stupidity protects from everything, in horse-dealing as in
other matters. Rütebusch wouldn't do it, and the two brothers-in-law
first had a falling out, and then quarrelled so bitterly, that they
wouldn't go within three miles of each other.

"The lawsuit went on, all the time. All Swensin was called up to
testify that the creature was in its right mind when they knew it, and
the Pumpelhagen people had to swear that it appeared to them like a
studirten. So the lawsuit went on, into its fifth year, and the
creature stood quietly in its stable, eating oats, for the inspector
never got on it again, since he considered it such a dangerous animal;
he dared not kill it, either; for it was the _corpus delicti_ of
the whole concern, as they call it. They brought the most learned
horse-doctors to see it, but it did no good, for they were not agreed,
three said it was clever, and three said it was stupid. The lawsuit was
going on, slowly, all the time, and a whole brood of new lawsuits was
hatched out of it, for the learned horse-doctors charged each other
with maliciousness and ill-breeding, and sued each other for libel.
Then they wrote to a celebrated horse-professor, in Berlin, to see what
he thought of the business. He wrote back that they must cut off the
old schinder's head, and send it to him, till he could examine the
brains; it was hard enough to tell whether a reasonable being was
clever or stupid, but it was harder, with an unreasonable beast,
because the poor creature had nothing to say for himself.

"Well, that might have been done, but old Rütebusch and his lawyer
opposed it, and carried their point, and the suit went on again. Then
old Rütebusch died, and six months afterwards, his brother-in-law died
also, and they never were reconciled, even on their death-beds, and
went into eternity, each obstinate in his own opinion, the one that the
old schinder was clever, the other that he was stupid. The lawsuit was
suspended, for the time, and soon died out of itself, for the old
gray kicked the bucket, three weeks later, out of pure idleness and
over-feeding. Then they salted his head nicely, and sent it to the
professor, at Berlin, and he wrote back, clearly and distinctly, that
the old horse had, all his life, been as little of a studirten as
himself, and he only wished that every one of the lawyers had as much
intelligence as the beast, so very reasonable had his brains appeared.
And the man was right; for I afterwards had the infamous rascal of a
boy, who brought out the horse for the inspector, for a servant, and he
confessed to me that he had tied a piece of burning tinder under the
poor creature's tail, out of pure deviltry, because the inspector had
given him a beating the day before. And I ask any reasonable being, how
intelligent must not that poor beast have been, to run into the village
pond, to extinguish the fire! And so the great lawsuit came to an end;
but the little lawsuits, between the learned horse-doctors, are still
going on. And now, let me tell you something: Habermann is a good
friend of old Prebberow, the rascal's father, and he shall speak to
him, and get justice done you. And now you may go, and don't cherish
any hatred against the innocent little beast, or against the mother,
for they couldn't help it, and the mother is a poor, deceived creature,
as well as you."

With that, he followed the others, who had returned to the card-table.

"Come, come!" said Kurz, "so; ten grandissimo! I play myself."

"Karl," «aid Bräsig, "you must talk with old Prebberow, and not let
your confounded greyhound get into difficulties."

"I will do so, Zachary, and it shall all be made right; but I am sorry
for the poor boy, that he should be so disappointed. Who would have
thought of a mule!" (maulesel.)

"I observe," said the rector, laying the cards, which he had arranged
in order of rank, upon the table, "that you all speak of this little
new-born animal as a maulesel, while according to the natural history
use of language, it should be called a maulthier. The difference
is----"

"Don't bore us with your natural history!" cried Kurz. "Are we playing
natural history, or are we playing cards? Here, ace of diamonds lies on
the table!"

Well, there was no help for it, they suited and suited, and Kurz won
the game, and with it the right to boast, for four weeks, of his ten
grandissimo.

So they played on, in friendly excitement, until the rector, looking
over the account, became aware that he had won, in all, three thalers
and eight groschen, and since the luck was going rather against him of
late, he resolved to stop; so he rose, and said his feet were getting
cold, and put his winnings in his pocket.

"If you suffer from cold feet," said Bräsig, "I will tell you a good
remedy; take a pinch of snuff every morning, on an empty stomach,--that
is good for cold feet."

"Eh, what!" cried Kurz, who had been winning lately, "how can he get
cold feet?"

"So?" said the rector, hotly, for he was determined to retain his
winnings, "haven't I as good a right to cold feet as you? Don't you
always get cold feet, at our club, when you have had good luck?" and he
carried it out, he kept his cold feet, and his winnings, and after a
little while the two city people drove off, taking Bräsig with them.

Habermann was just going to bed, when there was a loud talking and
scolding before the door, and Fritz Triddelsitz and Krischan Däsel came
in.

"Good evening, Herr Inspector," said Krischan, "it is all the same to
me."

"What is the matter now?" asked Habermann.

"Herr Inspector," said Fritz, "you know how it has gone with--well,
with the mule, and now Krischan won't have the beast in the stable."

"What has happened?" said Habermann.

"Yes, Herr, it is all the same to me. But this isn't all the same, I
have been used to horses and colts, and not to camels and mules. Why,
Herr Triddelsitz might as well bring bears and monkeys into the
riding-stable!"

"Well, but if I tell you so, the beast _shall_ stand in the stable, and
you shall take just as good care of it as of any other colt."

"Yes, if you command me, then it is all the same to me, and then it
shall always be so. Well, good night, Herr Inspector, and don't take it
ill of me," and he went off.

"Herr Habermann," said Fritz, "what will Herr von Rambow say to this
accident? and the gracious lady too?"

"Make yourself easy, they will not trouble themselves much about it.

"Well," said Fritz, and went out of the door, to go to bed, "it is too
provoking, that this should have happened to my mare."

When the Herr came home from his journey, he got the story of the
chestnut mare fresh from Krischan, and because he was a good-natured
man, and liked Fritz, since in some respects they were a good deal
alike, he comforted him and said, "Never mind! This does not interfere
with our bargain. You must think that it is only the natural result of
a _mésalliance_. We will put the mare and the colt into the paddock, by
and by; and you will see they will give us a great deal of pleasure."

It was really so; every one found amusement in the little beast. When
the village children strolled through the fields, on Sunday afternoons,
they would go to the paddock, and gaze at the little mule: "See,
Joching, there he is." "Yes, that is a nice one! See, how he pricks up
his ears!" "Now look, see him kick!"

When the maids passed the paddock, on the way to the milking shed, they
also stopped: "See, Stina, there is Herr Triddelsitz's mule!" "Come,
Fika, let us go round that way." "Not I, what a horrid-looking
creature!" "You need not call him horrid, he gives you the least
trouble of any of them."

And through the whole region, the mare and the mule and Fritz were
renowned, and wherever the latter showed himself he was asked after the
welfare of the mule, to his great annoyance. The little old donkey,
however, was not at all troubled, he ran about in the paddock all
summer, with the other well-born and high-born colts, and, if any of
them came too near him, he knew how to stand up for his rights.



                             CHAPTER XXIII.


This was a very favourable year for Pumpelhagen; and when the harvest
came, and the prices of grain went up, Axel von Rambow was relieved
from all his anxieties and embarrassments.

He made calculations, and was quite sure, reckoning the rape at such a
figure, and the profit of the sheep and of the dairy-farm at so and so
much, that, with the quantity of wheat he should have, he could pay the
last dollar of his debts. The devil must be in it, if he didn't finish
this year, completely out of debt. There was good reason why this year
should be prosperous, he had been himself at Pumpelhagen, he had
concerned himself in the management of affairs, and every one knows
that the eye of the master is for husbandry what the sun is for the
world, everything grows and ripens in its light, and the grass grows
green beneath the master's tread. So Axel took the gifts and mercies of
the Lord coolly out of his hands, and gave himself the credit of the
blessed year,--even the high price of grain seemed to him a deserved
reward for his industry.

So he sat on his high horse, and although he found it for the moment a
little difficult to meet the necessary expenses of the estate, and to
pay the notes held by David and Slusuhr, as they fell due, yet it gave
him no uneasiness, for he had gained great credit, in the region, for
his intelligent and industrious management, as he inferred from the
fact that Pomuchelskopp had several times taken occasion to offer him
money. He had accepted it, without reflection, to satisfy David and
Slusuhr, and he paid them with Pomuchelskopp's money, and they paid it
again to Pomuchelskopp, and he again to Axel, and so it went round the
circle. This arrangement would have been very fine, if he had not been
the only one to suffer by it, and if Pomuchelskopp had not had the
inconvenience of unpacking the rouleaux, every time, lest Axel should
notice that he got his own money again. But this was unavoidable,
unless Pomuchelskopp would come out from his cover, under which he lay
in wait for Pumpelhagen; so he yielded to the necessity, especially
since he found the business so amusing.

Axel also took pleasure in this business, for he always had money to
supply his necessities, and the amount that he gave for it seemed to
him quite insignificant, since it had never occurred to him to reckon
the interest for a whole year. He also thought seriously of introducing
great improvements upon the estate. It is an old story, though a sad
one, that these young masters, who understand nothing properly about
farming, are always introducing improvements, whereby they ruin
themselves in the speediest manner. I mean, particularly, with the
live stock. Why is this so? I think it is mainly because the young
masters have very little trouble in procuring a new bull or a pair of
new-fashioned rams, and because the laws of cattle-breeding are so
plainly laid down, that the stupidest person can discourse wisely about
them. They need only to shove aside the experience of years, and that
is not hard for them, and then they stand there, with their young
heads, as important as the old people with their gray ones.

Upon the Pumpelhagen estate, there was a dairy-farm, of Breitenburg
cows, which the old Kammerrath had purchased with Habermann's
assistance, and upon Habermann's recommendation. Something new must be
done here, so Axel journeyed to Sommersdorf, in Pomerania, where there
was a cattle-auction, and bought, upon Pomuchelskopp's advice, a
wonderful Ayrshire bull. Why? Well, firstly, because he was handsome,
secondly, because he came from Scotland, and, thirdly, because he was
something new. There was a flock of sheep on the estate, of the
Negretti-stock, which yielded a great deal of wool, and were always
profitable, but Pomuchelskopp, _as he said_, had got a thaler and a
half more the stone, at the wool-market, so the young Herr let himself
be persuaded into buying of his neighbor, for ready money, a pair of
very fine Electoral rams. That he could estimate the value of them and
reckon it against Pomuchelskopp, to his great advantage, did not occur
to him; he had enough else to think of.

Habermann strove, with all his might, against these new arrangements,
but in vain; in the eyes of his young Herr he was an old man, who had
fallen astern and could not keep up with the times; and although the
old man based his opposition on very strong and reasonable arguments,
he had always the same answer: "But, good heavens! we can at least try
it;" not thinking that, in some things, trying and ruining are the
same. The inspector could do nothing, and was only thankful his master
had not taken to raising thorough-bred horses, which was the business
he detested, of all others. The young wife also, could prevent nothing;
she did not know the manner in which Axel relieved himself from his
difficulties,--without being an indifferent observer, she must judge by
what she saw, and this was just at present with Axel great contentment
and golden prospects.

In Gurlitz, also, Pomuchelskopp and his Häuning were in a state of
great, though not strictly speaking, family contentment; but this they
did not expect, in their modesty, no, they were contented with the
smooth progress of the money business, And their prospects became,
literally, more and more golden, for the boundary between Pumpelhagen
and Gurlitz was growing more and more undefined, and Pomuchelskopp,
meanwhile, had only the unpleasant task of clipping his Häuning's
wings, lest she should positively fly over the hedge, and scratch for
worms on the other side.

In Jochen Nüssler's house, the old lady Contentment had established
herself comfortably on the divan, and, if one had spoken of golden
prospects there, it must have been in the sense in which the poets
speak of the "golden morning sky," not because they think that the glow
of the morning sky is like the glitter of gold, but only that they know
nothing more beautiful than the latter, possibly because they see it so
seldom. Gottlieb was getting rid of his long-haired, Pietistic ways,
and beginning to look at the world with his natural eyes, instead of
through the blue spectacles he had acquired at Erlangen, or elsewhere.

To Bräsig's joy, he played Boston--very badly; he had been on
horse-back once, and had fallen off, without getting hurt, and when he
came to Jochen Nüssler's harvest feast, though he did not exactly
dance, that is to say, openly, before all the people, he had practised
a Schottische with Lining in the parlor, and, at its close, had sung
with a clear though rather plaintive voice, "Vivallera!"

But Rudolph? Well, we will only repeat what Hilgendorf himself said to
Bräsig about him: "He, Bräsig? Just as I was, true as I live! Bones
like ivory! Just looks at a thing, and knows how, just as I used to!
And books? Won't touch 'em! Just like me!"

Frau Nüssler was happy in the happiness of her children, and young
Jochen and young Bauschan sat together peacefully, for hours, without
saying a word, and thought of the time when they should have a new
crown-prince, young Jochen Rudolph, and young Bauschan the seventh.
That was not exactly a morning sky, but for moderate people, like
Jochen and Bauschan, an evening sky often looks golden.

So in every house, in the whole region, there was happiness for each
after its kind, but in one house, where Peace had long been an inmate,
and had sat in his own place by the warm stove, in winter, and under
the lindens before the door, or in the arbor in the garden, in summer,
like a good old grandfather, and had kept a watchful eye upon little
Louise's joyous bounds, and had guided the Frau Pastorin's duster, and
kept the Herr Pastor's papers in order, the good old grandfather was no
longer there,--he had silently taken his leave, and had shut the door
softly behind him, and was gone to the place whence he came; and, in
his stead, unrest and anxiety had entered, for the good old Pastor was
daily growing weaker. He was not confined to a sick-bed, and had no
particular disease, and Doctor Strump, of Rahnstadt, with the best
intentions in the world, could find, out of the three thousand, seven
hundred, seventy and seven diseases which humanity is subject to, by
good rights, no single one which suited him. So he must minister to
himself, and he did so, for good old grandfather Peace, when he took
his departure, had laid his hand on the Pastor's head, saying, "I go,
but only for a short time; then I will return to thy Regina. Thou dost
not need me, for I entered thy heart years ago, in the solemn hour when
thou didst choose between God and the world. Now sleep, for thou mayest
well be weary."

And he was weary, very weary. His Regina had placed him on the sofa,
under the picture-gallery, according to his desire, that he might look
out of the window; his Louise had covered him warmly, and they had both
gone out on tiptoe, that they might not disturb his repose. Out of
doors, the first snowflakes of the winter were falling from the sky,
gently, ever gently; and it was as quiet without as within, as within
his heart; and it seemed to him as if the outstretched hands of Christ
beckoned and pointed,--no one saw it, but so his Regina afterwards
explained the matter,--and he got up, and opened his old chest of
drawers, which he had from his father, and which his mother had always
polished, herself, and had seated himself in the arm-chair before it,
wishing once more to look over things which he had valued so much.

The chest was his cabinet of curiosities, for everything that had been
important or remarkable in his life had its memento here; it was his
family medicine chest, in which he stored his remedies for the troubles
and cares of this world, which he used when he was sick at heart;
simple remedies, but they always answered the purpose. They were not
put up in vials and bottles and boxes, and no labels were fastened on
them; they were merely plucked by his hand, in happy hours, and
preserved for use. Everything, by which he could recall to his memory
the purest joys of his life, was gathered here, and whenever he was
sad, he refreshed his soul with them, and he never closed the old chest
without deriving strength from his remedies, and expressing gratitude
for them. There lay the Bible, which, when a boy, he had received from
his father, there was the beautiful crystal glass, which his best
friend had given him, when he left the University, there was the
pocket-book, which his Regina had embroidered for him, when they were
betrothed; there were sea-shells, which a sailor, whom he once directed
into the right way, had sent to him, years after; there were little
Christmas and New Year notes, from Louise and Mining, and Lining, which
they had indited with infinite labor, and also their first attempts at
needlework; there was the withered bridal-wreath worn by his Regina on
their wedding-day, and the great silver-clasped, pictorial Bible,
Habermann's gift, and the silver mounted meerschaum pipe, Bräsig's
gift, upon his seventy-fifth birth-day. In the cupboard underneath,
were old shoes; the shoes which Louise and Regina and himself had worn,
when they first entered the Pastor's house.

Old shoes are not beautiful, but these must have been very dear to him,
for he had taken them out, and placed each pair by itself, and looked
long at them, and thought much, and then he had taken his first Bible
upon his lap, and opened at our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, and read
therein. No one saw him, to be sure, but it must have been so; his
Regina knew very well how it all happened. And then he grew weary, and
laid his head back against the chair, and fell softly asleep.

So they found him, and the little Frau Pastorin sat down by him in the
chair, and put her arms around him and closed his eyes, and laid her
head against his, and cried silently, and Louise threw herself at his
feet, and folded her hands upon his knees, and looked, with tearful
eyes, at the two dear, still faces. Then the little Frau Pastorin
folded down the leaf in the Bible, and took it gently out of his hand,
and she rose up, and Louise rose also, and clung about her neck, and
they both broke into loud weeping, and sought protection and comfort in
each other, until it grew to be twilight. Then the little Frau Pastorin
took the Pastor's boots and her shoes, and put them back into the
cupboard, saying, "I bless the day, when you came together into this
house;" and Louise put her little shoes beside them, saying, "And I the
day, when you first crossed the threshold," and then they locked up the
chest, with all its joys.

After three days, good Pastor Behrens was buried, in his churchyard, in
a place which he had selected, during his life, which one could see,
through the clear panes of glass, from the living-room of the
parsonage, and upon which fell the first beams of the morning sun.

The funeral guests had departed, Habermann also had been obliged to go;
but Uncle Bräsig had explained that he should spend the night at the
parsonage. Through the day, he had lent a helping hand, and now, as he
saw the two women standing at the window, arm in arm, lost in sorrowful
thoughts, he stole softly out of the room, up to his sleeping-chamber,
and looked, through the twilight, over to the churchyard, where the
dark grave lay in the white snow. He thought of the man who lay beneath
it, how often he had extended the hand, to help and to counsel him, and
he vowed to repay the debt he owed him, with all his might, to the Frau
Pastorin. And underneath, in the living-room, stood the two bereaved
women, also looking over at the dark grave, and vowing silently, in
their hearts, each to the other, all the love and friendship, which he
had so often enjoined, and so constantly practiced. And the little Frau
Pastorin thanked God and her Pastor that she had so sweet a comforter
in her sorrow as she held in her arms, and she stroked Louise's soft
hair, and kissed her again and again; and Louise prayed to God and her
other father, that she might be endowed with all that was good and
lovely, that she might lay it all in her foster-mother's lap.

Fresh graves are like hot-beds, which the gardeners plant; the fairest
flowers spring out of them; but poisonous toadstools shoot up, also,
from these beds.

That same evening, two other people in Gurlitz, were standing at a
window, and looking through the panes, in the twilight,--not at the
God's acre, that was far from their thoughts, no, at the Pastor's
acre,--and Pomuchelskopp said to his Hänning, now they could not fail,
now the field fell out of the lease, now they would have it, he would
speak to the new Pastor about it, before his appointment.

"Muchel," said Hänning, "the Pumpelhagen people will never allow it,
they will not let that field slip out of their fingers."

"Häuning, out of their fingers? I hold it in my own hands."

"Yes, if the young Herr must accommodate you; but how if we should get
a young priest here, who will farm it himself?"

"Klücking, I don't recognize you, my dear Klücking! We have the choice;
we will choose a Pietist. That kind are all taken up with their Bibles
and Psalm-books and tracts, and have no leisure for farming."

"Yes, but you don't choose alone, there are Pumpelhagen, and Rexow, and
Warnitz."

"Klücking, Warnitz and Rexow! What can they do against. Pumpelhagen and
Gurlitz?--If the Pumpelhagen people and my people agree----"

"Don't trust to your people, you will get nothing but vexation. Don't
you know how the Pastor's wife treated you? and she can do anything she
pleases with the villagers, they stick to her like burs."

"Can't I get her out of the way? She shall move out of the village!
There is no Pastor's-widow-house here, and am I likely to build one?
Make the most of your meal, Frau Pastorin, you will have to go
further!"

"Kopp, you are a great blockhead! The election of the new Pastor comes
first." With that she left him.

"Klücking," he called after her, "I promise you, dear Klücking, I will
make it all right."

Yes, many a poisonous weed grows out of a fresh grave, when the heirs
reach out impatient hands for the money and goods of the silent man,
when a neighbor profits by the distress of the widow and orphan to make
his own house and garden and fields larger and finer, and when the
coarse fellow sits in his comfortable sofa corner, and grumbles at it,
as a great trial, that he must go out to water a new milch cow.



                             CHAPTER XXIV.


Bräsig had remained at the parsonage through the week. He made all the
arrangements rendered necessary by such a change; he made out the
inventory, wrote whole heaps of the drollest mourning letters, and
carried them to the post himself, in spite of snow and cold and
podagra; he settled with the tailor and shoemaker at Rahnstadt, and
now, on the Monday after the funeral, he was sitting with the Frau
Pastorin and Louise at the breakfast-table, intending to leave
immediately after, when a carriage stopped before the door, and Franz
von Rambow jumped down, and soon after, healthy and joyous, entered the
room. But how his face changed when he saw the black mourning dresses
of the two women. "Good heavens!" he exclaimed, in his first surprise,
"what has happened? Where is the Herr Pastor?"

The little Frau Pastorin rose from her chair, and going up to the
young Herr she gave him her hand, and said, with an effort, "My Pastor
has gone a journey to his last home, and he left greetings for all,
all"--here she was overcome, and put her handkerchief to her eyes, "all
whom he once loved, you also."

And Louise came up, and gave him her hand, without speaking. The color
had risen in her face, when she first saw and recognized him, but now
she was composed again, and seated herself. And Bräsig shook hands, and
talked of this and that, to turn their attention to other subjects, and
away from their fresh grief; but Franz did not listen, he stood like
one thunderstruck, the news was so unexpected, and fell so heavily upon
his joyous hopes.

He had spent two years at the academy in Eldena, had been industrious,
and had stored his mind with all the sciences which he would need in
the widest field of agriculture, or which could assist him in his
chosen calling; the practical part of it he had already acquired, under
Habermann's instruction; he was now of age, and could take possession
of his property, nothing stood in the way of his establishing a
household, but his own consideration. This, and the late Pastor's
quiet, sensible letters, which had carefully avoided the remotest
question or allusion, and with all their joyous heartiness had showed
so much intelligence and reason, had kept him from hasty steps and rash
actions. He had not a cold heart, it beat as hotly in his breast as
that of any other young man, who falls over head and ears in love at
first sight, and at once offers his heart and his hand; but, from his
childhood, he had been thrown upon his own judgment, and been
accountable for his own actions, and had decided the smallest matters
after much reflection,--some said too much reflection,--but it did no
harm! In this matter he was right, he would take this important step in
life with a warm heart, but with a cool head. He had restrained his
heart, had locked all his sweet dreams of joy and happiness in his own
breast, like the sweet kernel in a hard nut; he would not crack the nut
for his mere pleasure, he would wait patiently, till favorable
circumstances, like the sun and rain, should make the shell open gently
of itself, and the green sprout should come to light, and a tree should
grow from it, beneath whose shade he and his Louise might sit happily
together. And when his heart beat faster, and urged him to visit her,
and see her again, he strove against it, with a right feeling toward
his maiden, she should not be troubled till she had time to learn and
to comprehend herself; and he had a feeling of pride, that he would
have no match-maker meddling with his happiness. And when his heart
often bled in the conflict, he called to it, fresh and strong; "Hands
off! We are playing no lottery, here! Such a gain is too easily won,
and too easily lost. The reward shall pay for the trouble. No bitter,
no sweet!"

But now he was of age, now he was in all respects a man, now his own
pride and his honor toward the dearest, sweetest maiden in the world
were to receive their reward, now the tender green of the sprouting
kernel pushed through the softened shell, and through the dark earth,
up to the light, and it was time to care for it, that the tree might
grow; and it was not time, merely, it was also duty. Now he threw
himself into his carriage, the strife between the cool judgment and the
warm heart was at an end, the former he left at home, safely stowed
away, so that it might not be lost, for he might need it afterwards,
and the latter he took with him, and comforted and soothed it, and sung
it sweet song all the way, as if it were a child in the cradle, and he
the mother.

And now all this joy was gone, the songs of happiness and love had been
sung in vain, between these two sorrowful, black-robed forms, his heart
throbbed as restlessly as before, and though he had left his judgment
at home, his kind feelings, his reverence for so great a sorrow, and
his remembrance of the worthy, silent man, were too strong for him, and
against such a power, no honest heart could strive; it surrenders,
although with wounds and suffering. Love is full of selfishness, and
knows no consideration for others, people say,--and there is truth in
it! It is a world for itself, and goes its own way, as if it had no
concern for anything else; but if it comes from God, its path is marked
out by eternal laws, that it should do no injustice, nowhere give
offence, and beam upon other worlds with its sweet, gentle light, like
the evening star, when it sheds peace upon the weary heart.

Such was Franz's love, it could not offend, could not bring trouble
upon others, it must comfort and heal; so he restrained his heart, and
was silent, and when he took his leave of the parsonage, he felt like a
wanderer, who has come, with labor and weariness, to the church tower,
which beckoned to him in the distance, and when he reaches the first
houses in the village, he finds that this is not the right place, and
that the end of his journey lies far beyond; he takes one deep,
refreshing draught, and travels sturdily on.

It was a lovely, bright winter's day as Franz walked towards
Pumpelhagen, letting the carriage follow slowly behind him; Bräsig went
with him. The young man was absorbed in his own thoughts, Bräsig quite
the contrary, so they did not accord well together. Bräsig should have
held his tongue instead of telling all the stories which haunted his
brain, but it was one of Uncle Bräsig's happiest peculiarities, that he
never observed when he was troublesome. At last, however, he became
aware that the young Herr gave him no replies; he stood still, as it
happened, in the very place where Axel had treated him so shabbily, and
asked, "How? Am I perhaps an inconvenience to you? It has happened to
me before, in this very place, with your gracious Herr Cousin; I can go
on by myself, as I did then."

"Dear Herr Inspector," said Franz, grasping the old man's hand; "you
must not be offended with me; the death of the good Pastor, and the sad
change in the dear old parsonage, have affected me very deeply."

"So?" said Bräsig, pressing his hand, "if that is it, then I am not at
all offended, and I always said also, to the Frau Pastorin and the
little Louise, that you were an educated farmer, like the man in the
book, since you keep kind feelings in your heart, and can look out for
the good-for-nothing farm-boys; and I have always told Rudolph he
should take you for a model. Do you know Rudolph?" And he began to tell
about Rudolph and Mining, and Gottlieb and Lining, and brought the
whole region into the story, and Franz compelled himself to listen
attentively, so that before he reached Pumpelhagen, he knew all about
everybody, even about Pomuchelskopp and his Häuning.

"So," said Bräsig, when they reached the court-yard, "you go now to
your gracious Herr Cousin, and I to Habermann, and what I have said to
you about Pomuchelskopp, and his secret projects must remain _præter
propter_ between us, and you may rely upon it, I will keep watch of
him, and if he attempts any more scurvy tricks I will let you know."

But Franz did not go into the manor house, he ran before Bräsig into
the farmhouse, into the room where he had spent so many quiet, happy
hours with his good old instructor, and he fell upon the old man's
neck, and old and young lay in each other's arms, as if the time and
the years between the two had been blotted out, and the old eyes grew
moist, and the young cheeks took a fresher color, as if age were giving
its dew and its blessing that youth might grow fresher and brighter. So
it was, and so shall it ever be!

Then Franz went up to Fritz Triddelsitz, and offered his hand:
"Good-day, Fritz!"

But Fritz had his pride, also, his burgher-pride, and he had also his
revenge, the revenge which he had stamped into the pease-field, after
the ditch-rendezvous, so he said, coldly, "How do you find yourself,
Herr von Rambow?"

"Fritz, have you no sense?" said Franz, and turned away and left him,
as if Fritz were an inexplicable riddle, and he would turn to something
else; he shook hands with the two old men, and went to his cousin.

"Karl," said Bräsig, sitting down to the table, where the dinner stood
ready, "an excellent young man, this Herr Von! And what a beautiful
piece of roast pork you have here! I have seen no such roast pork, in
seven cold winters."

The reception given Franz, by his cousin Axel, was cordial, and the joy
he expressed was sincere, as might well be supposed, for the two
cousins were the only male descendants of their race. Frida, whom Franz
had previously met at her wedding, was particularly pleased with the
kind-hearted, sensible young man, and did everything in her power to
make his visit agreeable, and as Habermann, having given Bräsig his
company a little way after dinner, was returning across the court, she
sent out, and invited him in to coffee, believing rightly that it would
please Franz. Upon this occasion, it came out that Franz had gone
already to the farm-house, and had made his first call on the
inspector. This annoyed Axel a little, he wrinkled up his forehead at
the intelligence, and his wife, at least, noticed before long that he
began to put on the master. This would have been a matter of
indifference, if he had not been so unreasonable and unjust as to
punish Habermann, by a cold, ceremonious manner, for the fault of
Franz,--if it were a fault.

The company was not quite harmonious; every friendly word, which was
exchanged between Habermann and Franz, disturbed Axel; he became
stiffer and colder, and the whole conversation, in spite of the lovely
warm sunshine which the young wife always diffused around her, was
dropping to the freezing-point, when Habermann suddenly sprang up, went
to the window, and, without a word, ran out of the room. Axel's face
turned a dusky red with the anger that rose in him; "That is very
strange behavior!" cried he, "the Herr Inspector seems to consider
himself exempt from the ordinary rules of politeness.

"It must be something very important," said Frida, going to the window.
"What is he doing to that laborer?"

"That is the day-laborer, Regel," said Franz, who was also looking out
of the window.

"Regel! Regel!" said Axel, springing up, "that is the messenger that I
sent to Rostock yesterday, with two thousand thalers in gold; he cannot
be back so soon."

"That must be what has disconcerted the old man so," said Franz. "Only
see, he is laying hands on the fellow! I never saw him so excited!" and
he ran out of the door, and Axel after him.

As they came out the old inspector had seized the young, strong
day-laborer in the breast, and shook him till his hat fell off into the
snow.

"Those are lies!" cried he, as he shook him, "those are miserable lies!
Herr von Rambow, this fellow has lost the money!"

"No, they took it from me!" cried the laborer, standing there, pale as
death.

Axel also turned pale; the two thousand thalers should have been paid
in Rostock, long ago, but he had delayed till the last moment, and then
borrowed the sum of Pomuchelskopp,--and now it was gone.

"They are lies!" repeated Habermann, "I know the fellow. They took the
money away from you by force? No ten fellows could take even a pipe of
tobacco from you by force!" and he attacked him again.

"Hold!" cried Franz, coming between them. "Let the man just tell his
story, quietly. How was it about the money?"

"They took it from me," said Regel. "As I was beyond Rahnstadt, this
morning, near the Gallin wood, two fellows came toward me, and one of
them asked me for a little fire for his pipe, and while I was striking
it, the other seized me behind, by the belt, and pulled me off, and
they took the black package out of my pocket, and then they ran off
into the Gallin wood, and I after them, but I could not catch them."

"What is that?" interrupted Axel, "how did you come to be near the
Gallin wood this morning? It lies only half a mile beyond Rahnstadt.
Did I not charge you expressly, to get a pass from the burgomeister at
Rahnstadt, and ride all night, so that the money might be in Rostock at
noon to-day?" (This was the last day on which the note could be paid,
it would otherwise be protested.)

"Yes, Herr," said the laborer, "I got the pass, and here it is," and he
pulled it out of his hat band, "but to ride all the winter night was
too much, and I stayed with my friends in Rahnstadt, thinking I could
get to Rostock in time."

"Krischan Däsel!" called Habermann, across the courtyard. He had become
perfectly composed, for it was merely the conviction that the laborer
was lying to his face, which had roused the old man to such a state of
excitement.

"Herr von Rambow," said he, as Krischan came up, "don't you wish the
justice to be sent for?" and as Axel assented, he said, "Krischan, take
two of the carriage horses, and put them to the chaise. You must bring
the Herr Burgomeister from Rahnstadt; I will give you a letter to him.
And you, Regel, come with me, I will show you a quiet place, where you
can recollect yourself." With that, he went off with the day-laborer,
and locked him into a chamber.

When Axel returned to the house with his cousin, he had an excellent
opportunity to make the young man acquainted with his pecuniary
embarrassments; but, although he knew that Franz could easily and
willingly help him, he was silent. It is a strange but indisputable
fact, that people who run in debt will turn sooner to the hard heart of
the usurer, for assistance, than to the soft ones of friends and
relatives. They are too proud to acknowledge their debts, but not
too proud to beg and to borrow of the most good-for-nothing Jew
money-lenders. But it is not pride, it is nothing but the most pitiable
cowardice, which is afraid of the reasonable and well-meant
remonstrances of friends and relatives.

So Axel was silent, and walked restlessly up and down the room, while
Frida was talking with Franz over this singular occurrence. The
business was a very serious one for him, the money must be procured, or
he would be sued for it,--his note was probably already protested. He
could no longer endure it; he ordered his horse, and, although it was
growing dark, he went off for a ride,--so he said, at least,--but he
went to Pomuchelskopp.

Pomuchelskopp listened to Herr von Rambow's troubles with a great deal
of sympathy, and lamented the wickedness of mankind, and expressed the
opinion that Herr von Rambow might as well have no inspector at all as
one who had not understanding enough to choose a safe messenger on such
an important business,--he would not say anything but there must be
something behind; he would say nothing prematurely, but this much he
would say, Habermann had always looked out sharply for his own
interests, for example, there was the Pastor's acre; he had advised the
late Herr Kammerrath to rent it, so that his own salary might be
increased; but it was certainly an injury to the Pumpelhagen husbandry,
as he could convince the Herr, and he inflicted upon Axel a long
chapter of calculations which the latter did not attempt to follow,
for, in the first place, he did not understand calculations, and
secondly, he was absorbed, for the moment, in thoughts of his troubles.
He said "Yes" to everything, and at last came out with the request that
Pomuchelskopp should advance another two thousand thalers.

Pomuchelskopp hesitated a little at first, and scratched behind his
ear, but at last said, "Yes;" on condition that Axel would not rent the
Pastor's acre again, of the new Pastor. This might well have startled
the young Herr, and Muchel was conscious of the danger, so he proved to
him again, with figures, that it would be much better that the Gurlitz
farm should undertake this lease, and that in this way both would be
gainers. Axel gave but little attention, and finally consented to give
the desired promise in writing; his difficulty was pressing, he must
meet the first necessity, and he was just the sort of man to kill his
milch cow, in order to sell her skin.

The business was now settled; Axel wrote his bond, and Pomuchelskopp
packed up the two thousand thalers, and sent it, with a letter from
Axel, by his own servant, to Rahnstadt, to the post. That was the best
way; no one in Pumpelhagen need know anything about it. As Axel rode
home, he repeated two lies to himself, until he really believed them;
first, that Habermann alone was properly to be blamed for the loss of
the money, and second, that he ought to be glad to get rid of the
Pastor's acre.



                              CHAPTER XXV.


Meanwhile, the Rahnstadt burgomeister, who was Axel's magistrate, had
arrived at Pumpelhagen, bringing Herr Slusuhr, the notary, as his
recording clerk.

The man had acted very discreetly; as soon as he had read Habermann's
letter, he had sent policemen round to all the alehouses and shops,
where laborers resorted, to inquire whether and when the day-laborer
Regel, of Pumpelhagen, had been there, and in this way he found out
enough to assist him in the examination. The laborer had come to him,
yesterday afternoon, about four o'clock, and had got his pass made
out; he had showed him the package of money,--the gold was sewed in
black-waxed cloth,--and the burgomeister had looked at it closely
enough, to see that the seal had not been tampered with. The man had
told him,--he was on the whole, rather talkative,--that he should
travel all night; it was pretty hard, to be sure, at this time of year;
but the man was a strong, hearty fellow; it would be no darker, for the
snow made it light, and, towards midnight, the moon rose; so he had
advised him to set off immediately. This however, as he had
ascertained, he had not done, he had gone into several ale-houses, and
treated himself to liquor; even by nine o'clock he was not out of
Rahnstadt, he had stopped before a shop, and drank brandy, and bragged,
and talked of his great sum of money, had also showed the packet to the
shopman. Where he had stayed, afterwards, he did not know; but so much
seemed to be certain, the man was grossly intoxicated; and the justice
now asked Axel and Habermann, whether the fellow were in the habit of
drinking.

"I do not know," said Axel; "in these particulars, I must rely upon my
inspector."

Habermann looked at him, as if this speech seemed to him a very strange
one, and he would have said something about it; but he merely remarked
to the burgomeister that he had never noticed anything of the kind, or
even heard of it; Regel was always the soberest fellow on the place,
and in that respect he had no complaints to make of any of the people.

"May be," said the burgomeister, "but it wasn't quite right with the
man; there is always a first time,--he had certainly been drinking
before he came to me. Let his wife come in."

The wife came. She was a young, pretty woman; it was not long since she
had been running about, a young girl, as fresh and bright as only our
Mecklenburg country girls can be, but now sickness had washed off the
maiden roses from her cheeks, and household labor had made the soft,
rounded outlines a little angular,--our housewives in the country grow
old early,--moreover she wore mourning, and was trembling all over,
with anxiety.

Habermann pitied the poor woman, he went up to her, and said,
"Regelsch, don't be afraid; just tell the truth about everything, and
it will all come right again."

"Good Lord, Herr Inspector, what is this? What does it all mean? What
has my husband done?"

"Just tell me, Regelsch, does your husband often drink more brandy than
he can carry?" asked the justice.

"No, Herr, never in his life, he drinks no brandy at all, we don't keep
it in the house; only at harvest time, he drinks a glass, when it is
sent down from the manor house."

"Had he drank any brandy, yesterday, when he left home?"

"No, Herr! He ate something first, and then he started off, about
half past two. No, Herr,--but wait, wait! No, I did not see him, but
yet--oh, Lord, yes! Last evening, when I went to the cupboard, the
brandy-bottle was empty."

"I thought you didn't keep any brandy in the house," said the
burgomeister.

"No, we don't; but this was a little of the funeral brandy; we buried
our little girl last Friday, and there was some left over. Ah, and how
he grieved! how he grieved!"

"And do you think your husband drank it?"

"Yes, Herr, who else should have done it?"

The evidence was recorded, and Regelsch was dismissed.

"So!" said Slusuhr in an insolent way to Axel, and winked towards the
burgomeister, "we have got at the brandy, if we could only get at the
money!"

"Herr Notary, write!" said the burgomeister, quietly and with dignity,
and pointed with his finger to his place: "The day-laborer, Regel, is
brought in, admonished to tell the truth, and gives evidence."

"Herr Burgomeister," said Axel, springing up, "I don't see what this
brandy story has to do with my money. The fellow has stolen it!"

"That is just what I want to find out," said the burgomeister, very
quietly, "whether he has stolen or, more properly, embezzled the money,
and whether he was altogether in a condition to do such a thing," and
going up to the young Herr he said, very kindly, but also very
decidedly, "Herr von Rambow, a thief, who intends to steal two thousand
thalers, does not begin by getting drunk. Moreover, I must tell you,
that as a magistrate, I have to consider not only your interests, but
also those of the accused."

The day-laborer, Regel, came in. He was deadly pale; but the distress
which he had shown in his whole manner, before the old inspector, in
the afternoon, had left him, he looked almost like old oaken wood, into
which no worm ventures.

He acknowledged that he had drunk the brandy at home, more yet in
Rahnstadt, and that he had been with the shopkeeper, about nine
o'clock; then he had spent the night with his friends, in Rahnstadt,
and about six o'clock had started for Rostock; but there he stuck to
his story: by the Gallin wood, two fellows had attacked him, and taken
the money by force. While the last of his deposition was being taken
down, the door opened, and the laborer's wife rushed up to her
husband,--for police-laws are not very strict, in our primitive
Mecklenburg tribunals,--and grasped his arm: "Jochen! Jochen! Have you
made your wife and children unhappy forever?"

"Marik! Marik!" cried the man, "I have not done it. My hands are clean.
Have I ever, in my life, stolen anything?"

"Jochen!" cried the wife, "tell the truth to the gentlemen!"

The laborer's breast throbbed and his face flushed a deep red, but in a
moment he was as deadly pale as before, and he cast a shy, uncertain
glance at his wife: "Marik, have I ever, in all my life, stolen or
taken anything?"

The wife let her hands fall from his shoulder: "No, Jochen, you have
not! You have not, truly! But you lie, you have often lied to me." She
put her apron to her eyes, and went out of the room. Habermann followed
her. The day-laborer, also, was led away.

The burgomeister had not disturbed the interview between the man and
wife,--it was not in order, but it might furnish him a clue, by which
he could draw the truth to light. Axel had started up at the woman's
words, "You lie, you have often lied to me," and walked hastily up and
down the room; his conscience smote him, he did not exactly know why,
this evening, he only knew that he also had never stolen or taken
anything, but he had lied. But so it is with the soul of a man who is
not sincere, even at the moment when his conscience troubles him, he
lies again, for his own advantage. _His_ case was quite a different one
from the laborer's; he had only told a few falsehoods, for the benefit
of his wife, that she might not be disturbed, the laborer had lied to
conceal his guilt. Yes, Herr von Rambow, only keep on like that, and
the devil will surely, in time, reap a fine harvest!

Slusuhr had finished his writing, and again went boldly up to Axel:

"Yes, Herr von Rambow, he who lies will steal."

That was an infamous speech, to a man in Axel's present humor, and when
he knew, also, how near Slusuhr's business came to stealing; he was not
merely astonished, he was terrified at the fellow's impudence. He might
not have been so, if he had known what people said about the notary.

People used to say, that the Herr Notary's father had wished to sell
him, when a little boy, to the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg, as a runner,
and with this design had taken him to the Herr Doctor and Surgeon
Kohlman, at New Brandenburg, to have his spleen cut out, so that he
could run the better; but the Herr Doctor, who knew everything else,
and claimed to have been appointed by the Lord Minister of the Supreme
Wisdom for New Brandenburg, had, in an unfortunate moment, when his
eyes were a little dim, cut out the conscience, instead of the spleen,
so that Slusuhr had to journey through life, with a spleen, and without
a conscience, and not as a runner, but as a notary.

There was nothing more for the magistrate to do at present; the
witnesses, and the friends of the laborer, who had last seen him, were
not at hand, and the burgomeister gave orders that the prisoner should
be kept under guard, for this night, at Pumpelhagen, and taken to
Rahnstadt the next day.

"He shall be put under the manor house, in the front cellar," said Axel
to Habermann, who had come in again.

"Herr von Rambow," said Habermann, "Isn't it better to leave him in the
chamber at the farm-house? There are iron bars--"

"No," said Axel, sharply, "there are iron bars in the cellar, too; I
wish to avoid collusions, which might take place at the farm-house."

"Herr von Rambow, I am a very light sleeper, and if you wish it, I can
have another person to watch at the door."

"What I have ordered, I have ordered. The business is of too much
importance, for me to trust to your light sleep, and to a comrade of
the rascal's."

Habermann looked at him inquiringly, and said, "As you command," and
went out.

It was nearly ten o'clock, the supper table had long been waiting,
Marie Möller was scolding because the baked fish would be cooked to
death, Frida was also annoyed over the long delay of the supper, and
only through her conversation with Franz was able to muster a little
patience, when the gentlemen came in, after the trial. Frida went up to
the burgomeister, in her bright way: "Isn't it so? He hasn't stolen the
money?"

"No, gracious lady," said the burgomeister, with quiet decision, "the
day-laborer has not stolen it, but it has been stolen from him, or he
has lost it."

"Thank God!" cried she, out of a full heart, "that the man is no thief!
The thought that we had dishonest people on the place, would have been
dreadful!"

"Do you think that our people are bettor than all others? They are just
such a set as on any other estate, they all steal," observed Axel.

"Herr von Rambow," said Habermann, who had also come in to supper, "our
people are honest, I have been here long enough to be fully convinced
of it. No thieving has occurred, during the whole time."

"Ah, so you have always said, and now we have this,--now we have this!
My foolish credulity had cost me two thousand thalers. And if you knew
the people so well, why did you send this particular man?"

Habermann looked at him in astonishment. "As it seems," said he, "you
wish to put the blame upon me; but if there has been a fault in the
matter, I do not take it upon myself. It is true," he added hastily,
and his face flushed with anger, "I sent this man; but only because you
had employed him constantly as a messenger, in carrying money; he has
already been sent by you more than ten times to Gurlitz, and the Herr
Notary, here, can testify how often he has been to him on such
errands."

Frida looked hastily over to Slusuhr, upon these words, and the Herr
Notary had turned his eyes towards her; they said nothing, but,
different as their thoughts were, it seemed as if each had read the
very soul of the other. Frida read, in the secret, malicious joy in the
notary's eyes, that he was the chief enemy of her happiness, and the
notary read, in the dear, sensible eyes of the young wife, that she was
the chief obstacle in the way of his and Pomuchelskopp's plans. Axel
would have given a hasty answer to Habermann's words, but he held his
peace when he saw the old man's steadfast gaze, and then Frida's
questioning glance resting upon him. Slusuhr was also silent, and lay
in wait; he was the only one who could see through the thorn-bush,
which was growing in this garden, and now he lay behind the thorn-bush,
and watched, to see if a hare would not run in his direction.

The justice and Franz were the only ones who had no suspicion of the
disturbance caused by Habermann's hasty words, and they alone carried
on the conversation at table. When the company rose from the table,
they separated; the justice remained through the night.

All were asleep in Pumpelhagen, only two married couples were still
waking; one couple was the Herr von Rambow and his wife, the other was
the day-laborer, Regel and his wife. The one pair sat close together,
in a warm room, and the night was so silent about them that one might
well have a desire to open his heart, and find courage to speak the
truth. But it was not so. Frida begged her husband earnestly to confide
in her, she knew already that he was in great pecuniary embarrassment;
they would retrench, but the dealings with Pomuchelskopp and Slusuhr
must be given up; he should talk with Habermann, he would show him the
right way.

Everything went by halves with Axel, he did not exactly lie, but
neither did he tell the truth. That he was in temporary embarrassment,
he would not deny; when a man had two thousand thalers stolen, he might
well be embarrassed; he had exchanged nothing as yet, had also been
able to sell nothing,--that he had sold a fine crop of wheat, in
anticipation, and got the money for it, he did not tell her. His
dealings with Pomuchelskopp and Slusuhr--he said nothing about
David--could do him no harm, those were old, made up stories,--he did
not speak of the new loan from Pomuchelskopp,--and the people were
prejudiced against him; as for Habermann,--and here he became excited
for the first time,--he could not consult about money matters with his
inspector, it was not suitable for him, as master. Axel did not exactly
tell falsehoods, and when he put his arm around her, and said that it
would all come right again, he said what at the moment he believed to
be the truth. She left him with a heavy heart.

The other pair were not sitting in a warm room; the laborer lay in the
cold cellar, and his wife crouched on her knees outside, before the
cellar-window, in the fine, cold November rain; they were not close
together, an iron grating divided them. "Jochen," whispered she,
through the broken window-panes, "tell the truth."

"They took it from me," was the reply.

"Jochen, who?"

"Eh, do I know?" said he, and it was the truth; he did not know who the
woman was who had taken the black packet, in broad daylight, and on the
public road, out of his waistcoat pocket, as he, not yet recovered from
the intoxication of yesterday, and having just taken a couple of
glasses on an empty stomach, was tumbling along towards Gallin. He did
not lie, but he could not tell the truth; how could he confess that
from him, a young, strong fellow, a woman had taken the two thousand
thalers, on the open street? He could not do that, if it should cost
him his life.

"Jochen, you are lying. If you will not tell me the truth, tell it to
our old inspector."

No, to him, of all others, he could not tell the truth, for he had
promised him he would not lie any more, and he had admonished him so
earnestly,--he could not tell him.

"Marik, get me my chisel, and a couple of thalers in money."

"Jochen, what are you going to do?"

"I will go away."

"Jochen, Jochen! and leave me here, with the poor little ones?"

"Marik, I must go; it will never go well with me here again,"

"Jochen, tell the truth, and it will be all right."

"If you don't bring me the chisel and the money, I will take my life,
this very night!"

And here, also, there was much begging and pleading and talking, as
there was upstairs in the warm room, but the truth would not come out,
no more here than there, it was kept back, here as there, by the shame
of confessing inconsiderate and disreputable actions, and here, also,
the wife left her husband with a heavy heart.

The first thing next morning came the news, setting all Pumpelhagen in
an uproar, that the day-laborer, Regel, had broken out, and run away.
The justice made preparations to have him arrested again, and rode off,
homewards, with the Herr Notary. Axel was in a rage,--no one knew why;
but it was with himself; and because he could shove the blame upon
nobody else, for he himself had given orders that the man should be
locked up in the cellar.

After breakfast came Pomuchelskopp, to inquire about the matter, of
which he had heard, as he said. Franz greeted him coldly, but so much
the warmer was Axel's reception. He knew well how to talk of the
matter, the laws were too easy towards these low fellows, and the
burgomeister at Rahnstadt was much too good to the rascals; he told
thief-stories, out of his own experience and that of his acquaintances,
and finally said that he believed, like Habermann, that the fellow had
not done it. "That is to say," he added, "not of his own accord, he can
merely have been the tool of another, for no day-laborer would venture
to steal two thousand thalers which had been entrusted to him; there
must be a cleverer rogue in the background. And therefore," said he, "I
advise you, Herr von Rambow, to have an eye on the people who may have
assisted his flight, and especially on those who take his part."

Axel's feelings, through the loss and through his anger, were like
freshly prepared soil, and whatever seed fell therein, even were it
darnel and cockles, must sprout up finely. He walked up and down the
room; yes, Pomuchelskopp was right, he was a practical old fellow, who
knew the world, that is to say, the agricultural world; but who could
have been concerned with Regel in such a business? He knew of no one.
Who had taken Regel's part? That was Habermann, he had said expressly,
from the first, that he must have lost the money. But he had been so
angry with the fellow, at the first news. Well, that might all have
been acting! And why had he been so anxious to have the laborer close
by his room, in the chamber? Perhaps that he might have intercourse
with him, perhaps that he might be better able to help him off.

For an intelligent man, these were very stupid thoughts, but the devil
is a cunning fellow, he does not seek out the prudent and strong, when
he wishes to sow darnel and cockles in the fresh furrow, he takes the
foolish and weak.

"What is the Herr Inspector doing with that woman?" asked
Pomuchelskopp, who had stepped to the window.

"That is Regelsch," said Franz, who stood near him.

"Yes," said Axel, hastily, "what has he to do with her? I must find
out."

"That is very singular," said Pomuchelskopp.

Habermann stood in the yard, with the laborer's wife, apparently
persuading her to something; she resisted, but finally yielded, and
came with him towards the manor house. They entered the room.

"Herr von Rambow," said Habermann, "the woman has confessed to me that
she helped her husband away in the night."

"Yes, Herr," said the woman, trembling all over, "I did it, I am
guilty; but I could not do otherwise, he would have taken his life
else," and the tears started from her eyes, and she put her apron to
her face.

"A pretty story!" said Axel, coldly,--and he was usually so
kindhearted--"a pretty story! This seems to be a regular conspiracy!"

Franz went up to the woman, made her sit down, and inquired, "Regelsch,
didn't he confess to you what he had done with the money?"

"No, young Herr, he told me nothing, and what he said was false; I know
that; but he hasn't taken it."

"How came you," said Axel roughly to Habermann, "to be questioning this
woman without my orders?"

Habermann was startled at this question, and still more at the tone in
which it was expressed; "I believed," said he, quietly, "that it would
be well to find out how and when the prisoner got away, in order to
obtain some hint of his present place of concealment."

"Or perhaps to give some!" exclaimed Axel, and turned quickly about, as
if he had done something which might cost him dear. The result was not
quite so bad as he had reason to fear, for Habermann had not understood
the meaning of his words, he heard merely the tone, but that was enough
to lead him to say, with serious emphasis, "What you mean by your
words, I do not know, and it is a matter of indifference to me; but the
manner and tone in which you have spoken to me, last evening and this
morning, are what I will not take from you. Yesterday I was silent,
out of consideration for the gracious lady, but in the present
company"--here he glanced at Pomuchelskopp--"I need not exercise such
consideration," and with that he left the room. The laborer's wife
followed him.

Axel was going after him; Franz stepped in his way: "What are you going
to do, Axel? Recollect yourself! You are in fault, you have bitterly
wronged the old man, as he evidently thinks."

"That was a bold move," said Pomuchelskopp, as if he were talking to
himself, "that was a bold move, for an inspector," but he must be going
home, he said, and called, out of the window, for his horse. He had got
things started finely.

The horse was brought, Axel accompanied his Herr Neighbor out of the
door; Franz remained in the room. "Certainly a very good man, your Herr
Cousin," said Pomuchelskopp, "but he does not know the world yet, does
not know yet what is proper for the master, and what for the servant."
With that, he rode off. Axel came back into the parlor, and threw the
cap, which he wore because the morning was cold, into the sofa corner,
exclaiming, "Infamous cheats! The devil take the whole concern, if one
can no longer rely upon anybody!"

"Axel," said Franz, going up to him kindly, "you do your people great
wrong, you do yourself wrong, dear brother, if you cherish such an
unjust hatred in your benevolent heart."

"Unjust? What? Two thousand thalers have been stolen----"

"They are lost, Axel, through the inconsiderate fault of a
day-laborer."

"Oh, what, _lost_!" exclaimed Axel, turning away, "you come with the
same story as my Herr Inspector!"

"Axel, all intelligent people are of this opinion, the burgomeister
himself said--"

"Don't talk to me of that old nightcap! I should have conducted the
examination myself, then we should have come to quite a different
conclusion, or if I had only got hold of the woman first, this morning,
her story would have been quite another thing; but so? Oh, it is all a
contrived plot!"

"Listen to me, Axel, you have made that allusion once before," cried
Franz sharply and decidedly; "fortunately, it was not understood; now
you make it for the second time, and I, for my part, must understand."

"Well, then you may understand that it is not made without sufficient
grounds."

"Can you make such a declaration to your own conscience? Would you, in
your unjust excitement and with wanton cruelty, cast such a stain upon
sixty years of honorable life?"

This touched Axel, and cooled him off a little, and he said peevishly,
for his unnatural excitement was wearing off, "I have not said that he
has done it; I only said he might have done it."

"The suspicion," said Franz coldly, "is as bad as the other, as bad for
_yourself_ as for the old man. Remember, Axel," said he, impressively,
laying his hand on his cousin's shoulder, "how long the old man has
been, to your father and yourself, a faithful, upright steward! To me,"
he added, in a lower tone, "he was more, he has been my friend and
teacher."

Axel walked up and down, he felt that he was wrong,--at least, for the
moment,--but to confess, freely and fully, that he had endeavoured to
shove off the blame of his own foolishness and untruthfulness upon
another was too much, he had not the clear courage to do it. He began
to chaffer and bargain with himself, and availed himself of the
expedient which the weak and dishonest are always ready to employ,--he
carried the war into the enemy's camp. In every age, up to the present
time, truth is yet sold, in a weak human soul, for thirty pieces of
silver.

"Oh, to _you_!" said he, "he would like to be still more to you."

"What do you mean?" asked Franz, turning round on him sharply.

"Oh," said Axel, "nothing more! I only mean you may call him 'Papa,' by
and by."

There was an unworthiness in this speech, in the intention to offend
the man who had been firm enough to tell him the truth. Franz flushed a
deep red. His deepest, holiest secret was brought to light, and in this
insulting manner! The blood rushed to his face; but he restrained
himself, and said, shortly:

"That has nothing to do with the matter."

"Why not?" said Axel. "It at least explains the warmth with which you
defend your Herr Habermann."

"The man needs no defence of mine, his whole life defends him."

"And his lovely daughter," said Axel, striding up and down, in great
triumph.

A great passion rose in Franz's soul, but he restrained himself, and
asked, quietly, "Do you know her?"

"Yes--no--that is to say, I have seen her; I have seen her at the
parsonage, and she has often been here, with my wife, and my wife also
has visited her. I know her merely by sight; a pretty girl, a very
pretty girl, 'pon honor! I was pleased with her, as a child, at my
father's funeral."

"And when you learned, that she was dear to me, did you not seek a
nearer acquaintance?"

"No, Franz, no! Why should I? I knew, of course, that nothing serious
could come of such an attachment."

"Then you knew more than I."

"Oh, I know more still, I know how they set traps and snares for you,
and were always contriving ways to catch you."

"And from whom did you learn all this? But why do I ask? Such childish
gossip could have been hatched in but one house, in the whole region.
But since we have mentioned the matter, I will tell you frankly, that I
certainly do intend to marry the girl, that is, if she does not refuse
me."

"She would better beware! She would better beware!" exclaimed Axel,
springing about the room, in his anger. "Will you really commit this
folly? And will you give me this affront?"

"Axel, look to your words!" cried Franz, whose temper was getting the
upper hand. "What business is it of yours?"

"What? Does it not not concern _me_, as the oldest representative of
our old family, if one of the younger members disgraces himself by a
_mésalliance_."

Yet once more Franz restrained himself, and said:

"You yourself married from pure inclination, and without regard for
subordinate matters.

"That is quite another thing," said Axel, with authority, believing now
that he had the advantage. "My wife's family is as good as mine, she is
the daughter of an old house; your beloved is the daughter of my
inspector, adopted out of pity and kindness, by the Pastor's family."

"For shame!" cried Franz, passionately, "to make an innocent child
suffer for a great misfortune!"

"It is all the same to me," roared Axel, "I will _not_ call my
inspector's daughter cousin; the girl shall never cross my threshold!"

All the blood which had rushed through Franz's veins and flushed his
face, a moment before, struck to his heart; he stood pale before his
cousin, and said in a voice, which trembled with intense excitement:

"You have said it. You have spoken the word which divides us. Louise
shall never cross your threshold, neither will I."

He turned to go; at the door he was met by Frida, who had heard the
quarrel in the next room: "Franz, Franz, what is the matter?"

"Farewell, Frida," said he, hastily, and went out, towards the
farm-house.

"Axel," cried Frida, running up to her husband, "what have you done?
What have you done?"

"I have showed a young man," said Axel, striding up and down the room,
as if he had fought a great battle with the world-out-of-joint, and
made everything right again, "I have showed a young fellow, who wanted
to make a fool of himself over a pretty face, his true standpoint."

"Have you dared to do that?" said Frida, sinking, pale, into a chair,
and gazing with her great, clear eyes at her husband's triumphal march
through the room, "have you dared to thrust your petty pride of birth
between the pure emotions of two noble hearts?"

"Frida," said Axel, and he knew very well that he had done wrong, and
his conscience smote him, but he could not confess it, "I believe I
have done my duty."

Any one may notice, if he will, that the people who never in their
lives do their duty always make the most use of the word.

"Ah!" cried Frida, springing up, "you have deeply wounded an upright,
honest heart! Axel," she begged, laying her folded hands on his
shoulder, "Franz has gone into the farm-house, follow him, and repair
the injury you have done! Bring him back to us again!"

"Apologize to him, in the presence of my inspector? No, rather not at
all! Oh, it is charming!" and he worked himself again into a passion,
"my two thousand thalers are stolen, my inspector finds fault with me,
my Herr Cousin stands by his dear father-in-law, and now my own wife
joins herself to the company!"

Frida looked at him, loosened her hands, and, throwing a shawl over her
shoulders, said, "If you will not go, I will," and went out, hearing
him call after her, "Yes, go! go! But the old sneak shall clear out!"

As she crossed the court, they were bringing round Franz's carriage,
and as she entered the inspector's room Habermann had just been saying
to the young man, "Herr von Rambow, you will forget it. You have spent
your life hitherto, in our small circle; if you travel,--as I should
think advisable,--then you will have other thoughts. But, dear Franz,"
said the old man, so trustingly, in his recollection of earlier times,
"you will not disturb the heart of my child?"

"No, Habermann," said Franz, just as the young Frau entered the room.

"Good heavens!" cried Habermann, "I have forgotten something. You will
excuse me, gracious lady!" and he left the room.

"Always considerate, always discreet!" said Frida.

"Yes, that he is," said Franz, looking after the old man. The carriage
drove up, but it was kept waiting; the two had much to say to each
other, and, when at last Franz got into the carriage, Frida's eyes were
red, and Franz also dashed away a tear.

"Greet the good old man for me," said he, "and greet Axel, also," he
added, in a lower tone, as he pressed her hand.

The carriage drove off.



                             CHAPTER XXVI.


Young Jochen sat in his chimney-corner smoking. Young Bauschan lay
under his chair, but with his head far enough out to look at young
Jochen. Young Jochen looked at him, but said nothing, and Bauschan said
nothing.

It was very quiet and peaceful, in the Rexow house, on this December
afternoon; there was only one thing which rattled and creaked, that was
Frau Nüssler's arm-chair, in which she sat by the window; and every
time that she took up a stitch, it made a note of it; for which it
should not be blamed, for she squeezed it without mercy, since she had
become, with time, what one calls a stout woman. But, to-day, the old
chair creaked more than usual, for Frau Nüssler had been knitting, in
deep thought, and her thoughts became more and more earnest, and
oppressed her soul, and the chair and its creaking became louder and
louder. "Dear heart!" said she, laying her knitting in her lap, "why
must it be so, in this world, that one's misfortune should be another's
happiness! Jochen, do you know what I have just thought of?"

"No," said young Jochen, and looked at Bauschan; Bauschan didn't know,
either.

"Jochen, what would you think, if Gottlieb should offer himself for the
Gurlitz parish? Gottlieb is but a farthing candle, compared with our
old Herr Pastor; but somebody must get the parish, why not he as well
as another?"

Jochen said nothing.

"If Pomuchelskopp is against him, and our people and the Warnitzers in
his favor, it will depend merely on the Pumpelhagen Herr. What do you
say, Jochen?"

"Yes," said Jochen, "it is all as true as leather;" and, because the
matter interested him uncommonly, he spoke further, and said, "what
shall we do about it?"

"Ah," said Frau Nüssler, "there is no use in talking to you. I wish
Bräsig were only here, he could give us advice," and she resumed her
knitting.

"Well," she exclaimed, half an hour later, "speak of the wolf, and he
is not far off; there comes Bräsig, driving up the yard. And who has he
with him? Rudolph,--now just think of it, Rudolph! Why should Rudolph
come to-day? Jochen, now do me a single favor,--the old fellow is doing
so nicely,--don't go and distress him with your foolish chatter!" With
that she ran to the door, to receive her guests.

But she had delayed too long over her preface, for, as she came out,
Mining lay in Rudolph's arms.

"Preserve us!" cried Frau Nüssler, "softly, Mining!" and she led
Rudolph into the living-room.

"Well," said Jochen, "Bräsig, sit down a little! Rudolph, sit down,
too!"

But that was not so easily done. Rudolph had too much to arrange with
Mining and Lining, to be in haste to sit down, and Bräsig's head was
going round like clock-work, and he trotted up and down the room, as if
his legs were the pendulums, to keep the machinery running.

"Young Jochen," said he, "have you heard the news? They haven't caught
him."

"Whom," asked Jochen.

"Good gracious, Jochen," said Frau Nüssler, "let Bräsig tell. You are
always interrupting people so; let him speak! Bräsig, whom haven't they
caught?"

"Regel," said Bräsig; "they tracked him to Wismar, but there they found
themselves too late, since he had gone off a week before, on a Swedish
oakum ship, and is up in the Baltic sea."

"What a trouble this is for my brother Karl!" sighed Frau Nüssler.

"Frau Nüssler, you are right there; Karl is hardly to be recognized,
for he has completely insulated himself, and is surrounded with gloomy
thoughts. The business troubles him dreadfully, not on his own
account,--no! only on his young Herr's account, for you shall see, the
young man must, sooner or later, declare himself insolvent."

"That would kill Karl!" cried Frau Nüssler.

"How can you help it?" said Bräsig. "The young nobleman is ruining
himself with his eyes open; he is beginning now the higher style of
horse-breeding. For, as I learned from old Prebberow, he has become
intimate with Lichtwark, and has bought an old thorough-bred horse,
which has got spavin, and swelled sinews, and in short, the whole
band in his legs, and he has bought a thorough-bred mare, and he is
going to buy Triddelsitz's old, deaf granny, and establish a complete
horse-hospital. He has got the little mule too, and I am glad of that,
for it is the only sensible creature in the whole company."

"Well, never mind him, Bräsig, he must run his risk," said Frau
Nüssler; "but Jochen and I were just talking about the young
Herr--Mining, you can take Rudolph out a little while! And Lining, you
can go with them!"--and when they were gone she said, "Bräsig, it is
about the Gurlitz living. If Gottlieb could only get it!"

"Frau Nüssler," said Bräsig, bringing his pendulums to a stop, and
standing before Frau Nüssler, as if the clock had struck, "what you
have said is an idea, and nobody in the world is so quick at conceiving
ideas as the women folks. Where did you get this idea?"

"Entirely by myself," said Frau Nüssler, "for Jochen does not agree
with me, as he used to; he is always contradicting."

"Jochen, keep perfectly quiet!" said Bräsig. "You are wrong, for this
opinion of your dear wife is a reasonable one. I will answer for
Warnitz; the people will choose my candidate, even if the gracious
count and countess should oppose; you for Rexow, young Jochen;
Pomuchelskopp won't do it, out of spite; but no matter, it depends on
Pumpelhagen. Who shall talk to the young nobleman about it? Habermann?
He stands on his apropos with him, just at present. I? Worse, if
anything, for he has insulted me. Young Jochen himself? I wouldn't
trust young Jochen, he has got into the way of talking too much lately.
Gottlieb? A good fellow, but a sheep's-head. Then who? Rudolph! An
infernal scoundrel, as Hilgendorf has just written me. Rudolph must go,
and you, Frau Nüssler, must go with him, on account of the family
connection, that the young fellow may leguminiren."

"Good heavens!" cried Frau Nüssler, "shall I go to see the young Herr!"

"No," said Zachary Bräsig, "you go to the young Frau, and Rudolph to
the young Herr. Where is Rudolph? Rudolph must come in immediately."

Rudolph was quite ready to undertake the errand for his cousin
Gottlieb, and it was settled that, the next day, he should drive with
his aunt to Pumpelhagen.

It so happened; but when the deputation drove up to the manor house,
Herr von Rambow was not at home, he had gone out riding; so they were
announced to the gracious lady, and met with a very friendly reception.

"Gracious lady," said Frau Nüssler, going up to the young Frau, in her
truehearted way, without many compliments, "you will not take it
unkindly, if I speak Platt-Deutsch; I know a little High German; but it
is almost nothing. We are old-fashioned people, and I always say a
bright tin plate pleases me better than a silver one which is
tarnished."

Frida herself took off the good Frau's wrappings, and pressed her to
sit down by her on the sofa; she motioned Rudolph to a chair, and would
have seated herself again, but she was held back by Frau Nüssler, who
said to her, quite confidentially:

"You see, gracious lady, this is a nephew of mine, who is going to be
my son-in-law; he is a son of Kurz the merchant, in Rahnstadt, with
whom you have traded."

Rudolph bowed, as was his place, and the young Frau, with her bright
ways, soon made an end of the introduction, and got Frau Nüssler seated
on the sofa.

"Yes," said the stout lady, "he has studied too, but he didn't go very
far; but now that he has become a farmer, he is doing finely, as
Hilgendorf has written to Bräsig."

That was all very fine for Rudolph; but it annoyed him to be talked
about, so he interrupted Frau Nüssler.

"But, dear aunt, you don't want to tell about me, you want to tell
about Gottlieb."

"Yes, gracious lady, that is properly my errand; you see, I have still
another, who is also to be my son-in-law, also a nephew, Rector
Baldrian's son, in Rahnstadt, who has studied regularly, and learned
everything that he ought, and can be a pastor any day. Now our good
old Herr Pastor has gone to heaven,--ah gracious lady, what a man he
was!--and you cannot blame me, if I have the wish to keep my Lining in
the neighbourhood, and that Gottlieb should get the parish."

"No, dear Frau Nüssler," said Frida, "I do not blame you, and if it
depended on me, your future son-in-law should, by all means, have the
presentation, on our side; I have heard so much good of you and your
daughters."

"Have you really?" asked Frau Nüssler, warmed to the heart. "Yes, they
are dear, good little girls!" she exclaimed.

At this moment, footsteps were heard outside, and Herr von Rambow, who
had returned from his ride, came in. The young wife undertook the
introductions, and Axel looked uncommonly grave, at the names. Rudolph
was not disconcerted, however; he had a fine trump to play, which he
did not mean to stake for nothing; he went up to the Herr, and said:

"Herr von Rambow, may I be allowed a few words with you in private?"

Axel went with him into the next room.

"Herr von Rambow," said Rudolph, "the week before last, you lost two
thousand thalers in gold,--as you have said, all in Danish double
louis-d'ors; the day-laborer made his escape, and it seems that he will
not be easily retaken; but they are on the track of the money."

"What?" cried Axel. "How do you know that?"

"Since yesterday afternoon, I know that the trial-justice, the
burgomeister, at Rahnstadt, has obtained a very clear indication in
this direction. I was with my father, in his shop, when a woman came
in, a weaver's wife, who is suing for a divorce from her husband, and
wanted change for a Danish double louis-d'or. I know the woman, she is
miserably poor, and the burgomeister knows also, from the divorce suit,
that she has nothing, nothing at all. My father and I gave information
of this occurrence, and in the examination it came out that, besides
the gold pieces alluded to, she had other money, of which she could
give no account, and it also came out--which is the principal
thing--that she had gone on the same road with the messenger, on the
same morning."

"How is it possible!" cried Axel; "then didn't the fellow steal the
money himself?"

"It seems," said Rudolph, "as if it had been stolen from him. Our
prudent old burgomeister has had the woman arrested, on other minor
charges of theft, and has forbidden my father and me to mention the
matter; to yourself, on the contrary, when he heard that I was coming
this way, he expressly allowed me to speak of it. You will certainly
hear from him, by letter, very soon."

"Herr Kurz," said Axel, "I am extremely obliged to you, for riding over
to give me this information," and he gave the young man his hand.
Rudolph laughed a little, and said finally, "If this had been all, I
should have come alone, but you have noticed my aunt, she has something
very much at heart."

"If I can serve you in any way----" said Axel, courteously.

"Come, I will say it right out, a cousin of mine, a theological
candidate, proposes himself, through my aunt, for the presentation to
the Gurlitz living."

"A cousin? I thought you were a theologue yourself."

"Was! Herr von Rambow, was!" cried Rudolph briskly. "I believe I am not
sufficiently highly organized, as they call it now-a-days, and I
preferred to become a farmer, and I can tell you," he went on, looking
joyously in the young Herr's eyes, "since then, I have been a very
happy man."

It must have been a terribly churlish fellow who would not have warmed
at contact with such fresh life, and Axel was still, on the whole, a
good apple, bruised a little here and there, on the outside, and a
little soiled, but inside, yet sound at the core; he exclaimed
heartily:

"That is right? That is right! That has been my experience. The life of
a Mecklenburg farmer shall yet be worth one's while. Where are you
staying, Herr Kurz?"

"With the greatest farmer of the age, with Hilgendorf, at Little
Tetzleben," laughed Rudolph.

"A very capable man!" said Axel, "thorough-bred too! that is to say,
his horses."

And now they began to talk of Gray Momus, and Herodotus, and Black
Overshire, and Hilgendorf received his share of attention, and when
Rudolph finally stood up, and offered his hand to Herr von Rambow, it
was very kindly pressed, and the Herr said:

"Rely upon it, no other than your cousin shall get the presentation
from me."

As they came back into the parlor, Frau Nüssler rose from the sofa, and
said to Frida, "He would give his life for you, and for the Herr," and
going up to the Herr, she said, "isn't it so? you will do it, Herr von
Rambow? It will make me so happy if I can keep my Lining in the
neighborhood."

Axel was not disposed to like such a free, off-hand reception, nor was
he--though of course without any reasonable ground--disposed to like
the Nüssler ways; but the news that there was a possibility of
recovering his two thousand thalers, the "thorough-bred" talk with
Rudolph, and the really impressive, simple, true-hearted manners of
Frau Nüssler, had their effect; he went up to his wife and said:

"Dear Frida, we have a prospect of recovering our two thousand
thalers."

"The dear God grant it!" said Frau Nüssler. "Rudolph, have you spoken
to the gracious Herr?"

"Yes," replied Axel for him, "the business is settled, he shall have
the presentation from me; but--I should like to see him first."

"That is nothing more than right and proper," said Frau Nüssler; "who
would buy a cat in a bag? And you shall see, if he is appointed, and
preaches, you shall see that he _can_; but, dear heart! stupid? Well,
everybody is stupid about something; I cannot promise for that."

And so they rode off. Gottlieb would have the presentation.

"So," said Bräsig, "the business is well started; now Gottlieb has only
his last execution at Pomuchelskopp's and then the election! But he
must strike while the iron is hot, and since neither God nor man can
help him with Zamel Pomuchelskopp, he must run his risk, and that
quickly."

The opinion was reasonable, and Gottlieb got a letter containing a
positive command that he should report himself at Rexow, next day,
there to receive further instructions.

He arrived, and, when Bräsig had briefly explained the business, he was
ready to undertake the dangerous errand. Krischan the coachman drove
the Phantom up to the door, Lining brought a foot-sack and cloak and
shawls, and tucked her future husband warmly in.

"That is right," said Bräsig; "wrap him up, Lining, so that he may not
freeze, and that the catarrh may not run away with his fine voice; it
is showery weather to-day."

Suddenly Jochen Nüssler rose up from his chimney-corner, and said,
"Mining, my cloak!"

"Well, this is a fine time of day!" said Bräsig.

"Jochen, what do you want?" asked Frau Nüssler.

"Mother," said young Jochen, "you went with Rudolph, I will go with
Gottlieb. I will do my share of the business," and he made such a
decided motion of the head, and looked at them all with so much
expression, that Bräsig cried out, "May you keep the nose on your face!
I never saw the like, in all my life."

"Ah, Bräsig," said Frau Nüssler, "he is always like that lately; but
lei him go, there is no use talking."

And Jochen rode on with him. Lining, however, went up to her little
chamber, and prayed as earnestly for Gottlieb, on his difficult,
errand, as if he were really going to execution.

Jochen and Gottlieb rode on through the deep mud, in silence; neither
spoke a word, for each had his own thoughts, and the only remark made
was when Krischan looked round over his shoulder, and said, "Herr, if
one should drive here in the dark, and slip, he might turn over very
conveniently." So, about four o'clock in the afternoon, they arrived at
Pomuchelskopp's.

Pomuchelskopp lay like a lump of misfortune on his sofa, rubbing his
eyes, for Gustaving had startled him out of his afternoon sleep, when
he came in for the key of the granary, for it was Saturday, and he
wanted to give out the grain.

"Gustaving," he cried spitefully, "you will be an awkward fellow all
your days, you are a regular dunce! Blockhead! I will put you on a
pole, for all the people to see what a dunce you are!"

"Yes, father----"

"Eh, what? yes, father! How often have I told you not to make such a
clattering with the keys, when your father is trying to rest! What
carriage is that, driving up the yard?"

"Good gracious!" cried Gustaving, "that is our neighbor Nüssler, and
another Herr."

"Blockhead!" exclaimed Pomuchelskopp. "How often have I told you, you
should not call everybody neighbor! The day-laborer, Brinkmann, will be
my neighbor next, because he lives near my garden; I will not be
neighbor to everybody," and with that he went to the door, to see what
was going to happen.

Jochen and Gottlieb, meanwhile, had got down from the carriage, and
Jochen came up to him: "Good day, neighbor!" Pomuchelskopp made him a
very ceremonious bow, such as he had learned to make at the Landtag,
and showed them into the parlor. It was very still in the room, if one
excepts the little creaking of the chairs; Jochen thought Gottlieb
ought to speak, Gottlieb thought Jochen ought to speak, and
Pomuchelskopp thought he ought not to speak, lest he should commit
himself to something. Finally, however, Gottlieb began:

"Herr Pomuchelskopp, the good, brave Pastor Behrens has gone to God,
and if it seems hard, and almost unchristian, that I should offer
myself, so soon after his death, as a candidate for the vacant parish,
yet I do not believe that I offend against the common feelings of
humanity, or the duty of a true Christian; because I am conscious that
I take this step only to satisfy the wishes of my own parents, as well
as those of my future father and mother-in-law."

That was a fine speech for Gottlieb, and he was right, in every
respect; but Pomuchelskopp had the right of it, also, when he made no
other reply than to say to Gottlieb, all that might be, but he wished
to know with whom he had the honor of speaking. Jochen motioned with
his head to Gottlieb that he should tell him frankly, and Gottlieb said
that he was the son of Rector Baldrian, and a candidate. Jochen lay
back comfortably in his chair, after this announcement, as if the
business were settled, and he could smoke his pipe in peace. But since
Muchel had offered him no pipe, he had to content himself with going
through the motions, with his mouth, puffing away like a Bohemian carp,
when it comes up for air.

"Herr Candidate," said Pomuchelskopp, "there have been several of your
sort, already, to see me about this business,"--this was a lie, but he
knew no other way of managing a parish business, than if he were
selling a lot of fat swine to the butcher,--"but I have let them all
go, because the matter with me turns upon one point."

"And that was?" asked Gottlieb. "My examina----"

"That is nothing to me," said the Herr Proprietor, "I mean the Pastor's
acre. If you will consent to rent the field to me,--of course for a
good, a very good price,--then you shall have my vote, otherwise not."

"I think I have heard," said Gottlieb, "that the field is rented to the
Herr von Rambow, and I should not like----"

"You may set your mind at rest on that point, Herr von Rambow will not
rent the field again," and Pomuchelskopp looked at Gottlieb in an
overbearing way, as if he had sold his fat swine at the highest price.
Jochen said nothing, but stopped his puffing for a moment, and looked
at his candidate son-in-law, as if to ask, "What do you say now?"

Gottlieb was beyond his depth, for he was very ignorant of worldly
affairs, but he reflected, and his honorable nature was strongly
opposed to entering upon his clerical office by means of such a
bargain; he said, therefore, frankly:

"I cannot and will not give such a promise; I do not wish to procure
the living by such means. It will be time enough to settle that
business when I am in the living."

"So?" asked the Herr Proprietor, grinning at Gottlieb and Jochen,
"then, let me tell you, the fox is too wise for you; what comes after,
the wolf seizes, and if Herr von Rambow should not change his mind
about the field, you can rent it to your Herr father-in-law. Isn't it
so, to your Herr father-in-law?"

That was an infamous speech of Pomuchelskopp's. Jochen rent the field!
Jochen, who from morning to night bore such a heavy burden, should take
this also on his shoulders! He sprang quickly to his feet, and said,
"Herr Neighbor, if a man do what he can do, what can he do more; and
what can I do about it? If the Pumpelhagen Herr will not have the
field, neither will I, I have enough to do."

"Herr Nüssler," said Pomuchelskopp, craftily, "will you give me that in
writing, that you will not rent the field?"

"Yes," said Jochen readily, and he sat down again comfortably in his
chair, and smoked on. Pomuchelskopp walked up and down the room, and
calculated: Herr von Rambow gave up the lease, Jochen would not take
it, they were the only ones who could use it, the field was too small
to rent as a farm by itself, and he, as the proprietor, need not allow
it; it came to this, whether Gottlieb could farm it himself, and
Pomuchelskopp examined him with reference to that question, looking at
him sideways, as he walked back and forth.

There are all sorts of men in the world, and every one has his peculiar
talents, and most people have a good deal of one kind of talent, and
other kinds in much smaller proportions; in Gottlieb's case, however,
nature seemed to have made a little mistake, she sent him into the
world, at least to all appearance, without the slightest trace of
agricultural talent. Bräsig had done his utmost to educate Gottlieb a
little in these matters, but all in vain; what isn't _in_ a man cannot
be brought out of him. Gottlieb could not tell the difference between
oats and barley, he did not know which was ox and which was bull, and
Bräsig finally gave him up in despair, sighing, "Good heavens, how will
the poor fellow ever get through the world!"

Pomuchelskopp, the practical old fellow, detected this failing of
Gottlieb's, and was much pleased. "He knows nothing whatever of
farming," said he to himself, "that is my man. But I mustn't let him
know it!"

"Herr Candidate," said he aloud, "I am pleased with you, you are a very
sensible man, and a man of morality--you will not comply with my
request--good! neither will I promise to grant yours. But if Herr
Nüssler will give me a written statement that he will not rent the
Pastor's acre, we need talk no further about the business; for, as I
said, I am pleased with you."

So then Jochen signed his name, and the two old dunces rode off, very
well satisfied with the transaction. They had got nothing, nothing at
all, but a partial promise from the Herr Proprietor, and for that
Jochen had been obliged to give his signature; but they were quite
contented. Jochen was strongly of the opinion, and remained so till his
death, that he had obtained the parish for his son-in-law by his
signature.

Jochen and Gottlieb would have been glad to stop a little while at the
parsonage; but Krischan the coachman opposed it violently, saying it
would never do, it was pitch dark already; so the old Phantom labored
along, in the night and the mist, through the deep country roads. To
night and mist and a phantom, sleep is appropriate, and whoever finds
this four-leaved clover, has the prospect of all sorts of good fortune.
Sleep was not long absent. Jochen slept before they were fairly put of
Gurlitz, and if it had been daylight, one could have seen, from the way
Krischan dragged his whip, that he was beginning to doze, and though
Gottlieb did not sleep he was farther off, in his thoughts, than the
others; for he was dreaming of his Lining, and his parish, and his
election sermon, and his entrance sermon. And when they came to the
place where Krischan had made his intelligent remark, as they were
going, and as the influences of sleep and darkness combined with its
dangers, and Gottlieb had come in his dream to the last election vote,
which gave the decision in his favor, the confounded old Phantom began
to totter, the fore-wheel was up, high and dry, on the shore, and the
hind-wheel, over which Gottlieb sat, fell into a deep hole; so, two
steps further, and splash! the whole company lay in the ditch.

I see, from my window, a great many farmers of the Grand Duke's lands
getting down from their carriages, at my Frau Neighbor's, the landlady
Frau Lurenz, at the "Prince's Arms," but I never in my life saw any one
get down so quickly as Jochen; he shot out, in a great curve, over
Gottlieb, who was lying beneath him, directly, in the soft mud, and
Krischan, old, honest, faithful soul, who could not think of deserting
his master in such a crisis, also shot head-foremost from his seat, and
lay at his master's side.

"Purr--Oh! Herr, just lie still!" cried the honest old fellow, "the
horses will stand!"

"You blockhead!" cried Jochen.

"Praise God!" exclaimed Krischan, getting on his feet, "I am all right.
But Herr, just lie perfectly still, I will hold the horses."

"You blockhead!" said Jochen again, scrambling up, while Gottlieb
splashed and waded about in the deep mire, "how could you turn us over
here?"

"Yes, it is all as true as leather," said Krischan, who, in his long
years of service, had caught his master's expressions, "what could a
body do, on such a road, in such pitch darkness?"

Since Jochen's words were taken out of his mouth in this way, he didn't
know what to say for himself, so he asked, "Gottlieb, are your bones
whole?"

"Yes, uncle," said the candidate, "and yours too?"

"Yes," said Jochen, "except my nose, but that seems clean gone out of
my face."

The carriage had been righted by this time, and, as they got in again,
Krischan turned half round and said:

"Herr, didn't I tell you, this afternoon, this was the place to tip
over?"

"Blockhead!" cried Jochen, rubbing his nose, "you were asleep."

"Asleep, Herr, asleep? In such pitch darkness, it is all the same
whether one sleeps or wakes; but I said so before. I know the road by
heart, and I said so."

And when he afterwards related the story to the other servants, he
always said that he had prophesied it, but the Herr would not listen to
him; holding up Jochen in the light of a venturesome fellow, who would
risk his neck for nothing, against all opposition.

They arrived at the house, and Gottlieb first got down from the
carriage. Lining had been sitting all this time on thorns and nettles
of impatience, and had listened, through the darkness, for every sound
which could bring her certainty of happiness or misfortune. Now she
heard something--that must be--no, it was only the wind in the poplars;
but now! yes, that is a carriage, it came nearer, it drove up,--she
sprang up, she ran to the door, but must stop to press her hand against
her throbbing heart,--how it beat, with hope and fear I would Gottlieb
bring happiness or misfortune? She opened the door.

"Don't touch me!" cried Gottlieb, but it was too late, Lining, although
the oldest, was still very thoughtless, she threw her arms around
Gottlieb, and pressed him to her warm heart; but such a chill struck
through her, that she felt as if she had taken a frog in her arms, she
let him go, exclaiming,--

"Good heavens! what has happened?"

"Overturned," said Gottlieb, "we were, by God's gracious help,
overturned; that is to say, Krischan took care of the overturning, but
God's gracious help preserved us from serious injury."

"How you look!" cried Bräsig, who came out with a light, just as Jochen
entered the door.

"Yes, Bräsig," said Jochen, "it is all as, true as leather; we were
tipped over."

"Eh, where?" said Bräsig, "how could a reasonable man, of your years,
get tipped over, on his own roads? You were asleep, Jochen!"

"Good gracious, Jochen!" cried Frau Nüssler, "how you look!" and she
turned him round, before the light, as if he were a piece of roast
veal, on the spit, which she had just finely basted with gravy.
"Gracious, Jochen! and your nose----"

"And how does the clerical gentleman look?" inquired Bräsig, holding
the light to Gottlieb, in front and rear. "Well!" he said, leaving him,
"and now Lining! Why, Lining, you were not tipped over! Frau Nüssler,
just look at her! She has half the road from here to Gurlitz upon her
clothes!"

Lining blushed deeply, and Mining wiped off the mud from her, and Frau
Nüssler did the same for Jochen.

"Gracious, Jochen, how you have muddied yourself! Now, just look at it,
the nice new cloak!" Jochen had purchased it for his wedding, some
twenty years before. "Well, it can't be helped; I must rip it all out,
and to-morrow the whole thing must be washed in the brook."

Orders were issued accordingly, and, after a little while, the two
travellers were seated, in dry clothes, at the table, in the
living-room. Now, for the first time, Frau Nüssler saw her Jochen's
nose, in a clear light.

"Jochen," said she, "how your nose looks!"

"Yes, they said so," replied Jochen.

"Jochen," said Bräsig, "I must be an infamous liar, if I ever said that
your nose was particularly handsome; but--may you keep the nose on your
face!--what a nose you have on your face!"

"For shame, Bräsig, how can you wish he should keep such a nose as
that? Preserve us! it grows bigger and bigger! What can be done for
it?"

"Frau Nüssler," said Bräsig, "he must go to the water-cure."

"What?" said Frau Nüssler, "my Jochen go to the water-cure, because he
has bumped his nose?"

"You don't understand me," said Bräsig, "he need not go, wholly and
entirely, body and bones, to the water-cure; he shall only send his
nose there; we must make him cold bandages. Or, Jochen, could you bleed
a little from the nose? It would refresh you very much."

But Jochen could not do that, so they prepared the cold bandages, and
Jochen sat there, very stately and contented, with his nose wrapped up
in wet linen, and, under his nose, his pipe of tobacco.

"But," said Bräsig, "no mortal knows yet how you succeeded with Zamel
Pomuchelskopp."

"Yes," said Lining, "how was it, Gottlieb?" So Gottlieb described their
interview with the Herr Proprietor, and when he had finished, Jochen
said,--

"Yes, it is all settled, I have signed my name."

"Jochen, what have you signed your name for?" asked Bräsig, angrily.

"About the Pastor's acre, that I will not rent it."

"Then you have done something very foolish. Oh, the Jesuit! _He_ wants
the Pastor's acre. Nightingale, I hear thee singing, from the little
brook wilt drink. That was his great end and aim! But--but"--he sprang
up, and stalked about the room, "I will spoil your game. Hear to the
end, says Kotelmann. Zamel Pomuchelskopp, we will talk about this! What
does the celebrated poet say, about David and Goliath? I consider
myself David, and him Goliath. 'He took the sling into his hand, and
smote him on the brow, headlong he fell.' And how finely the same
celebrated poet says, in his grand concluding words, 'So ever does the
boaster fall, and when he thinks he firmly stands, then lies he in the
ditch.' And so it shall be with you, Zamel! And, Frau Nüssler, now I
have got myself angry, and can eat no supper, so I will say 'Good
night,' for I have all sorts of things to think about."

He took his candle and departed, and after supper they all went early
to bed, and Lining lay a long time, wakeful through care and anxiety,
and listened to the wind in the trees, and the steps in the room
beneath, which went back and forth, back and forth, in the same
measure; for there Uncle Bräsig lodged, and--as he said next
morning--was planning campaign that night.



                             CHAPTER XXVII.


The year 1845 had arrived, and the world went on in its old course, and
turned itself over, as usual. Day and night, and joy and sorrow,
succeeded each other, just as they have done since time began, since
the Lord appointed day and night, and placed man in the garden of Eden,
and then expelled him from it. How many days and nights, and how much
joy and sorrow! The day always dawns, and the night always comes; there
is no difference. But is it even so with joy and sorrow? Are they as
impartially divided? I think so! The Lord's hand stretches over all,
and from his hand falls happiness and unhappiness, comfort and anxiety,
upon the world, and every one has his share; but men are perverse, they
will call their misfortunes happiness, and their happiness they take
for misfortune; they push aside the cup of comfort, as if it were
filled with gall, and they laugh away their anxieties.

The people, whom I have written about in this book, were no better than
others, they did just like the rest; but there are two things which the
Lord sends into the world as joy and sorrow, and no gall can embitter
the one, and the other cannot be laughed away,--these are birth and
death, beginning and ending. In my little world also, there was
beginning and ending, birth and death; the fair, young Frau sat in
Pumpelhagen, and held a little child, a little daughter, upon her lap,
and the door of her heart stood wide open, for God's clear sunlight to
shine in. She could not help it. The dark shadows which had been
closing around her were no longer visible to her eyes,--she must
rejoice! and before the parsonage at Gurlitz, lay a grave, and two
figures in black went silently back and forth, and when spring came,
they planted flowers upon it, and when the linden leaved out, before
the house, and the lilacs blossomed, they sat together on the bench,
and leaned against each other, as in the old time, when the Frau
Pastorin had wrapped the little Louise in her shawl. Now it was
reversed, now Louise threw her shawl around the little Frau Pastorin.
And so these two mourners sat together, and looked over at the
churchyard, and when Habermann came, there were three, and they sat
patiently in the shadows, and did not push aside the cup of comfort,
and when they separated, the evening star was shining.

The first, violent grief was gone from the parsonage, but its marks
were yet to be seen, beautiful marks, which the death-angel leaves upon
human faces. He had kissed Louise upon her clear, high forehead, and
the kiss remained there, lighting her face like an earnest thought; he
had embraced the little, round Frau Pastorin, at his departure, and had
taken away almost all her own quick, eager vivacity, and had left in
its place only loving thoughts of her Pastor. She lived entirely in
these. All must remain as it had been in his life; in his study, the
arm-chair stood before the writing-table, the last sermon which he had
written lay upon it, and the pen by its side, and the Bible of his
childhood lay open, where she had turned the leaf at his death. Every
morning she went first into this room, with her duster, and dusted and
put everything in order, and stood long in thought, and looked at the
door, as if he must come in, in his dressing-gown, and give her a kiss,
and say, "I thank you, dear Regina." And at dinner, Louise put plates
for three; and her Pastor's chair was always in its place, and it
seemed to her as if he were sitting opposite, and talking in the most
cheerful manner, and the remains of her own vivacity, which grief had
left, reappeared at these times, for she did not push aside the cup of
comfort.

But how long could this last? The parish must be supplied with a new
pastor, and then she must leave the house, she must leave the village,
she must sever herself from the grave; for there was no widow's house,
and Pomuchelskopp would not build one, for he had no occasion for one.

For the last time she watched the blooming of the fruit-trees, which
her Pastor had planted, for the last time she sat under the fragrant
lilacs, where she had sat so happily with him, for the last time came
the spring, and wound its wreath around the peaceful dwelling, for the
last time came the summer, and strewed its golden blessing upon it:
"Louise, when the swallows fly, in the autumn, we must be flitting
too," she said, sadly, and she felt that it would be like another
death.

Habermann was her truest friend, and she gave herself wholly into his
hands, what he did must be right. He thought and thought, but could
think of no way to spare them the removal; but he would make it easier.
Kurz the merchant had a roomy house, near his own, with a garden
attached, which could be altered to resemble the parsonage. And Louise
must secretly measure the rooms at the parsonage, how large the parlor
was, and how long the wall, and then drive with her father to
Rahnstadt, and Schultz the carpenter was sent for, to draw a plan
after Louise's measurements. But he wouldn't do it, for "in the first
place," said he, "I couldn't draw a plan after a woman's ribbon
and apron-string measuring, and, secondly, it is not necessary;
plan-drawing is plan-drawing. I don't believe in plan-drawing, I carry
my plans in my head." And Kurz said, if it were arranged differently it
would be much better, but Habermann was firm; it should be so, and if
it could not be made so, the business was settled; and Schultz the
carpenter said there was no sort of difficulty, and, if it could
only be managed, he would go over, and take the measurements himself.
This was arranged, and he came before daylight while the Frau
Pastorin was still sleeping, and measured the rooms, talking to
himself the while: "Seven--seven--five and twenty, five and
twenty,--Kurz--Habermann--Kurz--Habermann--awkward, awkward,--here
there must be a projecting beam,--too great a strain, a bolt carried
through,--so, so,--all right,--so, now out! out!"--and he went out to
his brown ponies, and drove softly away, with the finest building-plan
in his head that ever a man could make. The building began immediately,
and Habermann, who took a diligent supervision, was, on the whole, very
well satisfied, only he did not quite understand the projecting beam,
but he yielded, when he observed that Schultz himself felt strongly
about the matter, and when he came to know that that architect never in
his life put up a building without a "projecting beam." Kurz also
yielded his opposition, and so the removal was made as easy as it was
possible for him to make it.

At Pumpelhagen, as I have said, there was great joy: the clear eyes of
Frida rested on her little daughter, and before these clear eyes,
mother-love had woven a light, sweet veil, as if it would conceal from
the mother the future of the little one, and leave her undisturbed to
dream and create. And there was nothing in her way, one happy dream
succeeded another; and now again the clear sunlight beamed from her
heart to Axel, when she held up to him her child. Axel's heart was also
full of joy, he came continually to inquire after mother and child; but
yet he had a slight feeling of disappointment; he had wished for a son,
an heir of his ancient name. It is a horrible thing that a little
innocent girl, from the first moment she opens her eyes to the
daylight, should have to contend with the unjust wishes and prejudices
of other people, and suffer on account of them. It any one had said
this to Axel, he would have been very angry, for he was really glad, in
spite of his disappointment; he had seated himself directly, and
announced the "happy event" to all his acquaintances, even his
horse-acquaintances, and Pomuchelskopp; three people only, he had
intentionally omitted; his cousin Franz,--"that stupid boy,"--the Frau
Pastorin at Gurlitz,--"that matchmaker,"--and Frau Nüssler,--"that
uncultivated old woman." And when he laid the letters on his wife's
bed, and she wondered that these three were forgotten, he said coldly,
he had nothing to do with these people, if she wished to do it, she
must do it on her own responsibility.

She did it, accordingly; and after a few days came Louise, to offer
congratulations, in the name of the Frau Pastorin, and Axel came into
the room, and seeing the inspector's daughter said, "Ah, Mademoiselle
Habermann! I beg you will excuse me," and went quickly out of the room.
And again after a few days, Frau Nüssler came, with Krischan and the
Phantom, driving into the yard, and Axel went off to the fields, when
he saw them coming; and when he returned, and learned from Daniel that
Frau Nüssler was still with the gracious lady, he exclaimed
impatiently: "I do not comprehend my wife, how she can take any
pleasure in the society of such uneducated people!"

That was a very droll thing for him to say, for only a few weeks
before, in a company of horse-raisers, he had pronounced his friend,
Herr von Brulow, of Brulowshof, a very cultivated man of science, and
when a young doctor, who was accidentally present, had remarked that
his education and science were not carried to a very great extent. Axel
rose up, and said, over his shoulder, to the mistaken young man, if one
had, in any direction whatever, such an experience as the Herr von
Brulow in raising thorough-bred horses, and especially in the
management of colts, he must be allowed, by the most envious person,
the name of an educated and scientific man, even if he understood
nothing else; for that business was one of the greatest importance. And
yet in his eyes, this good woman was uneducated, though nobody in the
world was better qualified to advise his wife in the nursing and
management of his own little infant. Pomuchelskopp also had come, in
his blue dress-coat, with gilt buttons, and the coach with the coat of
arms, and the four brown horses, and had brought his congratulations.
That was another thing, that was a genteel equipage! And he was very
cordially received by Axel, and must stay for luncheon, and afterwards
Axel showed him his thorough-bred mares with their colts, and
Pomuchelskopp was highly delighted, and laying his hand impressively on
Axel's arm, and looking up in his eyes, he said, "All very fine, Herr
von Rambow, very fine for a beginning, but if you want to do something
worth while, in horse-raising, you should have paddocks. The young
animal should naturally be brought up in the open air. Freedom,
freedom, Herr von Rambow! That is the first condition, if you mean to
do anything of importance. And, you see, you have here the finest
opportunity, if you take off four paddocks here, behind the park, for
your thoroughbred mares, and let the field, up as far as the hill, be
sowed with grass and clover, instead of grain; there is the brook down
there, and you have the finest water. Something can be done. Of
course," he added, as Axel looked a little thoughtful, "your inspector
will not like the idea."

"My inspector has nothing to say, if I command anything," said Axel
hotly.

"I know that," said Pomuchelskopp, pacifying him, "he knows nothing
about such matters."

"But the meadow will be too small, if I take off this corner of the
best soil," said Axel.

"Yes," said Pomuchelskopp, and shrugged his shoulders, "you must make a
change with the meadow, for you have had the pastor's acre, hitherto,
for meadow land, and the lease is out; and a little more or less will
not signify."

"That is true," said Axel, with some hesitation, for what he had
promised in an emergency had often annoyed him since, and it always
puts a man out of humor, when he must give up something from which
he has derived advantage and pleasure. But Pomuchelskopp was so
friendly, so well-meaning and upright; he gave him so much good
advice,--and--this he said by the way--if things didn't go right, he
was always at hand,--that Axel shook hands with him cordially, as he
took leave, and sat down to his reflections, with his head full of
paddocks.

Habermann was crossing the courtyard; Axel opened the window, and
called to him: "Herr Habermann," said he, "how far have you gone with
the barley-sowing, behind the park?"

"I think we shall finish the meadow day after to-morrow; to-morrow we
begin down here, by the brook."

"Good! From there up to the hill--I will tell you about the rest
afterwards--you may sow Timothy, rye-grass, and white clover, with the
barley. Send Triddelsitz to Rahnstadt, in the morning, to get the seed
from David."

"But pasture grass does not follow barley."

"Do you hear me? I wish this piece of ground sowed for a pasture. I am
going to put up paddocks there, for the brood-mares."

"Paddocks? paddocks?" asked the old man, as if he could not believe his
ears.

"Yes, paddocks," said Axel, preparing to close the window.

"Herr von Rambow," said Habermann, laying his hand on the window-seat,
"this is the finest soil in the whole meadow, if you take it away,
there will not be enough for grain. That was the very reason the late
Herr Kammerrath rented the pastor's acre."

It was the very thing which Axel had said to himself, and he knew very
well that the inspector was right; but it is very irritating for a
master, to acknowledge his inferior in the right.

"I shall not rent the pastor's acre again," said the young Herr.

The old man let his hands fall to his sides.

"Not rent the Pastor's acre again?" said he, "Herr, the field has
brought us--I have kept a special book for it----"

"It is all one to me! You hear me, I shall not rent it again."

"Herr von Rambow, it cannot be possible----"

"Did you hear me? _I shall not rent it again!_"

"But Herr, I beg of you, reflect----"

"Eh, what!" exclaimed Axel, and closed the window. "A tedious old
fellow!" he exclaimed, "an old fogy!" and he went back to his chair,
and thought about his paddocks; but the fine pictures which his fancy
had painted would not return, he must first get rid of the thought that
he had again committed an injustice.

And the old man? How deeply grieved he went back to the meadow! How his
attachment and gratitude to the late Kammerrath struggled against the
mortification he had so often endured from the only son of his old
master! And of what use was this struggle? Of what use was he to the
young Herr? None at all! Step by step, the young man went forward to
his destruction, and his hand which could save him, and so gladly
would, was thrust aside, and his heart which was brimful of love and
friendliness to the young Herr, and his whole household, was treated as
if it beat in the breast of an unfaithful servant, who thought merely
of his own reward.

"Triddelsitz," said he, when he came to the meadow, "this corner,
between the brook and the hill, the Herr will have sowed with grass; he
will come out himself, and show you about it; let them sow the barley a
little thinner."

"What is he going to do with it?" asked Fritz.

"He will tell you himself, when he sees fit. There he comes, from the
garden," said the old man, and went out of his master's way.

"Triddelsitz," said Herr von Rambow, "this piece of ground, up to the
hill, is to be sowed with grass; you shall get the seed from David
to-morrow; I am going to have paddocks here."

"Famous!" cried Fritz. "I have always thought of that, whether we
couldn't have paddocks, or something of the kind."

"Yes, it is necessary."

"To be sure, it is necessary," said Fritz, fully convinced. For no one
must think that he was a flatterer; he really meant what he said, and
if he had known what an expense and what trouble these paddocks would
cost, he would certainly not have expressed this opinion; but--as I
have said before--in all such crazy performances, he was united, with
his whole soul, to his master.

"Have you a measuring-rod here?" asked Axel.

"A measuring-rod? No," said Fritz, laughing, in a rather contemptuous
and yet shamefaced manner, "I have myself invented a measuring
instrument. If you will allow me, I will show you," and he ran to the
nearest ditch, and brought out a great barrel-hoop, which was all
entangled with strings; into the midst of these strings he put his
walking-stick, as in the axle of a wheel, and let the machine run.

"The circumference of the hoop is just the length of the rod," said
Fritz, "and this hammer strikes on the board, when it has turned
completely round."

"See! see!" cried Axel, his old delight in inventions reviving. "And
did you invent that, all by yourself?"

"All by myself," said Fritz, but he should have said his laziness
invented it, for he had a great dislike to stooping his long body.

"Well, you can measure the land for me," said Axel, and went back to
the house, saying to himself, Triddelsitz was a skilful farmer, and a
wide-awake fellow, he would rather have him for a manager than
Habermann.

After a while, the old inspector returned to Fritz, very much out of
humor.

"Triddelsitz," said he, "what are you doing? You have let them sow the
barley much too thick."

"God forbid!" said Fritz, "I arranged the machine just as you ordered,
I measured the land myself."

"It isn't possible!" cried Habermann, "then my eyes must deceive me.
Where is your measuring-rod?"

"I haven't a measuring-rod," said Fritz, "and don't need one either,"
he added, spitefully, for the great approbation of the young Herr had
gone to his head. "I measure everything with my instrument," pointing
to his invention which lay at his feet.

"What?" cried Habermann, "what is that?"

"An invention of mine," said Fritz, looking as proud as if he had set
up the first steam-engine.

"Ah!" said Habermann, "well, take the trumpery, and measure me ten
rods."

Fritz took his invention in hand, and let the thing run. Habermann
walked by his side, and asked:

"How much have you?"

"Ten rods," said Fritz.

"And I have nine, and two feet," said the old man.

"It isn't possible," said Fritz, "you must have counted wrong, my
instrument is right."

"Five of my steps are a Mecklenburg rod," said the old man hotly, "but
because you are a fool you have spoiled the whole field of barley. How
can such trumpery measure in the fresh furrow, when it could hardly do
upon perfectly even ground. Oh, laziness, laziness! Go in directly, and
bring me out a proper measuring-rod!" and he took his knife out of his
pocket, and cut Fritz's invention into little pieces, and then went to
the machine, and arranged it differently.

Fritz stood there, looking first at him, and then at his invention,
which lay about him, in little bits; it is really a hard thing for a
man, who wishes to accomplish something in the world, to be so taken
down, at his first attempt. He had such benevolent intentions,--of
course towards himself first, but also towards all his colleagues, and
all the clerks in Mecklenburg,--that that infamous stooping might go
out of fashion, and now his good intentions lay in fragments at his
feet.

"I must bring the measuring-rod," said he, "there is no help for that;
but I would a thousand times rather manage with the gracious Herr, than
with old Habermann." And as he went up to the house after the rod, a
great bitterness came over him towards Habermann, and he forgot all
that he had promised him in a happy hour,--the best rooms in his house,
two carriage horses, and a saddle horse,--and as he was speaking, for a
moment, with Marie Möller, who had again taken possession of his vacant
heart, and learned from her that the young Herr had spoken sharply to
Habermann at the window, he comforted himself, and went off with the
rod over his shoulder, and a bit of sausage in his hand, saying:

"Well, the old man will not do for us much longer; he is getting too
old; he has no capacity for new ideas."



                            CHAPTER XXVIII.


Seed-time passed, and summer came; the young Frau went out but little,
and the comfort which the old inspector would have taken from her
bright eyes and cheerful disposition he must do without, for she had
something dearer, something of more importance to do, even if all this
importance lay wrapped up in a bundle of flannels; she knew how
precious were the hopes and wishes which she cradled in her arms, and,
for the time, all other duties were sacrificed to these.

Over Axel also, came with his fatherhood a vague, undefined feeling, as
if it were his sacred duty and obligation to labor for his child; he
began to manage his estate with great diligence; instead of
superintending matters, in a general way, as he had hitherto done, like
a sort of field-marshal, he conducted himself more like a corporal, who
concerns himself about all the little details of his corporalship, and
he stuck his nose into everything, even into the tar-barrel. He might
have done that, and it is very well for a master to be interested in
everything, but he should have left the commanding alone, for he didn't
understand it.

He took hold of the management in the most unintelligent way, broke up
the old man's arrangements, and when he had brought everything into
confusion, he went into the house, and scolded the old man: "The old
man has not the least _method_! He is too old for me. No, we cannot go
on so any longer!" And Krischan Segel said to Diedrich Snäsel: "Well,
what shall we do now, the Herr says _so_, and the inspector says _so_?"

"Well, neighbor," said Diedrich, "if the Herr says----"

"Yes, but it is all stuff and nonsense."

"Then you need not do it, and if he has said it, it is no matter."

So the harvest ripened, and the blessing of the fields must be gathered
into barns, the rye was cut, and had stood three days in sheaves.

"Herr Inspector," called Axel from the window, and as Habermann came up
he said, "to-morrow, we will bring in the rye."

"Herr von Rambow, it will not do yet, yesterday and to-day it has been
cloudy, and it has not dried; the grain is still soft, and some stems
are quite green."

"Well, it will do. How will you bring it in?"

"If it must be brought in, we should begin right behind the village,
and go with two gangs, one to drive into the great barn, the other into
the barley barn."

"Begin behind the village? With two gangs? Why?"

"The nearer we begin to the village the more we can get in in one day
and the weather looks suspicious; and we must bring it in in two gangs,
and into two barns, or the people will get in each other's way, and the
wagons will interfere."

"Hm!" said Axel, closing the window, "I will think about it." And he
thought, and came to the conclusion that he would get in this harvest
with Fritz Triddelsitz alone; Habermann should have nothing whatever to
do with it, and they would show him that he was the fifth wheel of the
coach. They would begin at the other end of the field, and bring it in
with one gang. What one gang or two gangs were, he was not quite clear
in his own mind, but they were only subordinate matters, probably
nothing more than some whim of the old inspector's, and he would have
nothing to do with these, he meant to free himself from them entirely.

The next morning, at six o'clock, he was on his feet, and went up in a
very friendly way to the old man, who was busy in the yard.

"Dear Herr Habermann, I have considered the matter,--you must not take
it unkindly,--but I have decided to get in this harvest, with young
Triddelsitz, quite by myself, and to give all the necessary orders in
person."

The old man stood before him, confounded and dismayed. At last came,
heavily and constrained from his breast, the words: "And I, Herr, am I
merely to look on? And do you prefer the help of a stupid apprentice to
my help?"

He held his walking-stick in front of him, and looked at the young man
with eyes which shone in his old face with as much youthful fire, as if
all the energy and activity of his long life were concentrated in them,
and said frankly:

"Herr, you were a little boy, when I devoted my whole abilities to your
good father,--he thanked me, on his dying bed he thanked me! but you?
You have filled my cup to the brim, with your ingratitude, and now you
wish to disgrace me!"

Then he went off, and Axel called after him:

"Dear Herr Habermann, it is not so intended. I only wanted to try
myself." But it was so intended, as he knew very well; he did not want
the old man in his way, he looked after him too sharply, and he felt
ashamed before him.

The old inspector went to his room, opened his desk, and seated himself
before it; but it was long before he could think and begin anything,
and meanwhile there was great commotion in the yard. "Triddelsitz!"
"Herr von Rambow!" "Where are you going, Jochen?" "Eh, I don't know,
nobody has told me." "Fritz Päsel, what are you doing with the
plough?" "Eh, what do I know? I was going to plough in the field."
"Blockhead!"--this was Fritz's voice--"we are going to get in the rye."
"It is all the same to me, if I am not to do it, I will not,"--and he
tumbled the plough out of the wagon,--"what the inspector tells me, I
do."

"Flegel!" called the young Herr. "Fritz Flegel!" repeated Triddelsitz,
after him.

"What do you want?" roared a voice from the workshop.

"Where are the harvesting straps?" asked Fritz Triddelsitz. "There,
where you stand," said the wheelwright; "and nobody has said anything
to me about them."

"Well, what shall we do?" asked the day-laborer Näsel. "Lord knows,"
replied Pegel, "nobody has told us." "Flegel!" cried Fritz again, "we
are going to bring in the rye; the wagons must be greased." "For all
me," called Flegel from his shop, "the tar-barrel stands there."

"Herr von Rambow," said Fritz, "where is Habermann? shall I not call
the inspector?"

"No," said Axel slowly, turning to go away.

"Well," said Fritz, who was growing distressed, "we cannot do anything
about it this morning."

"It isn't necessary, we can begin this afternoon."

"But what shall the day-laborers be doing meanwhile?"

"Good gracious, the day-laborers!" said Axel, "always the day-laborers!
The men can employ themselves usefully here, about the yard. Do you
hear?" and he turned round, "you can help grease the wagons."

Meanwhile the old inspector sat at his desk, trying to write something,
something difficult, which clutched at his inmost heart, he was going
to separate himself from his master, to break down the bridge, which,
between the late Kammerrath and himself, had united heart to heart; he
would give notice to quit. He heard,--though not distinctly,--the
stupid commotion outside, once he sprang to the window, as if he would
give an intelligent order; no; that was all over, he had nothing more
to do with it! He tore up the letter which he had written, and began
another, but that also did not suit him, he pushed aside his writing
materials, and closed his desk. But what now? What should he begin?
He had nothing to do, he was superseded; he threw himself into the
sofa-corner, and thought and thought.

When the afternoon came, by the help of the old wheelwright and a
couple of intelligent old laborers, the wagons and the barns were so
far ready that the harvesting could begin; and it began accordingly.
Axel was on horseback, commanding the whole; Fritz, by his master's
order, must also be on horseback; because his old, deaf granny was
lame, he rode the old thorough-bred Wallach, which was also a springer;
he himself was a sort of adjutant.

Now they could begin. Six spans of horses were fastened to six harvest
wagons, and driven in a row, up to the yard,--order is the principal
thing,--on one side stood the pitchers and stackers for the barns, on
the other the pitchers, loaders and rakers for the field, and, on a
given sign, the stackers marched off to the barns, and the field people
climbed into the wagons; Axel and Fritz rode on, the wagons followed,
and never in the world had there been such order, in the Pumpelhagen
farm-yard, as on this fine afternoon; and we must have order.

The old wheelwright, Fritz Flegel, stood in his workshop, and looked at
the procession: "What is all that for?" said he, scratching his head,
for he had no appreciation of this beautiful order. "Well, it is none
of my concern," he said and went back to his work, "but where is our
old Herr Inspector?"

He was sitting in his room thinking; the first heat had passed, he
stood up and wrote a brief letter, resigning his post at the next
Christmas, and asking leave of absence, during the harvest, since he
was superfluous under these circumstances; then he took his hat and
stick, and went out, he could stay in doors no longer. He sat down on a
stone wall, under the shade of a lilac bush, and looked along the road
to Warnitz, from which the harvest wagons must come; but they came not,
only Bräsig came along the road.

"May you keep the nose on your face, Karl, what sort of performances
are you carrying on here? How can you get your rye in yet? it is green
as grass! And how can you bring it in with six wagons in one gang? and
what keeps the loaded wagons down there in the road?"

"Bräsig, I don't know, you must ask the Herr and Triddelsitz."

"What?"

"Bräsig, I have nothing more to say."

"What? How? What did you say?" cried Bräsig, elevating his eyebrows.

"I have nothing more to say," said Habermann quietly, "I am shoved
aside, I am too old for the young Herr."

"Karl," said Bräsig, laying his hand on his old friend's shoulder,
"what is the matter? Tell me about it!"

And Habermann told him how it all happened, and when he had finished
Bräsig turned round, and looked savagely at the beautiful world, and
ground his teeth together, as if he had the world between his teeth,
and would crack it, like a tough hazelnut, and called, with a voice
half-choked with rage, down the Warnitz road: "Jesuit! Infamous
Jesuit!" and turning back to Habermann said, "Karl, in this Triddelsitz
also, you have warmed a snake in your bosom!"

"Bräsig, how can he help it? He must do as he is told."

"There he comes racing along, and the six wagons behind him, making a
procession--of loaded wagons! This is a comedy, this is an agricultural
comedy! Go ahead! and when you get to the old bridge turn over!" cried
Uncle Bräsig, dancing around, recklessly, on his poor gouty legs, as if
they had brought about the whole mischief, and must be punished
accordingly, for his fierce anger had given place to malicious joy.

"Here we have it!" he exclaimed, in great delight, for it happened just
as he had said, as the first full wagon came up to the bridge, at a
slow trot, it overset. "Stop!" they cried, "thunder and lightening,
stop!" Fritz looked round,--well, what, now? He had not the slightest
idea what to do; fortunately, he saw Habermann and Bräsig, on the stone
wall, and rode up to them hastily.

"Herr Inspector----"

"Herr, you have crumbled your bread, and now you may eat it!" cried
Bräsig.

"Dear Herr Inspector, what shall we do? The wagon lies right across the
bridge, and the others cannot get by."

"Ride quickly----"

"Karl, hold your tongue, you are laid aside as a sheep for the
slaughter, you have nothing to say," interrupted Bräsig.

"Ride quickly"--said Habermann, "no, let them alone, the servants are
more intelligent than you are, they will soon get the sheaves out of
the way."

"Herr Inspector," said Fritz anxiously, "it is not my fault. Herr von
Rambow has ordered it all so, the wagons should drive in a row, and the
men should drive quickly with the full loads."

"Drive on then, till your tongues hang out!" cried Bräsig.

"And he is on horseback, on the hill, overseeing and commanding the
whole."

"Has he a sperspective in one hand, and a commander's staff in the
other, like old Blücher, in the Hop-market, at Rostock?" said Bräsig
mockingly.

"Ride up to the court," said Habermann, "and see that the first loaded
wagon drives out again quickly."

"I must not do that," said Fritz, "the Herr has expressly commanded
that the wagons should drive in again in a row, he says he will have
order in the business."

"Then you may tell him the finest donkey I ever saw in my life----"

"Bräsig, take care!" cried Habermann.

"Was--was your little mule, Herr Triddelsitz," concluded Uncle Bräsig,
with great presence of mind.

Fritz rode up to the court.

"Karl," said Bräsig, "we might go too, and observe the beautiful order
from your window."

"Well, it is all the same," said Habermann, and sighed deeply, "here or
there."

They went; the wagons drove into the yard, the first up to the
barn-floor, the others waited behind, in a row. The men who unloaded
were scolding that they must work themselves to death, the day-laborers
were scolding about the damp rye and asking who should thrash it, in
the winter, the servants were laughing and cracking jokes, in idleness,
and Fritz rode up and down with an uncommonly easy conscience, for he
was doing his duty, and following his master's orders. When all was
finished he placed himself again at the head of the empty wagons, and
the procession moved off. The pitchers and stackers came round into the
shade of the barns, laid themselves down, and took a nap; they had time
enough now.

"A very fine, peaceful harvest, Karl," observed Bräsig, "the whole
court is as still as death, not a leaf stirs. It is very pleasant for
me, for I never saw such an one before."

"It is not very pleasant for me, Bräsig," said Habermann, "I see
trouble coming. Two or three more such pieces of stupidity, and the
people will lose all respect for their master; when they see that he
orders things that he does not understand, they will do what they
please. And the poor, unhappy young man! and especially, the poor, poor
young Frau!"

"There comes your gracious lady, just now, out of the house, and the
nursemaid follows, with the baby-carriage, in which lies the little
sleeping beauty. But Karl! come quick to the window! What is this?"

And it was really worth his while to go to the window, for Fritz
Triddelsitz, who led the procession again, came gallopping across the
court, on old Bill, and about ten rods behind him raced Axel, and
shouted, "Triddelsitz!"

"Directly!" cried Fritz, but raced out of the other gate, and Axel
after him.

"What the devil is this?" inquired Bräsig, and had scarcely time to
express his astonishment, when Fritz and Bill and Axel came in again,
at the water-gate, and raced again across the yard: "Triddelsitz!"
"Directly!"

"Herr, are you crazy?" cried Bräsig, as Fritz rode past the farm-house,
but Fritz gave no reply, and sat, all bent up, on his horse, laughing,
amid the distress and sorrow around him, and would have greeted the
gracious lady, but merely took off his cap, for the young Frau was
asking anxiously, "Axel, Axel, what is this?" but got no answer, for
Axel was very busy. And, all at once, Bill took the hurdle, before the
sheepfold, and Fritz shot off headforemost, into a heap of straw, and
Axel turned his horse, and called again, "Triddelsitz!" "Directly, Herr
von Rambow," said Fritz, out of the straw-heap.

"What devil rides you?" cried Axel.

"He didn't ride me," said Fritz, as he stood--thank God!--on his own
feet again, "I rode him; I believe Bill took a leap with me."

"He was trained for that," said Krischan Däsel, who came running out of
the stable; "you see, gracious Herr, the Herr Count used to ride Bill
to steeple-chases, and when he takes the notion he runs until he comes
to some sort of hedge or gate, and then he springs over, and whenever
he has done that trick, he stands like a lamb. You see, there he
stands."

"Axel," said the young Frau, coming up, "what does all this mean?"

"Nothing, my child, I had given an order to the steward, and, when he
had ridden off, something better occurred to me, and I wished to recall
my order, and so followed him; his horse took a leap with him, and I
rode back again."

"Thank God," said she, "that it is all right. But will you not come in
and take luncheon?"

"Yes," said he, "I have rather fatigued myself to-day. Triddelsitz,
everything goes on in the usual order."

"To command!" said Fritz, and Axel went into the house with his wife.

"Axel," she asked, as they sat at the table, "what does it mean? With
us, at home, in the harvest, only one loaded wagon came into the yard
at a time, and here you had six at the same time."

"Dear Frida, I know the old method well enough, but in that way,
disorder is unavoidable; we have much better order, by having all the
wagons driven in a row."

"Did Habermann arrange it so?"

"Habermann? No, he had nothing to do with it; I felt the necessity of
emancipating myself finally from the supervision of my inspector, and I
have signified to him that I would get in this harvest without his
help."

"Axel, what have you done! The man cannot suffer that."

"He _must_, though! He must become aware that I am the master of the
estate."

"He has always recognized you as such. Dear Axel, this will be a source
of bitter sorrow to us," and she leaned back in her chair in deep
thought, looking straight before her. Axel was not in a good humor:
then the door opened, and Daniel Sadenwater brought a letter: "With the
Herr Inspector's compliments."

"There it is!" said Frida.

Axel read the letter: "The Herr Inspector gives notice to leave at
Christmas. May go at once. I need no Inspector. Can get a hundred for
one. But it provokes me that he should give me notice, and that I did
not get the start of him!" and with that he sprang up, and ran up and
down the room. Frida sat still, and said not a word. Axel took that for
a reproof, for he knew very well that he was in a dangerous path; but
he would not allow himself to confess it, he must lay the blame of his
fault upon other shoulders, and so he said, in his injustice:

"But that comes from your prejudice in favor of the old, pretentious
hypocrite!"

Frida said not a word, but she rose quietly, and left the room.

She sat that evening, by the cradle of her little daughter, and rocked
her darling to sleep. Ah, if thoughts could only be rocked to sleep!
But a child comes from our Lord, and has yet a bit of heaven's own
peace in itself, which it has brought from above; human thoughts come
from the earth, and care and sorrow dog their uncertain, weary feet,
and an over-wearied man can not sleep. Yes, Axel was right, he could
get another inspector, a hundred for one. But Frida was also right: a
true heart was to leave her.



                             CHAPTER XXIX.


In Jochen Nüssler's house, there was great joy and pleasure: Gottlieb
was elected, was really chosen to be a pastor, and whom had he
especially to thank for it? Who else, but our good, old, simple
Pomuchelskopp; he gave the decisive vote. "Häuning," said our old
friend, in the church, while the three young candidates, in anguish and
fear, were taking their turns in the pulpit, contending for the parish;
"Häuning," said he, as Gottlieb concluded, and wiped the sweat from his
pale face,--"Klücking, we will choose this one, he is the stupidest."

"If you are only sure of it," said his dear wife, "how can you tell one
blockhead from another?"

"Klücking," said Pomuchelskopp, taking no notice of his wife's
pleasantry, perhaps because he was so accustomed to it, perhaps because
Gottlieb's sermon had touched him, for Gottlieb had preached from the
text, "Forgive your enemies,"--"Häuning, the first, the one with the
red face, is a son of old Pächter Hamann, and like goes to like, you
should see, he would farm it himself; and the second, see! he is a sly
one, Gustaving saw him looking at the field, a little while ago, and he
asked the Pastor's coachman who took care of the Pastor's barn, the
thing was tumbling to pieces. Neither of them would do; the rector's
son is our man."

"He who reckons wrong, reckons twice," said Häuning.

"I am not reckoning wrong," said Pomuchelskopp, "the Herr von Rambow
and Nüssler have declined the business, in writing; the young man
cannot farm it himself, he is too stupid, and I need not allow an
under-pächter; he must rent the field to me, and I have it in my own
hands, I can say, 'So much, and not a shilling more!'"

And so Gottlieb was elected, for nearly all the votes were given for
him, only a couple of day-laborers from Rexow voted for their master,
Jochen Nüssler. It was merely a mistake, for they believed it was all
the same, and it was done in friendship.

And in Jochen Nüssler's house, there was great joy and pleasure, and
the two little twin-apples were floating in bright sunshine, down a
clear brook, and nestled close to each other, and Mining floated
joyously with her sister, although her own prospects were not so
brilliant. But she had a little personal ground of rejoicing; her
father, young Jochen, had come in from the field one day, and said this
everlasting working was too hard for him, he wished Rudolph were there;
and Mother had said he ought to be ashamed of himself, he was still a
young fellow; and father had said, "Well, he would manage a little
longer;" but it was the beginning of the final blessedness, and the
thing was a little hook for her hopes to hang upon.

With Lining, however, all was settled and arranged, and the outfit was
purchased, and Frau Nüssler's living-room looked like a spinning-room
and cotton factory; here was spinning, and there was knitting, there
was sewing and embroidering, and twisting and reeling, and skeins were
wound on and wound off, and every one had his share, even young Jochen,
and young Bauschan. Young Jochen was employed as yarn-winder, and sat
up stiffly, with his pipe in his mouth, and held out his arms with a
skein of yarn, and his wife stood before him and wound it off, and when
he believed he was to have a little relief, there came Lining, and then
Mining, and he was a conquered man; but young Bauschan had his share,
also, they were always treading on his toes, and no one had so much
reason to curse this wedding as young Bauschan, till, at last, he
retired from the business altogether, esteeming the rubbish-heap in the
farm-yard a more comfortable place than a room where an outfit was
being prepared.

"So," said Frau Nüssler one evening, folding her hands in her lap,
"Bräsig, for all I care, they may be married to-morrow, I am ready with
everything."

"Well," said Bräsig, "then make your preparations, for the Pietist and
Lining are sure to be ready too."

"Ah, Bräsig, how you talk! The principal thing is still wanting, the
government has not given its assent to the parish--What do you call the
thing?"

"Ah yes, I know. You mean the vocation, as it is generally called, but
I think vocations is the right word, because the blessed Pastor
Behrens, in my younger days, always said vocations."

At this moment, Krischan the coachman came in at the door: "Good
evening, Madam, and here are the papers."

"Are there no letters?" asked Frau Nüssler.

"Yes," said Krischan, "there was a letter."

"Why didn't you bring it then?"

"Well," said Krischan, tossing his head, as if such stupidity could not
be laid to his charge, "there was some trespass-money charged for it,
and I hadn't so much by me."

"What did it cost?"

"Now just think of it, eight thalers! And they said there was a
post-express or a post-payment, or something of that sort,--perhaps it
was brought with post-horses,--and it was for a young Herr, who is our
bridegroom."

"Good gracious, Krischan, such an expensive letter as that! From whom
could it be?"

"I know something," said Krischan, "but I daren't say it," and he
looked at Bräsig.

"Before the Herr Inspector, you may say anything," said Frau Nüssler.

"For all I care!" said Krischan. "It was from some woman-creature, but
I have forgotten the name."

"From a woman!" exclaimed Frau Nüssler, "to my son-in-law! and eight
thalers to pay!"

"Everything comes to light!" said Bräsig, "even the Pietists get found
out!"

"Yes; it all comes out!" said Krischan, going out of the room.

"Krischan," Frau Nüssler sprang up, "you must go to Rahnstadt to-morrow
with the rye; ask particularly about the name, and I will give you
eight thalers, I must have the letter."

"Good, Madam," said Krischan, "I will get it."

"Bräsig," cried Frau Nüssler, throwing herself into her arm-chair,
so that the poor old thing groaned with her weight, "what has my
son-in-law to do with a woman?"

"I don't know," said Bräsig. "I am wholly unacquainted with his
affairs, since I don't trouble myself about secrets. Hear to the end,
says Kotelmann, to-morrow we shall know."

"But this Gottlieb, this quiet man!" exclaimed Frau Nüssler.

"The Pietists are not wholly to be trusted," said Bräsig. "Never trust
a Jesuit!"

"Bräsig!" cried Frau Nüssler, and the old chair shrieked aloud, as she
sprang up, "if there is something concealed here, I shall take back my
child. If Rudolph had done it, I could have forgiven him, for he is a
rough colt, and there is no secrecy about him; but Gottlieb? No, never
in my life! One who can set himself up for a saint, and then do such a
trick--don't come near me! I want nothing to do with such people!"

And when Gottlieb came to the table that evening, his future
mother-in-law looked at him askance, as if she were a shop clerk, and
he were trying to cheat her with a bad groschen. And when he asked
Lining, after supper, if she would take a glass of fresh water up to
his room, she told him Lining had something else to do, and when
Gottlieb turned to Marik, the waiting-maid, she told him he might go to
the pump himself, he could do it as well as Marik. And so she speedily
drew a magic circle around him, over which no woman might pass.

As they sat at table next morning, Krischan came to the door, and
beckoned to Frau Nüssler; "Madam, Oh, just a word." And Frau Nüssler
motioned to Bräsig, and the two old lovers went out with Krischan into
the hall.

"Here it is," said Krischan, pulling out a great letter, from his
waistcoat pocket, "and I know the name of the woman, too."

"Well?" asked Frau Nüssler.

"Yes," whispered Krischan privately into Frau Nüssler's ear. "Mine is
her own name, and Sterium is her father's name."

"What? Is her name Mine Sterium?"

"Hoho!" cried Bräsig, snatching the letter from Frau Nüssler's hand,
"that comes from ignorance of outlandish names, that is the vocation of
the Ministerium," and he opened the door, and shouted into room:
"Hurrah! You old Pietist, you! Here it is, and next week is the
wedding!"

And Frau Nüssler fell upon old Gottlieb's neck, and kissed him, and
cried, "Gottlieb, my dear Gottlieb, I have done you a great wrong:
never mind, Gottlieb, Lining shall take up water for you, every
evening, and the wedding shall be whenever you please."

"But what is it?" asked Gottlieb.

"No, Gottlieb, I cannot tell you yet; it is too shameful, but when you
have been married three years, I will tell you all about it."

The wedding was celebrated, and a great deal might be told about it,
how Mining and her sister Lining wept bitterly after the ceremony, how
Gottlieb looked really handsome, since Lining had cut off the long
locks, like rusty wheel-nails, out of his neck. But I will tell nothing
about this wedding, but what I saw myself, and that was, the next
morning, at half-past three, the two old friends young Jochen and young
Bauschan, lying on the sofa, arm in arm, asleep.

Habermann was at the wedding, very silent, his Louise was there also,
her inmost heart full of love for her little Lining, but she was also
silent, quietly happy; Frau Pastorin had declined her invitation, but
when the guests were crowding about the bride and bridegroom, and
Jochen, afterwards, was trying to say a word also, the door opened, and
the Frau Pastorin came in, in her widow's mourning, into the bright
marriage joy, and she threw her arms around Lining's neck saying:

"I bless you, I bless you from my heart, and may you be as happy there
as I have been. You are now the nearest to him." and she kissed and
caressed her, and then turned quickly away, and went, without greeting
any one, to the door; there she said, "Habermann!"

But she need not have spoken, for he stood by her already, and when she
was in the carriage, he sat by her side, and they drove back to
Gurlitz.

At Gurlitz, they got out of the carriage, the pastor's coachman, Jürn,
must wait,--and went to the churchyard, and they held each other by the
hand, and looked at the green grave, on which bright flowers were
growing, and as they turned away, she said with a deep, deep sigh, as
when one has drained a full cup, "Habermann, I am ready," and he placed
her in the carriage, and drove with her to Rahnstadt.

"Louise is discreet," she said, "she took charge of everything for me,
this morning."

They went together through the new house, and the little Frau Pastorin
thanked him, and kissed him, for his friendship, that he had arranged
everything just as it was in Gurlitz, and she looked out of the window,
and said, "Everything, everything, but no grave!"

They stood for a long time at the window, then Habermann pressed her
hand, and said, "Frau Pastorin, I have a favor to ask, I have given
notice to Herr von Rambow, and shall leave next Christmas; can you
spare me the little gable room, and will you take me at your table?"

At a less agitated moment, she would have had much to ask, and much to
say; but now she said merely.

"Where Louise and I live, you are always the nearest."

Yes, so it is in the world, what is one's joy is another's sorrow, and
weddings and graves lie close together, and yet the distance between
them is wider than between summer heat and winter cold; but there is a
wonderful kind of people in the world,--if one seeks one can find
them,--who can throw a kind of wonderful, heaven-climbing bridges, from
one heart to another, over the gulfs which the world has torn open, and
such a bridge was built between the little, round Pastors' wives,
Lining of Rexow, and Frau Pastorin of Rahnstadt; and when the key stone
was dropped into place, exactly over the parsonage at Gurlitz, they
fell into each other's arms, and held so fast together that to their
life's end they were never parted.

And our old Gottlieb! He did his share, he brought stones and
mortar,--he had but a brief experience in the pastoral office; but I
must say that, when he preached his entrance sermon, he thought less of
himself than of his faithful predecessor, the old Pastor Behrens.

"He sticks to common sense," said Bräsig, as he came out of the church,
and he patted Lining's cheek, and gave Mining a kiss. "The pietists
often become very reasonable people; but they think too much of the
devil. I have a very good pietist acquaintance, that is the Pastor
Mehlsack, a really clever man, but he is so taken up with the devil
that he says scarcely anything about the Lord; and there is the pastor
in the beautiful Krakow region, who has paddagraphically discovered
that there are three hundred, three and thirty thousand different
devils running about the world, not counting the regular devil and his
grandmother. And you see, Lining, what an inconvenience it is for us:
you sit down in Rahnstadt with your good friends around a punch bowl,
and you drink to this one, and to that one, and then to another, and at
your side sits a gentleman in a brown dress-coat,--for the devil always
wears a brown dress-coat, he must, that is his uniform,--and he talks,
the whole evening, very friendly things to you, and when you wake up
next morning there he stands before you, and says, 'Good morning! you
signed yourself to me last evening,' and then he shows you his cloven
foot, and if he is polite he takes out his tail, and slaps you over the
ears with it, and there you are, his rightful property. So it is with
the honest Pietists, the others are a great deal worse."

And so Gottlieb and Lining were settled in the pastor's house, and
Mining was naturally much with them, and it often happened that good
old Gottlieb embraced Mining, in the twilight, and gave her a kiss,
instead of Lining; but it was all in friendship, he had no other
design.

But Pomuchelskopp had a design, when he came with his wife and Malchen
and Salchen to make their first call on the young Herr Pastor. And this
design was the pastor's acre, and the blue dress-coat with the gilt
buttons said to the black coat he would take the field, and offered him
just half the sum which the Herr von Rambow had given, and our old
Häuning stood up and said, that was all it was worth, and it could not
be otherwise disposed of, for Jochen Nüssler had declined it, and old
Gottlieb stood there bowing to the blue dress-coat, and was going to
say "yes," when Lining sprang up like a ball, out of the sofa-corner,
and said, "Hold! In this business, I have a word to say. We must
consult other people," and she called, from the door, "uncle Bräsig,
will you come in, a moment?"

And he came, placing himself audaciously in a linen frock, before the
blue dress-coat, and asked, "How so?"

And Lining sprang towards him saying, "Uncle Bräsig, the field shall
not be rented. It will be my chief pleasure."

"So it shall not, my dear Frau Pastorin Lining," and he bent down, and
gave her a kiss, "I will farm it for you my personal self."

"I am not obliged to allow an under-pächter," cried Pomuchelskopp.

"Nor shall you, nor shall you, Herr Zamel! I will merely manage it as
inspector for the Herr Pastor himself."

"Herr Nüssler gave it to me in writing."

"That you are a blockhead!" said his Häuning, and drew him angrily out
of the room.

"My dear Herr Pastor," said uncle Bräsig, going with Gottlieb into the
garden, "you have not to thank me for this arrangement, but only your
dear wife, Lining. It is really worthy of notice, how positive these
innocent little creatures become, after they are married. Well, never
mind, perhaps they know best. You, from your Christian stand-point,
about the blows on the right and left cheeks, you will read me a
lecture about hatred, but hatred must be,--where there is no hate,
there is no love, and the story of the blows is all nonsense to me. I
have a hatred, I hate Zamel Pomuchelskopp! Why? How? What? He says
'Sie' to you, and wouldn't you hate him?"

"My dear Herr Inspector, this wicked axiom----" and he would, in his
new office of pastor, have preached the old man a sharp sermon, as he
had before about fishing if, Lining had not fortunately come along, and
throwing her arms around his neck cried, "uncle Bräsig, uncle Bräsig,
how shall we repay you for giving up your leisure for us?"

"Don't trouble yourself about that, Lining, where there is hate there
is also love; but did you notice how I called him merely Herr Zamel,
although he was christened by the more distinguished name, 'Zamwel?'"

"You mean Samuel," interrupted Gottlieb.

"No, Herr Pastor, 'Samuel' is a Jew's name, and although he is a real
Jew,--that is, a white one,--he was baptized by the Christian name of
Zamwel, and his wife by the name of Karnallje."

"Uncle Bräsig," cried Lining, laughing heartily, "how you mix things
together! Her name is Cornelia."

"It is possible, Lining, that she lets herself be called so now,
because she is ashamed of it, but I have seen it with my very eyes. The
old pastor at Bobzin had died; and the sexton had to keep the church
books, and there it stood; 'Herr Zamwel Pomuchelskopp to Fräulein
Karnallje Klätterpott,' for she is a born Klätterpott, and she is a
Karnallje too. But, Lining, let her go; they shall not trouble us, and
we two will have a pleasant time together, and you shall give me the
little corner room, that overlooks the yard, and the devil must be in
it, if in a year and a day, our young pastor isn't in a condition to
farm his land himself. And now, adieu," and he went off, the old
heathen, who could not give up his hatred.

Bat he who will hate, must expect to be hated in turn; and nobody was
more hated that day than uncle Bräsig. When the Pomuchelskopps had
reached home, Häuning stroked the quiet, simple father of a family, and
Mecklenburg law-giver, the wrong way, and stung his poor knightly flesh
with thorns and nettles, and the constant conclusion of her satirical
remarks was: "Yes, Kopp, you are as prudent as the Danish horses, that
come home three days before it rains!"

At last, our old friend could bear it no longer, he sprang up out of
his sofa-corner, and cried:

"Malchen, I beg of you, have I not always cared for you as a father?"

But Malchen was as deep in the Rostock Times, as if her own betrothal
were recorded there.

"Salchen, is it my fault that the world is so bad?"

But Salchen embroidered earnestly on the flesh of a little cupid, and
sighed, as if it were a pity that her dear father were not the little
cupid; and to fill his cup, Gustaving came in, and rattled the keys on
the board, as if he was attempting to set this lovely family scene to
appropriate music.

But too much is too much! Human nature can bear only a limited amount;
our old friend must show his refractory family that he was master in
his own house, so he ran out of the room, and left them alone; he ran
into the garden, as far as the sundial, but what good did it do? He had
exercised his rightful power on his own flesh and blood, but he himself
was no happier, for before his eyes lay the pastor's acre, the
beautiful pastor's acre. And beyond lay Pumpelhagen, fair, fair
Pumpelhagen, which rightfully belonged to him, for he had given for the
Pastor's acre two thousand thalers, payment in advance, and how much
more to Slusuhr and David, and that beggar, the Herr von Rambow! He
could not bear the sight, he turned away, and looked up into the blue
harvest heaven, and asked, was there no righteousness left in the
world?

Then came Phillipping, and tugged at his blue dress-coat,--for out
of spite to his Häuning, he had kept it on, against all law and
order,--and said the Herr von Rambow was there, and wished to speak to
him.

The Herr von Rambow? Come, wait! now he had one whom he could torment
in turn, upon whom he could avenge the sufferings his family had caused
him; the Herr von Rambow? wait! he was going in, but there he came
himself, towards him.

"Good morning, my respected Herr neighbor, how are you? I wanted to
learn how it has gone about the pastor's acre."

So? Pastor's acre? No, wait, don't let him see it! Pomuchelskopp looked
down at the little bit of a nose which nature had given him, and said
not a word.

"Now, how has it been?" asked Axel. But Pomuchelskopp said neither good
nor bad, and looked along his nose, as if it extended for miles.

"My dear Herr Neighbor, what is the matter? It is all right, I hope?"

"I hope so," said Muchel, stooping to pull a weed out of the potatoes;
"at least your note for the two thousand thalers is all right."

"What?" asked Axel, astonished, "what has that to do with it?"

Wait, Axel! that is all coming right; keep still! he only wants to
tease you a little. What must be, must.

"You, Herr von Rambow," said Muchel, still plucking weeds, and turning
a red face up to the young Herr, "you have the two thousand thalers,
and I the Pastor's acre,--that is to say, I haven't it."

"But, Herr Neighbor, you were so sure"----

"Not nearly so sure as you, you have the two thousand thalers--haven't
you? You got them? and I"--and he shook his left leg, and thrust the
words out from his chest, "and I--I have--the devil!"

"But----"

"Ah, let your 'Buts' alone, I have heard 'Buts' enough this morning;
our business is about these notes," and he felt in his pocket, "So! I
have another coat on, and have not the pocket by me where they are. One
was due three weeks ago."

"But, my dear Herr Neighbor, how came you to think of it just to-day?
It is not my fault, that you have not been able to rent the acre."

It does you no good, Axel, keep still! He'll not do anything, only
torment you a little. Pomuchelskopp had heard too much already to-day,
about that cursed field, to trouble himself about it any longer, so he
passed by Axel's remark, and took another turn at the screw.

"I am an amiable man, I am a friendly man; the people say, also, that I
am a rich man, but I am not rich enough to throw my money into the
street, I cannot afford that yet. But, Herr von Rambow, I must see
something, I must see something. I must see that the soul stays in a
gentleman, and when one has signed a note, then he must also see----"

"My best Herr Neighbor," interrupted Axel, in great distress, "I had
clean forgotten it. I beg you--I had not thought of it at all."

"So?" asked Muchel, "not thought of it? But a man _should_ think,
and"--he was going on, but his eye fell upon Pumpelhagen; no I don't
let him notice! why should he shake the tree, the plums were not yet
ripe. "And," he continued, "I owe all this to my friendship for that
miserable fellow, that Bräsig. So he has repaid the kindnesses I did
him in his youth. I lent him money when he wanted to buy a watch, he
has worn trousers of mine when his were torn, and now? Ah! I know well
how it all hangs together,--that old hypocrite, Habermann, is behind."

Give the devil a finger, and he soon takes the whole hand, and then he
leads you whither he will, and if it suits his humour, he holds you before
him, and you must pray in distress and sorrow, in anguish and pain.

So it was with Axel; he must agree, in a friendly way, with the Herr
Proprietor, he must hew at the same timber, against his honor and
conscience, he must slander Bräsig and Habermann. Why? Because the
devil, with his note in his hand, pressed him down on his knees. And he
did it, too; the gay, careless lieutenant of cuirassiers lay on his
knees before the devil, and talked all sorts of malice and detraction
concerning Bräsig and Habermann, to appease his old Moloch, in the blue
dress-coat; he was a traitor to his best friends, he was a traitor to
his God. But when he came to himself sufficiently to be aware of what
he had done, he was full of self-contempt, and rode hastily away from
the house, where he had left a great part of his honor.

He rode home, and as he came to the boundary of his fields, he
saw Habermann, in the oppressive heat of the sun, following the
sowing-machine, and preparing everything for the seed-time, and for
whom? For _himself_, he must answer, and the coals of fire burned his
head. And when he had ridden a little farther, a linen frock appeared
before him, and Uncle Bräsig came toiling up, shouting across the
field, "Good day, Karl! I am on the right apropos, that is to say on a
preliminary cow business and it is all right; we are going to farm it
ourselves, and Zamel Pomuchelskopp may go hang;" and then he heard
Axel's horse, and turned round, and the worm, that was gnawing in
Axel's breast, made him a little more friendly to the old fellow, and
he said:

"Good day, Herr Inspector! What? always on your legs?"

"Why not, Herr Lieutenant? They still hold out, in spite of the
Podagra, and I have undertaken to procure an inventory for the young
pastor people, and am on my way to Gulzow, to Bauer Pügal; he has a
couple of milch cows, that I want to acquire for the Herr Pastor."

"You understand all the details of farming, Herr Inspector?" asked
Axel, in order to be friendly.

"Thank God," said Bräsig, "I am so well acquainted with all the
details, that I don't need to learn them at all. One of our kind needs
only to cast an eye at anything, and he knows just how it is. Do you
see, I was yesterday," and he pointed over to Axel's paddocks, "down by
your Podexes, and I saw that the mares and the colts were all down in
the lowest one, and why? They steal the oats out of the crib, and if
you want them to come to anything, you must put a padlock on."

Axel looked sharply at him: was this a piece of pure malice on the old
fellow's part? Of course! He gave his horse the spur: "Adieu!"

"If the blockhead won't take it, he need not!" said Bräsig, looking
after him. "I meant it well enough. It looks to me as if the young
nobleman--well, take care! You will yet come, on your hands and feet,
to your senses. Karl," he cried, across the field, "he has pushed me
off again!" and he went away, on his cow business.



                              CHAPTER XXX.


Winter had come again, and the world must open to the rough guest.

When he comes properly, let him come in, and welcome; but when he comes
at Christmas, with a wet shaggy coat, and fills one's room with mud,
and his boots smell of train-oil, he may stay away for all me.

But this time he came differently. He came, as he has often come to my
door, with ringing bells, and a snapping whip, and two gray horses
before the sleigh, stamping their feet, and he sprang from the sleigh
exactly like Wilhelm of Siden Vollentin, and rubbed his blue, frosty
cheeks, and thrashed his arms about his body, once--twice--thrice.
"Good morning, Herr Reuter, I have come for you. Compliments of the
Herr and of the Frau, and you need only step into the sleigh, for there
are heaps of foot-sacks and wraps there, and to-morrow is Christmas
eve, and little Hans charged me to drive fast."

Yes, when he comes like that, we both sing, my wife and I, "Come in,
come in, thou welcome guest!" and we treat the old fellow to a glass of
wine, and then get into the sleigh, and off we go,--ten miles an
hour,--and when old Winter sets us down at the door of Vollentin, Fritz
Peiters says, "Why the devil have you been so long on the road?" and
the Frau kisses my wife, and takes off her wrappings, and says to me,
"Uncle Reuter, I have got you short kale and long sausage," and the two
girls, Lising and Anning, whom I have so often carried in my arms when
they were tiny little things, come and give their old uncle a kiss, and
then hang about my dear wife, and Fritz and Max come, who are now at
the great Anclam gymnasium and greet us with a hearty shake of the
hand, and little Hans, who has been waiting his turn, comes, and jumps
and frolics around me, and climbs on my left knee, and there I must
hold him, the whole evening. And then little Ernest, the nestling, is
presented, and we stand about this little wonder of the world, and clap
our hands at his wisdom and understanding, and then comes
_grandmother_. And then begin the winter and Christmas pleasures, the
tree blazes, and the yule raps are rapped, and then comes a yule rap
from my dear wife, with a poem, the only one she ever wrote in her
life: "Here! sit, and here I sing, and ask for nothing more"--and the
melody goes no further, but it is enough of the kind.

And then comes the first Christmas day, and all is so solemn and still,
and our Lord strews the white snow flakes, like down, on the earth,
that no noise may be heard. And the second Christmas day comes, and
then come the Herr Pastor Pieper, and the Frau Pastorin, and the Herr
Superintendent and his wife, and then comes Anna, who is my darling,
for she used to be my scholar; and then comes the Frau Doctor Adam, and
the Frau Oberamtmann Schönermark, and Lucia Dolle, she sits on the left
hand of the Adam and on the right of the Schönermark, that is between
them,--and then! yes, then comes a round ball driving up, and the Herr
Doctor Dolle sits beside the ball, and rolls it out of the sleigh, and
gives it to a couple of maids who stand ready,--for they have
experience in the matter--and they unwind from the ball furs and cloaks
and comforters and foot-sacks, until the Herr Justizrath Schröder comes
to light. But he is not finished yet, by a great deal. He must sit down
in a chair, and Fika takes one foot, and Marik the other, and they pull
off his great fur boots, while I hold him by his shoulders, lest they
should drag him off the chair.

Then comes another sleigh!--and out springs Rudolph Kurz, jumping clear
over the coachman's whip, and behind him comes Hilgendorf. Do you know
Hilgendorf? Hilgendorf, our Rudolph's principal? No? Let me tell you,
then, in a word, Hilgendorf is a natural curiosity, he has ivory
bones,--"pure ivory," and so strongly is this proprietor put together
by nature, that one who ventures to slap him on the shoulder or the
knee gets black and blue spots, merely on account of the ivory.

Then we drink coffee, and the Herr Justizrath tells stories, wonderful
stories, and he tells them with _much fire_, that is to say, he is
always lighting fresh matches, because he is constantly letting his
pipe go out, and before long he has smoked up the whole cupful of
lighters, and Max is stationed beside him, for the express purpose of
keeping him supplied. And then we play whist, with Von der Heyt and
Manteufel, and all the old tricks and dodges, for otherwise the Herr
Justizrath will not play. Then comes supper, and over the rabbit and
roast goose, the Herr Justizrath makes the finest poetry, with the
drollest rhymes, and there is great applause, and when we rise from
table, we press each other's hands, and separate in peace and joy, each
happy face saying, "Well, next year, again!"

But in Pumpelhagen, this year, there was no such merry Christmas;
winter had come, fine and clear; but that which makes it welcome, the
close meeting of heart with heart, had stopped outside, instead of
coming in, bringing joy by the coat-collar. Each sat with his own
thoughts, no one exchanged his love for another's, Fritz Triddelsitz
and Marie Möller excepted, who sat together, the afternoon of the
second holiday, and eat gingernuts, until Fritz said, "No, I cannot eat
more, Marik, for to-morrow I shall have to ride to Demmin, to deliver
three tons of wheat; and if I should eat any more gingernuts, it might
make me sick, and I should not like that; and then I must pack up our
books for the circulating library, to exchange them in Demmin, so that
we may have something to read, in the evenings," and then he got up,
and went to look after his mare, and Marie Möller had a misgiving that
the heart could not wholly belong to her, whose affections she shared
with a horse.

In another room, Habermann sat, alone with his thoughts, and they were
serious enough, when he reflected that his working on this earth had
come to an end, and that he might henceforth fold his hands in his lap;
and they were sad enough, when he reflected what an end it was, and how
the seed he had sowed for a blessing seemed to have sprung up as a
curse. In still another room sat Axel and Frida, together indeed, yet
each was lonely, for each had his own thoughts, and was shy of exposing
them to the other. They sat in silence, Frida quietly thoughtful, Axel
out of humor; then sleigh bells were heard in the court, and
Pomuchelskopp drove up to the door. Frida took up her needle-work, and
left the room; Axel must receive the Herr Neighbor alone.

A regular agricultural talk, about horse-raising and the price of
wheat, was soon in progress between the two gentlemen, and the holiday
afternoon would have passed innocently and peacefully enough, if Daniel
Sadenwater had not brought in the mail-bag. Axel opened it, and finding
in it a letter to Habermann, was about handing it to Daniel to deliver,
when he saw his own arms on the seal and, as he looked nearer,
recognized his cousin's handwriting.

"Is that confounded affair still going on, behind my back?" he
exclaimed almost throwing the letter in Daniel's face: "To the
inspector!"

Daniel went off, astonished, and Pomuchelskopp inquired, very
compassionately, what had happened to vex the young Herr.

"Isn't it enough to vex one, when my blockhead of a cousin obstinately
persists in his silly romance, with this old hypocrite and his
daughter?"

"Oh!" said Pomuchelskopp, "and I thought that was at an end, long ago.
I was told that your Herr Cousin, upon hearing the report, which is in
everybody's mouth, had broken off the business suddenly, and would have
nothing more to do with them."

"What report?" asked Axel.

"Why about your inspector and the day-laborer, Regel was his name, and
the two thousand thalers."

"Tell me, what do the people say?"

"Now, you know already. I thought you had given the old man notice
because of it."

"I know nothing of it, tell me!"

"Why it is universally known. People say, Habermann and the day-laborer
made a compromise; the inspector let the fellow get off, and had half,
or more, of the stolen money, and he gave him a recommendation, upon
which he got taken on as a sailor, in Wisman."

Axel ran about the room. "It is not possible! I cannot have been so
shamefully betrayed!"

"Ah! and the people say, also, that the two had planned it all out,
beforehand; but that I do not believe."

"And why not? What was the old sinner contriving with the woman, behind
my back? The fellow, who had always been sober before, must be
intoxicated, at this particular time!"

"Yes, but the burgomeister of Rahnstadt himself noticed that."

"Oh, the burgomeister! What could one do, with such a trial-justice?
Now he thinks it was a poor weaver's wife who stole the money from the
laborer on the highway. And why? Merely because she tried to get change
for a Danish double louis-d'or, which she had found; for she sticks to
that story, and the wise Herr Burgomeister has been obliged to let her
go.

"Yes, and the one who saw the louis-d'or, Kurz, the shop keeper, is a
connection of Habermann's."

"Ah!" cried Axel, "I would give a thousand thalers more, if I could get
to the bottom of this meanness."

"It would be a hard task," said Pomuchelskopp, "but, in the first
place, I would--when does he go?"

"Habermann? To-morrow."

"Well, I would examine his books with the greatest care; there is no
knowing but they may be wrong, also. Look particularly at the money
account; one often finds out something in that way. He seems to be in
pretty good circumstances; he is going to live in Rahnstadt, on his
interest. Well, he has been in a good place, for many years; but I know
for a certainty, that he had old debts to pay which were not
insignificant. Lately, as I have learned from Slusuhr, the notary, he
has done a considerable money business at high rates of interest, with
his few groschen, perhaps also with money belonging to the estate."

"Oh!" exclaimed Axel, "and once when I asked him"--he stopped abruptly,
not wishing to betray himself, but a feeling of hatred arose in him, as
he thought that Habermann might have helped him then, and would not,
because he did not offer him high enough interest.

Nothing of importance was said, after this, for each had enough to
occupy him in his own thoughts; and when Pomuchelskopp drove home, well
satisfied with his management, he left the young Herr von Rambow in
such a bitter, venomous state of mind, that he was angry with himself
and everybody else, and could not sleep the whole night, for hateful
thoughts.

In a third room, at Pumpelhagen, was another lonely man; Habermann sat
before his desk, with his books lying open, and was going over the last
month's accounts once more. Ever since he had managed for his young
Herr, he had brought in his accounts, every quarter, for examination;
but at one time the young Herr was too hurried to attend to them, and
at another he said; "Yes it is all right;" but scarcely looked at them,
and again he said it was quite unnecessary for him to examine them.
Habermann, however, had not taken advantage of this neglect; he kept
his books very carefully, as he had always been in the habit of doing,
and insisted that Fritz Triddelsitz should put down his grain account
regularly, every week, and on this point, if anything was wrong, he
scolded Fritz much more sharply, than about other things.

As the old man sat at his work, Fritz came in, and asked about one
thing and another connected with his journey to Demmin, and when
Habermann had given him his instructions, and he was going out, the old
man called after him, "Triddelsitz, have you made out your grain
account?"

"Yes," said Fritz, "that is, I have begun it."

"Well, I wish you to finish it, this evening, and take care that it
balances better than the last."

"All right," said Fritz, and went out. Daniel Sadenwater came in, and
brought the inspector a letter; the old man got up, and seated himself
by the window, and when he recognized Franz's hand, his heart beat
quicker, and as he read and read, his eyes grew bright, a great joy
beamed upon his heart and thawed all the frost and ice which had lately
gathered there, just as the sun melts the snow from the roofs, and it
falls in drops to the ground. He read and read, and his eyes grew
moist, and tears dropped softly on the paper.

Franz wrote him how he had heard that Habermann was to leave
Pumpelhagen, and was now, therefore, free; that, under the
circumstances, the consideration he had hitherto exercised toward Axel
must give way to Franz's own earnest wishes, which left him no peace,
and drove him, though in spite of her father's request, to write to
Louise herself; and he enclosed a letter which he begged Habermann to
deliver to his daughter, and which he hoped might make three people
truly happy.

The old man's hands trembled, as he laid the letter to his child in his
pocketbook, his knees shook, as he walked up and down, so much was he
agitated by the thought that upon the step which he was about to take
depended the happy or unhappy future of his child; he seated himself in
the sofa-corner, and it was long before he was composed enough to look
at the matter with deliberation. So the morning sea rages in wild
waves, and at noon, they are less boisterous, but it still looks dark
and threatening over the water, and at evening the smooth mirror
reflects the blue heavens, and the light summer clouds drift across it,
and the setting sun frames the picture in his golden rays.

So it was with the old man; as the waves of emotion subsided, grave
thoughts came over him; he asked himself, earnestly and carefully,
whether it would be right for him to yield, whether he would violate
his obligations, if he said, "Yes," against the will of his young
master.

But what obligations had he, to a man who had rewarded him with
ingratitude, who had driven him away, almost with shame and disgrace?
None at all. And the pride rose in him, which one in a dependent
position must so often repress, and which he only knows, who has a
clear conscience; he would no longer sacrifice his best, most sacred
feelings, to the ingratitude of an unreasonable boy, or the happiness
of his child to an unjust, aristocratic prejudice. And when he had
reached this conclusion, out of the tranquil sea shone the reflection
of a lovely evening sky, and he sat long, gazing at the future of his
two children, as at bright summer clouds drifting over it, and out of
doors the setting sun was shining on the white snow, and its beams fell
upon his white hair.

While he sat, absorbed in these happy thoughts, the door opened
hastily, and Krischan Degel rushed in: "Herr Inspector, you must come,
the Rubens mare has a dreadful colic, and I don't know what to do for
her." The old man sprang up, and went in haste to the stables.

Scarcely had he gone, when Fritz Triddelsitz came in, carrying his
travelling-bag, and the books for the circulating library, with some
shirts and his proprietor's uniform, in which he meant to cut a figure
at Demmin, and depositing them on a chair by the window, was about to
begin packing when his eye fell upon Habermann's account-book, for the
old man, in his agitation, had forgotten to put his book away.

"That just suits me," said Fritz, and took the book to enter his grain
account, but he must carry it to the window, for it was growing quite
dark.

He had not quite finished, when Krischan Degel rushed in again.

"Herr Triddelsitz, you are to go immediately--quick! to the granary,
and bring a wrapping cloth, we are going to pack the mare in wet
sheets."

When Fritz heard some one coming, he thrust Habermann's book behind him
in the chair, and as Krischan hurried him off, thrusting the key of the
granary into his hand, he left the book lying there, and ran out. At
the door of the granary, he met Marie Möller, who had just come from
milking. "Marie," said he, "do me the favor just to pack my things in
the bag,--they are all on the chair by the window, and don't forget the
books!"

Marie did it, and in the twilight, and lost in her loving reflections,
she packed up Habermann's account book with those which were to go back
to the library.

When Habermann returned from the stables he locked up his desk without
any premonition of evil, and the next morning Fritz Triddelsitz was off
at cock-crowing, with his load of wheat, and his travelling-bag, also
without any premonition of evil. When the old inspector had given the
day-laborers their instructions, for the last time, he thought of his
own affairs, and began to put up his luggage, that he might be ready to
leave in the afternoon. He was not quite ready, when Daniel Sadenwater
came in, and called him to the Herr von Rambow.

Axel had passed a very restless night, his best thorough-bred mare, on
which he had set great hopes, had been sick, the flea, which
Pomuchelskopp had put in his ear, had stung him, he was annoyed at his
unaccustomed position of managing for himself, and he must pay
Habermann his salary, and also for the outlays which he had made in
paying the laborers' wages, and he did not know how much it would be,
or whether his cash would hold out. He could not humble himself however
before the inspector, who had given him warning, so he must try to make
some difficulty in the business, and discover some reason for refusing
to pay him immediately. Such a reason would be hard to find; but he
could pick a quarrel, and that might answer for a reason. A pitiable
means, although a very usual means; and that Axel should resort to it,
shows how rapidly his pride as a man and a nobleman was declining; but
nothing drives a weak man to underhand ways quicker than the need of
money, when he must keep up appearances, and "poor and proud" is a true
proverb.

As Habermann entered, he turned to the window, and looked through the
panes.

"Is the mare well again?"

"No," said Habermann, "she is still sick, I think it would be best to
send for the horse doctor."

"I will give orders. But," he added, sitting down, and still gazing
stiffly out of the window, "that comes from there being no proper
supervision of the stables, from feeding the spoiled musty hay."

"Herr von Rambow, you know, yourself, that the hay got wet, this
summer, but it isn't musty. And you yourself undertook the oversight of
the blood-horses, for, a few weeks ago, when I had ordered a slight
alteration in the stable, you forbade it, with hard words, and said you
would take the horses under your own supervision."

"Very well! very well!" exclaimed Axel, leaving the window, and walking
up and down the room, "we know all that, it is the old story."

Suddenly he stopped before Habermann, and looked him in the face,
though a little unsteadily: "You are going to-day?"

"Yes," said Habermann, "according to our last arrangement----"

"I am not really obliged," interrupted the young Herr, "to let you go
before Easter; you must at least stay till the day after New-Year's."

"That is true," said Habermann, "but--"

"Oh, it is all the same," said Axel, "but we must settle our accounts
first. Go and get your books."

Habermann went.

Axel had already laid his plans, that he might not be embarrassed about
his money affairs; when Habermann came with his books, he would say he
had not time to examine them, and if Habermann insisted, he could mount
his high horse, and say, the day after New Year's would be time enough.
But he was to get off more comfortably, Habermann did not come back. He
waited and waited, but Habermann did not come; at last, he sent Daniel
after him, and with him there came the old man, but in great
excitement, very pale, and crying, as he entered the room: "My God!
what has happened! How is it possible, how can it be!"

"What is the matter?" inquired Axel.

"Herr von Rambow," cried Habermann, "yesterday afternoon, I balanced my
grain and money accounts, and locked up the book in my desk, and now it
is gone."

"Oh, that is admirable!" cried Axel, mockingly, and the seed which
Pomuchelskopp had yesterday planted in his soul began to sprout and
grow, and shoot up, "Yes, that is admirable! So long as no one wanted
the book, it was there safe enough, but as soon as it is wanted, it is
missing!"

"I beg of you," cried Habermann in anguish, "do not judge so rashly, it
will be found, it must be found," and with that, he ran out again.

After a while, he returned, saying, in a weak voice: "It is not there;
it has been stolen from me."

"Oh, that is charming!" exclaimed Axel, working himself into a passion.
"At one time you say there is never any stealing here,--you know,
about my two thousand thalers,--and another time it must have been
stolen,--just as it suits your convenience."

"My God! my God!" cried the old man, "give me time, Herr!" and he
clasped his hands. "Before God, my book is gone!"

"Yes!" exclaimed Axel, "and the day-laborer Regel is gone, too, and the
people know _how_ he got away, and my two thousand thalers are also
gone, and people know _where_ they have gone. Were they down in your
book?" asked he, walking up to Habermann, and looking sharply in his
face.

The old man looked at him, he looked around him to see where he was,
his folded hands fell apart, and a fearful trembling went through his
limbs, as when a great river breaks up its covering of ice, and the
blood shot through his veins into his face, like the water in the great
river, when it is free, and the blocks of ice tower up and the dam
gives way: 'Ware children of men!

"Rascal!" he cried, and sprung at Axel, who had stepped back, as he saw
the passion he had roused. "Rascal!" he cried, "my honest name!"

Axel reached towards the corner where a gun was standing.

"Rascal!" cried the old man again, "your gun, and my honest name!" and
there ensued a struggle and a wrestling for the weapon, Habermann had
caught it by the barrel, and tried to twist it out of his hand. Bang!
it went off. "Oh, Lord!" cried Axel, and fell backwards towards the
sofa; the old man stood over him, holding the gun in his hand. Then
the door was torn open, and the young Frau rushed in, through the
powder-smoke, to Axel: "Good Heavens, what is this!" and all the love
which she had formerly cherished for him broke, like a ray of sunlight
through the clouds which had obscured it, she threw herself down by
him, and tore open his coat: "My God! my God! Blood!"

"Let it be!" said Axel, trying to raise himself, "it is the arm."

The old man stood motionless, the gun in his hand; the stream had gone
back to its bed, but how much human happiness had it ruined in its
overflow! and the meadows and fields of fertile soil were covered with
mud and sand, and it seemed as if nothing could ever grow there again.

Daniel came running in, and one of the maids, and, with their help,
Axel was lifted to the sofa, and his coat removed; his arm was
dreadfully torn by the small shot, and the blood streamed to the floor.

"Go for the doctor!" cried the young Frau, trying to stanch the blood
with cloths, but what she had at hand was not enough, she sprang up to
fetch more, and must pass Habermann, who still stood there silent and
pale, gazing at his master.

"Murderer!" cried she, as she went out, "murderer!" she repeated, as
she came in again; the old man said nothing, but Axel raised himself a
little and said: "No, Frida, no! he is not guilty of that," for even an
insincere man will give his God the glory, when he feels His hand close
to his life; "but," he added, for he could not avoid the old excusing
and accusing, "he is a traitor, a thief. Out of my sight!"

The blood shot into the old man's face again, he would have spoken, but
he saw that the young Frau turned away from him, he staggered out of
the door.

He went to his room; "He is a traitor, a thief," kept ringing through
his head. He placed himself at the window, and looked out into the
yard, he saw all that was passing, but saw it as in a dream; "A
traitor, a thief," that was all he understood, that alone was real.
Krischan Degel drove out of the yard, he knew he was going for the
doctor, ho opened the window, he wanted to call to him to drive as fast
as possible; but--"a traitor, a thief," he spoke it out, involuntarily;
he closed the window. But the book! The book must be found. The book!
He opened the chests and boxes which he had packed, he scattered his
little possessions all about the room, he fell upon his old knees,--not
to pray, for "he is a traitor, a thief," but to feel with his cane
under his desk, under his chest of drawers, under his bed; he must find
the book, the book! But he found nothing. "A traitor, a thief." He
stood at the window again, he looked out; but he had his cane in his
hand, what did he want of his cane? Would he go out? Yes, he would go
out, he would go away, away from here!--away! He put on his hat, he
went out of the door, and the gate. Whither? It was all one! it made no
difference; but, from old habit, he took the path to Gurlitz. With the
old way, came the old thoughts; "My child! my child!" he cried, "my
honest name!" He felt in his breast pocket, yes, the pocket-book was
there, he had his daughter's happiness in his hands. What should he do
now? He had ruined this letter for his child, it was destroyed forever
with his honest name and by this cursed shot! and the first bitter
tears were wrung from his tormented soul, and with them his good
conscience came back, and its soft hand made room in his constrained
breast, so that he could draw breath again; but his honest name, and
his child's happiness, were gone for ever. Oh, how happy he was
yesterday, sitting in his room, with the letter in his hand that Franz
had written to his daughter, what blessedness that letter was to bring
her, what happiness would bloom from it, what a bright future he had
painted! and now it was all gone and lost, and the brand which was
impressed upon him must burn into the heart of his only child, and
devour and consume it.

But what had his child to do with it? Why should it stand in the way of
her happiness? No, no! The curse and disgrace of the father was visited
upon the children, to the fourth generation, and the same thorny hedge,
which would sever him now from all honest people, would interpose
between his child and happiness. But he was innocent! Who would believe
him, if he said so? Those whose white garments of innocence the world
has once soiled with filth must walk in them through life; no one can
wash them clean, even if our Lord should come down from heaven, and do
signs and wonders, that innocence should be brought to light,--the
world would not believe. "Oh!" he cried, "I know the world!" Then his
eye fell upon Gurlitz, upon Pomuchelskopp's manor house, and out of a
corner of his heart, which he had believed forever locked, rose a dark
spirit and spread her black wings over him, so that the bright winter
sunlight no longer fell upon him; this was hate, which sprang up in his
heart. The tears of compassion, which he had wept over his child, dried
in his eyes, and the voice which had spoken in him, against his will,
called again. "A traitor, a thief!" and the dark spirit moved her
wings, and whispered thoughts to him, which flashed out like flames:
"It is his doing, and we are enemies once more!" He went through
Gurlitz, looking neither to the right nor the left, all which he had
held dear had disappeared for him, he was merely conscious of his
hatred, and that drove to a single aim, and in a definite path.

Bräsig stood in the way, near the Pastor's barn, he went to meet his
old friend: "Good morning, Karl. Well, how is it? But what ails you?"

"Nothing, Bräsig. But leave me, let me alone! Come to-morrow to
Rahnstadt, come to-morrow" and he passed on.

As he came to the elevation, beyond Gurlitz, from which Axel had first
shown his young wife his fair estate of Pumpelhagen, and where her warm
heart had throbbed with such pure joy, he stood still, and looked back;
it was the last point from which he could see the place where he had
lived so many happy years, where he had suffered such fearful anguish,
and where his honor and happiness had been turned to disgrace and
misery. A tempest raged in his soul. "Miserable wretch! Liar! And she?
'Murderer,' she called me, and yet again, 'murderer!' and when she had
spoken the shameful word she turned herself away from me. Your
unhappiness will not wait long,--I could, and would, have turned it
aside, I have watched over you, like a faithful dog, and like a dog,
you have thrust me out; but"--and he walked on toward Rahnstadt, and
hate hovered over him, on her dark wings.



                             CHAPTER XXXI.


In Rahnstadt, in the Frau Pastorin's house, there was great running up
and down stairs, the day after Christmas, for Louise was putting the
last touches to the arrangement of her father's room: and when she
would think, now it was all ready, there was always something more that
she must do for his comfort. Noon came; but her father had not yet
arrived, although they expected him to dinner; she put a plate for him,
however, for he might still come.

"I don't know," she said to the Frau Pastorin, "why my heart is so
heavy today."

"What?" cried the little Frau, "only three months in the city, and
already having premonitions, like a tea-drinking city lady? What has
become of my fresh little country girl?" and she patted her daughter's
cheek, affectionately.

"No," said Louise, taking the friendly hand, and holding it fast in her
own, "I do not mind such vague presentiments, mine are unfortunately
very definite misgivings, whether my father will feel contented here,
in the loss of his usual occupations, and will accustom himself to city
life."

"Child, you talk as if Rahnstadt were a Residence; no,--thank God! the
geese go barefoot here, as well as in Pumpelhagen, and if your father
takes pleasure in agricultural industry, he can see our neighbor on the
right carting manure with two horses, and our neighbor on the left with
three; and if he enjoys conversation about farming he has only to turn
to our landlord, Kurz, who will talk to him about renting fields, and
such matters, till he is as weary of them as we are."

Louise laughed, and as they rose from dinner, she said, "So, mother,
now lie down and rest a little, and I will walk along the Gurlitz road,
and perhaps I shall meet my father."

She wrapped her cloak around her, and tied a warm hood over her head,
and went along the road, where she was constantly in the habit of
walking, for it brought her nearer to the place where she had been so
happy, and when she had time she walked as far as the little rising
ground from which she could see Gurlitz, with the church, the
parsonage, and the church-yard, and if she had still more time, she
went on to see Lining and Gottlieb, and to talk with them of old and
new times. She walked on and on, but her father came not, the east wind
blew in her face, and colored her cheeks rosy red, till her lovely
countenance looked out of the dark hood like a bright spring day, when
it shines out of dark rain-clouds, filling the world with joy and hope.
But the water stood in her eyes; was that because of the east wind? Was
it because she was looking so sharply along the road for her father?
Was it because of her thoughts? No, it was not the east wind, for she
had stopped, and was looking towards the west, and yet her eyes were
full of tears; it was not from looking for her father, for she was
gazing in the opposite direction, where the sun, like a ball of fire,
was just sinking behind the black fir-trees; it must have been her
thoughts. Such thoughts as, in joy and grief, play around a young
heart, entwining it as with a wreath of roses, so that it rejoices in
utter gladness, and again weeps bitterly, when the thorns of the
rose-wreath wound it to bleeding. But why was she looking westward? Ah,
she knew that he was there, who sent her from thence the dearest
greetings.


                 "Westward, oh, westward fly, my keel,
                    Westward my heart aspires,
                  My dying eyes will look to thee,
                    Thou goal of my desires!"


The old rhyme whispered itself in her ear, and she stood there flushing
rosy-red, full of sweet unrest over the secret power that spoke in her
heart, like a bright spring day when it goes to rest, and the glowing
clouds promise another fair day for the morrow.

She went farther, to the elevation where her father had stood, a couple
of hours before, and tasted the bitterness with which his fellow-men
had filled his cup; she stood there, looking towards Pumpelhagen and
Gurlitz, and the love which she had received from her fellow-creatures,
in these places, overflowed her heart, and the curses uttered in hatred
and misery, by that poor old heart, were washed away from the tablets
of the recording angel, by the daughter's prayers, and her tears of
love and thankfulness.

It was a mile from Rahnstadt to Gurlitz, and the winter sun was near
its setting; she must go home. Then she saw a man approaching from
Gurlitz, it might be her father, she stood still awhile, looking; no,
it was not her father! and she went on, but turned round again to look,
and now perceived that it was Uncle Bräsig, who was hurrying up to her.

"God bless you, Louise! How? Why are you standing here, on the open
road, in this bitter wind? Why don't you go in, and see the young folks
at the parsonage?"

"No, Uncle Bräsig, not to-day. I merely came out to meet my father."

"What? Karl Habermann? Why, isn't he with you?"

"No, not yet."

"But he went through Gurlitz, this morning, about half past twelve."

"He has been here? Oh, where can he be?"

Bräsig remembered Habermann's agitated appearance, and, seeing the
anxiety of his child, he tried to comfort her: "It is often the case
with us farmers, we have one thing here, and another there, to attend
to; possibly he has gone over to Gulzow, or possibly he may be already
in Rahnstadt, attending to some business there. But I will go with you,
my child," he added, "for I have business in Rahnstadt, and shall stay
all night, and get back my three thalers from that sly rogue of a Kurz,
the syrup-prince, which he won from me at Boston. It is our club-day."

When they had gone a little way, they were met by a chaise from
Rahnstadt. It contained Krischan Däsel and Dr. Strump. The doctor
stopped, saying, "Have you heard? Herr von Rambow has met with an
accident, with a fowling-piece; he has shot himself in the arm. But I
have no time, the coachman was obliged to wait for me a great while; I
was not at home. Go ahead!"

"What is this?" cried Louise. "Has my father left Pumpelhagen, when
such an accident has just happened? He would not have done that."

"It may have occurred since he left," said Bräsig, but when he thought
of Habermann's appearance that morning, he did not believe his own
excuse. Louise grew more and more anxious, and hastened with quicker
steps. Between her father's delay and the accident at Pumpelhagen she
could find no probable connection, and yet it seemed to her that they
must have something to do with each other.

Meanwhile, Habermann had arrived in Rahnstadt, at the Frau Pastorin's.
He had turned off from the direct road, and made a circuit, until he
could collect himself, that he might not appear before his child in
such fearful excitement. As he entered the Frau Pastorin's door, he had
indeed controlled himself, but the terrible conflict he had just fought
out in his heart left a lassitude and weariness, which made him look
ten years older, and could not but strike the little Frau immediately.
She sprang up, letting the coffee boil over, which she was taking off,
and cried:

"Good heavens! Habermann, what is the matter? Are you sick?"

"No--yes, I believe so. Where is Louise?"

"She went to look for you, didn't you meet her? But sit down! Bless me,
how exhausted you look!"

Habermann sat down, and looked about the room, as if to see whether he
were alone with the Frau Pastorin.

"Habermann, tell me, what ails you?" said the little Frau, grasping his
cold hands in her own.

"It is all over with me; I must go through the world, henceforth, as a
useless and dishonored man."

"Oh, no! no! Don't talk like that!"

"That the opportunity of working should be taken from me, I can bear,
though it is hard; but that I should also lose my honest name, that
pierces me to the heart, that I cannot bear."

"And who should take that from you?" asked the Frau Pastorin, looking
him trustfully in the eyes.

"The people who know it best, the Herr von Rambow and his wife," said
the old man, and began to tell the story with a weak, and often broken,
voice; but when he came to the end, how the young Frau had also
deserted him, had turned her back upon him, and let him go out of the
door, as a thief and a traitor, then his anger broke out, he sprang
from his chair, and walked up and down the room, with gleaming eyes and
clenched fist, as if he were ready for combat with the wicked world.

"Oh," he cried, "if that were only all! But they have injured me more
cruelly than they know, they have ruined my child's happiness along
with mine. There! read it, Frau Pastorin!" and he gave her the letter
from Franz. She read, the sheet trembling in her hand, so greatly had
the story excited her, while he stood before her, and looked at her,
without once turning away his eyes.

"Habermann," she said, grasping his hand, when she had read it, "don't
you see the finger of God? The injury which one cousin has done you,
shall be made up to you by the other."

"No, Frau Pastorin," said he sternly, "I should be the scoundrel which
the world will henceforth deem me, if I could let a brave, trustful man
take to his house a wife with a dishonored name. Poor and honest! For
all I care! But dishonest? never!"

"Dear heart!" cried the little Frau, "where is my Pastor, now? If my
Pastor were only here! He could help and counsel us.

"That he could," said Habermann, to himself. "I cannot do it," he
cried, "my child must decide for herself, and you must help her, you
have done more to educate her sense of right and wrong, than I alas!
have been able to do. If my child considers it right and honourable, in
spite of everything, to accept his offer, if you yourself agree with
her, then let it be! I will exert no influence in the matter, I will
not see her, until she has decided. Here is a letter from Franz to her,
give it to her, telling her, beforehand, what has happened; just as I
have told you, is the truth. I will go up to my room; I cannot, I dare
not touch a finger." He left the room, but came back again; "Frau
Pastorin, consult her happiness only, have no regard for mine! Forget
what I said before. I will do what I can to keep my dishonoured name in
concealment."

He went out again, saying to himself as he mounted the stairs, "I
cannot do otherwise, I cannot do otherwise." As he threw himself down
on the sofa, in his little room, and everywhere about him saw the hand
of his daughter, how she had arranged and ordered everything for his
comfort, he put his hand over his eyes, and wept. "Shall I lose all
this?" He sighed deeply. "And why not? why not? If it is for her
happiness," he cried aloud, "I will never see her again!" The
house-door opened, he heard Bräsig's voice, he heard the bright
greeting of his child. All was still again, he listened for every
sound. Now Frau Pastorin was telling what had happened, now his
darling's heart was torn. Slowly there came steps up the stairs; Bräsig
came in, looking as silent and composed as if death were walking over
his grave, his eyebrows, which he generally raised so high when
anything unusual occurred, lay deep and heavy over his eyes, he said
nothing but "I know, Karl, I know all," and sat down by his friend, on
the sofa.

So they sat long, in the half-twilight, and neither spoke; at last
Bräsig grasped Habermann's hand: "Karl," said he, "we have known each
other these fifty years. Don't you remember, at old Knirkstädt's? What
a pleasant youth we had! always contented and joyous! and, excepting a
couple of foolish jokes that we played together, we have, upon the
whole, nothing to reproach ourselves with. Karl, it is a comfortable
sort of feeling, when one can look back upon old days, and say,
'Follies, to be sure, but nothing base!'"

Habermann shrank back, and drew his hand away.

"Karl," said Bräsig again, "a good conscience is a fine thing, when one
is growing old, and it is noticeable, quite noticeable, how this good
conscience stands by us when we are old, and will not leave us. Karl,
my dear old boy!" and he fell upon Habermann's neck, and wept bitterly.

"Bräsig," said Habermann, "don't make my heart heavy, it is heavy
enough already."

"Eh, how, Karl! How can your heart be heavy? Your heart is as pure as
Job's; it should be as light as a lark, which mounts in the clear
heavens; for this story of the infamous--no, I won't talk about that; I
would say---- Why, what were we talking about? Yes, so! about the
conscience. It is a wonderful thing, about the conscience, Karl! For
instance, there is Kurz, with his, for he has one, as well as you and
I, and I suppose he will stand before God with it sometime; but before
me he stands very badly, for he peeps at the cards, when we play
Boston; he has a sort of groschens-conscience; for, you see, in great
things, he is quite correct, for example, in renting the house to the
Frau Pastorin; but ell-wise, and pot-wise and pound-wise, he takes what
he can get, he isn't at all ashamed, that is when he can get anything;
when he don't get anything he is ashamed of himself. And let me tell
you, Karl, if you live here, you must have a good deal of intercourse
with him, and that pleasure will be a good deal like his conscience,
for he is fond of discoursing about farming, and it is as if he were
taking a drive for pleasure in a manure-cart. It will be no pleasure to
you, and so I have thought, when I have seen our young pastor through
his spring seed-time, and everything is in train, I will come over here
to you, and we can cheer each other up a little; and then in harvest
time, we can go out to Gurlitz, to keep the poor fellow from getting
into difficulties; and he will not, for Jürn is a considerate fellow,
and he himself begins,--thank God,--to do all sorts of useful things,
with Lining's assistance. And when he has finished his first year, you
shall see, he will be quite rid of his Pietistry, but we must let him
struggle a little sometimes, that he may learn to know himself and the
world, and find that there is something more in human life than to read
psalm-books. Yes, and then I will come to you, Karl, and we will live
as they do in Paris, and you shall see, Karl, this last quarter of our
lives shall be the best piece of the whole ox."

And he embraced him again, and talked of past times and future,
alternately, like a mother trying to divert her child to other
thoughts. The moon shone in at the window, and what can better heal a
torn heart, than its soft light, and the love of an old, tried friend,
who has been true to us? I always think that the bright, warm sunshine
is more suitable for love, but with friendship, the moonlight
harmonizes best.

While they were sitting thus, the door opened, and, with light step, a
slender form entered the room, and remained standing, in the full
moonlight, the arms crossed on her breast, and the white face gleaming
in the moonshine, as if it were a statue of white marble, against a
dark wall of yew-trees: "Was hat man Dir, Du armes Kind, gethan?"[7]

Bräsig left the room, without speaking. Habermann covered his eyes with
his hand as if something pierced him to his inmost heart. The slender
form threw itself at his side, the folded arms opened to embrace him,
and the white face pressed itself to his. For a long time, there was
silence, at last the old man heard light, soft words breathed in his
ear: "I know what you think right; I am your child--am I not? Your
darling child."

Habermann threw his arm about his darling child.

"Father, father!" she cried, "we will not part! My other father, who is
now with God, has told me how you would not be separated from me, when
you were in the deepest trouble and sorrow, when the good laborer's
wife wanted to keep me; now you are again in trouble and sorrow, would
you be parted from me _now_? should I leave you _now_?" and she pressed
him to her heart, saying softly, "thy name is my name, thy honor is my
honor, thy life is my life."

Much was spoken, in the sweet moonlight, in the cozy little room, but
of all this nothing shall be betrayed, for when a faithful father and a
loving child talk thus together, talk for their whole lives, our Lord
himself is with them, and it is not for the world, 'tis for the two
alone.

Down-stairs, in the Frau Pastorin's living-room, it was quite
different. Frau Pastorin sat in her arm-chair, and cried bitterly; the
dear, good Frau was quite beside herself,--Habermann's misfortune had
moved her deeply,--but when she must rouse this fearful conflict in the
breast of her dear child, when she saw the struggle going on, and
afterwards saw confidence and courage getting the mastery in that dear
heart, in spite of wounds and sorrow, she felt as if she had
maliciously destroyed the happiness of her child, and her poor heart
was torn with self-reproach and sorrow and compassion, till she broke
out into bitter weeping. Bräsig, on the contrary, had used up his
compassion, he had done his utmost, when with Habermann, to keep back
his wrath against the wretchedness of mankind, and when he came down to
the Frau Pastorin, and, in the darkness, was not aware of her distress,
he broke loose:

"Infamous pack of Jesuits! What? Such a man as Karl Habermann, would
you destroy his honor and reputation? It is like Satan himself! It is
as if one held the cat, and the other stabbed it. Curses on them----"

"Bräsig, Bräsig, I beseech you," cried the little Frau Pastorin, "stop
this unchristian behavior!"

"Do you call that unchristian behavior? It seems to me like a song of
the holy angels in Paradise, if I compare it with the scurvy tricks of
this pack of Jesuits."

"Bräsig, we are not the judges of these people."

"I know very well, Frau Pastorin, I am not the magistrate, and you are
not in the judge's chair, but when a toad hops across my path, you
cannot expect me to look upon it as a beautiful canary bird. No, Frau
Pastorin, toads are toads, and Zamel Pomuchelskopp is the chief toad,
who has spit his venom upon us all. What do you say to his chicanery
that he has contrived against me? You see, in the one foot-path, which
has led to the pastor's acre, for this thousand years, so far as I
know, he has had a stake put up, so that we cannot go there, and he
sent word to me that if I went there, he would have my boots pulled
off, and let me go hopping about in the snow, like a crow. Do you call
that a Christian disposition? But I will complain of him. Shall such a
fellow as that liken me to a crow? And Pastor Gottlieb must complain of
him. How can he forbid him the foot-path? And young Jochen must
complain of him, for he has said openly, young Jochen was an old
blockhead, and young Jochen is not obliged to put up with that. And you
must complain of him, because he would not build a widow-house, since
all the people have told me there must be Acts about it. And Karl
Habermann must complain of the young Herr. We must organize revolution
against the Jesuits, and if I can have my way, we will all drive
to-morrow, in a carryall, to Gustrow, to the court of justice, and
complain of the whole company, and we will take along five advocates,
so that each may have one, and then, hurrah for a lawsuit!"

If he had known that Louise had suffered most from the Jesuits, he
might have proposed taking another advocate for her; but as yet, he had
no suspicion of her troubles. Frau Pastorin tried to pacify him, but it
was not an easy task, he wanted to turn everything topsy-turvy, and the
misfortunes of his old friend had so agitated his heart, that the
troubles which usually lay in its depths, the farm-boy angers, and the
card-playing vexations, all came to the surface. "I came over here,"
said he, "to amuse myself, since it was club-day, and to win back my
three thalers from that old toad of an evil-doer, that Kurz, which he
got out of me with his infamous cheating, and now the devil must hold
his confounded spy-glass before my eyes, and bring all the wickedness
of the world right into the neighborhood. Well, I call that amusing!
And Frau Pastorin, if you don't think ill of it, I might spend the
night here with you, for this stupid game of Boston will come to
nothing, and it would be a good thing for me to sleep with Karl,
because he needs somebody to cheer him up."

Frau Pastorin said she should be glad to have him stay, and the evening
was spent in maledictions on his side, and efforts at pacification upon
hers. Habermann and Louise did not appear, and when Bräsig went up to
his old friend, Louise was no longer there.

The next morning Bräsig took leave of his old friend, with these words:

"Rely upon it, Karl, I will drive to Pumpelhagen, myself, and look
after your affairs. You shall get everything, though it makes me creep
all over, to cross a threshold where you have been thrust out so
infamously."

The same morning, Habermann sat down and wrote to Franz; he told him
truly and circumstantially what had happened lately in Pumpelhagen, he
wrote of the dreadful conclusion the matter had arrived at, and
informed him of the shameful suspicions which had fallen upon him, and
finished with the statement that he and his child were of one mind,
they must refuse his offer. He wanted to write warmly and heartily of
the friendship which he felt for the young man, but he could not speak
freely, as before, he seemed constrained. At last he begged him
earnestly, to leave him and his child to themselves; they two must bear
their fate, alone.

Louise wrote also, and when, towards evening, the Frau Pastorin's maid
took the letter to the post, she stood at the window, and looked after
her, as if she had taken leave of her dearest friend in the world
forever. She looked at the sun, which was going down in the west, and
murmured, "My dying eyes shall look to thee, thou goal of my desires."
But she did not turn red as yesterday, she stood there pale, and, as
the last rays of the sun disappeared behind the houses, a deep sigh
rose from her oppressed heart, and as she turned away bitter tears
flowed down her pale cheeks. The tears flowed not for her lost
happiness, no, for his.

As Bräsig came to the parsonage, the young Frau Pastorin met him at the
door; "God bless you, Uncle Bräsig, I am glad you have come here,--no,
not here, in Pumpelhagen there are dreadful stories. Dr. Strump has
been here,--our Jürn was taken sick suddenly, last night, he was
delirious,--and I ran for the doctor, who had been at Pumpelhagen, to
speak to him as he passed through the village,--and he told me dreadful
things,--not he, properly speaking, he only let himself be questioned,
but his coachman told me that--ah, come in, it blows so out here!" and
she drew him into the house. Here she told him all that the people
said, that her dear Uncle Habermann had shot Axel, and had gone off,
nobody knew where, but probably to take his own life. Bräsig comforted
her with news that Habermann was alive, and told her about the
shooting, then inquired how it was with the young Herr, and learned
that Dr. Strump did not think it a dangerous case. He then went to see
Jürn, who apparently had an attack of pneumonia. By this time, it was
noon, and he must pursue his journey to Pumpelhagen, to attend to
Habermann's affairs, and must also look out for another coachman. He
inquired about in the village, but nobody would go to drive, and help
him to load the goods; one had this, another that excuse, and finally
he resolved to play coachman himself, when old Ruhrdanz, the weaver,
said, "Well, it is all one to me, what he says to it; if he wants to
chicane me, he may. I will drive you, Herr Inspector."

Bräsig made no objections, being very glad to find some one to help him
with the loading, and they drove off.

"Ruhrdanz," asked Bräsig, "what did you mean by chicaning?"

"Why, Herr, he has forbidden us all to do anything for the folks at the
parsonage; we must not even take a step for them."

"Who has forbidden you?"

"Eh, he, our Herr Pomuchelskopp."

"Infamous Jesuit!" said Bräsig to himself.

"If we did so, he told us, we might fodder our cows next winter on
sawdust, he wouldn't give us a handful of hay or straw, and we might
build with bricks, for he would give us no wood or turf."

Bräsig turned dark with anger, but the old man was fairly launched, and
went on, under full sail:

"And we must be always ready for him, night or day. I was out for him,
the whole holiday, and got home last night, at ten o'clock."

"Where did you go?"

"Eh, to Ludswigslust, to the old railroad."

"What had you to do there."

"Eh, I had nothing to do there."

"But you must have had business there."

"Why, yes, I had business; but it came to nothing, for he had no
papers."

"Well, what was it, then?"

"You see, he sent down from the Court, I should drive a ram down to the
old railroad; well, I did so, and we got there all right. There was a
fellow standing at the station; he let me pass, and I said to him,
'Good morning,' says I, 'here he is.' 'Who?' he asked. 'The ram.' says
I. 'What of him?' says he. 'Well, I don't know,' says I. 'Has he any
papers?' asked he. 'No,' says I, 'he hasn't any papers.' 'Blockhead,'
says he, 'I asked if _he_[8] had any papers.' 'No,' says I, 'I told you
before, the ram has no papers.' 'Thunder and lightning!' says he, 'I
asked if _he himself_ had any papers.' 'What?' says I, 'if I? What do I
want of papers? I was to deliver him here.' You see, the fellow was
undecided, and first he turned me out, and then he put out the old ram
after me, and there we both stood by the train. Huiüü! said the old
thing, and then it went off, and we stood there, he had no papers, and
I had no papers, and what should I do about it? I loaded him in again,
and drove back home. And when I went up to the house, last evening,
there was a great uproar, and I thought our Herr would eat me up, he
flew at me so. But what did I know? If he must have papers, he should
have given them to somebody. But so much I know, if our Herr were not
such a great Herr, and if he hadn't such a stiff backbone, and if we
all held together, we would try a tussle with him. And his old Register
of a wife is a thousand times worse than himself! Didn't she beat my
neighbor Kapphingsten's girl half dead, last spring? She beat the girl
three times with a broomstick, and shut her up in the shed, and starved
her, and why? Because a hawk had carried off a chicken. Was it her
fault that the hawk carried off the chicken, and was it my fault that
he had given me no papers?"

Bräsig listened to all this, and, though yesterday he wanted to start a
revolution against Pomuchelskopp, to-day he kept perfectly still, for
he would never have forgiven himself, if he had, by a thoughtless word,
excited the people against their master.

They came to Pumpelhagen, and drove up to the farm-house door. With a
great leap, Fritz Triddelsitz came out of the house to Bräsig: "Herr
Inspector, Hen Inspector! I truly could not help it, Marie Möller
packed the book up, through an oversight, and when I went to change my
clothes, in Demmin, there was the book."

"What book?" asked Bräsig hastily.

"Good gracious! Habermann's book, that all this uproar has been about."

"And that book," said Bräsig, catching Fritz by the collar, and shaking
him, till his teeth chattered in his head, "you infamous greyhound, did
you take that book to Demmin with you?" and he gave him a push towards
the door: "In with you! Bring me the book!"

With fear and trembling, Fritz brought out the book; Bräsig snatched it
from his hand. "Infamous greyhound! Do you know what you have done? The
man who in his kindness and love has tried to make a man of you, who
has covered all your stupidities with a silken mantle, you have ruined,
you have brought into this shameful quarrel."

"Herr Inspector, Herr Inspector!" cried Fritz, deadly pale, "Oh, Lord!
it wasn't my fault, Marie Möller packed up the book, and I rode from
Demmin to-day, in two hours, to bring it back again as soon as
possible."

"Marie Möller!" cried Bräsig, "what have you to do with Marie Möller?
Oh, if I were your Herr Father, or your Frau Mother, or even your Frau
Aunt, I would lash you till you ran like a squirrel along the wall.
What have you to do with that old goose of a Marie Möller? And do you
think to make up for your stupidity by gallopping over the public road?
Shall the innocent beast suffer for your fault? But come now, come
before the board! Come before the judgment seat, to the gracious Frau!
You shall tell her how it has all happened, and then you can go and
parade with Marie Möller."

And with that, he went off, and Fritz followed slowly behind, his heart
full of misgivings.

"Announce me, with the young man, to the gracious Frau," said Bräsig,
to Daniel Sadenwater, when they came to the porch, and he pointed to
Fritz. Daniel made a sort of half-grown bow, and went. Fritz stood
there, like butter in the sun, making a face, which came very readily
to him, since his days at Parchen, because he used to make it when
there was a conference of teachers, and his misdeeds came up for
judgment. Bräsig stood bent up in the corner, with the book under his
arm, and tugged alternately at his left and right boot-straps, that his
yellow tops might appear to the best advantage. When the gracious Frau
came, and went into the living-room, he followed her, quite red from
the stooping and his excitement, and Fritz, very pale, went in behind
him.

"You wished to speak to me, Herr Inspector?" asked the young Frau,
looking now at Bräsig, and now at Triddelsitz.

"Yes, gracious Frau, but I would first beg you graciously to hear what
this Apothecary's son, this--infamous greyhound,"--he was going to say,
but restrained himself--"young man has to say, he has a fine story to
tell you."

The young Frau turned a questioning glance upon Fritz, and the old
fellow began to stammer out his story, growing first red, and then
pale, and told it pretty much as it happened, only that he left out
Marie Möller's name, ending with, "And so the book came, by an
oversight, into my travelling bag."

"Out with Marie Möller!" cried Bräsig, "the truth must finally come to
light!"

"Yes," said Fritz, "Marie Möller packed it up; I had so much to do that
day."

The young Frau was greatly disturbed. "So it was all only an unhappy
accident?"

"Yes gracious Frau, it was so," said Bräsig, "and here is the book, and
here, on the last page, is Habermann's account, and there are four
hundred thalers due him, beside his salary, and it is right, and
balances, for Karl Habermann never makes mistakes, and when we were
boys he used to excel me myself, in the accuracy of his reckoning."

The young Frau took the book with trembling hand, and as she, without
thinking of it, noticed the sum total on the last page, the thought
shot confusedly through her mind, Habermann was innocent of this
charge, why not of the other, in which she had never believed? Fritz's
story could not be an invention, and she had done the man the bitterest
injustice; but he had shot her husband! In that, she found a sort of
excuse, and she said, "But for God's sake, how could he shoot at Axel?"

"Gracious Frau," said Bräsig, raising his eyebrows very high, and
putting on his most serious expression, "with your favor, those are
abominable lies; the young Herr took aim at him, and as Habermann was
trying to wrest the gun from him, it went off, and that is the whole
truth, and I know all about it, because he told me himself, and he
never lies."

Dear heart, she knew that, and she knew also, that so much could not be
said of her husband; at the first, in his first excitement, he had
said, "He is not a murderer," but since then, he had constantly
affirmed that Habermann had shot him. She sat down, and laid her hand
over her eyes, and tried to take counsel with herself; but it was of no
use; she collected herself with an effort, and said, "You have come, I
suppose, to receive the money for the inspector; my husband is
suffering, I cannot disturb him now, but I will send it."

"No, gracious Frau, I did _not_ come for that," said Bräsig, drawing
himself up, "I came here to tell the truth, I came here to defend my
old friend, who was my playmate sixty years ago."

"You have no need to do that, if your friend has a good conscience, and
I believe he has."

"I see, by this remark, gracious Frau, that you know human nature very
poorly. Man has two consciences, the one inside of him, and that no
devil can take from him, but the other is outside of him, and that is
his good name, and that any scamp may take from him, if he has the
power, and is clever enough, and can kill him before the world, for man
lives not for himself alone, he lives also for the world. And these
wicked rumors are like the thistles, that the devil and his servants
sow in our fields, they stand there, and the better the soil is the
bigger they grow, and they blossom and go to seed, and when the top is
ripe, then comes the wind,--no man knows whence it cometh or whither it
goeth, and it carries the down from the thistle-top all over the field,
and next year the whole field is full of them, and men stand there and
scold, but no one will take hold and pull up the weeds, for fear of
getting his fingers pricked. And you, gracious Frau, have also been
afraid of pricking your fingers, when you let my old friend be driven
out of your house, as a traitor and a thief, and I wanted to tell you
that, and to tell you that _that_ hurt my Karl Habermann the worst of
all. And now farewell! I have nothing more to say." With that, he left
the room, and Fritz followed him.

And Frida? Where was the bright young wife with her clear eyes and
sound understanding, who looked at everything so sensibly and quietly?
This was not the same woman, the cool, intelligent composure had
changed to restless agitation, and before the clear eyes lay a shadow,
which hindered her from looking about her. "Ah," she exclaimed, "untrue
again! All these suspicions are merely the progeny of lies, of
self-deception and the most unmanly weakness! And my distress for him,
my love for him, must make me a sharer in his wrong, I must give a
deadly wound to this honest heart that loved me so truly! But I will
tell him!"--she sprang up,--"I will tear away this web of lies!" but
she sank down again, in weakness; "no, not yet; I cannot; he is too
ill." Ah, she was right; insincerity and falsehood surround in a wide
circle even the most upright heart, and come nearer and nearer, and
draw it into the whirlpool, till it no longer knows whether it is out
or in, when cool composure is lost, and considerate thought is absorbed
in fear or hope.

When Bräsig came to his wagon, Ruhrdanz, with the help of Krischan
Däsel and others, had packed nearly all the goods, and what was left
soon found a place. Bräsig was getting into the wagon by Ruhrdanz, when
Fritz Triddelsitz held him fast: "Herr Inspector, I beg of you, tell
Herr Habermann that I am innocent, that I couldn't help it."

Bräsig would have made no answer, but when he saw Fritz's sorrowful
face, he pitied him, and said, "Yes, I will tell him; but you must
reform." Then he drove off.

"Herr Inspector," said Ruhrdanz, after a little while, "it is none of
my business, and perhaps I should not speak of it; but who would have
thought it--I mean about Herr Habermann."

"What do you mean?"

"Oh, nothing,--I only mean that he should go off so suddenly, and then
this shooting."

"Eh, that is all stuff and nonsense," said Bräsig, in vexation.

"So I said, Herr Inspector; but the groom Krischan, he stood there, as
we were packing, and he said that the whole disturbance came from the
confounded papers, because Herr Habermann had no regular papers to
show. Yes, so I say, the confounded papers!"

"Habermann's papers are all right."

"Yes, so I say, Herr Inspector, but about the shooting! Our young Herr
Gustaving was telling about it this morning, all over the village."

"Gustaving," cried Bräsig in his wrath, "is a rascal of a puppy! a
puppy who has not yet got his eyes open."

"So I say, and don't take it evil of me, Herr Inspector; but he is the
best of the lot, up at the Court. For, you see, there is the old--well,
Orndt's nephew was here last week, and he came from Prussia to Anclam,
and he said that our Herr always had human skin on his stick, he banged
the people about so; but the Prussians wouldn't put up with him, and
the people went to the Landgrafenamt, or to the Landrathenamt,--I don't
know what the old thing is called,--and complained of him, and the
Landgraf turned him out in disgrace. I wish we had such a Landgraf in
our neighbourhood, for the court of justice is too far off."

"Yes," said Bräsig hastily, "if you had such a Landrath as that, you
would have something rare."

"So I say, Herr Inspector, but once he went rather too far, for he beat
a woman who was in the family way, and injured her severely, and, you
won't take it ill of me, Herr Inspector, but I think that was a great
crime. Then they complained of him to the king, and he commanded that
he should be imprisoned in Stettin for life, and drag balls after him.
Well, then, his old woman went to the king, and fell down on her knees
to him, and the king let him out, on condition that he should wear an
iron ring round his neck, all his life long, and every autumn he should
drag balls, for four weeks, in Stettin,--he was there this last
autumn,--and that he should leave the country; and so he came here; but
now tell me, Herr Inspector, if he should be driven away from here,
where could he go?"

"Where the pepper grows, for all I care," said Bräsig.

"Yes, so I say, Herr Inspector; but don't take it ill of me, I don't
believe they would take him there; for, you see, he has money enough to
buy a place, but how about his papers? For when the king comes to see
his papers, and he reads that he must wear an iron ring on his neck,
and that that is the reason he always wears such a great thick
neck-cloth, then they will have nothing to do with him."

"Eh, then you will have to keep him," said Bräsig.

"Well, if there is no other way, then we must keep him; he is, so to
speak, married to us. Get up!" he cried, and drove at a trot, through
Gurlitz; and Bräsig fell into deep thought. How strangely things went
in the world! Such a fellow, who had such a reputation, was yet in
circumstances to ruin an honest man's good name; for he was quite
certain that Pomuchelskopp was at the bottom of all the stories, and
that he had taken pains to set them in circulation was evident from
Gustaving's share in the matter.

"It is scandalous," he said to himself, as he got down, in Rahnstadt,
at the Frau Pastorin's, "but take care, Zamel! I have taken one trick
from you, with the pastor's acre, I shall get another; but first I must
complain of you, about the 'crow!'"



                             CHAPTER XXXII.


New-Year's day, 1846, had come, and brought its kind wishes, and the
Rahnstadters congratulated each other, in the cold streets, or in the
warm parlors, just as it happened, and some people slept until noon,
and ate pickled herrings, because it was Sylvester's eve, and there was
much talk among the young people of this and that, which had happened
at the ball, yesterday, and the old folks sat together, and talked of
what had happened, not indeed at the ball, but in the world. And the
story of Habermann and Herr von Rambow was a chief dish, which was
served up at all tables; and as every house had its own cookery, so it
had also its own gossip, one believed the story so, and another so, and
each suited it to his own palate, and invited his neighbor as guest,
and Slusuhr and David went everywhere, as unbidden guests, and the one
added his pepper, and the other his garlic to the dish. And so, for the
city of Rahnstadt and the region round about the story and the slander
became richer in its process, as each seasoned it with his favorite
spice: Habermann had for years been cheating his two masters, and had
accummulated a great pile of money, which was the reason why the young
Herr von Rambow was always in pecuniary embarrassment; he had gone
halves with the lay-laborer Regel, in his robbery, and had helped him
off and given him a recommendation. Whether Jochen Nüssler had assisted
in the conspiracy, people were not definitely informed. But at last the
apothecary Triddelsitz's son, who was an uncommonly wideawake and
discreet young man, had come upon the track, by secretly examining
Habermann's books, in which he discovered the whole imposition, word
for word. He had told it to the housekeeper, Marie Möller, and they
both agreed that Triddelsitz must take the book till Habermann had
gone, and the considerate young man did so, and carried it with him to
Demmin, intending to deliver it afterwards to Herr von Rambow. But, the
next day, Habermann had missed the book, and was persuaded that Herr
von Rambow had taken it, so he went to him, and told him he was a
rascal, and demanded his book again, and when the young Herr could not
give it him, he aimed a rifle at his breast. The young Herr would not
bear that, and grappled with him for the rifle, and it went off, and
the Herr von Rambow was now lying at the point of death. Habermann was
doubtless in concealment, somewhere in the city. This was pretty nearly
the story which the Rahnstadters had pieced together, and everybody
wondered that the burgomeister did not have such a dangerous man put in
prison.

There were, fortunately, two intelligent beings in the city, who would
not bite at the story; one was Moses, who, when David told him of the
affair, said merely, "David, you are too stupid!" and went about his
business, the other was the burgomeister himself, who shook his head
and also went about his business. The Rector Baldrian did not go about
his business, for he had a vacation, and he said if the whole city said
so there must be something in it, but so much he would say, and he
would go to the sacrament upon it, his Gottlieb's father-in-law, Jochen
Nüssler, was not in the conspiracy. Kurz said it was possible, but he
would never have suspected it of old Habermann; but no one could read
the heart of another. Meanwhile, he must say, one thing seemed to him
improbable, that Fritz Triddelsitz could have acted with much
discretion, and he believed that part of the business must have
happened differently. Just for the reason that his Fritz had
distinguished himself, the apothecary believed in the story, and told
it all over the city, that he might increase his dear son's celebrity.

And so strangely does destiny play with us. At this very moment when
Fritz's renown was spread through the whole city, he himself stood
before that dreadful criminal, Habermann, in the guise of a penitent
sinner, begging him earnestly to forgive his share in the trouble, he
had not done it intentionally. Habermann stroked his chestnut hair, and
said, "Let it go Triddelsitz! But notice one thing; many a good action
has evil consequences in the world, and many an evil one has good; but
we are not responsible for the consequences, those lie in other hands,
and the consequences do not make an action either good or bad. If you
had not done wrong, in deceiving me about your grain-account, your
conscience would not trouble you, and you need not have stood before me
thus. But I forgive you; and now take the receipt for the money, and be
a good, steady fellow! And now, good-bye!"

He gave him a receipt, for the gracious Frau had sent him his salary,
and this money he had paid out, by Fritz.

Fritz went to the inn, when he had left his horse. There were many
people there and they flocked around him: "Well, how is it? You did that
well!" "Is the Herr von Rambow dangerously hurt?" "Then he is still
living!" "Do let Herr Triddelsitz speak!" "Just tell us----" "No, just
tell us, have you got Habermann?"

Fritz was in no mood for narration, he had no desire to expose his own
stupidity; he pushed through the crowd, with a few general remarks, and
mounted his horse, and the Rahnstadters said, with one accord, he was a
very discreet young man, he would not sound his own praises.

If the Rahnstadters gathered about Fritz, in their curiosity, as if he
were a bottle of syrup, and they the flies, they were to have a still
richer treat; this New-year's day was to be a real news-day. Scarcely
had Fritz, outwardly so proud and reserved, inwardly so dejected and
penitent, ridden away from the door, when a carriage drove up to
the inn,--the gentleman driving himself, and the coachman sitting
behind,--and the Rahnstadters flattened their noses against the window
panes; who could that be? "He looks wonderfully familiar to me," said
one. "Yes, I have surely seen him before," said another. "Is it
not----" began a third. "Eh, what? No, it is'nt the one you think,"
said Bank, the shoemaker. "I know him," said Wimmersdort the tailor, "I
have made him many a coat, that is the Herr von Rambow who lives beyond
Schwerin, at Hogen-Selchow, the cousin of the Pumpelhagen Herr." "The
tailor is right, it is he." "Yes, it is he." "Probably he comes on
account of this story." "That must be it, for the Pumpelhagen Herr lies
so low, he can attend to nothing. You shall see, he will take the
business in hand." And as Franz came in to lay off his furs, the
Rahnstadters all stood with their backs against the windows, with their
backs against the stove, with their backs against the walls, and all
looked to the middle of the room, where Franz stood, as it were,
surrounded by a web of curiosity, from which all the threads ran to the
middle, where he was caught, like a helpless fly.

Franz went out, spoke a couple of words to the servant, and went off
towards the market. "Johann," asked one from the window, "what did he
say to you?" "Ah," said Johann, "he only asked after the burgomeister,
if he was at home." "Did you hear? he asked after the burgomeister; he
is going to work in earnest." "Johann," said another, "did he say
nothing else?" "Yes, he asked where the parson's wife lived, who has
moved here lately, near Kurz the shopkeeper." "Ha, ha! Do you notice
that? The inspector is probably stowed away, with the parson's wife.
Well, good-bye."

"Gossip Wimmersdorf, where are you going?" "Oh, I shall drop in at
Kurz's." "Wait, I will go too." "That is so," said another, "at Kurz's,
we can see everything finely." "Yes, let us go to Kurz's," and it was
not long before Kurz's shop was fuller of customers than he had seen it
for a long time, and every one took a dram, and some two, and Kurz said
to himself, "Thank God! the new year begins finely."

After a while, Franz came back from the market, and went past Kurz's
shop, directly up to the Frau Pastorin's door.

"How? He has no policeman with him!" said one.

"Yes, Hoppner is not at home, he has gone to get a pig to-day, from the
farmer at Prebberow."

"Oh, that is all right, then."

"How Habermann will feel, when he finds himself caught!" said
Wimmersdorf.

"Children, my feet are getting cold," said Bank, the shoemaker, "I am
going home."

"What? You may as well wait till the business comes to a head," said
Thiel, the cabinet-maker.

"What do you know about it?" said Bank. "It seems to me as if there
was'nt a word of truth in the whole story."

"What? You told me the story, yourself, this morning," said Thiel.

"Yes, that is so, but morning talk is not evening talk. I have
considered the matter since then."

"That is to say, you have got cold feet over it," said the tailor. All
laughed.

"That is a stupid joke," said the shoemaker, "and the whole story is a
stupid joke; the old inspector has traded with me all these years, and
has always paid his accounts honestly, and is he likely, in his old
age, to take to cheating and stealing?"

"Eh, you may talk! But when the whole city says so?"

"Eh, the whole city! Here stands Herr Kurz, ask him if he has'nt always
paid honestly! Ask the man what he says to it!"

"What I say to it? I say nothing," said Kurz, "but I don't believe it,
and I have my own reasons."

"There, do you hear?"

"Yes, it may possibly be so."

"Yes, I said, all along, the matter looked very strange to me."

"Well," said Wimmersdorf, "he never traded with me, and I don't see why
I should'nt believe it."

"Eh, tailor, don't let yourself be laughed at!"

"Yes, children, laugh at the tailor!"

"Now, I will tell you something," said Bank, smiting with his fist on
the counter. "Come here, all of you,--Herr Kurz, fill the glasses once
more! Now let us all drink to our brave, old, honest inspector!"

And they did so, and went home with a stronger belief than ever in
Habermann, and with all of them, except Wimmersdorf the tailor, the old
man was reinstated in his good name. Why? Because Bank the shoemaker
had cold feet.

Upon such little things often depends good or evil opinion. Here, the
good prevailed; but what availed the good opinion of a few
insignificant mechanics against that secret, invisible power which
determined the fate of the children of men in this little city, and
held the entangled threads of happiness and misery in its hand, and
pulls them, so that one must dance on the string, at its will? I mean
that secret tribunal which the women folks hold, in the quiet evening
hours, to the terror of all evil-doers, over their knitting and
tea. There, every sinner gets his deserts, he is pricked with the
knitting-needles, pinched with the sugar-tongs, burned in the
spirit-lamp, and every biscuit or muschüken[9] soaked in the teacups
gives a faithful picture of the condition of his terrified soul, if he
were standing before this tribunal. What did this Rahnstadt Female
Assembly care for Hans Bank's good opinion, or his cold feet? What for
Habermann's well-paid accounts? These judges went seriously to
work; they first took account, in an intelligent manner, of the
antecedents,--as jurists say,--and they found the case very weak, for
Habermann, for Louise, for the Frau Pastorin, even for Bräsig. Malchen
and Salchen Pomuchelskopp had circulated all the particulars, here a
little drop and there a little drop, Salchen had gathered those
precious pearls together, and arranged them in proper order, and even
David had helped a little, and so the Female Assembly had a very
correct representation of Franz's attachment to Louise, of Habermann's
and the Frau Pastorin's match-making, and of Bräsig's scandalous
tale-bearing, which they were qualified to make use of, in the best
possible manner.

The preliminaries had just been disposed of, when the wife of the city
Syndic, (Recorder,) and the merchant's wife. Madam Krummhorn, came in
together, and received a friendly scolding from the hostess, because
they were so late. They defended themselves, in rather a condescending
way, saying nothing of importance, but they sat down with such a swing,
and took out their knitting with such significant shaking of heads,
that the high tribunal must have been excessively stupid, if it had not
observed that they had something special on their minds. It did its
duty, beginning to feel round, by degrees, but the Frau Syndic and the
Frau Krummhorn were prepared for resistance, and pinched their lips
together, like live oysters, and the knives applied by the high
tribunal were not successful in opening the shells. With sighs, the
assembly took up its knitting-work, and soaked a couple of fresh
muschüken in its tea, and with horror the two oysters became aware that
their fast-locked news was stale, and that the best juice had run out
from it; they opened, therefore, of their own accord, and the Frau
Syndic asked the burgomeisterin, if a young gentleman had not called on
the Herr Burgomeister that afternoon. Yes, said the Frau
Burgomeisterin, the cousin of Herr von Rambow had been to see her
husband, they had just been speaking of it.

"And what did he want?" asked the Frau Syndic.

"To inform himself how the examination about the stolen money had
resulted, and he also asked whether the stories in Pumpelhagen--you
know, the shooting--had any connection with that affair."

"And what else?" inquired Frau Syndic, looking down at her knitting.

"My husband has told me nothing more," said the burgomeisterin.

"And do you believe that?" asked Frau Syndic. Now it is a shame, before
any tribunal, especially before such as this, to expect it to believe
any simple, natural story. The burgomeisterin felt the accusation,
which was implied in this question, and said sharply:

"If you know it better, dear, tell it yourself."

One oyster looked at the other, and both laughed aloud. Well, when such
a fat oyster--for the Frau Syndic was fat, and Frau Krummhorn was also
well-to-do--laughs so at another, it makes a great impression upon
people, and as a natural consequence the company laid their knitting in
their laps, and looked at the oysters.

"Good heavens!" cried the hostess, at last, "what do you know?"

"Frau Krummhorn may tell," said Frau Syndic, coolly. "She saw it as
well as I."

Frau Krummhorn was a good woman, she could relate well and skilfully;
but her gift of the gab had one failing, it was like Protonotary
Scharfer's legs,--rudderless; and just like the protonotary, she was
obliged to call out to one and another, "Hold me fast!" or "Turn me
round!" She began: "Yes, he came right across the market-place."

"Who?" asked a stupid little assessor, who could not comprehend the
business.

"Keep still!" cried everybody.

"So, he came right across the market-place. I knew him again directly,
he had bought himself a new suit, of my husband, a black dress-coat,
and blue trousers, eh, what do I say! a blue dress-coat and black
trousers: I can see him, as if it were yesterday, he always wore
yellow-leather breeches and boot-tops,--or was that Fritz Triddelsitz?
I really am not quite sure. Yes, what was I saying?"

"He came right across the market-place," said a chorus of three voices.

"Exactly! He came right across the market-place, and into the Frau
Syndic's street, I had just gone into Frau Syndic's, for she wanted to
show me her new curtains, they came from the Jew Hirsch's,--no, I
know,--the Jew Bären's, who has lately become bankrupt. It is
remarkable, my husband says, how all our Jews become bankrupt, and yet
grow richer all the time, no Christian merchant can compete with these
confounded Jews. How far had I got?"

"He came into the Frau Syndic's street."

"Ah, yes! The Frau Syndic and I were standing at the window, and could
look right into the parlor of the Frau Pastorin Behrens, and the Frau
Syndic said her husband had told her, if the Frau Pastorin would go to
law about it,--no, not the Frau Pastorin, it was the Church, or else
the Consistory,--then Herr Pomuchelskopp, or somebody else, must build
a new parsonage at Gurlitz, and the Frau Syndic----"

But the Frau Syndic could contain herself no longer,--in putting up
Frau Krummhorn to tell the story, she had prepared a fine rod for her
own impatience, so she interrupted her, without ceremony:

"And then he went into the Frau Pastorin's and, without waiting, right
into the parlor, and the old Frau rose from the sofa, and made such a
motion of the hand, as if she would keep him away from her, and looked
as distressed as if a misfortune had happened to her, and that might
well be the case; and then she placed a chair, and urged him to sit
down; but he did not sit down, and when the Frau Pastorin went out, he
walked up and down the room, like--like----"

"Frau Syndic," said Frau Krummhorn, "you repeated a fine couplet this
afternoon."

"Why, yes. 'King of deserts is the Lion, when he strides along his
path.' Well, he strode up and down like such a king of deserts, and
when the old inspector and his daughter came in, he rushed up to them,
with the bitterest reproaches."

"But, good gracious!" said the little assessor, laying her knitting in
her lap, "could you hear, then?"

"No, dear," said Frau Syndic, laughing at the stupidity of the little
assessor, "we did not _hear_ it; but Frau Krummhorn and I both _saw_
it, saw it with our own eyes. And the old inspector stood before him,
like a poor sinner, and looked down, and let it all go over his head,
and his daughter threw her arm about his neck, as if she would protect
him."

"Yes," interrupted Frau Krummhorn, "it was just so, as when old Stahl,
the cooper, was arrested, because he had stolen hoops. His daughter
Marik sprang between him and the policeman, Hoppner, and would not let
her father be taken to the Rath-house, because of his white hair; but
he had stolen the hoops, I am sure of it, for I had him put three new
hoops about my milk-pail, and my husband said it was all the same to
us, whether they were stolen or not, and for the milk also, it would
not turn sour, on account of the stolen hoops; but I have noticed----"

"Right, Frau Krummhorn," said Frau Syndic, stopping her, "you noticed,
also, how pale the girl looked, and how she trembled, when the young
Herr turned to her, and released himself."

"No," said Frau Krummhorn, honestly, "she looked pale, but I did not
see that she trembled."

"_I_ saw it," said the Frau Syndic, "she trembled like _that_,"
shaking herself back and forth in her chair, as if it were a warm
summer day, and she were shaking off the flies,--"and he stood before
her, like this,"--here she stood up--"'The last link is broken,' as my
son, the student, sings, and he looked at her _so_," and here she
looked so angrily at the little assessor, that the latter grew quite
red, "and then the old Frau Pastorin thrust herself between them, and
tried to quiet her, and soothed him, and talked so much, and perhaps
succeeded in a measure, for he gave them both the hand, at parting; but
when he left the house, it was clearly to be read in his face, how glad
he was that he had broken off with this company. Wasn't it so, Frau
Krummhorn?"

"I didn't see that," said the merchant's wife, "I was looking at the
young girl, how she stood with her arms crossed on her breast, and so
pale. God bless me! I have seen pale girls enough,--only lately, my
brother's daughter, she has the pale sickness, and the doctor is always
saying, 'Iron! iron!' but she has iron enough, her father is a
blacksmith. He might have been something very different, for our late
father----"

"Ah, the poor girl!" cried the stupid little assessor, "she is such a
pretty girl. And the poor old man! I cannot believe that, with his
white hair, he has done such dreadful things."

"Dear," said the Frau Syndic, with a look at the little assessor,
which, interpreted into ordinary language, meant "You goose!"--"dear,
be careful of such indiscriminate compassion, and beware how you
associate with people who are connected with criminals."

"Yes, he has done it," went from mouth to mouth, from stocking to
stocking, from cup to cup. The little assessor was silenced; but all at
once, a couple of gray, old, experienced advocates stood up for her,
who usually in the tea-fights were retained as state-attorneys for the
prosecution, but, to-day, undertook the defense. They had looked at
each other and nodded, during the Frau Syndic's speech; they would let
her tell it all out quietly, and then they would free their minds. And
the Frau Syndic had done a stupid thing, she had forgotten the
relationship, for the two old advocates were Frau Kurz, and Frau
Rectorin Baldrian, and now was their time, and they took the Frau
Syndic by the collar:

"Dear, how do you know that Habermann is a criminal?"

"Darling, didn't you know that Habermann is brother-in-law to my
brother?"

"Dear, you should be careful of your sharp tongue."

"Darling, you have often got into trouble on account of it."

So they shot each other, with "Dear" and "Darling," back and forth
across the table, and the tea-spoons clattered in the cups, and the
cap-ribbons fluttered under the chins, the innocent knitting-work was
bundled together, and stuffed into bags; the Frau Burgomeisterin took
sides with the two advocates, for she had not forgotten the Frau
Syndic's sharp words; the hostess ran from one to another, and begged
by all that was holy, they would not disgrace her so sadly, as to break
out into such a quarrel at her tea, and the little assessor began to
cry bitterly, for she believed that she was the cause of the whole
disturbance. But the mischief was done; half went away, the other half
stayed, and Rahnstadt was divided into two parties.

And the people, about whom all the fuss was made, were sitting, if not
peacefully, yet quietly, in their room, with no suspicion how much
trouble and breaking of heads they had caused to their next neighbors,
and how much strife and hatred. They had no idea that the stern look,
which the Frau Syndic shot across the street from her red face
signified anything to them, and the little Frau Pastorin remarked more
than once, "From her looks the Frau Syndic must be a very determined
and energetic person, who would keep good order in her household." And
Louise had no suspicion that the pretty young girl, who went back and
forth past their house, and cast many a stolen glance at her window,
was filled to the depths of her heart with sympathy for her, and that
this was the foolish little assessor, who had taken her part at the
tea-fight.

Ah no, these people had something quite different to think of, and to
care about; Louise must keep her sick heart still, and conceal it from
the world, that her father might not see its bleeding wounds, which the
visit of Franz had torn open afresh; Habermann was more quiet and
profoundly thoughtful, after this visit than before; he had neither
eyes nor thoughts for anything but his child. He sat lost in
reflection, only, when his daughter looked paler and more absent-minded
than usual, he would spring up, and run out into the little garden, and
walk up and down, till he became composed. Ah, where was his hatred,
when he saw his child's love! Where was his anger against the world,
when, in the world nearest him, he saw only kindness and friendliness?
Hate and anger must disappear from such a heart; but sadness remained,
and the most pitiful compassion, for the destiny of his only child. The
little Frau Pastorin thought no longer of her duster, she had something
else to care for than tables and chairs. She must clear away the
rubbish from two hearts, which had grown fast to her own, and she
polished away at them, with her efforts to comfort, till they should be
bright and clear again: but her labor was in vain, at least with
Habermann. The sinews of the old man's strength were cut, with his good
name, every joy and hope of life was gone, and the unwonted quiet and
inaction made him more and more depressed, so that his case would have
been a lamentable one, if the sweet voice of his child had not
sometimes banished the evil spirit, as the singing of the youthful
David the evil spirit of King Saul. All that Franz had urged so
impressively, that the chief difficulty was removed by the finding of
the book, that he must know what a weak, inconsiderate creature his
cousin Axel was, and that his judgment could not harm him, that _he_
should believe in him, though all the world were against him, for he
had another world in his own breast; all this, which the Frau Pastorin
repeated, he put aside, and remained firm in his resolve that, so long
as his innocence was not fully established about the stolen money, so
long his name was branded with disgrace, and he must hold back the
young man, even against his will, that his own reputation might not be
injured.

This was now, seen by daylight, sheer nonsense, and many a one might
here ask, with reason, Why did he not, with his good conscience, go
freely and boldly before the world, and scorn their lying rumors? And I
agree, the question is reasonable; he should have done it, and he would
have done it, if he had still been the _old_ Habermann. But he was so
no longer, through provocations, injuries and neglect, he had grown
morbid, and now came this open accusation, and the dreadful scene with
his master, and the young Frau had deserted him, for whom he would have
given his life, and all this happened at a time when his heart had just
opened to the hope of a happy future. The frosts of winter do no harm;
spring will yet come; but when everything is fresh and growing, and the
snow falls upon our green hopes, then there is snow and trouble, and
all the little song-birds, who were building and pairing with the
spring, are chilled and frozen in their nests, and the blighted groves
are silent as death. The old man had prepared a great feast in his
heart, and would welcome to it the fairest hopes, and now dark forms
crowded in, and turned everything to confusion, and took away the only
treasure, which he had laid up in his whole life; that gave him a blow,
from which he could not recover. Take away a miser's treasure, which he
has been scraping together for sixty years, and you take his life with
it, and that is but a treasure which rust can devour; what is it to an
honest name?

So the Frau Pastorin's only comfort lay in the last words of Franz: he
could wait, and he should come again.



                            CHAPTER XXXIII.


So Habermann kept himself to himself, and sat in his room, or went into
the garden, when the Frau Pastorin had visitors; and that was often the
case, for one half of Rahnstadt believed they were causing great
annoyance to the other half, who had put the Frau Pastorin's house
under the ban, if they visited her frequently. So it came to pass, that
the Rector Baldrian and Kurz the merchant were continually dropping in
at the Frau Pastorin's; for their wives had discoursed to them so
impressively, at home, over Habermann's innocence, that it was
impossible for them to retain any doubt of it. From outside the city,
came young Jochen, and his wife, and Mining, and also Pastor Gottlieb
and Lining, often, of an afternoon; but Bräsig came at all times, and
made the Frau Pastorin's house his dove-cote, where his innocent old
heart flew in and out, with a crop full of news, which he had gathered
in Rexow, and Pumpelhagen, and Gurlitz, for his old friend. He informed
him that the earth was dry,--that is to say, the fields,--but he did
not always bring the olive-branch in his beak; when the talk was about
Pomuchelskopp and Axel, he let it fall, in his anger, and the dove
became a veritable raven. He was not to be brought back, when he had
flown away, and he told Habermann to his face he came to divert him to
other thoughts, and if it did not please him, he did not take it ill;
but would come again the next day, with much to tell about the weather
and the farming.

And in the spring of 1846, there was much to tell about these subjects.
The winter had been warm and moist, and the spring came so early, that
scarcely any one could remember the like; in February the grass was
green, and the winter wheat was up and the clover sprouting, and the
ground was wonderfully dry, and the farmers went about, considering if
it were not time to plant peas. "Karl," said Bräsig, "you shall see, it
will be a pitiful story, the spring is too early, and when a bird sings
too soon in the morning, the cat catches him before night; you shall
see, we shall look sad enough, at the harvest. The devil take such
early springs!" And on Palm-Sunday, he came into Habermann's room, with
an open rape-blossom in his hand, and laid it on the table before him.
"There, you see, it, is just as I told you! I picked that from your rape
in Pumpelhagen. You shall see, Karl, in a week the louis-d'ors will be
out; but it is of no good, full of bugs from top to bottom."

"Eh, Zachary, we have often had it so, and yet had a good crop of
rape."

"Yes, Karl, the _black_; but the _gray_,--I have brought you the proof
for your entertainment," and he reached to the table and picked out a
little chrysalis; but when he opened it, there was nothing in it.

"That is what I say, Karl! These old skulking gray chafers are such sly
old dogs, they are not to be reckoned on, and no more is the mischief
they do. You shall see, Karl, this whole year will be a spoiled omelet,
everything is going contrary to nature. How? Usually you will see crows
in the rye, by May-day; this year you will see half-grown turkeys
there! No, Karl, the world has turned round, and in some places the
pastors are already preaching from their pulpits that the moon has
crowded in between the sun and the earth, and that then the sun comes
too near to the earth, and everything will be destroyed, that this is
the beginning of the last day, and that people must repent."

"Ah, Zachary, that is all stuff and nonsense."

"So I say, Karl, and the repenting has turned out badly, in some
places, for at Little Bibow, the day-laborers have struck work, and
sold their bits of possessions to the Jews, and drink from morning to
night, because they want to enjoy their property here. My Pastor
Gottlieb would have preached something of the kind, but I stood by
Lining, and she talked him out of it. But no good will come of such a
year, Karl."

"I think, myself, that we shall have a bad harvest; but Kurz was here
yesterday, and he talked so much about the fine winter wheat, which is
standing in the fields----"

"Karl, I thought you had more sense. Kurz! I beg of you. Kurz! He knows
what a salt herring ought to be, he understands _that_, for he is an
experienced merchant; but when he talks about winter wheat, he should
get up earlier in the morning,--that belongs to farmers, experienced
farmers. And this is just what I say, Karl, everybody thinks he may
meddle with our business, and these old city folks are as wise as the
bees. Well, if any one practices farming pour paster la tante, just for
his own amusement,--a la bonc[oe]ur! I have no objections; but if he
sets himself as a judge--well! Kurz! In syrup casks and cards, he can
see straight enough; but when he looks at a rye-field, there is a veil
before his eyes. But what I was going to say is, next week I am coming
to you, bag and baggage."

"No, Bräsig, no! If this proves a bad year, you will be necessary to
the young people, and the young pastor knows too little of farming to
be able to get on without you."

"Yes, Karl, he is stupid, and if you think so,--for I have quite given
myself up to you,--then I will stay with him. But now, good-bye. I
don't know what ails me, but my stomach feels badly: I will see if Frau
Pastorin hasn't a little kümmel for me."

With that he went out, but put his head in again to say, "I had almost
forgotten about Pumpelhagen, they have a management there, now, that
you could warm your hands and feet at. Yesterday I met your
Triddlesitz, at the boundary, and although he is such an infamous
greyhound, he almost cried. 'Herr Inspector,' said he, 'you see I lay
all night, thinking about the management, and not able to sleep, and
when I had planned it all out, in the nicest way, and given the people
their orders, in the morning, do you see, the Herr comes out with his
arm in a sling, and spoils my plans, and sends one laborer here, and
another there, running about the fields like hens with their heads cut
off, and I run after them and get them together again, and get things
in order, and then, in the afternoon, he tears it all to pieces again!'
Karl, it must be a great satisfaction for you,--that is, to see that
they cannot get on without you." Then he shut the door, and went off,
but, after a little while, made his appearance again: "Karl, what I was
going to say--half the horses in Pumpelhagen are used up; a couple of
days ago, there stood a loaded manure-cart, and the poor beasts stood
there so forlorn, head and ears down, just like the peasants in church.
And it is not because they are overworked, but because they have not
enough to eat, for your young Herr has no superfluity in his barns, and
he has sold this spring three tons of oats and two tons of peas to the
Jews, and now his granary is as bare as if the cattle had licked it.
And now he must buy oats; but the poor screws that earn his bread don't
get it, most of it goes to the old thorough-bred mares who do nothing
but steal a living from others. There is great injustice in the world!
Well, good-bye, Karl!" and this time he really departed.

That was a sad picture, which Bräsig had drawn of the situation at
Pumpelhagen; but in truth, matters were much worse, for he had said
nothing of the influence which Axel's constant need of money had upon
his temper, and this was the saddest. Continual embarrassment not only
makes a man out of humor, it makes him hard towards his inferiors, and
our Axel fell into the old fault; he believed he was so badly off
because his people fared too well, and Pomuchelskopp was always telling
him so. He took from them one thing here, and another there, and when
his natural good-nature got the upper hand, he gave them again
something here and there; but everything capriciously,--and that has a
bad effect. At first, the people had laughed at his confused
management, but that is always the beginning, and the laughing soon
became a grumbling, and the grumbling broke out into accusations and
complaints. Under Habermann's rule, the day-laborers had always
received their grain and money at the right time; now they must wait,
until there was something to give them; that was bad. And if they went
to their master with complaints they were snubbed; that was worse.
Discontent was universal.

Axel comforted himself with the new, harvest, and with the new
receipts; but, unfortunately, Bräsig proved a true prophet; when the
harvest was ripe it was very thin, and when it was garnered, the barns
were only half full, and the old experienced country people said to the
new beginners: "Take care! Spare in time, and you will have in need!
The grain will not hold out." The advice was good, but of what use was
it to Axel? He must have money, so he had most of his grain thrashed
out, for seed-corn and for sale. And grain was for sale at a fine
price, for the Jews saw how it must turn out, and bought up on
speculation, and so to the natural scarcity was added an artificial.
The old day-laborers, at Pumpelhagen, shook their heads, as the loads
of rye were driven from the Court: "What will become of us! What will
become of us! We have got no bread-corn." And the housewives stood
together, wringing their hands: "See, neighbor, that little heap! Those
are all my potatoes, and all poor, and what are we to live on this
winter?" And so the scarcity was universal, and it had come over this
blessed land like a thief in the night, no one had thought of it, no
one had prepared for it, since no one knew what to expect. But it was
the worst in the little towns, and there it was the hardest for the
poor mechanics,--for laboring men, there was still labor, and their
children went about begging from door to door, and afterwards there
were soup-kitchens organized; but the poor mechanics? They had no
work,--no one employed them,--and they did not understand begging, nor
did it suit their honor and reputation. Ah, I went once into the room
of a right clever, industrious burgher's wife, when the dinner stood
upon the table, and the hungry children stood around it, and as I
entered the room the Frau threw, a cloth over the platter, and when she
had gone out to call her husband, I lifted the cloth, and what did I
find? Boiled potato-skins. That was their dinner.

At such times, our Lord sits in the heavens, and sifts the good from
the bad, so that every one may clearly distinguish between them; the
good, he keeps by himself, in his sieve, that he may take his pleasure
in them, and that they may bear fruit, the bad fall through with the
tares and the cockles and the nettles,--these are their unrighteous
wishes, their wicked intentions, and their bad thoughts,--and when one
looks to see if they bear fruit, the weeds are growing rapidly, and the
blossoms make a fair show before the world, but when the harvest comes,
and the sickle goes through the field, then their grain falls light on
the soil, and the master turns away from the field, for it stands
written, "By their fruits ye shall know them."

Many a one stood firm in this trial, and gave with full hands, in spite
of his own necessities, and the Landrath von O---- and the Kammerath
von E---- and the Pächter H---- and also our old Moses, and many
others, remained in the Lord's sieve, and bore good fruit in these bad
times, but Pomuchelskopp fell through, and Slusuhr and David, and lay
among the tares and the nettles, and they sat together at Gurlitz, and
planned how they might fatten their swine upon other people's
misfortunes. And David and Slusuhr knew well enough how to do it, if
they only had money enough, they would lend it out to the poor and the
distressed, to the hungry and the freezing, at high interest; but the
capital which they had at their command, for the time being, was all
embarked in this fine business, and they came now to the Herr
Proprietor to get him to advance money and he should share in their
profits. But the far-sighted Herr would not do this, it would be in
everybody's mouth, and he should be blamed; so he said that he had
nothing to spare, and must keep the little he had to bring his cattle
and his people through.

"As for your cattle," said Slusuhr insolently, "I give in; but for the
people? Do me the favor to say nothing about them! Your people are
begging all over the country, and just as we drove by the parsonage,
your housewives and their children were standing in the parson's yard,
and your old friend Bräsig stood by two great pails of pea soup, and
the young Frau Pastorin ladled it into their kettles.

"Let them! let them!" said Pomuchelskopp, "I wouldn't hinder any body
in a good work. _They_ may have it to spare; I haven't, and I have no
money either."

"You have the Pumpelhagen notes," said David.

"Yes, do you think he can pay them? He has had a poorer harvest than
the rest of us, and the little he had he has threshed out and sold."

"That is just it," said Slusuhr, "now is your time. Such a fine
opportunity may not come again, and he cannot take it unkindly of you,
for you are yourself pressed for money, and must pay the notes to
David. Now don't make any objections, but shake the tree, for the plums
are ripe."

"How high is the sum total?" inquired David.

"Well," said Pomuchelskopp, going to his desk, and scratching his head,
"I have his notes here for eleven thousand thalers."

"Oh, nonsense!" said Slusuhr, "it must be more than that."

"No, it isn't more than that,--I lent him eight thousand on security, a
year and a half ago, when he asked me."

"Then you have done a stupid thing, but you must first give him notice,
and then you can sue him," said the notary; "but never mind! Give me
the eleven thousand thalers, we can distress him finely, in these hard
times."

Muchel would not consent, at first; but Hänning put her head in at the
door, and he knew very well what she wanted, so he gave the notes to
Slusuhr and David.

Then the old game was played over again in Pumpelhagen, Slusuhr and
David came, and set Axel burning, as if with fever, and attacked him
more sharply than ever, and this time there was no talk of extension.
He must and should pay, and he had'nt a shilling, not even the prospect
of getting any money. It came over him like Nicodemus in the night, and
for the first time the dark thought rose in his mind that this was a
concerted plan, that his friendly neighbor at Gurlitz was the real
cause of his embarrassment, and that he must have some special design
in sending the notes to be cashed through these two rascals; but what
it could be, remained hidden from his eyes. But what availed thinking
and grumbling, he must have money, and from whom? He knew no one, and
in spite of the suspicion which had risen in his mind, his thoughts
returned to his neighbor Pomuchelskopp. He must help; who else was
there? He mounted his horse, and rode over to Gurlitz.

Muchel received him with uncommon friendliness and cordiality, as if
neighbors should be drawn nearer together, in these hard times, and
stand by each other faithfully, in their troubles. He told great
stories of his bad harvest, and complained sadly of his pecuniary
embarrassments, so that Axel was quite taken aback in his purposes, and
feel almost ashamed to come to a man who was in such distress, to ask
for assistance. But need breaks iron, and he asked him, finally, why he
had served him so as to give up his notes to those two bloodsuckers;
and Pomuchel folded his hands on his stomach, and looked very
mournfully at the young man, saying,--

"Ah, Herr von Rambow, in my great need! Do you see!" and he opened his
desk, and showed a drawer, in which a couple of hundred thalers were
lying, "There is all I have, and I must take care of my people and my
cattle, and I thought perhaps you might have money lying idle."

"But," said Axel, "why not come to me yourself?"

"I did not like to," said Muchel; "you know the old proverb, 'Money
joins enemies, and severs friends,' and we are such good friends."

Yes, that was true. Axel said; but these two had distressed him
grievously, and he was in the most dreadful embarrassment.

"Did they do that?" exclaimed Pomuchelskopp, "but they ought not! I
gave it to them on condition that my dear Herr Neighbor should not be
distressed. You will of course want the note extended, it will cost you
a little something, perhaps, but that can be no objection under the
circumstances."

Axel knew that, but he did not let himself be so easily persuaded, his
condition was too desperate, and he begged earnestly that if the Herr
Proprietor had no money to spare, he would help him with his credit.
"Good heavens! gladly," said Muchel, "but with whom? Who has any money
now?"

"Could not Moses help?" asked Axel.

"I don't know him at all," was the reply, "I have no dealings with him.
Your father did business with him, and you know him yourself. Yes, I
would go and see him."

That was all the comfort Axel got; smoothly as an eel, the Herr
Proprietor slipped through his fingers, and when he got on his horse,
and rode home, all was dark around him, but it was darker still within.

David and Slusuhr came again, they beset him in the most shameless
manner, and whatever he might say of Pomuchelskopp's later intentions,
they would know nothing about them, they only knew that they must have
their money.

He rode hither and thither, he knocked here and there; but there was
nothing to be had anywhere; and weary and discouraged he came home, and
there he was met by the quiet eyes of his wife, which said, clearly
enough, that she suspected everything, but her mouth was silent, and
her lips closely compressed, as if a fair book, in which stood many a
word of comfort, must remain forever closed to him. Since the time when
Habermann had been sent off in such a disgraceful manner, and she had
become aware of the great injustice she had done him, out of love to
her husband, she had said nothing more to him about his difficulties;
she could not help him, and she would give him no occasion to betray
himself and other people with new falsehoods. But this time he was, for
the moment, in great anxiety, and his excitable, vexed, hasty demeanor
betrayed his distress more fully than usual, and when she retired that
night, and looked long at her child, the thought flashed through her
head and heart, he was yet the father of her dearest on earth, and he
seemed to her so pitiable that she wept bitterly over him, and she
promised herself to speak to him with friendliness, the next morning,
and to take upon herself, willingly, her share of his self-imposed
burdens.

But when morning came. Axel come down stairs, with singing and piping,
and called Triddelsitz, and gave him instructions, and called for
Krischan Däsel, and ordered him to put the horses to the carriage, and
prepare for several days absence, and came in to his wife with a face
which was not merely free from distress but full of security, so that
she was astounded, and took back her promise.

"Are you going a journey?" she asked.

"Yes, I must travel on business, and shall probably go as far as
Schwerin. Have you any commands for the sisters?"

She had merely greetings to send, and after a little while Axel said
good-bye, and got into the carriage, and drove to Schwerin. He had told
his wife but half the truth; he had no other business but at Schwerin,
and with his sisters. It had occurred to him, during the night, that
his sisters had money; his father had left them a little house, with a
garden, and fifteen thousand thalers, and their capital was invested at
four and a half per cent., and they lived on the interest; to be sure,
in rather slender circumstances, but the Kammerrath could not do better
for them, and had reckoned that the brothers-in-law, and especially
Axel, would be able to assist them a little. This capital had occurred
to Axel in the night, he could use it at once, it would help him
immediately, and he could pay them interest for it, as well as strange
people, but he would give them five per cent., and, though he was hard
up for the moment, the devil must be in it, if he could not pay them
again. This prospect was what had so enlivened him.

When the young Herr came to Schwerin, and explained his business to the
sisters, and complained of the bad year, the poor old creatures became
very soft-hearted and comforted him, as if the whole world had gone
against him, and when Albertine, who was the cleverest of them, and who
looked after the money matters, began to speak very gently of
securities, the other two, and especially Fidelia, interrupted her.
That would be very narrow-minded, their brother was in need, and so
were many people in the country, and their brother was their pride, and
their only dependence, so their blessed father had said, shortly before
his death; and when Axel readily promised to give them security on the
estate Albertine surrendered, and the three old maidens were greatly
delighted that they could help their dear brother. He was also
fortunate, in getting hold of the money; a couple of Jews had it, and
he found them, and a little interest was due on it, and this he took
likewise, for he intended, of course, that his sisters should receive
their full fifteen thousand thalers again, and from this time get five
per cent, interest on it.

He returned to his house, in the week after New Year, 1847, and a
couple of days later, when David and Slusuhr came again, expecting to
torment him, he counted out the money on the table, paid his notes, and
made a bow to their long faces, which both translated into the words:
"A good riddance, gentlemen!"

"What is this?" asked Slusuhr, as they got into their carriage.

"God bless me!" said David, "he has money. Did you see? He had still a
great packet of money."

"Yes, but how did he get it?"

"Well, we must ask Zodick."

Zodick was a poor cousin of David's, whom he always took with him, as
coachman, but his real business was to listen to the people on the
estate.

"Zodick, did you see, did you hear where he has been?"

"The coachman told me he had been to Schwerin."

"To Schwerin? What business had he at Schwerin?"

"He got the money there."

"In Schwerin? It is what I have always said to my father, these
nobility stand by each other. He must have got it from the rich one,
from the cousin."

"So?" asked Slusuhr, taking a packet of money out of his pocket, and
holding it under David's nose. "Smell of that! Does that smell of
nobility? It smells of garlic; he got it from your confounded Jews. But
it is all one,--we must go to Pomuchelskopp. Ha, ha, ha! How the
crafty, little beast will hop about with anger!"

And in that he was right, Pomuchelskopp was beyond all control, when he
learned that his blow had not succeeded: "I said so, I said so; it was
not yet time; but, Häuning, Häuning! you crowded me so!"

"You are a blockhead!" said Häuning, and left the room.

"Take hold again," said Slusuhr; "never mind this, now you can give him
notice, for St. John's day, for the eight thousand which you have let
him have."

"No, no," whispered Pomuchelskopp, "that is the only foothold I have in
that fine estate; if he should pay me, my plans are all spoiled. And he
has still more money?" he asked of David.

"He had a large packet and a small packet."

"Well," said Slusuhr, "you will have your way, like the dog in the
well; but he must be an uncommon blockhead if he doesn't suspect, now,
that you are at the bottom of the whole affair; and, if he has smelt a
rat, it amounts to the same thing, whether you give him notice now, or
a couple of years later."

"Children, children!" cried this dignified old proprietor, stamping and
puffing up and down the room, like a steam-engine, "if he has really
suspected it, he cannot do without me; I am the only friend that can
help him."

"Well, don't help him, then. St. John's day is the best time, then he
has no money coming in."

"Hasn't he though? He has the wool-money, and the rape-money."

"Yes, but then he has interest to pay, and most of it will have been
spent beforehand."

"No, I cannot do it, I cannot do it; the foot which I have once planted
in that fine estate, I can never draw back," said our old
philanthropist.

"It is a great pity for a man to set himself about something, and then
be afraid of the means," said the Herr Notary to David, as they drove
home. "Our fine business in Pumpelhagen is at an end. I shall merely
have to deal with the old woman, instead of him, the old woman will put
it through."

"A dreadfully strong, clever woman," said David.

"Well, there is no help for it. Our milch cow at Pumpelhagen is dry.
And it would all have gone well enough, David, if you had not been such
a dunce. Why couldn't you make your father give notice for his seven
thousand thalers? Then we two could have stripped him finely."

"Good heavens!" cried David, "he wouldn't do it. There he goes to old
Habermann, and there they sit and talk, and when I say, 'Father, dear,
give notice!' then he says, 'Give notice of your own money, I will take
care of mine.'"

"He is getting childish then, and a man whose judgment is not worth
more should be put under guardians," said Slusuhr.

"Well, you know, I have thought of that; but, you know,--it is
so--well, so--so--and then, you know, the father is too clever!"



                             CHAPTER XXXIV.


Axel, by the help of what remained of his sisters' money, slipped along
through the spring and half the summer of 1817, and, as he at last came
to the bottom of his purse, he preferred to sell his wool in
anticipation, rather than apply to his honest old neighbor. He saw, at
last, the thick knuckles of Pomuchelskopp behind the whole affair, and
his suspicion grew more and more lively that he had been sheared like
one of the sheep, and that his dear old neighbor had kept the wool,
though of what his chief aim might be he had not the least conception.
He grew colder and colder towards Pomuchelskopp, he no longer visited
him, he went out through the garden into the fields, when he saw from
the window the Herr Proprietor coming to call, and his wife rejoiced
silently at the change. We might rejoice, also, if he had acted
intelligently and with consideration, and had broken off the
intercourse with a cool head, but he worked himself up into such an
opposition to Pomuchelskopp, that he wished never to set eyes on him
again, and when the opportunity occurred, at the patriotic union at
Rahnstadt, and the Herr Proprietor pressed up to him in a very friendly
way, he not only snubbed him, but treated him in the most contemptuous
manner, and used such bitter words that all the people who were
assembled there took it for a reproach against Pomuchelskopp for his
money-lending. This was, if not dishonorable, certainly extremely
foolish, for he still owed Pomuchelskopp eight thousand thalers, which
he was not ready to pay, and, if he had known the Herr Proprietor as
well as he said, he must also have known what the effect of such
treatment would be. Pomuchelskopp could swallow a considerable dose of
rudeness, but this, in the presence of all the people, was too much for
him, and his vengeance lay too close at hand for him not to avail
himself of it. He said nothing, but he went round to Slusuhr the
notary: "You can give the Herr von Rambow notice on St. John's day, to
pay my eight thousand thalers on St. Anthony's. I know, now, where I
am; we shall get him in our fingers again, and he shall smart to pay
for it."

"If only Moses would give notice too!" cried Slusuhr, and this pious
wish was destined to fulfilment, but later. A change had also come over
young Jochen, although no one but Frau Nüssler had thought of it; she,
indeed, had long suspected that her Jochen would come to a bad end, and
that, at last, he would not allow himself to be ruled by any one. And
the time had now come. Jochen had, from the first, laid by money every
year: at first indeed, only a couple of hundred thalers; but afterwards
the hundreds became thousands, and though he did not trouble himself to
count the money, his wife told him, every New-Year's morning, how much
they had saved the past year, and his soul rejoiced in it, though he
scarcely knew why; but he had been accustomed to it now for many years,
and custom and life were, for Jochen, the same thing. When the bad year
came, Frau Nüssler said to Jochen at the harvest: "This will be a bad
year, you shall see we shall have to use some o£ our capital."

"Mother!" said Jochen, looking at her with astonishment, "you wouldn't
do it!"

But this New-Year's morning his dear wife came and told him she had,
this year, taken up three thousand thalers, and God grant they might
get through with that! "We cannot let our people and our cattle
starve," she added.

Jochen sprang to his feet, a very unusual thing, trod on Bauschan's
toes, another unusual thing, looked stupidly in his wife's face, but
said nothing, which was not unusual, and went silently out of the
room, Bauschan following him. Noon came, Jochen was not there, a fine
spare-rib was smoking on the table, Jochen did not appear; his wife
called him, but he did not hear; she sought him, but he could not be
found; for he was standing in the dark cow-house, in one hand the
tar-bucket, in the other, the tar-brush, with which he was marking
crosses on his cattle; Bauschan stood beside him. After a long time,
his wife discovered him at this occupation.

"Good gracious, Jochen, why don't you come to dinner?"

"Mother, I have not time."

"What are you doing here in the cow-stable, with the tar-bucket?"

"I am marking the cows, that we must sell."

"God forbid!" cried Frau Nüssler, snatching the brush out of his hand.
"What is this? my best milk-givers!"

"Mother," said Jochen quietly, "we must get rid of some of our people
and our cows, they will eat us out of house and home." And it was
fortunate he had begun on the cattle, and not on the people, otherwise
the boys and girls might have been running about Rexow, that New Year's
day, with tar crosses marked on their backs.

With great difficulty Frau Nüssler coaxed him away from this business,
and got him into the house, but then Jochen announced it as his
positive decision, he would manage no longer, and he _could_ manage no
longer, and Rudolph must come, and marry Mining, and undertake the
management. Frau Nüssler could do nothing with him, and sent for
Bräsig. And Mining, who had heard enough, for her share, fled to her
little gable-room, and held her little heart with both hands, and said
to herself that was wrong, why should not her father take his ease, and
why should not Rudolph carry on the farm, he was able, Hilgendorff had
written so; and, if Uncle Bräsig was opposed to her in this matter, she
would tell him, once for all, she would no longer be his godchild.

When Bräsig came, and the matter was explained to him, he placed
himself before young Jochen, and said to him, "What are you doing,
young Jochen? Painting your cows with tar crosses, on the blessed
New-Year's morning? and going to sell your wife's best milk-givers? and
going to give up the management?"

"Bräsig, Rudolph can manage; why should not Mining get married, when
Lining is married? Is Mining any worse?" And he looked sideways at
Bauschan, and Bauschan shook his head.

"Jochen," said Bräsig, "that is all right. You have spoken a very
clever word in your foolishness,"--Jochen looked up--"no, Jochen, it is
no special credit to you, it is only because it suits my ideas, for I
am of the opinion that Rudolph must manage here. Keep still, Frau
Nüssler," said he, "just come here, a moment." And he drew Frau Nüssler
into another room, and put the case before her. Until Easter, he should
stay with Pastor Gottlieb, and till then, he could look after matters
here; but, after Easter, Rudolph must manage, "and that will be good
for you," he added, "for he will make no tar crosses on your cows, and
it will be good for him too, he will get used to managing, by degrees,
and then, a year from Easter, we, will have joyful wedding."

"But, Bräsig, that will never do, how can Mining and Rudolph live in
one house, what will people say?"

"Frau Nüssler, I know people have a very bad opinion of their
fellow-creatures when they are betrothed; I know, when I had
three,--eh, what was I saying? Well, Mining can go to Pastor Gottlieb's
at Easter, I shall go to Rahnstadt, to Habermann, and then my room will
be empty."

"Well, that would do," said Frau Nüssler.

And so it was all arranged. Rudolph came at Easter, but Mining must go,
and as she sat in the carriage with bag and baggage, she wiped the
tears from her eyes, and thought herself the most unfortunate being in
the world, because her mother had thrust her out of her father's house
among strangers,--by which she meant her sister Lining,--and that
without any reason; and she clenched her little fist, when she thought
of Bräsig, for her mother had let it out that Bräsig had advised it.
"Yes," said she, "and now I am to go into his room, which he has so
smoked up with tobacco, that one can write his name with his finger, on
the walls."

But how she opened her eyes, when she entered the room! In the middle
of the room stood a table, covered with a white cloth, and on it stood
a pretty glass vase with a great bouquet of such flowers as the season
afforded; snow drops and blue violets, yellow daffodils and hyacinths,
and under it lay a letter to Mining Nüssler, in Uncle Bräsig's
handwriting, and as she opened it she was almost frightened, for it was
a copy of verses, and this was the first time she had received such
homage. Uncle Bräsig had borrowed an old verse-book from Schultz the
carpenter, and found a couple of verses to suit him, and added another
out of his own head, and this was the letter:


                 "To my dear Godchild!

                 "The room is mine
                  And yet not mine,
                  He who was before me
                  Thought it his own.

                 "He went out
                  And I came in,
                  When I am gone
                  It will be so again.

           "Yes, parting and leaving are sad,
            But next year, we shall be glad,
            Be good and contented here,
            And the wedding shall be next year!"


Mining turned red a little, over the last line, and fell upon Lining's
neck, laughing and scolding Bräsig; but in heart she waved him a
friendly kiss. And so Mining was here, Rudolph at Rexow, and Bräsig
with the Frau Pastorin and Habermann at Rahnstadt.

There was not much change in Habermann, he still kept by himself,
although many troubled themselves about him; the rector preached him a
little sermon now and then, Kurz entertained him with agricultural
conversation, and old Moses hobbled up the stairs, and asked his advice
about his business; but this did not cheer the old man, he tormented
himself, day and night, with thoughts of his child, and with the
long-deferred hope that the day-laborer Regel might return, and by a
full confession free him from these shameful suspicions. The laborer
had sent letters, and also money, to his wife and children; but never
let himself be seen. The little Frau Pastorin had a secret anxiety lest
her old friend should become incurably morbid, and she felt truly
thankful, when Bräsig finally came. Bräsig could help her, and Bräsig
would; if any one could, he was the man. His restless and yet
good-natured disposition left his Karl no peace, Karl must do this, and
do that, he must go walking with him, he must listen to all the stupid
books that Bräsig got out of the Rahnstadt Circulating Library, and if
nothing else would rouse him, Bräsig would make the most extravagant
assertions, till he had stirred Karl up to contradict him, and engaged
him in a dispute. In this way, there seemed a real improvement in
Habermann; but if the conversation turned upon Pumpelhagen or Franz, it
was all over, and the evil spirit came upon him again.

Louise was much better off, she was not one of the woman who believe
that if their love is blighted they must doctor themselves all their
lives, and must show the world, through a weary, dreamy behavior, how
sick their poor hearts are, that death alone can heal them, and that
they are of no more use in the world. No, she did not belong to this
species, she had strength and courage to bear a great grief by herself,
she needed not the compassion of the world. Deep, deep at the bottom of
her heart lay her love, like pure gold, and she granted no one a sight
of it, its very shining was locked up from the world, and when she went
into this secret place, in quiet hours, and looked at her treasure, she
changed it into little money for every-day use, and gave it out, here
and there, to all with whom she had to do; and _this_ love the world
perceived, but not the other. When our Lord sees such a heart striving
bravely against misfortune, and trying to turn it into good, then he
helps it, and sends many a chance to its help, of which no one thinks.
Chances men call them, but, rightly viewed, they are the consequences
of many other consequences, of which the first cause is hidden from our
sight.

Such a chance befell Louise, in the Spring after the Female
Vehmgericht. She was coming home from Lining's at Gurlitz, and going
between the Rahnstadt gardens, along a footpath, when a garden gate
opened, and a pretty little maiden stepped out, blushing rosy red, and
put into her hand a nosegay of lilacs and tulips and narcissus. "Ah,
take them," said the little assessor,--for it was she,--and as Louise
stood, rather astonished, not knowing how she came there, the tears ran
down the little assessor's cheeks, and she covered her hand over her
eyes, and said, "I should be so glad to give you a pleasure."

Well, that was so kind and friendly! Louise threw her arm about her,
and kissed the little assessor, and the latter drew her into the
garden, to the arbor, and then they sat under the blossoming lilacs,
and Louise and the innocent little girl conceived a warm friendship for
each other, for from the coals of love friendship is easily kindled,
and from this time the little assessor was a daily guest at the Frau
Pastorin's, and all in the house rejoiced at her coming. When Habermann
heard the first tone of the Frau Pastorin's old piano, he came down
stairs, and sat in the corner, and listened, while the little assessor
brought sweet music out of the old instrument, and when that was over,
the Frau Pastorin had her diversion, for the little assessor was a
doctor's daughter, and doctors and doctors' children always have
something new to tell, and although the Frau Pastorin was not exactly
inquisitive she was very glad to know what was going on in the world,
and since the time she had lived in the city this little peculiarity
had developed in her, and she said to Louise, "I don't know; but it
seems as if one was glad to know what is going on around one; but when
my sister Triddelsitz tells me anything, it all sounds so sharp, but
when little Anna tells anything it sounds so innocent and gay; she must
be a good little child."

But the real significance of this friendship first appeared when the
bad year came, and its consequences entered the little city,--poverty
and hunger and misery. Little Anna's father was a doctor, and he had no
title at all; but he had something better, he had a compassionate
heart, and when he had told of this and that, at home, the little
assessor would go to the Frau Pastorin and Louise, and tell it over
again, and the Frau Pastorin would go to her store-room, and into the
pantry, and down into the cellar, and pack a basket,--she always did
that herself, nobody else must meddle with it,--and the two little
maidens carried it off, in the half-twilight, and when they came back,
they gave each other a kiss, and the Frau Pastorin one, and Habermann
one, and that was all. And when the soup-kitchen was to be started, the
ladies of Rahnstadt held a great "perpendicle," as Bräsig called it, to
decide what it was best to do, and the Frau Syndic said, "It should be
something noble," and when she was asked what she meant by that, she
said it was all one to her; but it must be noble, otherwise she would
have nothing to do with it. And the old Vehmgerichters said there must
be a distinction made between the wicked and the good poor, the wicked
might go hungry; and a young lady, who was just married, said they
ought to have gentlemen at the head; but that was a great mistake,
all were opposed to her, and the Frau Syndic said, so long as she
had lived--and that must be a good many years, interjected Frau
Krummhorn--cooking and nursing had come under the rule of the ladies,
what did men know about such things? but the business must be noble.
And the conventicle separated, as wise as it had been when it came
together, and when the soup-kitchen was started, two pretty little
maidens, in white aprons, served together at the fire, and put the
gifts for the poor into the soup-kettles, and sat down with the wicked
and the good poor, on the same bench, and peeled potatoes for the next
day, and scraped turnips, and this was the small money into which
Louise had changed her golden treasure, and the little assessor added
her groschens to the sum.

Now came Bräsig, and relieved the little assessor of the out-door
errands, for he was peculiarly fitted for such duties, and when he had
not the confounded Podagra, he ran about the city, saying to Habermann,
"Karl, Dr. Strump says Polchicum and exercise, and the water-doctor
says cold water and exercise; they both agree on the exercise, and I
find that it is good for me. What I was going to say--Moses sends his
regards to you, and is coming to see you this afternoon."

"What? Has he got back from Doberau, from the baths? I thought he was
not to come back until August."

"Yes, Karl, it is St. James' day, to-day, and August is almost here.
But--what I was going to say,--the old Jew has quite renewed his youth,
he looks really well, and he ran about the room, just to show me how
spry he was. But I must go to old widow Klähn, she is waiting in her
garden for me, because I promised her some turnip-seed, and then I must
go to Frau Krummhorn, she wants to show me her young kittens, to see
which one she shall keep for us, for, Karl, we need a good mouser; and
then I must go to Risch, the blacksmith, to see about the shoes for
Kurz's old saddle-horse. The old thing has wind-gall, as bad, I tell
you, Karl, as Moses' David's corns. You don't know, perhaps, if your
young Herr has got a horse with a wind-gall, he might like to buy the
old thing from Kurz, for the completeness of his lazaretto. And,
towards evening, I must go to the Frau Burgomeister, for they have
three or four bushels of rye, and I shall have a sort of feast, since
it was cut to-day, and I shall of course have Streichelbier, so that it
will seem quite like farming. Well, good-bye, Karl, this afternoon I
will read to you, for I have brought home an amusing book." And so he
ran off again, up street and down, like a Jack of all trades, toiling
for other people; for since in our little Mecklenburg towns the chief
interests turn upon farming matters, he advised here and prophesied
there, helped this one and that, and was soon the oracle and errand boy
of the whole city. After dinner he sat down by his Karl, with a book in
his hand, to read to him out of it, and if we peep over his shoulder we
may read the title; "The Frogs of Aristophanes, translated from the
Greek." We open our eyes; but how would the old Greek have opened his
eyes over the cultivation of the Rahnstadters, had he, after two
thousand years, peeped over uncle Bräsig's shoulder, and perceived,
from the stamp, that his confounded Frog-nonsense was ranged with the
various "Blossoms" and "Pearls," and "Forget-me-nots" and "Roses," in
the Rahnstadt Circulating Library. How the rogue would have laughed!
Uncle Bräsig did not laugh, he sat there very sober, he had on his horn
spectacles with the great round glasses, which shone like a pair of
coach-lanterns, he held the book as far from his body as his arm would
reach, and began:

"The Frogs of Aristop-Hannes--I read 'Hannes,' Karl, for I think
'Hanes' must be a mistake in the printing; for it told about
'Schinder-Hannes,' in a book I read once, and if this is only half as
dreadful, we may be well contented, Karl." Then he began, and read on,
in Schoolmaster Strull's style, and Habermann sat there, as if he were
paying close attention, but soon his old thoughts slipped in, and when
Bräsig moistened his finger, to turn over the fourth leaf, he saw, with
righteous anger, that his old friend had closed his eyes. Bräsig stood
up, and placed himself before him, and looked at him. It is an old
story, that the miller wakes when the mill stops grinding, and the
listeners wake when the sermon is at an end, and so it was with
Habermann; he opened his eyes, took a couple of puffs at his pipe, and
said, "Fine, Zachary, very fine!"

"How? you say 'fine,' and you are fast asleep."

"Don't take it unkindly," said the old man, coming, for the first time,
to full consciousness, "but I havn't understood a word. The book must
be very dry, or do you understand any of it?"

"Not much, Karl, but I have paid a groschen for it, and when I pay a
groschen, I want to get my money's worth."

"Yes; but if you don't understand it?"

"People read for other things than understanding, Karl; people read
_pour paster la tante_, with the books. Just see," and he was going to
explain this remark, when some one rapped at the door, and Moses came
in.

Habermann went up to him: "This is good, Moses! And how fresh you look,
really handsome!"

"So my Blümchen tells me, but she has said that for these fifty years."

"Well, how did you like it, at the bath?"

"Do you want to hear some news, Habermann. One is pleased twice at the
bath, first, when one arrives, and secondly, when one goes away. It is
just as it is with a horse and a garden and a house, one is glad to get
them, and glad to get rid of them."

"Yes, you are not used to being idle, you had too much business in your
head."

"Well, what is business? I am an old man. My business is not to get
into new affairs, and to get my money out of the old. And I came to
talk to you about that; I am going to give notice of my seven thousand
thalers at Pumpelhagen."

"Oh, Moses, not yet! You would throw the Herr von Rambow into great
embarrassment."

"Well, I don't know, he must have money, he must have a great deal of
money. David and the notary and Pomuchelskopp have been at him, and
wanted to clear him out of his nest, this last New-year, but he paid
them eleven thousand thalers, at one time. I made it out from David. I
also heard it from Zodick. 'Where did you go yesterday?' I asked him.
'To the court,' he said. 'Zodick, you lie,' I told him. Then he swore
it, till he grew black in the face. But I kept saying 'Zodick, you
lie.' At last I said, 'I will tell you something,' said I. 'The horses
are mine, and the carriage is mine, and the coachman is mine; if you
don't tell the truth, I will send you away, and then you will be a
beggar.' Then he thought better of it, and told me about the eleven
thousand thalers, and yesterday he told me Pomuffelskopp had given him
notice of the eight thousand thalers, on St. Anthony's day. Now,
Pomuffelskopp is a shrewd man, he must know how he stands."

"God bless me!" cried Habermann, and his hatred was forgotten, and the
old attachment struck through him, without his being conscious of it
himself, "and do you mean to give notice, too? Moses, your money is
safe."

"Well, suppose it is safe. But I know many places where it would be
safer," and, looking sharply at the two old inspectors, one after the
other, he added, with a singular expression, "I have seen him, I have
also spoken with him."

"Whom? the Herr von Rambow? Where then?" asked Habermann.

"At Doberau, at the gaming-table I saw him," said Moses, venomously,
"and I spoke with him at my lodgings."

"Good heavens!" cried Habermann, "he never did that in his life before.
How has the unhappy young man come to that?"

"I always said," remarked Bräsig, "this Herr Lieutenant was going to
the devil with his eyes open."

"Just heavens!" exclaimed Moses, "how they threw the gold about! They
had great heaps of louis-d'ors before them, and put them down here, and
put them down there, and shoved them here, and shoved them there, and
is that a business? and do you call that an amusement? A thing to make
one's hair stand on end! And there he was among them. 'Zodick,' said
I,--for Zodick had come with my carriage, I was going away the next
day,--'Zodick, place yourself here, and pay attention to the
Pumpelhagen Herr, how it goes with him,'--it made me sick to look on.
And in the evening Zodick came, and he said he had lost, and in the
morning the young Herr came to me, and wanted a thousand thalers. 'I
will tell you something,' I said, 'if you want me to be like a father
to you, then come with me; my Zodick is waiting with the carriage
before the door, I will take you with me; it shall not cost you a
shilling.' But he would'nt do it, he stayed there."

"The poor, unhappy man!" cried Habermann.

"This boy!" exclaimed Bräsig, indignantly, "who has a wife and child!
Oh, if you were mine, I would teach you a lesson!"

"But, Moses, Moses!" cried Habermann, "I beg you, by everything in the
world, don't demand your money. He will come to his senses, and your
money is safe."

"Habermann," said Moses, "you are a shrewd man, too, but listen to me:
when I began the money business, I said to myself, when a man comes
cutting a great swell, with carriage and horses, and costly furniture,
then lend money, the man has something to pay it with; when one comes,
gay and merry and drinking champagne,--now, young folks will be young
folks! what they spend to-day, they can earn tomorrow,--then lend, too;
but when one comes with cards in his pocket, and bills in his pocket,
and throws his money by heaps into the gutter,--take care, I said, the
gambler doesn't get his money again out of the gutter. And then,
Habermann, what would the people say? The Jew, they would say, has laid
in wait for the young man, he has advanced him money for his play, that
he should ruin himself, and the Jew can find good fishing in the
troubled waters." And Moses rose to his feet: "No, the Jew, also, has
his honor! and no one shall come, and point to my grave, and say, 'They
tell bad stories about him.' And I am not going to lose my good name,
in my old age, for the sake of a young puppy like this. Has he not
stolen your honest name from you? and yet you are a good man, and a
sure man. No, sit down," said he, as Habermann sprang up, and strode up
and down the room, "I am not going to talk about that; but people are
different; you suffer it, and you have your reasons; I will not suffer
it, and I also have my reasons. And now, adieu, Habermann, adieu, Herr
Inspector,"--going out of the door,--"but I shall give him notice on
St. Anthony's day."

So from this side also, a storm was rising in Axel's sky, of which he
little dreamed; dark clouds gathered round him, and when the storm
should burst, who could tell if a shower of hail might not fall, which
should destroy all his springing hopes for ever. He, indeed, never
allowed himself to think that he might be playing a losing game, he
comforted himself with the good harvest, with the advances he should
receive from the grain and wool dealers, and also with other unforeseen
happy chances, which might possibly occur. But if such chances
sometimes come to a man's help, unfortunate chances often come, which
tax the courage of the strongest, and make him feel as if he were the
plaything of destiny. And so it happened in the year 1848.



                             CHAPTER XXXV.


This is not the place, of course, to describe what the year brought
with it, of good or evil, for the world, every one may do that, after
his own fashion; nor shall I undertake to relate the consequences, or
investigate the causes of its events in the rest of the world; but only
to tell what it brought with it for the company with whom I have
especially to do, is more than I can do off-hand; or my book would come
to an end in a very unsatisfactory way.

When the uproar broke out in Paris, in February, it was as far off from
Mecklenburg as Turkey itself, and was to most people rather amusing
than otherwise; they were pleased to have something going on in the
world. A great taste for politics was developed in Rahnstadt, and the
postmaster said, if it went on like that, it would be too much
for them, he had been obliged to order eleven new papers,--four
Hamburg-Correspondents, and seven "Tanten-Vossen,"--and this proportion
was itself a bad sign, for the "Tanten-Vossen" had a tendency to
undermine all the conditions of society; they might not _mean_ any harm
by their nonsense, but they _did_ it.

So four and forty Rahnstadt politicians were provided for, since at
least four, on an average, read the same newspaper, and the juvenile
offspring of the Rahnstadt grandees ran about the streets with the
papers, and took them punctually from house to house, as if their
worthy parents were training them for post-boys. But what were eleven
papers, in such a town as Rahnstadt? The majority of the citizens had
nothing of the sort, and some provision must be made for them, and so
there was.

"Johann," said Hanne Bank's wife, "where are you going again?"

"Eh, Dolly, over to Grammelin's a little while."

"You go to the ale-house altogether too much, of late."

"Eh, Dolly, only one glass of beer! Rein, the advocate is going to read
us the papers again this evening; a man must know what is going on in
the world."

And Hanne Bank and fifty others went after their beer. The advocate
Rein sat by the table, holding a newspaper in his hand; he looked along
the table once or twice, and cleared his throat. "Quiet!" "Quiet!"
"Grammelin, another glass of beer!" "Karl, hold your tongue! he is
going to read." "Thunder and lightning! can't I be served with a glass
of beer first?" "Well, now keep still!" and the advocate began to read.
He read about Lyons and Milan and Munich; revolutions were breaking out
everywhere, and spreading all over the world. "Come, here is
something," said he. "'Island of Ferro, the 5th inst. The island is in
great excitement; they intend taking away our meridian, which we have
had over three hundred years, and transferring it to Greenwich, in
England. Great animosity to the English. The people take up arms; our
two regiments of hussars are ordered to the defence of the Meridian.'"

"Just think of that, how they are going on!" "Yes, neighbor, that is no
small matter; when one has had a thing three hundred years, it must be
hard to do without it." "Neighbor, do you know what a meridian is?"
"Eh, what should it be? It must be something the English can make a
good use of. You see, you wouldn't believe me, yesterday, that the
English were at the bottom of the whole trouble, now you hear it for
yourself."

Advocate Rein laid the paper on the table, and said, "The business is
getting serious; one may well feel anxious and disturbed."

"Good heavens, what is the matter now?" "Has anything serious happened?"

"Serious? I should think so! Just listen! 'North pole, 27th February.
An extremely dangerous and serious outbreak has occurred among the
Esquimaux; they obstinately refuse to turn the earth's axis any longer,
and they pretend there is a lack of train-oil, for greasing, since the
whale-fisheries have been so bad, during the last year. The
consequences of this disturbance, for the whole world, are not to be
reckoned.'"

"Thunder and lightning! what is that? Will the whole concern stand
still?"

"Eh, the government must do something about it!"

"Eh, neighbor, the nobility will not suffer that."

"I don't believe a word of it," said Hanne Bank.

"You don't believe it? Well, as a shoemaker, you should know something
about it. Hasn't train-oil gone up since last year?"

"Well, children," said Wimmersdorf, the tailor, "so much I say, no good
can come of it."

"Well," cried another, "it is all one to me! If the skies fall, the
sparrows will drop dead. But so much I say, _we_ have to work, and
shall those lazy dogs at the north pole sit with their hands in their
laps? Grammelin, another glass of beer!"

From these stories one may perceive three things; first, that the
advocate, Rein, read not merely out of the papers, but occasionally out
of his head, and that he was a waggish fellow, and, secondly, that the
Rahnstadt burghers were not yet quite ripe for the newspapers, and,
thirdly, that men, as a general thing, look at a matter very coolly,
when it does not affect their own interests.

But it was coming nearer to us. One fine day, the Berlin post did not
arrive, and the Rahnstadters stood in a great crowd before the
post-office, asking themselves, what was the meaning of this? and the
grooms who had come to fetch the post-bags for the country places,
asked themselves whether they should wait or not; and the only
contented man, in all this disturbance, was the Herr Postmaster, who
stood before the door, with his hands folded on his stomach, twirling
his thumbs, and saying, for thirty years he had not had such a quiet
time, between eleven and twelve o'clock in the morning, as to-day. The
next day, instead of the little newsboys, came the grandees themselves,
and instead of the grooms the gentlemen themselves rode in, but that
did not help the matter, for still the post did not come; but instead,
it began to be whispered about that a revolution had broken out at
Berlin. One knew this, and another that, and old Düsing, the potter,
who lived by the gate, said he had heard cannon firing distinctly, all
the morning, which all the people honestly believed, although Rahnstadt
is twenty-four miles from Berlin. Only his neighbor, Hagen, the
wheelwright, said, "Gossip, that cannon firing was done by me; I have
been splitting beechen-logs all the morning in my wood-shed."

The third day a post came; but not from Berlin, only from Oranienburg;
and they brought along a man, who could have told everything, since he
was himself in Berlin at the time, if he had not talked himself so
hoarse that by the time he reached Rahnstadt he could not speak a loud
word. He was a clerical candidate belonging in the region, and the
Rahnstadters knew him and nourished him with egg-nog to clear his
throat; he drank a considerable quantity of the stuff, but it
did no good; he pointed to his throat and chest, shook his head
and was going away. But it was asking too much of the Rahnstadters to
expect them to submit to such a disappointment, they wouldn't let him
off, and the candidate was obliged to give a representation of the
Berlin revolution, in pantomime. So he constructed a couple of
barricades,--in the air, so to speak, for, if he had taken hold of the
Rahnstadt paving stones literally, the police would have been after
him,--he shot, with his cane, behind the barricades, he stormed
them,--still with his cane,--from in front, he ran about wildly among
the people to represent the dragoons, and succeeded in imitating the
thunder of the cannon, for he was just able to say "Bumm!"

So the Rahnstadters knew, now, how a revolution looked, and how it
should be conducted, and they sat together and drank beer and disputed,
and things began to look so serious that even our friend Rein did not
try to get off any more of his North pole stories. Sometimes, now,
also, the grandees would come and drink beer, to earn popularity
against the time when the revolution should begin here.

And it was seriously thought of. There were wide-awake people in
Rahnstadt, as well as in other places, and although the citizens had no
great common grievance, each had his little individual difficulty upon
which to hang his discontent, one had this, another that, and Kurz had
the stadtbullen. So it came about that all were united in the opinion
that things must be different, and it would come to no good, if they
did not have their revolution also,--that is to say, a little one.

Out of the indefinite reading of newspapers, came a definite
Reformverein, with a president and a bell; and the irregular running up
and down became regular, and the number of visitors became so large
that the company adjourned, one evening, from the beer-house to the
hall; but they took their beer-mugs along with them. All this happened
in the greatest order, which is rather astonishing when one considers
that the company was made up of discontented people, for the only
contented member of the union was the landlord, Grammelin. They had
speech-making in the hall, at first from the tables and benches; but
that was to be altered. Thiel, the joiner, made a round sort of thing,
which should serve for the speaker's stand, and the first speech made
from it was by Dreiern, the cooper, against Thiel himself, since he
considered the thing to be rather cooper's work than joiner's work, and
begged of the assembly protection for his trade. He did not carry it
through, however, although it was apparent to all that the thing bore a
striking resemblance to a cooling-vat for a brandy-still. The old stout
baker, Wredow, also failed in carrying his motion that the cask should
be made larger, since there was no room to move about in it; for, as
Wimmersdorf the tailor told him, the thing was not made for stout
people; they had had enough of folks who cared merely for their own
comfort. The thing was meant for those who had nothing on their ribs,
and it was large enough for them. And so it happened that only the lean
people got a chance to speak, and the stout folks in their anger and
vexation stayed away, at which the others declared themselves to be
well pleased. But it was a mistake, for in this way they expelled "the
quiet element"--as it was called--from the union, and in their stead
the day-laborers crowded in, and now they were ready for the
revolution. The only two people of comfortable dimensions who still
remained in the Reformverein, were Schultz the carpenter and Uncle
Bräsig.

No one could be more contented, in these restless times, than Uncle
Bräsig; he was always on the street; he was like a bee, or rather a
humble-bee, and looked upon every house-door and every window in
Rahnstadt as a flower whence he could suck news, and when his appetite
was satisfied he flew back to his place, and fed his friend Karl with
his bee-bread: "Karl, they have driven away Louis Philippe."

"Is that in the papers?"

"I read it myself. Karl, he must have been an old coward. How is it
possible a king could let himself be driven away?"

"Eh, Bräsig, such things have happened before. Don't you remember about
the Swedish Gustavus? When a people are all united against him, a king
stands entirely alone."

"You are fight there, Karl; but yet I wouldn't have run away. Thunder
and lightning! I would sit on my throne and put the crown on my head,
and kick and thrash with my arms and legs, if any one touched me."

He came later, saying, "Karl, the post has not come again from Berlin,
to-day, and your young Herr rode in splashing through the streets, up
to the post-office, to make inquiries himself, and why not? But it came
near going badly with him, for some of the burghers were already
plotting together there, and asking themselves, by way of example,
whether they ought to allow a nobleman to go splashing through the mud
like that. Well, he rode off, afterwards, in quite a different manner,
towards Moses' house, and then the matter was dropped. I had a word to
say to Moses, and went there shortly after, and as I came up he was
just coming out of the door; he looked at me, but did not know me; not
that I take it unkindly of him, for his head was full of his own
affairs, for I could hear Moses saying, 'What I have said, I have said:
I will lend no money to a gambler.' Moses is coming here, this
afternoon."

So, in the afternoon, Moses came. "Habermann, it is correct, it is all
correct about Berlin."

"What? has it broken out there?"

"It has broken out,--but don't say anything about it; this morning the
son of Manasseh came to me from Berlin, travelling post; he is going to
make a business of buying up old flint-locks, he has got some thirty
thousand, left from the year '15."

"What can he do with his flint-locks?" cried Bräsig; "every educated
person uses percussion locks, now-a-days."

"What do I know?" said Moses. "I know a good deal, and I know nothing
at all. He thinks, when it begins, there will be a demand for the old
muskets with the flint-locks, too, and he told me at Berlin they shot
with flint-locks and sabres and pistols and cannon on the people, and
it went 'Puh! puh!' the whole night, and the cuirassiers rode through
the streets, and the people threw stones, and shot out of windows, and
from behind the barricades. Terrible! terrible! but don't say anything
about it."

"So there was a regular cannonization?" inquired Bräsig.

"Good heavens!" cried Habermann, "what times these are! what dreadful
times!"

"Why, what do you call dreadful times? It is always bad times for the
foolish, and always good for the wise. When we had good times, I had no
reason for drawing in my money, and giving notice here and there. For
an old man like me, these are good times."

"But, Moses, have you no anxiety, when everything seems going to
destruction? You are well known to be a rich man."

"Well, I am not afraid; my Blümchen came and whispered to me, and David
came,--he trembled like that,--and said, 'Father, what shall we do with
our money?' 'Do with it?' said I, 'do as we have done. Lend, where it
is safe, do business where it is safe; we can be "people" too, if it is
necessary. Let your beard grow, David,' I said, 'the times require it.'
'Well, and when other times come?' he asked me. 'Then you can cut it
off again,' I said, 'the times will not require it then.'"

The talk then turned upon Axel, and his difficulties, and the fact that
money and credit were nowhere to be had, and there was much to say on
that point, for if credit fell property must fall with it, and many a
one would not be able to keep his estate. And when Moses was gone the
two old farmers sat together through the evening, with the Frau
Pastorin, and the talk wandered sadly, hither and thither, and the Frau
Pastorin clasped her hands, once and again. Over the wicked world, and,
for the first time, thanked her Creator that her pastor had been taken
away before these evil times, and had not lived to see such unchristian
behavior; and Habermann felt like a man who has given up a fine
business, which had grown very dear to him, and now sees his successor
going to destruction. Bräsig, however, did not allow himself to be
dismayed; he held up his head, and said these agitations, which were
spreading over the whole world, were not merely the result of human
invention, our Lord had his hand in the business as much as ever; at
least. He had allowed it, and after the storm the air would be clear
again. "And, Karl," he added,--"I say nothing about you, Frau
Pastorin,--but if I may advise you, Karl, you should come with me,
tomorrow evening, to Grammelin's, for we are not mere rebels, and do
you know how it seems to me? Just as it is in a stormy day; if you
stand in the house and look out, you shudder and shrink, but once out
in the midst of the rain, you scarcely notice it."

So Bräsig attended the Reformverein at Rahnstadt, and every evening
came back to the house, and told what had happened there. One evening,
he came home later than usual: "They have gone crazy, today, Karl, and
I have drank a couple of glasses more beer than usual, merely
on account of the great importance of the matter. You see, the
day-laborers have all become members of the union, and why not? we are
all brothers. And the cursed fools have been planning that the whole
limits of the town of Rahnstadt must be measured over again, and cut up
into equal sections, and every one is to have just so much land, and
every one is to have the right to cut down a beech-tree, from the town
forest, for the winter; then there will be regular equality among men.
Then all who owned land got up; they were for equality, but they wished
to keep their property, and Kurz made a long speech about fields and
meadows, and introduced the stadtbullen into them; and when he had
finished they reviled him for an aristocrat, and turned him out. And
then the tailor, Wimmersdorf, stepped up, and discoursed about the
freedom of the trades, and the other tailors attacked him, and
belabored him unmercifully, they wanted equality, they said, but they
must have guilds for all that. And a young man got up, and asked,
mockingly, how it should be with the tailoresses? Should they be
admitted to the guilds, or not? And the old master tailors would have
nothing of the kind, and then the young people declared themselves for
the tailoresses, and turned out the old tailors, and there was a great
uproar outside; and, in the hall, Rector Baldrian made a long, long
speech, in which there was a great deal about the emanzipulation--or
something else--of the female sex, and he made the proposition, that if
the master tailors would not admit the tailoresses into their guild,
the tailoresses should establish a guild of their own, for they were as
good human sisters as any other guild; and that was passed, and the
tailoresses are a guild now, and I was told, as I was going out, the
tailoresses would be out to-morrow, in white dresses, with their
forewomen at the head. Karl, that old, yellow old maid who goes by here
every day, that they always call a Tartar, should lead them to the
rector's house, and thank him, and in token of gratitude for his speech
should present him with a woolen under-jacket and drawers, on a
cushion."

"Bräsig! Bräsig!" exclaimed Habermann, "what nonsense you are talking!
One would think you had nobody above you, and that you could decide
everything for yourselves."

"Why not, Karl? Who is to hinder us? We make our resolutions, as well
as we know how, and if nothing comes of it, why, nothing comes of it;
and nothing ever will come of it, in my opinion, for you see, Karl, the
whole story comes to one point; all will have something, and nobody
will give up anything."

"So it is, to be sure, Zachary, and I do not think, in this little
city, there will be much harm done, for one party will always oppose
the other; but, just think, if the day-laborers, in the country, should
get the idea of dividing the estates, what would become of us then?"

"Eh, Karl, but they won't do it!"

"Bräsig, it lies deep in human nature, this desire to call a little bit
of our earth one's own, and they are not the worst men who care the
most for it. Look around you! When the mechanic has laid up something,
then he buys himself a little garden, a little field, and has his
pleasure as well as his profit in it, and the laboring man in the city
may do the same, for he has the possibility; and for that reason, I do
not believe the discontent of the laborers, here in the city, is of
much consequence. But it is different with the laborers in the country;
they have no property, and, with all their industry and frugality, can
never acquire any. If these opinions should spread among them, and
ignorant men should attempt to carry them into effect, you would see,
the consequences would be bad. Yes," he cried, "at first, it would
begin merely among the bad masters, but who will be security that it
shall not extend to the good also?"

"Karl, you may be right, Karl, for this evening Kurz told me,--that is
to say, before he was turned out,--that, last Sunday, a couple of
Gurlitz laborers used very singular expressions at his counter."

"Do you see," said Habermann, and took up his candle to go to bed, "I
wish no evil to any one, though many may have deserved it, but it is
sad that the good masters should suffer with the bad, and that the
punishment, which falls justly here and there, should fall upon the
whole country."

With that he went off, and Bräsig said to himself, "Truly! Karl may be
right, in the country it might go badly, I must go immediately to look
after young Jochen and Pastor Gottlieb. Well, there is no danger about
young Jochen, he has never said a word to his laborers, and they will
say nothing to him, and the pastor's Jürn is decidedly no rebel."

Habermann's opinion of the people, with whom he had so long been
connected, was just; through the whole country spread a restlessness,
like a fever. The most well-founded complaints, and the most
unreasonable and shameless demands went from mouth to mouth, among the
people, and what was at first lightly whispered was soon loudly spoken
out. The masters were mostly to blame for it, themselves; they had lost
their heads, each one acted on his own hook, and selfishness became
very evident, when each cared merely for his own interests, and,
provided he could live in peace with his people, did not trouble
himself about his neighbor. Instead of going forward, with a good
conscience, in the old, friendly intercourse with the people, some
masters cringed before their own laborers, and granted all their
unreasonable demands; others mounted the high horse, and would compel
them with sword and pistol, and I have known some who would not ride
about their own fields without a couple of rifles in the wagon. And
why? Because they had not a good conscience, and had long ceased to
have any friendly feelings towards their people. Of course, this was
not true of all masters, nor was it true of Axel; he had never been
unkind to his people, nor was he generally hard, but he could become
so, if he believed his position as master to be in danger. Under such
circumstances as the present, every one showed his true character, and
it required a very cool and experienced head to look over the whole
tumult and trouble, hold oneself in readiness for action, and decide
what was good and what was evil, and how one should steer his ship
safely through these swelling waves.

This was not the case with Axel, he sat in the midst of the whole
confusion, and groped blindly about him for resources which he should
have found in himself, and so it happened, that he committed both
follies of the masters, now he would yield unwisely, and again the
lieutenant of cuirassiers would get the ascendancy, and he would seize
his pistols and sabre. The people were not what they had been, and that
was his own fault; for at one time he would deprive them of little
things, which, from old custom, were dear to the heart of the small
folk, and again, in a fit of good nature, he would give liberally all
sorts of favors, and that made the people greedy, for he did not
understand human nature, especially that of the small folk, in the
country. He would praise the people when they had been idle, and scold
them when they had been industrious, for he did not know how much they
could bear. In short, he had not treated them in accordance with right
and justice, but merely according to his own caprices, and because
these had not lately been favorable, discontent had increased among the
day-laborers, and against such solid old oaks as would not easily burn,
or let the flame kindle, was piled one dry fir-branch after another,
until, at last, they begin to take fire.

Every one knows that only diseased firs afford such dry branches, and
in Axel's neighborhood stood such a diseased fir-tree, which was full
of splinters, and that was Gurlitz. This tree had formerly been quite
sound; but, in spite of all Pastor Behrens could do to preserve it,
it had decayed, for each of the several masters, whom they had
exchanged for another, had taken away branch after branch, and the old
tar-barrel, Pomuchelskopp, was really glad that it was diseased, and
thought merely of the fat he could roast out of it; for there are
masters,--sad to say,--who prefer a bad state of things, among their
day-laborers, to a sound one, and rejoice when they have their people
at a disadvantage, because they can skin them the better. But
Pomuchelskopp had not taken it into account that, when the lightning
strikes such a dry tree, it will burn quicker and brighter than a sound
one; and the neighbors of our Herr Proprietor, who knew very well that
the Gurlitz people were in a bad way, and often jested about it, never
thought that the fire which Pomuchelskopp--of course without meaning
it--had kindled for his own destruction, might also happen to scorch
themselves, and Gurlitz might be the bonfire, from which the whole
region should be kindled. The Gurlitz laborers had taken to drinking
brandy, because there was a distillery at the court, and they could
have brandy on credit, through the week, to be deducted from their
wages on pay-day, and they were in the habit of running to the city, to
spend every shilling--spare or not,--at the shops in Rahnstadt, and
here they had learned what was going on in the world, and the shopmen
had also instructed them how it ought to go on in the world, and then
they came home, and put their besotted ignorance together, and kindled
it with their greedy wishes, till it rose up in blue flames, and their
half-starved wives and children stood behind them, like ghosts, and
they thrust in the splinters of the dry fir-tree,--that is, their
poverty and distress,--and ran with them about the neighborhood, and so
they had kindled even the honest, tough old oaks.

It did not blaze out openly, at first, there was much opposition to be
overcome; there were well-meant words of intelligent people, there was
the old dependence, there was the recollection of former benefits,
there was the eternal justice, which holds out long, even in a diseased
soul, and presses its sting into the conscience, and all this fell like
cold rain on the glowing embers, and kept the fire from blazing out,
even in Gurlitz. Had they been able to read the souls of their masters,
however, it would have blazed up merrily, for in Pomuchelskopp's heart
the common hatred and the most pitiable cowardice strove for the
mastery, for his good conscience had long ago taken leave of him, and
he could not rely upon his former kind treatment. At one moment he
would cry cut in rage, "Oh, these wretches! I should only---- There
must be new laws made! What have I to do with a government that has
troops, and will not let them march? What! My property is in danger, my
government must protect my property." And the next moment he would call
his Gustaving in from the yard: "Gustaving, you blockhead, why are you
running about among the threshers, let them thresh as they please, I
will have no quarrel with my people," and he turned to his Häuning, who
sat there, stiff as a stake, her sharp nose and her sharp eyes turned
steadily in one direction, and not even shaking her head, "Häuning," he
said, "I know what you think, you mean I should let them see that I am
the master; but it won't do, it really won't do, Klücking! we must be
careful, we must be careful, with great caution we may possibly pull
through."

Häuning said nothing to this advice, but she looked as if, for her
part, she had no intention of acting upon it, and Pomuchelskopp turned
to Malchen and Salchen: "Children, I beg of you, not a word of what is
spoken here! Not a word to the servants! and be friendly to the people,
and beg your dear mama to be friendly also. Lord knows, I have always
been for friendliness!"

And then Malchen and Salchen began upon Häuning: "Mama, you have'nt
heard, you don't know what is going on everywhere. Johann Jochen told
in the kitchen how the laborers' wives have scourged the proprietor Z.
of X. with nettles. Mama, we must give in to them; it won't do."

"You are all fools," said Häuning, going out of the room. "Shall I be
afraid of such a pack?" and she closed the door. But in this condition
of supernatural, heroic courage, she stood quite alone, and without
other help it was quite useless, for Muchel in his distress for the
future, would neither stir nor move, and the remaining members of this
simple family, for once, sided with their father.

"Children," cried the father, "every one must be treated kindly. The
confounded wretches! Who would have thought of this, three months ago?
Philipping and Nanting, you must not beat the village children any
more, and don't draw an ass's head on the back of old Brinkman's coat
again! These rascals! But they are set on by that cursed Rahnstadt
Reformverein, and by the Jews and the shopkeepers; but wait a bit!"

"Yes, father," said Salchen, "and Ruhrdanz the weaver has already
joined the Reformverein, and the rest of the villagers will all follow
his example; and it may be a bad thing."

"Good heavens, I should think so! But wait, I must get the start of
them, I will join it myself."

"You?" cried the two girls, in one breath, as if their father had
proposed to sit fire to his house and home, with his own hands.

"I must, I must! It will make me popular among the burghers, so that
they will not excite the canaille against me; I will pay up the
tradesmen's bills, and--yes, it must be done,--I will advance something
to my day-laborers."

Malchen and Salchen were astonished, never in their lives had they
heard father talk like that; but they were still more astonished when
father went on to say, "And let me tell you one thing, you must be
very civil to the Herr Pastor and the Frau Pastorin,--good heavens,
yes! Mother won't do it--Häuning, what trouble you make me! The
parsonage people can do us a great deal of good, or a great deal of
harm. Ah, what can not a proprietor and a pastor accomplish, if they
stand faithfully by each other, in these bad times! We must send them a
friendly invitation; by and by, when it is quiet again, we can drop the
intercourse, if it does not suit us."

And sure enough! After a few days Pastor Gottlieb received a note
containing the compliments of the Herr and the Frau Pomuchelskopp--for
old Häuning had given in on this point--to the Herr Pastor and the Frau
Pastorin, and requesting the honor of their company to dinner. The man
waited for an answer. Bräsig happened to be there, having come over to
look after things a little. When Gottlieb read the invitation, he stood
there, looking as if he had received a summons to the Ecclesiastical
Consistory, to answer to charges of false doctrine, or immoral conduct.
"What?" he exclaimed, "an invitation from our proprietor? Where is
Lining? Lining!" he called, out at the door. Lining came, read the
letter, and looked at Gottlieb, who stood before her without a word,
then she looked at Bräsig, who sat in the sofa-corner, grinning like a
Whitsun ox. "Well," she said at last, "we cannot go, of course?"

"Dear wife," said Pastor Gottlieb,--he always called her "dear wife,"
when he wished to throw the weight of his clerical dignity into the
balance, at other times he said merely "Lining,"--"dear wife, you
should not refuse the hand that your brother offers."

"Gottlieb," said Lining, "this is not a hand, it is a dinner, and the
brother is Pomuchelskopp. Am I not right, Uncle Bräsig?" Bräsig said
nothing, he only grinned, he sat there like Moses' David, when he had
staked a louis-d'or, and waited to see whether clerical dignity, or
good, sound common sense would turn the scale.

"Dear wife," continued Gottlieb, "it is written, 'Let not the sun
go down upon your wrath,' and 'If thy brother smite thee on one
cheek,'----"

"Gottlieb, that does not apply to this affair; we have no wrath against
him, and as for smiting on the cheek, I am of Bräsig's opinion. God
forgive me the sin! it may have been different in old times, but if it
were the fashion now, there would be a great deal of grumbling in the
world, for we should all go about with swollen cheeks."

"But, dear wife----"

"Gottlieb, you know I never interfere in your clerical affairs; but a
dinner is a worldly affair, and one at the Pomuchelskopps is more than
worldly. And then, you quite forget, we have company. Isn't Uncle
Bräsig here? And wouldn't you rather dine here to-day, with Uncle
Bräsig, on pea soup and pigs' ears than at Pomuchelskopp's grand
dinner? And they have not invited Mining either," she added, as Mining
entered the room, "and they know that Mining lives with us."

This decided Gottlieb, he liked pea soup and was particularly fond of
pigs' ears; and I must say that he thought highly of Uncle Bräsig, who
had helped him so much and stood by him so faithfully, and one of his
greatest clerical grievances was that such a man as Uncle Bräsig, whose
life was so honest and honorable, had yet so little the outward
demeanour of a Christian and churchman. So he declined Pomuchelskopp's
invitation, but when they had sat down to their pea soup, and Bräsig
came out recklessly with the information that he was really a member of
the Rahnstadt Reformverein, Pastor Gottlieb sprang to his feet,
regardless of the pigs'-ears, and delivered a regular sermon against
the Reformverein. Lining pulled him by the coat, now and then, telling
him that his soup would be cold; but Gottlieb was not to be diverted:
"Yes," he cried, "the vengeance of God has come upon the world; but woe
to the men whom he chooses as the instruments of his vengeance!"

Since they were not in church Bräsig ventured to interrupt him,
inquiring whom the Lord had chosen for the purpose.

"That is in the hand of the Lord!" cried Gottlieb. "He may choose me,
he may choose Lining, he may choose you."

"He will not choose Lining and me," said Bräsig, wiping his mouth,
"Lining fed the poor, in the year '47, and I have, for several weeks,
declared for equality and fraternity in the Reformverein; I am no
avenger, I wouldn't harm any man; but if I could get hold of Zamel
Pomuchelskopp, then----"

Gottlieb was too excited to listen longer, and went on with his
discourse: "Oh, the devil is going about the world like a roaring lion,
and every speaker's stand, in these cursed Reformvereins, is an altar,
on which sacrifice is offered to him; but I will oppose to this altar
another; in the House of God I will preach against this sacrificing to
devils, against these Reformvereins, against those false gods and their
altars!"

With that, he resumed his seat, and ate, hastily, a couple of spoonfuls
of pea-soup. Bräsig left him in quiet for a while; but when he saw that
the young clergyman had come back to worldly affairs sufficiently to
attack the pigs' ears, he said, "Herr Pastor, you are right in one
point, the speaker's stand at Rahnstadt looks uncommonly like a devil's
altar, that is to say, a cooling-vat from a distillery; but I can't say
that sacrifices are offered to him upon it, unless Wimmersdorf the
tailor does it, or Kurz, or your respected father, for he always makes
the longest speeches,--no, don't interrupt me!--I was only going to
say, so far as I am acquainted with the devil, and that is now a good
many years, he would not meddle with the Rahnstadt Reformverein, for he
is not so stupid."

"Gottlieb," said Lining, "you know I never interfere with your clerical
affairs, but you would surely not bring such a worldly matter as the
Reformverein into the pulpit?"

Yes, he would, Gottlieb said.

"Well, then, go ahead!" said Bräsig, "but what people say, that of all
men the pastors understand their business the best, is not true, for,
instead of preaching in the people who don't go to church, you will
preach out those who do go."

And Uncle Bräsig proved to be in the right, for when Gottlieb, one
Sunday, preached with terrible zeal against the new times--of which, by
the way, he understood about as much as if he had come into the world
yesterday,--and against the Reformverein, and, the next Sunday, was
going on with the business, only Lining and Mining and the sexton were
there to hear him, for a few old spinning women, who sat here and
there, were not to be reckoned in the audience, since they did not come
on account of the sermon, but only for the soup, which they got on
Sunday noons at the parsonage. So he went home, with his sermon and his
womenkind, the old women followed with their soup-kettles, the sexton
locked up the church, and Gottlieb felt like a soldier, who in his zeal
has thrust his sword into the thick buckler of his enemy, and stands
there without defence.

So the times were bad, all over the country, every one's hand was
against his neighbor, the world was turned round, those who had
something and had been boasters were become humble, those who had been
counted wise were now thought foolish, and fools grew into wise men
over night; the distinguished were of no account, noble men gave up
their nobility, and day-laborers were called "Herr."

But two things ran like a thread through all this confusion of
cowardice and insolence, which had power to comfort and cheer. One
thread was gay-colored, and when one came near enough, and could free
himself from the common anxiety and the common greediness, he could
find much amusement in it, that was the ludicrous side of human nature,
which turned up so clearly; the other thread was rose-colored, and upon
it hung everything with which one human being could make others happy,
pity and compassion, sound common sense and reason, honest labor and
self-denial, and this thread was love, pure human love, which is woven
through the dull gray web of selfishness by helpful hands, as a token
from God, that shall remain in the worst of times; and who knows but
this stripe may grow broader and broader till the whole gray web turn
rosy red, for this thread,--thank God!--is never cut off.



                             CHAPTER XXXVI.


Rexow was quiet. That means the day-laborers, Frau Nüssler and Rudolph;
young Jochen and young Bauschan were not so well off. Young Bauschan
had taken a stroll through the cow-shed, and had observed there, under
the care of old Flasskopf, the cow-herd, a droll little beast, which
seemed to him almost like a photograph of himself, and was also named
Bauschan; he could remember, from his childish years, the circumstances
under which he had succeeded Bauschan the sixth upon the Rexow throne,
and he at last came upon the gloomy thought that this copy of himself,
so carefully brought up on sweet milk, by Jochen Flasskopf, was in
training for some high destiny, and might possibly, under the name of
Bauschan the eighth, be his own successor; it would be in accordance
with the times. He was greatly troubled, and could not decide what to
do, whether, under the pretext that he could not accommodate himself to
the times, and preferred to associate Bauschan the eighth with himself,
under the title of co-regent, he should share with him the rule of
Rexow; or whether he should treat him as a pretender, eat up his sweet
milk, put fleas in his skin, and drive him out of the Rexow country, in
short, declare war against him.

He kept watch of Jochen, to see what should be the upshot of the
matter; but young Jochen, in these days, had enough to think about in
his own affairs, he also was in the greatest agitation, and the times
were so bad, that these two old friends were no longer united, but were
agitated from wholly different causes; Bauschan looked upon a pretender
to the crown as a great nuisance, Jochen positively wished for one;
Bauschan looked with great disgust upon a private condition, with
gnawed bones, which he could no longer bite; Jochen looked upon it as a
golden cup, which Mining should fill for him with coffee in the
morning, mother with strong beer at noon, and chocolate in the evening,
and, when Bräsig was there, with punch; he wished to be rid of the
sovereignty, especially in such times as these, when one could not
smoke his pipe in peace. He always read the "Rostock Times," but always
threw it aside with vexation, saying to his wife, "Mother, they say
nothing yet about the geese."

He imagined he was counted all over the country as a hard-hearted
master, because, upon Rudolph's advice, he had exchanged the geese his
day-laborers were accustomed to raise for a good piece of money, and he
considered it the sacred obligation of the "Rostock Times," which he
had read now for over forty years, to take his part on the goose
question. And in my opinion, the "Rostock Times" might very well have
done so, but they may have forgotten the matter, or possibly never
heard of it at all. But he came near going distracted over it; if two
girls stood together chattering about their cap-ribbons, he believed
they were talking about the fact that no goose-eggs had been set in
Rexow that year, and if two day-laborers, threshing oats on the
barn-floor, talked about their wages, he thought they were grumbling,
because they had no geese at harvest-time, to eat the oats. He could
not accommodate himself to these new times, and new methods of farming,
and was positively decided to rule no longer; Bauschan, on the
contrary, was quite unwilling to abdicate, and so, between these two
old friends, the egg was broken, and the bond was severed.

Frau Nüssler was, in spite of these wild times, very quiet, as I have
said; but Jochen's condition made her anxious, and she often looked out
for Bräsig. "I cannot imagine," she said to Rudolph, "why Bräsig does
not come. He has nothing in the world to do, yet he does not look after
me at all."

"Well, mother," said Rudolph, "you know what he is; if he has nothing
to do, he makes something to do. However, he is coming to-morrow."

"How do you know that?"

"Well, mother," said Rudolph, hesitating a little, "I was over in our
rye this morning, near the Gurlitz boundary, and I ran over to the
parsonage a minute; he was there, and he will come to-morrow."

"Rudolph, you are not to go running over there so, I will not have it;
when I go with you on Sundays, that is another thing. There you go
chattering and chattering, and putting all sorts of nonsense about
weddings and marriage into Mining's head, and nothing can come of it
yet."

"Eh, mother, if we don't get married before long, we shall both be old
and cold."

"Rudolph," said Frau Nüssler, as she left the room, "what is to become,
then, of Jochen and me? We are still young, and able to work, shall we
be laid on the shelf?"

"Well," said Rudolph to himself, when she had gone out, "you are not so
very young, after all. These old people can give themselves no rest!
The old man might be willing, but the old woman would work three young
ones dead. Well, Bräsig is coming to-morrow; I will have Bräsig on my
side."

And Bräsig came. "Good morning! Sit still, Jochen! Well, have you had a
little rebellion here, already?"

"Eh!" said Jochen, smoking furiously, "what shall I do about it,
Bauschan?" for he must ask Bauschan, since Bräsig was already out of
the room, and calling after Frau Nüssler.

"Good gracious, Bräsig!" said she, drying her hands on her apron, for
she had washed them hastily, not wishing to offer him a pair of doughy
hands, for she had just been kneading bread, "why do you never come
near us, and in these dreadful times? How is my brother Karl?"

"'Bonus!' as the Herr Advocate Rein says, or 'bong' as the greyhound
says, or he is doing well, as I say; only that he is always thinking of
the destruction of his honest name, and the separation of his little
Louise from Franz, and these inward wounds injure him, in every
relation, so that he will have nothing to do with the Reformverein, and
Parliament, and political matters."

"Thank God!" said Frau Nüssler, "I know my brother Karl well enough to
be sure he would have nothing to do with such fool's play."

"Frau Nüssler," said Bräsig, drawing himself up before his old
sweetheart, "you have spoken a very serious word, as Rector Baldrian
said, lately, when we were talking about the potato-land of the
day-laborers; but one must look well to his words, in these days,--they
have already turned Kurz out,--and I am really a member of the
Reformverein at Rahnstadt, and have no pleasure in 'fool's play.'"

"Well, I believe you will turn me out of my own kitchen yet!" said Frau
Nüssler, putting her hands on her sides.

"Did I say that?" asked Bräsig. "They have turned out Ludwig Philippe,
they have turned out the Bavarian Ludwig, they have turned out Ludwig
Kurz; is your name Ludwig? No, I came here to look after you, and if
anything breaks out here, then I will come with the Reformverein, and
with the Burgher-guard,--we have all got pikes, and some of us
flint-locks,--and we will protect you."

"Do you think I will have people coming into my house, with pikes and
muskets?" cried Frau Nüssler. "You may tell your infamous pack, they
must first provide themselves with an extra set of arms and legs, for
those they have now would get broken here."

With that, she turned away, went into her buttery, and locked the door
behind her. Yes, it was a sad time! even between this honest old pair,
the devil had sowed his weeds, and when Bräsig had stood a little while
before the buttery door, as Bauschan often did, he felt very much like
Bauschan when he was turned out, and he went back to the living-room
with a downcast air, and said to Jochen, "Yes, these are truly bad
times! And you sit there, and never stir hand nor foot? And the
rebellion has broken out in your own house!"

"Yes, Bräsig, I know," said Jochen. "That is on account of the
geese; but what can I do about it? Bräsig, help yourself to a little
kümmel!"--and he pointed with his foot to the lowest shelf in the
cup-board,--"there is the bottle."

Bräsig approved of a little kümmel. Then he placed himself at the
window, and looked out at the weather, and as the spring wind drove the
April showers across the sky, and then the sun shone out again, so all
sorts of dark stormy thoughts chased through his head: "How?" said he,
"shall all that come to an end? She thrusts me away, when I would help
her?" and then again the sun shone out, but with a brief and mocking
glance, which gave no warmth, and he laughed: "Ha, ha! I wish I could
see her fighting against the Rahnstadt Burgher-guard, with the tailor
Wimmersdorf at the head, and the shrewd old dyer, with his 'Meins
wegens;' how they would scatter!"

Rudolph passed through the yard, and seeing Bräsig at the window, came
in, as he wished to speak to him.

"Good day. Uncle Bräsig!"

"Good day, Rudolph. Well, how goes it? I mean with the day-laborers.
All quiet?"

"Oh, yes! Nobody has made any disturbance as yet."

"You shall see, about the geese," interposed young Jochen.

"Eh, father, never mind the geese!" said Rudolph.

"What is it about the confounded geese?" inquired Bräsig.

"Oh, nothing," said Rudolph. "You see, last year, I got so provoked,
first with keeping them in bounds, then with their plucking the grass
in the meadow, and afterward they got into the grain, so I called all
the laborers together, and promised every one four thalers, at harvest,
if he would give up the goose business, and they accepted the offer,
and now father has got it into his head that the people consider him a
tyrant, and that a rebellion will break out, on account of the old
geese."

"You shall see, Rudolph, the geese----"

"Good gracious!" cried Frau Nüssler, coming into the room, "always at
the geese!" and, throwing herself into a chair, she put her apron to
her face, and began to weep bitterly.

"Good heavens, mother, what is the matter?" exclaimed Rudolph, running
up to her. "What has disturbed you so?"

"What shall I do about it?" asked Jochen, and he also stood up.

Bräsig was going to say something, but restrained himself, for he knew
better than the others what was going on in Frau Nüssler's heart; he
turned to the window, elevated his eyebrows, and stared out stiffly at
the April weather. Frau Nüssler sprang up, dried her eyes, pushed
Rudolph and Jochen aside,--rather hastily,--went right up to Bräsig,
throw her arms about him, and said, "Bräsig, I know you meant it all
right; I won't break anybody's arms and legs."

"Oh, Frau Nüssler!" cried Bräsig, and the April showers and sunshine
were reflected in his eyes, for his whole face laughed, while his eyes
were dropping tears, "Tailor Wimmersdorf and the old crafty dyer,
'Meins wegens,' may get their deserts from you, for all I care."

"What does this mean?" cried Rudolph.

"I will tell you," said Bräsig, gently freeing himself from Frau
Nüssler's arms, and taking her by the hand. "It means, that you have a
real angel for a mother-in-law. Not one of the kind that you see at the
balls, and promenading the streets of Rahnstadt. No! but an actual
angel, out of the Old Testament, such a valiant, brave old angel, who
is not afraid of the devil himself, contending in a good cause, and can
put you, sir, in her pocket, three times over!" and he looked at
Rudolph, as if he was the cause of all Frau Nüssler's distress.

"Good gracious!" exclaimed Rudolph, "I have done nothing!" and he
looked at Jochen, and Jochen looked at Bauschan; but Bauschan did'nt
know, and Jochen did'nt know, and Rudolph cried out, "I truly have not
the least idea----"

"There is no necessity that you should," said Bräsig, and turned
abruptly to Jochen; "and you, young Jochen, with your confounded
goose-business, you will bring your whole household into a dangerous
revolution. You had better sit down, and keep quiet, and you, Rudolph,
come with me, I will make a brief examination of your management, and
see what you have learned with Hilgendorf."

That was a suitable employment for Jochen, and Rudolph obtained a fine
opportunity to urge Uncle Bräsig's assistance in his plans for a speedy
marriage. It is possible that both of these reflections had occurred to
Bräsig.

In the afternoon, Fritz Triddelsitz came riding up the yard. This time,
he was mounted on a dapple-gray, which had a most singular gait, in
front, he stepped out like a man, and as a general thing, went on only
three legs; from which one may perceive, that nature, in her
intelligent way, often creates superfluities; for instance, the tail of
a piuscher,[10] the ears of a mastiff, and the left hind-leg of a
schreiber koppel. Fritz's dapple-gray was not handsome to look at,
particularly when he was in motion; but he was a courteous beast, he
bowed all along the street, and he harmonized with Fritz, for _he_ had
grown very courteous, with his nobleman, and when some of his comrades
joked him about his dapple-gray, he laughed in his sleeve: "You
blockheads! I have profited finely by my trading, with the chestnut
mare for the black, the black for the brown, and the brown for the
dapple-gray; I have made money every time by the bargain." The
dapple-gray came very courteously up the Rexow yard, Fritz dismounted
courteously, entered the house courteously, and courteously said, "Good
day!"

"Mother," said young Jochen, "help Herr Triddelsitz,"--for they were
just sitting down to coffee.

"God preserve us!" thought Bräsig, "and is he called 'Herr' already?"

Fritz took off his overcoat, pulled something out of his pocket, and
sat down to the table, laying down by his coffee-cup a pair of
revolvers, which were just coming into use.

"Herr," cried Bräsig, "are you possessed with a devil? What are you
doing with those infernal shooting-machines among the coffee-cups?"

Frau Nüssler got up quietly, took the two pistols in one hand, and the
tea-kettle in the other, poured hot water into the barrels, and said,
very considerately:

"So! they won't go off, now!"

"For God's sake!" cried Fritz, "the only protection that we have----"

"Herr," interposed Bräsig, "do you think you are in a den of robbers,
here at young Jochen's?"

"The whole world is a den of robbers now," said Fritz, "the Herr von
Rambow said that very distinctly yesterday, in his speech to the
day-laborers; and therefore I have been obliged to go to Rahnstadt, and
buy these two revolvers,--one is for him,--we will defend ourselves to
the last drop of our blood."

Frau Nüssler looked at Bräsig, and laughed a little bashfully; Bräsig
laughed heartily: "And with these things, and with a speech from Herr
von Rambow, you expect to stop the mouths of the day-laborers, and turn
them to other thoughts?"

"Yes, we mean to do it; my gracious Herr has spoken well to the people;
he will govern them mildly, but firmly, they may rely upon that."

"Well, it is all as true as leather," interrupted Jochen.

"You are right, this time, Jochen; the tanning must be according to the
leather, but the young nobleman is not the man, you shall see, to treat
the timid with mildness, and the fainthearted with firmness."

"And he has made another speech?" asked young Jochen.

"A capital one!" cried Fritz. "How in the world he does it, I cannot
imagine."

"That is of no consequence," said Bräsig, "but what do the day-laborers
say to their expectations?"

"That pack," said Fritz, who had learned something besides politeness
from his master, "are not worth their salt, for, as I was crossing the
yard afterwards, they were standing in groups together, and I heard
them talking about 'flatterers,' and 'gee and haw management'----"

"They meant that for you," said Bräsig, grinning.

"Yes, only think of it!" said Fritz innocently. "And in the afternoon;
five of them came to the Herr, just the ones I had thought the most
reasonable of all, and old Flegel, the wheelwright, was the spokesman,
and said they had been informed that Herr Pomuchelskopp had given his
people an advance, and had promised them more potato-land, and other
things besides, but they would say nothing about that, for they had
never been so badly off as the Gurlitz people, and they were contented
with what they got: but they were not contented with the way they were
treated, for they were blamed unjustly, and scolded when they did not
deserve it, and they were driven back and forth, from the yard to the
fields, so that they had no idea what they were to do, and it would be
the best thing for the Herr von Rambow to let me go, for I did not
understand how to manage the farm or superintend the people, I was too
young. And if they might make a request, it was this, that they might
have their old Inspector Habermann back again. Now, just think of it,
such a set!"

"Hm!" said Bräsig, grinning all over his face. "Well, what did the
young Herr say?"

"Oh, he blew them a fine blast, and told them if _he_ were contented
with me,--and then he motioned toward me, whereupon I made a courteous
bow,--then his masters the day-laborers might very well be contented
also. You see, that old fellow, Johann Egel, stepped up,--you know him,
he is one of the oldest, with the white hair,--and said they were not
_masters_, no one knew that better than they, and in coming to him as
their master, they had acted from good intentions, and not because they
wished to use hard words. The Herr von Rambow was master, and he could
do it or not, as he pleased."

"He is a devilish cunning old fellow," said Bräsig, grinning more than
ever.

"Yes, only think of it! But that was not all, by a long way; the butt
end came afterwards. Towards evening, I noticed one after another of
the day-laborers going to the riding-stables, and as I knew that
Krischan Däsel, our groom, had a pique against me, I thought, 'What can
be going on there?' and I went into the stables, and there is a hole
between the riding-stable and the other stables, and I could hear
Krischan Däsel exciting the others."

"That is to say," interrupted Bräsig, "that you listened a little."

"Why, yes," replied Fritz.

"Very well," said Bräsig, "go ahead!"

"Well, I must tell you, Krischan Däsel is positively bent upon marrying
Fika Degel, and has been betrothed to her several years, and the Herr
will not have a married groom, for he thinks a married groom would care
more for his own children than he would for the colts, which is all
right enough, but he will not dismiss him, either, because he thinks he
does well for the beasts; though for my part, I don't agree with him.
And now Krischan Däsel has got it into his head, that if he can break
up the raising of thorough-breds, and do away with the paddocks, the
Herr will let him marry Fika Degel, and so he was stirring up the
day-laborers to demand the paddocks for potato-land."

"Well, you ran directly to the Herr, and told him that?" inquired
Bräsig.

"Of course," said Fritz, "he ought to know it beforehand, so as to be
prepared for them. And when they came, and began about the paddocks and
potato-land, and were of the opinion that their wives and children were
just as good as the Herr's mares and foals, and ought to be cared for
first, then he scolded them finely, and packed them off immediately.
Krischan Däsel, of course, was paid up and sent off at once."

"Well, what does the gracious Frau say to all this?" asked Uncle
Bräsig.

"Eh," said Fritz, shrugging his shoulders, "what shall I say? she says
nothing to it. I don't know what has come over her. She used to greet
me,--rather ceremoniously but still politely,--but now she never looks
at me, ever since that stupid book-business with Marie Möller. _She_
has been gone, this long time, and it is just as well, for she was an
old goose; and now the gracious Frau attends to the housekeeping,
herself, and, I must say, she is a good housekeeper, although she
does'nt speak to me; and Korlin Kegel says she does it only to divert
her mind from other thoughts, and she often sits down, and writes
letters, but tears them all up, and sits with her hands in her lap,
gazing at the little gracious Fräulein. 'It is a pity,' says Korlin
Kegel. 'But the housekeeping goes on all right, and without any
scolding and storming round; no, so it shall be, and so it is done. If
she only had a friend or a companion,' says Korlin Kegel,--well it is
none of my business,--and he has no friends either."

"But it _is_ some of my business," cried Frau Nüssler, springing up,
"and I will go and see her to-morrow, and you, Jochen, may as well go
also and see that poor, foolish young man, and advise him for his good;
such times as these should bring neighbors together.

"Yes, mother," said Jochen, "what shall I do about it? And then this
old goose-business here; but Gottlieb and Lining----"

"To be sure," cried Frau Nüssler, "he helped them to their living, and
we must not forget it of him."

"Well, but _he_," said Bräsig, looking like a sly old rascal, "has _he_
no friends? What would the Herr Zamwell Pomuchelskopp say to that?"

"Pomuchelskopp?" said Fritz. "We have nothing more to do with _him_,"
bringing out the word with great contempt, and bending down to Bräsig
he whispered, "he has sued us, he has sent us notice for the money; I
know it from Zodick, from Moses' Zodick. Yes, that pot is broken, and
Slusuhr is coming constantly, now by letter, now in person; but we have
got one on our side, too, the advocate Rein, do you know him?"

"Oh, yes," whispered Bräsig, "I know him, with his North pole, and
Island of Ferro."

"A confoundedly smart fellow, isn't he?" asked Fritz.

"Yes indeed," said Bräsig, "he can lead people by the nose finely.
But," he asked aloud, "what has the young Herr decided about the
day-laborers?"

"I will tell you," said Fritz. "We have both decided to defend our
lives to the last extremity, and he sent me to Rahnstadt, to get these
revolvers."

"Well, and if the day-laborers come again?"

"Then we shall shoot," said Fritz.

"Right!" said Bräsig, taking one of the revolvers in his hand, and
playing with it, rather absently, "but Frau Nüssler, you have made it
all wet, it might get rusty," and he wiped it on his coat-tails, and
went to the window, as if to examine it more closely, while Fritz,
meantime, explained to Jochen Nüssler the construction of the other.

"Jochen, where is your tool-chest," asked Bräsig.

Jochen pointed, with his foot, to the lower part of the cupboard.

Fritz heard a sort of clattering behind him, and then a sharp noise, as
if something hard was broken, and, as he looked round, Bräsig held out
to him his revolver, without any cock, for he held that in the pincers,
in the other hand: "There!"

"Thunder and lightening!" cried Fritz springing up.

"So!" said Bräsig, "now you can't shoot anybody with the thing."

"Herr, how did you dare to ruin my revolver?"

"Because you are a foolish boy, and children should not play with
fire-arms."

"You are an old----"

"You want to say 'jackass?' And it is possible that I am, in meddling
with you; but, Herr, I stand to you in the place of your aunt, and I
have done this on her account."

"My Herr gave me orders to buy these revolvers, and I do as he tells
me."

"That is all right, and here is one for your Herr; he can shoot with
it, if he pleases, he is accustomed to the business,--but you----" and
as the thought of Habermann came into his mind he added, "Infamous
greyhound, have you not caused misery enough already?"

Frau Nüssler came to the rescue.

"Hush! Bräsig, hush! Not a word of that! But you ought to be ashamed,
Triddelsitz, to talk so lightly of shooting your fellow-creatures."

"What!" cried Jochen, springing to his feet. "Mother, is he going to
shoot people dead?"

And Bauschan also sprang up, with a couple of emphatic barks, and Fritz
was so confused by this combined attack on all sides, that he forgot
his politeness, threw on his overcoat, thrust the mutilated revolver
into his pocket, with the other, and only turned round at the door to
remark, with great emphasis, that no ten horses should ever drag him
over that threshold again.

"It will not be necessary," observed Bräsig, very quietly. But if he
had heard Fritz's figures of speech, as he rode bowing along the
street, on old dapple-gray, and examined his ruined revolver, he would
not have been so composed, for, compared with the titles of honor which
Fritz generously bestowed upon him, those of the Emperor of Austria
were of no account whatever.

Fortunately he did not hear, and on the whole he did not care much that
Fritz had placed the Nüsslers' house under the ban; but he had made the
discovery this morning that the oldest friendships might be broken in
such times as these, and he registered a solemn vow never, under any
circumstances, to retreat upon the Rexow farm, with the Rahnstadt
Burgher-guard. His confounded whims often ran away with him; but his
good heart kept close behind, and seized the reins directly; Strife and
confusion were very far from his intentions, he really wanted nothing
but joy and peace; although, by his peculiar conduct, strife and
confusion were often produced.

Towards evening, when Jochen and Bauschan had fallen comfortably asleep
in the twilight, and it was a fine opportunity for a few sensible
words, he began about Rudolph and Mining: "Frau Nüssler, there is an
old proverb, that says: 'He who loves long, his love grows old, and he
who'----"

"Leave your stupid proverbs alone, Bräsig, they are not suited to me,
or to you! I know what you want to say, and I understand that this
cannot go on much longer; but what is to become of him and of me?"

"Frau Nüssler, you mean young Jochen----"

"Hush, Bräsig, name no names! You might, for all _him_,"--pointing to
Jochen--"but on _his_ account," and she pointed to Bauschan, "you must
be very careful, for he is cleverer than all of us put together. Just
see, how he pricks up his ears."

"Hm!" said Bräsig, looking under Jochen's chair, "truly! but that need
not hinder us. Frau Nüssler, this business must come to a happy
ending."

"Yes, Bräsig, I say so, myself, every day, but only tell me, what is to
become of me, and of him?" pointing again to Jochen. "When Mining and
Rudolph get the control, what shall I do, what shall he do?"

"Frau Nüssler, you will have quiet days, and enjoy yourself in your
descendants."

"That may be, Bräsig, and one gets accustomed to everything, even to
idleness; but look at me, with all my housekeeping I grow stouter,
every day, and if I should sit still in my chair I should soon be
unable to move, and be a perfect monster."

"Frau Nüssler," said Uncle Bräsig, standing before her, while the
recollection of his youth came over him, "you were always handsome, and
you always will be," and he made a bow, and grasped her hand.

"Bräsig, that is a stupid joke!" said Frau Nüssler, drawing her hand
away, "and just look at that old dog! Hasn't he sense enough to
understand it? But we are not talking about me, now; what shall become
of him? I can do all sorts of handiwork; but he, if he has nothing more
to do?"

"He smokes tobacco, and sleeps," said Bräsig.

"Yes," said she, "just at present, but he has altered fearfully, of
late. I say nothing about the foolish old goose-business, for I can
talk him out of that, but he has become so contrary, of late, he is
always disputing, and since he has had nothing to occupy his mind, he
imagines the most foolish things."

"Jochen?" asked Bräsig, with much emphasis.

"Yes," said Frau Nüssler, "but it is all over now. Look!"

And Bräsig, looking, saw Bauschan stand up, and whisk his rough tail
across Jochen's face, a couple of times, and Jochen raised himself up,
and asked, quite distinctly, "Mother, what o'clock is it?" Then he
recollected himself, and perceiving Bräsig, said, "Bräsig, that is a
clever fellow, that Herr von Rambow, he has been making a speech
again."

Rudolph came in then, and candles were brought, and Bräsig made a
frightful grimace, across the table, at Rudolph; but it was not meant
badly, it was merely confidential, and signified, "Keep perfectly
quiet, rely wholly upon me, your business is going on well."

The evening passed slowly, for each had his own thoughts, and when it
was bedtime Bräsig was the only one who soon fell asleep; Rudolph was
thinking of Mining and the wedding, Frau Nüssler of the dreadful times
of idleness which awaited her, and Jochen of the geese, and Herr von
Rambow's speech. This last thought kept him waking all night, and when
Frau Nüssler, towards morning, turned over on the other side, for a
little nap, she saw Jochen fully dressed, going out of the door, with
Bauschan at his heels. That this meant something, she was sure, but
what, no mortal could tell.



                            CHAPTER XXXVII.


Young Jochen went with Young Bauschan up and down the yard, and stopped
frequently to rub his head, as if there were something he did not
rightly understand. Bauschan also stood still, looked at Jochen, wagged
his tail rather doubtfully, and sank back into his own gloomy thoughts
about the co-regency. Rudolph came out.

"God bless you, father, are you up already?"

"Yes, Rudolph, it is because of the old geese,"--he had something more
to say, but was not quite ready with it, and Rudolph said:

"Well, father, never mind the old story; but I am glad you are up so
early this morning, you can tell the bailiff what the people are to do;
I did not go over to the Pumpelhagen boundary yesterday, I will run
over, and see how they are getting on with the ploughing. We are to do
just as we did yesterday, manuring the potato-land."

"Yes, Rudolph, but----"

"Yes, father, you will find it all right; I must hurry, to get back in
time," and he was off.

Jochen walked up and down again; the day-laborers, meanwhile, were
coming into the yard, and the bailiff, Kalsow, came up to Jochen.

"Kalsow," said he, "let the people all come together here, in a heap,"
and with that he and Bauschan went into the house. The day-laborers,
the housewives, and the farm-people all stood in a group before the
house, and asked, "What are we to do?"

"_I_ don't know," said Kalsow, the bailiff.

"Well, go in and ask him then!" Kalsow went in. Young Jochen was
walking up and down the room, with Bauschan at his heels, for young
Jochen had kept on his cap, and that was a token to Bauschan that his
attendance was required.

"Herr," said Kalsow, "the people are all there."

"Good!" said Jochen.

"What shall we do?" asked Kalsow.

"Wait," said Jochen.

Kalsow went out, gave the people orders, and they waited. After a
little while, he came in again.

"Herr, they are waiting."

"Good!" said Jochen. "Tell them to wait a little longer, I am going to
make them a speech presently."

Kalsow went back, and said they must keep waiting, the Herr would make
them a speech presently.

The people waited; but, as nothing came of it, Krischan the coachman
said, "Kalsow, I know him, go in and remind him of it."

So Kalsow went in again; and said, "Well, Herr, how is it about the
speech?"

"Thunder and lightning!" cried Jochen, "do you suppose thoughts grow on
my shoulders?"

Bailiff Kalsow was frightened; he went back to the people, saying,
"That was of no use, he was angry with me; we must wait."

"God bless me!" said Frau Nüssler to herself, in her store-room, where
she was putting things in order, "what does it mean, that the people
are all standing before the house?" and opening the window she called
out, "what are you standing here for?"

"Eh, Frau, we are standing here waiting."

"What are you waiting for?"

"Eh, Frau, we don't know; the Herr is going to make us a speech."

"Who?" asked Frau Nüssler.

"The Herr," said Kalsow.

"_What_ is he going to make?" asked Frau Nüssler.

"A speech," said Kalsow.

"He must be going crazy," exclaimed Fran Nüssler, dropping the window,
and, running in to Jochen, she seized him by the arm, and shook him, as
if to bring him to his senses.

"What do you want to do? Make a speech? What are you going to make a
speech about? About me, or about Rudolph and Mining?"

"Mother," said Jochen,--but he said it firmly,--"about the geese."

"God have mercy on you," said Frau Nüssler, quite beside herself, "if
you say another word to me about the geese!"

"What?" cried Jochen, setting himself up, far the first time in his
life, against his wife. "Cannot I make a speech? They all make
speeches, Herr von Rambow makes speeches, Pomuchelskopp, Bräsig talks
in the Reform-what? am I not good enough?"--and he brought down his
fist on the table,--"wife, am I not master? And shall I not talk about
my geese?"

Frau Nüssler turned quite pale, stood there stiffly, looking Jochen in
the eye, but said not a word, pressed one hand against her heart, and
felt with the other after the door-latch behind her, and when she found
it opened the door, and went out backwards, still with her eyes
fastened upon Jochen,--as a lion-tamer does, when he sees that the
beast has lost its respect for him. But, when she was outside, she
threw herself down on a bench in the hall, and began to cry and sob
terribly. Yes, the year 1848 was a dreadful year, no government was
secure; even in this, open revolt had broken out.

Bräsig came down stairs, singing and whistling; but how suddenly he
ceased, when he saw his old treasure in her grief!

"May you keep the nose on your face! What has happened? At this time of
day, Frau Nüssler, half-past six, do you sit down and cry?" With that
he threw himself on the bench beside her, and tried to pull away the
apron from her face. Frau Nüssler pushed away his hands. "Frau Nüssler,
I beg you, for God's sake, tell me what is the matter."

At last Frau Nüssler said, with a heavy sigh, "Jochen!"

"Good heavens!" cried Bräsig, "he was perfectly well yesterday. Is he
dead?"

"No indeed;" cried Frau Nüssler, taking away the apron, and turning her
red eyes upon Bräsig, "but he has gone crazy!"

"God forbid!" exclaimed Bräsig, springing to his feet, "what has he
been doing?"

"He is going to make a speech."

"What? Young Jochen make a speech? That is a bad sign!"

"Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord!" lamented Frau Nüssler, "and the laborers are all
standing out in the yard, and he has turned me out of the room, I don't
know how I came here."

"This is going to extremes!" cried Bräsig, "but compose yourself, Frau
Nüssler, I am not afraid of him, I will venture to go in." And he
entered the room.

Jochen was walking up and down, rubbing his head. Bräsig sat down near
the door, and followed him with his eyes, but did not speak; on the
other side of the room sat Bauschan, who also followed his master with
his eyes, but did not speak,--it was a very serious business, at least
for Jochen and for Bräsig; Bauschan was tolerably composed. At last,
Bräsig asked very gently:

"What is the matter, Jochen?"

"I don't know," said Jochen, "my head is so confused; my thoughts are
running every way, as when one shakes up a bushel of oats."

"I believe you, Jochen, I believe you," said Bräsig, and looked after
him again, as he walked up and down. All at once Jochen stood still,
and exclaimed angrily, "How the devil can I think of a speech, with
both of you looking at me like that!"

"So! Do you want to make a speech? What do you want to make a speech
for?"

"Bräsig, am I any worse than other people? Are my laborers worse than
other people's laborers? They want their satisfaction, in these hard
times; but I am not exactly fitted for it, the business is too much for
me; you are quicker-witted, do me a favor, and make one for me."

"Why not?" said Bräsig, "if it is to do you a favor; but you mustn't
disturb me!" and now Bräsig walked up and down the room, and Jochen sat
still, and looked at him.

Suddenly the Herr Inspector opened the window, and called: "All come up
here!" The day-laborers came up.

"Fellow-citizens!" began Bräsig; but--bang!--he shut down the window:
"Thunder and lightning, that won't do! They are only day-laborers, one
can't talk to them as if they were burghers! And now you see, Jochen,
how difficult it is to make a speech, and will you meddle with a
business, for which even I am not prepared?"

"Yes, Bräsig, but----"

"Be still, Jochen, I know what you are going to say." He went to the
window, opened it again, and said, "Children, each one go to his work,
for to-day; there will be no speech to-day."

"Well, that is all the same to us," said Kalsow, "but the Herr---"

"He has been thinking about it," interrupted Bräsig, "and he has
decided that the spring is too early for it; by and by, at harvest, he
will make you a fine one."

"Yes," said Kalsow, "that is the best way. Come then, people!" and they
went to their labor.

But now, as the coast was clear, Bräsig turned towards Jochen, and all
the dignity, which his body was capable of expressing, was shown in his
manner to Jochen, and all the influence he had exercised upon Jochen,
in years past, now centered upon the poor kammerpächter, as he said,
"What? They call _you_ crazy? You are no more _crazy_ than Bauschan and
I; but you are _foolish_. Why did your dear--I mean blessed--I mean
cursed--parents bring you into the world? To make speeches, and
frighten your dear wife out or her wits, who has nourished you at her
bosom this five and twenty years, like a new-born child? Come with me,
this moment, and beg her pardon, and tell her you will never do so
again!"

And Jochen would have done so; but he was spared the apology, at least
in the manner which Bräsig demanded, for Frau Nüssler entered the room:

"Jochen, Jochen! How you distress me!"

"Eh, mother----"

"Jochen, you will be the death of me!"

"With your good-for-nothing speeches," interposed Bräsig.

"Mother, I will not---"

"Ah, Jochen, I believe you will not do it this morning; but you have
set yourself up, you shall see, it will happen again."

Jochen said no, he had had enough of it.

"God grant it!" said Frau Nüssler, "and that you may see that I can
giv